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Operation Diver Heavy Anti-aircraft gun sites on Flamborough Head

A Scheduled Monument in Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.1146 / 54°6'52"N

Longitude: -0.0835 / 0°5'0"W

OS Eastings: 525374.536783

OS Northings: 470446.887868

OS Grid: TA253704

Mapcode National: GBR WNVV.QS

Mapcode Global: WHHF2.PVF1

Entry Name: Operation Diver Heavy Anti-aircraft gun sites on Flamborough Head

Scheduled Date: 9 February 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019594

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32705

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Flamborough

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Flamborough St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes standing, earthwork and buried remains of a pair of
World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gun sites known as Stations BJ and
BJ1 which were established as part of Operation Diver to counter the threat
from the V1 flying bombs.
On Christmas Eve 1944, around 30 V1 flying bombs, air launched from Heinkel
bombers, crossed the coast between Spurn Point and Mablethorpe in
Lincolnshire, targeting Manchester. This was an anticipated new phase of the
German's V1 offensive which had started in June 1944. Intelligence reports
suggested that up to 90 air launched V1s could be expected to be directed at
England every night and this prompted a rapid re-deployment of anti-aircraft
guns along the coast between Filey and Ingoldmells Point just north of
Skegness to form what was known as the Diver Fringe. The pair of stations BJ
and BJ1 were the most northerly gun sites built, sited adjacent to an earlier
Radar installation and near to a temporary American training camp. The Diver
stations were started on 22 January 1945, a large part of the construction
work being carried out by refugee Soviet nationals. The northern Station BJ1
was operational by 20 February and the southern Station BJ four days later.
The Diver sites around Bridlington were manned by 65 AA Brigade, transferred
from the south coast around Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton. Stations BJ
and BJ1 were in the control of 416/173 Bty (416 Battery 173 HAA Regiment)
under the command of Major P F MacDonald. However, the expected assault never
came, as the last air launched V1 reached Britain on 14 January 1945, hitting
Hornsey in north east London. The only action that the Flamborough Head Diver
site saw was on 4 March when the battery fired on an enemy aircraft. The site
was finally abandoned after the order to disband the Regiment on 21st June
The monument includes nearly the complete ground plan of the Diver HAA site
along with some additional remains of earlier wartime activity which took
place on Flamborough Head. All these features lie within a field which retains
broad ridge and furrow created by medieval style arable ploughing. A trackway
extends southwards from the road to the Fog Signal Station on the Headland,
starting from opposite the public conveniences, a building marked on the
1:10,000 map. Immediately on the east side of this track there are two sets of
regularly spaced, west facing gun emplacements representing the two original
HAA Stations. All but the northernmost emplacement survive as earthworks and
are included in the monument. As originally constructed, each emplacement had
a 3.7inch gun mounted on a platform formed from a lattice of rails fixed to
railway sleepers surrounded by a bank of earth and sand bags incorporating
three ammunition lockers. The emplacements now survive as shallow 6m diameter
depressions, surrounded by a low bank incorporating the remains of the
concrete floored lockers. The emplacements were organised in pairs, each with
a control post and a relaxed duty shelter sited between the two emplacements.
The control posts were sited in narrow east-west slit trenches around 10m
long, linked by partly concrete lined cable runs to the emplacements. The
relaxed duty shelters were to the rear, immediately on the west side of the
trackway, with the concrete rafts for three of these still surviving. Spread
over a wide area to the west of the northern set of emplacements there are the
remains of a number of buildings. Mostly these are represented by level
platforms cut into the hillside, but some survive as concrete rafts and one as
the footings of a building constructed with hollow concrete blocks. This
latter building appears to have had an upper floor and is interpreted as the
tracker tower, an elevated observation platform. Most of the other buildings
are thought to have been for auxiliary use including dining, mess and catering
huts. They did not include living accommodation which is known to have been
provided in houses off Back Lane in Sewerby just over 7km to the west. To the
rear of the southern set of emplacements there is a level platform with the
remains of a brick chimney which is identified as the battery's Command Post.
Just over 50m to the west of this, on the hill top, there is a lozenge shaped
concrete pillbox. This is orientated to face south with its now blocked
entrance on the north side. It was one of the many pillboxes built in the area
as part of the anti-invasion defences of the early war years and is shown on
an aerial photograph taken in July 1940. Around it are a set of earthworks and
to the north are the footings for a pair of buildings originally roofed with
curved corrugated iron sheeting. These are thought to have been an outlying
part of a radar station which became operational on 12th February 1940. To the
west of the southernmost gun emplacement, at the southern end of the trackway,
there is a set of three earth embanked platforms. These are interpreted as a
set of on-site magazines. Centred just over 20m to the south east there are
the earthwork remains of a searchlight emplacement together with the footings
of a 3m by 4m block walled generator hut.
Fence lines defining the boundaries of the monument lie immediately outside
the protected area.
The mast, associated hut and other equipment related to the Radio Beacon
Station, together with its encircling fence are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included. The disused concrete
footings of other structures within this small enclosure are, however

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Operation Diver was the name given to British measures to combat attacks from
the German flying bomb between June 1944 and March 1945. Diver employed heavy
and light anti-aircraft guns in addition to balloon barrages, fighter
aircraft, bombers, radar, visual early warning and intelligence to meet its
aims; it was confined to the south and east coasts of England. All Diver anti-
aircraft sites were temporary, ranging from occupation for several months, to
just two days. The earlier examples in Surrey, Sussex and Kent (the Kentish
Gun Belt, Coastal Gun Belt and part of the Diver Box), consisted almost
entirely of portable equipment and accommodation, usually tents, with surface
modification limited to minor earthworks. By contrast, the most substantial
sites were the later ones, built around the coast from the Thames to
Flamborough Head (the so called Diver Fringe and Diver Strip). Most of these
were provided with extensive domestic camps comprising Nissen huts, as well as
metalled roadways and other structures such as ammunition shelters, slit
trenches and a radar platform.
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. A national survey of England's
defences during World War II, based on archive sources, has produced a
detailed record of where the sites were and what they looked like; it has also
noted how the operation evolved according to developing strategic needs.
Additional work on aerial photographs has demonstrated how little survives.
The survey of Diver sites reveals that, of the 1,190 anti-aircraft sites
built, only 81 are thought to survive, and only around ten of these are
anything like complete. Surviving examples are sufficiently rare, therefore,
to suggest that all sites are of national importance where surviving remains
are sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form or function.

The layout of Flamborough Head Diver site is remarkably complete and is the
only site known to survive with significant remains on the Diver Fringe. All
the other gun sites between Filey and Ingoldmell's Point were either cleared
or have been largely removed by coastal erosion leaving the occasional
isolated feature. The associated pill box and outlying remains of the nearby
Radar station provide additional interest.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Acoustics and Radar, (2000), 164-169

Source: Historic England

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