Mystery solved over hidden wartime anti-aircraft post

The use of the building at the former flying field site at RAF Bicester has been revealed thanks to help from the public

THE mystery of a secret military building discovered hidden among ivy and trees at a former Bicester RAF base has been solved.

Excavations have revealed a gun mounting point which confirms the structure was an anti-aircraft gun position with munitions stores ready for an enemy attack.

The building was discovered at Bicester Heritage, the former flying field site at RAF Bicester, off Buckingham Road, last year and prompted Historic England to launch an appeal to help identify it.

Historic England said it received a “large number of tantalising clues and suggestions” and in March this year further work revealed a gun mounting point.

It said the structure, likely to house a light machine gun such as a Stork A.A. twin gun mounting, would have been used to fire at enemy parachutists should they have landed and tried to take over the airstrip.

The team said “unusual weather proof tanking” on the outside of the brickwork would have protected munitions held inside.

The former RAF Bicester, now Bicester Heritage, is the most complete example of an RAF bomber airfield from the interwar expansion period in the UK, and contains numerous protected buildings including bomb stores and defensive structures such as pillboxes, shelters and trenches.

So far Historic England has given grants to the tune of £57,000 to help restore buildings at the site.

Clare Charlesworth, heritage at risk lead for Historic England in the South East said: “We are really grateful for all the great comments and suggestions sent in from the public, it is really exciting that we have discovered more about what this structure might have been which in turn will help us to restore it.

“The RAF Bicester site has an amazing array of historic buildings and structures so we are sure there will be lots more puzzles and secrets still to be revealed.”

Daniel Geoghegan, managing director of Bicester Heritage, said: “This particular defensive structure had us scratching our heads for some time and we were delighted by the response from the public who helped us conclude a modern-day mystery.

“The involvement of Historic England is yet another example of a very fruitful partnership here at Bicester Heritage and we look forward to restoring this and the remaining Scheduled Ancient Monuments with their support.”

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