WW2 Home Defence Mine Clearance

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by putteesinmyhands, Dec 15, 2011.

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  1. In the Where & What thread, k13eod posted this:

    A moment on Google revealed it as being the memorial to the Sappers who were killed clearing the British-laid mines on the Norfolk coast, and is located at Mundesley.

    I've looked at the WW2 defences placemarks on Google Earth and often wondered who got the job of clearing the defences, minefields in particular as the little buggers are prone to movement so even if they were recorded accurately when placed, the chances of them still being there are fairly slim. There aren't many memorials to the mine clearers (and even the one at Mundesley has got an ally aerial bomb on it instead of a boring land mine). Were the Sappers in Norfolk particularly unlucky? Or was it just that a lot of the clearance was done after VE Day and it was never thought worthy of mention?

    Reading the dates on the plaques, it appears that most fatal events involved either two or three people. No further details are given, begging the question whether the clearers were close together when one mine went off, whether the mines were linked so that when one went off it initiated other mines or whether there are some instances of attempted rescue which claimed the lives of the would-be rescuers.

    Geographically, I must admit that I'm more interested in the North east, that being my home territory, but it strikes me that there's a distinct lack of memorials. And addressing this omission should be done quickly while the next of kin remain extant.
  2. I visited this in the summer and wondered why the memorial was there. I donlt think the North East bit of Norfolk was ever heavily mined or bombed by either side.
  3. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    I seem to remember reading that almost as many men were killed and injured after WW2 trying to defuse British booby traps and minefields.
    Perhaps the beaches of Norfolk were quite heavilly booby trapped?
  4. Yep, got it. Trying to scratch the deep crevises of my brain for the other books I've got on the same genre/period. Err......I'm not at home, but if interested will post titles.

    Oh, by the way, none involve septics.
  5. I've just had a look at the defences indicated on Google Earth and you seem to be quite correct - Mundesley is in the middle of a 30 miles stretch that doesn't appear to have been mined. Curious.
  6. Thousands of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines were hurriedly laid on beaches at the beginning of the Second World War when the threat of German invasion was very real. Their positions were not always documented properly and lots of records were lost or destroyed. Many casualties occurred among the Sappers tasked to clear them after the war. Oddly enough, volunteer German ex-POWs and stateless eastern Europeans (Displaced Persons – DPs) were employed on this daunting task and several of the Poles ended up as manual workers at the Defence EOD School at Chattenden.

    This excerpt from Chapter 6 of ‘Designed to Kill – Bomb Disposal from World War I to the Falklands’ by Major Arthur Hogben RE (Patrick Stephens Ltd, Wellingborough (1987) describes the scale of the problem and some of the difficulties involved:

    Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR, a dear old friend, was a veteran wartime Bomb & Mine Disposal Officer and prolific author of books about EOD. As described in this article on the BBC News website eight years ago, Noel was instrumental in the erection of the memorial at Mundesley-on-Sea in Norfolk honouring the 26 Royal Engineers bomb disposal personnel who lost their lives while clearing World War II landmines from Norfolk's cliffs and beaches between 1944 and 1953. Sadly, Noel died earlier this year and his Telegraph obituary can be read here.
  7. This is the cover of the pamplet produced for the dedication service:

  8. And some more pages:

  9. Some more pages:

  10. And finally:

  11. Cheers for that person who has finished serving, well played sir.

    26 brave men - Vale.
  12. Thank you.