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Author Topic: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover  (Read 23447 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #33 on: June 15, 2014, 19:02:02 »
A couple of photos from today.

Mike Reeve

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2012, 16:55:36 »
I'm not too sure Unfairytale, the photo is from an old booklet which was put together with the help of the wartime commander of the battery Reginald Puttee and i belive it is one of his own photos.
In this scan of the whole page the picture descriptions refer to the barrels arriving and getting the guns into position.
Also the first two photos look like the barrel is being winched up the hill from Farthingloe rather than down.

1939   Dover Gun installed by Richard Shrive

The guns(barrels) featured being moved to Citadel battery in 1939 were installed by my Grandfather Richard 'Dickie' Shrive. At this time in the war there was great difficulty in obtaining the wood planks and blocks required for use in the transport and mounting of the guns. My father Harold Reeve was working in Dover on supplies for the requisitioned trawlers being fitted out for mine sweeping activities. He was able to make contacts available to Richard Shrive that enabled him get the timber and railway sleepers to use to move the guns into position.

I have a series of photographs which we always thought were made by Richard's team to illustrate his ultimate report to those above on the methods and difficulties in getting the guns in place. Richard is in many of the photographs supervising the move. (He is the one with a cigerette in his right hand). I will try to post some of these. But I have not quite got the hang of this yet. I have only just found this post which has helped me understand some detail I did not have before.

Mike Reeve (Unable to get the images to take. Help!)

You may also like to see the following on the movement of guns.

1939-1945 Gunbucking at Dover by Col. B.E.Arnold T.D.

Gunbucking - Another pastime thought up by our masters was an exercise in the art of 'Gun bucking', or to give it the correct title, 'The Principles of Moving Ordnance'. The idea was to bring up a six inch gun on rollers, and raise it up a bank, about 30 feet high, and fire it, all in one day. The purpose of the exercise was to try out the installation of a coast gun in a captured enemy port, either in Northern France or Belgium or Italy. We had not captured any of these ports yet, but it was considered that should ever the time come, it would be as well to know how to protect them from sea attack.
Langdon Barracks - Langdon Barracks was chosen as the most suitable place, being on more than one level, and approximately the correct heights. In addition, all the skidding, such as planks, 10 foot, 6 foot, and 4 foot, oak and fir, blocks, rollers, holdfasts, ropes and shackles, were in fact stored in Langdon, and readily available. The exercise was not to be performed by experts in gun installation, who in the event would probably not be available, but was to be done by an ordinary gunner officer from 519 Coast Regiment. As many men as could be spared from the batteries would be detailed to assist him. Any notes he had made on courses, any knowledge or advice he could squeeze out of professional gun buckers, plus Coast Artillery Training Part II, the manual devoted to such things, would be at his disposal. The only concessions given were the laying down of a concrete base, with the required number of bolts, on which to set the carriage down and fix, when it had been raised up to the second level. This was cheating, I thought, as it was unlikely the enemy would be so obliging. The other concession was the bringing of the whole piece to the entrance of Langdon Barracks, by the experts. The holding down bolts in the concrete base are still there today, and likely to remain there for all time. A number of senior officers from other regiments, from Brigade headquarters, including the B.R.A. and other 'brass hats' and the corps commander C.A. would be invited to witness the event or catastrophe, as we all expected it to be, and all of us wondered who the unfortunate officer, to be detailed by the Commanding officer, would be. Obviously the exercise could not be rehearsed beforehand, and everybody was hoping they would be spared the trials and tribulations which would surely follow.
Regimental Orders - We patiently awaited regimental orders and finally to everyone else's relief, the name appeared, it was mine ! My knowledge for such a task was extremely limited, but the C.O. was very enthusiastic and gave me every possible assistance and advice. We selected from the regiment, about 50 men and many had actually served in a regiment trained for the installation of guns.
Lt. Colonel ‘Dickie’ Shrive - I closeted myself, however, with the greatest expert of all, who happened to be in Dover at the time. This man had recently put new barrels into Citadel Battery and was responsible for the installation of the great guns at South Foreland, Wanstone, and Fan Bay. He had in fact, put guns into fortifications all over the world, and knew more about such matters, I suspect, than any other gunner living. He was rather an irascible and fierce looking man, with a dark tanned complexion of India, and a liking for gin. This was the great Major later Lt. Colonel 'Dickie' Shrive. He was always followed about by the most enormous battery sergeant major I have ever seen, and certainly with the loudest voice and 'powers of persuasion'. This man was called 'Tiny'. Dickie Shrive virtually trained me on all I wanted to know, what to do and what equipment I should require. He explained all the principles of moving ordnance, and the things in C.A.T. Vol. II, which I did not understand. He stressed that at all times I should never forsake safety to speed up the job or take a short cut. He explained that I should require a 12 ton gin for lifting. This consisted of a very large tripod, which had to be erected with a barrel and tackle, strong enough to lift a six-inch gun on to a constructed sledge. The erection of the gin was a drill in itself. Its legs had to be inserted into 'shoes' to prevent them sinking into the ground, and it had to be equally balanced on its three legs, so that it did not collapse under stress, and crash down on the people operating it. It had the advantage, however, inasmuch as it was something on which we could practise and rehearse up at Langdon Barracks, until we were more or less competent to put the thing up, in the least possible time and difficulty.  This job was in addition  to my  normal  duties  as  fire commander, but we were given about two months to get ready and the C.O. was very good about letting me have as much time off as possible for my 'gin' work and other preparations. I now had to make all the calculations for ultimate strength, safe working strength, stress and breaking stress, for timber and ropes. I had to learn about 14 foot levers and power required to balance fulcra and a host of other information which I should probably never require again. We then drew up plans and read all about the building of ramps, for it was by such a contraption the gun was to be hauled up the bank. Many of these things I worked out and read up during the night watches, enemy permitting. This plan I have kept as a memento to the very anxious and worrying time I experienced prior to the exercise. However I received every encouragement from Major Shrive, and he looked over my calculations to ensure that I had not made a fool of myself and that nobody was going to get hurt, because I had ordered the wrong plank in the wrong place!
 The great day - When the great day arrived, there was little more for me to do, other than issue the necessary orders and pray everything would go according to plan and that we had made the right calculations. Fortunately it was a fine bright day, and the gun and carriage had arrived safely at the entrance of the barracks. All the V.I. P.'s started to arrive and chairs had been placed for them at the higher level, and an officer was there to explain to them our intention. Even a six-inch shell was placed ready to be fired, if ever we got that far.
Getting the gun up the ramp - The men got to work to build the ramp up the bank, quickly and efficiently, and I am sure many of them had done the job before.
Erecting the gin - Next we erected the gin without mishap, and I thought all this is too good to be true. All through the morning, cars kept arriving in Langdon Barracks, to take up position in the army way, according to rank, to witness the rise of the gun and carriage to its concrete base or fall on the officer responsible for its journey. We hammered in the holdfasts with great flourish, to impress the visitors, raised the carriage high enough to place rollers under the sledge, to enable us to drag it to the foot of the ramp. This in itself was a mathematical calculation, based on the diameter of the rollers and the width of the bottom of the sledge. It would be determined when a roller would reach the end of the sledge and when another must be inserted in the front, so that the movement forward went off smoothly and without tilting the carriage. If the rollers were placed at an angle, so the sledge moved left or right. We got it to the foot of the ramp and attached a number of ropes, blocks and tackle fastening the end to the holdfasts at the higher level. I placed a couple of men with mallets alongside the holdfasts, in case they started to drag out of the ground, and it proved just as well, as I learnt afterwards. The gods were with us that day, for somehow, no doubt due to the resourcefulness of the sergeant in charge and the co-operation and enthusiasm of the men, the carriage reached the top, was again placed on rollers, and finally lowered on to the bolts in the concrete base, where it was securely fixed by men detailed just for this job.
The barrel - After adjustment to our sledge, the barrel followed, and started its hazardous journey up the ramp. The operation is known as parbuckling, which simply means that ropes are rolled round the barrel in such a way that it can be virtually rolled up the ramp. The men following behind had a dangerous job, as they were required to put triangular shaped blocks, called scotches, against the barrel, to prevent it rolling backwards. If it had done so, I doubt whether they could have stopped it, and would have been badly injured, and this was quite contrary to what Major Shrive had taught me. It was a case of the drill being forgotten or not enough confidence in the theory. All I had to do was stand at the top, directing the operation, yell 'heave' on a number of occasions, and shout encouragement. I think I even took a turn on the rope, although this was considered 'not the thing', as I was not then in a position to watch the proceedings. I was supposed to be in charge, and know all that was going on. In fact, I was relying almost entirely on the skill and drive of the sergeant. Very slowly the barrel rolled up the ramp, with rather terrifying pauses as the men stopped to get their breath, the follow up men scotched up, and the holdfast men hammered at the holdfasts, which were creaking and appeared to be working loose. If they had given way, the barrel would have crashed to the bottom and a number of gunners would have been seriously injured. Finally it reached the top and now it was just a question of lowering the gin, getting it up the ramp and again raising it so that the barrel could be lifted and lowered on to the trunnions.
Gin drill - Gin drill can be quite impressive to the uninitiated, and although hot and tired, you can be sure that everybody put in all the 'bull' they could to impress the onlookers, who by this time, had enjoyed their picnic lunches, and were now getting rather bored with the whole business, especially as we had provided no excitement, like a major accident. When the barrel was finally resting in the trunnion holders, we screwed down everything in sight, fixed on the breech and then my most important task became due. I proudly marched across to the corps commander and reported. 'Gun ready to load and fire.'
Six inch sand filled shell - We had the six inch sand filled shell, together with a charge, and although I could not see why, I felt that the whole thing would collapse, as in a funny film, if we attempted to fire it. Nevertheless, the corps commander inspected the piece, appeared to be satisfied, ordered me to load and make safe, which merely meant pulling back the lever breech mechanism a few inches so that contact was broken. He then ordered me to fire when ready, so the detachment, which had been well rehearsed, took up their positions, the gun was laid in the direction of France, for want of a better place to aim, I ordered Fire' and kept my fingers crossed. There was the usual explosion and all the loose grass and chalk rose in the air in a great cloud, part settling on the spectators, who had by now retired to a safe distance, and lo and behold, but a few seconds later, a great splash arose in the channel about 5000 yards away. This was followed by a little clapping from the spectators, who then hurried to their cars and disappeared. We had started the exercise at 8 a.m. and the time was now 1630 hours. Everyone was relieved, no more than I, the C.O. was delighted, as he would receive the congratulations from the corps commander, and the bored visitors had now all gone, thinking that the whole business had probably been a waste of their time and our efforts.
Major Shrive - Major Shrive, who had turned up late in the afternoon, so that he would not have to witness the fuss we were making over a job his own boys would have done in a quarter of the time, with half the number of men, made us all stack the skidding in a neat pile. All our planks, four by twos, ropes and tackle had to be laid out in an orderly manner, as his own unit would be round next morning to dismantle the equipment in a very short time and without any bother. Nevertheless, I shall be eternally grateful to this gruff and frightening man, for the help and advice he had given me. Without it, I have no doubt whatsoever, the whole business would have been a dismal failure. [Conflict across the Strait by Colonel B.E. Arnold T.D. - ISBN  0-906124-0609 pub. By Crabwell Publications and Buckland Publications Ltd 1982.]


Offline Riding With The Angels

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #31 on: March 26, 2012, 23:31:34 »
Pics from today








AnDy

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2012, 22:35:41 »
Many thanks for adding these accounts.. :)

Offline ashwood

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #29 on: February 12, 2012, 14:51:29 »
We  used to regard the AA barage as entertainment,I remember on one occasion a large lump of red hot shrapnel landing a few inches away from my father as he sat in the garden, with the comment that was a bit close!being a veteran of an earlier war nothing bothered him. When the first of the V1s appeared flying through an awesome box barrage, mother not knowing they were pilotless said those men must have nerves of steel. When I think of my antics as an 11year old boy at this time the mind boggles as to what the health and safety and other do gooders would have made of it. We also had a few holes in the rafters for many years the result of a low level strafing from a frustrated german.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #28 on: February 12, 2012, 14:02:10 »
As a child I asked my Dad what the rumbling was and he said "the guns at Dover" - this was in Sittingbourne.
 

Offline sparky230

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2012, 13:24:02 »
Capels and Houghams Guns and Plotting rooms and Radar were both linked with Magslip transmission. either could fire either, There is a recorded anti-aircraft kill for Capels Guns.

Offline JohnG

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2012, 22:34:51 »
The three 8-inch guns of Capel Battery and the three 8-inch guns of Hougham could be used in an AA role, they were high angle guns.  These six guns were the only 8-inch Coast Defence guns the Royal Artillery had.

Offline doug

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2012, 19:28:35 »
naturualy in this enlightened day health and safety would have banned any bangs, flashs, noisy aero engines, dust from exploding bombs and shells would have also been banned.

theartist

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2012, 15:14:36 »
just asking questions. i would imagine the people of dover must have been terrified at times, the noise , gunflash, sirens, the drone of aero engines. apocalyptic is a word that comes to mind. did any one on the forum live at these times.?

Offline doug

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2012, 14:15:43 »
Do you include Capel Battery, as i seem to recall that all four guns could fire at the same time, in high elevation and put up a box of shrapnel 250 yards square.

Offline Islesy

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2012, 11:04:00 »
9.2-inch guns were not used in an AA role. JohnG

Agreed. To be more precise they could not be used  in an AA role. The standard coast defence mounting had a maximum elevation of 15 degrees.

That's not in question chaps - with Farthingloe AA being next door to the battery I'd assume theartist is referring to that.
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Offline david

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2012, 10:47:50 »
9.2-inch guns were not used in an AA role. JohnG

Agreed. To be more precise they could not be used  in an AA role. The standard coast defence mounting had a maximum elevation of 15 degrees.
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Offline JohnG

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2012, 19:16:02 »
9.2-inch guns were not used in an AA role. JohnG

theartist

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Re: Citadel Battery, Western Heights, Dover
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2012, 15:32:15 »
it must have been some display.

 

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