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World War II bombing decoy Nazeing

A Scheduled Monument in Nazeing, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7325 / 51°43'56"N

Longitude: 0.0511 / 0°3'4"E

OS Eastings: 541741.7887

OS Northings: 205741.6628

OS Grid: TL417057

Mapcode National: GBR LF0.7RV

Mapcode Global: VHHMC.TQW7

Entry Name: World War II bombing decoy Nazeing

Scheduled Date: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020391

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32446

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Nazeing

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Nazeing All Saints with St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a World War Two bombing decoy, located on a south-facing
hillside, some 1.2km south west of Lodge Farm. It is in two separate areas of
protection, the first encompassing the above ground earth-covered night
shelter, the second enclosing the subterranean night shelter.
Documented in wartime records, `Nazeing' was a World War II airfield decoy
controlled by RAF North Weald some four miles to the east. The decoy was both
a daytime `K' site and a night-time `Q' site. `K' sites included grassed
runways, defence positions and plywood aircraft amongst their simulations;
Nazeing was equipped with dummy Hurricanes. `Q' site deceptions included
runway lighting, obstruction/recognition lights and moving headlamps. The
control bunkers which housed the switchgear and decoy personnel were for
safety located some distance away on the hillside overlooking the decoy area.
The monument includes two night shelters (the control bunkers which housed the
generator, switchgear and decoy manning personnel) situated on the high ground
which would have given a good view over the area of the decoy airfield.
The northernmost shelter is a substantial building of brick and concrete
construction of a standard design known as Type 3395/40. The whole structure
is constructed above ground level and is covered by earth. It is a total of
16.5m long and 11m wide. The building itself is entered by a brick passageway
on its southern side; to the west is the Operations Room (6m long by 2.8m
wide) which has an escape hatch at the far end. To the east of the passageway
is the Engine Room (2.9m long by 3.2m wide) which on the floor has a concrete
engine bed complete with four mounting bolts. The far wall has several
features of interest: a large concrete block with vertical cavities running
through it may have acted as a baffle for the reduction of Engine Room noise;
a hole some 10cm in diameter provided access for the power source, and the
remains of at least six electricity cables are still visible.
The subterranean shelter is built of concrete and curved corrugated steel
sheeting. The shelter is entered via concrete steps down into a passageway
which connects two rooms. The walls of the Operations Room are constructed of
fully curved corrugated steel sheeting with a concrete floor; the overall
dimensions of the room are some 3m wide by 6m long. Internal features include
steel racking on the walls and an escape hatch complete with ladder at the far
end. The Engine Room, some 2.5m long and 3.5m wide, is also of corrugated
steel sheet construction; internal features include a concrete engine bed and
a large concrete block with vertical cavities. This probably functioned as an
expansion chamber or baffle to reduce noise from the engine. War Office
documents relating to the equipment and manning of the bombing decoy at
Nazeing show that it was operational in March 1940 (the earliest reference to
the daytime `K' site dated 13th March and to the night-time `Q' site dated
19th June) and was certainly still in use in August 1941 (the latest written

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

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
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.
Urban decoy fires were known as `SF', `Special Fires' and `Starfish', to
distinguish them from the smaller `QF' installations. Each town was protected
by a cluster of these decoys, the most technically sophisticated of all the
types, with each Starfish replicating the fire effects an enemy aircrew would
expect to see when their target had been successfully set alight. The decoys
included variation in fire type, duration of burning and speed of ignition. In
a permanent Starfish all fire types were used, set in discrete areas defined
by firebreak trenches and controlled from a remote shelter. The whole array
was linked by a network of metalled access roads. `Temporary Starfish' (all
built in 1942 to counter the threat from the so-called Baedeker raids against
historic towns and cities) only had basket fires. In all, 228 decoys with a
Starfish component are recorded in England, 37 of which were `Temporary
Starfish', and the rest `Permanent'. The Permanent sites were located mostly
in central England, close to the urban and industrial targets they were
intended to protect; temporary sites, like the Baedeker targets they were
protecting, were confined to southern and eastern England.
QF sites were first provided for the night protection of RAF airfields, but
from August 1941 their role was extended to protect urban centres. Although
similar to Starfish, they differed in being considerably smaller, using a
limited range of fire types and being sited for the local protection of
specific vulnerable points rather than whole cities or conurbations. These new
QF sites of 1941-2 fell into four groups, for the protection of: urban and
industrial targets (the `Civil Series', located mostly in the west Midlands,
north-west and in the Middlesbrough area); Royal Navy sites (these were few in
number and sited to protect coastal bases); Army sites, to protect ordnance
factories or military installations (these existed in a sparse belt running
from central southern England into the west Midlands); and oil installations
and tank farms (the `Oil QF' sites). In all, only about 100 QF sites were
operational in 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.

The survival of major components of the World War II bombing decoy documented
in wartime records as `Nazeing' is of particular interest to the study of
bombing decoy design, being one of a very small number of airfield decoys to
survive in any form in the country. The night shelters survive in particularly
good condition. As airfield decoy shelters differ in design from shelters
associated with other types of bombing decoy (such as naval, oil or civil
decoys), they are the last of their kind in Essex and are extremely rare
nationally. In addition, the shelters retain many of their internal and
external components, allowing increased understanding of the operation of
these throughout the war.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 3. Bombing Decoys of WWII, (1996), 93, 104
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 3. Bombing Decoys of WWII, (1996), 93, 104
23 colour prints in the ESMR, Nash, F, Untitled, (1999)
23 colour prints in the ESMR, Nash, F, Untitled, (1999)
Tyler, S, MPP Film , (2000)
Tyler, S, MPP Film , (2000)

Source: Historic England

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