HMS Spartiate - The Ship in Room 504

During theSecond World War, the Clyde became a target for German bombers because of the ships being built in the dockyards which lined the river. Something needed to be done to ensure the safety of shipping in the Clyde and the solution was to set up a Royal Naval shore establishment.

The Navy commandeered much of the St Enoch hotel, which was the subject of this Old Glasgow post from the archives, and HMS Spartiate (the elite warrior class in Spartan culture as I’m sure you weren’t wondering) was opened and the Clyde Boat Patrol created.

It was in the confines of room 504 that the other vital role of HMS Spartiate was carried out. It was converted into an office and became the de facto home of Lieutenant Commander Edward Seagar and the Clyde Intelligence System. It housed a safe, a camp bed and- perhaps most importantly- a scrambler telephone with a direct line to the Admiralty.

Seagar was dedicated to his role and barely found himself leaving the room over the course of the five years he was stationed there. He spoke seven languages and gathered scraps of information from all over the world. Stories, interrogations and other accounts, Seagar wanted to know it all.

Most of the undercover work done in Glasgow was carried out by three waterfront businessmen, and it was from them that he heard of a neutral Portuguese sailor who had been in Holland visiting family. Seagar took the information and combined it with other bits and pieces he had heard and the intelligence eventually led to a raid on the Philips Radio factory in Eindhoven which totally wiped out production of radios for German tanks.

HMS Spartiate may not have actually been a sea-faring vessel but she played a vital role in protecting Glasgow from German bombs. Which is good because it allowed the council to bulldoze half of it instead.

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