Surface Sites

WWII Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries

 Created 23-07-2002    Last update 07-01-2019

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Fort Nelson - Magazine

In 1938 Fort Nelson was altered for use as an area magazine. Ten shell storage sheds were constructed on the parade of the fort and a new gateway driven through the west gorge wall (rear of the fort) to allow ammunition lorries to enter. At this time it has been suggested that the old Victorian magazine served as a shell store for Bofors shells. It has been further suggested that the former Examining Room (where the barrels of Powder where inspected)  was used as a store for fuses for the Bofors shells but this has now been discounted as the 40mm Anti-Aircraft shell came ready fused from the filling factory. The shelves in this room may well date from WWII as they have metal brackets which were not allowed in Victorian magazines.



REDAN 59 Palmerston Forts Society

Bob Jenner

Google Earth Aerial View

Location of Nelson HAA

 Location of Fort Nelson

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.


Fort Nelson outside 

During WWII,  Fort Nelson held all the anti-aircraft ammunition for the Portsmouth area. The fort is open all year round, and admission is free. Between 1951 and 1955 the Fort housed the Anti-Aircraft Control Room for the Portsmouth and Southampton group HQ. This has since been dismantled.

Fort Nelson west gate

This gate was added to the western gorge wall in 1938 to allow the access of heavy ammunition lorries to the parade ground.

Magazines 1 and 4

 The Parade of Fort Nelson. The large white modern building is the museum Artillery Hall. To the left is number 4 magazine, to the right number 1 magazine. Notice how the buildings were 'V' shaped, accommodating the shape of the parade.

Number 4 magazine

 Number 4 magazine. There were originally 10 of these buildings. On the night of January 9 / 10 1941 there were 1,220 anti-aircraft rounds issued. Fort Nelson itself was bombed but due to the fact it's still there it can be assumed that the magazines were not touched.  In October 2002 it was announced that one of these magazines is to be restored to its former glory.

Fort Nelson Ammunition Sheds

NEW - 12-09-2004

Aerial photo of Fort Nelson showing the original 10 'V' shaped magazines on the Parade.

60cm light railway

Part of the light railway installed in the late 1930s to help convey ammunition to the main magazine under the parade ground. Ironically, this is a 60cm German field railway which was captured at the end of WWI and demonstrates the best recycling effort I have ever seen. The rolling stock was man-hauled.

Fort Nelson ammunition conveyer

An electric conveyer belt was installed next to the railway so that ammunition could be delivered and brought-up from the Victorian underground magazine. The ammunition stored here was mainly for the 40mm anti-aircraft Bofors gun. The magazine had electric fans installed to aid ventilation.

Fort Nelson Magazine graphic

Fort Nelson Main Magazine 1938

Graphic reproduced from REDAN 59. Copyright David Moore Palmerston Forts Society

A 40mm AA Bofors ammunition store
B Store in the former 'Examining Room'
C Magazine passage
FP Fire Point


  W/16093 l/Sgt D A Strong ATS - 1st Berkshire Yeomanry

My mother (Dorothy Ada Strong, married name Bethell) was an ATS soldier and a cook at several wartime sites, which are engraved in her cigarette case. She also manned the AA guns when a raid was on, and was one of the few who got the war medal as well as the normal one for WWII. She was called-up on 1st September, 1939. I have added a couple of pictures of the cigarette case.

John Bethell - January 2019

Dorothy Bethell Cig case inside

Inside the case.

Anti-Aircraft sites that Dorothy served at during WWII.

More about the Hayling site can be found here.

Dorothy Bethell Cig case outside

Front of the case.

This is a World War Two, Royal Artillery, Cap Badge.

The Latin translates as: "Everywhere That Right And Glory Lead".


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