A trip to Hurst Castle

Discussion in 'WW2 Museums. Events, & places to see.' started by SteveDee, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    I must admit I put Hurst Castle on our "List of places to visit" purely because you can't drive up to it by car. The 2 general options are (i) by boat, and (ii) a 1.5 mile walk along a shingle spit from Milford-on-sea. We did both; choosing Shanks's Pony to get there, and then a boat trip & a walk to get back to the car.

    This fort's working life runs from 1544 to 1956, and its been used to repel the French, the Dutch, and anyone else that doesn't have a valid visitors visa.

    You probably wont learn much more about WW2 than you already know, but Its most notable WW2 feature is that it still has an ENSA theatre, possibly the last surviving example.


    However, it was a good day out on a sunny August day!

    Home - Hurst Castle
    Shiny 9th, SDP, Chris C and 2 others like this.
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Nice location and well worth the walk.
    Milford-on-Sea itself was the final base of my late fathers Regiment (24th Lancers) before they embarked on 'the Great Adventure' aka Normandy 1944: that rather impressive development near the Car Park was originally a Sanatorium and was used by the 24L 'A' Squadron.
  3. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    That's interesting SDP.

    Some of the exhibits seem to have been collected from other places. So were the 129 Coast Battery actually stationed on the castle site, or is this Bofors display just a general museum exhibit?

    SDP likes this.
  4. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I visited Hurst Castle in 2016, as part of a group and took the boat over. It is an English Heritage property, which is managed by a local contractor. It has some odd items, I didn't photo the Bofors as my attention was directed to the "Twin Six", a twin six pounder which was in a room looking rather forlorn. The gun was dual purpose, although mainly against fast attack craft.

    There were two mystery pieces of metal propped up in the yard; they looked like targets for larger guns.

    EH announced in July 20167 a £1m restoration project: Repair work starts on Henry VIII's castle Alas their artillery conservation project does not mention Hurst Castle: Help save England's historic cannons | English Heritage
  5. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Here is the twin 6 pounder that you mention. Unfortunately is was in a very dark area, so I was forced to use a low shutter speed and high ISO, resulting in this rather noisy fuzzy photo.


    It was only as we were leaving Hurst Castle that we noticed a sign saying "Please hand in your audio guides". If I'd realised they had these I would have used one. (I'm a big fan, especially when they are done well, as they are at the Bovington Tank Museum).

    In one of the washrooms I found this amusing illustration allegedly showing the difference between Officers and other ranks.


    Attached Files:

  6. Marc de Bolster

    Marc de Bolster New Member

    In WWII the 8th Battalion The Hampshire Regiment, Princess Beatrice's Isle of Wight Rifles formed the 129 (Coastal) Battery RA at Hurst Castle. There is hardly any information to be found online and to me still a mystery what insignia these men would have worn. I can only guess they would have had insignia of their original regiment and additional 129 Battery flashes but there is nothing online to prove my theory.
    The bofors gun at Hurst Castle was originally positioned on the roof during WWII, but post-war was taken down and left for the elements to consume it. The Friends of Hurst Castle volunteers in later years had to recreate the base of the gun which was almost completely gone. It is now being kept less exposed to the elements to preserve the gun.
    The twin 6 pounder would also have been used on the roof in one of the gun emplacements.
    Unfortunately no archive has any photos available online showing Hurst Castle apart from one in which it can be seen in the distance taken from a ship leaving The Solent. West_wing.jpg
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Regarding the 8th Bn , David Scott Daniell's history of the Hampshires says on page 79.

    It now gets confusing.
    A new 8th Bn was formed in 1939 & was a home defence battalion.
    There were the 1/8th & 2/8th Bns in Sept 40
    The 2/8th renamed as 13th Bn.
    The 1/8th & 13th then merged in Sept 41.
    Then the 8th (HD) Bn became the 30th Bn in Oct 1941.

    Isle of Wight Rifles - History - Conversion to Artillery
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
  8. Marc de Bolster

    Marc de Bolster New Member

    Thank you ever so much for this information. This gives me some new leads to research.
    Hurst Castle was initially manned by the Isle of Wight Rifles in 1940 which would indicate this was the "new" Home Defence Battalion.
    All very interesting stuff.
  9. Marc de Bolster

    Marc de Bolster New Member

    Could you give me the exact title of the book or confirm to me it is "Royal Hampshire Regiment. 1918-1954" please? Thanks
  10. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hurst Castle 1995, the photo is taken before my digicamera time.

    Attached Files:

  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Yes it is that one.
  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    No the Isle of Wight Rifles became 530 Coastal Regt RA.
    From 1937 they had no affliation to the Hampshires.

    See that website again.
    Isle of Wight Rifles - History - Conversion to Artillery

    When the regiment took over their duties at the Island Forts the battery from Newport went to Bouldner, Cowes and Freshwater batteries took over the Old and New Needles forts whilst Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor did Cliff End, Fort Albert, Hurst Castle and part of Fort Warden
  13. Marc de Bolster

    Marc de Bolster New Member

    Again interesting. My statement was based on what is written in the Hurst Castle Guide Book and therefor appears to be incorrect.
    Different online sources give different details, like on the IWM website it says the following:
    "However, in 1937, the change of role was made and it became Princess Beatrice’s (Isle of Wight Rifles) Heavy Brigade, Royal Artillery. In 1938 this became 530th Coast Artillery Regiment (Princess Beatrice’s Isle of Wight Rifles) RA."
    To me not so much relevant which exact year as I am trying to find out what insignia - apart from the Isle of Wight Rifles cap badge - they wore on their uniforms at Hurst Castle. Up until now it was thought the following were worn:

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