Having failed to close the port of Liverpool by bombing, the Germans changed their tactics in January 1943. In the first week of the month, they resorted to laying sea mines by submarine in the approach channel between Point Lynas, Anglesey and the mouth of the River Mersey.
On the evening of the 2nd a sea mine exploded on the foreshore at Penmaenhead near Colwyn Bay, damaging the windows of two properties but causing no casualties.
The following morning saw a number of mines washed up on the Denbighshire coast. Just before six in the morning people living close to Pensarn railway station got an early wake-up call when one exploded, damaging 87 houses while a second device didn’t detonate and 15 people were evacuated from their homes while it was rendered safe. Elsewhere that morning mines were washed up opposite Sunnyvale Camp, Towyn and another on the beach at Sandbank Road, Towyn.
On the 4th of January further sea mines were washed ashore. In Colwyn Bay, 400 people were evacuated from their homes and 1600 civil servants working at the Ministry of Food were moved from their offices when a sea mine washed ashore by the Rothesay Hotel. In 1939 the hotel was taken over by the Ministry of Food and remained in their hands for the duration of the Second World War. Part of the hotel was given over to the Canned Condensed Milk Division.
The police closed the promenade and surrounding roads while the, now overworked, Royal Navy bomb disposal team got to work. A further two mines were spotted in the sea off Colwyn Bay pier and to minimise the risk to life from these devices the Chief Constable of Denbighshire made an order under the Public Entertainments (Restrictions) Order to close the Victoria Pier in Colwyn Bay during the hours of darkness.
Llandudno did not escape either. One washed up on the beach between the Little Orme and the paddling pool which proved a great source of entertainment for some of the local children who were found throwing stones at it. Fortunately, it did not detonate and the Royal Navy ambled along and defused it.
A second mine came ashore opposite the Washington Hotel and the Senior Service again went into action.
The end of the war, didn’t mean the end of the dangers from sea mines. In April 1950, one was spotted bobbing menacingly in the River Conwy at Deganwy. Bravely (or foolishly) two locals, Mr Cave and Mr Booth, under the direction of the harbourmaster Commander Alex MacPhee rowed out to the partly submerged bomb and tentatively looped a rope through an eyebolt. At this point the mine was only twenty yards from the wall at Deganwy railway station but they managed to tow it towards the middle of the estuary. Two fishermen from Conwy, Ben and Tom Craven, took up the tow rope from their motor launch and tethered the UXB to a buoy out of harms way. From Plymouth, a party of bomb disposal experts of the Royal Navy arrived and disarmed the mine.