Ardentinny D-Day Memorial plaque unveiled

The memorial plaque

The memorial plaque

On 6th June 2015 Tony Rodaway, nephew of D-Day veteran Billy Rodaway, travelled to the site of HMS Armadillo in Ardentinny to unveil a memorial plaque dedicated to Harry Smallman, Ken Oakley and all Royal Navy Commandos who participated in the planning and execution of the D-Day landings in 1944. The short ceremony and  memorial plaque also paid tribute to Seaman William (Billy) Rodaway and Bob Bull and the crew of HMS Prins Albert with whom they served. 

The plaque will be incorporated within the commando memorial cairn at Shepherd’s Point shortly.

Information on their outstanding service can be found here:

Royal Navy Commandos

Rodaways website

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1943: HMS Armadillo group Glenfinart House

We are again indebted to Griffin Turton who has provided us with the following photograph taken in 1943 in front of Glenfinart House (HMS Armadillo) which was at the time the RN HQ.

The picture was taken whilst ‘N’ or ‘Nan’ RN Beach Commando were at HMS Armadillo in early 1943 and shows from left to right Sub/Lt ‘Jumbo’ Jarvis RNVR; Sub/Lt Alec Varley RNVR, both ABMs (Assistant Beach Masters) in N2 section; Lt Dougall MacArthur RNVR who had been an ABM with G2 in North Africa where he was wounded; Lt Maurice Vernon Redshaw RNVR, BM of N2, an unknown WREN Officer and Sub/Lt Brian Wallace RNVR, ABM N3.

Related link:
The Royal Naval Commandos 1942-45 History Group.

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Photo courtesy: M. Baird (Brian Wallace’s stepson).

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HMS Armadillo – 1940’s

We are grateful to Griffin Turton who has provided us with a couple of photographs related to HMS Armadillo (Glenfinart Bay). The photographs were most likely taken during the 1940’s and are from
The Beachhead Commandos by a Cecil Hampshire, published by William Kimber & Co Ltd in 1983. The last of the metal long huts shown in the photograph was demolished by Forestry Commission Scotland in 2011.

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HMS Armadillo – 1940’s.

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Glenfinart House which was used as naval HQ during second world war.

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Long hut demolished

It took just one man and a large digger only a couple of hours to demolish a 70+ year-old piece of history which was the last remaining corrugated long hut at the former HMS Armadillo, Glenfinart Bay, Ardentinny. Work clearing the site will probably continue until the end of the week. See our live stream of the demolition here.

The site early this evening

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Demolition draws near…

SSE electricians were in attendance earlier today disconnecting the electrical supply to the beach hut. Security fencing is now being erected. Demolition of the building appears imminent.

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End of an era.. World War II relic to disappear from Glenfinart Bay

A link to Ardentinny’s historical past will be lost within the next few days when the last remaining long hut at Glenfinart Bay, Ardentinny is demolished. We understand that the work will commence as soon as electricity to the building has been disconnected. The hut will be removed and replaced with top soil. The commando memorial has been moved temporarily near to the HMS Armadillo information board.

HMS Armadillo information board with hut in background

The last remaining hut can be seen in the background

 

The 70+ year-old corrugated iron structure was one of several constructed as part of the War Office camp. In 1942 it was transferred to the Royal Navy and became HMS Armadillo. The camp provided training facilities for Royal Navy Beach Commandos whose job was to go ashore in the first landing craft and establish a protected base for the Beach Commander to operate from. The nearby Glenfinart House was also requisitioned as the headquarters of HMS Armadillo. Loch Long was used for amphibious landing drills; training in reconnaissance; and specialised beach skills.

The camp accommodated some 500 to 600 men and women, one of whom was June Brown (‘Dot’ of Eastenders fame), who served as a Wren at Ardentinny around 1944. Her job was to teach sailors survival skills as well as show training films to pilots on how to land on aircraft carriers!

Corrugated hut at the former HMS Armadillo

After the war, the camp was used as accommodation for the unemployed who were retrained as forestry workers.

One of the huts circa. 1940’s.

In 1959 one of the original long huts was dismantled and moved to Uig (near Benmore Gardens) where it is still in use today as a community hall. Another of the huts, sadly now in a dilapidated condition, was also moved to Stronvochlan some years ago.

Latterly, the last remaining long hut was used by the Forestry Commission. Interestingly the hut still retains an area which was used for post mortems on animals as well as shower and toilet facilities for the workers.

In 2003 Forest Enterprise and Ardentinny Development Trust explored the possibility of the long hut being used as a visitors centre, incorporating a cafe; craft workshop; and sales area. At the time Forest Enterprise had £50,000 available to upgrade the premises, most of which would have had to be spent on upgrading the water supply and provision of new toilets. In order for the Development Trust to raise additional funding for the project, a commercial feasibility study would have had to be carried out at a cost of around £8,000. The plan was eventually shelved as it was not considered to be commercially viable.

Click image to enlarge.

Related resources:
Old photographs of the huts
Secret Scotland
June Brown at Ardentinny
CombinedOps.com

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Last HMS Armadillo Long Hut

Last metal long hut at the former HMS Armadillo (Glenfinart Bay, Ardentinny) photographed prior to demolition on 4 March, 2011.

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Images of Old Ardentinny

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Ardentinny postcards from yesterday and today. Can you help us with dating some of these postcards? If so, please get in touch.

Larry Gladney, Ardentinny 1940.

We understand that Larry Gladney of Clarenville, Canada was part of the “Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit” who served at Ardentinny between 1939 and 1945. We would welcome more information on this group. Sadly, Larry passed away recently. With thanks to Cliff Pike for his permission to re-publish these photographs.

Related links:
Gladney page.

Unofficial Clarenvile Website

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Postcards from Ardentinny – Yesterday & Today

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This work by ardentinny.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 UK: Scotland.