The Royal Ordnance Factory
Bridgend South Wales
  The Task Ahead
  The End of War

Defending the Factories

The biggest problem for any arms factory must be hiding, and defending it from your enemy, this is especially true when it is a large complex and is above ground.

Waterton site viewed from the East

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The Bridgend Ordnance Factory was no exception to this rule; it was very large and easily identifiable from the air.

Bridgend ROF Waterton Site Aerial View

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In reality it escaped bombing by the Luftwaffe for number of reasons, firstly, its geographic location initially put it at the extreme range of the German bombers.

Secondly, because it was built on low-lying marshland it is shrouded in mist for a fair number of days during the year; and this helped to obscure the site.

Thirdly, Herman Goring on Hitler’s command changed the Luftwaffe’s strategic bombing strategy in the summer of 1940 by directing it away from the military, and ordnance sites to that of civilian ones. This gave the RAF the breathing space it needed to build up its strength, and so finally win the Battle of Britain.

Following the Battle of Britain the RAF gained superiority in fighter aircraft over the Luftwaffe which would have made bombing by daylight suicidal.

Equally the site was heavily defended by coastal ack-ack batteries, and well placed fighter aircraft aerodromes in Wales and the West of England, which would have made it more difficult to hit in daytime.

At night-time beam bending effectively diverted the German bombers away from the likes of the Bridgend ROF. Between June 1940 and May 1943 in the county area of Glamorgan a total of 2155 high explosive bombs, parachute mines, and phosphorus bombs were dropped, including some 36,000 incendiary bombs, some of these were dropped in the Bridgend urban district area - but the Arsenal escaped unscathed.

After 1943 the bulk of the German Luftwaffe was diverted to the war with Russia and this left few bombers for attacking strategic sites in the UK.

Finally the establishment of the Bridgend POW site at Island Farm in the latter stages of the war only two miles to the West of the Bridgend Arsenal made bombing a tricky business. As bombing accuracy was not particularly good by night there was a distinct chance that German bombs could have fallen on their own comrades.

Also a number of well placed pill boxes surrounded the sites, these were manned twenty-four hours a day by the Home Guards, whose presence would have deterred most if not all potential saboteurs.

Pill Box

Protection against Gas attack was also provided for with detailed training on the likely gases that would be used against the ROF. (See ROF detail in the Bridgend reference library and Appendix 13).


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