#VEDay75: Gallantry awards for heroes who defused a live bomb that fell into a Liverpool gasholder


Liverpool was the second most bombed city in the UK and here we tell the remarkable story of the operation to safely defuse a bomb that lay for two days INSIDE a huge gasholder.

In the early hours of 29th November 1940, during another night of heavy bombardment, a big parachute mine fell into a gasholder at Garston, but it did not detonate.

Fearing a huge catastrophic explosion, up to 6,000 people were evacuated from the nearby area.

Teams from the gasworks isolated the gasholder, found the bomb and supported bomb disposal experts in a delicate operation to defuse the device. They also kept the gasworks operating at all times, which ensured power for the city’s essential industry continued uninterrupted.

Over two days, Lieutenant Harold Reginald Newgass worked inside the gasholder, wearing breathing apparatus because of the fumes inside the structure. It was part-submerged in oily, thick water at the bottom of the holder and the fuse was blocked by a pillar.

After Lt Newgass made the mine safe, Garston gas workers then entered the holder and removed the device – which was said to resemble a tug-boat funnel, in both size and appearance.

Lt Newgass was awarded the George Cross, the second highest award in the honours system. Two George Medals, three British Empire Medals and four commendations were awarded to the gas workers who supported him throughout.

We’ve worked with Professor Russell Thomas, chairman of the history panel of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, to produce this special series of stories for #VEDay75.

Most of the images that will appear on these pages are reproduced with kind permission of the National Grid Gas Archive, Warrington.


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