Unraveling the History: Spitbank Fort’s 1910 Explosion

Spitbank Fort

On the 11th of August 1910, a somber incident unfolded at Spit Bank Fort during the mobilisation of defences and fort manning. This unfortunate event resulted in the untimely passing of Sergeant Henry Attreal from the 67th company RGA. The tragedy unfolded during the testing of the electrical firing mechanism for one of the 4.7-inch guns on the fort’s roof. Following misfires, the test was regrettably conducted with a live round in the breech, consistent with the practice during fort mobilisation, and with the breech block left in the open position.

Upon careful examination, it was determined that Sgt. Attreal’s demise was accidental. The inquiry revealed that he had taken a perilous risk by examining the gun with an open breech. The evidence strongly suggested that this action led to the unfortunate outcome. A news article from 1910 reported on the incident, underscoring the accidental nature of Sgt. Attreal’s death and the associated risks he took during the examination of the gun with an open breech.

The funeral for Sgt. Attreal took place on the 15th of August 1910, with a solemn procession through the streets of Portsmouth. His final resting place is in the Highlands Road Cemetery, Southsea. Special thanks are extended to the Palmerston Forts Society and Mr. Allen for their invaluable assistance in the research.

Acknowledgments to Research Collaborators: Special recognition must be given to the Palmerston Forts Society and Mr. Allen for their invaluable assistance in researching the incident. Their dedication to preserving historical accuracy and providing context contributes significantly to our understanding of this chapter in military history.