Information for record number MWA9693:
Bretford Lighting Decoy Site

Summary A lighting civil decoy site from the Second World War designed to confuse the Luftwaffer into dropping their bombs in the wrong place. Documentary evidence locates the site 1km northwest of Bretford.
What Is It?  
Type: Bombing Decoy
Period: Unknown
Where Is It?  
Parish: Brandon and Bretford
District: Rugby, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 41 77
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Sites & Monuments Record

Source Number  

1 Bretford lighting bombing decoy site in the QL programme for the Coventry area. It was set up to simulate the lights of a marshalling yard (parallel railway sidings) as a way of protecting Coventry goods yard (at the station?). Lighting decoys were a cheap and successful way of confusing the enemy and were deployed from July 1941. Every site differed, so that they were a sort of theatrical lighting show specifically devised to mimic some local vulnerable point. An associated shelter would have been built to house the generator/s and other equipment.
2 No evidence of any earthworks or structures can be seen on an aerial photo from 1949 at the documented grid reference.
3 A Second World War bombing decoy site at Leamington Hastings. It was built to deflect enemy bombing from the Armstrong Whitworth aircraft factory in Baginton and from the city of Coventry. A 'K-type' day decoy for the Armstrong Whitworth aircraft works was built in 1940 as part of the 'M-series' of industrial decoys. It consisted of a full-scale replica of the factory, complete with aerial tower, dummy aircraft and derelict vehicles. A 'QF' night decoy was later incorporated to supplement the day decoy. It featured a series of controlled fires lit during an air raid to replicate a target struck by bombs. The 'K-type' decoy closed in mid 1942. The site later included a 'QL' decoy for the city of Coventry as part of the 'C-series' of civil decoys. The 'QL' decoy consisted of a grid of muted lights set out to resemble the factories of east Coventry. This decoy is known to have continued use until at least May 1943. From 1941 the site also operated a 'Permanent Starfish' decoy to protect Coventry. This was a larger-scale 'QF' fire decoy, designed to simulate an urban area targeted by bombs. It is unknown when it ceased operation, but was still active in 1943. Aerial photography from 1946 shows that the site had been dismantled and given over to agricultural use. No features of the decoys survive. Further 'Permanent Starfish' bombing decoys for Coventry were located at Hunningham and Bretford. Further 'C-series' decoys for Coventry were located at Eathorpe, Hunningham, Bubbenhall, Astley, Meriden, and Bretford.

Source No: 2
Source Type: Aerial Photograph
Title: SP47NW
Author/originator: RAF
Date: 1949
Page Number:
Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Twentieth Century Fortifications in England
Author/originator: Dobinson, C S
Date: 1996
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: III
Source No: 3
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Premises, Sites etc. within 30 miles of Harrington Museum used for Military Purposes.
Author/originator: John Brace
Date: Before 2017.
Page Number:
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Word or Phrase
technique Documentary Evidence Documentary evidence is another name for written records. The first written records in Britain date back to the Roman period. Documentary evidence can take many different forms, including maps, charters, letters and written accounts. When archaeologists are researching a site, they often start by looking at documentary evidence to see if there are clues that will help them understand what they might find. Documentary evidence can help archaeologists understand sites that are discovered during an excavation, field survey or aerial survey. back
technique Earthwork Earthworks can take the form of banks, ditches and mounds. They are usually created for a specific purpose. A bank, for example, might be the remains of a boundary between two or more fields. Some earthworks may be all that remains of a collapsed building, for example, the grassed-over remains of building foundations.

In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky than during the other seasons, earthworks have larger shadows. From the air, archaeologists are able to see the patterns of the earthworks more easily. Earthworks can sometimes be confusing when viewed at ground level, but from above, the general plan is much clearer.

Archaeologists often carry out an aerial survey or an earthwork survey to help them understand the lumps and bumps they can see on the ground.
technique Aerial Photograph Aerial photographs are taken during an aerial survey, which involves looking at the ground from above. It is usually easier to see cropmarks and earthworks when they are viewed from above. Aerial photographs help archaeologists to record what they see and to identify new sites. There are two kinds of aerial photographs; oblique and vertical. back
monument BOMBING DECOY * A system of lights, controlled fires or dummy constructions, used during WWII to provide a counterfeit target for enemy aircraft. back
monument CIVIL * This is the top term for the class. See CIVIL Class List for narrow terms. back
monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument RAILWAY SIDING * A short piece of track lying parallel to the main railway line enabling trains and trucks to pass one another. Sidings can also be used to park trains which are not in use. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument TOWER * A tall building, either round, square or polygonal in plan, used for a variety of purposes, including defence, as a landmark, for the hanging of bells, industrial functions, etc. Use more specific type where known. back
monument GOODS YARD * A site where merchandise and goods are temporarily stored before or after transportation by rail. back
monument MARSHALLING YARD * A series of parallel railway sidings on which goods wagons originating from different locations can be sorted or re-sorted into new trains before being despatched to their next destination or sorting points. back
monument SHELTER * A structure which protects an area of ground from the weather. back
monument FORTIFICATION * A usually permanent defensive work. Use specific type where known. back
monument INDUSTRIAL * This is the top term for the class. See INDUSTRIAL Class List for narrow terms. back
monument MUSEUM * A building, group of buildings or space within a building, where objects of value such as works of art, antiquities, scientific specimens, or other artefacts are housed and displayed. back
monument AIRCRAFT * An aircraft, either whole or in part. Aircraft often survive as commemorative monuments, gate guardians or crash sites. back
monument BOMBING DECOY SITE * A site comprising a system of lights, controlled fires or dummy constructions, used during WWII to provide a counterfeit target for enemy aircraft. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STRUCTURE * A construction of unknown function, either extant or implied by archaeological evidence. If known, use more specific type. back
monument FACTORY * A building or complex, housing powered machinery and employing a large workforce for manufacturing purposes. Use specific monument type where known. back
monument AIRCRAFT FACTORY * A factory where aircraft are assembled. back
monument TARGET * Any structure or object, used for the purpose of practice shooting by aerial, seaborne or land mounted weapons. back
monument EARTHWORK * A bank or mound of earth used as a rampart or fortification. back
monument WORKS * Usually a complex of buildings for the processing of raw materials. Use specific type where known. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record