Top Picture: Installation of the MARK IX pivot mounting for a 9.2 inch calibre gun of the Oxford Battery, probably in the summer of 1944.
Bottom Picture: Crew beside an assembled MARK XV 9.2 calibre coast gun at the Oxfor Battery, 1944 – 45. This gun could fire a 380 pound shell up to 17 1/2 miles.
(Special thanks to John Clark – Sydney Amouries Museum)
Some of the things I remember about world war two and how it affected us living in Alder Point right next door to Little Pond was Fort Oxford Battery. In our eyes this was a massive army installation erected and manned to keep the German hordes at bay.
Many of us have forgotten about the strict rationing of food, gasoline and other staples were during the war years and for several years after the war. Fishermen and farmers purchased coloured gas to differentiate from the average joe. If you were not a fisherman or farmer and were caught with coloured gas you had your vehicle confiscated and were fined or maybe even went to jail.
Little Pond had a major affect on our lives especially when they tested their guns. It was manned by hundreds of soldiers many of them came out to Alder Point and played ball or went fishing. The Battery often put on picture shows and as youngsters we would walk out there and watch the show and walk back. I remember seeing Johnny Belinda starring Jane Wyman playing a deaf mute who was raped – heady stuff for us youngsters. Ironically years later (1968) when we lived in Bermuda Jane had a beautiful large house just across the road from us. She was never there but it was hers and we used to tell visiting children that it was haunted.
Other military type installations were power and telephone lines that ran throug the woods to Point Aconi. Large towers filled with brush and constructed of wooden frames were erected along the coast prepared to be set ablaze in the event of a raid. There was such a tower located in Solly LeBlanc’s field in Alder Point and remained there well after the war was over. They could be seen from one to the other. From Alder Point we could see the very large lookout tower which was erected in Little Pond from its lookout you could observe Sydney Harbour and a large expanse of the Ocean.
The protection of Sydney Harbour was organized so that the outer approaches to the harbour were protected by bombardment batteries of large guns in order to keep large enemy ships out of gun range. At the harbour’s mouth close-defence batteries of smaller but faster firing guns would prevent any enemy from entering the harbour. Finally, anti motor torpedo boat or AMTB batteries guarded the inner harbour to deal with rush attacks by small fast-moving boats that might slip past the outer defences. They were placed directly in front of the anti-submarine net that secured the inner harbour.Counter bombardment batteries were placed at Oxford (Little Pond) and Lingan; the close defence batteries were at Chapel Point and Fort Petrie; and the AMTB batteries at Stubbert’s Point and South Bar. This whole concept was supported by powerul far reaching search lights.
By 1943 the counter bombardment battery at Oxford was nearing completion and the men of the 36th were selected to mount and man that battery’s guns. The first of the big 9.2 inch guns arrived in the spring of 1944. The 9.2 inch Mark 15 could fire its 380 pound projectile to a range of 29,000 yards (roughly 17 miles). This equipment weighted over 125 tons, with the barrel alone weighing 25 tons. Seven rail cars were required to transport it. The big gun was moved from the railhead in Sydney Mines to the battery at Oxford by men of the 36th Battery who set to work installing it. The second gun arrived in May as the finishing touches were put to the mounting of the first. The second gun was mounted and in place by the end of the summer. After the war, Fort Oxford and Fort Petrie were maintained as permanent batteries until 1953 and 1956 respectively. By that time coast artillery had been rendered obsolete by missiles and other emerging technologies. The end of an era was reached.
Extracted from an article written by: Craig Organ and recommended by Norma Day