Reflect Collateral Damage

Installation by Dale Copeland 2015

This World War 2 German naval mine washed onto the rocks near Belt Road in New Plymouth in February, 1943. It is believed the floating mine had been laid off the coast of South Australia by a German warship, but had broken free from its mooring and was carried by westerly currents across the Tasman Sea.

Its arrival created an emergency for Taranaki’s home-based defence force, with New Plymouth’s 2C Company Bomb Disposal Group being called on to disarm it. An engineering apprentice and squad member, George Wood, undertook the dangerous assignment. He attached a rope to the mine and swam the rope out to a rowboat which towed the mine out to a tug.

From there the bomb was towed to sand dunes north of the Waiwhakaiho River where it was disarmed. It was taken to the bomb squad headquarters in Devon St and was still there when the group disbanded at the end of 1943.

During ensuing years it was displayed at various sites before being given to the New Plymouth RSA which displayed it in front of its old headquarters . When the RSA had to move the bomb was stored at Port Taranaki before the Art in Public Places Trust was approached to consider making a permanent display of the mine.

Taranaki sculptor and collage artist, Dale Copeland, was excited to be asked to design the installation and worked with PACE Engineering to realise the finished sculpture.

“I hoped the words ‘Reflect Collateral Damage’ would bring home the fact that euphemism means real people killed by military weapons – people like you, me, and our families.”

The sculpture sits on New Plymouth’s coastal walkway on a site near Belt Road. The cost for design, manufacture and installation was $35,000.

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