Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Shetland Remembers: 8 April 1940

Blackboard recording events on the night of 8 April 1940
Fascinating talk this afternoon  up at the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and Visitor Centre by archaeologist Chris Dyer, on the anniversary of the averting of a Luftwaffe air raid on Scapa Flow. The Centre has recreated the Radar Hut that detected the incoming enemy aircraft and has lots of artefacts and photographs telling the story of the scientists and military personnel who made this possible. Chris has also discovered letters sent to the Admiralty and the Northern Lighthouse Board by the Lighthouse Keeper, who was concerned about the 'militarisation' of the site and threats to civilians. The Luftwaffe raid has been described as an attempt at a British 'Pearl Harbor'. The prevention of the raid was undoubtedly due to the careful monitoring on Shetland and was an important event for Britain's defences in the early years of World War II. To celebrate the anniversary, there was also an amateur radio station set-up, complete with old radio magazines and a replica Enigma machine.

As well as the twentieth century military history, Chris talked about the archaeological features that show the use of the land at Sumburgh as an Iron Age Fort, evidence that this has long been a site of strategic importance.

Radar detection at Sumburgh Head

British propaganda poster

Replica Enigma machine
1930s radio magazines
The view from Sumburgh Head

Allan Williams Turret, Toab, Shetland

Shetland Flag flying at Sumburgh

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