Visitors to Ascension can't fail to notice two large white naval guns mounted at Fort Bedford, overlooking Georgetown and Clarence Bay. The guns are 5.5-inch guns removed from HMS Hood in 1934 and are the only remaining parts of this ship which was (in)famously destroyed by the German ship Bismarck with the loss of all but 3 lives.
[caption id="attachment_651" align="aligncenter" width="584"] The pair of 5.5 inch guns removed from HMS Hood stand guard over Georgetown.
The only action these historic weapons saw during World War II occurred on 9 December 1941. At around mid-day, the U-boat U-124, commanded by Johann Mohr, approached Georgetown on the surface with the intention of sinking any ships at anchor or shelling the cable station. The submarine was fired on by the two-gun shore battery but no hits were scored. However the shelling was accurate enough to force the U-boat to submerge and retreated. Details of the action can be found here.
[caption id="attachment_653" align="aligncenter" width="584"] The interior of one of the guns. Both are still largely intact and a visit to see them offers great views across Georgetown and the bay.
In a very intriguing twist, an examination of the U-Boat crew lists shows an engineer by the name of Rudolph Dimmlich was serving on the U124 at the time of the attack. One of our team members, Dr Wetjens Dimmlich, shares this uncommon name and it is not out of the question that the only time the guns were fired were an attempt to sink a vessel that a relative of one of our team members was serving on!
[caption id="attachment_652" align="aligncenter" width="584"] Wetjens (perhaps?) making contact with a piece of family history and linking the current expedition with events that took place in Georgetown's past.