The Sailing Club (or yacht club) was the best joint in town. Everyone was there after work on Friday. Diplomats, engineers, secretaries. **Reg Thomas** (center left) worked with Wally Gibbins for several years before starting his own salvage and dive tour company, Don Tas.
Like many professional divers of the era, Reg began as a free diving spear fisherman in a Sydney club, (North Shore Sea Hawks). In those days there were plenty of opportunities for anyone who could use a face mask and flippers/fins. Everything was self-taught or under the guidance of older guys ex-navy or military. A pioneering time.
With plenty of shipwrecks from World War 2 the Solomon Islands was an attraction for adventure divers like Reg and Wally Gibbins who made good use of the unexploded torpedo’s, depth charges and mines by detonating them within the sunken ships and collecting the scrap metal for sale.
One huge chunk of metal flew through the air and crashed through the thatched roof of a locals house. Wally thought he may have upset the owner. Quite the reverse, the chunk of metal was large enough to be used as a table so it stayed where it landed.
Definitely nobody was injured. I heard a claim (from a North American diver) saying a person was killed in a house by Wally’s actions when detonating the torpedo inside a submarine’s tube in ten meters of water. Such rumors often persist once started.