Sat at the base of Castle hill in Huddersfield is an early 1940s Heavy Anti-Aircraft installation. Rumoured to have also contained a supposed POW camp, the emplacement would have housed two guns, probably 3.7` and would have been used to target high altitude bombers in WW2 heading to and from the cities of Leeds and Manchester. A few of these sites had a life after the war but this one has become part of the surrounding rural landscape. The two gun positions are directly in front of a formidable concrete bunker and have sloping concrete trenches that lead down to the ammo store. The ammo store is semi-sunken to protect it from blast damage, but has since meant that it has permanently flooded. Seventy years ago Hitler’s bombers were wreaking havoc on Britain’s cities with the Blitz. Huddersfield had several Home Guard units – and it was certainly no laughing matter for the men stuck out all night and in terrible weather manning gun batteries and guarding areas around Huddersfield.
One Huddersfield woman believes the man in charge of the gun battery at Castle Hill had lost his wife and family killed in an air raid on the south coast and used to fire the gun every time a bomber went over. It caused shrapnel to all fall over the area. The woman whose family owned a fish and chip shop in the Newsome area during the war said: “One night we were ready to open our fish and chip shop. There was always a queue right to the corner, but the gun opened up and my dad said the customers would all go but when we opened the door not a soul had moved. “They were still in the queue, the shrapnel was falling and the only concession was the man from the end house had gone in and fetched his umbrella. Mr Wimpenny, they called him.”
Huddersfield Home Guard also had its own signals section. A command post was manned by the Royal Observer Corps at Castle Hill and after a German bomber was shot down maps found in the wreckage indicated that Castle Hill was used as a main navigation point for German bombers attacking northern England. Just about every village in Huddersfield was protected by its own home guard. Units from Huddersfield Sector of the Home Guard’s 25th and 26th West Riding Battalions were based all over the town including Hall Bower Chapel in Newsome and St Mary’s Sunday School in Outlane where patrols covered the bleak moors towards Manchester.