Castles during World War Two

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Did you know that some of Scotland's castles were used during the Second World War?

In this article you can find out:

  • Why castles were useful during World War Two
  • How Castle Toward was used during the war
  • The history for Dumbarton Castle
  • What happened to the castles after World War Two

This resource is suitable for Castles topics for P2, P3 and P4 (First Level Curriculum for Excellence).

Find out how castles were used during World War Two.

Why were castles useful during World War Two?

  • Many Scottish castles were built up high or near water, which made them excellent lookouts for spotting enemies.
  • Castles were very large and made with strong materials, which made them a safe place for soldiers to train and to rest.
  • Some castles were in the countryside away from the busy cities. These were useful for homing evacuees escaping the bombs in towns and cities.
Crookston Castle

Crookston Castle

Crookston Castle in Glasgow was built in the 1400s . During World War 2, the north-eastern tower was used as an aircraft watch tower. The high tower gave guards a better view to look out for German bomber planes during the Clydeside blitz.

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Castle Toward

Castle Toward in Argyll was made into a training camp for the army, navy and air force.

Triservice staff at Castle Toward 1942
This photograph shows members of the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force at Castle Toward in 1942. Thousands of troops came to Scotland to practise for landings in North Africa, Sicily and the Netherlands as well as the D-Day Normandy landings.

Beach landing at Castle Toward in 1943
This photo shows RAF trainees practising a beach landing near Castle Toward in the summer of 1943. The castle was a base for large crafts that carried tanks and vehicles. Training with smaller boats was based near Inveraray.

Dumbarton Castle

In the video at the top of the page, we learned that Dumbarton Castle was used as a lookout tower during World War 2 and was fitted with anti-aircraft guns.

Let's find out more about Dumbarton Castle and its history.

The LAB and Historic Environment Scotland worked with Braehead Primary to make this film all about the castle on the rock... Dumbarton Castle!

What happened to the castles after World War Two?

After World War Two, many of these castles were returned to their owners. A few became hotels and some were left to become ruins.

Test your knowledge

Write a letter from an evacuee

Imagine you are an evacuee during World War Two. You have been sent to Blair Castle to be safe from bombing raids.

Write a letter to a family member or friend describing what life is like.

Evacuation during World War Two

Scotland's Home Front
An evacuee's adventure