1 Single Submarine
Scout Class Shed
(302ft long 70ft wide and 50ft high)
1 Silcol plant
To safeguard the shipping
lanes in the Irish Sea and the links to one of Britain's
major port hub, Liverpool, it was decided that two RNAS
airship stations should be based in Wales.
The first base was situated on
the Isle of Anglesey, some 12 miles south east of Holyhead,
and 8 miles north west of Cananavron.
The site chosen for the future
RNAS Angelsey was an area some 5 miles inland from the coast,
providing protection from the coastal winds, on the island.
The of farmland was chosed being low lying ground, surrounded
by gently undulating hills. The airship base was sited just
off the old A5 road which was a historic link between Holyhead
and London. It meant that the station itself was well positioned
to recieve construction materials and supplies. For rail
links and delivering of heavier goods and materials for
the airship shed and plant, the site was close to the branch
line to Amlwch, which itself was linked to the mainline
On 26th September 1915 base
commissioned with the constuction of the Submarine Scout
class shed which was partly completed.
The first commander of the base,
was Major George Herbert Scott, the later Commander of the
R34, and Deputy Director of Airship Development for the
Imperial Airship Scheme.
The key role of the RNAS airships
to patrol the central Irish Sea shipping. The mail and passenger
ships from Holyhead to Dublin, the services to the Isle
of Man, and of course the large number of freight shipping
which rounded the Anglesey Island headland, in to the river
Mersey, and Liverpool docks.
September 1915 saws the
arrival of the first airship, the Submarine Scout S.S.18.
The airship components arrived by train, and assembled and
inflated in the new shed. The first flight of the ship was
on 26th September 1915. Three more submarine scout ships
arrived over the next few months, the S.S.22, S.S.24 and
When the ships arrived the crews
noted that the rest of the base was still under construction
in the later months of 1915, and early 1916. As the silcol
plant had not been completed, the ships based there had
to be topped up, and inflated using hydrogen gas cylinders.
The shed was finally completed in February 1916, and protected
by four windbreaks, one at each corner of the two sets of
As part of the training for the
crews, they practiced bombing from the ships by dropping
unarmed bombs on a dummy target, arranged as the same size
and shape of an enemy submarine, was set up on the landing
ground. The bombs used were 16lb bombs, which would make
a sound, but not cause any damage to the ground.
The convoys leaving Liverpool were protected down from leaving
the mouth of the River Mersey, then half way down the Irish
Sea. Responsibility of the convoy would then be passed on
to the SS ships operating from the South Wales RNAS base
Enemy activity in the form of submarines were often spotted
by the SS ships during the war, and provided valuable service
in informing the convoy and Royal Navy ships, and often
engaging the submarines by attempting to bomb them.
RNAS Angelsey remained on duty and operational even after
the Armistice in November 1918. The reason was to act as
minesweepers and mine spotters for an enemy mines which
may have still be laid in the Irish Sea shipping lanes.
As with many of the RNAS airship stations which were set
up just prior to the First World War, it was decided that
the threat of submarines had passed, and therefore the Anglesey
base and airships were no longer needed. The ships based
at the stations were deflated. The station was finally closed
in October 1919. The Government Disposal Board was handed
the responsibility of disposing of the buildings and shed.
Anglesey County Council agreed to purchase some of the buildings
which had been built on the site, and was converted in to
a small local hospital. The Submarine Scout shed was demolished.
The land where the station was
sited, was used in World War Two as the site for RAF Mona
airfield, and remains as sited there today.
at the airship station.
Thanks to Neil Curtis,
who provided the following photographs of life at RNAS Angelsey,
which were taken by his Grandfather, John Harrold Curtis,
who was a pilot based at RNAS Angelsey. The pictures give
a wonderul insight in to daily life for the crews, pilots,
officers and workers at the station both at work and at