WW2 mystery in Castle Douglas UPDATED
After posting this I spoke to my brother Ian this morning and he said he had asked our father about the mystery object in Lochside Park a few years ago.
Dad told Ian that his father, Jim Livingston, had practiced using it when he was in the Castle Douglas Home Guard in WW2. There was a trench round about it and it was designed to be fired at German tanks/ troops entering town on the Gelston/ Auchencairn road on the far side of the loch.
Ian said dad's description perfectly matched a photo of Home Guard soldiers using a spigot mortar/ Blacker Bombard. Since my father was later in the RAF if it had been an anti-aircraft gun emplacement that is how he would have described it.
Most of the local history I have researched has been old history, but this is about events still- just- within living memory.
On 25 September 2016 there will be a showing of six archive films in the town. The first two are about World War 2. I have been asked to join a discussion about the films.
I don’t know much about Castle Douglas in WW2 and when I tried researching online I found very little- apart from a chapter in a book about the 92nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment which was stationed in the town March 1943- April 1944. See Chapter Five of this
This was very helpful since it confirmed that troops were billeted in Nissen huts in Lochside Park during the war. This made me wonder about a mystery object in the park.
After much searching online I found photographs of similar objects in this article- spigot mortar/ Blacker Bombard anti-tank weapons.
|Home Guard using spigot mortar|
I found the Pillbox Study Group on Facebook, posted one of my photos of the mystery object on their page and got a reply saying it was the base of a spigot mortar/ Blacker Bombard.
I looked to see if it was listed anywhere as a WW2 archaeology feature but could not. However Dumfries and Galloway Council archaeologist Andrew Nicholson was giving at talk in the town on Sunday 18th September. I asked him about the spigot mortar base and he said it was actually the base for an anti-aircraft gun…
The 92nd regiment were equipped with mobile 40mm Bofors guns so the mystery object so the mystery object was not used by them. I have found a photograph of a small, fixed anti-aircraft gun base. But it is square and has a circle of bolt holes for firmly fixing it down.
|Possible 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun base|
Photo found here
For the present then, the object remains a mystery…