Author Topic: South Foreland Battery  (Read 634 times)

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2021, 03:13:03 PM »
Tour of South Foreland Battery Part 2
Coming back out of the gate (there was no gate in 1941. Vehicles had to get through) to your right across the road is the line of bushes by the Engine House. Immediately to the left of that was a ruined cottage. What it looked like I don't know but if it was fit for use then the military would have used it. To the left of that is a circular gun pit. This originally held an anti-aircraft gun which was moved somewhere more strategic for Operation Diver, the defence against V1s. It was replaced by a Spigot Mortar. The shelves were lined with wooden slats to store the shells.
The ground here is open grass up to the flat-roofed farther up. On this ground were originally three, later increased to eight Nissen huts. There were paths in the chalk crossing it, one from the Engine House depression, which led up the bank opposite the cottage and across to the Mess. To the right of this path were urinals.
On the left hand side of the road a Workshop was set back from the road. I believe it was an existing building converted to military use. Like all the other buildings, Nissens, Accomodation, etc there was a of bank of earth piled in neat rectangles exactly matching the building but set out from it by a few feet. This was to attempt to lessen any blast from incoming shells or bombs.
Coming to the surviving flat-roofed building on the right, this was the kitchen. Or Galley, since the battery was manned by Marines and they used Royal Navy parlance. In front of that, almost up to the road, was the Dining Room, or Mess. To its right is the entrance to the Underground Shelter which stretched from the immediate right of the Workshop to level with the Mess.
Directly opposite the Mess across the road, slightly set back, was he Converter House. A smallish concrete structure slightly higher than the Mess which was, basically,a transformer. The Engines in the Engine House produced electricity in DC. The guns operated on DC but the Converter House was needed to convert the DC to Ac current for lighting,telephones,etc.
Up the front of the Converter House was a vertical iron ladder. At the top there was an unnecessarily large retaining rail running round the whole top of the building. It is my opinion, and only my opinion, that this was used as a lookout and Air Raid Warning Post.
Turn right down the concrete path by the Mess and the Galley and on the right of it was the Coal Store. This was for cooking and heating.
On the left were Regimental Offices and slightly further along was a toilet block. Next on the right was the Sergeant's Mess then the path turns left . On the left was the Ablutions and Showers and lastly the First Aid Post .The Soakaway was opposite the Ablutions - to the right of that the Incinerator and to the right of that the Sceptic Tank.
All for now, more later
Alastair


Offline grandarog

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2021, 11:43:42 AM »
Account  of the Fleet Air Arm operation Fuller against the Channel Dash.
https://www.fleetairarm.com/history-of-channel-dash.aspx
The 6 Swordfish A/C all took off from Manston.

Much more detailed account here,
https://www.manstonhistory.org.uk/channel-dash-bravest-brave/


Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2021, 11:42:48 AM »
You're probably right Howard - I just recall that it was an air attack.

Offline Howardws

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2021, 09:32:19 PM »
Was it not the Fleet Air Arm that launched torpedos from Swordfish biplanes and 13 out of 18 men died? Supported by the RAF but not with as many aircraft as had been hoped.

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2021, 12:53:23 PM »
No, Dave, nothing was. The guns wanted to have a go but someone Up Top said let the RAF try. We all know how that turned out, sadly for the RAF.


Offline Dave Smith

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2021, 11:25:46 AM »
Alastair. All very interesting, thanks. Good guess I think, for maybe they were diesel generators for their own supply of electricity? 26 is not a bad total but it seems nothing was sunk during the infamous dash by the German navy through the Channel?

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2021, 12:46:13 PM »
Thank you for your reply, Dave. I don't know what sort of engines were in the engine house. Diesel, probably but that's a guess. 9.2" is an odd size for a gun but that's what they were. The batteries on the White Cliffs were all aimed at targeting enemy shipping. By the end of the war they had sunk 26.
There was a railway gun in the tunnel between St Margaret's and Dover which, as you say, came out to fire then went back in again. I've got the name somewhere - can't think of it offhand. There were three other rail mounted guns just west of SF Battery - Sceneshifter, Piecemaker and Gladiator. They were on curved spurs of track off the line mentioned, the curve being to assist in aiming them.
Altogether there were seven Batteries on the cliffs, some single some multiple, not counting the rail-mounted guns.
They were Winnie, Pooh, Bruce, South Foreland, Wanstone Farm, Fan Bay and Langdon.
The Engine House was No 2. No 1 has been demolished but would have expected it held held much the same engines - sorry I can't help any more with that.
Will continue descriptive walk around the site when time permits.
Kind Regards
Alastair

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2021, 06:18:00 PM »
Alastair. I am all ears, so please continue. A couple of ?'s. What sort of engines were in the Engine Houses? 9.2" seems an odd size for a gun? were they for bombarding shipping in the English Channel? As an aside, many years ago I knew a chap who was in the RA during WW2 & was posted to Dover where he manned a 15"? long range gun that was kept in a tunnel in the cliffs. Every so often, they would bring it out on the railway, fire a few shots across the Channel & then take it back in.

Offline Alastair

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South Foreland Battery
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2021, 12:49:12 PM »
I started an explanatory description of this Battery on the Old Forum but never finished it. So I shall start again with hopes of finishing it this time. It describes South Foreland 9.2" Battery as it was in 1941 but obviously looks very different when I was last there in 2007. I've since moved to Cornwall.


Go down Lighthouse Road, at that time called Summerhouse Hill, in St Margaret's (which doesn't go to the lighthouse) and follow it to the end, by which time it is unmade. The last house on the left is a red brick bungalow. This was the old Guardhouse, now a private dwelling and has been extended. The barrier was at the St Margaret's end of the Guard Room. To the right and just before the Guardroom, a path leads off at right angles towards the fields. It passes a depression cut out of the chalk and was originally a chalk pit. It is now full of trees but in 1941 was clear, the only vegetation being the bushes on the far side.
There is a large off white brick building with a flat roof which is Engine House No 2. There are two large doors in the wall to enable the three engines to be installed. On from that is a concrete base covered with rubble, etc. This was once a cottage - people tended to build houses in chalk pits. Beyond that is dense undergrowth but just past the remains of the cottage were three Nissan huts for those operating the engines. They backed up against the boundary fence which ran from the barrier, down the left of the path and turned to the left at the end of the path where it opens on to a field.
Running from left to right was the railway, an extension of Pearson's Railway, relaid during the war to supply the guns. This branch ran from near the Radar Station across the field, with spurs off for the rail-mounted guns, and on to the other side of St Margaret's to supply 'Bruce.'
Opposite the end of the path was a wooden stage or platform for unloading supplies. They were collected by lorry - the path was wider as the house on the right wasn't there then. 
There was another wooden stage further along to the left to service the other guns and provide provisions.
Back to the Barrier and on the left a little farther on is a gate. This opens on to a field containing (at the time) bulls with malicious intent on my wellbeing.
So watch out for them. In the field to the left towards the Guard House there are some spindly trees among which was Gun No 4. The back garden of the bungalow that the Guard House has now become, has extended into the Battery and now includes No 4 Gin's shelter for Other Ranks, Officer's shelter being in the entrance to the magazines.
Ahead of the gates the Magazines are clearly visible, their rooves flush with the ground. They were built in pits to allow airflow around them but the space is now filled with debris, of which more later. There are two magazines, one for shells the other for cordite with a patch of cement on the ground at the corner of one. This was a pair of wooden doors allowing access for ammunition to be lowered into the magazines. There was a simple crane - basically a length of bent steel, that stood by the doors with a pulley wheel on the end.
I shall continue this at a later date. Unless you'd rather I didn't.
Alastair