Monument record RMS 042 - Second World War "civil starfish" and "Civil QL" bombing decoys

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The site of a Second World War bombing decoy in the Ramsholt and Shottisham parishes is known from historic aerial photographs. More recent aerial photography indicates that the control building still survives at least partially intact.


Grid reference Centred TM 31433 42885 (710m by 471m)
Map sheet TM34SW


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

A World War II bombing decoy can be seen as a number of structures and earthworks on photographs taken in 1944 and 1945, with the actual decoy centred on TM 31264274 and the operations post centred on TM 31784306. The decoy site consists of a number of groups of baskets surrounded by fire-break trenches with a track leading north-west from the decoy to the operations shelter and its associated features. The electrical wiring for the decoy also probably rang along the line of the track. (S1) (S2) Documentary sources show that this site was located as a decoy for Ipswich and combined two types of decoy, a Civil Starfish (SF) decoy which was meant to replicate the incendiary fires that are created during a bombing raid and a Civilian QL decoy which was meant to represent the dimmed light that would be visible from a city at night. (S3) A structure visible on photographs taken in the 1970s may be the remains of one of the buildings from where the decoys were operated. (S4)
A Second World War bombing decoy site at Shottisham. It was built in early 1941 as a 'Permanent Starfish' site to deflect enemy bombing from the town of Ipswich. By September 1941 a 'QL' decoy was incorporated into the site as part of the 'C-series' of civil decoys to protect the Ransome, Sims and Jeffries factory in Ipswich. An agricultural machinery manufacturer, the company contributed to the production of aircraft and armaments during the Second World War. 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 simulated railway marshalling yard lights and factory lighting to reconstruct the workshops. The site is referenced as being in use until 1943. Aerial photography from 1971 shows a control building covered by an earthen mound located at TM 3178 4310 in good condition, with its south-facing entrance unblocked and fronted by a blast wall. Photography from 1948 shows that an ancillary building was located 5-10 metres south of the control building, but this has since been destroyed. The control building would have housed an operations room and provided the decoy crew with shelter (S5).

April 2016. Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme.
The control building for the Second World War bombing decoy, described above, is still visible at TM 3177 4311 on aerial photographs taken in 2007 (S6) and, less clearly, 2011 (S7). There is a good probability that this element of the site still survives at least partially intact.
S. Tremlett (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 28th April 2016.

The possible jetty formerly recorded under this number can now be found under RMS 063.

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <S1> Photograph: USAAF. USAAF Air Photograph. NMR US/7PH/GP/LOC132 5003-5004 30-DEC-1943.
  • <S2> Photograph: RAF. Air Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/759 2033-2034 02-SEP-1945.
  • <S3> Monograph: Dobinson, C.. 2000. Fields of Deception: Britain's Bombing Decoys of World War II. pp 266, 282.
  • <S4> Photograph: OS, AP. NMR OS/71156 090 02-MAY-1971.
  • <S5> Index: English Heritage. Pastscape.
  • <S6> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 03-AUG-2007 ACCESSED 28-APR-2016 (Digital).
  • <S7> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 25-MAY-2011 ACCESSED 28-APR-2016 (Digital).

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jun 9 2016 3:14PM

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