The Second World War on Headley Heath
During the Second World War, Headley Heath was used by the Canadian Army as a training ground. Engineers learnt to build trench systems (using earth-moving equipment), gun emplacements, roads and even a runway. The idea was that, when they finally arrived in Europe after D-Day, the army would be fully trained and not have to learn on the job. But the heath has held many other military secrets over the years, read on to find out more.
Headley Heath today
In the build up to D-Day, Canadian forces used Headley Heath for training, which stood them in good stead as they took part in the invasion of occupied Europe and fought through to the end of the Second World War.
On the south west boundary of the Heath, Bellasis House was a training centre for SOE (Special Operations Executive) operatives preparing for missions across occupied Europe. They ranged from anti-Nazi prisoners of war, to trainee secret agents drawn from several nations, two of whom would go on to assassinate SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich in Operation Anthropoid.
Two Royal Air Force aircraft paid unexpected visits to Headley in the early hours of 3 September 1941, the first of which crash landed in the vicinity of the Brimmer car park.
Royal Observer Corps Posts
In October 1937 an Aircraft Reporting Post was opened near Headley Cricket Ground. In 1943 it became a ‘Granite’ Post, meaning that it was equipped with flares to warn low flying aircraft of nearby high ground.
The Post was re-sited in June 1952 and was likely built as an ‘Orlit’ Post. By April 1966 it was operating as an underground nuclear monitoring post, being one of 1,563 such posts built in the UK.
Following a re-organisation of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO) in 1968, the number of posts was reduced to 875 – the post at Headley Heath was closed.