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Report - RAF Altons Barnes Battle HQ - possibly

Isiah_Sheepworrier

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
I’d seen references to the Battle HQ at Alton Barnes in Wiltshire in the past, but was only recently able to locate it. I’m still not sure this is actually as battle HQ, though some research points to this structure be more likely one, even though it is much degraded.

RAF Alton Barnes

http://www.devizesheritage.org.uk/alton_barnes_airfield_world_war_two.html

“Alton Barnes was used by the RAF from 1935 to 1945 for flying training including touch and go landing practice and glider training. The airfield was on the site of Brown's Farm and had a mix of concrete taxi ways and a grass runway.

There are some modern pictures of the site on this website. (No there aren’t, it’s a dead link - IS)

Tragedy At Alton Barnes Airfield - 1944
On 25 October 1944 a twin-engine Albermarle bomber V1755 took off from RAF Keevil near Trowbridge with a glider on tow. FltSgt Thomas Newton was the pilot and Sgt John Wilson was his navigator. As the two aircraft approached Alton Barnes, the glider lost sight of the Albermarle and began to overtake it, pulling its tail up to a critical angle. The towrope broke and the glider recovered safely to Alton Barnes airfield. The Albermarle dived into the ground at a 70 degree angle killing both crew members on impact.
On 25 October 1997, fifty-three years to the day, a memorial cairn was dedicated and unveiled at the crash site. Relatives and friends of the crewmen attended, as did Royal Air Force officers from RAF Lyneham, Michael Ancram QC MP, and local residents. The stone was unveiled by the pilot's best friend and the navigator's brother. The ceremony was conducted by the RAF padre, and was concluded by an RAF trumpeter playing "Last Post" and a low-level fly-past by an RAF C130 Hercules.â€


The structure is guarded by three pillboxes along the A361 Devizes Road. They are airfield variants with two entrances. (There are another two at the far side of the site near the Kennet and Avon Canal). These were obviously thrown up in a hurry, as the construction is not up to normal pillbox standards.

This one is on the north side of the road. The facing wall is curved for some reason
pboxn1.jpg


This is one of two on the other side of the road, about eighty yards apart
pboxs1.jpg


The other pillbox on the south side of the road. The HQ lies between these latter two pillboxes
pboxs2.jpg


The underground structure is to the right of the nettles. You can just see the stonework and a boulder than has been pushed into one of the rooms
bhgenview.jpg


Entrance. This is similar to the usual HQ entrances. You could get in, but it might need a ladder and a couple of people to get the debris out of the way
entrance1.jpg


Inside. This was achieved by securing the Lumix TZ10 with the wrist strap and leaning as far down as possible. This is the best shot of the lot. The doorway is about three feet high judging by the number of brick courses. I’ve seen similar in other battlefield HQ’s. The room is only about eight feet by eight though. And I was getting bitten by ants
insiderm1.jpg


The other side. I wonder if there is another entrance buried under this concrete block. Note the boulder behind it
entrance21.jpg


Close up of the boulder. It has been pushed into the hole, obscuring most of what is below
entrance22.jpg


Close up of the hole partially obscured by the boulder. Note the curved concrete edge. If you follow the curve, you would end up with a hole about six foot across
curvededge.jpg


I was wondering about this structure. It doesn’t resemble any Battle HQ I’ve ever seen, though this was only a training field. It crossed my mind that this could be a Picket-Hamilton fort, though the design is not right, plus the hole with the curved edge doesn’t look deep enough. Another possibility would be an Allan-Williams Turret, but again the structure is not right, and in any case why would you put such structures so close to three pillboxes?
Then, after a bit of searching, I came across this. (Scroll down to the bottom pictures).
http://www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/battleHQpage.htm

Could it be that this is another example of this type of Battle HQ?
 

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