Location map of 225 Emergency
A battery was first formed in the Corton area in June 1940, with the Royal Marines manning three semi-mobile 6” guns mounted on concrete foundations with sand-bagged gun houses. The battery, known as ‘Kent Battery’, was equipped with two fighting lights. No 10 Gunton Cliff and The Lodge were used as barracks, with Cressett Cottage the officers’ mess and next door the sergeants’ mess. A Marquee served as a dining hall.
Work on a more permanent structure commenced at the end of June 1940. Two mark VII 6” guns were mounted in gun houses constructed with sectional steel framework with corrugated iron roofs and walls. These were later replaced with War Office designed gun houses constructed with brick and provided with a concrete roof. In July, personnel of 2nd Super Heavy Regt arrived to take over manning the battery from the Royal Marines. Building work on the rest of the battery (war shelters, decontamination centre, latrines etc) was not completed until the end of December 1940. However the original ammunition magazines constructed by the Royal Marines, which were Anderson Shelters, were still in use.
The battery was part of the Lowestoft Examination Service, with No 1 Gun being the Examination Service Gun. The basic role of the Examination Service was to control the entry into the Port of Lowestoft of all vessels (with the exception of Allied Vessels provided with the “private signal” or enemy vessels). The Examination Service consisted of a Fort War Signal Station, an Examination Vessel (this was the Drifter “Caprice”), an Examination anchorage and the Examination Battery. A daily recognition signal was issued which each vessel would need to display in order to enter the port. In the event of any unidentified vessel which could not provide a satisfactory explanation, the Chief Examination Officer (C.E.O) would order the Examination vessel out to investigate. If the vessel continued to ignore instructions from the Fort war Signal station or Examination Vessel, the C.E.O would request the Examination Battery to ‘bring her to’. The Fort War Signal station or Examination Vessel could signal the Examination Battery to bring immediate fire on to any obviously hostile vessel. The C.E.O had the authority to detain vessels which would be held at either the Examination anchorage or in the port itself.
The fire scheme was to engage leading vessels first. During the night, each gun would engage targets illuminated by its own fighting light. The only barrage targets (at a rate of six rounds, one minute pause and then repeat) were off the entrances to Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Ports. If an invasion was in progress, the enemy would be expected to lay a smoke screen either by boat, airplane or smoke floats. Battery orders were to engage smoke laying vessels as a priority. Ammunition shortages did not permit a barrage scheme in smoke conditions, the course of action to be both guns loaded and ready for instant action in any gap in the smoke screen. LAA were to engage smoke floats and smoke laying aircraft if in range. The battery had three SOS targets (Gorleston South Denes, Yarmouth Denes and Kessingland Beach) which could be engaged if no enemy vessels were within range. Fire Control was located at Corton until June 16 1942 when it moved to Grand Hotel, Lowestoft.
For defence of the battery, four Bren guns, three Spigot Mortars, one 75mm (later replaced with a 25 pounder) and two 40mm Bofors were available. Defence posts were sited around the battery perimeter.
The battery drew water from the mains system with emergency supplies held in 32 two gallon tins, 6 100 gallon tanks and 9 cisterns in billets. Battle casualties were to be taken to RAP at The Orphanage, Ashly Down, off Somerton Avenue. After treatment they were to be evacuated to CRS 193 Field Ambulance at Rotterdam Road. If the CRS was full, casualties would be moved to Lowestoft and North Suffolk Hospital instead. These arrangements were partly amended later, with walking wounded to be evacuated to the Civil First Aid Post at Avenue Hotel. Accommodation for battery staff was mainly in properties on Gunton Cliff or Lyndhurst Road.
There are some interesting notes on the conclusions of training Exercise “Cannon” held in 1941 and Exercise “Holdfast” held in May 1942 in the Fort Record Book. Some conclusions drawn from these exercises were:
1) The firing efficiency of the guns most not be prejudiced by supplying personnel to defend the battery perimeter. At one point during one of these exercises, both guns were out of action due to relief personnel being deployed on the defensive perimeter.
2) The Emergency BOP was too exposed and a new location was selected.
3) On a more humorous note toady (although no doubt serious at the time) it was noted that the Naval personnel who were to help man the defensive perimeter showed more interest in the cookhouse than Exercise Holdfast and were noted as being “an embarrassment”.
Exceptionally high tides and strong winds on the night of 29th/30th December 1942 put No 1 CASL out of action.
The battery location was one of the proposed sites for the new dual 5.25” Coastal Artillery and Anti-aircraft guns. This was despite a survey concluding that the location was not satisfactory for either Coastal Artillery or Anti-aircraft guns.
The battery ceased to be operational on Jan 14th 1945.
Guns – two BL 6” Mk VII on CP Mk II mountings with max range of 12,800 yards. Auto sight limits – Cruiser 4,250 yards; Destroyer 2,950 yards.
Range Finder: DRF No 1 (service)
CASL: Two H.C.D Mk III lamps in Fortress Mk V Projectors with effective range of 3,500 yards; engines – two Lister 22 kw engines
References: Lowestoft Fort Record Book, TNA