Decoy Sites

Decoy Sites were setup to protect key military sites in the area. Close to boldon were Newcastle, Tyne Shipyards and Usworth aerodrome, there fore Boldon had two Decoy sites. Newcastle's decoys were in place by January 1941, they remained in place until February 1944. Attempts had been made during WW1 to deceive the enemy by using decoy airfields and flare paths to divert bombers and exaggerate the number of operational airfields in France. The Boldon decoy was lit on 12 March 1943 and drew around a dozen bombings away from Newcastle.

QL 12i
In October 1939 a decision was taken to commence construction of daytime decoys - "K" sites for all satellite airfields and night decoys "Q" sites for both permanent airfields and satellites. Daytime decoy airfields consisted of tents and dummy aircraft. They were almost all abandoned in 1941. Night decoys consisted of electrical lighting to represent airfield flarepaths. Night decoys called "QF" sites provided mock fires to encourage enemy bombers to attack the decoys rather than the real targets. Night time urban decoys or "QL" sites represented hooded lighting, tram wire flashes, furnaces and marshalling yards.

SF15c - Star Fish
Following an attack on Coventry in November 1940, many major towns were provided with decoys codenamed "Special Fires", "SF" or STARFISH. These sites comprised a variety of effects to represent small fires to major fires. Very little tends to survive of bombing decoys today. The brick/concrete roofed control shelter and generator building may survive. These were sited around 365 metres away from the decoy. At some "QF" and "SF" sites evidence of the firebreak trenches that surrounded some of the displays may survive as earthworks or cropmarks.

A Second World War bombing decoy site at Boldon Colliery was built by January 1941 as a 'Permanent Starfish' site to deflect enemy bombing from the city of Newcastle. Between 1941 and 1942 a 'QL' decoy was incorporated into the site as part of the 'C-series' of civil decoys to protect Tyneside docks. The 'Starfish' decoy operated by lighting a series of controlled fires during an air raid to replicate an urban area targeted by bombs. The 'QL' decoy displayed lighting to simulate the docks. The site is referenced as being in use up until 1943, but could have been used up until early 1945. Aerial photography from 1977 shows a control building at the site in good condition covered by a protective mound of earth. The control building would have housed an operations room and provided the decoy crew with shelter. Boldon Colliery was one of five 'Starfish' sites for Newcastle, and one of nine civil bombing decoys.

Grid Reference:NZ 332 618

<< HER 5522 >> Alan Rudd, 1986, List of 20th century defence sites on Tyneside C. Dobinson, 2000, Fields of Deception - Britain's Bombing Decoys of World War 2 Council For British Archaeology, 1995, Twentieth Century, Defences in Britain - An Introductory Guide Handbook of The Defence of Britain Project, p 63-64