Institute of Archaeology

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ASE investigate WWII heritage in Hampshire

29 October 2013

ASE recording a rare WWII bunker in Hampshire

A team from Archaeology South-East (ASE) have recorded a rare World War II bunker found on the site of a former airfield in Hampshire.

The bunker is thought to have been a 'battle headquarters' used during co-ordination of the airfield’s defence during an attack. The bunker was discovered by engineers who were laying a new water main for Southern Water across Hamble North airfield.  The engineers contacted archaeologists from Archaeology South-East who were already working elsewhere on the site.

ASE recorded a sub-terra red-brick structure with a reinforced concrete roof and concrete steps. Although it was not possible to enter the structure for safety reasons, it was possible to see into the structure and view a long corridor/passageway with at least two adjoining rooms (possibly a Messengers and Runner’s Room and Defence Officer’s Room) and a small, possibly enclosed room or cupboard at the end.

ASE recording a rare WWII bunker in Hampshire

Still surviving within the structure were green light fixtures and fittings and associated conduits as well as 8 coat hooks on a corridor wall. The partial remains of an iron ladder (perhaps for an escape route leading to the surface) were found within the rubble infill by the northeast access, as well as within the backfill of a sub-square void through the concrete (perhaps another escape route which would have been covered with a hatch) to the west. 

A handbook compiled by the Defence of Britain Project, illustrates a comparable structure unique to airfield defences (CBA 1996, 125), which it calls the Battle Headquarters:

  • The Battle HQ’s role was the coordination of an airfield’s defence. The building was only intended to be occupied during an attack”. 

The report, written by ASE Archaeologist, Kathryn Grant, concludes:

  • The structure provides an interesting example of an airfield Battle Headquarters and is probably, therefore, of local and national significance, particularly in light of the Defence of Britain Project.

The bunker has been left in-situ. A full report on all the archaeological findings along the pipeline route will be published by Archaeology South-East in due course.

Reference

  • CBA  1996. 20th Century Defences in Britain – An Introductory Guide. Handbook of the Defence of Britain Project (Practical Handbook 12) – Bernard Lowry (ed.). Council for British Archaeology, York

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