Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite at Old Ellerby, 600m south of Ellerby Grange


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019185

Date first listed: 07-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite at Old Ellerby, 600m south of Ellerby Grange
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ellerby

National Grid Reference: TA 16571 37861


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.

HAA Station H32 at Old Ellerby is a well preserved example of a mid-World War II gunsite, retaining the functional core of the station, the command post, gun emplacements and magazine.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of a World War II heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gunsite known as Station H32, including four gun pits, a command post and a magazine. It is located 600m south of Ellerby Grange on the north west side of Old Ellerby. Station H32 was established in early 1943 and was operational by 9th March when the War Diary of the HAA Division recorded an incident caused by one of the guns misfiring. It is thought to have been abandoned towards the end of the war when many guns were repositioned from June 1944 for Operation Diver which countered the new threat from the V1 flying bomb. The gunsite was not one of those chosen to form part of the post-war Nucleus Force, the spread of 192 HAA gunsites in England selected to be retained after the war. The gun emplacements and command post are all constructed out of concrete and broadly follow standard designs. The four gun emplacements are arranged in an arc around the north west side of the command post which also faces north west. The gun emplacements are of DFW 55414 design, which was issued by the Directorate of Fortifications and Works (DFW) on 10 October 1942 for static 3.7in guns. Each emplacement is the same, with a central octagonal gun pit 7.5m across defined by concrete blast walls, with a standard ring of holding down bolts for fixing the gun mounting. The entrance to each pit is on the side nearest the command post and these retain the hinges for the original iron blast doors which have since been removed. Opening through each of the other seven sides of the pit is an external roofed recess for ammunition storage. Behind two of these recesses on opposite sides of the gun pit, there is a pair of roofed shelters. One was typically used as a relaxed duty shelter for the gun crew, the other for gun maintenance. The command post effectively follows the standard DFW 55402 design with an additional room added to the rear for a central heating boiler, but without an emplacement for a light Anti-aircraft machine gun at the front. The command post measures approximately 8m by 20m, its long axis orientated north east to south west. It is divided into two main parts, with a series of semi sunken rooms forming a wide horseshoe around the raised frontal area which is open to the sky. In operation, this open area was used for an identification telescope and for two other pieces of equipment, the predictor and height finder. These fed information to the plotting room, the long room in the covered part of the command post to the rear of the open area, where the bearing, elevation and range were calculated and relayed to the guns. The other five smaller rooms acted as offices, stores and communications rooms. The shell of the command post is complete and retains fragments of its internal fittings. The battery's magazine lies 90m to the north east of the command post. This is now a rectangular building with walls built with a double thickness of concrete breeze blocks supporting a modern iron A-frame roof. These walls were originally freestanding blast walls surrounding the actual magazine, which was a lightweight tin structure. The blast walls were unroofed and were designed to contain any blast if the shells stored in the magazine exploded, and force it to below vertically rather than horizontally. After the war the magazine was demolished, leaving only the surrounding blast walls which were then roofed to create an agricultural store. This building, along with the rest of the HAA battery's complex, is shown on aerial photographs taken by the RAF in 1947. From the summer of 1941, many HAA regiments used women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) to operate radar, communications and other equipment. Station H32 was designed to accommodate mixed sex batteries and had a large domestic camp in the field to the south. However this camp, along with a search light battery in the field to the north, were cleared soon after the end of the war and thus their areas are not included within the monument. The roof of the magazine is excluded from the scheduling, although the supporting walls are included. The beehives are also excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32670

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing