A reader asked recently about the disposal of WWII ammunition on Ocracoke. Below is a related story about one of the many mines that were placed in nearby waters to thwart German U-boat attacks.
“Many years after the war, one of these mines [Mark 6 contact mines] was snagged in a trawler’s net. It was taken to the dock at Jack’s Store in Silver Lake on Ocracoke Island [where the Ocracoke Working Watermen's Exhibit is located today]. Apparently, the fishermen did not know what it was and hammered on it for several days, thinking it might be a treasure from Blackbeard’s time. When the Coast Guard heard about it, they carried the mine to the northern end of the island to be detonated. On the way it fell off the truck, but still did not detonate. Finally, with the aid of a bomb squad from Norfolk who determined it was still live, the mine was exploded with a single shot. The explosion left a crater 150 feet across, caught the marsh on fire and the Ocracoke Fire Department had to be called out. Needless to say, if the mine had gone off in Ocracoke Harbor, there would have been little left of Jack’s Store and the surrounding area.”
This account is on page 164 of the book, To Die Gallantly: The Battle of the Atlantic, by Timothy J. Runyan, & Jan M. Copes.
I don't remember this incident, so I asked Blanche about it. She had never heard all of the details (she lived on the mainland at her husband's farm for a while), but she confirmed that a WWII mine had been brought up and exploded.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a modern day ghost story, "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," written by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062111.htm.