TF8524 : Fields by West Raynham

taken 4 years ago, near to West Raynham, Norfolk, Great Britain

Fields by West Raynham
Fields by West Raynham
This view was taken from the observation post (seen in foreground) of the Battle Headquarters (BHQ) of RAF West Raynham. The site is so overgrown that the observation post can just be glimpsed through a thicket of brambles and nettles.

Most WW2 aerodromes had a Battle Headquarters (BHQ) - all built to a similar design and commonly situated on the edge of the airfield - which could be used to co-ordinate the defence of the airfield in the event of a land or air attack. These underground structures commonly comprise several small brick-built rooms, some with small windows for passing information between the plotting and communications rooms. There is an above-ground observation post with all-around viewing apertures and a bomb-proof concrete cap.
RAF West Raynham
RAF West Raynham was opened in May 1939 and initially formed part of 2 Group RAF, Bomber Command. In December 1943 the station was taken over by 100 Group, Bomber Support, and in the 1950s it came under the Central Fighter Establishment. In the mid-1960s, Bloodhound missiles and associated radars were installed on the eastern side of the flying field.

The airfield was closed in June 1994, and in 2004 it was decided that the base would play no future role in the defence of the country. It was sold in 2006, and in 2008 planning permission was granted for the construction of 58 houses and for the hangars to be converted into 20 loft-style holiday apartments.

Sadly, a proposal for listing the C-type hangars as well as the Parachute store, Sick quarters, Water tower, Heating plant, Station headquarters and a number of other substantial buildings on the Technical site was withdrawn by English Heritage.

The site is currently managed by FW Properties of Norwich and a number of residential buildings have since been renovated for private use whilst most of the buildings on the Technical site are in industrial use. In 2014, planning permission was obtained by Good Energy for the installation of a 49.9MW solar farm on the flying field. See also: LinkExternal link

This shared description about RAF West Raynham was compiled by Evelyn Simak.
Airfield Battle Headquarters (BHQ)
In 1939 the defence of airfields had been confined to a limited number of light machine-gun posts for anti-aircraft use to protect against enemy attack. Some operational stations had the use of additional guns of a higher calibre, such as two-pounders and three-inch guns. With the increased threat of an invasion, pillboxes, rifle pits and Dannert wire entanglements were also constructed in 1940, but owing to variations and topography there was no standard procedure for the defence of an airfield and the task of planning the defences usually fell to the local military authority. Their designs and drawings for the structural work were then sent to the Air Ministry Works Area Headquarters for the preparation of detailed drawings to be used by the contractors who were to carry out the work.

When the threat of invasion lessened in 1941, the location of airfield defences was considered a priority second only to the runway layout and above the requirements for accommodation and emphasis was placed on all-round defence, with priority given to establishing defended localities to protect key elements of the airfield. In July 1941, a General Defence Strategy was agreed which placed all airfields in one of three classes depending on location and importance, from Class 1 with the greatest provision for pillboxes, modified buildings, rifle pits etc, to Class 3, which frequently ended up with only rifles points and Dannert wire (coiled barbed wire which could be extended concertina-like to form a barrier to impede the movement of hostile troops).

Many if not most of the airfields constructed from now on were equipped with a Battle headquarters (referred to as "Emergency Control Bunkers" by the US Army Air Forces) from which the defence of the aerodrome could be co-ordinated. BHQs were frequently built on high ground, at times concealed in a hedge or close to farm buildings; some were built in the vicinity of the Watch Office (control tower). Like other types of defence work, BHQs were not always included in the airfield site plans as they were sited in agreement with the local Army authority, taking into account terrain and camouflage.

Several variants existed, with the most common having been the type constructed to the Air Ministry drawing number 11008/41. It comprised an underground structure consisting of the defence officer's room, a runners' room (a member of the personnel who would have acted as a messenger in case the telephone communication was cut), a toilet, and an observation room (measuring 1.80 x 1.80 metres), the floor level of which was raised to about 0.90m (3ft) above the other rooms and accessible via a few concrete steps. The only part of the structure visible from aboveground was the observation room's bombproof concrete cupola which had observation apertures all the way around. The whole building was approximately seven metres (20ft) long and 2.50 metres (8ft) wide, with a flight of brick steps at one end for access.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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Grid Square
TF8524, 33 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Thursday, 6 November, 2014   (more nearby)
Thursday, 6 November, 2014
Geographical Context
Farm, Fishery, Market Gardening  Defence, Military 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 8565 2465 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:47.2490N 0:45.0961E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 8558 2463
View Direction
East-northeast (about 67 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph
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