Wartime Bunker Unearthed

WWII Bunker, BursledonEngineers have uncovered a World War II bunker, said to be  of “national significance”, while digging a trench on the former airfield site at Hamble.

The bunker was found on land behind Hamble Lane by engineers from contractor 4Delivery who were laying a new sewer for Southern Water.

During World War 2, Hamble’s North Airfield was mainly used as a base for repairing Spitfires, though the airfield also handled some much larger aircraft, including the B17 Flying Fortress. These larger aircraft were also repaired and modified locally, with one B17 notoriously becoming stuck in the mud in January 1943, partially blocking Hamble Lane, having recently been fitted with some top-secret submarine detection equipment…

Hamble was also home to one of the Air Transport Auxillary‘s ‘ferry pools’, civilian pilots who transported these repaired & modified aircraft around the country, to & from their squadron bases. The ATA ferry pool at Hamble was exclusively comprised of female pilots and had a female commanding Officer, Margaret Gore.

Hamble North Airfield [n.b. there was formerly a South Airfield] was thus of strategic importance and played an important role in the war effort. As such, it was a target for the Luftwaffe. The newly re-discovered bunker is thought to have been the HQ used to co-ordinate the airfield’s defence during an attack.

Still excited by the discovery, 4Delivery Site Manager Mike Homer said:

“At first we thought it was just a piece of concrete or a boulder but as we kept digging, we realised it was something much bigger. We were fascinated to discover it was a bunker.”

Having made the discovery, the 4Delivery team contacted Archaeology South-East, members of which were already working elsewhere on the site.

Entrance to the Bursledon

Entrance to the Bunker

On closer inspection, they found it to be a red-brick bunker which had a concrete roof and steps and probably had five rooms including a messenger’s and runner’s room, a defence officer’s room, an observation room and a toilet.

The layout would probably have allowed the local defence officer a clear 360-degree view through a slit in an observation turret which had been removed when the structure was decommissioned after the war.

Still inside was evidence of light fixtures and fittings as well as coat hooks and remains of an iron ladder which would have been used as an escape route to the surface.

Inside the Bursledon Bunker

Inside the Bunker

Archaeology South-East’s report concluded:

“The structure provides an interesting example of an airfield battle headquarters and is probably, therefore, of local and national significance.”

The bunker has been left in-situ and plotted for future reference. The site has been carefully covered back over and the pipeline, which follows a route that is agreed with Hampshire County Council,  has been diverted around the bunker.

A full report on all the archaeological findings along the pipeline route will be published by Archaeology South-East in due course.

The pipeline is part of a £3.4 million scheme to construct a new 3.5km sewer from the Bursledon Wastewater Treatment Works in Hamble Lane to the School Lane Pumping Station in Hamble.  Wastewater will then be pumped to Peel Common Wastewater Treatment Works in Fareham and the Bursledon treatment works will be taken out of service.

We have a Hampshire at War DVD – which features many local World War II sites – to give away to one lucky reader!

Details in story here

Ray Turner

Formerly a Civil-Servant and IT Specialist at ONS, Ray is now semi-retired and spare-time self-employed. He contributes to Eastleigh News on a voluntary basis and is also an administrator for the site. 

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  15 comments for “Wartime Bunker Unearthed

  1. October 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Cool. I’ve got an WW2 Anderson shelter in my garden in Eastleigh. These things were built to last.

  2. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    October 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Wow! Someone ought to do a DVD of Hampshire’s wartime history!

  3. October 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    The History of World War 2 never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I’ve must have learned it all by now, something else pops up to surprise me…

  4. John Renard
    October 8, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks for an interesting article. A shame they have covered it over again.
    Pity about the glaring grammatical error: “The ATA ferry pool at Hamble was exclusively comprised of female pilots.”
    Comprised of?? Tut-tut! Very bad grammar. (Such things are important to miserable old pedants like me!)

    • October 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Fair point John.
      I also think its a shame the Bunker has been covered over, though that might be the best plan for the time being.

      Perhaps, now that we know it is there, somebody could look into ways of turning it into a historical monument and opening it up to the public. Once the plan and (Lottery?) funding is in place, unearth it again…?

      • Pete Stewart
        October 8, 2013 at 10:46 pm

        Ray, you are too generous.

        John does NOT make a “fair point”.

        There is no grammatical error in using “comprised of”, which dates back centuries in spoken English.

        The Oxford English Dictionary quotes it in print from 1874 (“Art of Paper Making”, ii/10).

        The Daily Telegraph, 17th July, 1928 (10/7) uses it, as do other sources.

        So John, to qualify as a REAL miserable old pedant, we demand facts, not factoids.

        • October 8, 2013 at 10:50 pm

          Thanks Pete, but I’ll leave you & John to argue that one out. I’m happy with the words wot I wrote…

        • John Renard
          October 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

          Pete, we could argue this one until the cows come home and still find authorities to support either viewpoint.
          All I would add is that (a) a usage does not become grammatically correct simply because it is used (even by a Daily Telegraph hack!); and (b) because it is increasingly being used, albeit incorrectly, ‘comprised of’ will eventually become acceptable. That is how our rich English language evolves.
          And now I will bow out and let further Comments be about the bunker story.
          (Hey, I began a sentence with ‘And’! My old English teacher will be turning in his grave . . . )

          • Pete Stewart
            October 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm

            John.

            It is only cobweb-covered grammarians in their “definitive” (but always obsolete) grammars, who would argue that long established English usage could ever be somehow “incorrect”.

            BTW “comprised of” has been accepted English usage for at least 150 years. Have you not heard it with your own ears?

            • Pete Stewart
              October 10, 2013 at 9:57 pm

              John,

              My apologies. I was referring to the grammarians who actually write those grammars, not to your good self.

              • John Renard
                October 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm

                No problem, Pete. I hadn’t read your post anyway – I have been fully occupied trying to get rid of these damned cobwebs . . .

  5. October 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

    For those interested in these things.
    The bunker is the Airfield Battle Headquarters, it was built to coordinate the defences of the airfield in the event of an invasion by hostile forces.
    The bunker has 5 room, WC, Runners room, PBX (private branch exchange), defence officers office and observation room.
    The observation room would of had a thick concrete cupola on top and slits all around to give a 360 deg view of the airfield.
    The bunker type is a 11008/41, the first 5 numbers are the drawing number (IE bunker type) and the last 2 are the date when it was drawn up.

    if you would like to know more please visit
    http://www.battlehq.info

    Thanks Mike tucknott

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      October 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Thanks for the interesting info and the link to the website!

  6. Graham Hunter
    October 9, 2013 at 11:56 am

    This is facinating. I do hope this bit of WWII history can be preserved and even be made open to the public.
    It is a piece of local history that looks from the pictures to have been like a time capsule of WWII history.

    I seem to recall a few years ago Pipe Bombs were searched for and ‘IF’ found dug up on old WWII airfields, including Hamble, Lee on Solent, and HMS Raven (Southampton Airport). I am sure Hamble has no more on site!
    These bombs and their dummies were laid I believe to be a deterent in case of German invasion to make the airfield unusable to the Luftwaffe.

  7. October 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Er, thanks Graham.

    Then there were the Mustard Gas shells at Weston, buried on the site of the old Royal Navy Stores. All gone now, but a concern at the time…

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