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WWII bomb discovery in Falmouth Bay: The Full Story (Watch Video)

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While diving around Falmouth Bay recently, looking for the old WWII degaussing field I had seen before, I came across what I thought was a possible bomb. I had seen a similar one before, which I reported to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (EODU), who then came to detonate the device. The co-ordinates were stored; there was no way of acquiring an exact position without attaching something to the device, with a straight line to the surface. I returned with some volunteer divers to help re-locate the suspected bomb. We would also film, photograph and measure it. Then the images could be shown to the EODU, in the hope they could identify it.

We waited until some favourable weather came along. Conditions were not ideal, but the divers descended to look for the object. The device took a while to relocate, due to the in water visibility. Once relocated, the remaining dive time was short, the visibility wasn’t great and the surface conditions were worsening. The dive was called off; we would have to return.

You can watch Scubaverse Editor-at-Large Jeff Goodman’s video of our investigation of the bomb here: https://www.scubaverse.com/atlantic-scuba-discover-wwii-bomb-watch-video/

A few days later, the weather forecast was good, so we planned our return. On arrival, the surface conditions were greatly improved compared to our last visit. My buddy, Sue Barnes, and I descended to the sea bed. Within five minutes we were on the device and we photographed and filmed the object before marking the site with a buoy. After our dive, the second buddy pair of David Gibbins and Katrina Mace, went down, to take even more photographs. After the dives, we all discussed what we had seen. We all believed it was highly probable that it was a parachute mine, possibly a type GC with its end cap still in place. We arrived back late that evening and waited until the following morning to contact the authorities.

Early Wednesday morning, I called the MCA who requested some photographs. The MCA then passed them onto the EODU. On seeing the images, the EODU contacted me to say it needed to be looked at to ascertain whether it was indeed a potentially dangerous device. They were loading up and would be down within two hours.

The EODU arrived at Maenporth Beach, the closest place to the device to launch their boat. After some starting issues, they made their way out. One of their divers went in. We all waited to find out what the device was. Time passed slowly on that cold afternoon. Eventually the diver came up, the boat returned. The C.O. stated that it was in fact a parachute mine, type GC. There was not enough daylight to continue with a disposal and so they would have to return the following morning.

On Thursday morning, the EODU left Falmouth on their boat, followed by the RNLI, the harbour master and the harbour pilot. The EODU sent a diver down, while the other boats kept all other vessels at bay. On the shore at Maenporth, several dozen people waited patiently for the detonation. The EODU’s boat moved away. A small column of water shot up, followed a few seconds later by a short bang. Everyone looked at each other: “Was that it?” was heard echoed amongst the onlookers.

Surely not? Compared to the last detonation five years ago, this was a bit of a damp squib. Everyone kept watching and recording. The EODU returned to the location, a diver descended. Fifteen minutes later, all the boats were off, that was it. The MCA told us that the EODU had declared that it was now safe.

Bemused about the events, we discussed what had happened. We can only assume that the mine came down so fast, without the parachute deploying, that it damaged the internal workings and cracked the watertight casing. Seventy five years of salt water ingress may have caused the explosives to be harmless.

I suppose I should now go and look for the other two I have previously seen…

All photos and videos: Mark Milburn – www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

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New academic study to confirm rehabilitative benefits of Scuba Diving

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A new study into Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Charity Deptherapy’s approach to supporting Armed Forces veterans with psychological injuries such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the medium of scuba diving has been carried out by Petra Walker in conjunction with Hanna Kampman of the Posttraumatic Growth Research Unit at the University of East London.

This study, which used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), demonstrates that scuba diving has rehabilitation benefits beyond those found in other forms of sporting rehabilitation exercise.

IPA is a qualitative methodology that examines the experiences of participants and has been used in previous studies of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in para-athletes.

Petra is an experienced diver herself and was exploring the wellbeing aspects of scuba diving as part of her Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology when she came across a previous study on Deptherapy. Past studies have mainly focused on the medical aspects of diving, so the opportunity to examine the mental health side of rehabilitative scuba diving was impossible to ignore.

The full study is currently embargoed until it is published at a future date in an academic journal, but it follows similar academic research into the work of Deptherapy by the University of Sheffield Medical School (2018) and the University of Nottingham (2019).

Richard Cullen, Chairman of Deptherapy commented: “This evidence-based study demonstrates yet again the value of scuba diving and, in particular, the support provided by Deptherapy to severely traumatised people within the Armed Forces community. We await the publication of the detailed findings which we anticipate will be of considerable interest to all organisations who seek to assist in the rehabilitation of veterans through sporting activity, as well as the Scuba Diving world.”

Team Deptherapy returned to the UK last week from their first training expedition since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. A small group of six veterans travelled with the Deptherapy Instructor Team to the charity’s international base at Roots Red Sea to undertake practical Scuba Diving training in the clear, warm waters of the Red Sea.

Joining Team Deptherapy for the first time was 20 year old paraplegic Corey Goodson who had this to say: “I have been made aware of a new academic study about the benefits of Deptherapy. Last week I learned to scuba dive properly with Deptherapy, a huge achievement for someone with paraplegia. Deptherapy doesn’t judge your injury, whether that be physical or psychological; it looks beyond, and it sees the person inside. That person is who they work with, and the Deptherapy programme encourages you to see your fellow beneficiaries in the same light. More important than the sense of achievement during the training, was the support, care, encouragement and love the team showed me. I have found a new family in Deptherapy. I am home now but the support, friendship and banter continue; it is motivating and empowering, it gives me a deep sense of wellness and worth. I look forward to continuing my rehabilitative journey with Deptherapy.”

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 6

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 6 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Thursday has dawned and it is down to the House Reef with an outgoing tide that is approaching slack so we can get in the water straight away.   Lots of chat about last night’s RAID O2 Provider session with Moudi.  Oatsie is talking about sidemounts and marine biology, Swars is looking forward to his first sidemount session this afternoon.

Moudi is supported by Oatsie this morning and doing some more skill work with Keiron.

Moudi running the guys through the RAID O2 Administrator Course

Corey was asking last night about what it is like at 30 metres, so I have decided that with Michael and Swars we will take him to 30 metres.  We are going to run a narcosis exercise so out comes the slate with the numbers 1 – 25 randomly placed in squares.  Corey’s task, in the dive centre, is as quickly as possible to touch each number in sequence.  He does it pretty quickly and Michael briefs him that he will need to do the same exercise at 30 metres.

Michael briefs the dive and we set off down the beach.  Corey has improved beyond measure and he is becoming a pleasure to dive with.  So we are off to follow the South reef to 30 metres where we will complete the second part of the exercise.

At 30 metres Michael hands Corey the slate; there is a considerable difference in the time to complete the exercise at the surface and at 30 metres.  There are lots of mitigating factors in how quickly you can identify the numbers and explaining a slower time at 30 metres than at the surface does not mean an individual is suffering from narcosis.  Identifying random numbers, if you run the exercise at the surface, several times with an individual over a number of hours can result in wide variations in the time taken to complete the exercise.

We finish the dive with Corey smiling from ear to ear and we have a discussion about depth and air consumption.  The second dive of the morning is a fun dive, then it is lunch in the beach restaurant.  After the burgers I am sure we will need to look at our weighting before the afternoon’s dive.

We will need to look at weighting after this lunch!

Corey and Keiron have got into the habit of recording their dives online using the RAID online log book which is a tremendous facility and as the instructor I can access that data.

Moudi and Keiron are going for a fun dive as are Corey, Oatsie, Michael and myself. Swars is getting kitted up for the first experience of sidemount with Guy Henderson.

Swars getting to grips with his sidemount cylinders

People often look at the relationships that exist between the dive team and our beneficiaries and try to extrapolate a similar relationship to disabled students they might have.  Our relationships are built up over a period of time, in some cases over many years.  We also provide 24/7 support and have chat groups etc on social media; we also meet up socially when we can.  It is somewhat different than a individual coming in to a dive centre and saying ‘I want to dive’. Your relationship is likely to be the same as any other student, you will teach them, they might stay with the dive centre or like many that will go on holiday to do some diving, you might never see them again.

Our main aim is to create a family atmosphere for our programme members, one where they feel secure and they are able to discuss freely with the team and fellow beneficiaries their feelings and needs.

Few dive centres are charities, and owners might want to consider costs of running a course for someone with a disability that might take more than the standard four pool sessions etc.  You may find the number of sessions and the staffing levels have to increase.  Many dive centres, because of their size and turnover are exempt from providing accessibility.  How will this affect someone who is a wheelchair user?  Can they gain access to the dive centre, the classroom, the toilet?  What are the changing facilities, can they get wheelchair access to the pool?

Lots of things to think about.

Roots’ beautiful reef

The reef is beautiful, so much aquatic life and the corals look splendid, especially the pinnacles.

A good day’s diving, Swars has really enjoyed his sidemount.

Lovely way to relax in the evening with the Roots BBQ, a fitting end to a great day.

Last day tomorrow and our final blog!


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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