19 Nov 2014
Our speaker for November was SMHS Member Adrian Hills. His talk, Plane Deception: Fooling the German Bombers was met with keen anticipation as it had been scheduled for last year's programme but was adjourned as Adrian suffered an accident whilst out cycling. SMHS is delighted to have Adrian back on form.
Adrian moved to Hailsham in 1999 and soon became aware that local company, Green Brothers, an established rope-maker, had become involved in making dummy Hurricanes during WW2. This went on to inspire him to look into the Allied attempts to fool enemy bombers.
Colonel John Turner had been involved in the expansion of the RAF; he was a pilot and knew what airfields looked like from both the air and on the ground. He was recently retired prior to WW2 and came out of retirement to oversee the deception plan.
Sites designed to confuse daytime bombers were known as K-sites. These were frequently satellite airfields near the location of the target airfield. Dummy planes were constructed from canvas and wood, supported on trestles; frequently being repositioned to fool reconnaissance flights. Dug-outs and false roads were laid and bonfires lit when the site was being bombed, to replicate damage occurring.
Real planes flew in now and then to give the impression that the airfield was in use. However, in April 1941 a map found in a downed German bomber was discovered, detailing the all K-sites and they quickly fell out of use.
Sites designed to confuse night-time bombers were known as Q-sites, utilising either fire (QF) or lighting (QL). QF sites often simulated a town that had been bombed drawing in the later waves of bombers, thus saving the target town. Local QL sites were Cuckmere Haven, decoy for Newhaven and Alciston for Lewes. Q-sites were highly successful and continued in use until Axis attention was drawn by Operation Barbarossa and Allied air superiority brought about the winding down of the decoy sites.
Deception plans were exercised again in the build up to the Allied invasion of France, and following D-day, beach exits were decoyed to protect the Allies from German bombers. It is estimated that visual bombing was reduced by 50% by D-Day + 1½ due to the success of the decoys.
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