Wartime bomb damage to the fort

In browsing the National Archives, I came across an interesting reference to a work request concerning Fort Halstead. A request in May 1945 for six small building schemes had been submitted for the expansion and development of the site at Fort Halstead, but interestingly was a seventh item – “Bomb damage repairs to East Casemates.” I wasn’t previously aware of any enemy bomb damage inflicted on the Fort during the war, mainly in part due to its discreet location outside the London suburbs.

The case for the repairs was put down to it being “necessary to store liquid feeds i.e. methyl nitrate, nitro methane, DEGDN and NG mixtures, for experimental work of the highest priority.” The old casemates apparently satisfied the cool and dry conditions required for the sensitive storage, provided the necessary repairs were carried out. This got me looking for evidence of this bomb damage.

The above map, apparently dating from 1946, appears to show the original east casemates still in situ. The purpose of the map was to indicate the location of new buildings required for the High Explosive Research (HER) work. It is possible the fact the east casemates were not up to date was not a problem and the older plan was sufficient for the purpose.
The next clue comes from an RAF aerial photograph taken post-WW2 as part of an aerial survey of the country. There can be seen what appears to be a crater as a result of bomb damage as well as considerable work to the east casemate – it appears that the casemate has been demolished and removed. (Copyright Google Earth)
Taking a look at the east casemate today it is clear to see the relatively modern construction. Redbrick has not bene used elsewhere in the construction of the original fort. The earth covering of the casemate is also not present. It is highly likely that it is this construction that replaced the bomb damaged casemate referred to in the report.

A copy of the document from the National Archives

Building-Scheme-Letter_reduce

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