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Military remains in the Somerset Levels

Somerset ALSF locationAs part of the Somerset ALSF NMP Project remains from more recent times such as the Second World War have been examined with some interesting results.

At Westonzoyland airfield it has been possible to follow the development of the site during the Second World War using information from a sequence of RAF aerial photographs from 1942 onwards.  Two main phases were observed: the layout of the airfield in 1942 and its reconstruction after 1943.  Westonzoyland airfield was first used in 1926 and the site was finally closed in 1958.

Westonzoyland airfield 1942 (RAF FNO/37 5008)

The layout of Westonzoyland Airfield mapped from the 1942 aerial photographs was smaller in size than its post 1943 layout and had grass runways.  Imitation field boundaries were painted over the centre of the airfield in order to camouflage it from the air.  The main technical buildings were in the north western corner arranged in a semi-circular arc with a second technical area in the south.  A number of anti-aircraft installations, including a searchlight battery, were located around the airfield surrounded by barbed wire.  Aircraft are visible on the aerial photographs dispersed around the perimeter of the airfield for safety, possibly Lysanders, although Masters, Martinets and Mustangs were also used here up to 1942.

The airfield was enlarged and improved in 1943 and these improvements are visible on aerial photographs of the late 1940s.  Main and subsidiary runways have replaced the grass ones and hard standings where aircraft could be parked are located around the perimeter of the airfield.  The main technical area is still in the north-west corner but the southern technical area has now moved to the south-east.  An incendiary bomb store is located in the extreme north east of the airfield.

Westonzoyland airfield 1947 (RAF CPE/UK/1944 2053)

Elements of the pre-1943 airfield layout can be seen as cropmarks on aerial photographs of the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s.  The camouflage pattern of painted field boundaries and many of the roads and trackways are visible as cropmarks, the buried structures or paint having caused the grass to be parched on the surface.  Two dotted lines of cropmarks indicate that the base of the hangar in the pre-1943 southern technical area has been broken up with the rubble left in piles.

NMP map of Westonzoyland airfield

The images used on this page are copyright English Heritage unless specified otherwise. For further details of any photographs or other images and for copies of these, or the plans and reports related to the project please contact the NMR English Heritage's public archive.

For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Aerial Survey team please contact us by email via the link above.

CONTACT

Aerial Survey - Swindon
Heritage Protection Department

Supported by

This project was carried out by staff from

Somerset County Council Historic Environment Service