The History of The Needles

First World War

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Needles batteries were occupied using old railway carriages for accommodation, and the command post was given an armoured roof. Three blockhouses were constructed for an infantry garrison who defended the landward approach with barbed-wire entanglements and machine-guns

All the combat took place offshore after the German High Command adopted unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. In January the German Submarine UB35 sank two ships off The Needles. The first, on the 20th January, was the huge 9,044 ton armed escort ship SS Mechanician. Two torpedoes ripped open the 500 foot hull, killing 13 of the crew. The survivors beached the ship on The Shingles and abandoned her. There was talk of salvage but the great ship sank into the pebbles and was never seen again. Two days later UB35 torpedoed the 3,677 ton SS Serrana west of the Needles. The armed merchant ship limped as far as The Needles Channel before she broke in two and sank. Only two of the crew survived. With the end of the war in 1918 the military left The Needles and the Island's own territorial infantry regiment was converted into 530 Coastal Artillery Regiment. They periodically came to The Needles for practice.


Alum Bay and The Needles by J.C.Medland (ISBN 1809 392 03)

A. T. Gilliam author of Wight Air Wrecks (ISBN 0 7524 2376 2)

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