GOSWICK SANDS IN WORLD WAR 2

Thanks to David Middlemas for this contribution

Although it was not the only station between Alnmouth and Tweedmouth to close for economic reasons in 1941, Goswick’s closure to the public possibly served a further purpose.
At Goswick the nearby beach was extensively used as a strafing range from January 1942 until February 1946 for fighter bombers operating from nearby RAF Milfield (built 1940).
The base was initially used as an Operational Training Unit for fighter pilots but as the war progressed Typhoon and Tempest ground-attack aircraft were stationed here while pilots trained for the forthcoming invasion of Europe. The training involved extensive bombardment of Goswick Sands southwards towards Holy Island. The tide goes out a long way here and its isolated nature allowed for live-firing of bullets, cannon, wing-mounted rockets and larger ordnance on a massive scale. Captured or redundant armoured vehicles were positioned as targets and false convoys whilst make-shift railway embankments and bridges were crudely constructed on the sand for the same purposes.

There is a concrete watch tower on the dunes only a few hundred yards south of the station site. Whilst this was initially constructed as part of the coastal anti-invasion defences it was latterly used and modified as an observation tower for ground attack exercises.

It is likely that the nature of the activities at Goswick would have been kept as secret as possible and the station closure – at least for the public – would have possibly been justifiable for this reason alone. Doubtless it would have been utilised by the military not least for bringing target material and observers onto the site. Of course all public access to the area would have been prohibited for safety reasons as well.

After the war, the sheer volume of unexploded ordnance found on the beach caused an extensive clear-up operation by the War Department (later the MOD). As recently as 2012 there was a small, yet permanent, RAF presence on the beach which ‘carefully disposed’ of (i.e. ‘detonated’) unexploded air-ordnance on a regular basis.


Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 08:33:35 BST
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