Fascinating Somerset Facts

Find out how the Second World Wars Operation Star Fish confused the Luftwaffe

13 Mar 2021

Find out how the Second World Wars Operation Star Fish confused the Luftwaffe


During the Second World War, Black Down, Mendips, Somerset was used as a bombing decoy site, part of a national programme to decoy German bombers away from towns and cities by using special effects to simulate Bristol at night. Bomb-proof bunkers housed generators and control switches enabling the RAF crew staffing the site to simulate an inadequately blacked-out city.

At first the site was fitted with decoy lighting. The lighting was concentrated in six clusters corresponding to six target sites in Bristol, including Canon’s Marsh and Temple Meads Station. In reality, the decoy was about 16 miles from Bristol, spread across Black Down between Tynings Farm and Burrington Combe.

Soon after, as the German bombing techniques changed, fires fuelled by creosote were used to simulate the incendiary bombs dropped to mark the target for further waves of bombers. These special fires were given the codename Starfish. Black Down was one of 12 Starfish sites around Bristol and one of 800 nationwide.

All that remains to be seen today are three bunkers, near the Tynings Farm entrance to Black Down.

At the south entrance lie the remains of a Z Battery, a Second World War anti-aircraft rocket launching site, which provided anti-aircraft gunfire, adding to the authenticity of the decoy town.

For more on Somerset's incredible history and heritage go to our interactive E Book.  

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