Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Unexploded bombs – an article worth a read

Bomb

Bomb

Unexploded bombs, here mainly referring to ordnance left over and undiscovered since the end of the World Wars, feature in the news for various reasons.

Here, they tend to feature as coastal or sea find, as many thousands of unused munitions were dumped some way off the Scottish coast, intended to be ‘lost’ in deep water and sea trenches – but sea currents are fickle things, with their own minds, so some of these reappear from time to time. And it has been noted that not all dumps were necessarily made accurately, so there’s bound to be material that didn’t go down as intended. It’s also been admitted that some dumps were made early, as the crews were less than comfortable sailing in boats loaded with explosives.

Thankfully, most of these are small, and possibly not viable, but that doesn’t mean they might not be, so should be avoided and reported if seen. Many also contain chemicals that can burn, so even touching them is a ‘Bad Idea’ if they are leaking, and being incendiary devices, even if they don’t explode, if they do go off when disturbed, can do a lot of damage to a person.

As described in the article though, only about 90% of the bombs dropped actually went off, meaning that the of the remainder, those that hit the ground hard, and were able to bury themselves, went deep, and are generally only found when deep foundations are being dug for new buildings.

Small ones are dangerous of course, but nowhere near as dangerous as the largest, which can lead to the evacuation of large areas while they are dealt with.

The MoD told BBC Reality Check that around 10% of the bombs dropped over the UK during World War Two did not explode.

The typical German World War Two bomb was either 50kg or 250kg.

Larger bombs (500kg or 1,000kg) become more frequent towards the end of the war.

London City Airport is the site of the fourth 500kg bomb the MoD has dealt with in the last 15 months.

The others were: Bath (May 2016), Portsmouth (September 2016) and London (March 2017).

Via Unexploded bombs: How common are they?

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February 16, 2018 Posted by | Lost, military, World War I, World War II | , | Leave a comment

George Square memorial lions in profile, as promised

I did promise to include these fine carvings in profile, after an attempt to capture them looking down their noses at everyone failed to come off as expected.

The loss of perspective and flattening of their full 3D glory was completely lost in the static image, even though I managed to take if from the desired location.

Looking back at the lions in that post, it actually looks better than I thought, maybe because I still had the ‘real’ view fresh in my head.

Whatever, here is that promised profile view, with the pair looking at one another (never going to happen in the real world) and can be clicked for a larger version.

Memorial Lions Profile

Memorial Lions Profile (Click for bigger)

January 23, 2018 Posted by | council, photography, World War I, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking down their noses and judging us since… forever! (You know who)

I was going to use these pics later in the week, but since it’s National Cat Day I suppose I should move a little faster.

‘Judgemental cat’ seems to appear more often in shared images these days, and while I was sitting in George Square recently, I noticed I was in line with one of the lions, and it was looking down on me, did not seem to be particularly impressed.

I wandered over and grabbed a pic of the pair, but the flattened perspective of images loses the effect when these are seen from a similar perspective for real, in normal 3D. Their long noses and downward gaze are just lost in the flattened perspective of a 2D image.

I suspect something similar happens with the ‘new’ Rolls Royce. For me, at least, this car makes a terrible model, and ever since the current body style and nose appeared, I’ve thought it looks terrible in pics. Seen for real, again to me, it’s almost a completely different car/shape as the shape takes on its proper 3D view. I find the effect somewhat unsettling, but it has taught me to be careful.

The long noses and gaze of the lions don’t make it through the 2D conversion in a flat pic.

Pity, this aspect looked a lot more impressive in the flesh… er… stone.

I guess some sort of off-centre view which catches their profile as well is what is needed, so I will have to revisit this view one day.

Until then…

George Square North Lion

George Square North Lion

 

George Square South Lion

George Square South Lion

Maybe it’s just me, but Judgemental (black) Cat from the Interwebs seems to look alarmingly similar.

Judgemental Cat

Judgemental Cat

October 29, 2017 Posted by | council, photography, World War I, World War II | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Military Museum Scotland has arrived

It’s almost exactly a year since I first heard of Military Museum Scotland, a project hoping to deliver a permanent museum to all aspect of Scottish military history.

The project came from Mobile Military Museum, which visited schools and events with its displays, but saw the need for a more permanent facility.

That has now arrived, and been in existence for some 11 weeks now, and reported to be progressing well.

It is a hands on museum where visitors get to handle most of the artefacts (they are not locked away in glass cases) and has both indoor and outdoor displays, a café, gift shop, and wheelchair access.

Military Museum Scotland’s aims are primarily education, covering Scottish military history from World War I to the present day. 95% of the displays are open, so most artefacts can be handled.

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 – 16.00 (Mondays are reserved for booked school visits). The museum is also available for private evening bookings, and offers a drop in centre for military veterans.

More info at the following links:

Military Museum Scotland – VisitScotland

Mobile Military Museum – Twitter

Ex-soldier inspired by father’s wartime bravery launches Military Museum Scotland – Sunday Post

Military museum opened in West Lothian by son of war hero – Daily Record

They don’t have a web site, but are on Facebook – you’ll have to look for them there.

And here’s their pic of the sign at the door:

Military Museum Scotland Sign

Military Museum Scotland Sign

Details

Legion Hall, Louis Braille Avenue,
Linburn Centre,
Wilkieston,
West Lothian,
EH27 8EJ

Tel: 07799565243

email: milmussco@aol.co.uk

May 21, 2017 Posted by | military, World War I, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Confirmation of tunnel between Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Central Station

Over the years I’ve read many claims regarding hidden or lost tunnels under Glasgow, some being reasonable, others sounding like nothing more than fantasy.

While few have been substantiated, and no definitive list or reference being available, the best way to check any of these is to look in the most reliable online discussions and forums. Provided you can phrase a sensible search string, chances are you will find relevant information.

While some is anecdotal, and even more is mus-information and hearsay, it is possible to piece together answers if the question/location is specific enough.

One of those tunnels referred to was said to link Glasgow Royal Infirmary to Central Station.

This is quite some distance (well over a mile), so its existence was often dismissed, even though there were reasonably sound claims regarding its presence.

This recent news story regarding World War I finds made under Central Station confirms the existence of the tunnel, even if it does not explain why the tunnel was dug.

Some of the bodies were brought there from Glasgow Royal Infirmary along a tunnel from the hospital, before being put on trains to be handed over to their relatives for burial.

Lyons said: “They were transferred that way because the government was terrified that if people saw a procession of hearses through the streets, they would not want their men to go to war.”

Via First World War relics uncovered at Glasgow Central Station

Obviously I can’t provide a nice pic of a tunnel few have ever seen, but is seems a shame not to have a pic, so here’s something that isn’t modern and squeaky clean, concreted, bricked, or tiled, although it does seem to have modern lighting, better than anything that might have been in a tunnel that predated World War I.

Tunnel

Tunnel

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport, World War I | , , | Leave a comment

Anstruther exhibition honours fishermen killed in the First World War

submarine

World War I was not confined to the more well known venue of The Front, but also extended into the sea, with German submarines deployed in order to disrupt supplies – fishermen working off the coast were potential targets:

A new exhibition has been launched to honour the fishermen who died in service during the First World War.

Anstruther was one of the fishing communities affected when war broke out, as fishermen were called to fight.

Many men from Scotland’s fishing industry went to fight in the conflict, and fishing regions were highly affected by the injuries and casualties they suffered.

David Christie from Anstruther sank a German U-boat in 1918. His granddaughter Davina Knox has the casing of the shell and his medal.

She said: “They were on a drifter patrolling the Irish Channel and they only had one gun on board the ship and this U-boat must have come up and they had a wee battle seemingly and they fired a direct hit and they took the 36 men prisoner. There was no loss of life.”

David Christie’s story features in a new exhibition at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in the town.

via Anstruther exhibition honours fishermen killed in the First World War | Dundee & Tayside | News.

The First World War had both personal and collective impacts on those involved, whether they were away fighting or at home.  In this exhibition we explore the specific effects that the war had on those who made their living from the sea.  Using objects from our collections and individual stories of those affected we paint a national picture of the war in Scotland’s coastal communities.

At the beginning of the war many fishermen entered the services and swapped the familiar hazards of life at sea for the dangers of the trenches or naval work.  For those who stayed at home fishing became severely restricted.  Fishermen were left with very small areas left to fish in and many boats were requisitioned for the Navy.

Exhibition Dates:

28th June – 26th October

Entry : included in museum admission, accompanied children FREE

A Shared Experience · What’s on · Scottish Fisheries Museum

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War I | , | Leave a comment

Poppyscotland 2013

Looks like I have reverted to my old habit of giving Poppyscotland Home Page and Remembrance a late reminder – I think I’ll stop worrying about it.

However, and as usual, other things arose unexpectedly about a week a ago, and diverted my attention.

Poppyscotland

I’m crossing my fingers this year, as I have not been able to look at many news feeds recently, so hope that the usual stories seen in the past few years, telling of the sort of scum that steal collection boxes and money for the appeal, have actually not appeared, and not just been missed.

However, that does not mean that all is well, as we have seen a very bad year for thefts of metal from memorial and similar.

Sadly, while England has enacted new laws recently to make anonymous metal trading more difficult, Scotland is lagging behind, and has delayed moving on this, although we actually reported in last year’s article that “The Scottish Government proposed changes to the rules for scrap metal trading, removing the option of cash-in-hand payments in casual transactions“. Other than noting the deferral of this proposed deterrent, we have not noted any more positive actions against this growing theft.

Last year, we ended this with: Perhaps there will be something different to mention in a year’s time.

I’ll try something more imaginative his year…

Perhaps there will be something different to mention in a year’s time.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, military, Naval, World War I, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

World War II is still lying around – in some places

It was nice to see our Commando and SOE (Special Operation Executive) training areas in the Highlands near Fort William get a mention in an article inspired by the occasions where old ordnance is still uncovered in unexpected places. Well, unexpected for those who haven’t been hunting the stuff for years.

In a fairly long article for the BBC, the idea of enjoying q nice wander in the countryside was tempered with:

But some of these idyllic spots hide potentially explosive secrets.

Every year, unsuspecting members of the public stumble upon dozens of undetonated shells and bombs, most dating back to World War II.

So what happened in these remote places during the war? And how much do we know about the people who lived and worked there?

Of the Scottish training, it said:

The D-Day landings of WWII were key to the liberation of German-occupied western Europe. Although bloody, brutal and chaotic, they had been rehearsed at length.

Training took place around the UK, including at Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands, where troops dodged live bullets as they practised beach assaults.

Commandos were based at Achnacarry, near Fort William, with Special Operations Executive (SOE) at Lochailort, near Mallaig.

Local coastguard Craig Burton said: “Camas an Lighe, more popularly known as Singing Sands, on the north coast bears witness to that history. The beaches and their dune system were used for live fire landings training prior to many operations, including D-Day. One in particular, known locally as number three beach, contains most of the evidence.”

He said: “Operations involved using fixed-height machine guns, fired above the troops as they landed. They returned fire as they advanced up the beach using rifles, machine guns, mortars, grenades and other ordnance.”

While most of the ordnance left over from those days has either been found or cleared, there’s still a chance that something might be uncovered, and remain hazardous, so anything found is best left alone and notified. High explosive is bad enough, but there have been mortar bombs with phosphorous, and they can be nasty if damaged.

Via On the trail of Britain’s WWII ‘explosive’ beauty spots

We have also looked at a number of these sites, and a number of SOE training schools are listed here:

Secret Scotland – Special Operations Executive

And for the Commandos:

Secret Scotland – Achnacarry House

The Commando monument at Spean Bridge now looks out over the area, in their memory.

July 2, 2013 Posted by | military, World War I, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

World War I era Peterhead lifeboat to be restored in Shetland after 100 years

Clinker built wooden boat

We don’t spot many stories arising from World War I, so it’s nice to see one which is accompanied by a tale of genuine good conduct and life saving.

We’re told that the steam drifter Ugie Brae was one of 16 Scottish vessels unfortunate enough to meet U-36 on 23 June, 1915, and be sunk some 35 miles off the Skerries. However, the crew of the German U-Boat allowed the crews time to launch their lifeboats and leave. One fisherman died a few days later, a result of a shrapnel wound, while ten men and one dog escaped from the Ugie Brae.

Their lifeboat was a 16-foot clinker built item, and was left where they landed – with some difficulty as they were exhausted and needed help to land – on the Skerries (a small archipelago about four miles north-east of Whalsay), where it was recycled and became a sheep shelter. Later still, a floor was added, and it was used to house accumulators used to power a radio.

However, a century of exposure has left the old boat in poor condition, but it is to be saved, and will be fully restored by local boat builders Robbie Tait and Jack Duncan in the boat shed at Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick. Dr Ian Tait, curator of Shetland Museum, explained:

“Time and the weather have, however, taken its toll and the condition of the boat had deteriorated badly. Shetland Amenity Trust was therefore approached by the Skerries community to see if ways could be found to save this historic part of Skerries heritage. It was agreed that, if the Skerries folk arranged for the boat to be transported to Lerwick, then the Shetland Museum and Archives carpenters would undertake the restoration work.”

He added: “Once restored, the lifeboat will be returned to Skerries and it will be reinstated in its landmark position as a boatie-hoose again.”

Via: WWI Shetland lifeboat to be restored – Heritage – Scotsman.com

You can see pics of the work here: Historic lifeboat to be restored | Shetland News

A second lifeboat landed, from the Uffa, but did not survive its time exposed to the weather.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, military, World War I | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The secret cow stampede of Eilean Mor and the World War II spies

The tiny island of Eilean Mor (Mòr) in the Scottish Hebrides gets a mention in the book by Ben Macintyre, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Crown, 2012).

You can see the page here, and this is the relevant section:

When six cows stampeded on the tiny island of Eilean Mor in the Scottish Hebrides, this was immediately ascribed to secret enemy activity. That the spies were invisible was merely proof of how fiendishly clever they were at disguising themselves. Even pigeons were suspect, since it was widely believed that enemy agents had secret caches of homing pigeons around the country that they used to send messages back to Germany.

Cow spy

Innocent cow, or spy giveaway?

While this may be easily dismissed as mere paranoia, it would be unfair to do so without reflecting on what was happening at the time, and had gone before.

It seems that in World War I, more than 100,000 carrier pigeons carried important messages, saving many lives.

And in World War II, British Intelligence used more than 250,00 pigeons, and Macintyre claims that Flight Lieutenant Richard Melville Walker (who worked for MI5), was convinced “that Nazi pigeons were … pouring into Britain, by parachute, high-speed motor launch, and by U-boat.” Such was the anti-avian frenzy of the time that “Some experts claimed to be able to identify a pigeon with a German ‘accent.'”

And there were other used that they served, saving the lives of aircrews when their normal means of communication (radios) were rendered useless. See the story of Winkie, the pigeon that saved the lives of a downed bomber crew, and won the firs Dicken medal.

February 19, 2013 Posted by | military, World War I, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

New exhibition to mark 100 years of the Montrose Air Station

RFC roundel

On 26 February, 1913, The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) set up its first air station, at Montrose.

A special exhibition will open during February 2013 to mark the start of celebrations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Britain’s first operational military airfield at the air station. It would become one of the main training centre for Britain’s pilots during both World War I and World War II, as well as one of the main operational stations during those conflicts.

On 23 February, 2013, Montrose’s Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines will open to the public in a ceremony led by by Councillor Helen Oswald, the Provost of Angus, who will be accompanied by RAF airmen from 2 Squadron – the first squadron to be based at Montrose.

Dr Dan Paton, curator of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said the exhibition would include several of the fascinating artefacts from the station’s proud history.

He explained: “The exhibition also features several items that have been loaned to us especially for the occasion, such as Winkie the Pigeon, who is normally a resident at Dundee’s McManus Art Gallery and Museum.

“During the Second World War, caged pigeons would often be carried in planes so they could fetch help if anything went wrong. Winkie was in a bomber flying from Leuchars when it was hit by enemy fire and went down in the North Sea. On release from her cage, Winkie flew to Broughty Ferry, where she raised the alarm and the crew were saved. In recognition of her bravery, Winkie was awarded the Dicken Medal and, after she died, her body was preserved so future generations would remember her.”

The exhibition will also feature a diorama providing a miniature 3D aerial view of Montrose Air Station as it was in 1940 and the cross from a grave in France of a British pilot who trained at Montrose and was killed in action in 1917.

Via Montrose military airfield to celebrate 100 years – Heritage – Scotsman.com

Winkie the pigeon – first recipient of Dicken Medal

The story about Winkie is actually somewhat more impressive than the above summary suggests:

Winkie was a blue chequered hen bird that had been carried on board a Beaufort bomber which had been forced to ditch in the North Sea, after completing a raid in Norway. Such pigeons were often carried on missions in case something went wrong.

Unable to radio their position – somewhere around 100 miles from home – the crew released their pigeon in the hope that she would be able to fly home to her loft in Broughty Ferry, and alert their colleagues in the air base at RAF Leuchars of their predicament.  Winkie made it home, after flying 120 miles, and was discovered exhausted and covered in oil by owner George Ross who immediately informed the air base.

But, more remarkable was the fact that Winkie  was not carrying a specific message. RAF personnel were able to calculate the position of the downed aircraft using the time difference between the plane’s ditching and the arrival of the bird – taking into account the wind direction and even the impact of the oil on her feathers to her flight speed.

A rescue mission was launched and the men were found within 15 minutes – there can be little doubt that the crew would have died without the bird’s effort.

Winkie became the first recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Opening Times:

The Air Station is open from April 1st until September 30th, Wednesday to Saturday, 10am – 4pm.

Open Sundays all year round from 12pm to 4pm. Other times by arrangement.

Entry via Broomfield Industrial Estate, follow tourist ‘brown’ signs.

Admission fee applies – check web site for current fees.

DIRECTIONS.
Follow A92 to the North end of Montrose and turn into Broomfield Road following the Tourist Signs, then turn left into the Industrial Estate, continue down this road until you reach a bend in the road and you will find Montrose Air Station on the left hand side.

Via Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Displays Displays and exhibits at the centre

The museum has been growing steadily over the years, and is well worth the time it takes to explore.

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War I, World War II | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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