Starfish at Farlington Marshes

I was at Farlington today to check the cattle and have a site meeting. Generally things were quiet, although there are a fair few waders returning now and there was a moderate roost on the Lake at high tide. The Lake level was a good bit down today following my attempt at clearing the sluice yesterday, although I will need to do it again soon. The water only gets out at low water and then not on neap tides, so the level varies both during the day with the tide and over the lunar tide cycle. Obviously the amount of rain we have is also significant and recently we have not had much. This has dried out the fields and allows some of the history to be seen, in particular the locations of the World War 2 buildings in the Bushes. The buildings have gone but the foundations can still be seen, or at least the concrete bases that the “legs” stood on.

base of WW2 building

base of WW2 building

Farlington Marshes was one of the “Q” sites or at least part of one that extended across Langstone Harbour. These were intended to decoy German bombers from bombing Portsmouth and get them to drop their bombs into the Harbour. To this end fires were lit out on the islands in the Harbour to imitate burning buildings and attract more bombs. The remains of the fire sites can still be seen on Baker’s Island. The fire sites were known as “Starfish” sites, originally “SF” sites and the two blockhouses on the seawall were for the staff who kept the fires burning. Farlington Marshes also had searchlight and I believe a rocket battery site. At least one of these decoy attempts succeeded and some 200 bombs were dropped harmlessly into the Harbour and a few onto the marshes, three bomb craters can still be seen in the Bushes, perhaps the only ones left in Portsmouth.


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