Blitz/Air Raids

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by jamesicus, May 31, 2004.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Senior Member

    My hometown of Burnley, Lancashire, was involved in a decoy/subterfuge scheme and I was wondering if anybody else has knowledge of similar schemes in other parts of Great Britain during the war.

    The government literally created "Manchester on the Moors" -- the idea was to build a fake or simulated industrial complex in a remote area, but in close proximity to Manchester and on the Luftwaffe bombing run approach, thereby enticing the bombardiers to drop their bombs there.

    A large expanse of desolate moor land to the south of Burnley was set aside -- cordoned off and guarded 24 hours a day -- and a good sized mock industrial complex of plywood structures erected. Each of these mockups contained a single electric light bulb and enough discreet chinks were provided to wink an attractive target from the air.

    I believe this elaborate decoy was erected and activated in early 1940. The construction, maintenance and guarding was accomplished by a detachment of RAF all of whom were from Ulster, Northern Ireland, who were voluntarily (and patriotically) billeted with local residents (the government provided extra food rations) who lived on the southern fringes of Burnley. My Auntie Clara housed two of them -- A/C Billy Russell and Sydney Watters. They were fine men and became good friends of the family -- including me.

    Both Billy and Sydney maintained contact with us after the war -- Sydney, who became a Bank officer in London, used to visit Auntie Clara every year until she died in 1979. I would dearly like to make contact with him if he is still alive -- he would be in his eighties now.

    Did the scheme work? Well, I don't think it was at all successful -- I only recall a couple of stray bombs being dropped on "Manchester on the Moors" during the entire war.
  2. jamesicus

    jamesicus Senior Member

  3. jamesicus

    jamesicus Senior Member

  4. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The West Cheshire Golf Course, of which my parents and I were members, was taken over to decoy German aircraft to hopefully bomb wide open spaces. The job of some brave folks, as air-raids started, was go out setting light to the many oil filled pots. The deception worked, the only problem being that some of the nearby homes including ours) suffered damage.

    The old course received many bombs creating the abundance of "ready made" bunkers. However, as the estimate to reconstruct the course was prohibitive, the compensation money given by the government was used to build a new course - the clubhouse having escaped damage.

    For a friend, who is writing about the career of Bert Gadd (one time pro at WCGC) I prepared this map which shows where the old course was located.


    For some odd reason (which I cannot recall) the London and North Eastern Railway had the Wallasey/Wrexham line far removed from their east coast operational area.
  5. jamesicus

    jamesicus Senior Member

    For general information relating to air raids and links to similar resources visit my page:

    Air Raids in Lancashire
  6. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    There's also a good book on the subject, called "Masquerade," which is about deception in WW2. The opening chapters are about British deceptions during the Blitz, and they describe the same thing you're talking about.

    I can't recall the author offhand, but it should be on my web page's bibliography entries by now.

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