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World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite (TS3) at Wetham Green, 460m north of Red Brick 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: World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite (TS3) at Wetham Green, 460m north of Red Brick Cottage

List entry Number: 1020387

Location

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

County: Kent

District: Swale

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Upchurch

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-Apr-2002

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: 34309

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.

Furthermore, the World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite (TS3) at Wetham Green, 460m north of Red Brick Cottage is one of only nine sites nationally to survive with its layout, including its domestic site, substantially intact, and is one of only two such sites in Kent (the other is at Iwade). Its surviving elements represent at least two stages in the development of the site, each with distinct building types. This physical record of the site's development is significant, and is rare nationally. Historically, the importance of the site is further enhanced by the significant part it played in the defence of Britain against aerial bombardment throughout the principal conflict of the 20th century.

History

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

Details

The monument, which lies in four separate areas of protection, includes a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gunsite, and its domestic camp, situated about 1km north of Upchurch village south of the River Medway. The gunsite, known as TS3 (Thames South 3), formed part of a chain of batteries positioned to defend the industrial and military targets in the Lower Thames and Medway areas from high flying strategic bombers approaching from the south and east. The gunsite was equipped with Gun Laying Radar and sources indicate that it was established by February 1940 and was armed with four 3.7 inch (mobile) Anti-aircraft (AA) guns by 1942. Measures taken in 1944 to combat the German V1 flying bomb included the rapid deployment of AA weapons across the south east and east of England. The battery at Wetham Green was located within the deployment zone around the fringes of the Thames Estuary, an area known as the Diver Box created for the eastern defence of London. At this time the battery came under the operational control of 28 AA Brigade, and was enlarged to accommodate two additional HAA guns. In January 1946 the battery was selected to form part of the reduced, post-war layout known as the Nucleus Force, with its guns held in readiness off-site. The earlier installation consists of an ENE-facing semicircular arrangement of four octagonal gunpits (three of which survive) of concrete block construction, and a central command post for the 3.7 inch guns. The command post was partly infilled after the war, and will survive in buried form. The steel pivot for the range finder equipment remains exposed at the front of the structure. Each emplacement consisted of a central gun, anchored by a steel holdfast, surrounded by six ammunition lockers and protected by an outer, externally embanked concrete blast wall. The surviving emplacements retain some of their original features, including the steel holdfasts and the small generator sheds which flank the entrance to each gunpit. These emplacements and the later guns were served by a five-bay magazine located about 50m north of the 3.7 inch gun positions. This is a single storey, semi-sunken concrete structure set within a concrete walled enclosure. The flat-roofed structure is entered from an open corridor on its eastern side, which is reached from ground level by a slope at each end. The magazine retains many of its original fittings and features, including the heavy steel door and the wooden covers to the ventilation shafts. Also in this area of the site is a large square single storey concrete engine room, built onto the southern wall of the magazine enclosure. Its ventilation holes survive, set high in the wall beneath a modern timber roof. A radar set, which appears to conform to the 1943 design known as `DFW 55497', lies about 100m south west of the engine room. It was raised on a low concrete platform with a gentle ramp on one side. Its associated Ground Laying mat (a large horizontal and octagonal wire mesh, which enhanced the performance of the radar by eliminating interference) has been removed. The battery is reached from the main gate on Poot Lane, via a concrete service road, which loops around the central command post with offshoots leading to each of the gun positions. Two later gunpits, constructed to accommodate the additional ordnance deployed during the Diver campaign, are located to the south west of the earlier emplacements, and are also reached from the service road. These almost square installations are of concrete block construction and were originally embanked externally. Since the war, one of the emplacements have been roofed and its floor has been resurfaced, although the holdfast within the other emplacement survives. The domestic site is situated about 50m south east of the gun emplacements, and is reached via a branch road from the main access track. It consists of a linear arrangement of accommodation huts and associated structures, the majority of which are red brick, modular buildings with pitched corrugated asbestos roofs, although there are also several Curved Asbestos huts. These structures survive well and retain many of their original features and fittings, including the remains of the stage lighting at one end of the NAAFI building. Additional buildings associated with the post-war use of the site within the Nucleus Force are located on the northern side of the access track from Poot Lane. These include a motor transport shed and two Curved Asbestos huts which have since been re-roofed in corrugated iron. The following items are excluded from the scheduling: the modern stabling and barns constructed within and against the southern edge of the engine room; all modern surfaces, fences, gates and structures; materials used to seal the doors and/or windows of some of the surviving buildings; all modern materials and equipment stored within and around the emplacements, camp buildings and other structures. However, the ground beneath all these features is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996)
Other
Ordnance Survey, OS/78149; 385, (1978)
RAF, 106G/uk/1444; 4208, (1946)
RAF, 58/1779; F22/0192, (1955)

National Grid Reference: TQ 84447 68407, TQ 84503 68365, TQ 84515 68452, TQ 84618 68304

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 25-Nov-2017 at 07:48:09.

End of official listing