Sunday 16 March 2014

WW2 Llandudno Coastal Artillery school

On the Facebook page of Llandudno Past and Present I found 2 intriguing photos of the gun emplacements on the Great Orme.

These Facebook pages of local sites are a great source of old photos. On Old Leigh Photographs what was thought to be a Homeguard canal barge with AA machine guns was pointed out to me. I was going to share but reading down the comments it was a like a carnival float partly covered for protection. When uncovered it looked like a miniature battleship. They page has photos of a whole group of canal barges down up to resemble various Royal Navy vessels. Now that's modelling on a grand scale.

I've known about the Llandudno Great Orme gun site for a while but I'd never seen any period photos before. Prior to the rise of the Very British Civil War genre I hadn't given them much thought. In fact it wasn't until a BBC TV program called Coast I think talked about them and mentioned they'd sunk a U-Boat I hadn't thought of them much in a wargaming way.

I knew it was a training site but at the same time covered the approaches to the Menai straits and the Conwy river where some the Mulberry harbour caissons were built for D-Day. A part from recreating sinking the U-boat, a what if raiding game came to mind. However it is with Very British Civil War setting that caught my imagination as the guns would provide the same protection to the coast and Llandudno there as in WW2, assuming you can get guns there in the civil war. Lets assume you can. Llandudno is a peninsular and in my imagination could be easily defended by covering the neck and could be supplied by sea via either beach or better still the pier which was used by the Liverpool ferry.

The link with the ferry could mean close ties to the Liverpool Free State. In current times Llandudno tended to be more conservative in politics than the rest of Wales. I haven't researched what it was like in the 1930s but a Royalist/BUF connection could be a possibility. Either way the ideas are flowing about amphibious assaults, siege lines, re-supply, spying and raids. If I ever paint my troops I may even get a game!

Posted on Facebook page Llandudno Past & Present in Pictures by David Hand. On the site David has posted more pictures of the guns in action and of the men who served them.
Posted on Facebook page Llandudno Past & Present in Pictures by Steve Bailey
Wikipedia lets me know: The Royal Artillery coast artillery school was transferred from Shoeburyness to the Great Orme in 1940 (and additionally a Practice Camp was established on the Little Orme in 1941) during the Second World War. Target practice was undertaken from the headland to both towed and anchored boats. Experimental work and training was also provided for radio direction finding. The foundations of some of the buildings and installations remain and can be seen from the western end of the Marine Drive. The site of the school was scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 2011 by CADW, the Welsh Government's Historic Monuments body. This was done in recognition of the site's significance in a UK and Welsh context.

Also of note was the Aerial Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) known as "X3" which was a 3-storey building erected in 1942. This seems to have been a secret radar experimental station above the artillery school. The road put in to serve it now serves a car park on the approximate site of the station, which was demolished in 1956.

Of course as well as the gun sites there is the fields that can be converted to aerodromes and the radar station on the Ormes summit, prehaps even reinstating the telegraph with Liverpool.

All this sparked from looking at old photos on Facebook!