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A night dummy aerodrome control building, part of a World War II bombing decoy, 610m north east of Walby Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Stanwix Rural, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.9421 / 54°56'31"N

Longitude: -2.8734 / 2°52'24"W

OS Eastings: 344145.351336

OS Northings: 561178.919668

OS Grid: NY441611

Mapcode National: GBR 8CC9.Q5

Mapcode Global: WH7ZX.T1WM

Entry Name: A night dummy aerodrome control building, part of a World War II bombing decoy, 610m north east of Walby Cottage

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020277

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34970

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Stanwix Rural

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Crosby-on-Eden St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the upstanding remains of a night dummy aerodrome
control building which formed part of a World War II bombing decoy. This dummy
aerodrome, known as a `Q' site, was intended to simulate the flarepath
lighting of Crosby aerodrome, now Carlisle Airport 4km to the east, with the
intention of luring attack by enemy night bombers approaching from the west
using the Solway Firth and the River Eden for navigation. Although the precise
lifespan of this dummy aerodrome is not known, official records indicate that
it was operational during August 1942.
The control building, also known as a night shelter, is of a type introduced
in September 1941 and known as a Drem Q 367/41. Set on a concrete base it is
of brick, concrete and corrugated iron construction and has three rooms.
Access is by a brick-built central passageway on the building's west side. To
the right of the passageway is a concrete engine room which housed two
generators set on concrete engine beds; both engine beds still survive in
situ. Remains of two expansion chambers linked to the engine room by pipes and
designed to curb the noise of the generators survive outside the building. To
the left of the passageway is the operating room formed of corrugated iron
sheeting. It was manned by two men from the parent aerodrome and contained a
telephone, control panel and a stove, all of which have been removed. An
entrance at the far end of the operating room is protected by an external
brick-built blast wall. Another blast wall protecting the central passageway
entrance does not now survive above ground level. On the roof of the building,
above the operating room, was a head-lamp platform accessed by a flight of
external steps. The control building is covered with a layer of earth which
offers both camouflage and added protection from bomb blasts.
In practice the control building was under the command of Crosby aerodrome. If
the parent aerodrome wanted the night dummy lit up and there was an air raid
warning out, the operations staff at the parent station would ring up the
night dummy. The two men staffing the dummy would start up the generators then
switch on the dummy aerodrome lights and the head-lamp. The head-lamp was
manipulated in such a way as to suggest a taxiing aircraft pivoting on one
wheel as it turned. This action was performed until an incoming aircraft was
heard approaching near enough to pick out the landing lights. The head-lamp
was then switched off and the reaction of the aircraft observed by the two
staff at the dummy. If the aircraft was friendly and signalled that he wanted
to land, ie mistook the dummy lighting for a real aerodrome, the two staff
immediately switched the flarepath lights off. If the aircraft was an enemy
who started to attack, the flarepath lights were left on and the two staff
took cover and reported by telephone to the parent aerodrome.
A field boundary and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

World War II saw the emergence of aerial bombardment as a decisive instrument
of warfare, and to counter this threat, the United Kingdom maintained a
flexible and diverse mechanism of air defence throughout the war. This
included the early warning of approaching aircraft, through radar and visual
detection, and the local defence of towns, cities and other vulnerable points
using anti-aircraft gunnery and balloon barrages. But less conspicuously, many
potential targets were shadowed by decoys - dummy structures, lighting
displays and fires - designed to draw enemy bombs from the intended points of
attack.
Britain's decoy programme began in January 1940 and developed into a complex
deception strategy, using four main methods: day and night dummy aerodromes
(`K' and `Q' sites); diversionary fires (`QF' sites and `Starfish'); simulated
urban lighting (`QL' sites); and dummy factories and buildings. In all, some
839 decoys are recorded for England in official records, built on 602 sites
(some sites containing decoys of more than one type). This makes up the
greater proportion of the c.1000 decoys recorded for the United Kingdom.
The programme represented a large investment of time and resources. Apart from
construction costs, several thousand men were employed in operating decoys,
the fortunes of which were closely tied to the wartime targets they served.
The decoys were often successful, drawing many attacks otherwise destined for
towns, cities and aerodromes. They saved many lives.
`K' sites (also known as Dummy Landing Grounds [Day] or DLG[D]) were intended
to replicate RAF satellite airfields, rudimentary landing grounds used as an
adjunct to permanent stations for the dispersed operation of aircraft. As
such, the decoy consisted of simulated grass runways, simple technical and
defensive structures including trenches, dummy aircraft, a windsock, petrol
and bomb dumps represented by conspicuous dug-up areas, and a limited range of
facilities for the crew manning the decoy. There were ten dummy aircraft
allocated to each site, the type reflecting the function of the `parent'
station. Forty-two decoys in England are recorded as having a `K' component,
located mostly in eastern counties.
The `Q' sites were intended to simulate the flarepath lighting of permanent
RAF stations as a lure to attack by night bombers and intruder aircraft. The
programme lasted until August 1944 during which time the lighting
configurations changed periodically to shadow developments on real airfields.
Common features of Q sites included the lighting arrangements and a night
shelter. The night shelter is generally all that survives. In all, 236 sites
with a `Q' component are recorded in England. These are distributed mostly in
the east, and in central and southern England.
Very little now survives of any of these decoys, most having been cleared
after the war. All sites with significant surviving remains will be considered
of national importance, as will those where a well-preserved night shelter has
been identified.

Despite a covering of vegetation and scrub, the World War II night dummy
aerodrome control building 610m north east of Walby Cottage survives well. It
is a control building of a type known as a Drem Q 364/71, a type located
mainly in the east, central and south of England, and as such it is an
extremely rare example of this class of monument to be located in north west
England.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 3. Bombing Decoys of WWII, (1996), 21-5
Dobinson, C S, Fields of Deception: Britains Bombing Decoys of WWII, (2000), 46-7

Source: Historic England

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