Page 48 - Fort Gilkicker
P. 48

Fort Gilkicker                                                                                  Solent Papers No.5

           vehicle shed had been constructed on the parade.  In  were spread across the field to the rear of the fort.
           1921 a vast clearance plan removed all of the      (This seems to be referring to a G.L. Mark II Radar
           remaining obsolete coast defence guns in Britain.  with its transmitter, receiver and generator.)
           These were smooth bore, rifled muzzle loaders and
           some early marks of breech loaders. In 1926 it was  A ‘Report on Communications at Fort Gilkicker
           decided that the coast defences of Great Britain   during June and July 1944’ shows that the fort was
           should be manned by the Territorial Army only. This  used as a communications centre for the D-Day
           included the manning of searchlights by Fortress   preparations at Stokes Bay. On June 9th. over 1,000
           Royal Engineers of the T.A.  Portsmouth coast      signals were recorded for the day needing routing to
           defences were under the care of Hampshire Heavy    over 1300 addresses. Later an average of 800 signals
           Brigade R.A. (T.A.)  On a date so far unconfirmed  to almost 1,000 addresses were routed via Gilkicker.
           four Crossley generators were fitted into casemates  In June an exhausted carrier pigeon arrived at
           number 19 and 20. Two of these supplied power for  Gilkicker from France with a message from an Allied
           four electric searchlights mounted outside the fort,  Paratroops Commander. The message was
           the cable runs and three of the concrete platforms  despatched at once with the pigeon being victualled
           still being visible. Another supplied the fort’s   until collected by the local army pigeon unit. The fort
           requirements and the fourth was a spare. These lights  made 3,670 issues of confidential code and signals
           were most likely manned by men from the Royal      books to landing ships and craft in the Stokes Bay
           Engineers and could have been Defence Electric     and Gosport areas in the first two months of the
           Lights, although they do not appear on any listings  operation. Also operating from the fort was No. 10
           for this area.                                     WT, No.15 Radar and No. 17 WD mobile
                                                              maintenance units. In the first two months six
           The Second World War                               hundred routine maintenance visits were made to all
           The fort itself seems to have been unmanned for the  types of ships and craft. Offices in the fort were
           period up to the Second World War but the married  occupied by the Principal Collecting Officer,
           quarters was occupied by families of the Royal     Assistant Berthing Officer, Principal  Engineering
           Engineers stationed nearby at the R.E. school of   Officer and Confidential Book Officer.
           electric lighting. Trinity House had a small
           observation post on Fort Gilkicker after 1939. This  The final years
           was manned twenty four hours a day. Sometime after  By 1945 most of the emergency batteries such as
           1939 the narrow gauge railway was removed and its  Gilkicker had lost their armament.  An armament
           metal presumably used for  the war effort. Its route is  return of 1946 lists Gilkicker as having no armament.
           still visible from the top of Fort Gilkicker. After  Although the married quarters were still occupied an
           Dunkirk it was decided to surround Great Britain   eye witness reports that the fort was overgrown and
           with a ring of Emergency Coast Batteries. The first  partly derelict. After the war the fort was cleaned and
           to be installed were manned by the Royal Navy and  cleared of rubbish by prisoners of war, mostly
           Royal Marines. The Coast Artillery soon replaced   Italians.  An Admiralty signalling tower had
           them. Many coast defences were supplemented with   previously been sited opposite the west bastion of
           ex-naval guns as part of the anti-invasion defences.  Fort Monckton. After the war this was moved to
           Searchlights were installed for night attacks. The  Gilkicker and a new observation tower was built on
           Royal Engineers mounted a mobile searchlight on a  top of the fort overlooking the Solent. Lloyds used
           purpose built platform on the top of Fort Gilkicker,  the tower for some time but it later came under the
           west of gun position B1. At this time or shortly after  jurisdiction of the Portsmouth Harbour Port
           Gilkicker was also reportedly equipped with a twin  Authorities and is still in use today manned by
           Vickers and possibly a 20 or 30 millimetre gun     lookouts from the Navy. From 1926 the regular army
           forward of the old 6-inch gun positions. In the early  could no longer man the fixed defences. The Navy
           years of the war an eye witness reports seeing  a  took over most of the defence works around
           triple generator, which he referred to  as ‘Pip, Squeak  Portsmouth.  During the inter-war years Gilkicker
           and Wilfred’, mounted outside the fort. This       became a prohibited area and was later used as a
           provided power for a radar set. Pip provided       storage facility for Fort Blockhouse, the submarine
           auxiliary power, Squeak supplied the listening device  training establishment. After the Second World War
           whilst Wilfred supplied the network of wires which  torpedoes, periscopes and other submarine spares

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