I have been doing watch duty at Worms Head lookout I seem to have
developed a reputation for attracting trouble, so much so that
watchkeepers that are put on the roster with me seem to want to
swap with someone else. Some incidents carry great sadness and
I have had one of those, others are just embarrassing like the
time a young lady had crossed over to the Worm an hour before
we came on duty and had not checked the causeway closing time.
She appeared on the path some half an hour after flooding and
was clearly distressed. We called the coastguard who organised
the inshore lifeboat to bring her off but these incidents tend
to attract a big audience – and on that day it was she who
was the attraction.
Yesterday I was on watch with Tony who told me he had been a member
for three years and never had an incident, I thought if anyone
would keep me safe, he would. It was an afternoon watch and the
morning watchkeepers had had a very quiet time so I was not really
expecting any fireworks. Some people came and asked about the
seals so we invited them in to look through our telescope. An
excited oriental gentleman popped his head through the door to
ask if there was enough time to cross over. “Two hours”
we said and he twice repeated it loudly and went away full of
joy to lead his family through the parted waters.
And then it happened.
“Hello” said a voice and I turned round to see a man
leaning on the half-door. He had a strange gleam in his eye. I
got up and said “Good afternoon, and what can we do for
“I’ve just found an unexploded bomb on the Worm, it
was stuck in the rocks by Devil Bridge.”
I wasn’t sure whether he was to be taken seriously or not
but I was rather concerned that he had used the past tense.
“Are you serious?” I said.
“Yes” he said “I’ve brought it back. I’ve
put it on the ground in front of your window”
I went to have a look and yes, there it was – a missile
head neatly placed in an east-west orientation. I went out with
him to examine it, he, of course was a bit of an expert on this
particular creator of devastation.
“See on the front there’s this rod, that must be a
kind of trigger” he said
“Don’t touch that!” I said.
“Well, do you want it, cos if you don’t I’d
like to take it home.”
“No I don’t think that would be a good idea, it might
be better if you leave it with us.”
And somehow he disappeared.
I ‘phoned the coastguard, explained, and they said that
they would send a team down to examine it. As soon as the phone
went down we heard the blips of the pagers as the local coastguard
team were rounded up. Presently the blue flashing lights came
into view and the Land Rover and a car came trundling down the
unmade track towards us.
The object was soon surrounded, coastguards were photographing
it from the north, south, east and the west. Images were sent
to the bomb experts and we awaited a decision.
There was a technicality, you see if the bomb is below the shoreline
it is the responsibility of Portsmouth whereas above the shoreline
it is Hereford. This had been one but now it was the other so
the bomb disposal unit from Hereford would deal with it.
Do you know, it had been quite a misty and drizzly day with not
much to look at but suddenly there was so much to see, we had
a crowd of coastguards sheltering in the Land Rover, we had a
neatly taped off area and, in the middle of it all – an
unexploded bomb! Doesn’t get more exciting than that. Tony
started on the Incident Report – his first ever, I had broken
We get a lot of radio chatter in the lookout some of it totally
indecipherable but then we heard our coastguards calling Swansea
HQ. “Do you still need us here” they were asking “or
can we stand down!” The answer came that they could stand
down and we wondered what our position was, we had only half an
hour of shift to do and we don’t get overtime! Anyway there
was no need for us to stay over so we stared at our bomb for a
Time came to pack up and we bade fond farewells.
On the way home we spoke of many things, the bomb was almost forgotten.
We had driven through Kittle and had just reached the top of the
hill at Bishopston when we saw a white lorry coming towards us,
two blue lights flashing – could it possibly be? Yes there
it was, painted on the front Bomb Disposal Unit!
I dropped Tony off at the meeting place and set off for home,
I had got to the bottom of Mayalls and just joined the traffic
on Oystermouth Road and realised that the Bomb Disposal Unit would
have come all the way from Hereford along the motorway and through
Swansea with its lights flashing and sirens on. So many people
would have wondered where and what was this incident and none
of them knew.
But Tony did – and so did I.