During World War II the servicemen and women stationed at the Cape Banks and Henry Head Batteries ‘stood and waited’ in defence of Botany Bay.  In his excellent book “We Stood and Waited” (ISBN 0646045997) Brigadier Ken Fullford describes Sydney’s Anti-Ship Defences from 1939-1945.  At Cape Banks the battery armaments consisted of 2 x 9.2 inch BL Mark 10 guns on Mark 7 mountings for Counter-bombardment and Close Defence.  These guns had a maximum range of 26,400 metres.    At Henry Head there were 2 x QF 18 pounder Mark 2 field guns, Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat and Close Defence capabilities, with a range of 9,140 metres, providing coverage across the entrance to Botany Bay.   Banks Batteries, like North Head,  had a 360 degree arc of fire.  (Illustrations – QF 5.25 gun at Cape Banks & Layout of Cape Banks)

The following is an account from John Whitelaw (Major General J. Whitelaw, AO, CBE), pages 144/5, concerning Bare Island:

One of the more pleasant occasional duties that fell my way while posted at Henry Battery was to relieve the Section Commander at Bare Island for a few days.  The Bare Island Section was to say the least rather a quaint military organisation, one officer, a sergeant, two bombardiers and about ten gunners.  Their main armament comprised two 3 pounder Hotchkiss QF guns which I understand had come from the RAN.  I suspect from their age they may well have beeen in service with the Colonial Navies before the turn of the century.  They were rifled but the years and rust had taken its toll and somewhat smoothed the bore.  The ammunition however was bright and shiny.  The other equipment was quite rudimentary – a telephone and a Hall beach light.  I don’t recall any range finding arrangements.

The charm of Bare Island lay in the barracks and the fortifications and the dozen or so old war veterans in residence.  Sometime between the wars the barracks had been set up as a war veterans’ home.  After a night’s duty and completing the dawn “stand-to” there was nothing more pleasant than to sit in the sun with one or two of the old gentlemen and hear their tales of days past.  To add to the pleasure would be a swim at Congwong Bay en route to Henry Head.

Bare Island must be counted as a gem of colonial military architecture.  Importantly, it was established to control the entrance to Botany Bay in the 1880s.  It had quite a formidable armament – two RML 9 inch 12 ton guns and two RML 80 pounder guns mounted en barbette, together with an impressive RML 10 inch 18 ton mounted in an armoured casemate.  The Fort in those far off days also boasted two 5 barrel 0.45 inch Nordenfelt machine guns on field mountings.  I didn’t see where they were kept but imagine they were housed on the mainland.  There was only one gun of the old armament visible – a 9 inch RML piece lying somewhat forlornly by the causeway inscribed “struck off charge 1923”.  The gun had apparently graced one of the emplacements which had been modified to receive a BL 6 inch Mark 5 gun on a disappearing (hydro-pneumatic) mounting which was emplaced in the late 1890s, about the time the Henry Head Battery was established with two similar guns.  My interest was taken by one of the veterans telling of the 10 inch gun in the armoured casemate.  He said they couldn’t get it out and they wanted the space for a billiard room for the veterans.  the solution was to excavate the rock floor under the gun and lower it;  cement it over, and install the billard table above it.  On inspecting the casemate there was no sign of the gun but the window occupying the embrasure took my eye, as it is not often one sees a small casement window with floral curtains fitted into a piece of15 inch armoured plate.  Apart from the four major emplacements on the ridge of the small island there were a couple of command posts and cut into the rock on the landward side, a rather elegant barracks to accommodate perhaps about 50 troops.  The barracks were built of sandstone, two storeys with verandahs, barracks rooms, NCO and officers quarters, orderly room, mess, kitchen and storerooms, all complete and operating and with direct access to the magazines and emplacements.  For local defence there was a loopholed wall connecting with the cliffs on either flank.  As for the soldiers of Bare Section, they seemed to be quite well catered for in this pleasant seaside barracks.  They tended the venerable 3 pounders mounted on the glacis in front of the RML 10 inch casemate.  It was really quite primitive at that time as the guns were simply mounted in the open on their cone mountings with no emplacements or protection.  Perhaps the refinements came later.  They were a happy crew who carried out their duties and drills to everyone’s satisfaction.  No doubt they kept the Japanese from Botany Bay, certainly they were much appreciated by the old veterans.

6 Responses to “Botany Bay Batteries – Cape Banks, Henry Head, Bare Island”
  1. Teema Fugue says:

    Not many people know that at some time after the war, the Engine Room at Banks Bty was the site of a radio active dump and the main entry doors, vent shafts and emergency exits were filled in. However, the dumpers failed to understand that entry to the engine room was via the No 2 gun magazine room corridor which led to a tunnel that led down to the engine room. Half way along the tunnel the air became hot and damp. On further progression into the room a thick hot wet mud filled the floor and surrounds. On taking several photos of the room, they had on development, an Orange haze reflected in the flash light. I was told by some experts into natural disaster training and instruction, that the photos indicate that the air within the room was radio active. Something to think about when exploring old forts.
    Regards

  2. Terry Barnes says:

    Read the page about engine room at banks bty, I take it there talking about cape banks underground bunkers. Myself and mates used to explore these tunnels after a days rock fishing. We had torches and tied the fishing line from our reel to the ladder we climbed down and strolled through. This was in the late 70’s, tho I do remember in 1974 the army was still using the site as we would see army trucks reverse down the driveway partly into the main tunnel.

  3. SN says:

    Vale Major General John Whitelaw
    11 June 1921 – 18 June 2010

  4. Sot says:

    Think there is a typo on this page “Importantly, it was established to control the entrance to Botany Bay in the 1980s.”

    I think 1980s should read 1880s

    ADMIN: Thanks Sot, it is fixed now.

  5. Kylie korgul says:

    I went through there in 96. We went down where it narrowed, the walls were stone and the air started to change dramatically. I’m guessing now it would be the engine room. It was the lowest point and full of water! Very unnerving down there. The ammunition rooms with the elivator system to raise the shells to the guns were interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was used as a radioactive dumping site back in the day. Wish I had photos!

  6. Essay Writing Website says:

    Following a night’s obligation and finishing the first light “remain to” there was nothing more lovely than to sit in the sun with maybe a couple of the old men of honor and hear their stories of days past.

  7. Judi says:

    78BEK5 https://www.genericpharmacydrug.com

  8. Garagetält till husbil says:

    Very descriptive blog, I loved that bit.
    Will there be a part 2?

  9. Lancome moisture cream says:

    Simply want to say your article is as amazing.
    The clarity in your post is simply great and that i could assume
    you’re knowledgeable in this subject. Well with your permission allow me
    to snatch your feed to stay updated with impending post.
    Thank you a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  10. dossier de permis de construire says:

    Déposer un Permis de Construire au Meilleur Tarif.

    Devis sous 24 heures. Obtenir votre permis de construire facilement c’est se renseigner auprès de Dassa Structure pour
    recevoir votre permis de construire 300 €

  11. LAPEROUSE » Botany Bay Batteries says:

    Evelynn Haass

    I found a great…

  12. LAPEROUSE » Botany Bay Batteries says:

    Reginald Clougher

    I found a great…

  13. LAPEROUSE » Botany Bay Batteries says:

    Kim Beecham

    I found a great…

  14. LAPEROUSE » Botany Bay Batteries says:

    Darron Jimbo

    I found a great…

  15. LAPEROUSE » Botany Bay Batteries says:

    Brigette Gilfillan

    I found a great…

  16. inns says:

    hey tһere and thank you for youг information – I’ve
    certainly picked up somethіng new from right here. I did howevеr expertise a few technical issues using tһis
    web site, since I experienced tо reload the website a lot of times previous to
    I could get it to load coгrectly. I had bеen wondering if your hosting is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but slᥙggish loading instanceѕ times will often affect your placеment in google and could damage your high-գuality score if advertising and maгketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I am adding this RЅS to my e-mail and сan look out for much more of youг respective intriguing content.
    Mаke sᥙre you updаtе this again very soоn.

  17. LAPEROUSE » Botany Bay Batteries says:

    Larry Bueche

    I found a great…

  18. Leroy Chars says:

    I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for newbies. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  19. yahoo google News alerts says:

    Howdy, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of
    spam remarks? If so how do you stop it, any
    plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me
    mad so any help is very much appreciated.

  20. Cancer de prostata fotos says:

    Hi there, everything is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one
    is sharing data, that’s in fact fine, keep up
    writing.

  21. pressure Points says:

    Hello! I realize this is somewhat off-topic but I needed
    to ask. Does running a well-established website like yours require
    a large amount of work? I’m completely new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my own experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips
    for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

  22. google news and weather App review says:

    Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you
    actually know what you’re talking about! Bookmarked.

    Please also discuss with my web site =). We will have a link alternate arrangement among us

  23. Spaming Website says:

    This article is actually a nice one it helps new the web viewers, who are wishing for blogging.

  24. Storleken på afrikaners penis: 13 says:

    Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with after that you can write otherwise it is complex to write.

  25. Valorie Vitullo says:

    That is very fascinating, You’re a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and look forward to in search of more of your magnificent post. Additionally, I have shared your website in my social networks!

Leave a Reply