Llandudno lifeboat crew remember the German World War 2 UXB
One of those parading with the local lifeboat crew on Remembrance Day at Llandudno was the station’s Head Launcher and former Coxswain Ian (Dan) Jones MBE.
This moving occasion reminded Dan that it was twenty-five years since he, then Second Coxswain of Llandudno lifeboat Andy Pearce, had been involved in a rather tense and nerve-racking incident following the discovery of a German Bomb.
The 80-foot trawler Solitaire had been fishing in the Liverpool Bay. When hauling in the boat’s net it was discovered that the catch included an object seven feet long, two-foot six wide and with four fins at the tail. To the crew’s dismay, it looked alarmingly like an unexploded bomb! Once the alarm was raised, the Coastguard advised the trawler to make its way very slowly towards Llandudno. It was a very nervous time for the five-man trawler crew given that the bomb been disturbed and could therefore explode at any time.
The Mersey class lifeboat Andy Pearce was launched at 2:25pm under the command of the late Coxswain Meurig Davies MBE and his volunteer crew. The station’s inshore lifeboat also launched to offer assistance. The trawler was escorted from eight miles north of the Great Orme to the middle of Llandudno Bay. Bomb disposal experts then went out to the trawler and confirmed that the bomb was an unexploded German Magnetic mine which had probably lain in the sea bed for over fifty years. Almost certainly, it had been jettisoned by a bomber crew returning from a raid on Liverpool.
Llandudno lifeboat evacuated the trawler’s crew whilst the bomb disposal team inspected the unexploded bomb following which they lowered it to the seabed for the night attached to a buoy. The trawler’s crew were then taken back to their vessel and resumed their work. The Andy Pearce was recovered at 11:00pm after over eight hours at sea.
The following day, at the request of the Bomb Disposal team and the Coastguard, the Andy Pearce with her crew launched again and towed the bomb, now buoyed by air bags, out to sea north of Llandudno and stood by, three miles away, whilst the bomb was detonated. The resulting explosion ended an unusual two days of activity and proves, if ever proof were needed, that when lifeboat crews are called into action, they must be prepared for anything.
Of the volunteer crew who so bravely served twenty-five years ago, it is testament to the RNLI’s longstanding commitment to saving lives at sea that Dan and his colleagues Graham Heritage (now Coxswain), Robin Holden (Lifeboat Training Co-ordinator) Les Jones (now Station Mechanic) and David Jones, (all-weather lifeboat crew) are still serving today.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Jonathon Coe, Llandudno Lifeboat Press Officer on 07910 861193. Alternatively contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Media Officer on 01745 585162 / 07771 941390 or email Eleri_Roberts@rnli.org.uk.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.