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Report - - Plymouth Maritime Headquarters 16/10/08 | Military Sites |

Report - Plymouth Maritime Headquarters 16/10/08

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member

  1. Cracking day, thanks to underworld for finding DJ and organising the 1st trip that got us to this trip.
    big thanks to DJ (thats a bird) for organising the tour and thanks to pete and cindy (cindy is a bloke) for giving us the tour.

    here is my pics (i've given up caring if you guys say they are out of focus. you know who you are.)

    The main enterance, past the guard house and the turn styles.
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    Wall of keys, so many keys.
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    Gate phones
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    1St of many external blast doors. this is a small one.
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    On to the bunker.
    Miles and miles of corridoors.
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    Secure phones
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    There is loads of theses control boxes all over the site.
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    1 part of many plant rooms.
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    More keys
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    A thingy from a server room
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    Enterence to the WW2 tunnels.
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    More tunnels
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    Many huge rooms that has other rooms and tunnels on and off them.
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    A map of the tunnels
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    Dials from 1 or 2 V12 rolls royce diesel generator engines.
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    Thats it for now.
    there is many more pics here.


That is very nice indeed, envious :thumb
Decommisioned about 2 years ago the MHQ was built for WW2 with the original plan similar to Dover & Portsmouth. A huge tunnel complex with Ops rooms in the centre and supporting offices and accommodation around the sides. Due to tunnel collapses the planned extension of the site was abandoned and the new concrete bunker was added on the surface as the main 'War Room Ops Centre' There was even a plan to completely abandon ths ite and move it to another location, but after much argument the idea of the surface bunker supported by the tunnel complex was undertaken. After WW2 the site was used in conjunction with Pitreavie Castle in Scotland a North & South Command structure. Then during the 1980's the bunker at Plymouth was improved and new parts were added with de-contam units and major refurbishment. New generators were adde in the tunnel complex and the site known as Mount Wise became a Principal Naval Command Facility. Afre the cold war the site was gradually run down and the last Flag Officer left the site a few years ago when the Royal navy moved it HQ to Whale Island in Portsmouth. After much argument and a collapsed first scheme the site at Plynouth was sold off for development. Much of this has been done on the surface. although a use for the bunker has yet to be found. It has deteriorated under its commercial ownership, but nothing that coudl not be restored, although demolition woudol be a possible option as the site has a great deal of development value.

Subterranea Britannica wrote a history of the site but their researcher got his facts all wrong with the idea that the bunker was built in the late 1930's and he refused to believe the reports about the tunnel collapses, even though the official reports at the time were signed off by Lord Montbatten who was the head of operations when the place was built, and you don't have to be a bollock brain to see the tunnel collapses still shored up underground there. I know who I believe and it's certainly not the sub brit know all, still I'd better not get started on the sub brit bashing again.................Peter.

Still a fabulous place great phoptograps from the 28 days crew as usual and a shame if the place eventually gets demolished..........P

Nick Catford

The information is not as you say worthless just because you choose to ignore it, dont think for one minute that sub brit is the 'be all and end all of everything' your site is littered with inaccuracies so why not clean up your own act before you have a go at me.........Peter.

I think I am correct in stating that your main dispute about our report on Mount Wise is that you say the two level building (MHQ) in the moat is built as a result of the collapse of the tunnels and that the tunnels were there first.

What we say is that the MHQ was built first and that the tunnels , as named on the plaque outside , are the 'Plymouth Tunnel Extension' to the already existing Maritime HQ. This is confirmed by numerous PRO documents (quoted at the end of our report) which show that the MHQ was completed by the start of the war before the tunnels were started. We have copies of all these PRO/NA files which can be supplied to anyone if required. This is also confirmed by Roger Thomas of English Heritage and local historians.

I have copies of these ' Admiralty files ' that you refer to that James Fox sent us some time ago. There are three pages only two of which are sequential. The pages have sentences and words blanked out. James tells me that there are only these three sheets and that is how he received them. So this is your evidence :

The document is dated 25/3/1943 and states that on 24/2/1943 the C in C Plymouth has stopped the tunnelling of the underground extension due to subsidence and a sewer fracture. He recommends that the tunnels should be abandoned and the extension should be built above ground. (Note this refers to the 'extension ' not the actual HQ which was already in existence in the moat for 3 years) Another sheet , although no sequential , refers to the same document and is dated 11/3/1943 and states that " a second subsidence has been referred to the Admiralty " . A report by the Chief Engineer Home Forces lists options. The third sheet which does follow from the second gives in paragraph 13 options A - E. Option B clearly refers to the underground extension in the vicinity of the "Existing ACHQ". Option D also refers to the "Existing ACHQ" Option E refers to the "utilisation of the portion of the underground accommodation already excavated, extended as necessary" and "to erect above ground accommodation in the immediate vicinity and close to the existing ACHQ"

Mountbatten opts for Paragraph 13 paragraph E ; to use what's already built and if necessary add huts near the ACHQ for the remainder.

Theses three sheets are useful as they confirm that the building in the moat (ACHQ=MHQ) was already in existence when the tunnels were under construction and the collapses occurred.

As a further confirmation of the fact that the ACHQ was operational at the start of the war can I refer you to the book " I only joined for the hat" by Christian Lamb with forward by Countess Mountbatten of Burma. Christain Lamb worked at the MHQ in the moat at Mount Wise before Western Approached moved to Derby House. On page 43 she states "In 1937 as war began to loom again, it was proposed to build in this dry ditch, a protect Joint Service Headquarters consisting of a single storey structure within a 10 foot concrete and shingle overburden. By 1939, the plans had widened to provide Area Combined HQ's to withstand a direct hot from a 500lb bomb. When you enter the Maritime Headquarters at Mount Wise, you could see the side walls of the dry ditch quite clearly. It was planned to relocate the the Naval Command C in C Plymouth and the Western Approaches to a safer and more central place, initially on the Clyde and eventually to Liverpool were Derby House had been taken over and strengthened"

I can recommend this book, I learnt a lot from it. ISBN 9781903071151 (Pub 2007)