The northerly wreck
20 December 2015
Gullane Sands, Aberlady Bay, East Lothian
NT 45184 81436; 56.02266°N, 2.88099°W
In Aberlady Bay – which, incidentally, was designated in 1952 as the UK’s first Local Nature Reserve – rest the wrecks of two World War II midget submarines 1 km out from the Mean High Water line on the intertidal flats of Gullane Sands. In May 1946 these two XT-Craft – training versions of the X-Craft submarine – were moored one each 100 paces to the north and to the south of a set of five concrete anti-tank blocks (four forming a base with the fifth placed on top) positioned close to the low tide mark. Two aircraft – a Supermarine Seafire (the folding-wing, aircraft-carrier version of the Spitfire) and a de Havilland Mosquito then used the mini submarines floating at high tide as targets in a trial on the effects on X-Craft hulls of 20mm cannon shells. The wrecks of the two vessels were subsequently left abandoned in situ.
Built by Vickers-Armstrong, the X-Craft submarine was 15 metres long and was manned by a crew of four. The midget submarine was designed specifically for use in the 1943 attacks, codenamed Operation Source, on the German fleet in Norwegian fjords. The German Bismarck-class battleship Tirpitz was put out of action for at least six months after sustaining damage from demolition charges placed below her by two X-Craft. (The Tirpitz finally met her end the following year when she took two direct hits from Lancaster bombers.)
X-craft: Aberlady Bay, Firth Of Forth (Historic Environment Scotland);
Operation Source (Wikipedia)
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No. 1 Sound Mirror, Fan Bay
26 October 2016
Fan Bay, Dover, Kent
TR 35221 42799; 51.13611°N, 1.36095°E
Concrete sound mirrors were developed in Britain to provide early warning of approaching aircraft. The dish-shaped acoustic reflectors focused sound waves to a point in front of the mirror where a microphone would be placed, or an operator equipped with a stethoscope would be positioned. The technology became obsolete in the 1930s with the advent of radar.
The two 4.5 metre World War I sound mirrors at Fan Bay, the site of which had been filled in in the 1970s, were excavated by the National Trust as part of its restoration of Fan Bay Deep Shelter. An archaeological dig took place in 2014 to find the mirrors and 600 tonnes of spoil was removed to uncover the devices. The guided tour of Fan Bay Deep Shelter includes an opportunity to view the sound mirrors at close quarters.
Fan Bay Deep Shelter;
First World War ‘sound mirrors’ restored on White Cliffs of Dover (Centenary News)
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Inside the Keep, or Great Tower, built by Henry II c 1181-88
25 October 2016
TR 32666 41886; 51.12896°N, 1.32391°E
Dover Castle – the largest in England – is a Grade I listed building and is owned by English Heritage. Its strategically important location on a clifftop overlooking Dover Strait in the English Channel was the site of an Iron Age hillfort. A lighthouse – the oldest still surviving in the UK – was also built there by the Romans in the 2nd century. Much of the existing castle was built by Henry II in the 12th century. Major additions were built at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars and a network of tunnels beneath the clifftop were excavated to serve as barracks to house the extra troops stationed there at that time. During World War II the tunnels housed an underground hospital and a command centre, from where Vice-Admiral Ramsay led Operation Dynamo to rescue British and French troops stranded at Dunkirk.
Dover Castle (Wikipedia);
Dover Castle (English Heritage);
More posts in the Dover series
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Weeping Window, Black Watch Castle and Museum
22 August 2016
The Black Watch Castle and Museum, Perth
NO 11438 24358; 56.40311°N, 3.43659°W
The ceramic-poppy art installation Weeping Window, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper as part of the 2014 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London, was on display at The Black Watch Castle and Museum in Perth from 30 June until 25 September 2016.
The Black Watch was formed as an infantry regiment in 1881 and since 2006 has been a battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. During the First World War almost 9,000 soldiers of the Black watch lost their lives and a further 20,000 were wounded.
Perth’s Balhousie Castle, which dates back to the 12th century, became the home of the Black Watch’s regimental headquarters and museum during a re-organisation of the Army in the 1960s. An appeal was launched in 2008 to purchase and develop the castle as a permanent home for the museum and redevelopment started in 2012 with the museum re-opening in 2013.
Weeping Window… by day (Liverpool);
Weeping Window… by night (Liverpool);
The Black Watch Castle and Museum
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