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WWII Ruins and Bunkers in the UK

World War II ruins, bunkers and fortifications in the UK.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.

Second World War bunker unearthed in Hampshire
It is a reminder of the days when the south was in the front line of defending the country from the Nazis. Thought to be one of just two in the country a rare Second World War bunker has been uncovered in Hampshire by sewage workers after being buried for half a century. But after just a few days of it being unveiled, it has been covered up once more. Archaeologists from Archaeology South-East say the site at Hamble Airfield, off Hamble Lane, is an airfield battle headquarters, including messenger`s and runner`s room, a defence officer`s room, and an observation room.
(dailyecho.co.uk)

WWII decoys: How the British film industry helped win World War II
Deception and trickery formed a big part of the World War II effort, but it was film studio tradesmen who took centre stage in the cast of thousands who helped divert German bombers away from British towns and cities. In 1939 Colonel John Turner was put in charge of constructing an elaborate network of dummy airfields and hundreds of decoy sites. The idea was the decoys, which became known as "starfish", were placed near to areas at risk of being bombed by the Luftwaffe. Whixall Moss, north Shropshire, one of 237 starfish established at the height of the war, is being reconstructed as part of a nature trail for visitors to learn about decoys.
(bbc.co.uk)

Secret WWII and Cold War naval communications centre in Powys left to rot
A secret WWII and Cold War naval communications centre in Powys has been branded a blot on the landscape after years of vandalism. The Criggion radio station near Welshpool shut a decade ago but since then has been "abandoned and left to rot". Owner BT is reviewing the site`s future and says it will clear the rubbish. For 60 years the Criggion station and its three 700ft (210m) radio masts and three 600ft (180m) towers were a part of the scenery near Welshpool on the Powys/Shropshire border. Built during WWII, it was used to keep the Admiralty in contact with Royal Navy ships around the world.
(bbc.co.uk)

British Ghost town abandoned since WWII shortly open for public (photos, video)
Day trippers strolled down a path unfazed by a nearby sign which reads, "Danger. Unexploded military debris. Do not leave the carriageway." This peculiar image gives an insight into a real-world ghost town which has been deserted for almost 70 years. Welcome to Imber, Wiltshire. Population: just soldiers... except on the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, when it is open to the general public. The locals were evacuated in December 1943 and never allowed to return. Now, the abandoned village, on Salisbury Plain, is used as a training site for the Ministry of Defence. But it was opened to the public over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Bunker where Churchill watched troops prepare for the D-Day listed by English Heritage
British PM Winston Churchill was joined by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, and King George VI at the observation point on the eve of the invasion of Europe. But Fort Henry, which overlooks Studland Bay in Dorset, is now looked after by the National Trust and has been given a Grade Two listing in recognition of its historical significance. Nearby WWII beach defences including gun emplacements, pill boxes, and concrete anti-tank pimples have also been listed for protection. English Heritage listed the building because of its historical associations, design and good state of preservation.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Inside secret WWII guerrilla bunker unearthed in East Yorkshire (video, pics)
Researchers have discovered a group of underground bunkers used by East Yorkshire`s WWII Auxiliary Units including secret hideaways close to the villages of Rise, Middleton On The Wolds and Cottingham. Claude Varley, now 88, was a member of the Bewholme Unit and was trained to kill with his bare hands: "We`re all in our 80s and 90s now – if we die without saying anything, the secret dies with us. When I signed the Official Secrets Act, there was sweat coming off my forehead – they were holding a gun to me, making me swear I wouldn`t say anything. I think that is why some people have never spoken – event though the Act only lasted 50 years. But it is important they do speak, so people know."
(thisishullandeastriding.co.uk)

Couple discover huge WWII air raid shelter buried under 70 tonnes of earth in their back garden in Somerset
After tending their back garden for many years, little did Les and Sheila Holmes know of what really lay beneath. But following excavation work, the couple were stunned to find a long-lost WWII air raid shelter hidden under their flowers. The 13ft x 5ft bunker has now swallowed up most of their tiny back garden. The tin-roofed bomb shelter was most likely built after a local milk factory was bombed by the Nazis. Now the family is looking to transform the air raid shelter into an underground room.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Flooded WWII German bunker reopened by a Guernsey historical group (includes video)
A German bunker which had remained closed since World War II has been opened by a Guernsey historical group. Festung Guernsey pumped the water out of the concrete structure at Vazon Bay before installing lights inside. It was among the equipment left from the occupation of the island by German forces from June 1940 to May 1945. Paul Bourgaize said the finds would be put on display: "We have an identical bunker to this at L`Eree that we`re hoping to use for tours, it`s open now but come the summer we`ll be getting a lot of visitors and the aim is to try to equip it with as many original items as possible."
(bbc.co.uk)

Forest plan reveals WWII-era "starfish" bunker in Dumbarton, Scotland
A project to plant a new forest on moorland near Dumbarton, Scotland, has unexpectedly revealed a WWII-era secret. The Woodland Trust has unearthed a concrete two-room bunker in the centre of the Lang Craigs site that controlled decoy lights. These lights - spread out on the ground simulating the outline of a town or industrial complex - tricked Luftwaffe crews into dropping their bombs away from population and industrial centres. It was part of a successful campaign of subterfuge which, led to many lives being saved in the Blitz.
(bbc.co.uk)

Winston Churchill`s WWII bunker complex in Dollis Hill open for tours
A bunker complex - two stories with 43 rooms - used by Winston Churchill during the Second World War will be opened to the public this month. Built 35 feet underneath the site of the former Post Office Research Station in Brook Road, Dollis Hill, the bunker was used as a standby facility if cabinet offices in Whitehall were deemed unsafe. Codenamed the Paddock, it was built deep enough to survive a direct hit from a 500lb German bomb. One-hour tours, which are free of charge, involve access to eight rooms.
(times-series.co.uk)

Secret WWII bunker, used by Churchill`s Secret Army, opened to public near Cardiff
While the role of the British Home Guard is well-known, very little is known of their counterparts in the Auxiliary Units - Britain`s last line of defence. The units, called "Churchill`s Secret Army", were set up to monitor enemy movements and help mount counter-attacks in case of a Nazi-occupation. Now Forestry Commission Wales has discovered a bunker which would have provided a secret hideout. The concrete bunker - located in the Coed Coesau-Whips Woodland near Rudry - has been restored to look as it would have done in wartime, with the help of historians from the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), and a newspaper appeal for secrets held amongst locals.
(bbc.co.uk)

Search launched to trace the artist behind a mysterious WWII mural at the Ness Gun Battery in Orkney
A search has been launched to track down the artist behind a mysterious World War II mural - signed AR Woods - in the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland. Soldiers stationed at the Ness Gun Battery - which guarded one of the entrances to the Royal Navy base of Scapa Flow - created the image.

Previous attempts to figure out the identify of the mystery artist - using war records - have failed.

For more information about the Ness Battery visit `Heritage Key website`.

(bbc.co.uk)

WWII Royal Navy air raid shelter opened for the first time since the war
A Royal Navy air raid shelter in Hampshire, within the grounds of the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, has been opened for the first time since the end of the Second World War. The concrete and steel structure, constructed in 1940 and locked at the end of the war due to flooding, sheltered staff at the naval ordnance depot in Priddys Hard, Gosport.
(bbc.co.uk)

Maunsell Forts: Britain`s strange sea defense against the Nazis in the Thames and Mersey estuaries (photos)
To defend the Thames estuary, engineer Guy Maunsell suggested building 7-story offshore towers, each with 120 men, two 3.7-inch AA guns, and two 40mm Bofors guns. For Mersey estuary he had a different vision: Seven 750-ton towers - 30 meters apart, connected by steel pipe walkways - constituting a fort.
(spiegel.de)

WWII tour: Churchill’s underground bunker - Churchill war rooms in London
For a glimpse into the world of London during the Second World War, go underground into the Churchill War Rooms to get a real view how British wartime government operated. The complex includes the Cabinet room (where Churchill held his meetings), the Map room (with maps of the Atlantic, Western and Eastern theatres of war on the wall marked with notes and pins) and the Transatlantic Phone Room where Churchill could make direct calls to U.S. President Roosevelt, a museum about Churchill`s life, and a section with WW2 militaria and memorabilia from the war rooms and memories from those who worked there.
(tipsfromthetlist.com)

Langham Dome: One of the last World War II training bases for anti-aircraft gunners   (Article no longer available from the original source)
This mysterious dark sphere in north Norfolk turns heads, prompting the question: "what on earth is that?" The Langham Dome, built in 1942, was a training base for anti-aircraft gunners. It was one of 40 built across the UK - but only 6 remain. And now the dome`s WWII past and potentially exciting future will be revealed in two open days - organised by The Friends of Langham Dome, an organisation set up with the goal of raising £400,000 to stabilise and restore the building. The Langham Dome used cutting edge technology to train ground to air gunners by projecting images of aircraft onto the walls.
(edp24.co.uk)

WW2 coastal defence battery restored and turned into tourist attraction in Blyth Valley, UK
A collection of British World War II relics has been returned to its original condition. Blyth Battery, one of the most complete examples of a coastal defence battery in eastern Britain, has been restored and now includes a visitor and education complex - and guided tours. The historical structures include a searchlight tower, gun emplacements, a magazine block, observation posts, a rangefinder tower and an engine house. This weekend re-enactors will give the place a 1940s feel with military uniforms and army jeeps. American WWII veteran Frank Dorsey, who served with the 225th Searchlight Battalion on Tyneside, travels back to UK to be a part of the celebrations.
(journallive.co.uk)

Defences built to halt Nazi invasion of Scotland fully mapped and revealed
Scotland`s barricade against a Nazi invasion - the Cowie Stop Line - has lain overgrown and forgotten for 60 years. But historians have now fully mapped the massive defence system built to stop Hitler`s Wehrmacht landing in Scotland. The Cowie Line, a smaller version of the Maginot Line, spreads from Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, to the foothills of the Grampians. It consists of pillboxes, anti-tank barriers, concrete anti-tank cubes and machine-gun nests. Research by Gordon Barclay revealshows s how seriously the British military elite took the possibility of a Scottish invasion: "The Cowie Line is a tremendous monument to an absolutely colossal national effort..."
(sundaymail.co.uk)

For sale: World War II bunker converted to holiday home with 360-degree views
A WWII bunker, turned into a 4-bedroom holiday home with 360-degree views, is for sale. The lookout was built as a part of Britain`s defence against the Nazi invasion, and after the war it was used by a farmer as a potato store - until it was acquired by a developer. The property, named The Bunker, is located at St Levan in Cornwall and was positioned to give the armed forces a bird`s-eye view of Land`s End. Developer Liz Strutton converted it into an underground home with great views from its grassy roof. Reg Fowler, who is marketing The Bunker, said: "It`s very well camouflaged... you can be completely cut off from the world. It is the ideal hideaway."
(telegraph.co.uk)

Garlieston served as a testing ground for much of D-Day mobile harbours equipment
Looking out beyond the village hall in Garlieston there sits a small harbour. There is little to suggest that during World War Two this was one of the key testing grounds for the Normandy D-Day landings. In 1943, the small village in south west Scotland became a substitute for the coast of northern France. It proved the great test base for the Mulberry Harbours: The tidal and weather conditions were the best match that could be found for the French coastline. Jane Evans, who lives in Garlieston and co-authored the book "A Harbour Goes To War", is fascinated by the story. She sparks with passion for her subject as she describes the amazing operation.
(bbc.co.uk)

Photographs and video tour of Churchill`s emergency war bunker
Naval helicopters flew over Dollis Hill on their way to the Greenwich celebrations. Had their pilots gazed down, they might have seen a line of civilians awaiting a special tour of military heritage. The Paddock bunker sits high up on Brook Road, Dollis Hill. You`d never know it was there - the only surface sign is a brick box beside a housing estate. But inside is a 2-level bunker designed to hold Churchill`s War Cabinet in the event of an attack on Whitehall. The bunker offers a glance of a long-gone age - its rundown interior has been left mostly untouched since the war.
(londonist.com)

World War II guard post in Cambridgeshire near Great Shelford for sale
A WWII guard post hidden away in Cambridgeshire woodlands has been put up for sale. It has no central heating or windows, and the front door is only 3ft but the property, 2 acres of woodland, could bring in 20,000. The pillbox was used as a vantage point for soldiers to keep watch over Cambridge in case of Nazi attack. The bunker and the land was put on the market by a man who inherited it. Pillboxes were dug-in guard posts, often camouflaged to hide their locations. Auctioneers Cheffins said 60 people have shown an interest. [Update: sold for 55,000 pounds]
(bbc.co.uk)

UK: Blyth Battery to be turned into a visitor and education complex
Plans to turn a rare collection of wartime relics into a visitor and education complex have been given the go-ahead thanks to getting funding from Heritage Lottery, English Heritage and the borough council. Blyth Battery – built on the town`s seaside links to defend the port during two world wars – has been called the best existing example of an anti-aircraft battery on the east coast of Britain. Blyth Battery - consisting of twin gun emplacements, searchlight towers, an observation post, rangefinder tower and related buildings - was built for the First World War and later upgraded for use during the Second World War.
(journallive.co.uk)

Secret World War II bunker found on golf course in Wales
A secret WWII bunker used by army officers has been brought to light at one of Wales` top golf courses. Workers at the Marriot St Pierre Hotel and Country Club near Chepstow discovered the bunker, thought to be used by a clandestine army unit called Abraham Patrol, based in the area during the war years. The bunker came to light after an appeal by the local newspaper was made on behalf of Josephine Jones, who had found out her father was a member of the secretive army unit, which would have used the bunker to launch guerrilla attacks on Nazi forces had an invasion happened.
(bbc.co.uk)

UK: Underground tube tunnels hid a World War II secret
Few of Redbridge commuters who use the Central Line could possibly imagine the role played by its underground tunnels during World War Two. The 3-mile part of line between Leytonstone and Wanstead was filled with industrial workers making tons of military components for the war effort. Work to extend the line to Gants Hill was stopped by the outbreak of WW2, to use the empty tunnels as bomb-proof production lines. Dennis Barron recalls: "It was strange really, like working in a mine only you could hear the bombing overhead - a terrific bang, and all the lights would shake."
(guardian-series)

Abandoned World War II airfields in UK caught on film   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A photographer has captured the memories of abandoned World War II airfields. Ghost Fields of East Anglia, a book by Martin Bowman, includes pictures of wartime Suffolk. It features surviving airfields and deserted bases, brought to life through photos and stories of those who were there. Alongside images of wall art, there are aerial photographs of the airstrips and on the ground ivy-clad ruins of all that remains. "The young Americans with their well-cut uniforms, new accents and money created a colourful and heroic chapter in the lives of the British people that is still remembered today."
(eadt)

Welsh chemical weapons factory behind first atomic bomb aims
A Welsh chemical weapons factory in Rhydymwyn that had a part in the creation of the first atomic bomb could be declared a national treasure. The Assembly’s historic monuments group Cadw have visited the site and are now weighing up giving grade II listed status, which would include a series of underground tunnels and chambers, a danger zone for mixing explosives and an emergency treatment centre. The factory made chemical weapons during World War Two as well as completing early work on Robert Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb. To prevent the secret site - also manufactured mustard gas - being located by German intelligence it was camouflaged and left off maps.
(icwales)

WWII RAF airfield control tower passes first test in restoration plan
A study is under way into the feasibility of turning a wartime relic into an important site of wartime historical significance. The study is investigating the likelihood of restoring the former RAF Ibsley airfield control tower to its former glory. Both the U.S. and British army were based at the Ibsley airfield, together with the 8th fighter group. About 30,000 army officers were located there and the village is reputed to have housed at least 5 spies, including the Lord Haw Haw, an announcer on the English language propaganda radio programme Germany Calling, broadcast by Nazi radio to audiences in Britain.
(salisburyjournal)