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Brixham Battery by Robbie Robinson

Posted by on in Guest Speakers at Ace
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Robbie is a former Captain in the British Army Education Corp and a War Historian.

The Battery was first established, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1586, in anticipation of a possible landing site by the Spanish Armada of 1588.

It was then prepared for use during the following: 

The American War of Independence when France was an ally of the American Colonists

The Napoleonic wars when Napoleon threatened to invade

The Crimean War when the Russian Fleet was expected to travel to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

Coast Guard training between 1870 – 1890

World War II after the evacuation from Dunkirk

On the 1st June 1940, when a German invasion was considered very likely, Winston Churchill ordered 116 batteries to be built, on the coast, from Scotland to Milford Haven.

The Brixham battery was ready and manned, on 21September 1940, by 362 Battery Royal Artillery until the success of the Battle of Britain, when Hitler cancelled operation ‘Sea Lion’, the German code name for the invasion of Britain and ordered the invasion of Russia.

378 Battery Home Guard then took charge under the command of Captain Hock. He was a German Jew who fled, with his family to Britain in 1935, to escape the persecution of the Nazis. On the declaration of war, the Hock family were interned and interrogated. The authorities discovered that Mr Hock had been a German Artillery Officer during WWI and his knowledge, skills and loathing of the Nazis could be well used to defend Britain.

The battery was equipped with a 4.7’’ gun, which had been built on licence during the WWI for the Japanese navy and then bought back in 1922, plus 2 search lights, a Swedish made Bofus anti-aircraft gun and rocket launchers. The 4.7” gun was only ever fired in practice as no surface vessels ever entered Torbay, but the searchlights and the Bofus gun were frequently used against 50 hit and run raids by German aeroplanes. These raids caused bomb damage to Brixham and vessels in the harbour, The Palace Hotel in Torquay, which was being used as an RAF hospital, killing 20 patients and 4 nurses and a church at St Marychurch one Sunday afternoon killing 20 children and 2 teachers. The batteries at Brixham and Corbyn Headshot down 2 Me 109’s and 3 Fokker Wulf 190’s. A creditable performance against such fast aircraft.

Brixham battery is a scheduled heritage site and it houses a museum in the former plotting room during the Artillery Regiment and a training room for the Home Guard.

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Guest Thursday, 23 November 2017