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Lancashire At

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire







Decoy Sites

World War Two Decoys

Beginning in 1940, decoys to confuse the enemy aircraft as to the location of their target were put in place. The decoys were sophisticated and required a lot of manpower. They were also very effective, ensuring that the enemy bombs fell away from military and civilian targets. The decoy system consisted of four types:

1) dummy aerodromes – day ‘K’ sites and night ‘Q’ sites

2)dummy factories and buildings

3) diversionary fires (‘SF’ or ‘Starfish’ sites)

4)simulations of urban lighting (‘QL’ sites)


Urban Decoy Fires- (‘SF’ or ‘Starfish’ sites)

‘SF’ stands for Special Fires, but the name Starfish was also used for these sites. The sites were meant to look like a just bombed site, with fires raging. Presumably enemy aircraft would think that this was the true bombing site and try to hit it as well. It was a sophisticated set up, with fires differing in appearance, intensity and duration. For example fires may differ in their ignition and appearance by burning coal, oil or paraffin. The site itself had an infrastructure that included access roads, firebreak trenches and a means to control the fires remotely, usually from a building.


QL Sites- simulating the lights of towns and cities

These were first introduced in August 1941. They were mainly to deflect bombing away from civilian targets. The sites were placed in clusters to simulate the extent of an area that needed protection and varied from 5 to 30 acres in size. Some were specifically to protect ordnance factories which produced vital munitions for the war effort.

SF and QL sites were frequently found together. One type would be built first and then the second type added soon afterwards. English Heritage considers any substantial surviving remains to be of national importance. Such remains may include a night shelter or control building.

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hambledon hill 60s starfish

Hameldon Hill decoy site - Shown below - on the wonderful Mario Maps (courtesy of Lancashire County Council) in the 1960's. This site has actually been listed as a Scheduled Monument - which is very welcome, but a bit of a surprise as it has less to see than the other sites shown above.  You can just about make out some shapes that made up the decoys - but what exactly they were meant to be.....I guess we had to be flying overhead at night with a plane full of bombs to know.

Left: Colin Dobinson's book Fields of Deception (Methuen Publishing) is an English Heritage publication out in paperback in 2013. It is THE book about "Britain's Bombing Decoys Of The Second World War". An essential and fascinating read. It includes information on the above sites and even photographs of some of them.

Bombs landed in Accrington in June 1940 before the big Blitzes on Manchester, Liverpool and London - read about it on this link: Accrington Observer 20th June 2014

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Crown Point access road
Hambledon hill 3
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These pages, all text and photographs, unless stated, are the copyright of The Brothers B. No reproduction is allowed in any form without prior written permission

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Above and Below: Worsthorne Decoy Site - MORE PHOTOS & INFORMATION HERE

Above and Below - Crown Point, Burnley decoy site


Accrington Sites:

There were five sites set up to protect Accrington, which were secret until the 1970's, and as a result there is a lot of misinformation about them. Plus many are unkown to people. So that when they come across them they have no idea what they are. They are not air raid shelters. They were not to take bombs away from Manchester.


All the sites on this page were to divert bombs away from Accrington - but what was happening in Accrington that they wanted to protect so badly? We believe they are mainly to protect Howard & Burrough's works - which during WW2 was a munitions factory.




Below: Two photos of the nearest decoy site to Accrington near the A56, just off the King's Highway. MORE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION - CLICK HERE

Right: Hameldon Hill decoy site today -

Not a lot to see anymore.




There is a further decoy site associated, near Haslingden Grane. See our page about it HERE


There are other decoy sites locally, to protect other sites such as Preston and Blackburn.

More to come and links to these SOON.

Haslingden Grane Road / Oswaldtwistle Moor Decoy Site - to protect "The Fuse" a munitions factory at Lower Darwen, Blackburn - SEE MORE PHOTOS & INFORMATION HERE

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