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Mine Aftermaths

July 2024
1min read

Your marvelous account of “The Great North Sea Mine Barrage” (April/May 1983) rang a bell in my memory. One morning in the spring of 1965 a small freighter was plodding up the English Channel when a lookout spotted a large black object in the water. The freighter sheered off and radioed Dover, which sent a patrol boat to investigate.

The black object was gingerly hauled in and identified as a mine from the old North Sea barrage. It had apparently ripped loose in a storm at the end of 1918 and drifted round and round the British Isles with the currents for fortysix years, incredibly without hitting anything. Its three hundred pounds of TNT were still deadly too.

The First World War mine barrage also led to strained relations with Norway, as the port of Stavanger was virtually cut off. To compensate for this, together with payment for Norwegian ships requisitioned in American ports, the United States paid Norway $11 million dollars in 1919.

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