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World War One Audit of Surviving Remains

Date 3 July 2013

Event ID 962168

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type World War One Audit of Surviving Remains

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/962168

This coast artillery battery, situated on the opposite bank of the estuary from Dunoon, was one of five used during the First World War to defend the important port and ship-building centre on the Clyde. This was a powerful battery of two 6-inch naval guns, capable of tackling a large enemy warship coming up the river. This battery was paired with one, a little to the south on the other bank of the estuary, at Ardhallow (NS17NE 6). The estuary is about 2.7km wide here, but the guns had a range of almost 11km, firing an armour-piercing shell weighing 45kg.

The battery, unlike that at Ardhallow (built 1901-05), was built during the First World War, in 1916. Plans were made in 1899-1905 and the land was actually bought, at what seems a very high price: £13,050 - about £750,000 at modern prices - and then sold back to the original owner, from whom it was re-purchased in 1915. The construction was undertaken by Messrs J & D Meikle of Ayr, but their problems in getting labour resulted in much of the work being done by Royal Engineers and infantry.

The Fort Record Book states that the two guns mounted at Cloch Point were those removed from Portkil Battery in September 1916. The Battery Control Post and the magazine were built in 1917. The guns were both replaced in 1924 and were equipped with new shields in 1931. The mounting and replacement of the guns, and the replacement of the shields, are described in detail in the Fort Record Book (with many photographs of the last operation).

Plans dated 1916 exist for two Defence Electric Lights but the remains of three have been identified on the site; it is not known when the third searchlight was added.

In the First World War the garrison was accommodated in wooden huts, with a cookhouse and ablutions. The camp was electrically lit. The battery remained in use between the wars and was fully mobilised on a war footing in the autumn of 1938 and again in August 1939. Permanent quarters for troops and officers, and brigade and battery offices, were completed in February 1940. Two unrotating projectile anti-aircraft weapons were emplaced in 1943 and removed in 1944. The battery was put on a care and maintenance basis on 27 November 1944.

One of the functions of the battery was to cover an anti-submarine boom strung across the river from Cloch Point lighthouse (NS27NW 137, the eastern anchoring points of which are scheduled monuments). The boom seems to have been in the same location in both First and Second World Wars (WO 192/106; WO 78/5185).

Information from HS/RCAHMS World War One Audit Project (GJB) 3 July 2013.

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