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Sarclet Decoy

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Records indicate that a World War II decoy site was located just below Ulbster Hill, west Sarclet on the east coast of Caithness, about 5 miles (8 km) south of Wick.

Sarclet was both a Q (night) and K (day) decoy site, intended to be visible to enemy aircraft during daylight, and was provided with dummy runways intended to mimic Wick airfield (at 70% of full size) to the north, and was stocked with dummy aircraft to add to the illusion. The decoy airfield was visible in aerial photographs taken by the RAF in 1947, and sections of the dummy runways remain visible in current aerial views, on the ground to the southwest of the bunker.

The control bunker lies on the west side of the road from Thrumster to Mains of Ulbster, and is constructed to a standard design of brick and concrete with a corrugated iron roof which would originally have been protected by an earth banking. Internally, the bunker was provided with two rooms place on either side of an access passage. A metal ladder provides access to the roof. One room would have served as an operations room, while the other, smaller, would have housed the electrical generators used to power the decoy. The building measures approximately 11 m x 3 m.

The decoy airfield was equipped with dummy Blenheim bombers, simulated buildings of little more than wood and canvas, and special inflatable vehicles populating the dummy airfield. Assuming it followed the standard pattern for such decoys, at night, the runways would have been provided with simulated landing lights, and hand lamps would have been used to simulate activity on the field.

These decoys were sometimes too successful, leading to friendly aircraft attempting to land at them, with disastrous results, and additional lighting could be added to alert any aircraft attempting a landing approach that the runway was closed.

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