Author Topic: German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924  (Read 2098 times)

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Offline John

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German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924
« on: October 10, 2012, 17:46:42 pm »
Part of a letter from the Treasury Solicitor's Department, regarding dumping of WWI German ordnance in the River Medway..


Mr. Carter.

A complaint has been made by the Essex Council of the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries District as to damage done to the nets of fishermen owing to the nets being fouled by machine guns which appear to have been dumped into the sea at a point near the mouth of the Medway which is shown on the chart included in this file.

In a letter dated the 5th March 1924 the O. in C., Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, Isle of Grain, asked for instructions as to the disposal or destruction of certain German explosives, etc. left at the Station, of which lists were forwarded, in view of the departure of the Unit from Grain to Felixstowe. In the Air Ministry letter of the 10th March, 1924, instructions were given for the destruction of the bombs in the lists and authority was given to the O. in C. to destroy or dump in deep water the remaining German stores on the lists, care to be taken not to contravene the regulations of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Instructions were given by the O. in C. (to Flying Officer Shoesmith, who has since left the Service) to dump the stores in the vicinity of Swinmiddle Lightship about eight eighteen miles out to sea. (There are no machine guns on the original lists, but it appears that a further quantity of old German armament stores were was found which it was decided to include with the other stores for dumping).

The date when the dumping was carried out does not appear, but it is stated that the weather became so bad that it was (a) considered inadvisable to continue the journey and (b) found necessary to lighten the boat. Some of the stores were consequently dumped at the point shown, which is in mid Channel at the mouth of the Medway in about 70 feet of water, less than half a mile from Garrison Point, Sheerness.

It is stated that 15 guns have been "recovered" and parts of another gun or guns; and, although no formal claim has yet been made, it is stated that the damage to the nets is estimated at £40-£50. Three of the guns "recovered" have been inspected and identified by the R.A.F. officials (it is not apparently disputed that the guns taken by the fishermen are the guns dumped by the Air Ministry). In some cases apparently after getting the guns in their nets, the fishermen have thrown them overboard again in a safe part of the River. It is, however, suggested that there is a big obstruction still on the spot.

22nd January 1925
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Online pomme homme

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Re: German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2012, 14:09:09 pm »
.....but it appears that a further quantity of old German armament stores were was found which it was decided to include with the other stores for dumping

I feel a sense of yearning when I read a letter, written by a public servant, from which it is evident that the writer (or whoever corrected the original draft) possessed a command of English grammar, in that he knew that the imperfect tense of the verb 'to be' requires to be conjugated with the noun 'quantity', which takes the singular form, rather than the noun 'stores', which takes the plural form. Presumably originally the auther conjugated it with stores - hence the use of 'were' - and subsequently realised, or had pointed out to him, that it should be conjugated with quantity - hence the substitution of 'was'. But this was some 87 years ago. Would the same occur today?

Offline chasg

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Re: German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2012, 14:37:54 pm »
Perhaps, or perhaps not, depending on the age of the writer. But the reader (again, depending on age) probably wouldn't notice...

Online pomme homme

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Re: German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2012, 15:14:50 pm »
But the reader (again, depending on age) probably wouldn't notice...

That a very fair point. There are times when I do feel like homo malum neanderthalensis!

Offline John

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Re: German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2015, 23:31:11 pm »
Continuing the correspondence..
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline John

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Re: German ordnance dumped in the Medway, 1924
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2023, 05:45:52 am »
Sheerness Guardian and East Kent Advertiser - Saturday 05 July 1924

FOUND OFF CARRISON POINT.

FISHERMEN'S HAUL.


The “Chatham News” states that no little mystery is attached to the German air relics which have recently been found by Strood fishermen in the Medway. One of their reporters has interviewed Mr. Alfred Letley, of Frindsbury, who owns the “Mosquito” and several other bawley shrimping boats, and he was puzzled as to their origin. Ever since the early part of June, Mr. Letley stated, the bawlies fishing off Garrison Point have torn their nets pretty badly. At first we put it down to the stump of an old wreck embedded in Sheerness Hole, or Kethole Reach, as the sailors call it. Then on Derby Day we hauled up a German quick-firing gun together with an aluminium mount, and that cleared up part of the mystery. Mr. Letley further said that by some strange coincidence other bawlies picked up similar relics on the same day. Apparently the arms were dumped out of an enemy aeroplane returning from a raid, in order to relieve the weight and thus gather greater speed. The fishermen also have a theory that the objects are the remains of a German raider brought down off Sheerness Harbour in the early part of the war.

The “Chatham News” representative went aboard the “Mosquito” and was shown the objects hauled up. The gun is about 3ft. in length and after the pattern of a Maxim gun, without the water-cooling barrel. There is a handle at the side, probably used for winding up the mechanism, and not for firing purposes, as a trigger is fixed near the butt. The gun is complete with range-finder and sight, though in a somewhat rusty condition; the barrel is full of ¼ in. slits for cooling. The following words indicating the maker, are inscribed near the magazine “S.M. Gew-Mod-Parbellum, 1913, Berlin.”

Mr. Letley confessed that he was puzzled at the discovery. “We've been trawling these waters ever since the war, and have never found anything of the sort before, although in 1919 we ran up against a case of T.N.T. It badly ripped our nets and we got compensation from the Government. But these are German arms, and I'm at a loss to know how they got there." The gun mount which was found at the same time is composed of aluminium and has a diameter of about 2ft. The supporting arms for the gun shafts are quite intact, and the springs are in a fairly good condition.

Mr. J. Hill, owner of the “Susannah,” also related his story of the discovery of an additional German gun-mount. Hanging on the wall of his garden, it looked strangely dissimilar to the terrible instrument of destruction it must have been in those hideous air-raid days of eight years ago. In detail it is an exact replica of the mount discovered by Mr. Letley, although it is more rusty and covered with white sea barnacles. Mr. Hill explained that the appearance of the barnacles did not necessarily prove that the object had been in the water for a great period, for in a month even a sunken object would be covered with tiny white specks which gradually enlarge.

When asked how he accounted for the appearance of the guns in Sheerness Hole, Mr. Hill winked mysteriously and held a brawny finger alongside his nose. “in my opinion,” he said, “they were dumped there recently by something or somebody - I cannot tell by whom or what, but it's a strange thing that the bawlies have trawled that part of the river over and over again and found nothing like guns. It's a queer thing, too, that other boats picked up similar stuff the same day.”

The “Florenda.” owned by Mr. H. Pocock, of Chatham, also had several interesting objects on board which were found off Garrison Point, including a German gun, mounts, and revolvers. The gun is in perfect condition, and the springs and inner mechanism worked quite smoothly. The cooling tank was full of oil and kept perfectly clean by a beautifully-made filter at the top. Indeed, every part is a model of perfection, and the whole is quite light and easy to move. The gun shaft is marked “Waffenfabiksteyr, 1917, Pluk, M.G. (Schwarzlose) M., 7/12 (16/5).”

Mr. Poccek also has in his possession a complete range-finder, with sights and focus glass in perfect condition. This is inscribed: “Carlzeiss-Denna, 8, M.M. Masch. Gew-Nr. 1008. Los.”

The bawley “Thistle” has also found several war relics, including three quick-firing guns, mounts, and a loaded revolver, which was promptly thrown overboard again. Mr. Pocock has written to the Board of Fisheries for an explanation of the mystery, and perhaps someone in authority will come forward ond give assistance in unravelling this puzzling affair.
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell