WW11 Bomb Shelters - a search for them on 30th April 2006


In February 2006 Carol Eaton and I were told by a couple of residents that there had been three communal bomb shelters built at the outbreak of World War 2 under the village greens. Freda Dixon remembered flowers such as nasturtiums growing in the topsoil that was thrown over the galvanised metal-sheeted half-rounded roof. The result when seen from aircraft above looked like an ordinary flower garden.

The Rev Barbara Almond and her partner Rob very kindly offered to find the sites. They arrived on 30th April and very quickly found the three sites primarily using dowsing rods and Barbara’s medium techniques. Dowsing identified the changes in the earth’s magnetic field caused by disturbance of the soil.

Val Dunn brought a group of more than a dozen schoolchildren to whom Rob taught the basics of dowsing. Many quickly mastered the technique and soon the rods were swinging into regimental alignments. Sue Ellis-Callow, much to her own surprise, had a similar experience.

Report from Henham & Ugley CP School

This is our first contribution from Henham & Ugley CP School and hope that it will be the first of many. The webpage should reflect the activities of ALL the community, not just we ‘crumblies’ !

A Leap in Time

On Sunday 30th April, weather conditions were fine as a group of school children, and a team of archaeologists set out to uncover the secrets of Henham.

All of this took place at Wood End Green, one of the greens in Henham.

There were people using divining rods which pick up metal or concrete underground by flicking outwards. The school children of course were included in this and were lucky enough to have the chance to use this equipment. “Divining rods have almost magical powers!”, Sophie Slade-Hunswick laughed.

The experts soon began to mark out the area of a hidden structure and, as expected, realised it was the underground remains of an Andersen air-raid shelter. It was rectangular and approximately 30 feet by 15 feet in size.

After this excitement was over, the children were shown some of the interesting archaeological artefacts that had been found in Henham. There were rings, a brooch, a horse comb, arrowheads etc.

Some of these were found in a pigsty near The Cock pub in Henham. “It’s amazing what you can find in a pigsty!” commented Rosina Brooks, one of the children who took part.

Next, the archaeologists moved away in search of other underground Andersen shelters in Henham.

It leaves you to wonder what other secrets and mysteries lie underneath Henham.

weg2 childrenweg
the southern boundary of the shelter the northern boundary of the shelter
looking from SE corner towards NW corner

looking northwards looking eastward


On our way from the village hall to OSCA, Barbara asked if we knew a ‘Corrie’ or ‘Connie’. No, we didn’t. Within the next few minutes Nina left us to examine a discarded wheelbarrow in the recently-arrived skip outside OSCA, When we later loaded it into our car, I saw the maker’s name ‘Corrie’ on the inside. It was time to shut down for lunch. Now for details of the three sites -


Jack Hayden recalls that this shelter was the biggest of the three with a sloped entrance at either end. He remembers the shelter being about 8 foot wide and 40 foot long and being sited outside Pleasant Cottage and about 8 feet onto the Green. He thinks that the lower half of the shelter was below ground level so that the floor was probably 3 feet below the level of the grass. Our search confirmed most of this (although we were initially thrown of course by a drainage pipe running alongside the unmade track and some feet below ground). The site is directly outside Pleasant Cottage with the eastern boundary about 8 feet onto the Green from the edge of the unmade road. The total area of disturbance is approximately 33ft long by 52ft wide but the shelter seems to have been about 30 feet long (looking down the Green) and 15 feet wide. It also appears to have had an entrance at either end. Jack recalled Reg Snow, Eric Grey and Albert Salmon filling it in soon after the war ended in 1945..

wegsm weg3
the left hand side marks the centreline of the shelter, extending right to within 8 feet of the road. Barbara and Rob showing the children artefacts
that they have found at other sites


The site is on the Green that lies between the Village Hall and Henleys. The eastern boundary is within a yard of the driveway into Henleys. The western boundary is within a couple of feet of the trees lining the hall driveway. The area of disturbance is approximately 100ft long by 25ft wide. There may have been a toilet at the corner closest to the village hall. It appears that there was an entrance to the shelter at the end closest to the village hall

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the poles show the extreme right of the disturbance
this shows the centreline of the shelter
vh vh3
this shows the width of the site
Rob dowsing as Barbara is using crystals to identify the site



The entrance approach is 11 ½ ft wide by 13 ft long. The shelter was 60 ft long by 12 ft wide. The southern end appears to have been elliptical. It seems that the entrance was at the northern end. It also seems that there may have been a toilet at the north-western corner ie that closest to the bungalow behind.

osca 2 osca 1
this shows the elliptical curve of the southern boundary
this is the far end of the shelter which had a distinct curve
osca 3 osca 4
the full width and length of the shelter
the 2 light-coloured poles on the left mark the width of the entrance approach; the array of poles on the right, in line with the village sign, mark the northern boundary of the shelter and show its width

Some shelters had a diesel engine to extract flood water and also a sump lower than the floor into which the water could drain for easy extraction.

diesel engine ribbed roof
top left a diesel engine
above notice the ribbed roof
left the toilet compartment