Then and Now – Hoy at War: A Photographic Journey

 

1 Boom Defence
  • June 1938 Boom defence personnel arrived at Lyness, constructed boom slab, shed, workshops & began laying boom nets across entrances to Scapa Flow
  • Lyness began with the BDO. Was the only dept fully installed and ready at beginning of WWII
  • main construction & maintenance facility for the anti-submarine and anti-shipping defence booms
  • The Boom depot was commissioned as an independent command HMS Pomona, 1st Oct 1943

 

2 Pumphouse construction
  • September 1938 – work began on expanding the oil storage capacity & infrastructure

WWII Hoy Then & Now - Pumphouse No1, Lyness

 

3 ACOS
  • 26th Aug 1939 – HMS Iron Duke arrived as Flagship, accommodation ship and centre for Naval communications
  • Admiral French took command as Admiral Commanding Orkney & Shetland aboard Iron Duke
  • 17th Oct 1939 – Iron Duke bombed & beached in Ore Bay – ACOS, Fleet base & comms moved ashore
  • Admiral’s staff Officers billeted in Royal Hotel and commuted by bus (0830 arrive 1930 return)
  • Admiral more salubrious residence at Melsetter House
  • Shared accommodation with the HQ of 59th AA Bde
  • Rysa Lodge occupied by Admiral Superintendant
  • 11th Dec 1939 – Iron Duke towed to Longhope & beached
  • Feb 1940 – ACOS moved into new office block at Head of Right
  • ACOS phone & printer comms to & from submarines, boom gate vessels, signal stations & main phone cable ring connecting all Scapa Flow defence sites
  • Sept ’43 purpose built splinter-proof combined ACOS HQ & Naval Comms Centre open
  • ACOS co-ordinated all matters concerning Home Fleet base Scapa Flow as well as Shetland & Scrabster
  • 230 of the 270 personnel were WRNS

 

4 HMS Exmouth
  • Arrived 1942
  • Initially boom defence accommodation ship
  • Minesweeper depot ship
  • Supply & accommodation ship for submarines

WWII Hoy Then & Now - HMS Exmouth in Longhope pan

 

5 RN Recreation Centre
  • By far the main feature was the 900 seat cinema/theatre, fully kitted out with all modern sound, lighting, projection equipment, backstage dressing rooms, motorised curtains
  • Celebrity and E.N.S.A. shows put on as well as classical and local talent concerts took place regularly. Visiting artists included: Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn, Evelyn Laye, George Formby, Flannagan & Allan, Doris Day
  • Boxing & Badminton matches took place between three time daily film showings
  • Dances for up to 250 couples were also a regular occurrence
  • Average Recreation Centre attendance conservatively estimated at 1800 per day
6 Garrison Theatre
  • opened by the Admiral Commanding Orkney & Shetland, Vice Admiral Sir H. Harwood KCD OBE on 18th April 1944
  • theatre entertained all service personnel stationed south of Ore Burn as well as provided a venue for training lectures.
7 Squash Courts
  • constructed 1942

 

8 RN Sick Quarters
  • opened Oct 1940
  • 66 beds, increased to 114
  • 2 medical and surgical wards, separate officers block
  • X-ray & operating facilities
  • Catered for RAF, navy from Hoy, Flotta, Cava, Fara, South Ron
9 Chief Constructor’s Dept
  • completed Nov 1940. Served as machine shop for base shipwrights & boilermakers
  • Dept set up as emergency repair base for destroyers of Home Fleet Aug ‘40

 

10 North Pier
  • Used by drifter office for ferry service & landing libertymen & provisions (1941)
11 Officer’s Pier
  • old wooden WWI pier, condemned as unsafe in 1918. Stayed in service by drifters & dispatch boats throughout WWII, known as Officers’ Pier.

 

12 West Pier (1942)
  • Used by tugs & small craft being refitted by Base Engineer Officer.
  • Fitted with crane for Torpedo & Paravane depot to use for rearming warships
13 Drifter Slipway
  • Built 1944, allowed quick repair & refit of up to 3 drifters at a time, saved delay sending to Moray Firth ports. Steam drifters could be overhauled in 14 days at Lyness
14 Golden Wharf
  • The piers and wharfs always a problem. Managed by King’s Harbour Master’s Dept
  • Inspection in May 1939 describing scene as “A muck heap run by the Boom Defence Depot, and about three different contractors.  Not the worst Spanish quay was so devastatingly cluttered up
  • New wharf requested, took until 1944 before completed & cost £35,000 hence name (£1,005,200.00 today)

 

15 Royal Marines
  • Royal Marines – 3 branches (Stevedores, Engineers & Combat)
  • 1st called Auxiliary Battalion, Marines arrived 8th March 1940, pitched tents in mud
  • Dug drainage ditches, prepared foundations, constructed roads & most critically unloaded vessels at pier
  • Replaced small group of civilian dock workers who had become overwhelmed by demands of so many ships
  • Detachment of 140 Marines loading/unloading cargo, task never trained for
  • Reorganised as the 19th Battalion Oct 1942, Marines also a combat battalion, undertook duties as part of the Hoy defence force.

 

16 PDO
  • Passive Defence Office Control Centre
  • Passive Defence Organisation operational from the outset of WWII
  • Tasked with prevention of fire and gas emergencies mainly by threat from air-raids ie bombs blasts igniting huts or oil tanks & destroying base
  • Only 1 Chief Petty Officer and 1 Able Seamen fully employed to maintain breathing apparatus & run training courses
  • Also ensured fire-fighting team leaders knew how to coordinate their untrained fire parties
  • Has a small second storey observation post used to spot for fires across the base
  • Timber hut attached to PDO was HMS Proserpine’s Captain’s quarters. Responsible for smooth running of the base, making sure everything was generally shipshape just like a ship at sea
  • Based on civilian Air Raid Precaution (A.R.P.) system
  • Established 11 sub area HQs, 4 first aid & gas cleansing stations and 3 gas decontam. stations
  • Fire watchers & emergency response parties detailed from base personnel
  • Another OP visible on top of ‘A’ Power Station

 

17 Rinnigill Military Complex

 

18 Views around Lyness

 

19 Views around North Walls

 

 


© Source: Lindsay, G.J. & Dobney, K. (2014). Legacies of Conflict: Hoy & Walls Wartime Heritage Project, Wartime Development Document. Island of Hoy Development Trust.


 

3 thoughts on “Then and Now – Hoy at War: A Photographic Journey

  1. A great series of photographs.
    I was one of two buglers (ERA Apprentices from HMS Caledonia) chosen to sound the final “Sunset” at the closure of HMS Pomona, in 1956/7 ? We took passage in a boom defence vessel (HMS Barrington, I think) from Rosyth to Hoy. I just wonder if this ceremony was ever photographically recorded, other than the broadcast by BBC Radio? It was a moving and proud moment.
    Coincidentally, I served in HMS Barnard later, in 1959

  2. A really fascinating set of images, thoughtfully arranged and wonderfully executed., giving a very real flavour of what the island looked like in wartime. Well done.

    My particular interest lies with my grandfather who served with HMS Pyramus at Moss Farm RN Camp during WW2. I have no idea whereabouts the camp was, or whether any images exist of it but would be interested to hear from anyone who might be able to help. I’m aware the address was Kirkwall, so not on Hoy, and I wondered whether there is a similar photographic presentation for the Orkney Mainland that I haven’t come across as yet?

    Nonetheless, a most enjoyable presentation. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. David, Moss Camp was on the Orkney Mainland, but ten miles from Kirkwall at Houton in Orphir. It was a Boom Defence Base in WW2, after it had been a seaplane base in the last year of the Great War. Moss Camp was beside the farm of that name on the west side of Houton and was responsible for an anti-submarine loop offshore there. If you send your email I’ll forward maps of Moss Camp and some WW2 photos of Houton (not given “the treatment” above, sadly) to you. I’ve uploaded a drawing from file ADM 116/4364 which shows the Hoy Sound mine loops and Moss is marked about mid-drawing.

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