We are very grateful to Dave Cutts for his help to build this collection of photographs. Click on a photograph to see the enlarged picture

carol roc

From 'Memories of Henham". Our thanks to Frances Roberts and Carol Eaton for permission to reproduce the following text.

The above photo is of the Second World War Royal Observer Corps Ground Observation Post, Henham 'How 1". This building located in a field adjacent to the public footpath from Carters Lane to Glebe Meadow was used for the detection and reporting of enemy aircraft during the 2nd World war. Towards the end of the war they were also used for the detection, reporting and tracking of the V1 and V2 rockets launched from France. The information gathered was relayed by telephone to the Area HQ in Colchester. There the whole picture would be built up of the enemy's strength and intentions from information gathered from all parts of Eastern England. With about about 800 of these posts throughout the land they were a vital component of successful counter-attacks against enemy aircraft.

Unusually, the main concrete structure had the comparative luxury of a glazed roof which protected the two observers on duty from the elements. The timber building used for living accommodation and storage. Six observers covered a 24 hour shift. Several villagers remember taking tea to those on duty during the war. One of them remembers watching the V2 rocket which came over Henham and exploded in a tree near the cricket field.

During the 'Cold War', in the 1960s, the threat of nuclear attack was uppermost in the minds of those defending the country. By this time about half of these buildings had been demolished and the sites re-used to build underground bunkers, with all things necessary to survive a nuclear attack except a direct hit. The plan was, if the unit survived, to plot damage and radiation, giving warnings to areas of population and important services in the path of wind-borne radiation and fall-out.

p592 p602
p594 p595
p596 p597
p598 p600
p603 p599
nc1 nc2

Above 2 photos taken by Nick Catford in 1998. This part of the post was opened on 1st Nov. 1961 and closed on 1st Sept 1991. It was visited by Nick on the 8th May 1998 who reported the following on website http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/roc/db/988303748.020002.html:

'LOCKED Externally the post is in good condition with all surface features intact although all the paint has gone. The hatch is locked but can be opened with a 'T' bar key. Internally it is clean and free of vandalism. The only furniture remaining is the cupboard and the wooden brackets for the table and shelf. Other items remaining including mattresses, light fittings and wiring, kitchen utensils and a few papers. Recently the bunker has been used by the Royal Signals as a triangulation station, operated by NO2 brigade home communications regiment for post strike HF comms. Although the bunker is empty it is rigged to be used and is checked regularly. The MOD pay the Parish Council to maintain the exterior and local residents have been asked to inform the police if the post is tampered with.'
Visit by 'Caiman' on 2nd April 2009 - Post is LOCKED on the T Bar. The hatch also has one old battleship padlock but the hasp has long gone. It stands within a small compound (gate and fence posts survive but no fence wire) next to some houses on the edge of the village. No sign of any recent entry or use - in contrast to the 1998 report on Sub Brit.

From the estate of the late Gill Turner

Below are a number of records made by Ralph Turner (once of 'Wyndies', Crow Street) when he was a Senior Warden during World War 2 for October 1939. He probably used the observation post with its underground bunker which are hidden away down Carters Lane.

1939 warden rota
The above identifies R. V. Turner and V. Prentis as Senior Wardens. Ralph Victor Turner and V. Prentis were assisted by messrs Balaam, W. Turner, Ward, Vaughan, Harris and Hayden

warden 001
warden 002
001 - October 31st 1940 at 02.45 hrs when an incendiary bomb fell at Pledgdon Wood. No casualties.
002 - 30th October 1940 when a high explosive bomb fell between Broxted and Henham/Elsenham and presumed to have fallen in a wood. Time approx. 19.30 hrs. No Casualties.
warden 003
warden 004
003 - 31st. Oct 1940 at 19.30 hrs. when a high explosive bomb fell in Pledgdon Wood. No casualties
004 copy of 003
warden 005
warden 006
005 - 22.55 hrs. 19th. Nov 1940 High explosive bomb fell near Thaxted Road between Pledgdon Hall and Pledgdon Green Road ten yards south of road in ploughed field. No casualties.
006 - 19.30 hrs. 19th Nov 1940 incendiaries fell in the direction of Debden and died-out after a few minutes. Monday 2nd Dec. 1940 'All Clear' siren at 00.10 hrs.
warden 007
007 - 23.15 hrs 5th Dec 1940 two high explosives between Newport and Quendon. Phoned Stansted at 22.45 hrs. re unexploded bomb - time 01.50