"I was out on the deck and the gear was coming up, and here’s a mine, hanging out right over the water and hanging on the sweeping gear!"
One day we sailed out of Scapa Flow, went down to the Clyde River and travelled up as far as Glasgow [Scotland]. We spent overnight in Glasgow. In the morning there were armed troops coming aboard. They had jerrycans [fuel containers] of petrol secured down on the quarterdeck of HMS Jamaica and, of course, if you are going to go to sea and you got all those jerrycans of petrol on the quarterdeck, you have to get some fire fighting equipment there. So, as we were leaving the port of Glasgow, I was assigned to the responsibility of securing a foam generator for fire protection. Now, at this time, we were travelling out of Glasgow, going out the Clyde River. In respect to the work I had to do with this foam generator, I had to go down to the shops to get tools, and see that the foam generator was put out there and my job was to get it secured to the deck.
We had what we called the ‘galley flats’ that we had to walk through and there were dropdown curtains there which gave a little protection in that flat area as well as black-out too. I pulled the curtains apart to proceed up to the quarterdeck to secure the foam generator and lo and behold, one of the seamen decided that he was going to go over the side. He made a quick plunge and went right over the rail into the Clyde River. Now, we slowed up a little bit, I guess. In the wake from the propeller action you could see the seaman in full dress; you could see him in the water, but when the turbulence dropped down you could no longer see him. Well, they had the shore authorities alerted and they were carrying out a search for him. But to my understanding, at that time, that he was not found, but probably consequently, the body would have been found.
Now, going out the Clyde River at that time, we were informed what our mission was. Our mission was to take a replacement Norwegian garrison army group to the Spitsbergen Island. I remember one of the chaps saying, “Boy, if we took this trip during peace time it would cost thousands of pounds!”
Getting back to my service in the minesweeper, we did cut loose a number of mines. One day during the sweep the winches were hauling in the sweeping gear. I was off engine room duty at the time. I was out on the deck and the gear was coming up, and here’s a mine, hanging out right over the water and hanging on the sweeping gear! Quickly, they got the winches reversed and within moments, one of the horns struck – she let go. Fortunately nobody was hurt.