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Hameldon Hill World War II bombing decoy, 390m north of Heights Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Dunnockshaw, Lancashire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.7516 / 53°45'5"N

Longitude: -2.2906 / 2°17'26"W

OS Eastings: 380933.731106

OS Northings: 428393.645613

OS Grid: SD809283

Mapcode National: GBR DTF1.WX

Mapcode Global: WH96Y.SYFV

Entry Name: Hameldon Hill World War II bombing decoy, 390m north of Heights Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020666

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34975

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Dunnockshaw

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Goodshaw St Mary and All Saints with St John Crawshawbooth

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

Details

The monument includes the Hameldon Hill World War II bombing decoy located
in enclosed land on the south-facing slope of Hameldon Hill 390m north of
Heights Farm. It is one of five bombing decoys which were located on the
east Lancashire moorlands around Accrington and it was constructed with
the intention of replicating the fire effects an enemy night bombing raid
would cause to industrial and urban targets in Accrington or its
surrounding towns, thus encouraging further attack on the decoy as opposed
to the real target. Although the precise lifespan of this decoy is
unknown, official records indicate that construction began during early
spring 1941 and that it was still operational during March 1942.

The bombing decoy includes the earthworks and buried remains of numerous
rectangular and sub-rectangular firebreaks within which various types of
fires were ignited, together with the remains of two associated control
buildings and the access roads between these features. When first
constructed Hameldon Hill bombing decoy was of a type known as a
`Permanent Starfish', also known as `SF' or `PSF' decoys, within which
assorted fire types such as coal, oil and paraffin were ignited from the
control building and burned in discrete areas surrounded by firebreak
trenches. During the autumn of 1941 the decoy was enhanced by the addition
of simulated urban lighting, also known as `QL' decoys, and from then on
became a joint QL/SF decoy. Official records indicate that the simulated
urban lighting at Hameldon Hill took the form of railway marshalling
yards, furnace glows and locomotive glows. An aerial photograph taken in
1946 clearly depicts four large sub-rectangular areas delineated by
relatively freshly-cut firebreaks, each of which has been sub-divided into
numerous compartments by additional firebreaks. Each of these compartments
would have contained flammable material ready for igniting in advance of
an enemy air attack. Also visible on the aerial photograph are over 20
small rectangular features considered to have been used as the simulated
lighting replicating the marshalling yards. The site of the two control
buildings is also visible at approximately SD80712830.

All the firebreaks are now grassed over although their earthworks can be
clearly seen. The control buildings have been demolished although their
original location is represented by building platforms. Scattered building
material suggests that these control buildings were wholly or partly of
drystone construction.

All modern field boundaries and gateposts 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, by subterfuge, 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. `QL' decoys were first operational in August 1941, and
at its peak in December 1942, 209 were active. Most of these were Civil
QLs, serving non military targets, the majority of which lay in the
industrial Midlands and north, with other concentrations on the Tyne and
Tees, and in the Bristol and Avonmouth areas; many were co-located with
Starfish. Like Starfish, QLs were sited in clusters with a dozen or more
decoys protecting the larger towns and cities. In operation the decoys
would usually be illuminated in groups, representing the apparent extent
of the target. In addition to Civil QLs, several specialised series of QL
decoys were established: the A series comprising a handful of sites
operated by the army, mostly protecting ordnance factories; Mobile QL
sites which were created in the south east in May 1943 in response to a
sudden upsurge in night bombing attacks; and the N series established for
the protection of naval installations, and usually co-located with Naval
QF sites. Also in this last group were the decoys comprising mobile
equipment used to simulate activities around dummy embarkation points in
the cover plan for Operation Overlord. QL sites relied upon diversity to
retain realism, and no two were alike. Standard layouts were explicitly
avoided and sophisticated light displays varied from 5 acres-30 acres
(2ha-12ha) in area, the size depending on the target it was intended to
replicate. Since most were co-located with Starfish, their night shelters
and ancillary structures were often also used to serve the QL site.
Isolated sites were, however, provided with shelters of their own. Some
230 decoys in England had a QL component; 142 of these were QL sites
alone. 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.

Urban decoy fires were known as `SF', `Special Fires' and `Starfish', to
distinguish them from other 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 series 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 fire
baskets. 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 sites they were protecting, were confined to
southern and eastern England. As with the QL sites, very little now
survives of any of these decoys and all sites with significant surviving
remains will be considered of national importance, as will those where a
well-preserved night shelter or control building has been identified.

Despite demolition of its control buildings, Hameldon Hill World War II
bombing decoy survives well and is one of only three combined Starfish and
QL simulated urban lighting sites in England which still remains largely
in its completed form.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
In Dobinson,C. Fields of Deception, Hameldon Hill, (1946)

Source: Historic England

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