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World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite at Burnt Farm Camp

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 at Burnt Farm Camp

List entry Number: 1020980

Location

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

County: Hertfordshire

District: Broxbourne

District Type: District Authority

Parish:

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 15-Jul-2003

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: 32453

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 at Burnt Farm Camp is an exceptional survival of its type and provides a significant, visible reminder of the nature of home defence during World War II. It is one of only ten HAA gunsites to have survived in good condition out of a large wartime deployment across south eastern England whose function was to combat German bombers heading towards the capital, the Thames estuary and other military targets. The importance of the site lies in the complexity and range of surviving gun emplacements and ancillary buildings: octagonal and square gun emplacements; a well preserved command post; generator block; radar vehicle and equipment enclosures and on-site magazine, all linked by contemporary trackways. As such it provides an exceptional insight into the development of anti-aircraft measures in the region.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite located some 250m south of Silver Street, at Burnt Farm Camp. Contemporary records now held at the Public Record Office list the site as `ZW3 Burnt Farm' and document the equipment and number of personnel on site at various times during the war. In 1940 the emplacements were armed with three inch mobile guns; these were replaced during the latter part of the war with a mixture of 3.7 inch and 4.5 inch guns. In 1943 the guns were manned by a mixed battery of men and ATS women.

During the period of use Burnt Farm Camp was divided into two parts. The domestic area to the north (alongside Silver Street) contained the accommodation and general administration buildings. This area is not included in the scheduling. The operational area, the subject of the scheduling, lies to the south. This formed the fighting element of the site, including the gun emplacements and the structures which housed the gunners and their command staff, ammunition, the power supply and the communications equipment and targeting devices.

The operational site is approached along a short concrete access road leading from the accommodation site, a section of which (the final 10m length leading to the gun site) is included in the scheduling. The gunsite is dominated by an array of six gun emplacements arranged around a loop at the end of the access track, which also encircles the central command post. The gun emplacements are of two types: four octagonal emplacements of the `March 1938 pattern' form an arc to the north of the command post, whilst two later square plan additions sit at either end of the array.

The octagonal emplacements each have six internal rendered brick ammunition lockers (some retaining original wooden racking) built against the 1.5m high concrete walls which surrounded the guns. Concrete `holdfasts' retaining patterns of metal fixtures mark the positions of the guns, which were manoeuvred into place via a single access gateway in each emplacement linked to the inner access road by a short area of hardstanding. Some of these gateways retain their original steel clad gates. The octagonal emplacements are also equipped with six external ammunition/equipment stores, as well as a larger external crew shelter positioned on the opposite side to the gateway. Many of these lockers and shelters retain original wooden racking and steel doors.

The square emplacements for the 4.5 inch guns are similarly enclosed by concrete block walls with a single gateway at the corner linked to the inner access road. External crew shelters are attached to the outside of both emplacements, positioned to the right of the gateways. Internal ammunition lockers are built against the centre of each wall, except along the southern wall of the western emplacement which is fitted with an unusual feature - a full-length magazine with concrete shelves and dividing walls providing twenty alcoves for shells.

The command post, situated in the centre of the semi-circle of gun emplacements, is unusually large and contains a number of rooms including the Plotting Room, telephonists' quarters, offices, rest rooms and stores. Built into the top are three protected positions where the Predictor, Heightfinder and Spotting equipment would have been located.

To the south of the emplacements and command post are a number of associated structures. The Generator Block or Engine Room, located some 50m south of the gun array and connected by a concrete track, is of a standard design, 8 sq m, and would have held the diesel engines for powering the site. Standing in two similar pairs west and east of the Generator Block are four structures. The larger structure (14m by 9m) in each pair is a concrete blast shelter, open at each end. The smaller of each pair is a roofed concrete shelter, open at the front and flanked by blast walls. These buildings would have housed vehicles and equipment serving the emplacements, including the mobile radar systems. A further small concrete shelter some 15m to the east of the Generator Block would also have been for storage. The final associated structure stands alone, a further 35m east and is connected to the accommodation site by a separate concrete track. This is a large `Nissen- type' hut, built of double-skinned corrugated iron sheeting with brick-built end walls, which most probably functioned as the on-site magazine. Only a small section of concrete roadway connecting this building to the acccommodation huts to the north survives above ground, although the course of this trackway can be traced as a slight depression and is included in the scheduling.

All modern shelves and light fittings within the command post are excluded from the scheduling as are the modern floodlights in one hexagonal emplacement and the modern chicken wire and wooden pens in another. All modern fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999), 11-13
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999)
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999), 11-13
Anderton, M, Schofield, J, Anti-aircraft gunsites - a Survey, (1999), 11-13
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996), 397
Dobinson, C, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (2002), 397
Dobinson, C, 'Twentieth Century Fortifications in England' in Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996), 397
Dobinson, C, 'Twentieth Century Fortifications in England' in Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996)
Other
In HRO Oct 1971 county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 320-2/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
In HRO October 1971, county cover, Hertfordshire County Council, TL 3202/3302, (1971)
Letter dated 18 April 2001, Jonathan Smith, Letter from J Smith (HCC) to G Smallwood (Broxbourne District), (2001)
Letter dated 18 April 2001, Jonathan Smith, Planning Archaeologist HCC, Letter from J Smith (HCC) to G Stallwood (Broxbourne District), (2001)
Letter dated 29 March 2000, D Priddy, Letter from D Priddy (IAM) to Mr Bullya (Broxbourne District), (2000)
Letter dated 29 March 2000, English Heritage, Letter from D Priddy (IAM) to Mr Bullya (Broxbourne District), (2000)
Letter dated 29 March 2000, Priddy, D, Letter from D Priddy (IAM) to Mr Bullya (Broxbourne District), (2000)
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR
Nash, F, WWII HAA Gun Site 'ZW3 Burnt Farm' Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, 2002, Report in Herts SMR

National Grid Reference: TL 32042 02125

Map

Map
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End of official listing