Jump to content


Remembered Today:

Photo

Orkney


18 replies to this topic

#1 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:57 AM

I'm researching the defences of Scapa Flow in both wars, particularly the coast batteries. I am particularly interested in the re-development of the remnants of WWI batteries during WWII.

#2 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:24 AM

In early 2012 Ness Battery near Stromness in Orkney will be open to the public and I will be one of the guides.

The Ness Battery guarded the western entrance to Scapa Flow in both wars. In WWI there were three batteries guarding this entrance, with seven guns installed in 1915. These guns were manufactured in the USA by the Bethlehem Steel Company and manned by both local TA units and Royal Marines.


I am looking for any information anyone has on the above or any family connections with wartime Orkney.




#3 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:31 AM

The Ness Battery is unique in the UK in that it still has a few of it's wooden accommodation huts intact, one of which has a fabulous mural painted by A.R.Woods, who we believe was a pier master on the Thames.

We have yet to find evidence that this Mr Woods was in Orkney, and his book 'I Guarded The Waterfront' (1942) makes no mention of him being up here.

#4 Bob G

Bob G

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 742 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ashton in Makerfield

Posted 09 October 2011 - 06:26 PM

At last the chance to mention Ness Battery........
In 1973 I took part in Exercise Harsh as a TA soldier (1 Lancastrian) and had to defend Hoy from an invasion by the enemy, 2 Royal Green Jackets.
We were billeted in Ness Battery and I rememember the painting in the cook house. It read something like 'Send all the ships you have and we will sink them'
In the huts there were fancy curtains at the windows, probably was women's accommodation. We practiced section attack drills around the concrete gun emplacements
and had demos of explosives there as well.

#5 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:29 PM

That's brilliant!

I'll be passing that on - there is someone here in Orkney researching the post-War period and she has been interviewing people. There is report on the way and I could forward it. Some fascinating stories.

Explosives - I was speaking recently to someone who remembers explosives training, during which they blew up some searchlight emplacements down by the shore - does that ring any bells?

Any photos or documents from that time?


The line on the mural is "Come the three corners of the world in ships and we will sink them."

http://www.orkneycom...number24135.asp

Cheers!

#6 Kate Wills

Kate Wills

    Lieut-General

  • Admin
  • 8,270 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:concert parties; Salonika esp. 7th OBLI; arts in WW1; my cats; Save the Strays; Northampton Saints RFC

Posted 12 October 2011 - 03:00 PM

I was entertering some names onto my performers database last night, most of whom were members of the RMA Holm Battery who gave an entertainment in 1918. The first one I checked was on a short service enlistment into the RMA, and was only granted a British War Medal at the end of hostilities. I assume this is because he did not see active service overseas. If so this seems very unfair, given the importance of of the posting in a place which was effectively a theatre of war.

#7 Kate Wills

Kate Wills

    Lieut-General

  • Admin
  • 8,270 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:concert parties; Salonika esp. 7th OBLI; arts in WW1; my cats; Save the Strays; Northampton Saints RFC

Posted 12 October 2011 - 03:25 PM

In early 2012 Ness Battery near Stromness in Orkney will be open to the public and I will be one of the guides.

The Ness Battery guarded the western entrance to Scapa Flow in both wars. In WWI there were three batteries guarding this entrance, with seven guns installed in 1915. These guns were manufactured in the USA by the Bethlehem Steel Company and manned by both local TA units and Royal Marines.


I am looking for any information anyone has on the above or any family connections with wartime Orkney.


Ness Battery,

Good to see this project underway. Are you aware of this item in the IWM's sound recordings collection:

12243
CATALOGUE NUMBER

PRODUCTION DATE:

1991

MAKER:

de Courcy-Ireland, Brian

OBJECT TYPE:

IWM interview

PRODUCTION COMPANY:

IWM

DESCRIPTION:

British officer served aboard HMS Bellerophon with Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, 1915-1916; present at Battle of Jutland, 31/5/1916; attached to HMS Relentless, 1917; served aboard HMS Pellew in North Sea, 1918, including torpedo attack, 19/7/1918; served aboard HMS Westcott in North Sea and Baltic, 1918-1919; present during scuttling of High Seas FleetREEL 1 Background in Adwick-le-Street, Buckland Brewer and Kingsmere, 1900-1913: family circumstances; education; education at Ellerslie Preparatory School, Barnstaple. Recollections of conditions of service, daily routine and lifestyle during training as naval cadet at Osborne College, Isle of Wight, 1/1913-1915: origins of interest in Royal Navy; prior interview and examination; first impressions; dormitory accommodation; uniform; morning routine; practical engineering; boat work; navigation; naval history; educational classes; sporting activities; relationship with cadets; background of cadets; discipline, masters and punishments; masthead drill. REEL 2 Continues: masthead drill; outbreaks of 'pink eye'; send off of senior Dartmouth cadets leaving on outbreak of war during home leave at Kingsmere, 4/8/1914; detachment aboard HMS Centurion during Naval Review at Spithead, 7/1914; family reactions to outbreak of war, 4/8/1914; introduction of retired personnel at naval colleges. Recollections of period training as naval cadet at Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, 1/1915-12/1915: relationship with petty officer and instructors; presence of HMS Britannia; daily routine and lifestyle; gunnery training; sailing experience; interest in progress of war; early posting to sea. Recollections of conditions of service, daily routine and lifestyle during period as midshipman aboard HMS Bellerophon, 4th Battle Sqdn, Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, 1916-1917: journey out and view of funeral of crew from HMS Natal at Invergordon, 1/1916; gunroom accommodation and hammocks; public school entrance midshipmen; punishment canings and mast headings. REEL 3 Continues: question of bullying and 'evolutions'; nature of watch keeping duties; cleaning ship; nature of picket boat work in harbour and relationship with coxswain; role as duty steam boat; story of disciplinary proceedings following dispute between steam boat coxswain and Royal Marine officer; theoretical lectures; gunnery instruction. REEL 4 Continues: familiarisation process as member of foretop division: pastoral role of officer responsible for welfare of midshipman; role of divisional officer; drill; daily routine; running ship from quarterdeck in harbour; signal training; opinion of Captain Bruin and story of his reaction to news of suicide whilst leaving harbour; bridge personnel and nature of midshipman's duties; nature of bridge; visits to Invergordon and Moray Firth; action station manning Dumerecq in gunhouse of 'Q' Turret including automated loading procedure and turret gun crew; stages of action stations; nature of routine Grand Fleet sweeps into North Sea; recreations on visits ashore to Island of Flotta; climbing on cliffs of St John's Head, Isle of Hoy. REEL 5 Continues: climbing and collecting birds' eggs on cliffs of St John's Head, Isle of Hoy; concert party; visit to officers' wardroom; food and messing system; supplementing food during visits to Invergordon; drinking habit; question of morale welfare; coaling ship including method, competitive approach and subsequent bath; Christmas celebrations, 25/12/1916; painting ship; relationship with sailors and petty officers; duties cooking and as lookout during detachments detachment onto Hoxa Sound anti-submarine patrol in drifters. Recollections of Battle of Jutland, 30/6/1915-1/6/1916: departure of Grand Fleet from Scapa. REEL 6 Continues: voyage out; limited perspective of battle from action stations in 'Q' Turret; personal morale; preparations; method of operating Dumarescq machine; indistinct first sighting of German ships after deployment into line; question of independent or salvo firing; fire orders controlled by director including reported success in hitting destroyer and use of common or armour piercing shells; independent turret fire; low visibility; noise and atmosphere in turret; view of debris and corpses in sea during lull; ignorance of progress of battle; view of night action; firing at Zeppelin, 1/6/1916; question of renewing action, 1/6/1916; loading procedure; reactions after battle. Recollections of explosion of HMS Vanguard, 9/7/1917: survivors; collection of corpses; question of cause and changes to fuses. REEL 7 Continues: Aspects of period detached for destroyer service experience aboard HMS Relentless, 1917: nature of ship; opinion of captain; duties as officer of watch on bridge; role escorting convoys from Shetlands to Norway, including convoy speed, depth charge attacks against U-boats, rough sea conditions, seasickness and rations; periods in harbour; story of leaving convoy to rescue of troopship liner under attack from U- boat; period escorting Atlantic convoys; further detachments aboard HMS Offa and HMS Pelew prior to return to HMS Bellerophen; preference for destroyer service; passing seamanship examination. Aspects of period aboard HMS Pellew, 1918: opinion of captain; role as acting sub-lieutenant; lack of contact with flotilla; convoy duties; watch duties and daily routine; officers' cabins. REEL 8 Continues: officers' cabins and wardroom; relationship between captain and officers; action stations; action stations preparations aboard HMS Bellerophen. Account of being hit by torpedo in North Sea, 19/7/1918: role escorting minelayers laying barrage; effects of torpedo strike whilst sleeping in cabin; situation trapped by jammed hatch with ship on fire; release of hatch and escape; reporting to captain; putting out fire aft; tow from tugs back to Aberdeen; minimal casualties; difficulties in securing hotel accommodation; physical and mental effects of experience; survivors leave. Aspects of period as sub-lieutenant aboard HMS Westcott, 8/1918-1919: joining ship at South Queensferry; memory loss and blackouts caused by delayed shock; watch keeping. REEL 9 Continues: nature of ship; crew morale; role as gunnery officer and problems with 4.7" guns; storm whilst anchored off May Island in Firth of Forth; picking up ditched Camel pilot after raid on Zeppelin sheds; Armistice celebrations in Edinburgh, 11/11/1918; impressions of surrender of High Seas Fleet, 21/11/1918. Aspects of period guarding German destroyer anchored in Gutta Sound, Scapa Flow, 11/1918-6/1918: duties; ban on fraternisation and boarding German ships; relationship between German lower deck and officers amongst German skeleton crews; question of future and state of ships. Account of scuttling of High Seas Fleet, 21/6/1919: first reports of Germans abandoning ships; British ships present; firing warning shots with machine guns; blowing cable of destroyers and pushing destroyers aground on Isle of Fara. REEL 10 Continues: boarding Hindenburg and failed attempt to save her by closing watertight doors, hatches and sea-cocks; German crews on Isle of Cava; dispute between Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Freemantle and Lieutenant Peplow; question of future and state of ships including sabotaged big guns; interception and boarding German mail destroyer to prevent them scuttling ship in entrance of Scapa Flow; salvage of destroyers grounded on Isle of Fara; question of looting. Aspects of period based at Hamburg, Germany, 7/1919-8/1919: acting as landing stage for HMS Coventry in dockyard; situation; system of organised bartering to eradicate black market; recreations on visits ashore; minimal contact with German civilians; story of receiving petition from islanders whilst at anchor off Heligoland. REEL 11 Continues: story of receiving petition from islanders including ex-Royal Naval rating whilst at anchor off Heligoland. Period in Baltic, 1919-1920: taking over as navigating officer after discovery of failure of predecessor to update charts; story of punishing Soviet spy operating in Copenhagen; minimal contact with 13th Destroyer Flotilla; story of German irregular troops atrocities; role assisting Estonian and White Russian forces fighting Soviet Union; bombarding Soviet positions; confused nature of situation; aspects of anchorage at Biorko, Finland; Tsar's summer residence; Finns construction of kayak; background to bombardment at close range of German irregulars camp; nude sea bathers; question of issue of watch keeping certificate.....

#8 Bob G

Bob G

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 742 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ashton in Makerfield

Posted 13 October 2011 - 10:59 PM

Mr Ness Battery,
Here is the only photograph that I have of the camp area at Ness Battery. I was taken by me with an Instamatic camera.
Who are these local children who are now nudging 50 !?
I was nearly there with my recollection of the sign's words, not bad for 38 years. So we don't get thrown off the topic by the Mods I recall
that when we went on a recce by Puma, south of Lyness there was scrap. We were told that it was from HMS Vanguard that was destroyed by a internal explosion
in 1917.

Attached Files



#9 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:50 PM

Bob - Thanks, brilliant photo! I will try and find out who the pesky meddling kids are!
As for the Vanguard scrap, could well be the case, might look into that. I know the spot you mean, I was working very near there a while back.


Kate - Thanks for the IWM link. I had found it in a search but not got round to listening to whole thing yet. looks good.

Also, I would be very interested to know more about the records you have on you performers database.

A long time ago I worked in a hotel in Devon, and the old chap who came to play the piano in the bar every Friday and Saturday was a veteran of WWI. He had been gassed, and still suffered chest problems, although he lived beyond 90 I think. During WWII he travelled around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with ENSA and was the pianist for the main orchestra/band, providing backing for the big stars of the time. Gracie Fields included I would guess. He must have been born about 1898.

And sorry took so long to reply!

#10 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:56 PM

Here's a photo from Ness Battery (or Hoy No.2 as it was in WWI).

Note the 'BS' Orkney number plate - much sought after by Orcadians now, there are quite a few on the island still. Mostly on vintage tractors!Attached File  L4830-4.jpg   77.12KB   0 downloads

#11 4thGordons

4thGordons

    Lieut-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 5,432 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:(longterm) 4th Gordon Highlanders.(more recently) 33rd "Prairie Division" AEF and American Field Service 1917-18

Posted 24 January 2012 - 07:08 PM

I am fairly certain you have seen it but I have a small pamphlet entiteld :
"The History of the Orkney and Shetland Volunteers and Territorials 1793-1958" by D. Rollo
with a recipt for the original purchase on letterhead from 861 (independent) LAA Battery RA (Orkney and Zetland) TA dated Jan 23rd 1959

I got it for information on the Gordons connections.
If by chance you do not have it - it has a couple of BW photos in that may be of interest

Chris

#12 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:25 PM

I have not actually had my hands on it but I think the library here has a copy. Often seen it referred to, and would love to see the photos.

Some good pics here:

http://www.odin.uk.com

#13 Kate Wills

Kate Wills

    Lieut-General

  • Admin
  • 8,270 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:concert parties; Salonika esp. 7th OBLI; arts in WW1; my cats; Save the Strays; Northampton Saints RFC

Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:34 PM

Holm Battery concert party programme 1918

#14 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:45 PM

Brilliant, thanks Kate.

#15 Kate Wills

Kate Wills

    Lieut-General

  • Admin
  • 8,270 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:concert parties; Salonika esp. 7th OBLI; arts in WW1; my cats; Save the Strays; Northampton Saints RFC

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:24 PM

Likewise, if you uncover anything about this party, or any others, please let me know.

Nice story about the veteran pianist. I wonder who he was.

#16 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:51 PM

From Geoffrey Stell's excellent new book, Orkney At War: Defending Scapa Flow, Volume I: World War I

"Other surviving memorabilia include Christmas cards and invitation cards that testify to close social links between the Royal Marines of Holm Battery and the Isbister family of Hall of Gorn in Holm."

#17 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,488 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 24 January 2012 - 11:42 PM

This may be a bit off piste but you did say both wars. Have you looked at the 1945 plan for a "total commitment" raid on Scapa Flow by the Leonidas Staffel using Reichenberg bombers [a manned version of the Fieseler Fi103 flying bomb (the V1)] carried by He 111Hs.

Attached File  rberg.jpg   22.61KB   1 downloads


Over 170 Reichenbergs were built and there were trained volunteers to fly them. It is difficult to see what purpose this couldhave served, even if an attack had exceeded beyond the planners' wildest dreams and sunk most of Britain's capital ships it would have had no effect, at this stage in the war, on the Third Reich's chances of survival. Germany had no effective surface fleet left and such an attack would have had no impact on the Royal Navy destroyers and corvettes that were both maintaining the sea blockade of Germany and sinking U boats on a daily basis. It would have been no more than a grand gesture, a revenge attack.

As it was it literally never got off the ground as a] There was insufficient fuel for the Heinkel 111H carriers and b] some one in Berlin still had enough sanity left to realise that with the Western Allies over the Rhine and Soviets pushing from the East there were more pressing priorities for Germany. One wonders though how the Scapa Flow defences would have coped.

#18 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 25 January 2012 - 10:19 AM

That is fascinating, and I am keen to explore the German point of view.

What a bizarre scheme! And would have been very interesting to see how Scapa's formidable AA defences (the 'Scapa Barrage') would have coped.

"grand gesture, a revenge attack" - yes, that's all it could really achieve. Maybe to 'book-end' the war, with the sinking of Royal Oak at the start.

[I know we are straying into WWII - but hard not to with Scapa Flow]

This is the first I have heard of this, so thanks very much for posting.

#19 Ness Battery

Ness Battery

    Corporal

  • Members2
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orkney

Posted 25 January 2012 - 10:21 AM

Nice story about the veteran pianist. I wonder who he was.



His name was Ernie.....

I'll be in Devon next week and will find out his surname from a friend who also worked at the hotel. Would be good to track him down in the archives. I think he featured on a programme on BBC Southwest once.