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AA Battery Bellsmyre

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Semi buried command post, 2007, Fox
Semi buried command post

A World War II anti-aircraft battery was sited to the north west of Dumbarton. Site number N6 (early), and CD9 (later). Part of the , the site was known as Bellsmyre or Brackenhurst.

The site lies adjacent to the north side of the A82 dual carriageway, which was built in the late 1950s and cut through the farm which contained the battery, partly following the route of one of an original farm track past the battery. The appears to have resulted in the loss of one of the later buildings. A short distance to the north of the battery a track marks the edge of the field where the accommodation camp was located. This area was now occupied by a small, sparsely populated wood, where evidence of the hut bases could be found on the ground.

The Bellsmyre battery is significant in that it is one of a small number of former World War II heavy anti-aircraft batteries that were converted for use during the Cold War.

As of 2008, continuing development of the area led to the gradual loss of this battery over the following years as the size of the development grew.

World War II

The battery was equipped with four gun emplacements, command post, GL Radar mat, and an accommodation camp to the north. The battery is reported to have been armed with 4.5-inch guns, with at least two further light anti-aircraft positions on the perimeter of the GL Radar mat, sited between the battery and the camp.

Discovery of postwar AA battery conversions

Following a site visit in 2007, and feedback from RCAHMS, investigation of the remains revealed that this was a formerly undocumented . This investigation and discovery was inspired by the discovery of such postwar battery conversions in England, and discussed together with documentation of the site concerned

Significantly, this was the first such site to be confirmed as such in their official records, following queries raised regarding anomalies noticed by visitors reading earlier accounts of the battery structure, which appeared to be generally inconsistent with the majority of other World War II battery designs.

Cold War

Aerial photographs taken in 1946 are reported to show that two of the World War II emplacements had been modified, possibly with gun mounts only fitted (ie no gun barrels). The command post was also noted to have been modified, and a new building added in the area southwest of the battery. This building appears to have been lost to later road developments, when the A82 was driven past the battery site.

Further photographs taken in 1949 confirmed that modifications had been carried out to the command post and three of the emplacements, although there were still no guns evident, while the fourth could not be confirmed as it could not be seen clearly. The same photographs were also noted to show that the accommodation camp was being dismantled then, and that a number of the huts were no longer visible.

Still later photographs taken in 1954 showed the site to have beenabandoned, but are significant in that they were reported to show the addition of two large concrete building to the east of the battery. These are assumed to be the computer room and engine room that would have formed part of the postwar conversion. Only one building was found in this area in 2008.

These changes suggests that the battery had been incorporated into the Cold War anti-aircraft defences created as part of the postwar ROTOR air defence system, a massive air defence radar system created during the 1950s to counter the threat of Soviet bombers, and which controlled anti-aircraft batteries operated by Fighter Command and the British Army.

Site visit

A site visit carried out during July 2007 confirmed the existence then of a semi buried command post, and four emplacement. To the east of the battery lay a concrete engine room, added as part of the postwar conversion.

Three of the four emplacements were found to be largely intact, and of Type H configuration. A section of the second emplacement had been lost where a large drainage ditch crosses the site. In comparison to the Type H site constructed at Houston, the engine room doors fitted to the Bellsmyre emplacements have been installed at the opposite end of the room. The control room is of a semi-buried design, which is also unusual, as this type of battery is usually associated with an overground room.

The engine room was substantially intact at the time of the visit, however the interior was deeply covered in muck, making it impossible to identify any remaining detail at floor level.

Site development 2008

By 2008, the remains of this battery had been lost beneath a new road and two roundabouts which cross the site, which was being developed as a service area. However, as of October 2008, the area formerly occupied by the accommodation camp to the north of the battery remained untouched, with the reported hut bases still extant, but unlikely to survive the development.

Photographs

Command post

Overgrown instrument pit, 2007, Fox
Overgrown instrument pit
Interior, 2007, Fox
Interior
Interior, 2007, Fox
Interior


Emplacements

Emplacement 1, 2007, Fox
Emplacement 1
Emplacement 2 and ditch, 2007, Fox
Emplacement 2 and ditch
Emplacements 3 and 4, 2007, Fox
Emplacements 3 and 4


Engine room

Front entrance, 2007, Fox
Front entrance
Rear vents, 2007, Fox
Rear vents
Muck filled interior, 2007, Fox
Muck filled interior


Unidentified remains

Remains in woods, 2010
Remains in woods
© Lairich Rig
Remains in woods, 2010
Remains in woods
© Lairich Rig


External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-

 

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English site info:

Aerial views


Map

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