By Tom Bowden:
During the War I found a bomb on Torpoint Ballast Pond and then my Dad gave it away. That was some 72 years ago and I thought it was about time that I put out another appeal for its return. I was born in Navy Terrace, Torpoint in 1929. That is down by the Ballast Pond and overlooking that stretch of the River Tamar known as “The Hamoaze” and the little terrace is all part of Marine Drive now.
The Pond is a wall in the form of a square which was built for the Navy in 1783 to house lighters (barges) which were used for ballasting ships. When a Man-O-War returned for major repairs, the stone ballast in the ship’s hold was removed to a lighter which then returned to the Ballast Pond. When a ship required ballast the Lighter was brought out again to deposit the stone into that vessel.
A favourite game for boys was to clamber on the muddy foreshore early in the mornings after bombing raids to look for shrapnel or incendiary bombs imbedded in the mud! I was among them as usual and I decided to clamber up the Ballast Pond ladder to get a better view of the beach. I turned left and wandered along about 20 yards. Then I saw it – this silver thing lying on the wall! As an expert bomb chaser, I knew right away that it was an incendiary bomb!
Looking back it seems humorous so I tell my story in comic verse:
There, upon the Ballast Pond I found it,
(Up the ladder 20 paces on the left.)
One Deutschland made Mark 1 dud bomb,
All shiny, finless, and bereft.
I listened for a tick and tock,
Before deciding it was dead.
Then unscrewed the detonator cap,
And sent the “powder” flying overhead!
I took it home for Mum to see,
She screamed and backed away.
“Why didn’t you get something edible?
Like shrimps or Manta Ray!?”
Then Dad just gave my bomb away,
Without too much ado.
Now does it hold a door ajar,
In a bungalow in Looe?
Do friends or relations have it,
In Wilcove, Wacker or St John?
And does it stand beside the hearth,
So hot and woebegone?
Does it lie a burnt and blackened shell,
With a man who went to heaven?
Or is it propping up a bar,
In a Pub in South East Devon?
So please return that bomb to Tom,
But to prove its safe for all,
We’ll go to Torpoint Ballast Pond,
For YOU to bash it on the Wall!
I must confess that I did unscrew the detonator cap and bash the bomb against the wall to get the “powder” out so I am lucky to be here. As you can see from Figure 3 the Ballast Pond is now a yachting Marina and fulfilling a useful function. Finally, I should draw your attention to this stretch of the River Tamar with Devonport Dockyard (started in 1690) across the river, and ships and lovely Mount Edgecumbe in the distance. I hope you have enjoyed my true story in words and pictures.