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Wednesday 5 May 2010

Wartime relics

These days Graemsay is a peaceful island nestling between the Hoy hills and the West mainland shore. But during WWII the island took it's part in maintaining the defences of Scapa Flow, which was base to the "home" fleet.

Here are some photos of the remains of a look-out tower, search light post and gun emplacement on the West Graemsay shore, right beside the Hoy Low lighthouse. The lighthouse is one of a pair of "leading lights" to guide ships into the safe channel to the harbour at Stromness. It doesn't have a sweeping beam, but flashes in a pattern in conjunction with the Hoy High lighthouse. I'm curious to know if it was operating during wartime.

There is currently a new exhibition at the Lyness "Scapa Flow Visitor Centre" which tells more of the story of Orkney in wartime. Once their website is online I'll provide a link - I'm sure it will be fascinating. Meantime here are some photos taken by Tom Muir on a visit Graemsay last year. (Thanks for letting me use your photos Tom!).

This is the base of the gun enplacement.

The gun emplacement was just one of many along the coast protecting the mouth of the Flow.

This is inside one of the huts that held the search-lights on top. Bet it was a damp and draughty place! It faces west - right into the teeth of the prevailing winds. There were also army huts on the island used for living quarters for the men stationed on the island. These have all disappeared now, though the foundations are still in evidence in places.


  1. There seems to be so much fascinating history on Orkney, from the recent to the most ancient. I suspect that one could spend a lifetime there and still not uncover it all!

  2. Orkney's war history fascinates me, especially the Italian Chapel story, it's such an amazing place. If you ever find out about the lighthouses please let us know!

  3. My Grandad was stationed on Graemsay through the WW2. This is fascinating. Any more info would be welcome. i guess he would have been living in one of the army huts that are now gone. he was a gunner. Nice read. Gary