I need your help with something.....It has been bugging me for a few weeks now.
I saw a bunker featured on Channel 4's "Time Team" a few weeks ago and they thought it might be connected with the Aux Units. Now with the kind support of Wessex Archaeology I have featured it on our site.
Please have a good look here and help if you can, even if it is to rule it out.
I'm totally convinced that this building has nothing to do with the Aux-Unit. An Operational Base would never have been entered down some steps, nor be partly above ground. The entry would have been totally camouflaged at ground level above a vertical entry shaft, entry to the base would also have been hidden so to the untrained eye, it would just appear to be a vertical shaft and, there would always have been an emergency exit, also camouflaged at its outlet. The switch gear at Shooters Hill would I feel be coms. to the guns or observation posts somewhere nearby. The man who will be able to tell us about this is Alistair on 01502 710149.
I hope this is of use.
I remember watching this episode and did not think the site was connected with the Special Duties Section (SDS) of the Aux Units.
Having visited three 'Zero Stations', one in near original condition, and the wiring configuration is totally different in the Shooter Hill bunker.
It reminds me more of a communications bunker in Sussex that has a couple of rooms with an entrance either end, disguised but not concealed in the way a SDS hideout would have been.
We have a member of the Sussex Military History Society who is doing some sterling work researching into the war diaries that were written throughout the war in local areas. They are very detailed and contain dates confirming when structures were built and their purpose etc.
These are located within the National Archives, accessible by all.
I guess this would be the place to perhaps clarify the purpose of this structure and gain some information as to its use.
I would suggest a local historian cold task this as a winter project!
Author of 'The Secret Sussex Resistance'
Martin Kender, one of our members adds the following
"I dont think that the Shooters Hill bunker is Auxiliary forces. In fact i doubt that there are any auxiliary forces in that area at all. It is a brisk walk from the gates of Woolwich Arsenal and in the event of invasion would be one of the most intensely occupied places in Britain. I can see no way that it would meet any of the criteria for secrecy and anonymity.
My own thought is that Observer Corps is much more likely, but before we give way to richly speculating someone better placed than I am right now might look at the Borough Council records (which generally record the location of air raid shelters in minute detail since they are an Urban District or Borough responsibility and a call on the local tax payer). I dont know anything about Observer Corps records, but Kew would be a good place to start. Holes in the ground cost money, and money is usually very well accounted for somewhere if you can but find where.
The wiring is interesting. Original wartime wiring would be rubber covered (and perished by now). This has PVC covered twin. So this location has been in use probably into the 1960s. As well as the main fuse, there are three fused circuits, one of which is now unconnected, which suggests that powered fixed equipment was installed at some time. Portable equipment would have been plugged into the sockets on the board.
The red bulb is also interesting. Red lights are used for people who need clear sight at night, because it doesn't bleach the visual purple in the eyes which is essential for night vision like white light does. So red illumination allows near normal vision inside the room and instant night vision outside it.
I can't see any of this being consistent with an OB. It feels more like a training centre for Observer Corps or perhaps an Air Training Corps or something else where people wanted to look at a night sky. A live post would in my opinion have been better hidden.
I did watch the Time Team programme covering the Shooters Hill bunker and at the time did not think it was connected with the Auxiliary Units.
Having seen four 'Zero Stations', three in Sussex and one in Kent, I see no resemblance.
One of the sites I visited had nearly all the original wiring in place. The wiring in the Shooters Hill site was totally different, as is the whole design of the bunker.
I suspect it was designed for the purpose of housing communication equipment and could have acted as a command bunker.
The underground aspect was for protection rather than trying to keep it secret.
I hope this is of use to you.
Author of 'The Secret Sussex Resistance'
From first seeing this on Time Team I never thought it was ever related to Auxunits or to the SDS. Its residential location in amongst a group of semi-detached houses, if I recall correctly would almost preclude it from being anything to do with a control centre for light or heavy Anti Aircraft defences, surely such a structure would be built directly with the associated gun emplacements? The possibility of it being a Royal Observer Corps structure is not perhaps a bad guess, but again, these chaps were supposed to be about early warning of raids in areas not so well covered by Radar. Unless I am wrong I would have hoped that early warning of a raid on London would need to be coming a lot sooner than someone having a shufti in the Shooters Hill area. It could of course be a training bunker, but I still always go back to wondering why, even if the house was owned at the time by someone connected officially, it would be built in someones back garden. I still think that its possibly a well to do persons privately built air raid shelter.
Sadly regards Time Team I think perhaps their sensationalist reporting of this site was quite in keeping with the programme - to give it more a 'exciting' and 'secret' label makes the whole discovery more interesting to the viewer than perhaps it really is.
erm my grandfather lived at shooters hill gun emplacement ww2, he was an important person at the arsenal, his wife, a nurse took my father to Ireland, he set up house in the gun emplacement, i believe his secretary served him breakfast in the mornings, if he had to sleep there, i got a feeling he would have had to have had somewhere safe, i got a feeling he was very important to the war effort, and that may be the reason you have a bunker there you cant figure out why, he got a signed Churchill at the end of the war.
grandpa was working on a way to hit german planes
the maths of the trajectory of the planes was too much for much even for him, so he mapped the stars at night position above the arsenal
this took him 2 years
and worked on improving the accuracy and hit rate of the guns
i believe grandpa broke the official secrets act by telling me this, i was 4 so maybe he figured it was not as important to national security...
i doubt he lied, its probably in his p.a.s back garden so she could serve him breakfast without having to go far, she told me that at his funeral and i have no reason to doubt either of them.
i know he lived there though during thew war, and was researching that when i found this, thank god grandmas dead if it is her back garden, she would have killed him, he worked for the arsenal from 14 to 65 th birthdays
This looks far more like a comms bunker. Shooter's hill has been a prominent communications site since before the second world war.Its more likely to be the equivalent of an early GCHQ type site,looking down the Thames valley out to the east. It may even have been an early RADAR piquet post using early mobile RADAR on a truck.See what was used at "Starlight" near HURN , Bournemouth.RADAR in the war was not limited to "Chain Home "ect, but people who worked with it and other things like COLOSSUS were told "NEVER" to talk about it. Hence without currant knowledge, nobody knows that much of our technology was destroyed at the end of the war, what was not was "Given" to the Americans!