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Following on last week’s article about Starfish Decoy SF8A - the “fake” town built in Richmond Park during WW2 to attract Luftwaffe bombers away from London - I have located some interesting photographs taken at the time.

The first, taken on 22nd April 1944, is an aerial photograph of SF8A, the decoy in Richmond Park. The photograph is aligned with north to the top of the picture. On the left hand side of the photograph, just out of shot, is the Star and Garter Home, and in the top left hand corner is Sheen Gate and the adjacent cemetery.

Image - STARFISH_Starfish-Map

The large building in the middle of the right hand side is White Lodge, then a private residence but now the home of the Royal Ballet. Starfish site SF8A is in the bottom right hand corner below the straight track which runs westwards away from White Lodge. The large dark rectangles next to SF8A in the bottom right hand corner are Pen Ponds which were drained during the war to prevent them being used as navigational aids by enemy aircraft.

If you follow the road running north from the White Lodge towards Roehampton Gate you can see on the very edge of the photograph two small circles which mark a battery of heavy anti-aircraft guns.

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An anonymous Starfish Site
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Starfish Basket fire
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Boiling oil fire

The other photographs show an unidentified Starfish site and two different types of Starfish fire - the Basket and the explosive Boiling Oil fire, all taken in daylight. The Starfish decoys were intended to create an illusion of a town or city after a night-time bombing attack. Starfish was code for S.F = Special Fires.

– from Martyn Day

Credit: All the photographs come from “Fields of Deception” by Colin Dobinson, an English Heritage publication covering the entire history of Britain’s wartime bombing decoys