Shropshire History

Shropshire

Military Camps

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Shropshire had many military units based here during both World Wars, especially the Second. These ranged from barracks to ammunition storage depots. A few of these have surface remains but many have disappeared or been reused for other purposes.  Only a few remain in use today. There is a separate list for other military sites not used during the First and Second World Wars.

 

 

Criggion Radio Station

 

Ditton Priors Depot

 

Kinnerley Ammunition Depot

 

Inside Story of Criggion Radio Station

 

Oswestry Barracks – Mike Houghton

 

Oswestry Barracks – Ray Hoggart

 

Oswestry Barracks – Stanley Briggs

 

PLUTO – British Pathe News

 

PLUTO – Youtube video

 

Railway System at Nesscliffe

 

The Secret Masts of Criggion

 

Visit to Criggion Radio Station

 

 

 

 

 

Gazetteer of Sites

 

(all date from the Second World War unless shown)

 

Adderley Hall Camp, Audlem (SJ654399)

Reinforcement camp to be occupied by 3 Corps in the event of an invasion of the UK. Capacity 1,000 personnel
Known to have been occupied at some time by Black American soldiers and later used as a Prisoner of War camp for captured Italians.


Albrighton Camp, RAF Cosford (SJ796055)

Air Ministry Works Department (AMWD) Repair Depot based at RAF Cosford.  There was also a US Army Camp nearby with a capacity of 720 personnel.

 

All Stretton Camp, Church Stretton (SJ4695)

Army basic training camp with 50th Anti-Tank Training Regiment.

 

All Stretton Vehicle Depot, Church Stretton (SO465950)

Army vehicle depot. Vehicles were probably camouflaged from aerial observation.


Apley Castle Camp, Wellington (SJ656132)

US Army staging camp.  Capacity 3,600 personnel.

 

Aston Park Camp, Wem (SJ525298)

US Army camp. Capacity 1,560 personnel. Units based there were No 83 Ordnance Sub-Depot,  3264th Quartermaster Service Company, General Stores Depot G-16 and 20th Hospital Train.

 

Central Ammunition Depot, Nesscliffe (SJ354192)

During the 1930s, there was a recognition of a need to provide secure storage for munitions within the United Kingdom. The proposal was to create three Central Ammunition Depots (CADs) in easily-hewn and relatively horizontal rocks: one in the south (Monkton Farleigh); one in the north of England (Longtown, Cumbria); and one in the Midlands. While Monkton Farleigh came into operations in 1939, CAD Nesscliffe was only opened by the War Office in 1941. In order to service the extensive property, the War Office took over the virtually defunct Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway and built extensive additional service tracks along the 8¾ miles of railway line from Maesbrook to the former Ford and Crossgate railway station.  Like a typical ammunition depot, the site was laid out over an extensive area to avoid total destruction should an accidental explosion occur, or the site be attacked by enemy. The depot was made up of five separate sites at :-

 

Kinnerley (SJ354192)

Pentre (SJ374170)

Ford (SJ408139)

Argoed (SJ327217)

Loton Park (SJ357137)

 

The first four sites were capable of storing around 55,000 tons of shells. Loton Park was used for storage of both incendiary ammunition and chemical weapons shells from 1943. This was one of only two Chemical Warfare depots operated in co-operation with and guarded by the United States Army Air Force, specifically 7th US Chemical Depot Company. Locomotives and train drivers were provided by the Royal Engineers, who also maintained the extensive network. Their main servicing depot for rolling stock was on the stub-junction of the former branchline to Criggion.  Ammunition storage on site officially stopped in 1959 and the ammunition depot closed in 1961. Since this time, the area has been used as a training area adjacent to Nesscliffe Army Camp. The latter has a capacity of 530 personnel.

 

Central Ordnance Depot, Donnington (SJ700141)

At the start of the Second World War, it was decided to move a number of critical items stored at Woolwich Arsenal to less vulnerable sites elsewhere in the UK.  The Central Ordnance Depot (COD) at Donnington was opened by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1940 to hold non-vehicle technical stores.  By 1980, the RAOC was reduced to two CODs at Bicester and Donnington.  Donnington is now a major storage base for small arms, war-like stores, communications equipment, tanks and supplies for all three of the armed services.  These are dispatched all over the world and a rail link was recently reinstated to help with this. It also has a small-arms museum which is not open to the public. Among the exhibits on show are the remains of the shell, a souvenir of the Crimean War, from which all Victoria Crosses are cast.

Other units based here are Headquarters 11 Signal Brigade and 36 Section Royal Military Police.

 

Chilton Grove, Atcham (SJ526090)

In 1913 it was the base for the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade Ammunition Column.


Chyknell Camp, Claverley (SO777932)

Army summer camp. Capacity 1,302 personnel. Also home to US Army 3918th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company.

 

Cluddley Camp, Wellington (SJ631103)

US Army staging camp.  Capacity of 300 Black American soldiers.  Later used as Prisoner of War Camp.

 

Coton Hall Camp, Alveley (SO772862)

US Army summer camp.  Capacity 1,302 personnel.

 

Criggion Radio Station, Criggion (SJ283144)

This was established in the Second World War to intercept foreign wireless signals and pass these to Bletchley Park for decoding. It acted as a back-up unit for the larger Rugby Radio Station and took over the latter's traffic for a short period in 1943 following a fire. It continued in use after the war and operated on 19.6kHz with the call sign GBZ, for sending messages to submarines until its shutdown in April 2003. Criggion's Very Low Frequency (VLF) antenna was hung from 3 free-standing 600ft tall steel lattice towers, two guyed 700ft masts and a rock anchor. The towers and masts were demolished in August 2003 but the derelict main transmitting building still survives. In the latter years it was  operated by British Telecom on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

 

Davenport House Camp, Worfield (SO753954)

US Army summer camp. Capacity 2,604 personnel.

 

Draycott Weapon Training School (SO812928)

Training centre that was used as a Home Guard Weapon Training School.

 

Duddleston Heath Supply Depot, Duddleston Heath (SJ38203600)

Supply depot which became Elson Industrial Park and survives in a fair condition.

 

Ebury Hill Tank Park, Haughton (SJ547166)

The site was located next to the vehicle testing station on Ebury Hill.

 

Ebury Hill Vehicle Testing Station, Haughton (SJ546164)

Located within and around an Iron Age hillfort. The station was established to test small semi-armoured personnel vehicles fitted with a Bren gun and known as Universal or Bren carriers. Prior to the Normandy landings in 1944 these vehicles had to be modified so that they could be driven through water. The site comprises a series of concrete roads, barrack blocks, offices and stores. In the northern part of the quarry within the hillfort is a pool of water into which a concrete ramp descends. The number of military buildings suggests that the site was used both to test vehicles after modification and to train drivers before they were sent overseas.

 

Edgerley Ammunition Store, Wilcott (SJ353193)

Site of ammunition store at Acksea Farm.

 

Gatacre Hall Camp, Claverley (SO792902)

US Army summer camp.  Capacity 1,302 personnel.

 

Hawkstone Hall, Weston (SJ577301)

US Army Disciplinary Training Centre No 7.


Kinlet Hall, Highley (SO706814)

Army summer camp.  Capacity 2,604 personnel.

 

Ludford Park Camp, Overton (SO51457230)

RAF Training Depot and US Army camp.

 

Market Drayton PLUTO Pumping Station (SJ64943300)

The PLUTO (Pipeline Under The Ocean) line was used for delivering fuel to the allied army after D-Day from Britain to Cherbourg.  A pipeline was constructed in 1944 from the refinery at Ellesmere Port to Fawley in Hampshire and then across to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. A pumping station on the pipeline was constructed at Fordhall Farm and this is still in fair condition. The cross-Channel pumping operations ceased at the end of July 1945.

 

Meole Brace Vehicle Depot, Shrewsbury (SJ485110)

Army vehicle depot. Vehicles were probably camouflaged from aerial observation.

 

Merrington Green Camp, Bomere Heath (SJ465208)

US Army summer camp. Capacity 1,302 personnel. After the war it was used as a prisoner of war camp.

 

Park Hall Barracks, Oswestry (SJ3031)

In July 1915, the first 4,000 troops of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the Cheshire regiment arrived at the Hall. They disembarked at Whittington Station and marched to the camp with the Fusilier's goat mascot taking the lead. The camp was in constant use throughout the war, training and dispatching troops to the Front. There was also a military hospital with 866 beds.   Just before midnight on Boxing Day, 1918, a fire started in the Chapel of the Hall and quickly spread to the rest of the building. The Oswestry Fire Brigade was in attendance very quickly, but a lack of water restricted their efforts. The Shrewsbury Fire Brigade was called to assist but the timber framed building burned so quickly that there was little they could do and the Hall was destroyed. The actual cause of the fire was thought to be an electrical wiring fault that had ignited dry timber on a beam. Following the end of WWI, the ruined Hall and its surrounding military establishment began to fall into disrepair. The camp hospital, however, was still in use, and the Baschurch Convalescent and Surgical Home moved here in February 1921. It then became known as the Shropshire Orthopaedic Hospital. One of the main uses of the land in the 1930s was for motorcycle racing and it became quite a well-known circuit, with Isle of Man TT riders competing on occasions.

 

It was reactivated in July 1939 and divided into Birch, Butler, Milne and Wingate Lines.  There was a hutted camp near Park Hall Rugby Club (SJ304310), another at Park Hall (SJ310315) and one for officers at Park Crescent (SJ310317). A batch of 2,500 Royal Artillery recruits was installed, learning basic skills and gunnery instruction. It was also the home for No1 Plotting Officers' School. To assist the movement of troops, a small station called Park Hall Halt had been built in the early 1920s. This was now re-opened and was in regular use throughout the war. After WWII it was used by Canadian troops, before being taken over by the Royal Artillery and then a training centre for Infantry Junior Leaders. The Royal Artillery left in 1968 and the Junior Leaders continued until closure of the camp in December 1975. There was an incident in the 1970s when some local wildfowlers discharged their shotguns at some passing ducks and were shot by a young military guard mistaking them for an attacking IRA force.

 

Eventually, a lot of the land reverted to farmland and light industry started on the site of the old encampment. The sports facilities of the camp were excellent so the grounds and pitches were retained and are still used to this day as a vital part of the local sports environment. Park Hall Farm became a visitor attraction in 1998. It is now home to the Museum of the Welsh Guards, continuing the link with the military started so long ago in 1915.

 

Prees Heath Camp, Prees Heath (SJ564375)

Army Camp replaced by RAF Tilstock.

 

Racecourse Camp, Ludlow (SO493775)

US Army camp.

 

RAF Bridgnorth (SO743924)

A basic recruit training camp for RAF personnel from 1939-63. During WWII it was called Nos 4 & 7 Recruits Centres and Nos 18, 19, 50 & 81 Initial Training Wings. There was also a hospital there during the Second World War.

 

Royal Naval Armament Depot Ditton Priors (SO616886)

The depot was established in 1939, South-East of Ditton village on land made available by Lord Boyne. The depot had 25 magazines and four stores for naval mines and made use of the Ditton Priors Light Railway, which had sidings in the depot.  Following the opening of the RNAD, the steam locomotives were fitted with spark arrestors but, after the arrival of RNAD diesel locomotives, they did not enter the armaments depot. The steam locomotive was taken off the goods train at Cleobury North and the wagons were drawn into the depot by an RNAD diesel locomotive. Three "flameproof" diesel locomotives were supplied by Ruston and Hornsby between 1952 and 1955. Before the Rustons, a Planet diesel locomotive is believed to have been used but its dates of arrival and departure are not known. In 1960 the railway line was finally closed but the Royal Navy continued to use Ditton Priors until 1965. The following year the depot was taken over as an ammunition dump by US forces that had left France following the French withdrawal from NATO's military structure. The depot finally closed in 1968. Parts of the site are now occupied by an industrial estate and fireworks factory. Many of the original buildings have new uses. Land adjacent to the defunct railway line was sold off by the MOD in 1971 and 10 farms have been created in this area.

 

Sheriffhales Camp, Sheriffhales (SJ758114)

Army transit camp later used as a prisoner of war camp.

 

Stanley Hall Camp, Astley Abbotts (SO714964)

Army summer camp. Capacity 1,302 personnel.

 

Stokesay Court Training School No 3, Onibury (SO44447864)

Training centre that was used for tactics and leadership instruction for Home Guard units. 

 

Sturt Common Camp, Wyre Forest (SO725773)

Army summer camp.  Capacity 1,302 personnel.


Styche Hall Camp, Market Drayton (SJ644358)

US Army camp.  Capacity 200 personnel.

 

Ternhill Camp, Stoke Heath (SJ6431)

US Army Detachment 'P', 24th Airways Communications Squadron.


Whitchurch Radio Station (SJ54144202)

This was established in the Second World War to intercept foreign wireless signals and pass these to Bletchley Park for decoding. It was run by the Army and based at the Old Rectory in Whitchurch. The station itself was based in Nissen huts but the Hollies Hotel (SJ53794195) was requisitioned for sleeping accommodation.

 

It may be difficult for casual campers to imagine how much gear soldiers had to carry with them. In addition to their army gear, soldiers would have to transport camping equipment to different locations. Camping enthusiasts today should remember this when they first take their backpacks out of their custom closets and complain about how heavy they are.