Y-Stations

The Y-stations, which were actually created during the First World War, were predominantly employed during the Second World War to collect radio communications from the enemy movements of planes, boats and submarines (U-Boats). The information would then be conveyed to the appropriate authority – usually Bletchley Park, which was known as the Station X. The equipment housed in the Y-station shelters were used for direction finding purposes (called D/F Stations), and/or for interpretation, and if necessary, decryption of enemy messages (these were the ‘Wireless’ or ‘Y’ Stations). They were understandably positioned mostly, but not exclusively, around the coastline of the United Kingdom but, mainly, on the East Coast. Notwithstanding, and to my good fortune, I discovered there were many glorious examples located in the West Country.

So, what are we talking about here? The installations were usually concrete buildings, either rectangular or multi-sided, containing the sensitive receiving equipment and supporting the antenna erections. Some were reinforced and bomb-proof, while others were simpler precast constructs. Most were traditionally built above ground and on standard foundations, but there were also a handful that were partially or totally buried in the ground, with the ability to quickly ‘crash-down’ the antenna if it was thought they were in imminent danger of being spotted by the enemy. The more temporary facilities were little more than wooden shacks and, in at least one instance, (around the Mortehoe area) a mobile station was installed in a covered lorry (which explains why, after many hours of searching, I never located it!).

In compiling this register of our local Y-Stations I have used a range of books and some web sources of, in some cases, admittedly dubious quality. Some Y-Stations have been recorded in impressive detail, maybe including precise map coordinates and information concerning the current state of the facility. Other Y-Stations have been barely given a mention. But, if they appeared in more than one source, I attempted to carry out a triangulation study in order to fill in the gaps to provide a best estimate of the location and a description of the facility. My exploration was completed by attempting to locate each station using Google Maps, Google Street View and Google Earth.