Showing posts with label HMS Ludlow Wreck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HMS Ludlow Wreck. Show all posts

Monday, 5 March 2012

HMS Ludlow Wreck...Yellowcraig...



This weekend (10th/11th March) are some of the  lowest tides of the year. There are a few wrecks and other interesting things you will see on the East Lothian coast while the tide is at its lowest.

If you are down at Yellowcraig for 10am you will see  revealed the remains of the wreck of the Destroyer class HMS Ludlow...



The wreck lies in 6 meters of water east off Longskelly Point offshore of Broad Sands at Yellowcraigs to the West of North Berwick. Little remains that is visible today...


The Bow...


It wasn't an accident that the ship came to lie offshore here on the East Lothian coast.
Built in the USA at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1917 she was originally named USS Stockton...




A 1125 ton destroyer that joined the U.S. Navy anti-submarine forces based at Queenstown, Ireland.
For the rest of World War I USS Stockton escorted convoys and patrolled around the British isles...



At the end of March 1918 she took part in an engagement with a German U-Boat...



Repaired and back at Sea USS Stockton returned to the United States after the November 1918 Armistice. Decommissioned in June 1922 she was placed in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Following eighteen years in "red lead row", USS Stockton was brought back to commissioned status in mid-August 1940.
Sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia she was placed out of commission and transferred to Great Britain later in August-part of a 50 boat gift to Britain in exchange for Atlantic Bases.
Renamed HMS Ludlow...


She served in the Royal Navy until about 1943 when due to reliability issues with engines was stripped of Ordnance and equipment and towed to the Firth of Forth to be moored offshore near Fidra Island...

Firing Range...
East of Dirleton Village from the entrance road to Ferrygate Farm is a dirt road down towards the coast.
At its end during WW2 was a firing range, the concrete base`s still remain from the rifle practise area...


The range was also used for Air to Ground live fire by Aircraft from RAF East Fortune, 132 Operational Training Unit (OTU)...


They used the range to train new pilots the skills needed to shoot a stationary target from fast aircraft;
The Bristol Beaufighter...




And then later with the De Havilland Mosquito in April 1944...



The OTU became No17 Coastal Command on 24th November 1942.
Training was at several sites including Broadsands at Yellowcraig.

Planes approached from the south flying over the farm house at Ferrygate and firing at targets on the Dunes behind the 9th Green of the famous North Berwick West Links Golf Course. The dunes absorbed the impacts and stray bullets would overshoot into the sea behind, remember the coastline was all sealed of to the public here during WW2 as it was mined. Some of the wire and fence poles to prevent access can still be seen 70 years on...



Incoming planes would open up there guns around 550 - 650 Yards, How do i know this?, easy the 9th Hole is 560 Yards long, and the evidence is all around on the ground if you look long enough.
The present day woods you can see were planted post WW2 but you can see the Dunes to the right behind the 9th Green in the distance...



This is also true...because of fear of planes being struck by golf balls (they were that low) red flags were raised at Invereil Wood and at the mouth of the Eil Burn warning of pratice - now i thought golfers would be more worried of strafing by 20mm cannon than the other way about!.
And if you want evidence of where the planes fired over i went down before sunset for these pics and having a walk about the recently sown fields i found it...can you see it?



A bit closer...



A Hispano 20mm spent cartridge, dated 1942...



The Hispano gun...



Once you get your eye in looking for them i found quite a few. Two were on the John Muir Way footpath behind the 9th Tee and yards from a large house. It must have got peppered with the cartridges from planes not quite on line coming in!...







Also in the field i found a horse shoe with a leather sole attached...



All these in a wee look around, imagine with a metal detector?...



Here is a quick film of the Hispano rounds being manufactured...




And a film of the guns devestating power,
The 4 guns per plane must have made some noise, this would put you off your golf!...



Here is a newsreal film of RAF Coastal Command Beaufighters armed with Hispano 20mm cannon attacking German shipping...



And another...



The cartridges i found are rotted and broken after over 60 years of being ploughed over and over as well as applications of fertiliser which would also corrode them. You will still find complete cartridges preserved in Uncultivated sand or on the coast.
The Firing Range original wooden bulls eye targets were later replaced with canvas hangings representing a ship. idea being aircrew could practise firing at the tide line where most damage would be caused.
In 1943 the 3" rocket projectile was introduced to Coastal Command and training with these would start nearer the end of the war for 132 Squadron.
It was decided to locate a real ship to give the best training possible of firing these rockets and HMS Ludlow had recently been decommissioned at Rosyth and was anchored offshore.
But the first Rocket fired at the ship in June 1945 sunk her straight away!.
So she could only be fired upon at low tide for around a month when firing stopped and she was stripped for scrap...



The Mosquito crews with rockets went on to use a 6 pound gun  to cause devastating attacks on Axis ships and submarines, here is a WW2 footage of those young men taking the fight to the enemy...

Some Mosquitos were equipped with a massive 6 pounder gun which weighed nearly a ton and had devestating results on the shipping attacked...



Another  film of the `wooden wonder` on an attack...



Maybe some of those young pilots in these films trained here in East Lothian...

Update Sept 2011;
I returned to the field one evening after the harvest and found a lot more 20mm Hispanos and a few .303 cartridges.

Update March 2012;
Tonight after work i spent just over an hour with the Garrett Ace 250 metal detector looking through the woods north of the field...


And as i thought there would be i found loads of Hispano cartridges in perfect condition, protected in the sand they are 4 to 6 inches under after 70 years and  not damaged by ploughing or fertiliser...



Bag was filling up quickly!...


In an hour i found all these in a small strip. You can see how they fell as the Beaufighter flew over firing at the targets. There must be loads more in this wood...


Sunset and away home with my treasures -:) ...


These will polish up nicely...



Overlooking the east beach at North Berwick is a memorial to the young pilots of coastal command that honours there bravery.
There war effort is largely unknown and rarely mentioned.
East Fortune is on the map...



Keep an eye out for the wreck of HMS Ludlow if down at Broad Sands at low tide this weekend...