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Campbeltown Loch Boom

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An anti-submarine boom was installed to protect the northern approach to Campbeltown Loch during World War II, and spanned the north channel between the mainland and Island Davaar.

Reported to have been installed in November 1941, the boom consisted of a steel net 2,000 feet long, which extended 90 feet below the surface, and was crewed by two officers, three WRENs, and 22 ratings, stationed in the boom depot located at Trench Point.

The entrance to the loch was also defended by a minefield, and controlled by the Island Davaar Observation Post,

U-Boats were known to be active in the surrounding waters, and local reports refer to an incident involving U-33, which was observed while making a secret visit to Carradale in November 1939. Spotted by the local school bus driver, the sighting was telephoned to the naval headquarters based in Greenock.

Trench Point Boom Depot

Campbeltown Shipbuilding Ltd offices, 2005, © http://www.geograph.org.uk/user/JMBriscoe/
Campbeltown Shipbuilding Ltd
Offices pictured in 2005
© JM Briscoe

The boom depot was constructed on the site of a former shipyard, the Campbeltown Shipbuilding Company, which was equipped with a slipway rather than a pier, and consisted of some twenty Nissen huts together with a larger roofed building. RAF aerial photographs taken in 1948 are said to show what appear to be rows of oil drums stored on the site, stacked two high in places, and these are believed to be the buoys which would have supported the steel net. The depot may also have been referred to as Fort Argyll, taking the name from an area just to the north, which is the site of a disused quarry.

Other than the concrete slipway and it adjacent structures, nothing remains of the shipyard or the depot which later occupied the site. All the other buildings, including the offices shown above, have been demolished, leaving only rubbish and spoil on the ground, as seen in 2010. Seen at the yard's pier are the sunken remains of a naval patrol vessel, also reported to have been removed by 2013.

Campbeltown Loch Minefield

The approach to the loch was also defended by a minefield, which would have been controlled from an observation post. Defence minefields such as this did not have floating mines that simply detonated on contact, or were triggered magnetically, but had fixed mines which electrically signalled an observer if they were disturbed. If a threat was detected, the observer had the option of allowing the signal to trigger the mine directly, or manually select other mines for detonation if the threat was moving.

Historic records for the area show that there was a group of five World War II buildings or huts located to the southeast of Maiden's Plantation, which overlooked the north channel and are believed to have been the site of the minefield observation post. These were recorded as part of a survey carried out in 1997, prior to their destruction to make way for the construction of a water waste treatment works. One of the huts was described as being made of poorly fired bricks and concrete with rounded pebbles, taken to imply rapid construction, using local materials. Local reports describe one building with openings which would have permitted and observer to see the channel, and another building with no windows, which could have housed a generator set.

Following the end of the war, the loch's defences were removed over a period of some weeks, around July of 1945. The minefield was cleared by detonating the mines (a local report tells of the farmer at Baraskomil being warned of the impending detonation), while the buoys and nets were removed by crews operating an LST (Landing Ship Tank) and an amphibious Weasel, a type of tracked cargo vehicle. The depot at Trench Point was also cleared, and the site returned to shipbuilding in 1968 when it became the Campbeltown Shipyard Ltd. The final contract undertaken by the yard was in 1996, when it supplied some steelwork for a Caledonian MacBrayne car ferry being built at a yard in Buckie, the site has since lain derelict. It was finally cleared in 2003, when the last remaining sheds were demolished, leaving only the old office building, also lost when consumed by fire during the summer of 2006.

Photographs

Trench Point 2010

Trench Point slipway, May 11, 2010, Kiltr Paul Duxbury
Trench Point slipway
Trench Point slipway, 2010, Kiltr Paul Duxbury
Trench Point slipway
Trench Point yard, 2010, Kiltr Paul Duxbury
Trench Point yard
Trench Point pier, 2010, Kiltr Paul Duxbury
Trench Point pier


Trench Point yard, 2010, Kiltr Paul Duxbury
Trench Point slipway
Campbeltown Shipyard, 1971, No details supplied
Campbeltown yard 1971


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