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World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite at Burnt Farm Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7023 / 51°42'8"N

Longitude: -0.0906 / 0°5'26"W

OS Eastings: 532042.693228

OS Northings: 202124.907496

OS Grid: TL320021

Mapcode National: GBR KCW.7WL

Mapcode Global: VHGQ1.CGYV

Entry Name: World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite at Burnt Farm Camp

Scheduled Date: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020980

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32453

County: Hertfordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Goffs Oak

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Cheshunt

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Details

The monument includes a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite located some
250m south of Silver Street, at Burnt Farm Camp. Contemporary records now
held at the Public Record Office list the site as `ZW3 Burnt Farm' and
document the equipment and number of personnel on site at various times
during the war. In 1940 the emplacements were armed with three inch
mobile guns; these were replaced during the latter part of the war with a
mixture of 3.7 inch and 4.5 inch guns. In 1943 the guns were manned by a
mixed battery of men and ATS women.

During the period of use Burnt Farm Camp was divided into two parts. The
domestic area to the north (alongside Silver Street) contained the
accommodation and general administration buildings. This area is not
included in the scheduling. The operational area, the subject of the
scheduling, lies to the south. This formed the fighting element of the
site, including the gun emplacements and the structures which housed the
gunners and their command staff, ammunition, the power supply and the
communications equipment and targeting devices.

The operational site is approached along a short concrete access road leading
from the accommodation site, a section of which (the final 10m length leading
to the gun site) is included in the scheduling. The gunsite is dominated by an
array of six gun emplacements arranged around a loop at the end of the access
track, which also encircles the central command post. The gun emplacements are
of two types: four octagonal emplacements of the `March 1938 pattern' form an
arc to the north of the command post, whilst two later square plan additions
sit at either end of the array.

The octagonal emplacements each have six internal rendered brick ammunition
lockers (some retaining original wooden racking) built against the 1.5m high
concrete walls which surrounded the guns. Concrete `holdfasts' retaining
patterns of metal fixtures mark the positions of the guns, which were
manoeuvred into place via a single access gateway in each emplacement linked
to the inner access road by a short area of hardstanding. Some of these
gateways retain their original steel clad gates. The octagonal emplacements
are also equipped with six external ammunition/equipment stores, as well as a
larger external crew shelter positioned on the opposite side to the gateway.
Many of these lockers and shelters retain original wooden racking and steel
doors.

The square emplacements for the 4.5 inch guns are similarly enclosed by
concrete block walls with a single gateway at the corner linked to the
inner access road. External crew shelters are attached to the outside of
both emplacements, positioned to the right of the gateways. Internal
ammunition lockers are built against the centre of each wall, except along the
southern wall of the western emplacement which is fitted with an unusual
feature - a full-length magazine with concrete shelves and dividing walls
providing twenty alcoves for shells.

The command post, situated in the centre of the semi-circle of gun
emplacements, is unusually large and contains a number of rooms including the
Plotting Room, telephonists' quarters, offices, rest rooms and stores. Built
into the top are three protected positions where the Predictor, Heightfinder
and Spotting equipment would have been located.

To the south of the emplacements and command post are a number of associated
structures. The Generator Block or Engine Room, located some 50m south of the
gun array and connected by a concrete track, is of a standard design, 8 sq m,
and would have held the diesel engines for powering the site. Standing in
two similar pairs west and east of the Generator Block are four structures.
The larger structure (14m by 9m) in each pair is a concrete blast shelter,
open at each end. The smaller of each pair is a roofed concrete shelter,
open at the front and flanked by blast walls. These buildings would have
housed vehicles and equipment serving the emplacements, including the mobile
radar systems. A further small concrete shelter some 15m to the east of the
Generator Block would also have been for storage. The final associated
structure stands alone, a further 35m east and is connected to the
accommodation site by a separate concrete track. This is a large `Nissen-
type' hut, built of double-skinned corrugated iron sheeting with brick-built
end walls, which most probably functioned as the on-site magazine. Only a
small section of concrete roadway connecting this building to the
acccommodation huts to the north survives above ground, although the course
of this trackway can be traced as a slight depression and is included in
the scheduling.

All modern shelves and light fittings within the command post are excluded
from the scheduling as are the modern floodlights in one hexagonal emplacement
and the modern chicken wire and wooden pens in another. All modern fences and
fenceposts 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.
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. Following the end of World War II, 192 HAA sites were
selected for post-war use as the Nucleus Force, which was finally closed in
1955.
The HAA sites contained big guns with the function of engaging high flying
strategic bombers, hence their location around the south and east coasts, and
close to large cities and industrial and military targets. Of all the
gunsites, these were the most substantially built. There were three main
types: those for static guns (mostly 4.5 and 3.7 inch); those for 3.7 inch
mobile guns; and sites accommodating 5.25 inch weapons. These were all
distinct in fabric, though they could all occupy the same position at
different dates, or simultaneously by accretion. As well as the four or eight
gun emplacements, with their holdfast mountings for the guns, components will
generally include operational buildings such as a command post, radar
structures including the radar platform, on-site magazines for storing reserve
ammunition, gun stores and generating huts, usually one of the standard Nissen
hut designs. Domestic sites were also a feature of HAA gunsites, with huts,
ablutions blocks, offices, stores and amenities drawn from a common pool of
approved structures. Sites were often also provided with structures for their
close defence; pillboxes are the most common survivals, though earthwork
emplacements were also present. The layout of HAA gunsites was distinctive,
but changed over time, for example to accommodate the introduction of radar
from December 1940, women soldiers from summer 1941, and eight gun layouts
from late 1942.
Nearly 1,000 gunsites were built during World War II, and less than 200 of
these have some remains surviving. However, at only around 60 sites are these
remains thought sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form
and function. This includes 30 of the 192 examples which continued in use
until 1955. Surviving examples are therefore sufficiently rare to suggest that
all 60 well preserved examples are of national importance.

The Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite at Burnt Farm Camp is an exceptional survival
of its type and provides a significant, visible reminder of the nature of home
defence during World War II. It is one of only ten HAA gunsites to have
survived in good condition out of a large wartime deployment across south
eastern England whose function was to combat German bombers heading
towards the capital, the Thames estuary and other military targets. The
importance of the site lies in the complexity and range of surviving gun
emplacements and ancillary buildings: octagonal and square gun emplacements;
a well preserved command post; generator block; radar vehicle and equipment
enclosures and on-site magazine, all linked by contemporary trackways. As
such it provides an exceptional insight into the development of anti-aircraft
measures in the region.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999), 11-13
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999)
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999), 11-13
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999), 11-13
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996), 397
Dobinson, C, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (2002), 397
Dobinson, C, 'Twentieth Century Fortifications in England' in Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996), 397
Dobinson, C, 'Twentieth Century Fortifications in England' in Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996)
Other
In HRO Oct 1971 county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 320-2/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
Letter dated 18 April 2001, Jonathan Smith, Letter from J Smith (HCC) to G Smallwood (Broxbourne District), (2001)
Letter dated 18 April 2001, Jonathan Smith, Planning Archaeologist HCC, Letter from J Smith (HCC) to G Stallwood (Broxbourne District), (2001)
Letter dated 29 March 2000, D Priddy, Letter from D Priddy (IAM) to Mr Bullya (Broxbourne District), (2000)
Letter dated 29 March 2000, English Heritage, Letter from D Priddy (IAM) to Mr Bullya (Broxbourne District), (2000)
Letter dated 29 March 2000, Priddy, D, Letter from D Priddy (IAM) to Mr Bullya (Broxbourne District), (2000)
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR

Source: Historic England

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