Verne Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery

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File:Portland HAA Battery 5.JPG
Two of the four circular 1941 gun emplacements of the Verne HAA Battery.

Verne Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery is a World War II anti-aircraft battery, also known as an ack-ack battery, on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. The battery is situated on the north-east side of the island, south of the Verne Citadel and Verne High Angle Battery. Today the battery remains private property, owned by Fancy's Family Farm. Although a number of similar batteries were built around the same time on Portland, this particular battery is the only surviving one of its type on the island.

History

File:3.7 Inch Anti-Aircraft Gun, Nothe Fort, Weymouth.jpg
An example of a 3.7 inch AA Gun, seen at the Nothe Fort in Weymouth.

With the outbreak of World War II, Portland was a natural target for German aircraft, due to the importance of island's naval base.[1] In response to the threat a number of heavy anti-aircraft (HAA) batteries were built within the region. The only fully surviving battery from the war today is the Verne Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery.[2]

File:Portland HAA Battery 7.JPG
One of two mobile square emplacements at the battery.
File:Portland HAA Battery 9.JPG
The battery's standard command bunker.

The Verne HAA site was one of 30 heavy anti-aircraft gun sites within the county. It was labelled "Battery B" of Portland's HAA sites.[3] The initial fit was of four 3.7 inch guns,[4] using circular emplacements. In addition two mobile square type emplacements were also added, and a standard command post. The final fitting of the battery consisted of six 3.7-inch guns, and throughout the war the site was manned by personnel of AA Command.

The associated Gun Operations Room (GOR) was situated at Red Barracks in Weymouth. and from 1941 at Nottington House. As the war progressed, circa 1942, the battery was updated with a GL Mark II radar.[5]

Following the allied victory in the war, many of the HAA batteries were demolished. However the hidden HAA site at the Verne was put into use as stables. Around 2013 the nearby community farm and tourist attraction Fancy's Family Farm became tenants of the site.[6]

Supporting LAA/HAA batteries

Aside from the Verne HAA Battery, a number of now-demolished batteries of similar types once existed within the region. With the Verne HAA site labelled as "B Battery", there were also batteries nearby designated "A", "C" and "D".

Although not within Portland's boundaries, Portland's HAA "A Battery" and "D Battery" were located nearby. "A Battery" was situated at Blackhead, in the parish of Osmington, Weymouth.[7] The "D Battery" was located close to the village of Chickerell in Weymouth, overlooking the Fleet Lagoon and Chesil Beach. A few sections of this battery remain, including a circular emplacement and three mobile square types.[8] In Southwell, Portland's southern-most village, Portland's HAA "C Battery" was built to the western outskirts of the village, at Barrow Hill.[9] The battery was later demolished with the construction of the Admiralty Gunnery Establishment in 1949-52.

References

  1. http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/PortlandArchivePictures/html/world_war_2.html
  2. Pomeroy, Colin A. (1995). Military Dorset Today: Second World War Scenes and Settings That Can Still Be Seen 50 Years on. Silver Link Publishing Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 978-1857940770.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Historic England. "Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery Portland B (1413298)". PastScape. Retrieved 18 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Historic England. "Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery Portland B (1413298)". PastScape. Retrieved 18 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Pomeroy, Colin A. (1995). Military Dorset Today: Second World War Scenes and Settings That Can Still Be Seen 50 Years on. Silver Link Publishing Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 978-1857940770.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Pomeroy, Colin A. (1995). Military Dorset Today: Second World War Scenes and Settings That Can Still Be Seen 50 Years on. Silver Link Publishing Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 978-1857940770.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Historic England. "Monument No. 1413309". PastScape. Retrieved 3 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Historic England. "Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery Portland D (1413228)". PastScape. Retrieved 18 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Historic England. "HEAVY ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY PORTLAND 5 (1473260)". PastScape. Retrieved 26 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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