| This is a most
important picture; it shows Invergordon when it was a Naval Base.
| When France was the principal enemy, it was appropriate to base the Royal Navy on the south coast of England. There is some evidence of naval interest in Invergordon in the 18th century. A major visit was made in August 1863 when nine ships arrived with a crew of 5,ooo. In 1913 a Naval Dockyard was set up with fuelling facilities. The 1914-18 war changed that and the British Grand Fleet moved to Invergordon in 1913. A Royal Naval Dockyard was set up for 1914 onwards, and the population of Invergordon (about 1,000) was massively increased by about 6,000 when the Dockyard got going. Later on, in ????, it was moved again to Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands, to be out of the range of bombers.
Invergordon had some important advantages such as being on the Cromarty Firth which was sheltered and less exposed to the stormy weather of the North Sea. It had adequate deep water (best deep-water harbour in Europe, it was said) to allow Revues of the Fleet to take place which could involve as many as ?? ships. For example, in 1936, there were ??. It was relatively easy to defend because the channel into the Cromarty Firth was quite narrow (??). Furthermore, on either side of that channel were the Sutors of Cromarty on which were heavy gun emplacements. These comprised three 9.2inch guns (about 204mm) for large ships, and six 4 inch (100mm) quick-firing ones for smaller and/or fast-moving craft.
There were other military units in the area. An important one was No 4 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit providing aircrew for Coastal Command Flying Boats. OTU as it was called, had an anti-submarine role with Sunderlands, similar to that of the Catalina, so that trainees got experience of the real thing. These patrols seem to have made greater use of depth-charges than Catalinas. It is on record that the Sunderland fought off three Junkers 88s. Another significant activity was Air/Sea Rescue which often used seaplanes to rescue the crew of stricken ships or aircraft.
For more war-time activites see Alness or Evanton or Tain
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