This is a bleak, damp, stinking, lonely ROC Post in a compound that’s slowly claiming it back, it’s been closed for 42 years so that shouldn’t be such a surprise. The only remaining items are a single bed and the mounting plate for the BPI.
RAF Deenethorpe was constructed in 1943 and was allocated to the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force. It was assigned USAAF designation Station 128. The 401st Bombardment Group (Heavy) were stationed here. They operated chiefly against strategic targets, bombing industries, submarine facilities, shipyards, missile sites, marshalling yards, and airfields; beginning in October 1944, concentrated on oil reserves. The Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for striking telling blows against German aircraft production on 11 January and 20 February 1944.
After the war, Deenethorpe was used as a RAF Recruiting Center, and later for several years the control tower was used as a lookout post by the local Royal Observer Corps. It was finally sold in 1963 and largely returned to agriculture. Part of the old main runway is now used as a private airstrip.
Its possible this site won’t be around much longer as the Deenthorpe Control Tower has been demolished and the whole site is being taken back by nature. Inside the post was very untidy but many original items remain, however lots of items have sadly been removed.
Yet another sad example of a ROC Post being stripped bare
The last 7 days have been a bit of a Bunker Fest and it’s time for a little rest. Last Thursday my explorer buddy and I visited six ROC Posts and a Battle HQ and then this week I have hit up something every single night on the way home (actually there was 2 ROC Posts on Wednesday night..).
Last night I promised myself I would go straight home but I ended up making a short diversion and hitting up a really neat Battle HQ and a cracking Cantilevered ‘Mushroom’ Pillbox instead and found a whole pile more stuff to check out. It’s not Cold War so not really my MO but the place has an interesting vibe about it….watch this space.
Total for this weeks explores:
10 ROC Posts 2 Battle HQ’s 1 Mushroom Pillbox
Another neat thing this week has been a new kit bag, normally I use a rucksack but these are a pain in the ass in confined spaces like tunnels and access shafts and I’ve been wanting something different. I found what I was looking for in the shape of a Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger. The theory with the Gearslinger series is a single shoulder backpack that can be rotated to the front of the body without removing it as well as providing access to all the compartments, perfect for the challenges of exploring.
Its been tried out in various bunkers and underground locations and I love it 🙂
It’s seriously been burned out for several years now and there are definate signs of drug use (home made bongs etc) and serious partying in this post. Amongst the carnage underground the cupboard still exists but the doors have been torn off, the desk is still fixed to the wall and miscellaneous items such as grease are scattered about, there were also a couple of battery boxes in one corner.
Nearly all of the polystyrene tiles have melted in the heat but it does look like perhaps the fire burnt itself out due to lack of oxygen?
This ROC Post has declined steadlily over the years, the top of the vents have been off for a long while and some time ago an attempt to chop away at the concrete on top of the hatch has left a nasty mess.
Below ground many items seem to have been stolen, even since April of this year, sadly there will be nothing left in this post soon. We visited this post as part of an objective to take in all three of the Bedford 10 Cluster with Sutton Bassett 11 and Clipston 12 making up the rest of the cluster.
This wasn’t the main objective of the day (a list of ROC Posts were) and I’m not big on WW2 Defences but it would have been rude to drive past this so we stopped for a quick nosey.
Site: RAF Market Harborough.
Opened – 1943 Closed – 1947
Units stationed at RAF Market Harborough:
No 1683 (Bomber) Defence Training Flt (3 Feb – 1 Aug 1944) No 92 Group (1944) No 26 Air Crew Holding Unit (21 Aug 1945 – 18 Sep 1946) No 113 Storage Sub-site, No 273 Maintenance Unit (Feb 1946 – 5 Oct 1949)
RAF Market Harborough was mainly used as an Operational Training Unit throughout it’s active days with No. 14 OTU flying Vickers Wellingtons, Airspeed AS.10 Oxfords, Hawker Hurricanes and some Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks from No.1683 Bomber Defence Training Flight.
Today very little of the main airfield survives as a lot of the site has now been demolished to make way for a Business Park.
The control tower and all of the technical site was demolished to make way for HMP Gartree which opened in 1965.
The Battle Headquarters is a TYPE 11008/41, the room layout is pretty much the same in all of these and this has the usual OP, Main Office, PBX Room, Messenger Room and Toilet.
Some internal fittings remain and despite the farmers attempt at burying the HQ all rooms are still accessible, as are the hatches, albeit with some ‘interesting’ floor levels. The main Escape Hatch still has an intact ladder with a clear entry to the main rooms and the other escape hatch is also still open but partially buried. The wooden door to the Elsan Chemical toilet is still in place too.
Despite evidence of some flooding the entire Battle HQ was damp but free of standing water.
The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a civil defence organisation operating in the United Kingdom between 29 October 1925 and 31 December 1995, when the Corps’ civilian volunteers were stood down.Comprised mainly of civilian spare-time volunteers, ROC personnel wore a Royal Air Force (RAF) style uniform and latterly came under the administrative control of RAF Strike Command and the operational control of the Home Office.
Originally there were some 200 observation posts throughout the country and their role was to provide visual detection, identification, tracking and reporting of aircraft over Great Britain during the World Wars. Early Observation Posts were often crude and un-fortified but during the war many were rebuilt from brick and had sandbag defences.
On 12 May 1945 when the German Luftwaffe had ceased combat operations the ROC stood down, however it wasn’t long before the threat of Cold War arose and the ROC were reinstated.
In 1957, the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO) was established under Home Office control to provide essential information about impending nuclear attacks to both civilian and military authorities.So that the ROC could work with the new type of threat the old monitoring posts were replaced with something that had protection from nuclear blasts.
Between 1958 and 1968 a countrywide building programme resulted in a network of 1,563 underground monitoring posts, approximately eight miles apart, distributed throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, at an estimated cost of almost £5,000 each.The bunkers were built by digging a 25 feet deep hole, placing a reinforced concrete bunker in the hole and then burying it under compacted soil.A single hatch to the surface was the only entrance/exit with a 20 ft vertical ladder that lead to an underground chamber 7ft x 16ft x 7ft high.Posts were typically grouped together in threes or sometimes four, to form a cluster. One post in each cluster was a master post and could communicate directly back to ROC Control using a Tele-Talk device connected to ROC Group HQ and the Carrier Warning Receiver.
No telephones were provided. Each ROC Post was manned by 2 to 3 people who ate and slept in very primitive conditions as there was no electricity or running water in the bunkers, toilet facilities were by way of an Elsan Chemical Toilet located at one end of the bunker.
The ROC Post had a variety of external equipment fitted as standard:Bomb Power Indicator (BPI) – This would register the pressure wave from a nuclear explosion passing over it and the results were read on a dial inside the ROC Post.
Ground Zero Indicator (GZI)– Basically a crude pinhole camera that could ‘photograph’ the fireball of a nuclear explosion.Radiac Meter – Used to count radioactive particles Fixed Survey Meter (FSM)– Replaced the Radiac Meters and used to detect nuclear fallout. (The FSM could be safely operated without leaving the bunker)Cross section of a ROC Post
After bomb a detonation, the direction, elevation and spot size of the fireball and reading of the pressure wave on the BPI would be passed to ROC Group HQ using the Tele-Talk unit or Radio. Group HQ would use the direction information from two or more posts to determine the exact point of detonation by using triangulation.
The end of the cold war and advances in technology eventually brought the end of the ROC and the monitoring post and group control personnel were stood down on 30 September 1991.
Amazingly hundreds and hundreds of these ROC Posts still exist (although some have been demolished) and even more amazing is that many still have the original equipment and supplies intact inside, it seems many ROC volunteers just climbed up the hatch and left everything where it was. Sadly there are also many existing ROC Posts that have been burnt out or heavily vandalised by kids.
A brighter end to this story is the emergence of ROC posts being restored for posterity, perhaps the most famous of these is 23 Post Skelmorlie in Ayrshire, Scotland. 23 Post has been totally restored and is open as a museum on certain days in the year
This is Sutton Bassett Post 11, part of the Bedford 10 Cluster.
10 Post (Cold Overton) was the Master Post with Sutton Bassett 11 and Clipston 12 making up the cluster.