Operation Diver Heavy Anti-aircraft gun sites on Flamborough Head


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019594

Date first listed: 09-Feb-2001


Ordnance survey map of Operation Diver Heavy Anti-aircraft gun sites on Flamborough Head
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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: Flamborough

National Grid Reference: TA 25385 70439


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

Reasons for Designation

Operation Diver was the name given to British measures to combat attacks from the German flying bomb between June 1944 and March 1945. Diver employed heavy and light anti-aircraft guns in addition to balloon barrages, fighter aircraft, bombers, radar, visual early warning and intelligence to meet its aims; it was confined to the south and east coasts of England. All Diver anti- aircraft sites were temporary, ranging from occupation for several months, to just two days. The earlier examples in Surrey, Sussex and Kent (the Kentish Gun Belt, Coastal Gun Belt and part of the Diver Box), consisted almost entirely of portable equipment and accommodation, usually tents, with surface modification limited to minor earthworks. By contrast, the most substantial sites were the later ones, built around the coast from the Thames to Flamborough Head (the so called Diver Fringe and Diver Strip). Most of these were provided with extensive domestic camps comprising Nissen huts, as well as metalled roadways and other structures such as ammunition shelters, slit trenches and a radar platform. 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. A national survey of England's defences during World War II, based on archive sources, has produced a detailed record of where the sites were and what they looked like; it has also noted how the operation evolved according to developing strategic needs. Additional work on aerial photographs has demonstrated how little survives. The survey of Diver sites reveals that, of the 1,190 anti-aircraft sites built, only 81 are thought to survive, and only around ten of these are anything like complete. Surviving examples are sufficiently rare, therefore, to suggest that all sites are of national importance where surviving remains are sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form or function.

The layout of Flamborough Head Diver site is remarkably complete and is the only site known to survive with significant remains on the Diver Fringe. All the other gun sites between Filey and Ingoldmell's Point were either cleared or have been largely removed by coastal erosion leaving the occasional isolated feature. The associated pill box and outlying remains of the nearby Radar station provide additional interest.


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


The monument includes standing, earthwork and buried remains of a pair of World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gun sites known as Stations BJ and BJ1 which were established as part of Operation Diver to counter the threat from the V1 flying bombs. On Christmas Eve 1944, around 30 V1 flying bombs, air launched from Heinkel bombers, crossed the coast between Spurn Point and Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire, targeting Manchester. This was an anticipated new phase of the German's V1 offensive which had started in June 1944. Intelligence reports suggested that up to 90 air launched V1s could be expected to be directed at England every night and this prompted a rapid re-deployment of anti-aircraft guns along the coast between Filey and Ingoldmells Point just north of Skegness to form what was known as the Diver Fringe. The pair of stations BJ and BJ1 were the most northerly gun sites built, sited adjacent to an earlier Radar installation and near to a temporary American training camp. The Diver stations were started on 22 January 1945, a large part of the construction work being carried out by refugee Soviet nationals. The northern Station BJ1 was operational by 20 February and the southern Station BJ four days later. The Diver sites around Bridlington were manned by 65 AA Brigade, transferred from the south coast around Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton. Stations BJ and BJ1 were in the control of 416/173 Bty (416 Battery 173 HAA Regiment) under the command of Major P F MacDonald. However, the expected assault never came, as the last air launched V1 reached Britain on 14 January 1945, hitting Hornsey in north east London. The only action that the Flamborough Head Diver site saw was on 4 March when the battery fired on an enemy aircraft. The site was finally abandoned after the order to disband the Regiment on 21st June 1945. The monument includes nearly the complete ground plan of the Diver HAA site along with some additional remains of earlier wartime activity which took place on Flamborough Head. All these features lie within a field which retains broad ridge and furrow created by medieval style arable ploughing. A trackway extends southwards from the road to the Fog Signal Station on the Headland, starting from opposite the public conveniences, a building marked on the 1:10,000 map. Immediately on the east side of this track there are two sets of regularly spaced, west facing gun emplacements representing the two original HAA Stations. All but the northernmost emplacement survive as earthworks and are included in the monument. As originally constructed, each emplacement had a 3.7inch gun mounted on a platform formed from a lattice of rails fixed to railway sleepers surrounded by a bank of earth and sand bags incorporating three ammunition lockers. The emplacements now survive as shallow 6m diameter depressions, surrounded by a low bank incorporating the remains of the concrete floored lockers. The emplacements were organised in pairs, each with a control post and a relaxed duty shelter sited between the two emplacements. The control posts were sited in narrow east-west slit trenches around 10m long, linked by partly concrete lined cable runs to the emplacements. The relaxed duty shelters were to the rear, immediately on the west side of the trackway, with the concrete rafts for three of these still surviving. Spread over a wide area to the west of the northern set of emplacements there are the remains of a number of buildings. Mostly these are represented by level platforms cut into the hillside, but some survive as concrete rafts and one as the footings of a building constructed with hollow concrete blocks. This latter building appears to have had an upper floor and is interpreted as the tracker tower, an elevated observation platform. Most of the other buildings are thought to have been for auxiliary use including dining, mess and catering huts. They did not include living accommodation which is known to have been provided in houses off Back Lane in Sewerby just over 7km to the west. To the rear of the southern set of emplacements there is a level platform with the remains of a brick chimney which is identified as the battery's Command Post. Just over 50m to the west of this, on the hill top, there is a lozenge shaped concrete pillbox. This is orientated to face south with its now blocked entrance on the north side. It was one of the many pillboxes built in the area as part of the anti-invasion defences of the early war years and is shown on an aerial photograph taken in July 1940. Around it are a set of earthworks and to the north are the footings for a pair of buildings originally roofed with curved corrugated iron sheeting. These are thought to have been an outlying part of a radar station which became operational on 12th February 1940. To the west of the southernmost gun emplacement, at the southern end of the trackway, there is a set of three earth embanked platforms. These are interpreted as a set of on-site magazines. Centred just over 20m to the south east there are the earthwork remains of a searchlight emplacement together with the footings of a 3m by 4m block walled generator hut. Fence lines defining the boundaries of the monument lie immediately outside the protected area. The mast, associated hut and other equipment related to the Radio Beacon Station, together with its encircling fence are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. The disused concrete footings of other structures within this small enclosure are, however included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 32705

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Acoustics and Radar, (2000), 164-169

End of official listing