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The Invergordon Archive

The Northern Barrage

In the autumn of 1917 it was decided to lay barrages of mines across the English Channel and a ‘Northern Barrage’, 240 miles long, between the Northern Isles and Norway. The Americans, who had entered the war in April 1917, had developed a particularly powerful mine, and it was agreed that they should be primarily responsible for laying the Northern Barrage. Grangemouth became the British base for this operation and the Cromarty Firth was set aside for the Americans. Equipment was shipped from the United States to Kyle of Lochalsh and then taken by rail across Scotland to the Cromarty Firth. Dalmore Distillery, with its convenient rail spur, was taken over by the Admiralty in November 1917 and rebuilt to accommodate about 1,250 men. A rail link was constructed between Dalmore and Invergordon harbour and an additional arm was added to the timber east pier in Invergordon for loading the mines on board ship. Construction began on an embankment and pier, still called ‘The Yankee Pier’, to the south of the distillery but these were not completed by November 1918. (This is from the excellent book ‘This Noble Harbour - A History of the Cromarty Firth, by Marinell Ash - ISBN 0 859763 196)

Martin Briscoe kindly drew this site’s attention to a document ‘The Northern Barrage - Mine Force United States Atlantic Fleet, The North Sea 1918, published by The U.S. Naval Institute in 1919. In this document, which is downloadable over the internet at http://www.archive.org/details/northernbarragem00anna there are various photographs of Dalmore, the Firth and Invergordon which are of interest. Martin Briscoe obtained an original of the document and has kindly supplied copies of the relevant images. Many of the original images were not of very high quality and the image scans reflect this.
Headquarters The Headquarters which was established at the Dalmore Distillery.
At Base Seventeen The U.S. Navy in the Firth looking east towards the Sutors.
At the Base THe U.S. Navy and staff at the Dalmore Distillery.
The Gate The entry and exit point through the Boom Defense.
Invergordon The view from the Firth looking north.
Invergordon Harbour Unfortunately the image is of poor quality but it is possible to make out the harbour in the centre ...
Lighters, Invergordon Lighters on one of the piers being loaded with mines which can be seen in the railway wagons.
Loading Pier Mines in wagons on the Admiralty Pier. The town can be seen in the background.
Oil Tanks, Invergordon A view from the Admiralty Pier of the town - and the oil tanks!
Invergordon High Street The source document referred to under the 'Group' description gives this picture the caption: 'Alnes...
USS San Francisco USS San Francisco, flagship of Mine Squadron One. She can be seen in the smaller of the floating doc...

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