Four of the men were defusing ordnance using a system of mirrors to watch the work from behind a concrete blast wall. J. L. Turner and L. McKellom were working a levered remote defusing machine at one end of the shop when the shell E. E. Haury and W. F. Nevis were working on with a similar machine at the other end exploded.
The blast shattered the viewing mirrors and all the windows, and damaged the defusing machine. One corrugated asbestos walls was almost completely ripped while the other three had sections of siding torn from the steel framework of the 75 by 40 foot building.
But the workers and T. C. Martin, lead ordnance man in charge of the shop were okay. Commander Richard Jewell, base commander attributed this to safety regulations and training set into place by his predecessor, Admiral J. R. McKinney shortly before he retired. He also gave credit to equipment and buildings specially designed for the dangerous work done on the base.
Nevis and Haury, both former Navy gunnery chiefs, echoed Jewell’s sentiments while examining the two chunks of shrapnel that were all that was left of the exploded shell.
“Thank god for that concrete bulkhead. All I got out of it was a plugged up ear,” Nevis observed.
The damage was estimated at $10,000.
– Michael Dobkins
Have you enjoyed this and other This Date in Seal Beach History posts?
If so, please consider making a small donation of a dollar or more to help defray the online subscriptions and other research costs that make this blog possible.
Donations can be made securely with most major credit cards directly through PayPal. Just click on paypal.me/MichaelDobkins to go to PayPal. Thank you.
This Date in Seal Beach History also has an online store hosted at Cafepress where you can order shirts, tote bags, stationery, and other gift items imprinted with vintage Seal Beach images. Visit the online store by clicking here.