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AA Battery Blantyreferme

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Emplacement, 2006
Emplacement

A World War II anti-aircraft battery was sited at Blantyreferme, near Blantyre to the southeast of Glasgow, west side of Blantyre Farm Road. Site number GSG1 (early), S1 (later). Part of the , the site was also known as Blantyre Ferme, Blantyre, or Uddingston.

The battery is described as having four emplacements armed with 4.5-inch guns (1942-43 then re-equipped with 3.7-inch guns (1945), command post, magazine, gun store, and other support buildings, with an accommodation camp located to the east. Records indicate the later addition of two further emplacements. A GL Radar mat lay to the northwest of the site, reported to operate Mk II radar in 1942-43.

No significant remains survive of the accommodation camp, and while much of the battery and its buildings can be found, the emplacements have been vandalised, some heavily, while others appear to have been lost in the undergrowth. Numerous small details remain scattered about the site, such as small shelters made of corrugated iron sheeting, and ground features which may be related to sewage handling, such as manhole covers.

Although a third magazine was known to have been reported on the site, possibly under a spoil heap, this was not confirmed until 2009, when it was found buried beneath the spoil during the winter, when the vegetation had died back, and photographs could be taken of the roof, entrance, and storage bays within.

Site visit 2006

The concrete posts of the perimeter fence still remain in place, although none of the fencing remains between them. The main gate still stands in the undergrowth at the north end of the site. Much of the site is heavily overgrown, with trees growing in some parts, but most of the main features can still be found. Almost hidden within the undergrowth are further small buildings and features, which may be sentry posts or shelters, but are too overgrown to be properly identified. Smaller items which may be manhole or access covers could also be seen, but were substantially obscured by heavy vegetation.

The most recognisable of the remaining emplacements can be found at the northern end of the site. Vandals have destroyed most of the ammunition stores, and even succeeding in hammering a hole through the steel reinforced concrete roof of one of the surviving stores. The holdfast can still be located beneath the overgrown central grassy area. Lost within bushes on the perimeter are passages leading to small shelters for the troops, arranged in short zig-zags to deny attackers the option of a straight shot at the occupants.

Located between the two central gun emplacements is a magazine, protected by an earth mound built around its perimeter. The picture was taken from one of the paths leading from the magazine to the emplacement pictured above. A central path led between the two main emplacements to the magazine, and was protected by sentry posts, now almost lost in the undergrowth. Although arranged internally as a magazine, with storage bays, this structure was heavily protected by earth banking and walls, suggesting it also served as the battery command post (BCP). This is further suggested by the presence of windows facing the access track leading to the partly buried building.

Located south of the emplacements and central magazine, was a second, larger magazine. Although the building is substantially complete, other than the bay numbering, little remains to be seen inside the magazine other than the individual storage bays.

The workshop and store building lies west of the emplacements. Although it appears relatively complete from a distance, the roof has collapsed into the interior, leaving only the walls standing.

A short distance east of the buildings, a round anti-tank block was found. These were simply made by pouring concrete into a cylindrical mould made from a sheet of corrugated iron, giving them their characteristic corrugated outline. Only one block was found, adjacent to a large piece of solid brickwork which may have been part of a demolished building.

Site visit 2008

During 2008, additional access points west of the Blantyre Farm Road and leading into the area containing the battery's remains were reported. At the time, there was no indication as to their purpose, however they were noted to give vehicular access to the north and south extents of the area.

Site visit 2010

After a plan of the site was unearthed and a locally based member told us of a second buried magazine which could be accessed, a further site visit was carried out in May 2010.

The site comprised 4 type L gun emplacements, dating to 1941 and two more gun emplacements of a later design, one at either end of the arc. Using our usual convention, buildings are numbered clockwise from the left as viewed from the command post. Thus emplacements 1 and 6 are later types while 2 to 5 are 1941 examples.

The access route to the site passes some debris which includes two concrete anti tank blocks. Next to them is a large masonry block made of bricks and concrete incorporating some lengths of steel pipe about 1 ˝ inches in diameter. This appears to be lying upside down, and appears to part of the missing holdfast for emplacement 1, although this is some distance away. The edge of a concrete hut base was found, and appears to the only remains visible evidence of the accommodation camp which lay mainly under the embankment between the site and the road.

Further down this route is a large magazine, twice the size of the standard item, and only seen before at AA Battery Drumcross, near Erskine.

Nearby stands the remains of the gun store and workshop, which has no roof. One steel window frame survives intact, together with a small cubicle at the rear which held a chemical toilet.

No trace of emplacement 1 was found at the expected spot, or any debris

Emplacements 2 and 3 are arranged as mirror images adjacent to magazine 1, which is protected by blast walls and earth embankments. The magazine has a straight path leading to a central door, which would have been used for replenishing the magazine. On either side of the building are curved paths leading to each gun emplacement, and which would have been used to transport ammunition to the emplacements. Each emplacement originally had six shelters surrounding the holdfast, a small corrugated iron Nissen hut, and a brick shelter fitted with a concrete roof. The brick shelters are understood to be air raid shelters, while the small Nissen huts served as standby shelters for the gun crews. Two of the six shelter were of a different design incorporating ceramic wall vents, and these may have been fuse stores when first built. However, all the shelters were later reworked with local (Hamilton) brick, to provide supporting internal walls with holes for wooden spars to serve as supports for ammunition. The brickwork also covered the inner surface of the vents.

Moving round the arc, emplacements 4 and 5, together with the second magazine, are almost completely buried in the postwar embankment. These appear to be identical in layout to emplacements 2 and 3. The second magazine is not easy to find, and entry could only be gained through a partially blocked window. Some of the walls have serious structural cracks, and the interior was quite dry. Emplacement 5 remains almost intact, with evidence to show that it was fitted with the later automatic guns. As these did not exist in 1942, this must have been a later modification.

Emplacement 6 lies at the end of the arc and remains reasonably complete. It was noted to be larger in area then the usual World War WII emplacements, and contained four ammunition shelters similar to those seen in postwar ROTOR gun sites of the early Cold War period. It is constructed of hollow breeze blocks rather than the poured concrete of the earlier design.

The holdfast is of a design not found elsewhere. While it was noted to be a standard 13 feet in diameter, it had a steel plate upon which the gun was mounted, rather then the usual circle of studs. In this case the holdfast has eight fixings with a female thread, and no alignment dowel holes.

The command post may be buried in another embankment, although what appeared to be a small section was noted, but this would need to be examined more closely during another visit.

A pit was also noted, with an unusual row of coping stones on the walls. This seems to be too far away from the area assumed to be the command post for it to be an instrument pit, so its purpose remains unclear.

The area of the GL Radar Mat lay to the north of the site, but a search for evidence of the radar ramp found nothing. The site in a corner of field, occupied by a radar hut in The 1941 aerial photograph of the site showed the radar hut in the corner of a field, but this is now a patch of brambles, which may be hiding the foundations or hut base.

Photographs

Main gate, 2006
Main gate
Central Magazine, 2006
Central magazine
Second magazine, 2006
Second magazine
Second magazine interior, 2006
Second magazine interior
Workshop and store, 2006
Workshop and store
Anti-tank block, 2006
Anti-tank block


External links

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

 

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Aerial views


Map

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