Traces of War


Built between 1941 and 1942 one of a ring of 12 pillboxes providing defensive cover around Woodford Airfield and Aircraft Factory in Cheshire. The Pillboxes also formed a part of Western Stop Line no.6.
Built in a manner often seen with Seagull trenches this one consists of a stone/brick wall with a concrete lid on 4 posts added to it.
Set at a low level to the surrounding countryside only the slit and lid would have been visible to any attackers. This version does not have any blast walls either inside or out. The 12 'Woodford' Pillboxes whilst similar do not all follow the same exact format, though most seem to have large slits and a slab roof on posts. Some do have an external blast wall and whilst most are square some have a curved front wall.
They are not listed in normal pillbox classifications and are deemed specials, exclusive to the Woodford area.
 Below can be seen two others, photographs courtesy of the The Defense of Britain Database.

Naval Air Station Killingholme

The remaining jetty
The Naval Air Station at Killingholme on the Humber in North Lincolnshire was formed in 1914. It closed in 1919 after a short spell as a US Navy Base.
Seaplanes were flown out of here by the Royal Navy in order to provide protective cover to a number of sensitive and vital establishments in the area such as the adjacent Admiralty Oil Depot and the Humber ports.  There was a large single slipway which has now been demolished. The slipway that still exists in ruins is one of two that were built in front of the hard-standing and hangers to allow access for the aircraft to the sea. In the old picture taken from the sea of an aircraft in front of the hangers this slipway can be seen on the right. It is the Northern most slipway.  Apart from some timber piles from the other slipway nothing else remains on site. The hangers were dismantled in 1919 and rebuilt to provide Grimsby with a bus station. Apparently they are still there hidden behind a brick facade in Grimsby.
Hangers behind with slipways to either side

What remains is in very poor condition and its probably not going to last much longer

Even a partially collapsed  OB is difficult to see
A visit to an incredible WW2 remnant .... In 1940 the threat of invasion was very real.
The government decided to create defenses for resistance should that expected invasion arrive. Many of these were very visible the Home Guard for instance ....but Churchill also had more clandestine operations put in place. Across the country can be found deep in woodland hidden bases for storing weapons and hiding men who once the area was over run by the German forces would creep out behind the German lines and wreak havoc upon the German supply systems and be a catalyst for counter attack. There are 15 of these in Lincolnshire the pictures here show one of them which has partially caved in.

Main entrance from inside main room
Escape corridor
Escape exit with groove for stori

Army Bombing Decoy Site at Oswaldtwistle Moor

This is an Army Bombing Decoy Site (A Series) built in an attempt to protect the Royal Ordnance factory in Blackburn in 1941 during the German bombing campaign against Britain .
It was both a QF site and a QL site .
QF means it used small fires to indicate strikes from incendiary bombs in the hope of fooling the German airmen to drop their bombs on the moor . QF was useful against aircraft following the lead aircaft .
QL refers to the use of lighting to try and decieve the bombers . This would be used prior to bombs being dropped once the lead aircraft had dropped their load  more use of the QF would be made .

The shelter that remains has two areas within it . One large, one smaller with an escape hatch .  The smaller one probaly contained a generator for the lights and the escape hatch may have doubled as an observation point for the controlling crew to remotely fire the various devices of subterfuge  whilst remaining in a sort of safety ..... a sort of because a direct hit would no doubt kill all occupants therein .
It seems a dangerous job to invite aircraft to bomb your location .
view from the outside , with modern day wind turbines on the horizon
The ladder for the escape hatch can be seen along with an asbestos lined  vent and access for the generator

View toward the entrance of the Army decoy site shelter
This site was close by to a Permanent  Starfish (C series) site on Haslingden Moor .  SF35(a) was built to protect marshelling yards at Church (a nearby village) It was one of a series of 6 all located within a small radius and protecting vital areas  around the larger town of Accrington .
This was a Civil Bombing Decoy Site . The two sites were combined and run as one later in the war .
Nothing now remains of the Starfish site ...we took photos of the area and a few enigmatic red bricks which are atypically found at dismantled Starfish sites . 

Red bricks perhaps once of the command structure
The Army Bombing Decoy site has been wrongly attributed to being a dummy airfield decoy site  .
It is very definately an Army Bombing  Decoy site. Varified in Colin Dobinson's excellent book Fields of Deception produced by English Heritage .
Suprisingly EH website Pastscape does not have the ABD site on thier pages but does have the Starfish site which is  but a short distance away .
Bomber Command Memorial 

 For years there was an omission in the commemorative  monuments in London . That was the lack of one for the over 55,000 souls who lost their lives whilst serving in Bomber Command .
The political issues  in glorious 20/20 hindsight of rights and wrongs should never have prevented a memorial being built  to the brave men who flew these missions.
The memorial funded by public donation was finally unveiled by the Queen on the 28th June 2012.
These pictures are from  my first and as yet only  visit to the memorial.
The statue stands within an open sided columned room that has a roof with an open centre section .
The statue made from bronze by Philip Jackson features 7 crewmen (proportionate to the usual number on a Lancaster ) standing on a plinth . They appear to have just returned from a bombing raid ...or more fancifully perhaps they are 7 crewmen already destined not to return .  You choose!
The details are superb , I cannot imagine that the sculpture would have been as good as this if it had been done postwar . At least the time delay as meant we now have possibly one of the best sculpture ever made of our fighting men .
The building made from Portland stone  housing the sculpture is not without nuance . The roof  structure represents the geodetic structure that made up the Wellington bombers airframe and to cap it all is actually manufactured from alloy taken from Halifax LW682 shot down over Belgium in 1944 . This aircraft was recovered from a bog in 1997 . Apparently 3 of the crewmen were still on board the aircraft when it was recovered . They are now interred in the area of Geraardsbergen near Flanders . 
I was mightily impressed by the whole edifice and the thought that went into it .

RAF Llanbedr
A 12 Group Fighter Command airfield during the war it was used as a gunnery school flying target tugs from it .
Post war it was used as a V-Force dispersal field and a drone testing centre .
It closed in 2004 . more recently it has been aquired by the Kemble Airfield Group  and pilotless craft are once again flown and tested here .
the shots below are of some disused bunkers along side of a perimeter road by the airfield.
Hangers and outbuildings still in very useable condition

I took a shot of the interior of this shelter

inside the shelter
Dora I & Dora II
Bomber command had campaigns to attack U-Boat pens on the Atlantic coast . The pens at Trondhiem escaped relatively unscathed .
Suspected Bomb damage on Dora II
Dora I was the only U-Boat pen that was totally completed in Norway and still survives more or less fully intact today . It was used by the Norwegian Armed forces for many years  after the war  but is now, amongst other things, a bowling alley !
Like an Egyptian temple Dora II towers above its surroundings
Dora II was never completed . Raw materials ,such as cement, ran out and the project ground to a halt .Dora II is now used as a dockyard by a number of small companies . Timber shuttering can still be seen in place around access routes into the huge structure .

The fence around is to keep people away because its slowly falling apart .
Dora I , now with a blue building built by the Norwegian navy upon its roof instead of the 3 anti aircraft positions it had during the war.
Dora I was small for a submarine pen hence the commencement of Dora II . The word small though is reletive.
Its HUGE .
 Its 153m long 105m wide and  there is more underground than above ground . Think of an oversized by a half football pitch with concrete poured upto the hight of the tallest of floodlights , thats how huge the building is !
view of the entrance to the pens

Attacks on these two Pens were sporadic and ineffective .  I have found only two reported  major  attacks  .
The first major attack was on the 23rd July 1943 not long after DoraI came into service . Only very light damage was inflicted .
The second  on  either 12th or the  22nd  November 1944 (there are two reports quoting different dates,which both suffered due to lack of visibility) .
One  of these reports quotes bad weather for the aborted attack the other good use of smoke screen due to local experience with having to defend the Tirpitz which was moored near- by  for a while .
Two Lancasters and a Mosquito were lost during these raids with little damage being caused .
It seems that many smaller attacks took place on Trondhiem  , the port facilities and pens but only minor damage was ever inflicted to the pens.

Looking into a pen . the round columns are new and hold up the present day interior to Dora I
A shot of Dora I just after the war 

Kapitans eye view . This is the view any Kapitan leaving the pens would have had from his conning tower 
The building behind is the Dahl brewery ...quite decent beer for Norway
A conning tower from a  Post war Norwegian submarine adorns one of the pens jetties .
Its from HNoMS ULA S300  , a 207  Kobben class submarine that served the Norwegian navy from 1965 to 1990 . In 1987 this boats name was changed from ULA to KINN .
It was one of 15  207 Kobben class submarines commissioned by the Norwegian navy and built in Emden ,Germany .

Blast doors .
The Dora I pen had blast doors 30mm thick to protect it from bombing . In the shot above can be seen a gantry with Blast doors that perhaps covered doors and windows into the bunker .
To the left a shot of a part of one of the blast doors for the pen U-boat entrances  themselves used as a place to mount an info panel .
Leaning against the building can be seen other segments of the huge blast doors .
The roof itself was made from re-enforced concrete 3.8m thick , the walls of the same up to 2.5m thick .
The energy consumption for the Pens was immense ....just imagine how much power would be needed to shut the blast  doors for instance . The ever pragmatic Germans built a power station between Dora I and Dora II which still stands today (see pic below) . No longer a power station it contains a Jujitsu club within its walls ...a different kind of power :-)

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