Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Honouring a Garston Hero,

I've recently come across the story of Lt Newgass, someone who saved a lot of lives by defusing a mine in Garston during the war.

A local man is keen to see Lt Newgass' bravery commemorated someone - perhaps with a plaque at the library or on another local landmark.

I've put my name to a motion about this for the next Liverpool City Council meeting (along with colleagues Tina Gould, Lynnie Williams and Richard Oglethorpe). The local man , Stuart Daniels, who told us about this is hopefully going to take part in an interview on Radio Merseyside to give more deetails.

The story, I am told,  is this.  Back in November 1940 a parachute mine landed on Garston gasworks. It didn't go off straight away but people feared it might detonate at any time so 6,000 people who lived nearby had to be evacuated.  It wasn't even clear exactly where the mine had lodged, so pumps and fans were used.  It was when the air inside the tank wasn't considered explosive that some could actually go in.

Lt Newgass, a veteran of the previous war, was a member of the bomb disposal unit.  Using oxygen apparatus, he went into the tank.  He spent time over two days defusing the mine.  It was particularly difficult work as the oxygen tended only to last for thirty minutes at a time and the fuse was hard to reach so the mine had to be turned.  Imagine the pressure of worrying about the oxygen and the bomb while having to do quite a bit of heavy lifting!

If the mine had gone off, not jus the gas works but the neighbouring properties would have been completely destroyed.  Lt Newgass was awarded the George Cross for his bravery.  Other brave men also worked to save lives at the Gas works that night and any marking of Lt Newgass' heroism would also be marking theirs.

I do hope some way can be found of recognising this further.

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