Working on the research for the British guns at Wanstone Farm near Dover. Jane & Clem, Winnie and Pooh and the oddity Bruce. Seems that Bruce was very much a test gun and was sleeved down from a 13.5in naval gun down to a caliber of 8inch but the shell was driven by the 13.5in charge! This gave it a range of about 78 miles but by the time the tests had finished in 1944 nothing more was achieved, probably because of intense barrel wear created by the hyper velocity shell. The site of Bruce is just discernible today and its interesting to note that the Germans solved the problem of hyper velocity shells in a rather clever way; by inventing the V2 rocket.
On with the new book project on the history of the cross channel guns in both Britain and France. Its always typical that just when you think you have all the primary source material new stuff emerges from unsuspecting areas; such has just happen to us! A set of new pictures have emerged of the big guns based at Dover and the number of shots they actually fired in anger. We are pleased that the project is coming together but it looks like another trip to Dover will be needed to clarify the newly discovered material and to retake some survey photographs. There is now some confusion over just who the 15inch gun "Clem" was named after, is it Churchill's Wife Clementine or Clement Attlee, the Deputy Prime Minister serving under Winston Churchill during the war years?
More research still needed but pleased that the work is progressing very well and our website pages will soon be updated.
New photo's to complete the pages on RAF Friston coming soon when new field survey work is completed this Spring.
Just to the East of Dover docks situated on the White Cliffs at Fan Bay is the remains of a WW2 coastal gun battery. It was a three gun emplacement designed to engage German shipping that strayed too close to the port and was just one of several such batteries on the southern Kent coast. All of these coastal batteries were equipped with deep shelters to protect personnel in case of enemy attention whether it be bombing or shelling.
After the war the authorities were quick to bury and destroy all such constructions and this one like all of the others just faded away.
However in 2011 the National Trust bought the land that forms the White Cliffs of Dover and in so doing inherited Fan Bay Battery and its deep shelter.
After rediscovery, the deep shelter was opened up and found to be in excellent condition after its 70years of hibernation and so, thanks to the National Trust, it will be opened up this summer to visitors from 20th July as a permanent tourist attraction.
The National Trust are selling it as a unique site to visit requiring a 90 minute round trip walk and a 30 minute guided tour of the site with torch and hardhat supplied; not for the feint hearted then!
We will visit and report back later in the year ourselves.
Steve is a retired photography teacher and now works as a military historian while living in East Sussex, England.