This was a very public commemoration of the Royal Naval headquarters that very nearly disappeared not just without trace but without its existence ever having been generally acknowledged. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War … It was … HMS Marlborough, between 1943-1944 he was on Torpedo Training in Eastbourne, HMS Iron Duke. They show details of the derelict and disguised observation post and hillside pillboxes. The frigate was taken out of service in 2005 and sold to Chile. As a 24-year-old lieutenant in the Royal Engineers (RE), he was in charge of the sappers who excavated the tunnel. Then March 1941 through Aden to Mombassa and Trimcomalee for refit in Colombo. After the war, the centre was abandoned, then neglected and ignored. The Canadian Corps Coastal Artillery shared the underground complex and maintained a headquarters there. We should also like to thank Newhaven Town Council for their grants toward our expenses. I remember vividly the mixed emotions of exploring the apparently endless labyrinth of corridors, galleries, rooms and stairways. During the war, all of these benefits made the town a desirable prize for the enemy. The book HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbour by Nicholas … … If you care to look at the Friends of HMS Forward web site www.secret-tunnels.co.uk you may find some pictures of interest to you. FIMM, FIMin.E. The crew wore headphones, not helmets; brandished Morse keys, rather than machine guns; dispatched bulletins, not bullets and carefully contemplated the courses of clandestine convoys. For this purpose, under the Emergency Powers Act (EPA) for the defence of the realm, and, as such, not recorded with the Land Registry, a tunnel was dug into the hillside. All five internally accessed hillside pillboxes (including one cunningly disguised as a chicken shed, complete with hens) were demolished. Do you have 5 minutes to help us improve our website? There was a myriad wooden stairways and complex air-conditioning trunking with fish-eye louvers. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Naval Attaché, Rome, 1949-51; in command HMS Protector, 1951; in command RN Air Station, Bramcote, 1952; Imperial Defence Coll., 1954; in command HMS Kenya, 1955; Vice-Naval Deputy and Naval Deputy to Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, 1957-December 1959; Director-General of Training, Admiralty, 1960-62; Commander-in-Chief Plymouth, 1962-65; Head of British … The idea was to conduct a detailed survey of the labyrinth below. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites I received a wealth of information, from carefully preserved autograph books, photograph albums and other paraphernalia, all of which had been retained by the veterans who responded to my appeals. The tunnels had been ransacked by looters, who’d wrought carnage in their attempt to liberate anything they thought might be of value. Newhaven Royal Naval Headquarters originated during the tumultuous early years of the war, when invasion seemed a likely sequel to the fall of France. If you are interested try searching "HMS Forward" and see our website. Twelve fully equipped hospital boats transported the sick and wounded to the east Sussex port from Dieppe, with special trains to carry them further inland on arrival. Eye problem during training as leading torpedo operator at HMS Marlborough Shore Station, Eastbourne, 9/1944-3/1945. Pete Mason. Click thumbnail to enlarge The browser or editor you are viewing this page in does not support Javascript, so the photo album cannot be displayed properly. Another lucky find was a series of photographs in the Imperial War Museum of what is described as ‘an underground operation control centre under construction somewhere in the SE Command’. Unfortunately, the partial demolition of Denton House in 1996 precludes further use of the principal entrance of the former maritime-intelligence centre. Over the ensuing months, every passage was measured, every step and stair counted, every room plotted and every remaining artefact recorded. A decision was made to accommodate the equipment in a shelter more than 20 metres (some 60 feet) below ground, deep beneath Heighton Hill. When the tunnel was abandoned at the end of 1945, I finally had my chance to take a proper look. Thanks for your comments. On D-Day, they were joined by members of the Royal Air Force (RAF), WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) and ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). HMS MARLBOROUGH @ Eastbourne, East Sussex. The ship entered service with the Royal Navy in 1991 and served in the Middle East. Aspects of enlistment and training as wren with … Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the Numerous other large residential establishments were also requisitioned, both locally and at Seaford, to accommodate the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service). The tunnels housed a stand-by generator, an air-conditioning system with gas filters, a galley, toilets, cabins for split shifts and the recently invented phenomenon of 'daylight' fluorescent lighting. View 30 / 60 / 90 results. The third and current HMS Argyll is a Type 23 'Duke' class frigate. She was built at Devonport Royal Dockyard between January 1912 and June 1914, entering service just before the outbreak of the First World War. What I discovered was that few official records survived the Royal Navy's withdrawal from the complex. A photograph and text about the history of Cornfield Garage. It played a major part in the raid on Dieppe of 19 August 1942. During the 1970s, the hillside was redeveloped. They intercepted a German ship Uckermark in Kismu that was scuttled. In 1996 when local-history publisher Steve Benz learnt of my research, he pressed me into writing a book. News of the proposed and partial demolition of Denton House (formerly the Guinness Trust holiday home) inspired members of Newhaven Historical Society to approach the Guinness Trust with a view to reopening the former principal (east) entrance in the floor of room 16. HMS Eastbourne was a Whitby -class or Type 12 anti-submarine frigate of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. Ive got loads of photos taken at the time, some of the swings and paddling pool on the slopes of the hill, our family feature prominently in the photos, of course! They were involved in lots of escort duty. The Friends of HMS Forward was formed in 1999. For operational-security reasons, each plot understudied its neighbour, with HMS Forward standing in for Fort Southwick at Portsmouth and vice versa. They could never be persuaded, however, to let me take a peep around the bend that turned away enticingly, just inside the entrance. We are the largest and fastest growing community of UK forces veterans on the web with over 500,000 members! Between 1941 and 1943 on HMS Ceres he travelled in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Period as LTO aboard HMS Opossum, 4/1945-10/1945: joining ship; nature of ship operating in anti-aircraft role; role on depth charges; VE Day celebrations, 8/5/1945; compassionate leave due to death of mother; sea trials; movements. He presented me with his original working plans, endorsed with the weekly progress reports and detailed notes of the methods, aids and materials used. This story, written by Geoffrey Ellis, Secretary, Friends of HMS Forward, is about the abandoned and little-known tunnels of HMS Forward at Newhaven, East Sussex, which, between 1939 and 1945, was a Royal Navy headquarters. Adequate security was necessary for the communications equipment required for intelligence-gathering, interpretation and dissemination. In 1964, I learnt of the proposed redevelopment of the Heighton hillside and took the only photographs now known to exist. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not The text reads: This building, occupied by J D Wetherspoon, was purpose built in 1926 for local Eastbourne motor company – Cornfield Garage Ltd. referenced. For a while, it also co-ordinated air—sea rescue. During the war, Cornfield Garage was used by the Royal Navy as a shore base, named HMS Marlborough. I FIRST MET Kenneth Buckley when I joined HMS Marlborough in Electrical Training School at Eastbourne in 1945. On a personal level, too, I was encouraged by the ways in which I was welcomed as a friend into the homes of many of my correspondents. Much of what I saw then no longer exists or remains accessible. Members who served with HMS Eastbourne. HMS Forward. The Commodore addresses some of Eastbourne's crew on the quarterdeck. Naval-stores depots were established at Lewes and Burgess Hill to supply permanent, consumable and after-action stores. This once-well-known garage stands on the site of Odessa Lodge which was built in the mid 19th century, when Eastbourne was taking shape as a fashionable ‘watering place’. Our objective is, and I quote, ‘to restore the former HMS Forward tunnels to a standard conforming with current legislation suitable for public access as a site of historical interest'. The entire complex was photographed using prints, transparencies and professional-quality video photography. They also agreed that the site should be visited as part of the Monuments Protection Programme (MPP), having performed a 'vital role in the forefront of both offensive and defensive operations carried out in WWII .'. Ships named Marlborough have earned the following battle honours: Martinique, 1762; Havana, 1762; St Vincent, 1780; The Saints, 1782; First of June, 1794; Jutland, 1916; Literature. When I was a kid, in the mid to late 50s, our family spent every summer at this holiday home, because our aunt Rose lived in the Guinness Trust Buildings in Brixton, at the end of Sussex road, off Coldharbour lane. This reads 21 November 1945 and is a certain indicator that the property was still in the hands of the Ministry of Works at that time. The HMS Marlborough plaque The Archives team in front of the Great War exhibition on Devonshire Society Day 2014: Simon Wood, Michael Partridge, Pat Larkin and Bill Bowden East Sussex. What if our torches failed? HMS Proserpine. HMS Marlborough, between 1943-1944 he was on Torpedo Training in Eastbourne, HMS Iron Duke. It was used as holiday accommodation for city-based tenants of the Guinness Trust estates and had 16 dormitory apartments with a communal dining room and sun lounge. They were supplemented by Royal Naval (RN) ratings for special occasions. They intercepted a German ship Uckermark in Kismu that was scuttled. The book HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbour by Nicholas … Under the sterner title of HMS Forward, the Guinness Trust house became a Royal Naval headquarters. Content description. Its role was crucial in the nightly naval motor-torpedo-boat (MTB) harassment raids on enemy-controlled harbours and waters, frequent SAS commando 'snoops' on the occupied French coast, the D-Day landings and, ultimately, the liberation of France. Minesweeper HMS … HMS Forward was heavily involved in the saga of German battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen on 11 February 1942. After the war’s end, it was destined to remain equally unknown in the country in which it was built. One other date was recorded covertly by the bricklayer who built the solid wall that sealed the principal, operational entrance to the tunnel. There were ample berthing facilities and a marine passenger terminal with its own dedicated railway terminus. A model of the complex is displayed at the near-by Newhaven Local and Maritime Museum, Paradise Park, Avis Road, Newhaven, BN9 0DH. No expense was spared. The army arrived and evicted the navy from their quarters at the Sheffield Arms Hotel. HMS Marlborough was also an Electrical Training shore station in Eastbourne during and shortly after World War II. Built in 1938, it stood majestically on Heighton Hill, looking down on the lush, green meadows of the Ouse Valley, with views to Newhaven Harbour, Seaford Bay and the English Channel. HMS Marlborough was an Iron Duke-class battleship of the Royal Navy, named in honour of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. She was armed with a main battery of ten 13.5-inch (340 mm) guns and was capable of a top speed of 21.25 knots (39.36 km/h; 24.45 mph). The data obtained has enabled detailed, scale drawings to be produced. Excavation of the tunnel commenced in May 1941, and some 550 metres (1,800 feet) of tunnel was dug in the chalk over 13 weeks. Unbeknown to me at the time, this visit was to mark the start of a lifetime’s fascination with what I later discovered was a once vibrant naval intelligence centre built deep beneath Heighton Hill. HMS Marlborough, between 1943-1944 he was on Torpedo Training in Eastbourne, HMS Iron Duke. Indeed, no national body had ever attempted to record or publicise its extraordinary history, to the extent that, in 1996, even the Imperial War Museum in London, initially, denied its existence. One day, in May 1941, the army arrived and started digging a tunnel into the bank at the side of the road by Heighton Hill, just north of Newhaven. Joined indefatigable as Sub Lt at the end of 1943 serving on her for the attacks on the Tirpitz. HMS Forward was a shore establishment of the British Royal Navy during World War II. HMS Marlborough, the Electrical Training School at Eastbourne. Newhaven was originally a casualty clearing station for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. HMS Marlborough (Eastbourne) Electrical instruction for Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, Artificers and Ratings of the Portsmouth and Chatham divisions. The 172nd Tunnelling Company dug it, and 577th Army Field Company fitted it out. That initial visit remains indelibly etched in my memory. The words Royal Naval Headquarters appear beneath. Between 1941 and 1943 on HMS Ceres he travelled in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. This coverage soon spread to Newhaven. I found out exactly what equipment was installed there and even learnt the names of many of the crew. British wren served with Women's Royal Naval Service at HMS Squid in Southampton and Royal Naval Electrical School, HMS Marlborough, Eastbourne, GB, 1943-1946. She was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. In 2000, English Heritage accepted an invitation to visit the tunnels and take a look at what we’d come up with in the course our research. Ten coastal-radar stations between Fairlight and Bognor Regis reported directly to HMS Forward every 20 minutes, more often if necessary. As such, it was responsible for HMS Marlborough at Eastbourne, HMS Aggressive and HMS Newt at Newhaven, HMS... HMS Bruiser's Mediterranean Commission 1943 - 1945. Battle honours. Then March 1941 through Aden to Mombassa and Trimcomalee for refit in Colombo. The only visible sign of past military activity at the house is a granite commemorative plaque above the fireplace in the main hall. The naval headquarters was always commanded by a captain (often an admiral serving in the rank of captain), who occupied the conveniently appointed caretaker's suite. HMS Proserpine. Battle honours . List view Image view. Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Marlborough, Eastbourne. mp@eastbourne-college.co.uk 01323 451901 We have continued in 2014, like most schools, to research and expand our record of the role of Old Eastbournians in the Great War. The Friends of HMS Forward wish to acknowledge, with gratitude, a grant awarded by the Millennium Festival Awards for All scheme for the setting up of our group. As such, it was responsible for HMS Marlborough at Eastbourne, HMS Aggressive and HMS Newt at Newhaven, HMS Vernon at Roedean, HMS Lizard and HMS King Alfred at Hove and the two resident naval officers at Shoreham and Littlehampton. IWM (Production company) Hart, Peter M (recorder) Little, Peter James (interviewee/speaker), Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Barracuda, Calcutta, India, Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Braganza, Bombay, India, Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Marlborough, Eastbourne, Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Royal Arthur, Skegness, Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Vernon, Brighton, Royal Navy, Shore Station, HMS Vincent, Gosport, GB, England & Brighton, Sussex , GB, England & Eastbourne, Sussex , GB, England & Gosport, Hants , GB, England & Portsmouth, Hants , HMS Royal Arthur shore establishment, Skegness, Lincolnshire, England, UK, IN & Calcutta . We also acknowledge, with thanks, the visiting rights and assistance given by the Guinness Trust and other landowners. They kindly consented, on condition that there was no publicity that might draw attention to their vacant property and thereby increase the likelihood of vandalism. The personal anecdotes and memoirs provided authentic and corroborated first-hand information about the complex. HMS Marlborough was also an Electrical Training shore station in Eastbourne during and shortly after World War II. Newhaven, lying roughly midway between Dover and Portsmouth, features the only river in the area navigable at all states of the tide. All their information was filtered and plotted, before being relayed by teleprinter to similar plots in Dover and Portsmouth. Served in Bervirick (Russian convoys). This story has been placed in the following categories. On it, carved in relief, is a crown, flanked by the dates 20 June 1940 and 31 August 1945. Visit our website www.secret-tunnels.co.uk to see some unique pictures of the site and its artefacts, and for further information. Find out more about the site contributors. Background to early … Welcome to Forces Reunited the place where you can find information and friends from HMS Eastbourne. The Engineroom Artificer was born!!!!! There they remained for the duration of the war. My early enquiries of the Imperial War Museum and the Public Record Office produced no tangible results. During World War Two, it remained undetected by the foe. The account that follows has been compiled from what he told Peter Mason. The Senior Service, in turn, requisitioned the highly suitable Guinness Trust Holiday Home from 20 June 1940. Initially, WRNS personnel staffed the WT office, teleprinters, cipher office, telephone switchboards, signals-distribution office and naval plot on a continuous three-watch rota. In 1941, when I was a seven-year-old lad, I used to walk to and from school along the B2109 Newhaven-to-Beddingham road. The … It is no longer possible to leave messages here. It was atop a hill with, as has been said, lovely views across the downs, no buildings on the slopes of the hill, apart from another block just a bit further down that I think was old peoples acconmodation, I can't be sure. Joined the RN at Royal Arthur in 1942 as a supply rating. As a result, I learnt almost everything there was to know about the naval headquarters’ intelligence hub. Ships named Marlborough have earned the following battle honours: Martinique, 1762; Havana, 1762; St Vincent, 1780; The Saints, 1782; First of June, 1794; Jutland, 1916; Literature . Under its command was HMS Marlborough at Eastbourne, HMS Aggressive and HMS Next at Newhaven, HMS Vernon at Roedean, HMS Lizard at Hove, and the two Resident Naval Officers at Shoreham and Littlehampton. Could we get lost? those of the BBC. Based in a former Guinness Trust Holiday Home, Forward served as the command centre for all Royal Naval establishments in the area and was responsible for: . There were, eventually, over 10,000 naval staff on HMS Forward’s ledgers. 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. A naval-canteen service was organised for the area. HMS Forward plot maintained a comprehensive maritime surveillance of everything that moved on, under or over the English Channel from Dungeness to Selsey Bill. public. For any other comments, please Contact Us. Via 122 steps, it gave access to an impenetrable fortress, one that contained the most sophisticated and contemporary communications devices then available. Object Title Little, Peter James (Oral history) 27259. Upon its abandonment, the labyrinth passed into the ownership of the original landowner(s), although, technically, it remained a secret place for some 30 years. HMS Marlborough was a Duke-class Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, and the sixth ship to bear the name. Shortly afterwards an Engineer officer was envisaged and in 1877 a Training College [Marlborough] started to take on students . In 1998, a chance enquiry led to the discovery of mining-consultant engineer Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Day, RE (retired), C.Eng., Hon. During the war, Cornfield Garage was used by the Royal Navy as a shore base, named HMS Marlborough. Its harbour had marine workshops and facilities for maintaining cross-channel steamers and vessels with tail shafts of up to six metres (19 feet). and as part of the British Pacific Fleet for the invasions of Okinawa. Was there anybody else in there with us? They were involved in lots of escort duty. Further intelligence was obtained from military airfields by private telephone lines. REEL 1 Aspects of period as civilian in GB, 1939-1943: outbreak of Second World War, 3/9/1939; evacuation to Crowborough; employment. In 1926, the house and grounds were sold and developed into three shops and a car showroom/garage. Medical supplies were loaded on to the boats for the return journey. With the fall of Dunkirk, however, military defence quickly thwarted any consideration of open-town status. She is currently the oldest serving Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy. Some months after the tunnel was completed, I frequently used to stop to chat with the sentries that guarded its entrance. Without their memoirs and photographs, the story of this establishment, from its conception to demise, would never have been recorded for posterity. It was based at South Heighton, just outside Newhaven, East Sussex. I appealed for further information through local newspapers, ‘Service Pals’ teletext pages, Charlie Chester’s Sunday Soapbox show, Yours magazine and the newsletters of a plethora of military-veterans’ associations including the Association of Wrens. Gracie Field's former home, later known as Dorothy House, at 127, Dorothy Avenue, Peacehaven, was requisitioned to provide a special, fully staffed and fully equipped, sick quarters. The Guinness Trust property was an architecturally pleasing building. This piece, whilst submitted by me, is the work of Geoff Ellis of Newhaven, who has dedicated many years in researching HMS Forward and working towards its preservation.I am mearly the messenger. There were two telephone exchanges, ten teleprinters, two Typex machines, a WT or wireless telegraphy office with 11 radios and a VF-line (voice-frequency) telegraph terminal for 36 channels. The Seaman had to keep up with the weapons and types used so they began training facilities too. Formidable (landings at Salerno). Just how secret it was, and how vital its contribution to the war effort, I had yet to realise. Onboard Eastbourne ratings pull through the barrels of the twin 4.5-inch gun. Our slogan is 'Forward with Newhaven'. Large quantities of naval message pads and rolls of teleprinter paper littered the floor. Video footage of milestone moments that occurred during the research and recorded interviews with ten HMS Forward veterans were combined to produce an hour-long tribute to this historic centre. These excellent pictures have been positively identified and present a precise picture of the state of construction on 2 October 1941. The complex was designed and built by the Royal Engineers. © Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. In March 1941, an Admiralty directive required specified ports to establish and maintain naval plots in conjunction with a coastal-radar chain, giving surface coverage from the Dover area. 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