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HER Number:MDV103129
Name:Second World War Bombing Range Target Rafts


Five triangular rafts of Second World War date and military function are visible in Ilfracombe harbour as temporary structures on aerial photographs of 1946. The rafts were used as mobile bombing range targets and were removed in the years following the war.


Grid Reference:SS 523 477
Map Sheet:SS54NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishIlfracombe
Ecclesiastical ParishILFRACOMBE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BOMBING RANGE TARGET (World War II to XX - 1939 AD to 1946 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1501, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1501 4391-2 13-MAY-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349927.

Five triangular bombing range target rafts are visible beached at Ilfracombe Quay.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 3167-8 11--JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349996.

Some of the target rafts have been removed.

Royal Air Force, 1956, RAF/82/1451, NMR RAF/82/1451 F21 0062-0063 12-JUL-1956 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349052.

The target rafts are no longer visible.

British Broadcasting Corporation, 2006, WW2 People's War, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/60/a4060360.shtml (Website). SDV350519.

During the Second World War two RAF launches were moored at Ilfracombe harbour for rescue purposes and towing bombing range targets. For bombing practice triangular rafts with central poles upon which a circular wicker ball was mounted. For machine gun practice a square raft with honeycomb wall was used. No evidence for the square raft is visible.
Website accessed October 2012.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S., 2011 - 2012, North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV349018.

Five triangular structures visible beached in Ilfracombe harbour on aerial photographs of 1946 have been identified as rafts used for bombing target practise during the Second World War. The rafts have been described as being fitted with a central pole on which was mounted a circular wicker ball. The rafts were presumably towed to open water by two RAF launches based at Ilfracombe for this task and also for rescue purposes. Two large rafts measure circa 10 metres to a side and the three smaller rafts circa 5 metres. The can be seen to have moved between May and July 1946, by which time some of the rafts have been removed. It is possible the targets were associated with a bombing range marker visible to the west at Putsborough. The target rafts are not visible on later aerial photographs available to the survey.

Gunn, B., n.d. [1999], Tales of Old Woolacombe, 44 (Monograph). SDV350728.

A large target was moored off Baggy Point early in the war. It was triangular in shape and constructed of wood and cork bales and painted bright yellow, and the target was a black painted round basket on a central mast. It was used as a practise target for anti-submarine training aircraft.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV349018Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S.. 2011 - 2012. North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. ACD383/2/1. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV349052Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1956. RAF/82/1451. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/82/1451 F21 0062-0063 12-JUL-1956.
SDV349927Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1501. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1501 4391-2 13-MAY-1946. [Mapped feature: #62613 ]
SDV349996Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1655. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 3167-8 11--JUL-1946.
SDV350519Website: British Broadcasting Corporation. 2006. WW2 People's War. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/. Website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/60/a4060360.shtml.
SDV350728Monograph: Gunn, B.. n.d. [1999]. Tales of Old Woolacombe. Tales of Old Woolacombe. 44.

Associated Monuments

MDV52950Related to: Bombing Range Target Indicator, northwest of Putsborough (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6132 - North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty NMP Project

Date Last Edited:Apr 17 2013 4:06PM