Weather uncovers signs of May Isle’s war role

Part of the old cable recently uncovered. (Picture by David Pickett)

Part of the old cable recently uncovered. (Picture by David Pickett)

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Recent bad weather uncovered a reminder of the Isle of May’s important role during the world wars.

Now a Scottish Natural Heritage reserve, it can be difficult to imagine how busy the island was during the wars, when it guarded the entrance to Forth and the vital wartime dock at Rosyth from the threat of U-boats.

Helping do this was a metal cable laid on the sea bed from Crail to North Berwick and through a control room on the May. When a metal-hulled vessel moved over the cable it set off an alarm in the control room. While much of the cable on the island was removed after World War Two, recent heavy weather exposed the remains of the cable at Pilgrims Haven where it runs down under the shingle and into the sea.

Reserve manager David Pickett said that local boats had to get permission to pass in or out of the Forth.

He added: “Apparently fishing boats were apt to forget, causing all sorts of false alarms, but for the whole of the war, no enemy surface ships or submarines broke into the Forth.”