Diver from Birmingham given bravery award for removing chemical weapons from lake

A diver from Birmingham who recovered World War One chemical weapons from a Lincolnshire lake has been recognised for his bravery.

Leading Royal Navy Diver Matt O’Brien from Chelmsley Wood entered the potentially toxic waters at Stixwould Lake outside Lincoln after mustard gas canisters were found by members of the public last autumn.

The gas was used extensively in the Great War as a weapon to kill and maim thousands of troops in the trenches.

Ten bombs weighing six pounds each were discovered in Stixwould Lake after Royal Navy diver Credit: ITV News

The operation to search the lake took eight days, with teams of divers coming up from Portsmouth. Mr O'Brien, who's 34, volunteered to be the first person to enter the lake, despite fears it may be contaminated.

He felt his way around in zero visibility to locate the possibly damaged shells and bagged them, before returning to the surface and handing them over for disposal.

Ten bombs weighing six pounds each were discovered in total.

Mr O'Brien has been praised for his bravery and leadership during the operation and has received a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery honour.

Speaking about his achievement, he said:

“I am honoured to have been recognised, but as with all diving tasks, it was truly a team effort and I could not have achieved it all on my own.”

Matt O'Brien - Royal Navy Diver

Mr O'Brien, who is married and has a three-year-old daughter, joined the Navy in 2009 and has been trained as a clearance diver to deal with hazardous objects underwater as well as on land.