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Sealand Flag Sealand Radio - Part 1 Sealand Flag

Issue: 3 Updated: 13th August 2018

The 1940's - 1960's with photographs from the Bates family archive

Radio broadcasting was contemplated but never implemented, but first let's look at the history of Roughs Sand Tower

The Pontoon (Barge) for Roughs (U1) was laid down from 4th September 1941 in berth 2 at Red Lion Wharf, Gravesend, Kent

U1 in berth 3 fitting out

First of the Sea Forts Roughs (U1) in berth 3 fitting out (October 1941)

Moved to berth 3 on 13th October save for the ammunition hoist, which was ready by Christmas work was completed on 10th December 1941, U1 was taken over to Tilbury as the base for U2 Sunk Head was begun in berth 2

U1 under tow to Tilbury

U1 leaves Gravesend headed for Tilbury (December 1941)

1st February 1942 3 tugs towed U1 to berth 28 at Tilbury where stores were loaded & RDF (Radar) equipment fitted

Degaussing (Demagnetising) took place on Sunday 8th February 1942, the Fort left Tilbury on the 9th February 1942 at 9.15 hrs

U1 under tow

U1 towed down river headed for Roughs Sands (9th February 1942)

Colliding with a number of buoys and a light ship en'route the tow halted overnight off Thamesport but recommenced the next day

U1 arrives at Roughs sand bank

Tow complete U1 arrives at Roughs Sands, 6 nautical miles off Felixtowe, Suffolk (Wednesday 11th February 1942)

With the tug 'Dapper' alongside Guy Maunsell seen above with the party on the stern of the pontoon opens the seacocks at 16.30 hrs

U1 grounds 6 nautical miles off the coast

Tug 'Lady Brassey' stands off as U1 sinks and grounds (Wednesday 11th February 1942)

By 16.44 hrs the Fort had settled in 37 feet of water, less than 15 minutes after the seacocks were opened

Thames Estuary Sea Fort Locations

The Thames Estuary Naval & Army Sea Fort Locations

With the big guns silent the Forts had been left by the MoD in 1958. Radio Sutch/City, Invicta later KING then 390, and Tower Radio all used abandoned Forts at Shivering, Red Sands and Sunk Head, but no operative had seriously considered Roughs

Felixtowe Times 14th August 1965

Felixtowe Times (14th August 1965)

Sunk Head had proved difficult to service being in deep waters and became flooded below decks. Roughs was also further out, so again deterred would be radio operatives

Felixtowe Times 14th August 1965

Left Click to Enlarge - Felixtowe Times (14th August 1965)

Other than scavenger visits it wasn't until the summer of 1965 that interest was aroused in Roughs Tower by Radio Caroline

Strategically the Fort was interesting, being one of only two Forts outside then British territorial waters, the other Sunk Head was soon to be destroyed by the MoD to prevent further use, see Tower Radio

For a pencil history of all the Thames Sea Forts see Fort Fax

Roy & Joan on the way to Roughs

Roy & Joan on the way to Knock John in the days of Radio Essex (1966)

Felixtowe Times 11th November 1966

Left Click to Enlarge - Felixtowe Times (11th November 1966)

Events though took a different turn after Radio Essex was outlawed closing down at 16.30 hrs on Christmas Day 1966

Knock John in early 1967

Knock John adandoned picture from (eary 1967)

The Fort was hastily dismantled of usable fixtures as the crew decamped with literally everything possible, including the primitive Radio Essex gear taken to Roughs

With Carline's crew away from the Tower over the Christmas break everything was man handled aboard and Roughs Fort claimed by Roy Bates

Michael Bates on the hoist up to the platform

Teenage Michael Bates hauled up to Roughs on a block & tackle (eary 1967)

No mean feat for the small Radio Essex crew: Dick Palmer, Tony Mandell, Van Sterling, Mike West, along with Roy Bates and his then 14 year old son Michael

The transfer of kit took many hours in the cold, damp winter conditions of the Thames Estuary. Michael, a tough young cookie stayed on the small fishing boat alone throughout the night as the guys above hauled everything up

Michael recalls: 'Those were difficult times, Dad had the balls to start Radio Essex with nothing. Technically quite simple & cheap these days, not so easy then. Many of the station staff look back at their formative years growing up on the station with affection'

Joan, Roy & Michael in the radio room

Joan, Roy & Michael in the radio room on Sealand (early 1967)

Felixtowe Times 13th January 1967

Left Click to Enlarge - Felixtowe Times (13th January 1967)

3.7" shell racks

Down below at level 6 (F) wartime 3.7" shell storage racks, no longer aboard

Felixtowe Times 14th April 1967

Left Click to Enlarge - Felixtowe Times (14th April 1967)

Monitoring the comings and goings from the Fort, noting it was left unmanned a mob of Gravesend Dockers and local heavies were recruited from pubs, sailing out on the Gravesend Tug 'Vanquisher' they took possession of the Fort on behalf of Radio Caroline

With rumoured investment from popular entertainment names, the radar top-house and control room were cut away to create a Heli-Pad. Caroline said Roughs would become a hotel, health/leisure resort, call it what you will

Felixtowe Times May 1967

Left Click to Enlarge - Felixtowe Times (May 1967)

In reality it was being readied for a supply depot for the Mi-Amigo after the 1967 MoA had came into force

Roy boarded the Fort then took the Caroline crew ashore, he had possession of Roughs

On 21st June 1967 the Offshore II left Harwich with a team of seven men to reclaim the Tower, petrol bombs, oxyacetylene gas cylinders rained down, repelling the Offshore II which pulled away leaving one man dangling from a ladder for some two hours

Press Cutting 28th June 1967

Newspaper Cutting (28th June 1967)

Walton-on-Naze lifeboat was despatch and after protracted negotiations the man was rescued, Police interviewed a number of people but made no arrests

Caroline's shipping agent Percy Scadden in an interview following the battle denied that Radio Caroline would be using the Fort for radio use stating those onboard were mental

Roy Bates later told press that there had been at least seven other raids. In one, a group of thirty heavily armed men had tried to seize the Fort

Roughs in 1967

Roughs Fort (1967)

'On Roughs, Dad hadn't named it Sealand yet, I recall the incident when the man nearly lost his fingers while lowering oxygen bottles. It was me not my Dad I was nearest the pulley, Bellasco I think and the big lad that was hurt behind him. I had lowered several bottles as the boat moved away. I was being pulled closer to the edge and in fear of loosing my fingers in the pulley. I shouted over my shoulder to take a turn (on the line) after a few seconds he shouted he'd got a turn. I let go the rope and turned to the other two, to my horror he had taken turns around his own hand as the rope friction burnt and cut his fingers to the bone. I was mortified and the bloke was a tough lad to not pass out. The other Caroline man there told me he hated the place and was going home as he made his way down on the tender'

Raising the Sealand flag

Michael, Roy with Joan raising the Flag over the Principality of Sealand (2nd September 1967)

Caroline were to leave the Fort for the last time, Roy had won the battle for Sovereignty of another Thames Fort

Newspaper sketch Roy Bates & Caroline walk plank

Newspaper sketch depicting Roy Bates waving a cutless at the hapless Caroline Crew memberforced to walk the plank (September 1967)

Joan & Roy off Sealand (Roughs)  in 1967

Press shot of Joan & Roy by Roughs the topic of sovereignty of Sealand attracted much media interest (1967)

By the 2nd September 1967 he'd settled his family on Roughs even though they'd had possession of the Fort for some 9 months

LW Generator set

Level 1 (A) of the Southern leg housed a 30 KVA Gardner LW generator set, original fitment was 3 each Fort, this one no longer aboard removed for use in a fishing boat

Press Cutting September 1967

Newspaper Cutting (September 1967)

Joan Bates poses in the snow

Joan Bates poses on deck by the 3.7" gun in the snow (winter of 1967/68)

Snow adds a eerie silence to an already strange place, the Forts are bitterly cold throughout the winter being constructed of reinforced concrete and steel, draft proofing was non-existent suffice for rubber gaskets around the main doors

N.B The Naval Forts had open wings which didn't help, heating originally came from solid fuel that warmed air which was circulated by gigantic fan, the system was complex and were never brought back into use

Knock John's wings remained open, Sealand's were madee weather proof with heavy doors

The Army Forts had coal fired boilers on each Tower with radiators throughout, on Shivering Sands these were brought back into service in 1966

Sealand 1968

Sealand in summer 1968 with mast in centre of Heli-Pad to prevent unauthorised landings, & used gas cylinders on Northern end

So why didn't Radio Essex resume transmitting from Roughs?

Well three reasons one Roy was by now exhausted of funds, he hadn't paid anyone for sometime, advertising and sponsorship had long dried up & he'd taken a hit in legal fees topped by a Government fine. Secondly he saw little point in 'testing' the Governments resolve, they were going to shut the 'Pirates' one way or another and the Fort based stations were already being systematically picked off. Finally, the long muted idea of an independent Country had again come to the surface. Caroline said they'd planned to go for Sovereignty for Roughs during the time they had control of the Fort, but the idea had originally come from Dick Palmer, Roy now embraced the idea whole heartedly

'Sealand Radio' exists in the form of the base Fort-shore link situated on 'The Row' on the Fort, communication using the call sign 'Sealand' can be interesting particularly with Sea-Land Container ships passing frequently!

But a potential to broadcast raised its head again see the story in Sealand Radio - Part 2

Sealand Stamps

Sealand Postage Stamps

Proclaiming sovereignty on 2nd September 1967 the Roughs became the Principality of Sealand, an in dependant country

Sealand issued a number of stamps in 1969 depicting amongst others; Christopher Columbus, Sir Walter Raleigh, Vasco de Gamaealand

Sealand coin example Sealand coin example

Sealand Dollar (1977)

A dozen or so coins were minted from 1972, not recognised by the International Postal Union the stamps have never the less become sought after by collectors

Sealand Passport

A limited number of Sealand Passports were produced but never Driving Licence's

Sealand Title Pack

Sealand Titles

For a limited period of time only: To celebrate 30 years of victory over the Dutch and German terrorist invasion of Sealand. The Principality is offering 'Individual Noble Titles' Lord, Lady, Baron and Baroness in recognition of support

During the invasion Prince Michael of Sealand was held prisoner for four days until being landed illegally on the Dutch coast. Sealand launched a counter attack sliding down ropes from a helicopter 100 foot above the raging North Sea to recaptured the fortress island

N.B Also in appreciation for their services to the Principality of Sealand honorary titles are being issued to a select group of supporters, including Danny Wallace, Ben Fogle, Terry Wogan, George Stroumboulopoulos and Jeremy Clarkson

Click on the Link document(s) image above or Sealand seal below

Sealand emblem

This feature does not intend to duplicate information published elsewhere or make legal or otherwise opinions, reference links are provided as applicable

With grateful thanks to Michael Bates for his help in producing this feature which continues in Sealand Radio - Part 2

Additional material Michael Caine, Chris Stewart, Francois Lhote

Sealand History : Clarkson for PM : Sovereignty : More News

News can be found on Sealand Facebook

A VCD sanctioned & approved for release by Prince Michael of Sealand is available with over 150 photographs & history soundtrack tour of Sealand to order your copy go to Offshore Shop

For all the Sealand Features navigate from the ScrapBook Index


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