THE famed underground bunker at RAF Daws Hill has been given Listed status by English Heritage.
The World War Two bunker – which according to English Heritage “served as the nerve-centre of United States Army Air Force European bombing campaign” – has been awarded the status in recognition of its special architectural or historic interest.
As well as its use by American forces during the Second World War, the 23,000 square feet bunker was also used during the Cold War before being closed in 1991 and deactivated two years later.
It has been given a Grade II* Listing, which is awarded to ‘particularly important buildings of more than special interest’. It’s a status that has only been awarded to 5.5 per cent of all buildings that have been listed.
The English Heritage website says in its summary of the historical interest of the bunker: “[It was a] high-level US headquarters serving as the nerve-centre of United States Army Air Force European bombing campaign in WWII, refurbished as the main command centre of United States Air Force 7th Air Division in the 1950s and as the United States European Command wartime headquarters in the 1980s.
“It retains evidence of its continued use and adaptation during the Cold War in response to military strategy and particularly to increasing military threat over five decades.
“In response to heightened tension between the Soviet Union and the West in the late 1940s and the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, US forces and their nuclear armed bombers, and later in the 1950s missiles, were deployed across Europe. The bunker was refurbished in the mid-1950s for the United States Strategic Air Command 7th Air Division as its main European planning and operations centre responsible for organising nuclear attacks against the Soviet Union.
“Had war broken out, it would have been from High Wycombe that the command to launch a strike would have been given.”
The RAF station at Daws Hill was closed in 2007 and sold to a property developer four years later.
Plans to redevelop the site for housing initially included proposals to demolish the bunker were submitted to Wycombe District Council in 2012 by the Ministry of Defence. They are still in motion alongside proposals to create more than 400 new homes in the area, which have been met with opposition from residents.
Listing a building does not give it complete protection from the risk of demolition however.