Cherry Cobb Sands decoy

Not a sound mirror, but also of interest, are these remains of a Second World War bombing decoy at Cherry Cobb Sands in Holderness, east of Kingston upon Hull in East Yorkshire.

Lamps would be hung from the wooden poles, with the light shining down onto artificial pools of water underneath. The pattern of lights would hopefully resemble Hull docks when viewed from a passing Luftwaffe aircraft, and so trick the bomber crews into attacking empty mud flats and farmland safely away from the city.

[Photo of Cherry Cobb Sands WWII bombing decoy]

This pool is supposed to look like the lock gates of one of the Hull docks. It is smaller than the real thing, but when seen from above aircrew would assume they were at a greater altitude than expected. BP’s Saltend refinery can be seen in the distance.

[Photo of Cherry Cobb Sands WWII bombing decoy]

There is a low concrete wall around each pool.

[Photo of Cherry Cobb Sands WWII bombing decoy]

Another pole can be seen in the distance. It is quite hard to count the poles, given the extent of the decoy and the featureless landscape.

[Photo of Cherry Cobb Sands WWII bombing decoy]

It was hoped that bombs would be aimed at the decoy rather than Hull, and so would fall on Foulholme Sands or farmland.

[Photo of Cherry Cobb Sands WWII bombing decoy]

Pictures taken December 2003.


Perhaps unsurprisingly for something which was designed to attract enemy bombs, the decoy is in the middle of nowhere. If you really want to see it, you can park at Stone Creek (public transport is probably a lost cause!) and walk along the riverbank footpath.

A rough grid reference is TA210220, but the decoy is spread througout the wedge-shaped area between the river and the raised embankment along the riverside.

If you are in the area, Spurn Head and the Kilnsea sound mirror are not too far away.


  • Historic England PastScape record of Starfish bombing decoy SF31C/Naval bombing decoy N8/HU3.
  • There is a full history of the various false airfields, dummy aircraft, faked factories, QF sites, Starfish and other British decoy schemes of World War 2 in the book Fields of Deception by Colin Dobinson.

    [book cover]
    During the Second World War a secret department was formed at Britain’s Air Ministry to co-ordinate a strategy to defeat German bombing by deception. With the help of leading technicians from the film industry, ingeniously designed decoy airfields, towns and military bases were built throughout the island. This campaign of illusion, masterminded by the charismatic Colonel John Fisher Turner, did more to protect Britain’s forces and civilians from the Nazi threat than, at the time, they were allowed to know.

  • A website with photos of Bombing Decoys Of Cumberland And Barrow
  • Starfish Decoy Site, Guisborough Moor

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