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Operation Starfish

By October 11, 2021November 19th, 2023No Comments

Here is a report from our meeting on Friday 10th September, the report was written by our Press Officer Mr Mike Darke.
Julie Wild our Chairperson welcomed members and non members to our first meeting since our last in February 2020 due to Covid. The venue was as usual the re-opened St Michael’s Church Hall, New Road, Mytholmroyd. The Society always holds its meetings the second Friday of the month at 7.30pm between September and April and in Summer it holds two outside historical evening visits and an annual day excursion.

Over 50 people attended and the Speaker welcomed our Speaker Mr David Taylor who gave a very interesting, informative and enthusiastic talk despite techical hitches on the local Operation Starfish site which was situated on the moors near Manshead above Cragg Vale.

The site was one of many highly secret Operation Starfish sites dotted around the UK during the Second World War and little remains of these sites today but at the Cragg Vale site luckily the remains of the control building can be seen.

They were essentially decoy sites to help protect industrial conurbations and specific industrial targets by diverting German bombing and hopefully thinking the burning decoys were their intended industrial targets.

They were the idea of Colonel Turner inspired by Churchill who sought following the bombing of Coventry and despite the later blitzes attempted to offset the psychological effects on public moral.

Essentially, the Cragg Vale site was built to protect the Greetland Railway marshalling yards because much of the wartime armanent manufactured in the Huddersfield and Halifax area was transported from these yards to the military. Operation Starfish decoy fires were aimed to confuse the second wave of German bombers following the initial pathfinder bombers. Decoys such as numerous fire baskets and oil drums were set up and all the various decoys were set on fire by personnel in the control buildings. As records illustrate not to mention the location and terrain it is a fallacy to suggest there was a runway and aeroplanes. The Cragg Vale site also confused the bombers aiming for the now Greater Manchester industrial targets.

There is now information and pictures on the internet of Operation Starfish and this Cragg Vale site .
The Speaker generated many questions and Mrs Pauline Brook gave the vote of thanks.