Jump to content
Gromr123

UK HMS Forward - South Heighton - September 2017

Recommended Posts

A piece of British WW2 History hidden under a hillside. HMS Forward, a maritime intelligence centre, was key to monitoring the English channel and and was heavily involved in D-Day. Although it's fallen into dereliction, attempts to restore and maintain it have been carried out by 'Friends of HMS Forward'.


History

HMS Forward was the Royal Naval HQ, setup up on the 20th of June 1940 in the Guinness Trust Holiday Home.
It had responsibility for units along the south cost, including:

  • HMS Marlborough - Eastbourne
  • HMS Aggressive - Newhaven
  • HMS New - Newaven
  • HMS Vernon - Roedean
  • HMS Lizard - Hove
     

 

The tunnels of HMS Forward began life in March 1941 after an Admiralty direction that ordered channel ports to setup facilities to maintain naval plots and created the need to securely house equipment for plotting and communications. It was decided to built a network of tunnels into the a hillside of South Heighton for operations to take place from.

HMS Forward was designed by Lt. Col. F.H.Foster, Commander of the Royal Engineers, and built by the 1st Tunneling Engineers Group and No 172 Tunneling Company. They were completed on the 14th of November 1941.

 

At the time they were a state of the art facility and were kitted out for every eventuality. This including backup power generator and full air conditioning systems with gas filters. They had chemical toilets, sleeping cabins and a gallery. Although the toilet were for emergencies only and it was noted that he veterans who worked here didn't even have knowledge of these toilets.

 

hms_forward_plan.gif

 

The labyrinth of tunnels had an East and West entrance. The West entrance by the main road was the main entrance. The East entrance was under the West wing of the Guinness Trust Holiday Home (now demolished).

 

There were two Pill boxes at the top of the hill that were accessible from inside the tunnels, but were demolished long ago.

During its operational period between November 1941 and August 1945, the tunnels of HMS Forward carried out many key maritime operations. It monitored the English channel from Dungeness to Selsy Bill using ten radar stations from Fairlight to Bogner Regis.
It was heavily involved with D-Day as well as nightly raids on the occupied french coast.


The Explore

A very nice explore in a very nice set of tunnels. They are quite extensive and is quite the maze, however once you get your head round the layout its impossible to get lost.

Its quite a shame that such an important piece of history has been left to rot. This is somewhere that really needs to be preserved for future generation. I'd heard that there was intention to turn it into a museum some time ago, but plans for this got scuppered by the local residents up top.

It was clear that there was once some kind of open day as there were still laminated signs and notices left up by the 'Friends of HMS Forward'.


Photos

The West entrance with signs and notices from a previous open day / tour. Looks like it was a good few years ago though. You can see here what looks like a machine gun nest in the brick wall as you turn the very first corner.


36328271143_b33dbc9d46_b.jpg

 

36999638581_1c87f07cc5_b.jpg

 


The large security gate of the West entrance.

 

36744416500_9b47de506f_b.jpg

 


The long 100m West adit tunnel looking towards the east end.

 

36744313740_9e7543f5cd_b.jpg

 


Looking from the East end of the West Adit. The two tunnels going left and right just before are the stairs up to the South and North Pill boxes.

 

36305748674_ebf350ff0d_b.jpg

 


Looking up what remains of the stairs to the Northern Pillboxes. It is possible go up to the top of these, but its been sealed up at the top with rubble.

 

36305684214_636ea74351_b.jpg

 


The West Airlock.

 

36952809646_5e19a72f87_b.jpg

 

37141926875_cde1e9783d_b.jpg

 


The Air conditioning plant room and standby generator room. The standby generator was a large diesel JP Lister engine. This provided 400V/230V power at 22Kw. Exhaust was piped through to the annex at the back of the engine room where it was exhausted through the ceiling too the surface through a 4" pipe.

 

37141933985_8c0091e900_b.jpg

 

36970672482_401d6404d3_b.jpg

 


The start of the operational rooms of the tunnel. The room on the left side is the TURCO Office, and looking right down the long tunnel is down the length of the main tunnel with sleeping cabins.
T.U.R.C.O stands for Turn Round Control Organisation, used to 'Assist naval shore authorities in the quick turn around of ships and craft'.

 

36999675171_586638c87b_b.jpg

 


The East gallery was used for sleep accommodation, switchboards and coders. 

 

36744338710_c8ba4705a8_b.jpg

 


The GPO Voice frequency equipment room. The pits in the floor are to fit the equipment in, as the modems were over 8ft tall. 

 

36999680751_51a7a9014a_b.jpg

 


Looking down the East Galley and into the Teleprinters room.

 

36744350050_4d1403c519_b.jpg

 


Looking down the the far end of the plotting rooms. 

 

36999689461_9ffabac2fd_b.jpg

 


The sleeping cabins. There were 4 of these for personnel on the night duty and split watches. 

 

36328207253_31f690c2da_b.jpg

 


Looking up towards the mock hen house, sealed at the top of course.

 

37141983995_8f7eca3f68_b.jpg

 

36305920074_aed9a3f1cd_b.jpg

 

36970734642_5c419f8106_b.jpg

 


The stairs up to the eastern entrance with pit at the bottom to slow down would-be invaders. 

 

37141988645_7f05f38528_b.jpg

 


The gate on the way to the East entrance.

 

37141992335_f7be851aec_b.jpg

 

36328248753_6121d5833e_b.jpg

 


The remains of a second gate.

 

36328234063_2afa545db7_b.jpg


Thanks for reading!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Content

    • By Dale68
      Been wanting to go here for a while...
       
      My Video...https://youtu.be/BehD-Z6XgkM
       
      History - From http://www.snowdoniaheritage.info/pdf/pilgrims/pilgrims-nefyn/traeth-trefor-english.pdf

      It was granite quarries that produced the setts to pave city streets. There was great activity in the areas around Penmaenmawr and the Eifl, and people would move from one to the otherthere from other. Samuel Holland was a prominent person in this industry – the father was a pioneer in Ffestiniog and his son in the granite quarries of the Eifl area. The work began here about 1830, and when Trevor Jones became the quarry supervisor the village at the foot of the Eifl - where Trefor got it's name.  By 1850 the area’s granite quarries were owned by ‘The Welsh Granite Co. Ltd’. It was bought for £3,000 and the shares were worth £13,000. In 1911 the Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan quarries were joined with the Eifl ones to form the ‘Penmaenmawr and Welsh Granite Co. Ltd’.
      Trefor quarry  developed to be the world’s biggest granite quarry, and by 1931 had produced 1,157,000 tons of setts. 

      The quarry is still occasionally active and Trefor granite is used to make curling stones.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

    • By Stevepg
      Pool Parc, near Ruthin, dates back to the 16th Century when it was home to the Salesbury family and the manor house was rebuilt for William Bagot, 2nd Baron Bagot, in the 1820s.
      It was apparently lost in a bet by the Bagot family and it was later sold to the District Health Authority, becoming a convalescent home and then an asylum, used as an overspill for North Wales Hospital in Denbigh before closing in 1989.
       
      Have also found an old pic of what it looked like in better times
       
      It is very dark inside and if you are doing the upper floors take a good torch as someone has removed the odd tread in the temporary staircase
       







































    • By Mikeymutt
      I have sat on this one for a fair while.earlier in the year I made quite a lot of trips here trying to find various bits of it.I had been on a visit here years ago and saw some bits,but I knew there was so much more to it.being near to me it was essy to go regularly to check it out.there is security on the site and cameras.so you just have to be a bit careful.Coltishall is now used as an industrial estate with many old buildings in use.it started off as battle of Britain fighter base during the second world war.fighter planes off various sorts were flown from here including hurricanes and spitfires.after the war it was used heavily in the cold war and was designated as a V bomber dispersal site.basically a back up airfield if the aircrafts hme airfield was damaged.the last planes to be based here was the jaguar jets.these saw service in the first gulf war.with the introduction of the euro fighter Coltishall was deemed none essential and so the station closed in 2006.it was a big question what was going to happen to the site.then Norfolk county council stepped in and bought it and this raised a few eyebrows.there track record is not great.
       
      SERGEANTS MESS
       
      I have visited the officers mess a few times meeting up with pretty vacant and JSP o one time as they visited too.the sergeants mess though is like the officers mess but not so grand.here the NCO's could relax and unwind,there was accommodation provided on the wings and a new block added.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      The more modern accommodation blocks.
       

       

       

       

       
      RECREATION

      As usual with the armed forces recreation is a big factor.on coltishall there was a pool,gym and five aside football plus fields for grass sports.sadly the gym is a no go now.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      BATTERY MAINTENANCE

      This building was for storage off batteries for planes and veichles.jet planes carry some hefty batteries so a place was needed to store them safely,also there was a bit at the front for testing and draining the batteries.it had a morgue feel to it and now known as the battery morgue.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      BOMB STORES AND FUEL

      A different way in was needed to do these as they are a fair way from the main site.and with CCTV covering the way down I did not want to get caught in the open.like most airfields the bomb stores are located a fair way from the main base for safety.and near to where they would take off.here there was a large building for testing the bombs and making sure they were safe.nearby is the fuel stores.not sure if these were for the planes or not.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Fuelling depot
       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      HANGAR

      AS per standard there are four hangars here.several are in use.most of the maintenance work on the planes went on in here.to the sides there is offices and canteen areas.there was seriously nice airmans graffiti in here.


       

       

       

       

       
       

       

       
      JET TESTING

      With the advancement of jet engines on planes there was a need to test the engines.coltishall had two testing parts,an indoor and an outdoor one.the out door one allowed the planes to back up to the exhaust duct and fire up its engines which would then be passed through the exhaust duct and through the chambers.the test bay is surrounded by thick concrete blast walls.
       

       

       

       

       

       
      The indoor one was a similar style to the other.but this was used for engines unattached to the plane.acroos the way is another building,this was were they would repair the engines,they would then be transported to the tester.clamps on a rail would move across and grab the engine.it would then be moved to the exhaust duct for testing.note the array of cameras around the clamping system to monitior the testing process.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      The indoor one was a similar style to the other.but this was used for engines unattached to the plane.acroos the way is another building,this was were they would repair the engines,they would then be transported to the tester.clamps on a rail would move across and grab the engine.it would then be moved to the exhaust duct for testing.note the array of cameras around the clamping system to monitior the testing process.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Thank you for looking.I did take lots more photos here but I could be forever on this post .with more smaller buildings.
    • By AndyK!
      This turned out to be a good day out with @SpiderMonkey and Exxperious.  This is a big site, by far the largest RAF base I've explored in terms of area covered, so we spent the whole day looking around it. 
       
      History of RAF Bentwaters
      RAF Bentwaters is a former Royal Air Force station in Suffolk, named after Bentwater Cottages, two small houses that stood on the site of the main runway prior to its construction. Construction of the base began in 1942 for use by RAF Bomber Command and opened for operational use in April 1944. In December that year it was transferred to No. 11 Group, RAF Fighter Command. The runways were constructed in the typical RAF layout of one main runway diagonally intersected by two secondary runways, forming a triangle.
       
      The base was used by the RAF during the Second World War, and then used by the United States Air Force from 1951 until 1993, primarily for efforts during the Cold War. Bentwaters was to play a key role in the defence of Western Europe during the Cold War when large numbers of USAF aircraft were assigned as part of the air arm of NATO.
       
      Current Uses
      Bentwaters was handed back to the UK Ministry of Defence in 1993 and was subsequently closed. Now known as Bentwaters Parks, the site is used as a business park and filming location. Owners are constantly developing the filming and production facilities available at the site. Movies and TV programmes filmed there include Derren Brown's Apocalypse, movies The Numbers Station and Fast & Furious 6, along with some Top Gear stunts, amongst others.
       
      In 2007 the Bentwaters Cold War Museum opened, including tours of the fully restored “War Operations Room” and “Battle Cabin”.
       

      Aerial view of the site after becoming Bentwaters Parks

      Star Wars Building

      The so-called “Star Wars Building” is surrounded by concrete blast walls and contains some interesting spaces including a medical room.


      The Star Wars Building


      Concrete blast walls


      Entrance of the Star Wars Building






      Medical Facility

      Bomb Stores

      Built during the Cold War to securely store nuclear and conventional weapons, the bomb store was heavily fortified with three layers of fencing, razor wire, a swing-arm vehicle barrier, two gates, pressure pads, armoured guard house, guard tower and overhead cables to keep helicopters out.

      We didn’t get passed the gate!



      Entrance to the Bomb Stores


      Armoured Guard House






      One of the storage facilities with overhead cables

      One of the store buildings had a couple of old fire engines parked up behind it....








      Planes and Helicopters

      There are all sorts of jet aeroplanes and helicopters parked up around the site, in varying states of decay and dismantlement.


      Exxperious modelling his entry into "Miss Fighter Jet 2018"



























      K-9 Building

      The K-9 building contains spacious dog kennels.


      K-9 Building


      Kennels inside the K-9 Building




      Hangers

      The site has a lot of hardened aircraft shelters, or hangers, spread out across a vast area. Several are in use by private companies, and others are empty. A common feature of the hangers is the huge sliding doors that form the entire hanger's frontage – these slide to the side on rails to open up fully allowing access for aeroplanes.


      One of the many hangers


      Typical interior of the hangers


      Original sliding door controls


      The framework sits on rails and supports the huge doors, allowing them to slide fully open


      527th Aggressor Squadron Hardened Aircraft Shelter


      Deputy Commander Operations

      This building had been out of use for quite some time and is suffering a lot of decay. The moisture and condensation cause constant rainfall inside the building, which was ideal for plant growth.


      Deputy Commander Operations building





      Runway, Control Tower and Maintenance Vehicles

      We didn’t make it over to the control tower, which is situated within the live business park area of the site. The runway still has some of the maintenance and de-icing vehicles parked up.


      The Control Tower pictured in 1972


      The Control Tower today (poor quality due to crazy crop, as we didn't go over there!)


      North/South runway with the control tower in the distance


      De-icer truck





      The Hush House

      Originally built as a jet engine testing facility with an exhaust tunnel, the Hush House was a soundproofed hangar where fighter


      Exterior of the exhaust tunnel


      Interior of the Hush House


      The exhaust tunnel


      Hush House control booth and viewing window


      Thanks for looking!


      Of course I got a selfie!
       
×