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CIVIL BOMBING DECOY C1A

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  OIL 'QF' BOMBING DECOY P9A
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A Second World War bombing decoy site at Sheepway. It was built as part of the 'P-series' of oil decoys to deflect enemy bombing from Avonmouth. It also operated as part of the 'C-series' of civil decoys to protect Bristol Docks. The bombing decoy site, visible as structures within earthwork enclosures, was mapped from aerial photographs taken in 1946. Located on the saltings of St George's Wharf, east of Portishead, the bombing decoy is centred at ST 4962 7749. A standard oil 'QF' decoy site had three clay-lined fuel tanks, oil to which was supplied by buried pipes: a circular oil ring with two 'Starfish' (SF- Special Fires) boiling oil fires attached, an oil crescent and an irregular oil pool. The oil levels in each of the fire decoys were balanced by interconnecting pipes and the decoy was ignited electrically from a remote shelter. Built between October 1940 and August 1941, the bombing decoy consists of two subrectangular enclosures, bounded by an earthwork bank with ditches on either side, to act as sea defences against high tides or flooding. Inside one enclosure was a 20 metres long oil crescent fire and in the other was an 18.5 metres diameter oil ring fire and what appear to be four Starfish boiling oil fires. Connecting the enclosures, two linear oil balancing pipes are visible. At this decoy site, however, there was no evidence of the third irregular oil pool. It seems likely that the decoy was operated remotely from the nearby army camp or more likely the barrage balloon site (ST47 NE128), with evidence of heavy vehicular traffic across the saltings from the army camp to the decoy site in the 1946 air photos. The site is documented as being operated by a six man crew, probably members of No. 927/935 Barrage Balloon Squadron. The bombing decoy site was still visible in aerial photographs taken in 1960. However, aerial photographs taken in 1978 and 1989 show that the site has been destroyed by the construction of Gordano Quay and The Royal Portbury Dock.

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