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Author Topic: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham  (Read 55666 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2009, 21:39:42 »
Some memories...

"While I was there in 2003 I toured the dockyard and spoke to the Navy Historical Society and they knew nothing about any tunnels, much to my surprise seeing there is such a historical connection with the navy and WW2. I was in the RAF 1954/57 for my national service and worked down the tunnel as as wireless op in conjunction with with civilian Admiralty teleprinter op,s and Navy wireless op,s. We had AN HQ known as RAF Element Maritime HQ Chatham located just by the main entrance to the tunnels which WAS just by the "back gate" on Medway Road. The second entrance to the tunnels was in the Admiralty House grounds alongside the historical lines- ( the house I understand has sice been demolished along with a lot of other stuff) Looking at he maps on yours and other sites I see that there are some blank spots and the old RAF areas are not specified which I can understand as I am sure it was all changed when the RNVR came in to use it. Most of the other info was from a Navy point of view which I understand - we RAF guys were a curiosity in my day from 5000 Navy bods! one site that gave me a fair bit of info was HMS Pembroke page 2 on "ganges to terror" run by a guy called Les Burrill.and some from the Medway Archives these sites have photos and aricles which are quite interesting. From my point of view I,m sure there must be people in Gillingham who worked daon the tunnel who would have a story to tell , If they are still alive that is! What surprises me as has already been said, that with such a big historical connection, dockyard,NAAFI up the road (now A Hotel) WW2 battle of Britain connection and the lines themselves, nobody thought to open the tunnels to the public instead of vandals! As for any stories I,m not too sure if I can remember it all now and they could offend some people!"

ali23

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2008, 21:59:05 »



















Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2008, 18:35:15 »
I overheard some people talking at the Chatham World Heritage meeting the other day and one guy was asking a EH guy about RAF Gillingham.  He said he believed it to be HMS Wildfire  but the EH guy had never heard of it.  As it turns out the guy was kind of right.  RAF Gillingham was a camp next to the tunnel complex and they shared the tunnels!  Here is a quote from Peoples War by the BBC

"It seems strange after Cranwell to be back in civvy billets. We are accommodated in homes, but just for sleeping. All meals are at the RAF camp. Our signals section W/T (Wireless Telegraph) and teleprinters and radar is part of a huge underground complex shared with both the Army and Navy. We work on a shift system which involves a long night duty of 10 hours. We are kept very busy but as operations are all highly secret, messages are mostly in code except for the long reports which are sent out after operation."

Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2008, 14:35:04 »
Newspaper clipping help at Medway Archives


Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 10:01:06 »
Welcome to the forum Archer  :)

I'm glad we have reminded you of something good and shown what it's like now!  Wildfire has been a source of fascination for many explorers and locals for a long time, it was pretty amazing to go in and see it for ourselves.  It is a shame some parts are fire damaged but not too badly.  Most of the complex was preetty messy but all in all i thought was in pretty good condition.  I would love to see this place opened up and reused its an important part of history, especially with the dockyard and naval barracks close by.

Which area's of the dockyard did you spend time in the most?  There are so many interesting area's down there, and many more tunnels i would like to see!

archer

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2008, 09:39:03 »
From Archer newee.
                 I was in the RAF 1954/57 and was a wireless op working down the tunnels with matelots and civvies. Has been magic to finally find out what has happened to the old place - very found memories for me of the dockyard. Thanks to the guys that went down there to take the pics although the state of it is quite sad. Anyone else work down there at that time?? :o

merc

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2008, 13:41:14 »
The Germans actually knew the existance of the C in C's Bunker in 1940, they had taken detailed reconnaisance photo's of the Medway towns, Dockyard and munitions bunkers near Upnor (as well as loads of other places).


Offline rossco

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2008, 19:09:05 »
Heres a couple of plans I got a while back...





Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2008, 10:23:24 »
Plan of the tunnels and some pics from when it was in use...





























Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2008, 10:11:36 »
Here are some pics of inside, again not very good and i'm sure some other members will be able to add some more  :)

Emergency exit tunnel





Air filters



Original toilet before proper ones were plumbed in



Corridor









Operations room











Pipes for sending messages around the bunker



Telecummunications ro
om









Then and now pics







Offline kyn

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HMS Wildfire, Gillingham
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 23:36:47 »
HMS Wildfire is a complex of tunnels 100 feet below ground in Gillingham Kent, the tunnels were dug in 1937 by Welsh miners, they served as the communication headquarters for the Commander in Chief, The Nore.  The Nore Command stretched from the Sussex coast to Yorkshire.

Medway's Local Command Headquarters (LCHQ) used the tunnels after the Nore Command, and in the early 1960's the Royal Naval Reservists took over the use of the tunnels.

During the war very few civilians would have known of the existence of the tunnels or their use.  During this time the operations room was used to plot enemy and friendly ships and aircraft, it also played a large part in the role of the North Sea Convoys.  The tunnels had facilities for over 100 members of staff including a kitchen area, showers and a sick bay.

The site was used as a training facility for the navy after the Second World War.  A skeleton crew was kept on to keep the complex functional and some communication equipment was left on site for training purposes, some items still remain.  Retired Naval Lieutenant Harry Barnes headed the skeleton crew.

The site closed in 1982, unfortunately a fire was started in the tunnels not long after it closed and fire damage can be found in the operations room.  The site has been left undisturbed since then with only English Heritage gaining access, they were not in the tunnels long before they had to leave due to not enough oxygen in the air.

pics to follow...

 

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