Author Topic: South Foreland Battery  (Read 634 times)

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2021, 12:25:34 PM »
Thank you, Dave. I have been convinced of the rolling in of concrete debris for a long time. Time everyone who walks over the site knew they were walking on the actual battery.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2021, 07:13:22 PM »
Alastair. I for one, enjoyed your article, thanks. I agree with your surmise that it was easier to roll the rubbish & stuff they couldn't easily sell into the top of the existing path. You will have to, surrupticially ( why does my word check tell me that's wrong but doesn't tell me what is right?grr) , take a pick axe & dig up a bit- who knows what treasures!

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2021, 12:20:11 PM »
Tour of the South Foreland Battery Part 4
Concrete Path has joined Sea View Road at a T junction.To the right is an open patch of grassland. This was Gun No 1, connected to its magazines behind by a tunnel, exactly the same as in Gun No 4. To the left, a little farther down the road, is the entrance to the magazines for Nos 1 & 2 guns,which, if you stand at the entrance and face the sea, are at 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock. No 4 gun was unique in having separate shelters for Officers and O/R - Nos 1, 2 and 3 had the shelters combined at the entrance to the tunnel leading off the gun pit.
There was a shelter more or less opposite where the Nissen huts were and next to that was the Battery Observation Post. This was a two storeyed concrete building with an observation slit running its full width looking out to sea. Immediately next to it is the remains of the entrance to the Battery Plotting Room, which is underground and received the information from the OP next door.
To the left is grassland, under which is the Deep Shelter. There was one entrance by the Galley, one opposite No 3 gun and one opposite the Plotting Room. The shelter was of standard WW2 construction, as seen in the tunnels at Dover - Circular tunnel cut from the chalk with a concrete floor lai and lined with sheets of corrugated iron held in place with regular hoops of steel braces.
To the right, near the lighthouse were the Officer's Quarters and Admin buildings, all of similar construction to the other buildings mentioned, i.e. single storey with flat rooves. On the seaward side was the Chain Home Low Radar. All this has disappeared and is now part of the farmer's field. There was also a Deep Shelter Here.
After the war, the guns were cut up and sold for scrap and a firm was eventually paid to remove what was now an 'Eyesore.' The Battery had defended our country but was now decreed an Eyesore by the local Council so it had to go. The royal Engineers would have demolished the site for nothing but would not have removed the debris, so a local contractor was paid to do it.
This is where I have my own theory. It is my firm belief that the contractor didn't remove the rubble from the buildings, only the metal he could sell. The rubble was tipped into the gun pits, understandably, but the rest, I think, was spread along the road and rolled flat. My reason for thinking this is the level of the ground outside the magazines of 1 & 2 guns There is no way the ground would have been 18" higher than the magazine floor when shells had to be wheeled out. Similarly, in the Concrete Path look in the cattle grid. Two feet down is a layer of concrete. I believe that to be the original Concrete Path.
That's my theory, anyway. Hope you have enjoyed my description of the site. Thousands of people have walked over it not having any idea of what they were walking over.
Alastair

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2021, 12:43:12 PM »
Tour of the South Foreland Battery Part 3
Carry on down the path past the Incinerator and Sceptic Tank through the Boundary Fence and on to the railway. Here there was a wooden Platform as at the Chalk Pit but this one was bigger. Whereas the Chalk Pit platform had to deal with mainly Ammunition for No 4 gun and fuel oil, this one dealt with both Ammunition for guns 1, 2 and 3, fuel oil, coal and provisions for the entire Battery.
Back up the path, turn right passing the Battery Office and then the Officer's Mass on the right hand side. All the buildings mentioned, with the Exceptionof the Nissen huts, were of the same design, just differing in size according to use. They were single storey with flat roofs, like the one remaining building that was the Galley.
A large expanse of ground comes next, which I suspect was a parade ground. Chalk, rather than concrete, due to camouflage. Opposite this on the left hand side were three Nissen huts to house those operating Number 1 Engine House, which stood to the right of the concrete path which leads off to the left. It was called 'the Concrete Path' because it was a path made of concrete. The fact that it was called that at all implies that it was not there originally, at least, not in that form.
Turning on to said Concrete Path, there is a cattle grid, about which, more later. On ther right the Engine House No 1 and opposite that, on the left a shooting range. The Marines had to keep up their shooting skills, no doubt. Two more Nissen huts on the left and beyond them the magazines for No 1 gun. Exactly the same as those for No 4 gun, set in the ground with their roofs flush with the surface. The ground here was clear in 1941 with no vegetation as there is now .On the left is a large mound which conceals the magazines for Nos 2 and 3 guns. These were built above ground and covered in earth but with a reinforced steel 'burster over themin the earth. The idea was that if a shell or bomb landed it would explode, or burst, before it hit the magazine itself.
The Concrete Path joins Sea View Road here and I will continue later.

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2021, 12:14:12 PM »
Thanks, Dave, I didn't know that. Presumably it would have been from the Low radar by the lighthouse.
Alastair

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2021, 02:31:13 PM »
Alastair. I just read that they were radar controlled from the official writing of the episode. Either Hi or Lo could have been used but I think Hi was more for aircraft.

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2021, 12:38:26 PM »
Dave, I'm not sure that the guns were radar controlled. There was an OP which was connected to the Plotting Room (haven't got there yet in my narrative travels) but there was a radar dish by South Foreland Lighthouse designated Chain Home Low. As opposed to Swingate Radar which was Chain Home High.
Alastair

Online stuartwaters

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2021, 05:40:49 PM »
Tirpitz staying in port is classic naval "fleet in being" strategy. Simply put, once sunk it's no longer a threat. Sometimes it's more menacing just to be sat there looking threatening.
see tiny link below........

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleet_in_being


Now not so tiny  ;D
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2021, 02:02:37 PM »
Thanks Bill. That map was interesting. I wonder where the radar was to control the guns? One might assume that those very tall masts that were in the area ( I well remember the early ones by the side of the road near Sandwich) collected the images & they were relayed by telephone to the site?

Offline Bill Jones

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2021, 09:09:47 AM »
I asked John on the south east history site if I can post this map as it shows things there, very interesting and i will be visiting when I can leave the house http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?board=6.0

Offline Nemo

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2021, 10:34:22 PM »
A site visit report appears within https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/tags/dover/

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2021, 06:13:07 PM »
Tirpitz staying in port is classic naval "fleet in being" strategy. Simply put, once sunk it's no longer a threat. Sometimes it's more menacing just to be sat there looking threatening.
see tiny link below........

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleet_in_being

Offline MartinR

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2021, 12:18:37 PM »
My late father used to say something similar: "to a continental power the seas are a barrier which has to be crossed whereas to a maritime power the seas connect us to our allies".  This attitude seems to play out will with the Spanish, French and Germans.  It also plays well with the EU vs UK.  Like all such sayings it is of course a simplification.
Continuing with the simplification: the Germans in both WWs (with the notable exception of the submarines) tended to "day cruise".  They came out, performed their mission and retired to port for safety and repairs.  The British on the other hand tended to try to keep a substantial part of the fleet at sea, returning to harbour only when necessary.  Like I said, a pretty gross simplification but I think justified as a trend in general if not in particular.

Offline Alastair

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2021, 11:24:53 AM »
Dave, thank you for your reply. I've often wondered about the Germans naval strategy. It had some incredibly powerful ships but made very little use of them. Tirpitz sat in a Norwegian fiord and only came out to attack. Surely the best use of such a vessel would be to keep it at sea where it could be better employed? Scharnhorst and Gneisnau were much the same and Prinz Eugen didn't shine at all, except to beat a hasty retreat from the Bismark's demise. It came to an ignominious end, being used by the American Navy for target practice.
My late mother said that the Germans were not good at marine warfare, unlike the British, who, being an island, were rather good at it.
Alastair

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: South Foreland Battery
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2021, 11:40:30 AM »
Alastair. Interesting reading , your travel through the site. One can almost be there at the time that it was active. I've recently read the official discourse on the infamous " Channel dash". In that it does mention that South Foreland Battery did fire, as they had radar controlled 9.2" guns. Didn't sink anything though! So for the radar, they would have needed a fair amount of electricity from the diesel generators. I'm sure that someone will tell us whether radar works on ac or dc, I suspect the latter? Having read, absorbed & pondered that report, I wonder whether the War Cabinet- probably Churchill- had done a Military Appreciation of the Situation? "Why do the Germans want to go West? To protect Norway from us invading. But we don't intend to invade Norway! Would we be better off if those deadly ships were in those waters rather than in the Atlantic, where they pose a considerable threat to the Atlantic convoys from the USA? Ponder, not for long! Let them through but try to sink them on the way"! I wonder?