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HER Number:MDV52950
Name:Bombing Range Target Indicator and Observations Posts to north-west of Putsborough, Georgeham

Summary

A Second World War High Altitude Practice Bombing Range ground signal arrow is is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, as a complex of structures west of Vention Lane overlooking the coast at Putsborough Sand. The arrow appears to have been laid out in concrete. It remains visible, although reduced in length. A single storey observation post survives about 30 metres to the west.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 446 405
Map Sheet:SS44SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGeorgeham
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishGEORGEHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS44SW/37

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MILITARY BUILDING (XX - 1901 AD to 2000 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1942, RAF/140/S756/H58, NMR RAF/140/S756/H58 PO-3001 SS4440/1 10-FEB-1942 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350306.

A Second World War Range Target Indicator and associated building are visible as structures.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1501, 3139 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337198.

Other details: HER 3/12.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1501, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1501 3138-3139 13-MAY-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349927.

The Range Target Indicator and associated structures remains visible.

Royal Air Force, 1964, RAF 543/2821 F66, NMR RAF/543/2821 F66 0223-4 27-APR-1964 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350307.

The Range Target Indicator arrow remains visible but the associated structures have been removed.

Horner, B., 1994, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV339723.

Unusual feature visible on 1946 aerial photograph. A trapezoidal area marked out containing three small square structures in a triangular lay out with a large white arrow in the intervening space. Presumably military structures associated with the World War II Woolacombe Training Area.

1995, Untitled Source (Photograph). SDV339724.

Site photographed from the air in 1995. This is a Royal Air Force bombing range indicator.

Next Perspectives, 2007, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref:, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS4440 04-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349344.

The Range Target Indicator arrow remains visible, albeit shorter in length.

Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J., 2007, The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report, No. 1658 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

Apparent RAF bombing range indicator on raf 1946 ap. A trapezoidal area containing 3 small square structures in triangular lay out with large white arrow.

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

A Second World War Practice Bombing Range ground signal arrow is visible on aerial photographs of 1942 onwards, centred on circa SS44734055, to the west of Vention Lane, overlooking the coast at Putsborough Sand. The Range Target Indicator comprises a circa 25 metre long concrete arrow orientated roughly on north by north west, surrounded by three structures each measuring circa five metres square, two rows of short and narrow possible structures to the south-eastern end of the arrow, all contained within an elongated pentagonal fenced enclosure approximately 60 metres long. Information supplied by Roger Thomas of English Heritage supports the interpretation that this structure is a High Altitude range marker. The three larger associated structures probably comprise reversible reflective signal discs to allow a range of codes to be communicated to aircraft. The shorter structures to the south are probably reversible detail strips. Two small rectangular structures visible to the west, at circa SS44694056 and SS44634057, are probably associated with the Range Target Indicator. The structur closest to the Range Target Indicator appears to be a guardhouse, but the function of the second remains unknown, although its position partly set within an earthwork field boundary might support the interpretation of a shelter of some sort. The associated structures have been removed by 1964 but the arrow remains visible, although slightly reduced in length.

Roger Thomas, Architectural Investigator, English Heritage, 2012-2013, Telephone and email correspondence, Email 11th June 2012 (Personal Comment). SDV349402.

A number of illustrations describe the components and dimensions of of Practice Bombing Range Ground Signals. The illustrations were taken from: Air Publication 1245, Armament Training Manual, Part IV, Chapter 1, Air Firing and Bombing Ranges, February 1940.

Historic England, 2019, A cluster of three military structures, north-west of Putsborough, Georgeham (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV362790.

Notification of an application to add this range of military buildings to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

Historic England, 2019, Dummy Pill box at Putsborough (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV363297.

Historic England have taken into account all the representations made, and completed our assessment of the building. Having considered the recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add Second World War training pillbox at Putsborough Sands to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The building is now listed at Grade II.

The training, or dummy, pillbox overlooking Putsborough Sands and Morte Bay, Devon was built in 1943 for American troops to practice cliff attacks in advance of the D-Day landings. The listing application for the dummy pillbox was received with other listing applications for training structures within the assault training centre at Braunton Burrows, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6 June 2019. The concrete replica landing craft structures and practice rocket wall at Braunton Burrows were listed at Grade II in time for the anniversary.

The structure is orientated east to west, with the principal face of the structure facing north-west towards the sea, and is set into a grassed bank. The pillbox is constructed of shuttered concrete, rippled on the principal face where the shuttering comprised corrugated metal sheeting. There are a number of metal fixings on the top of the structure, of unknown purpose. At the base of the front face is a small recessed opening approximately 1m deep with canted concrete sides.

Historic England, 2019, Second World War bombing range target indicator and observation post, Bombing target range indicator NGR: SS4472640563
Observation post NGR: SS4469640562
(List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV363145.

Notification that Historic England has completed an initial assessment of the Second World War bombing range target indicator and associated observation post in order to assess whether they have special architectural or historic interest.
History
The North Devon coast is recognised as one of the major training centres for American troops during the Second World War, and particularly in the run-up to D-Day in June 1944. However, due to the increased threat of an attack on the British coastline from the sea, training for Royal Air Force high-altitude bombing crews also practiced in the area around Woolacombe, in this instance using a directional indicator in the form of a concrete arrow.
Such bombing range target indicators were principally located around Britain’s coast, including examples at Brean Down and Steart in Somerset, and Drumburgh, Cumbria. According to the Armament Training Manual (1940; see Sources) the indicators comprised a large concrete slab arrow, 100ft long with the sides of the arrow-head each 21ft in length. Arranged 21ft either side of the foot of the arrow and 20ft from the tip were three concrete discs, each 8ft in diameter. 10ft from the end of the arrow was a concrete triangle 12ft wide; 10ft back from this and 10ft apart were two concrete strips 30ft long. The strips and discs were recommended to be painted white and the arrow and triangle red. At Putsborough, the arrow pointed at a cork buoy with a pole on top anchored in Morte Bay, and the arrow was accompanied by a concrete observation post. Observation posts on Marine Drive, Woolacombe (demolished) and at Barricane Beach (altered; not included in this assessment) allowed for triangulation to measure the accuracy of the bombing; the posts were manned by the WRAF.
The arrow and its associated discs are shown on a 1942 RAF aerial photograph, where (despite being a black and white image) it is clear that it was painted white. It was possibly used up until 1948 but it is unknown by what types of aircraft - the squadrons based at nearby RAF Chivenor were employed on anti-submarine patrol using Vickers Wellington aircraft, but local reports suggest that the target was used to practice dive-bombing by small aircraft, some of which crashed into Morte Bay. The shaft of the arrow was truncated in the 1980s when a pipeline was laid in the field to the south. The associated concrete discs, triangle and strips had been removed by 1964. The windows and door to the observation post have been blocked and it has recently been used as a water tank.
Details
Second World War bombing range target indicator and observation post overlooking Putsborough Sands and Morte Bay, built in around 1942.
The bombing range target indicator comprises concrete slabs set into the ground in the shape of an arrow, pointing north-east and downhill. The shaft of the arrow is approximately 13m long and the sides of the arrow head each 8m long. Approximately 30m to the west of the arrow’s tip is a single-storey observation post, rectangular in plan. It is constructed of brick with concrete render and has a flat roof with a projecting cornice and plinth, and a projecting porch on the south side, slightly lower than the principal roof. The east and west elevations contain a window; and the north has a large central window with two narrower flanking ones.
All of the windows are blocked, although small protruding cills remain, and the doorway is also bricked-up. On the west side there is a shallow water trough at ground level. The structure has pieces of protruding steelwork which are assumed to be part of its construction. Details about
the interior are unknown.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV337198Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1501. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3139.
SDV339712Report - Assessment: Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J.. 2007. The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.22 (rev.1). A4 Stapled + Digital. No. 1658.
SDV339723Personal Comment: Horner, B.. 1994.
SDV339724Photograph: 1995. Slide.
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
SDV349344Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2007. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref:. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS4440 04-MAY-2007.
SDV349402Personal Comment: Roger Thomas, Architectural Investigator, English Heritage. 2012-2013. Telephone and email correspondence. Email 11th June 2012.
SDV349927Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1501. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1501 3138-3139 13-MAY-1946. [Mapped features: #94503 ; #94504 ; #94505 ]
SDV350306Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1942. RAF/140/S756/H58. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF/140/S756/H58 PO-3001 SS4440/1 10-FEB-1942.
SDV350307Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. RAF 543/2821 F66. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/543/2821 F66 0223-4 27-APR-1964.
SDV362790List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Historic England. 2019. A cluster of three military structures, north-west of Putsborough, Georgeham. Notification of Application to Add Building to List. Digital.
SDV363145List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Historic England. 2019. Second World War bombing range target indicator and observation post, Bombing target range indicator NGR: SS4472640563 Observation post NGR: SS4469640562. Notification of Completion of Assessment. Digital.
SDV363297List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Historic England. 2019. Dummy Pill box at Putsborough. Additions and Amendments to Checklist.

Associated Monuments

MDV57332Related to: Morte Bay/Woolacombe Areas G, H and L of US Assault Training Centre (Monument)
MDV103129Related to: Second World War Bombing Range Target Rafts (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Oct 28 2019 3:41PM