Ancient Monuments

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Light Anti-aircraft battery on Holton Heath, 210m west of Sandford House

A Scheduled Monument in Wareham St. Martin, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.716 / 50°42'57"N

Longitude: -2.0955 / 2°5'43"W

OS Eastings: 393349.979922

OS Northings: 90716.51494

OS Grid: SY933907

Mapcode National: GBR 32M.504

Mapcode Global: FRA 67H5.X15

Entry Name: Light Anti-aircraft battery on Holton Heath, 210m west of Sandford House

Scheduled Date: 11 December 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019153

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33183

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Wareham St. Martin

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Wareham Lady St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a Bofors tower, representing a Light Anti-aircraft
battery situated on a ridge to the west of the Royal Naval Cordite Factory
site at Holton Heath. The site forms part of a wider group of anti-aircraft
defences which were constructed in order to defend the cordite factory at
Holton Heath during World War II.
The battery in fact consists of two concrete built towers, set side by side
and each supporting an upper platform. The towers are 7m by 3m square and
about 5m high. One tower was equipped with a 40mm Bofors gun, while the other
housed the observation post. The separation of the two towers was designed to
prevent vibration from the Bofors gun from affecting the vision of the
observer. The platform still includes the in-built concrete ammunition lockers
and some iron railings around the perimeter.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Although of comparatively recent date, 20th century military sites are
increasingly seen as historic survivals representing a defining episode in the
history of warfare and of the century in general; as such they merit careful
record and, in some cases, preservation. One of the more significant
developments in the evolution of warfare during this period was the emergence
of strategic bombing in World War II, and this significance was reflected by
the resources invested in defence, both in terms of personnel and the sites on
which they served. During the war, the number of people in Anti-aircraft
Command reached a peak of 274,900 men, additional to the women soldiers of the
ATS who served on gunsites from summer 1941, and the Home Guard who manned
many sites later in the war. A national survey of England's Anti-aircraft
provision, based on archive sources, has produced a detailed record of how
many sites there were, where they were and what they looked like. It is also
now known from a survey of aerial photographs how many of these survive.
Anti-aircraft gunsites divide into three main types: those for heavy guns
(HAA), light guns (LAA) and batteries for firing primitive unguided rockets
(so called ZAA sites). In addition to gunsites, decoy targets were employed to
deceive enemy bombers, while fighter command played a complementary and
significant role.
The LAA sites used a range of weapons in defence against lower flying
aircraft, and have a particularly wide distribution around the south and east
coasts and close to cities and industrial and military targets such as
airfields. Of all the gunsites, these were the least substantial, with the
fabric depending to a large extent on the type of weapon employed. The Bofors
machine gun was the weapon most frequently provided with a static emplacement.
It was also the only LAA weapon whose associated structures were covered by
formal design drawings, the remainder taking the form of simple fieldwork
dugouts, at most making use of concrete blocks for revetments. The Bofors gun
had three varieties of emplacement: ground level fieldworks, which were the
most common; roof mountings; and towers of steel or concrete. These towers
were never very numerous, with only 81 concrete examples supplied for use.
These static Bofors sites were sometimes provided with on-site magazines, the
design being left to local initiative. Remote positions for all types of gun
were often provided with a few ancillary structures or domestic buildings,
sufficient only to cater for their crew of 12 men, while ground defences were
modest. The on-site magazines were often Anderson shelters adapted for the
purpose. With few exceptions, sites were therefore small, slight and highly
Nearly 1,250 LAA gunsites are recorded as having been built during World War
II and can be accurately located. Around 50 of these have some remains
surviving, though at only around 40 sites are these thought sufficient to
provide an understanding of their original form and function. Surviving
examples are therefore sufficiently rare to suggest that all 40 examples are
of national importance.

The Light Anti-aircraft battery on Holton Heath, 210m west of Sandford House
survives well and represents one of about ten examples of Bofors towers known
to survive in England. The tower represents part of a varied group of Anti-
aircraft defences which form part of the nationally important remains at the
site of the Royal Naval Cordite Factory at Holton Heath.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pomeroy, C A, Military Dorset Today, (1995), 47
Mention, RCHME, Twentieth Century Military Recording Project (MPP Report), (1998)

Source: Historic England

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