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AA Battery Woodend

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Woodend camp hut bases, 2012
Woodend camp hut bases
© Lairich Rig

A World War II anti-aircraft battery was sited to the north of Helensburgh, on the Clyde coast, near Ardencaple Wood. Site number AN2. Part of the , the battery was known as Woodend or Ardencaple Wood.

The battery was equipped with four emplacements, command post, and an accommodation camp to the southwest. Two additional emplacements are also reported on the site, together with three magazines to the west, protected by earth banking blast walls. Records show that the battery was armed with 3.7-inch guns, and was provided with a GL Radar mat.

Aerial photographs taken by the RAF in 1941 showed the battery as described, but without the radar mat, and what has been described as a possible dummy battery. The dummy installation was also reported to be visible in a later aerial survey taken in 1985.

The battery is reported to have been demolished during the 1990s, but not removed, and there are remains or evidence of all the major feature on the site. Earthen mounds mark the four emplacement, and the banking around the magazines can still be seen. The bases for the huts forming the accommodation camp can be found on the ground to southwest, and are now covered with grass.

Site visit

A site visit was carried out in April 2011. This confirmed that all the buildings had been largely demolished, but the remains had not been taken away.

The main access point to the site appears to have been over a level crossing, now locked, which gave access to the accommodation camp and the battery. A secondary route was provided from Woodend Farm Road, where a straight track led off to the magazine area and the battery.

The accommodation camp remains comprise mainly of a scatter of small and medium sized hut bases spread across the western field, which slopes quite steeply. Some of the bases are perched on concrete pillars at one end, probably to overcome the gradient, and since no debris lies around the bases it is assumed that the huts were either Nissen huts or of wooden construction. These could have been removed easily at an earlier date. A few of the bases have a short section of 2-inch steel pipe protruding from the edge of the base at the downhill end, purpose unknown.

At the lower western end of the site are the remains of a much larger brick walled building having a 6-inch thick reinforced concrete roof. This building appears to have been built onto a Nissen hut, as some of the embedded frame work is still evident.

A line of five smaller brick built and concrete roofed buildings run down the centre of the site, and may have served as air raid shelters - this type of building has not been noted on other sites.

At the top of the camp site is what appears to be a water tank, which could have supplied the camp. It is not much lower than the local reservoir, and this feature has not been noted on other sites.

The magazine area is also unlike that noted on other sites. Three magazine buildings have been removed, leaving a sunken area lined with brick blast walls where the magazine buildings are assumed to have stood. Little remains of one magazine but the other two can still be readily identified.

Enough of the command post remains to identify it as Type A, with the usual arc of emplacements around it. Four of the emplacements (numbers 2 to 5) are constructed with red brick and concrete and are original, with sufficient remains to show that these are Type C. At either end of the arc are the remains of two additional emplacements (numbers 1 and 6), built of concrete breeze blocks.

The holdfasts are similar to those seen on other sites, but most of the hold down bolts on the rings are covered by small concrete blocks measuring about 6-inches (150 mm) in width and height, and having their the tops rounded off. There is an odd sized - larger diameter - bolt present, which appears to have been the only method of securing the gun to the holdfast.

There was nothing to report in the area of the GL Radar mat, which is now heavily covered with whin (gorse).

Nothing was observed in the area describes as having been a decoy battery.

External links

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

 

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Aerial views


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