Starfish Town?


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I seem to recall having one of my many' Dad Chats' years ago,about a dummy town..or he called it a decoy town.A pal of his who wasn't grade A fit ..set fire to it on two occasions to distract German bombing. Does any member know of this Starfish town..or where it was located?

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Really interesting Link Dave. Very clever and many lives were saved because of it. You can't beat a bit of "Deception and Trickery" to help win the war. I have to say, I had never heard of it before i read Ians post.

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I remember seeing something about this on the 70s series on BBC 'The world at war'.........

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'The World At War' was a really good 26 episode series about the beginning to the end of WW2. There were no gimmicks or Hollywood type scenes, just real footage of how it was at the time. If you fancy watching it I've attached a link below.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLvOGyTQQoqziO-Uobw49bDRT2Lel0t3R

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Can't remember what channel,but its showing again,saw one the other night...............

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you are Right Michael, first time I heard Carl Davies...great narration by Larry Olivier. I saw a documentary on TV where they traced some people from the opening title sequences. As regards the decoy buildings.. anyone know the Nottm location?

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Can't remember what channel,but its showing again,saw one the other night...............

Just caught the end of it now...............its channel 19 on freeview,called 'Yesterday'

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  • 3 years later...

There were several Starfish (decoy fires) sites around Nottingham - the best known was called the Cropwell Butler site, though some distance away. There was also one at Diseworth (now under M1Jn24), and also just outside Cotgrave, which earnt its keep, judging by the craters in the woodland there!

 

The Starfish sites were very different from the decoy trucks, etc (some of which were made by Nottingham’s rag trade!) in that they were live fires, lit after the first wave of German pathfinder bombers had bombed their target, and intended to deceive the Luftwaffe main force into bombing the decoy fires rather than the target. There were a variety of fire types, that duplicated the appearance - on a small scale - of the unique features of the target. So the Nottingham decoys would, for example, have a device that looked like tram cables sparking, while the Diseworth decoy had a layout that mimicked Toton marshalling yard.

 

If you want to know more, there’s a very good book on the whole decoy programme, called ‘Fields of Deception’ by Dr Colin Dobinton :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Its worth bearing in mind that the Luftwaffe did not always rely on visual targetting. They used beams of radio impulses to accurately target places. knickebein was one of them. X-gerat was another, and due to the way they worked, the midlands were geographically perfect for good ranging. It is one reason why Coventry got such a pasting. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/6/2020 at 8:00 PM, mercurydancer said:

Its worth bearing in mind that the Luftwaffe did not always rely on visual targetting. They used beams of radio impulses to accurately target places. knickebein was one of them. X-gerat was another, and due to the way they worked, the midlands were geographically perfect for good ranging. It is one reason why Coventry got such a pasting. 

Once British intelligence had the frequencies for Knickebein, and later X-gerat, they broadcast jamming signals on the same frequency, which made the German system effectively useless (one of the jamming stations, codenamed ‘aspirins’, was located in Charnwood, not far from Coalville). This resulted in the Luftwaffe having to fall back on visual targeting.

 

In the case of Coventry, whoever ordered the jamming frequency got it completely wrong, so the Luftwaffe crews were able to recognise it, and ignore it. After the initial fires were started, of course, visual target location was all that was needed!

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Not only were the beams brute force jammed but also engineers worked out how to bend the beams, the fear was that simply jamming them then the Germans would change the frequency and it would take time to find the new frequency and readjust the the jamming equipment. Professor R V Jones book ‘most secret war) details the battle with the beams.

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Indeed, Most secret war was a phenomenal book and TV series, but it was not legal at the time of that book to release anything about Enigma coding, although Prof Jones would have known a great deal about it. Now we know due to immense amounts of films/documentaries and books. 

 

There was always a risk that the Germans would work out that the Enigma system was compromised and some sacrifices  were made. Coventry being one of them. The Coventry raid was in clearish weather so easy to locate. 

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