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Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 220m east of West Marsh Cottage

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 220m east of West Marsh Cottage

List entry Number: 1020024

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: North Lincolnshire

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Barrow upon Humber

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 07-Nov-2001

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 34708

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

The Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 220m east of West Marsh is a particularly well-preserved example of a HAA site. Its importance is heightened by the survival of two designs of command posts and emplacements demonstrating the evolution of HAA sites during the war.

History

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

Details

The monument includes standing, earthwork and associated buried remains of the functional core of a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gunsite. In official records this was initially known as Humber F1 and then after 1st August 1941 as Humber H27. The monument retains a complex range of well-preserved structures representing two main phases of development at the gunsite. RAF aerial photographs taken in March 1941, August 1942 and December 1945 help to explain the evolution of the site. Initially the gunsite had just two gun emplacements and an unroofed command post. By August 1942, three more gun emplacements had been added together with a new and larger command post In February 1940, Humber H1 was one of 15 HAA gunsites established to defend the Humber. The Regimental War Diary for the 10th July 1940 noted that the gunsite was manned by personnel from 221 and 286 Batteries as a training sub unit for Non Commissioned Officers. On the 28th April 1941 the gunsite was in control of 286 Battery 91 AA Regiment and received four 3.7in mobile guns. Control passed to 173 Battery 62 AA Regiment in June 1941 and then to 270 Battery to `man two 4.5in guns' which were supplied on 2nd August 1941 and first used against enemy aircraft on 1st September. On the 14th September it was noted that the new gun emplacements were complete and two further 4.5in guns were supplied three days later. On 22nd June 1942 the gunsite was still armed with four 4.5in guns and was guided by a GL MkII radar set. The gunsite is believed to have continued in active service until 10th January 1945. The controlling unit at that time, 462 battery of the 133 AA Regiment, was then redeployed to gunsite HD at Kilnsea. This was part of Operation Diver, the response to the threat of the V1 flying bomb. Incidentally 133 AA Regiment was one of the mixed sex regiments established from summer 1941, that used female ATS personnel to operate radar and other equipment. Humber H27 was not finally decommissioned until sometime after the war. In January 1946 it was confirmed to be one of the 192 HAA gunsites in England to be retained as part of the post-war Nucleus Force. This provision of anti-aircraft gunsites was further reduced in scale in the following years and Station H27 was probably abandoned by 1950 by which time only 78 gunsites were operational nationally. The monument includes the core functional structures of the gunsite along with the linking concrete and hardcore road and trackways. The concrete access road extends westwards from the lane and still retains some patches of tarmac skim which was originally applied as camouflage. This runs into a turning circle marked on the 1:10 000 map and surrounds the earlier command post which is a concrete and brick structure 12m east-west and 5m north-south, with three linked, slightly raised platforms surrounded by low parapet walls. From these platforms, optical devices for determining identification, range and height of aircraft were employed and orders relayed to the gunners. To the south is the original pair of gun emplacements, which unlike the command post, are marked on the 1:10 000 map. These are of a general design first issued in 1938. Each emplacement is approximately 12m across and octagonal in plan, defined by a blast wall. Set centrally into the concrete floor there is a ring for holding down bolts for the gun mounting and extending inwards from six sides of the blast wall there are six 2 sq m ammunition lockers. The remaining two sides of the blast wall form wide entrances set on opposite sides of the emplacement originally blocked by iron blast doors. The eastern emplacement is of concrete construction, the western is built in brick. The ammunition lockers in the eastern emplacement had been modified by August 1942 and the emplacement is thought to have been disarmed and put to some other use following the construction of the new command post and additional emplacements. Also by this time the western emplacement had acquired an external concrete roofed shelter. This would have been a relaxed duty shelter for the gun crew. To the south of the emplacements, linked by concrete roadway is a five bay magazine complete with blast walls and earth banking. The magazine is approximately 10m by 3.5m, built using reinforced concrete with a flat roof which follows a standard design produced by the Air Ministry in February 1939. It has had some modifications to convert it into stables, including the removal of two walls, but it still retains its original doors and windows. The monument also includes the protective earth banking on the south side of the magazine. By 14th September 1941, Humber H27 had been expanded to take four HAA guns. Three new emplacements had been constructed, which together with the western of the earlier emplacements, formed an arc around the south side of a new command post. These were all linked by hardcore trackways which now survive as buried features. These later emplacements, which are all well-preserved, follow a different design to the first two examples. They also have two opposed entrances that line up with the command post, and each has six square ammunition lockers. However, these lockers extend out through the blast wall which outlines a gunpit that is dodecagon in plan 8m across, rather extending inwards from an octagon shaped blast wall. Each emplacement also has a crew shelter reached from the gun pit via a short passage through the blast wall. All of these emplacements have flat concrete roofs to their lockers and shelters with the remains of camouflaging tarmac skims. They also have protective earth banking against the outside of the blast walls which is also included in the monument. However, the two flanking emplacements are built in brick whilst the central one of the three is constructed with breeze blocks. The later command post is larger than the example to the east. It is some 15m east-west by 11m north-south with viewing platforms on its southern side and a suite of rooms along the southern side. The largest room was the plotting room, with smaller rooms acting as offices. One room, added to the rear of the building, housed the boiler that ran the post's central heating system. This feature is indicative of the arrival of women from the ATS, as no central heating was provided previously. The station's domestic accommodation lay just to the north east of the gun emplacements, adjacent to the West Marsh Lane, with the accommodation for ATS personnel being between the lane and the railway. By 1945 this included around 40 buildings, typically timber hutting or temporary Nissens, most of which have been cleared over the years. The two timber huts and the one Nissen, the latter relocated since 1945, which still survived in 2000 are not considered sustainable as part of the monument and are thus not included. The gun store, a typical concrete structure adjacent to the access road to the emplacements, has been modified for domestic use and is thus also not included in the monument. One brick building and a handful of smaller brick structures also survive in the area of the domestic camp, but their scattered nature, later modifications and existing uses make their inclusion within the monument inappropriate. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling: these are all fences, gates, water troughs, and timber structures; although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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

Selected Sources

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

National Grid Reference: TA 05642 23199

Map

Map
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End of official listing