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DARK DAY AT BEACHPORT

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 10:11 am
by Jeff Thorpe
DARK DAY AT BEACHPORT

© Jeff Thorpe 22 January 2021

Beachport, South Australia holds an unenviable record
from an event on Monday 14 July, 1941,
the first deaths on home soil of servicemen in action,
Able Seamen Danswan and Todd’s war effort was undone.

On 12 July, two fishermen discovered a floating German sea mine
in Rivoli Bay, three miles off shore from Beachport,
some two hundred thirty miles south east of Adelaide,
authorities were called, threat from the mine to thwart.

A Navy Rendering Mines Safe team arrived next day,
locating the mine, they towed it south away from the town
planning to detonate it on an isolated beach
in safe conditions with no crowds around.

A demolition charge was set and 1300 yards of cable run out
to a point where detonation could be triggered without harm
but, the cable crossed a railway line and Murphy’s Law intervened,
a rail car severed it prior to set off, causing alarm.

Todd and Danswan returned to the shore to reset the charge,
at the worst possible moment, a wave lifted the mine
and dumped it heavily on to the beach
causing a huge explosion, anything but benign.

The blast killed both sailors, was felt at Millicent, 20 miles away,
a tragic loss of the lives of two young men,
Thomas Todd aged 30 and William Danswan just 23
each with one young child never seeing their father again.

An estimated 550,000 sea mines were laid during World War II,
in months after the tragedy, six more washed up on south east coast.
In 1971 a memorial was built near the site commemorating the loss
a tasteful recognition yet, a solitary outpost.

Tom Todd’s son Ron has a piece of shrapnel from the mine,
aged 18 months at time of the explosion, he not ever knew his Dad
still, he sometimes shows the metal to his grandchildren
and often visits the site, pondering the childhood he’d not had.

A poignant illustration of history not well known
not etched in war chronicles as much as some other,
tell that though to Todd and Danswan families,
their relatives’ story not a one to smother.

Re: DARK DAY AT BEACHPORT

Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 10:51 am
by Shelley
Another one of those hidden stories from our past - and a sad one too.

Thanks for bringing it to light, Jeff.

Cheers
Shelley

Re: DARK DAY AT BEACHPORT

Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:33 pm
by Jeff Thorpe
You find them everywhere, don't you Shelley. largely unknown happenings.

Regards, Jeff