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.
Good to see this project underway. Are you aware of this item in the IWM's sound recordings collection:
de Courcy-Ireland, Brian
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.....