View Full Version : RN Shore Training Establishment: Gunnery School, Sheerness

07-07-2011, 21:04
The RN Gunnery School at Sheerness was established on the 1st of April 1892 at the RN barracks Sheerness.

The building that accommodated the school was originally built as a stores building in 1821. The building was reclassified in 1828 as a Naval Stores Establishment, becoming the Naval Barracks on the 6th of February 1854. Known as the ‘Wildfire Building’ – see footnote.

The Gunnery School was transferred to Chatham on the 1st of July 1908 as the Admiralty had decided that there was no room for expansion. The final parade was held on 26 June, with Rear-Admiral Coke and the Staff Officers present. On the officers and men leaving the drill ground for the last time, the Gunnery School Band played "Auld Lang Syne.

Captains of Royal Naval Gunnery School, Sheerness 1892 - 1907.

Henry H. Boys 1892 Wildfire.
W.H.C. St. Clair, A.D.C. 1894 Wildfire.
James L. Hammett. 1896 Wildfire.
W.F.S. Mann, A.D.C. 1898 Wildfire.
C. Campbell, CB., DSO., ADC. 1899 Wildfire.
Charles H. Adair, A.D.C. 1902 Wildfire.
Henry M.T. Tudor. 1905 Wildfire.
A.A.C. Galloway, A.D.C. 1906 Wildfire.
Charles H. Coke, A.D.C. 1907 Wildfire.

Sheerness Naval Depot closed in 1922

On the 6th of February 1937, “the Wildfire Building” was re-commissioned on 16th February, 1937 as a Boys Training Establishment, and in 1947 was amalgamated with HMS Vector as a Radar Plotter Training School, which was closed in 1949 when training was transferred to HMS Dryad & HMS Harrier. However, the building was once again reopened in 1954 as an accommodation centre finally closing on 14th October, 1959.

I believe the building has since been demolished, having at one time been the headquarters for the Sheppey Sea Cadets (TS Kent)

The reference to ‘Wildfire’ comes from HMS Wildfire (ex-Hiawatha) which was commissioned as the base ship in April 1889. See this thread (http://www.worldnavalships.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6120)for more information.

Various postcards of the Gunnery Training School. Original source of photographs not determined. No copyright restrictions evident.

20-01-2012, 16:31
I spent two weeks at Sheerness Gunnery Range which overlooked the Thames estuary around August 1954. There we were taught land fighting which appeared to be little more than running flat out through thigh high tangly grass carrying a Lee Enfield .303 rifle and leaping over muddy ditches with which we were suddenly confronted without changing step. We learned how to strip a Bren gun, clean it, and put it together again We also took turns in being strapped to an Oerliken 20mm cannon and loosing off at a towed target. The gun sight was a smoked glass screen onto which a dot and a circle were projected. Apparently the dot was pointed at the target and the ring indicated where the gun was pointing so that a gyroscope was fitted somewhere I suppose. I couldn't see either dot or circle so used the ring and bead sight and like everybody else, missed by a mile. That was also the case of using a Webley .38 revolver which was supposed to have an effective range of 50 yards but I and many of the others didn't disturb the peace of a man sized target 25 yards away.

We were billeted in Nissen huts with stoves provided for heating and boy, did we need it; the toilet and bathroom facilities were very sub-standard. The accommodation was worse than that of RNB at Chatham.

Sheerness was unloved by most as usually we de-ammunitioned there and then reloaded after leaving Chatham. All I can remember is that it always seemed very cold there.