Records indicate that a World War II Starfish decoy site was located in the Kilpatrick Hills, east of Alexandria and Bonhill. Part of the Clyde AA Defences. Site number SF13h. Known as Auchenreoch or Square Wood.
The decoy site was visible on RAF aerial photographs taken in 1949, and also on similar photographs taken in 1988. The decoy control bunker was identified some 400 metres to the south, with its remains still clearly identifiable at the location.
The surrounding area still displays evidence of a number of bomb craters from the war, some of which can be seen in the aerial views given below.
Two visits were made to the site during 2009. The bunker was found to be in good condition despite its prominent position on the side of the hill. A door frame and most of the internal plaster with its whitewash were found to have survived, together with several pieces of wooden strapping used to support cables. Unusually, three of four pieces of rebated timber made to accept a board to close each of the air intakes were still present.
Externally, a concrete hut base was noted near the bunker entrance, with signs that at least part of this hut was constructed in brick. Two steel pipe stubs were found nearby. The purpose of the pipe nearest the door was unclear (similar pipes have been found on other sites), but the other, found to be plugged with concrete, is assumed to be related to the cooling system of the engines. Evidence of a demolished baffle wall in front of the entrance was noted.
The second visit concentrated on the concrete remains on the decoy site itself, as this has not been encountered before. Four small, square concrete blocks with stubs of steelwork set into their top surface were noted. Several longer concrete blocks appeared to be scattered randomly across the site, with no particular alignment, being approximately 2 feet wide and in three lengths between about 12 feet and 18 feet. Wider blocks were also found on the hillside, tending to appear in pairs with one located about 9 inches above the other, and being approximately 6 ft x 4 ft. None of these blocks showed any evidence of fixings.
While some of the concrete blocks would have served as bases for fire baskets, and helped prevent the controlled fires from spreading, the purpose of the differing sizes of block is unclear.
Further remains higher up the hill remain to be explored.
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