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WWII - Decoy Airfield - New Down

WWII - Decoy Airfield - New Down

During World War II, decoy airfields, and even decoy towns, were used in England to divert German bombers from the real targets. They included two types, sometimes on the same site:

K: Decoy Airfield.  For daytime use with dummy aircraft, vehicles, buildings, etc.

Q: Decoy Airfield.  For night-time use with dummy flarepath lights, obstruction lights, etc.

There was a Q site on New Down Farm as a decoy away from Worthy Down Airfield (and probably the many others in the area) - used during WWII by the Fleet Air Arm as Royal Naval Air Station Worthy Down (HMS Kestrel). The traitor broadcaster Lord Haw Haw caused much mirth by claiming the Germans had sunk it!

Most of the decoy airfields were in East Anglia as there were so many real airfields there, especially bomber ones. Much of the detail below is with acknowledgments to Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

For other types see Web search of 'Decoy Airfields' comes up with information, and even adding 'Micheldever' produces references but mostly asking rather than informing.

The New Down Farm site appears to have consisted of a control bunker and a dummy flarepath.

The control bunker would typically be as in the diagram below. Power was provided by generators within the bunker.  Bunkers were of similar design to a small Nissan hut, but each one appeared to differ.  Some sites had a bunker above ground whereas on others it was below ground – some sites had both types.  One end, covered by tin sheeting, was the Operations Room with the runway light controls and a telephone connected to the headquarters station - plus basic comforts such as a stove, table, etc.   The other room housed the generator and was covered with steel sheeting or arched, pre-formed concrete. Feed pipes ran to the generator from the fuel tank outside.  

Normally, there were two fifteen-inch ducts for air intake and one for the exhaust.  Between the rooms, there was a passageway that led outside, protected by a blast wall.  There was another exit, sometimes vertical, from the Ops Room. (see floor plan of Ops Room in the scrolling photos)

The dummy flarepath from the air would have looked like a runway flarepath, marked with lights that could be switched on from the bunker.  It has been said that there was an unmanned jeep with a gantry mounting lights in the configuration of aircraft lights which could be run along the flarepath to imitate an aircraft landing.

For the Micheldever Decoy Airfield see Winchester 1:25,000 OS Map (marked copy below, plus a modern Google shot, and a 1940s air photograph mosaic).

The control bunker is at GR 516378 marked as and sited in Sheep Dip, with the flarepath likely to be on the straight track leading west toward Borough Down Farm. Main woods were probably similar but many of the tree belts along hedges were planted for the Rank estate for partridge shooting - if pre-War they could well have been reduced for the decoy airfield.

Approaching from Micheldever village (landowner permission needed) past the Vicarage, go south on New Down Lane. About halfway to the Farm is a wood on the left and a belt of trees on the right. Turn left on the track immediately after (south of) the wood. At the east end of the wood on the south side is a concrete bunker like a large pillbox, sunk in a hollow to avoid the blast, marked as Sheep Dip. There are farm buildings in the area.

(An actual pillbox - a small dot on the map - is on the way there at GR 513388. To locate this pillbox, at 200 yards south of the Vicarage, after the first hedge going to the right, look through the hedge gap half right.  It is in the open field. It looks to have been there to engage any enemy moving north on or near the railway. The air photograph shows a prominent lane going directly across the field to it from Manor Farm).

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