A long-serving civilian worker for Royal Navy divers who has helped dispose of the biggest wartime bombs remaining in Plymouth has retired.
Ed Baxendale, 65, has retired after 22 years service with the Southern Diving Unit in HM Naval Base, Devonport. He will now spend more time in managing woodland, bee-keeping, and spending time riding and renovating motorcycles.
The diving unit deals with unexploded ordnance throughout the coast of the SW and Wales. Among the major potential explosive incidents he was involved was the removal by boat of a 500lb wartime bomb discovered on a central Plymouth demolition site.
As the unit dive boat coxswain, his role was to ensure the dive boats were maintained, delivered and working for emergencies, making sure dangerous explosives could be taken safely away from businesses and residents. He was awarded Naval Base Commander’s employee of the month award for guiding the dive support vessel from Mountbatten in Plymouth with the 250lb World War 2 bomb onboard in August 1998. He later moved to his current job as building manager for the unit HQ.
Ed said: “I’m really lucky to have had a fantastic career, full of challenge and excitement and working with enthusiastic professionals. But sadly you have to retire sometime. It’s time for someone else to take over now. Working with the youngsters here has kept me young, that’s for sure.
“I’ve certainly had the time of my life with the Navy, in uniform and out of uniform. The big bomb finds in Plymouth stick in my mind, especially a 500kg World War Two German bomb when I was responsible for taking the bomb away in the dive boat to be detonated at sea.’’
Before working for the divers he served for 22 years in the Royal Navy, leaving as a chief petty officer (engineer), having served worldwide including during the First Gulf War in 1990.
Ed, who is married to Christine and has four children, Neil, Nicola, Michael and Ali, will now spend more time with her enjoying holidays abroad.
Lieutenant Commander Al Nekrews, commanding officer of the Southern Diving Unit, said: “Mr Baxendale has been an absolutely fantastic colleague and has served Southern Diving Unit 1 with selfless dedication for over 20 years. His enthusiastic personality and incredibly proactive nature will be sorely missed. On behalf of the whole of the Royal Navy Clearance Diver community, past and present, I wish him and his family the very best for his retirement.