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Sailors killed in WWII mine accident remembered

Event description

Two men believed to have been the first service personnel killed on Australian soil as a result of enemy action during  World War II have been remembered.

A memorial service was held on July 16 at Beachport for Royal Australian Navy able seamen Thomas W Todd and William E L Danswan, who were killed on July 14, 1941, near the South Australian town when a sea mine exploded while they were attempting to render it safe.

The mine had broken free from an enemy-laid field and was spotted about 12km off the coast of Beachport.

It was brought ashore for inspection by the two sailors and their officer-in-charge, Lieutenant Commander Arthur Greening, with help from the crews of four fishing boats.

After the decision was made to destroy the mine, it was towed to a stretch of beach away from the town and the Navy three-man Rendering Mines Safe team began the demolition process.

Tragically, although 800m of demolition cable had been laid from the mine, the demolition charge exploded prematurely, with the two able seamen metres from the mine.

Both men were killed. Lieutenant Commander Greening narrowly escaped the blast.

Able Seaman Thomas William Todd

BIRTH 18 Apr 1911, Glanville, Port Adelaide Enfield City, South Australia, Australia

DEATH 14 Jul 1941 (aged 30) Beachport, Wattle Range Council, South Australia, Australia

BURIAL Cheltenham Cemetery

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