Signal Hill

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Signal Hill (1695-1945) - Signal Hill was a fortified complex, first established in 1695 at St. John's, Newfoundland for the defense of St. John's harbour. The complex was active from the Colonial era through World War II. Deactivated as a fortification in 1945.

History

Part of the Harbor Defense of St. John's.

A fortified complex first established in 1695 at St. John's, Newfoundland for the defense of St. John's harbour and the city itself. This complex came to include forts, batteries and signalling stations on both sides of the narrow entrance to St. John's harbor as well as those fortifications atop Signal Hill itself.

Signal Hill Fortifications
Fortification Dates GPS Notes
Queen's Battery 1796-1870 47.56855,
-52.68585
Fort Chain Rock 1673-Unk 47.5675,
-52.68769
Battery Waldegrave
Fort Waldegrave
1798-1868 47.56897,
-52.69097
Frederick's Battery 47.56451,
-52.685
Quidi Vidi Battery 1762-1870 47.58019,
-52.67366
Wallace's Battery 47.57106,
-52.68905
Duke of York's Battery
Carronade Battery

(1697-1870)

Battle of Signal Hill (15 Sep 1762)

The hill was the site of the Battle of Signal Hill on 15 Sep 1762 when British Lieutenant Colonel William Amherst led an expeditionary force to recapture St. John’s from the French.

World War I (1914-1918)

Signal Hill Fortifications WWI
Fortification Dates GPS Notes
Battery Waldegrave
Fort Waldegrave
1916-1920 47.56897,
-52.69097

World War II (1939-1945)

The passage of the U.S. Lend Lease Act in March 1941, officially began U.S. material support for Great Britain and commonwealth members. Lend Lease equipment and supplies were ferried across the North Atlantic by merchant ship convoys that gathered and formed at the Newfoundland ports of St. John's and Argentia. As a part of the Lend Lease agreement, Great Britain provided the U.S. with 99 year leases for military bases at these two Labrador ports and some outlying areas. Two U.S. Army bases were built, Fort McAndrew at Argentia and Fort Pepperrell at St. John's, Harmond Army Airfield was built near Stephenville. The U.S. Navy built Naval Air Station Argentia (NAS Argentia) at Argentia. Fort Pepperrell became the site of the Newfoundland Base Command that oversaw U.S. operations in Labrador.

At St. John's, the American troopship Edmund B. Alexander arrived on 29 Jan 1941 with some 1,000 U.S. Servicemen who lived on the ship until May 1941. In May the troops moved into a temporary Camp Alexander where they lived in a tent city while permanent quarters were constructed at Fort Pepperrell.

On Signal Hill in St. John's, initial American defenses included two 10" railway guns emplaced at the top and a four gun 155mm mobile gun battery, four 3" anti-aircraft guns and sixteen 50-calibre machine guns. The American facilities on Signal Hill came to include some 86 buildings with barracks and support facilities for 478 men. At the base of Signal Hill, directly protecting the narrow harbor entrance, were two 75mm guns at Chain Rock and two casemated 4.7" guns on the other side at Fort Amherst. These facilities were not manned by U.S. troops.

By the end of 1944 the American defenses on Signal Hill had been reduced by the relocation of the 10" railway guns to Red Cliff and the reduction of the 155mm battery down to, two 155mm guns, in storage, ready for deployment to one of three prepared emplacements. The two lower gun batteries remained in place.


Signal Hill Fortifications - WWII
Fortification TAC Dates GPS Notes
Signal Hill 8" Battery 1 1941-1942 47.57087,
-52.68113
Two 8" guns to Red Cliff 8" Battery
Battery 155 - Signal Hill 2 1941-1945 47.57082,
-52.68088
See Note 1
360 degree Field of fire
Battery 155 - Manuels 2 1942-1945 47.5312,
-52.95673
See Note 1
180 degree Field of fire
Battery 155 - Middle Cove 2 1942-1945 47.65163,
-52.69126
See Note 1
180 degree Field of fire
Fort Chain Rock - 1941-1945 47.5675,
-52.68769
Chain Rock AMTB Battery - 1941-1945 47.56759,
-52.68753
Two 75mm guns from Fort Amherst
Fort Amherst - 1941-1945 47.5636,
-52.67987
Two casemated 4.7-inch guns from Signal Hill
Two 75mm guns to Chain Rock AMTB Battery
Note 1: Two 155mm Guns kept in storage ready for deployment to one of three locations

Current Status

Part of Signal Hill National Historic Site. Period guns and mounts in place.


Location: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 47.57006 Long: -52.68202

See Also:

Sources:

  • Prowse, D. W. Q.C., LL.D., A History of Newfoundland from the Engish, Colonial, and Foreign Records, 2nd Ed., 1896, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, Pdf
  • Candow, James E., A Structural And Narrative History Of Queen's Battery, Manuscript Report No. 343, Parks Canada, Signal Hill National Historic Park, 1980, Pdf
  • High, Steven, ed., Occupied St, John's: A Social History of a City at War, 1939-1945, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7735-3750-7, page 49-53, 93.
  • U.S.Army, The Harbor Defense Project Harbor Defenses Newfoundland Base Command, (NBC-DP-44), 31 Dec 1944, CDSG.

Links:

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