A fun day at the beach usually does not have any more danger than sunburn and jellyfish, but for one family in Wales, their day in the surf nearly took a turn for the hugely disastrous.
What this family thought was an old, barnacle encrusted buoy, turned out to be something far more deadly. The antiquated ball of rusty steel that had washed up on the shore near Burry Port, Wales, was a menacing killer from the darkest days of European history.
Kelly Gravell and her family were enjoying a nice day in the sand and surf, when they noticed a strange object in the distance. They moved in to get a better view of the beached leviathan, and quickly discerned that it was an old buoy, that had washed ashore.
Her two children were fascinated by the large metallic sphere, especially with the shroud of barnacles and seaweed that clung to it.
“We were more fascinated by the barnacles on it. I even made the joke that it was a big bomb at the time, but did not think anything of it. It’s only afterwards when the reality had set in that we were actually very lucky.”
The family even snapped some pictures of the children playing around the device and thumping it with their hands, which they later posted to social media.
The family then went back on its merry way, unaware of the awesome danger they narrowly dodged.
A few days later, officials from Pembrey Country Park announced that a World War II era sea mine had washed up on the beach.
A friend of the Gravell’s had seen the pictures of their trip to the beach on Facebook and put two and two together. She and her husband were flabbergasted to discover that they had been within moments and inches of being deceased.
“We’ll definitely think twice before messing with something like that in the future,” she said upon being informed of the true nature of the metal ball on the beach.
The press officer for Carmarthenshire County Council, Allison Thomas-David, said that it’s common for things to wash up on the beach and she agreed that the object looked like a buoy.
The mine was secured and later the local bomb squad was brought in. They detonated the antique killer in a controlled explosion.
Literally hundreds of thousands of sea mines were deployed during World War II by all sides. After the war, the United States Alone had over twenty five thousand mines to recover. The US Navy proved unable to collect all of them and over thirteen thousand were deliberately left unswept. Over the course of 30 years, more than five hundred minesweepers have been sunk or severely damaged trying to dispose of the remaining mines.
The use of naval mines did not end after the Second World War. They were the leading cause of allied ship damage during the Korean Conflict, and during the eight year Iran/Iraq war, they were a major problem in the Persian Gulf.
As recently as the first Gulf war, two American ships were damaged by Iraqi sea mines.
Have you ever found something so unusual on the beach? Share your story with us here.