Record Details

NHER Number:13608
Type of record:Monument
Name:Surlingham decoy airfield/Bramerton bombing decoy


This is the site of Surlingham or Rockland St Mary decoy airfield, used during World War Two for diverting raids on Norwich and Stoke aerials. According to local informants, dummy aeroplanes were placed on the airfield for this purpose. The airfield extended into Bramerton parish to the south, and incorporated a Starfish to imitate Thorpe railway station with lights aligned along the 'rails'. This part of the decoy was known simply as ‘Bramerton’ and it was bombed at least ten times during the summer of 1942 alone. Little remains of the airfield/decoy now, although a concrete bunker was still standing when the site was visited in 1977 and is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1996.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 30 05
Map Sheet:TG30NW

Full description

Surlingham or Rockland St Mary decoy airfield, for diverting raids on Norwich and Stoke Aerials.
Concrete bunker remained in 1977, and Cross Lane is locally called Air Force Lane.
Information from Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, 1977.

Further information from [1] suggests that this may have extended much further south, even as far as Bramerton parish, incorporating a Starfish to imitate Thorpe railway station with lights aligned along the 'rails'. Extended boundary not marked on map as details not clear.
E. Rose (NAU) 28 February 1986.

Decoy was known as Bramerton.
A starfish site: SF43(6), operated May 1942-May 1943.
1943. Decoy type QL series C (C33(6)) added.
At least ten high explosive bombs dropped on site in Summer 1942 alone.
Imitated industrial Norwich.
Information from [1] via D. Edwards (NAU).

However [2] states that there are local memories of dummy aircraft there, suggesting that it began as a decoy airfield.
E. Rose (NAU) 24 September 1991

Photographs and anecdotes in (S1) (copy in Norfolk General file).

1996. Metal detecting find.
Medieval strap end made from folded sheet closed by two rivets at open end. Single-line grooved border surrounds a rectangular panel of decoration - the motif is unclear but it appears to be a reserved capital letter on a cross-hatched ground.
W. Milligan (NCM) 29 November 1996.

C Series (civil) decoy, type QL. Also called `Bramerton'.
Permanent starfish site.
D. Gurney (NLA) 28 January 1997.

The central grid reference of this site has been altered from TG 3060 0552 to TG 3065 0559 to include the location of the bunker.

June 2007. Norfolk NMP.
A World War Two bunker is visible on aerial photographs to the immediate west of Cross Lane, Surlingham (S3-S4). The earthen covered structure is located at TG 3073 0585 and measures 30m by 15m. A blast wall protected entrance is visible to the south. The bunker is still surviving in 1996 (S4). No evidence of the decoy airfield and Starfish site was identified on the earliest available aerial photographs of the site (April 1946). It is likely that all trace had been removed prior to the land being returned back to agricultural usage after the war.
S. Massey (NMP), 28 June 2007.

Monument Types

  • BOMBING DECOY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BUNKER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • UNDERGROUND STRUCTURE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds

  • STRAP FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S1>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. The men who fooled the Luftwaffe. 6 November.
<S2>Serial: Dobinson, C.S.. 1996. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England.. Vol III, pp 128, 147.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1992. OS/92344 294-6 12-JUN-1992 (NMR).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1990. OS/96247 230 31-JUL-1990 (NMR).

Related records - none

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