Tyne and Wear HER(5531): Woolsington, Searchlight Battery TT146 - Details
Woolsington, Searchlight Battery TT146
Anti Aircraft Defence Site
The battery was manned by the Royal Artillery attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers under the control of fighter command. Prior to the D-Day landings they were re-deployed to the south coast leaving the 225th Anti Aircraft Artillery (Searchlight Batallion) USA to man the station. Their headquarters was at Debdon Gardens in Newcastle (HER 5559). Many of the searchlight sites were used as low security POW camps after the American troops left, accomodating the prisoners who were working on local farms. Until radar was invented, searchlights were the only means by which aimed anti-aircraft fire and fighter interception were possible at night. The searchlights forced the enemy aircraft to fly higher, thus reducing their bombing accuracy. They also guided disabled allied aircraft back to base. During WW1 searchlights were emplaced to defend London and other vulnerable points. In 1916 a searchlight belt was established 25 miles inland from Sussex to Northumberland. In WW2 almost the whole country was covered in a grid of searchlights. A searchlight site would comprise of a circular earthwork around 9.14m in diameter for a 90cm light, a predictor emplacement, at least one light anti aircraft machine gun pit and a number of huts for the detachment and generator. These sites only generally survive as crop marks, unless the huts or foundations survive.
<< HER 5531 >> 2003, Searchlight Sites on Tyneside - 18 November 1944, www.skylighters.org Alan Rudd, 1986, List of 20th century defence sites on Tyneside Council For British Archaeology, 1995, Twentieth Century, Defences in Britain - An Introductory Guide Handbook of The Defence of Britain Project, p 62-63; Addyman Archaeology, 2014, Woolsington, Woolsington Park - Archaeological Assessment