Wartime bell

In April 2006 The Manx Aviation and Military Museum put on display a bell which originally belonged to the Royal Navy radar training station, HMS Valkyrie, in Douglas in the Second World War.

The small brass wardroom bell, which is hung on a wooden frame, is painted with the name HMS Valkyrie and the date 1942. Valkyrie was a shore-based training unit which was situated in the old Douglas Head Hotel and in the building which is now occupied by Manx Radio. It was the Royal Navy’s main radar training base between 1941 and 1945 and over 30,000 people trained there during the war years.

Museum chairman John Huxley said: “We are delighted to have been able to bring this historic bell back to the Island after an absence of 60 years.

“The bell was spotted on the internet auction site Ebay. It was for sale in south-west England and our enquiries satisfied us that it was genuine – the seller’s father was stationed here during the war and the seller himself lived here for a time and he remembers the bell in use in a wardroom when he was a schoolboy here.

“Our limited funds mean that we cannot normally buy items for exhibition unless they are very special or important historic items but on this occasion we are very grateful to the Manx Heritage Foundation which funded the purchase of the bell.

“Items from HMS Valkyrie are quite rare but by coincidence we have recently also been given a pair of telephone handsets which came from the base.

“The bell is now at the museum along with lots of other new items which are on show for the first time including a First World War camera gun, the propeller from the first passenger-carrying aircraft on the Island, a display on Hall Caine Airport which used to be near Ramsey in the 1930s, and the uniform of the Commanding Officer of RAF Andreas in 1943.”