The Base End Spotting Station was the location of an American defence position during World War Two. It is located along the coast of Flatrock on a point of land referred to as The Beamer. The designation includes the concrete bunker that was used as a spotting station and a 50 metre buffer zone extending from the footprint of the bunker.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
The Base End Spotting Station has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Flatrock due to its historic and aesthetic value.
The Base End Spotting Station has historic value as a tangible reminder of the WWII era in Newfoundland. In 1941, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt entered into a lend-lease program to give the United States leases to land within the British Empire for the construction of bases and other infrastructure. In return, Britain would receive American warships. Erection of American bases in Newfoundland quickly followed, along with coastal defence fire control systems. Circa 1942, gun batteries and associated facilities used to scan the ocean horizon for enemy ships were constructed from Cape Spear to Conception Bay South by American forces.
The Base End Spotting Station at Flatrock once played a critical role in the defence of the east coast of North America. This small structure was a part of a much larger coastal defence fire control system constructed on the northeast Avalon during WWII to provide protection to naval bases and important harbours. Tactical Battery No. 1 at Red Cliff (Fire Control Location No. 12) relied on two base end spotting stations, a primary station in the White Hills (Fire Control Location No. 11) and a secondary station in Flatrock (Fire Control Location No. 16). The battery at Red Cliff had 8-inch guns placed on fixed concrete emplacements. The base end spotting stations were used to plot the position of target ships. In a bunker this size, two soldiers operated the instruments used to aid in plotting targets, including a depression position finder and an azimuth scope. The measurements from the stations would be sent to a plotting room at Red Cliff, where firing coordinates would be calculated through triangulation.
From 1942 until the end of WWII, American soldiers were positioned in these and similar bunkers that provided advance protection for U.S. bases in St. John’s, Argentia and Stephenville. These small bunkers were an important component of the defence infrastructure built by the U.S. War Department on the island of Newfoundland after 1941.
The Base End Spotting Station has aesthetic value due to its design and construction technique. The concrete bunkers that housed base end spotting stations measured 12 to 14 feet per side. Dug into hills, they had vision slits and roofs that projected slightly above ground. The roofs would be camouflaged to blend in with the natural surroundings. The type of bunker in Flatrock was referred to as a “manhole” by the U.S. military and was accessed through a hatch and interior rebar ladder. The mounts that once held the plotting instruments are still intact. While numerous bunkers of this type were constructed along the coast of Newfoundland during WWII, many have been dismantled or have fallen into major disrepair.
Source: Town of Flatrock Regular Council Meeting Motion 2016 – 151, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Character Defining Elements
All elements relating to the historic value of the Base End Spotting Station, including:
-dimension, location and orientation of square concrete bunker;
-all remaining elements that speak to the bunkers use, including the rebar ladder and remains of instrument mounts;
-50 metre buffer zone extending from the footprint of the bunker;
-unobstructed view from the bunker’s vision slit to the Atlantic Ocean;
-association with the American military presence in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Location and History
Town of Flatrock
1942 - 1942
United States Military