Dummy Batteries

Undoubtedly, the enemy became aware of some of the new emergency Coastal Defence batteries and some air raids indicated that they were indeed the target.

GHQ Home Forces accordingly issued instructions for the construction of dummy batteries to try and deceive the enemy. They were to be constructed to look as realistic as possible from the air but not necessarily from the ground, which was recognized as being virtually impossible to achieve.

Deception, as noted by Southern Command was to:

  • Deceive and confuse enemy raiders as to the true location of a genuine battery.
  • Deceive the enemy by making it appear that defences were stronger than in reality.
    • Some basic principles were circulated to the Commands for the construction of dummy batteries:

      • They were not to be nearer than 12,000 yards to existing genuine batteries.
      • They should be sited were the enemy would expect to find a battery, e.g. covering beaches or inlets where tanks and troops could attempt to land from transports.
      • The dummy sites were to be complete with guns, searchlight emplacements, ammunition recesses, Battery Observation Posts and slit trenches etc. Fresh looking tracks and signs of daily activity were to be created.
      • Every attempt was to be made to foster the rumour “that yet another battery is going in”.
        • It was also emphasized that a dummy battery would deceive nobody if it did not look “lived in”. It was suggested that the location for dummy batteries should be chosen so that it was near troops on defence duty and that some of the buildings constructed for the dummy battery could actually be used as quarters for the troops. In such cases proper slit trenches would have to be constructed in the vicinity of the accommodation for protection against air attack, including roofs for protection against machine gun bullets and falling fragments of AA shell.

          Southern Command noted that fibrous plaster sheets nailed on a wooden framework made a very good replica. The memo also emphasized the importance of reconstruction every day life at the site with tracks, roads, slit trenches, tent circles and even derelict cars left on site (which should be moved periodically). The camouflage scheme of the dummy should match that of the genuine battery from which it was attempting to deceive the enemy by causing him to bomb the dummy position.

          Right: Suggested scheme for a dummy battery -
          Southern Command

          In Suffolk, at least two dummy batteries were provided. M Osborne notes that at Pakefield a dummy battery, with telegraph poles for the guns, was built to the north of the Fort. This dummy battery may have been a response to air raids – on 20th Aug 1940 the battery was attacked by three Dornier ‘Flying Pencils’ and on 4th Dec 1940 a single raider dropped four 500lb bombs. Presumably the construction of this dummy would have been along similar lines as suggested by Southern Command.

          The second dummy battery was at Southwold. When the decision was made to move the location of the battery to Gun Hill, it was decided to maintain the original battery position as a dummy. Again wood was used as dummy armament. The vacated accommodation was either to be used as winter quarters for other troops, or if not used, then personnel form the battery were to use the old site for occasional outdoor training to give the semblance of occupation.

          References
          Southwold Fort Record Book, TNA
          Pakefield Fort Record Book, TNA
          GHQ Coastal Artillery, TNA
          Camouflage of Coastal Batteries, TNA
          20th Century Defences in Britain – Suffolk, M Osborne, Concrete publications, 2008

dummy bty

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