Just outside the market town of Wareham, the small village of Arne came from humble beginnings, and is known more for its proximity to the RSPB Nature Reserve. However, Arne has an intriguing World War II story attached to it that not many people know about.
A Royal Navy explosives factory had been built at nearby Holton Heath during WWI, but fast forward to 1942 and this Cordite factory had become a target. Decoys were set up throughout and around Arne village, complete with guards and fake factory emissions, causing German bombers to mistake the area for the factory.
Arne was badly bombed and the area devastated by the subsequent fire that burned for weeks. It is believed there are some 200 bomb craters around Arne village, which had essentially been sacrificed in order to leave the factory in Holton Heath unscathed.
The plan was a success, but residents were forced to leave Arne, much like with the more well-known local ghost village of Tyneham. Arne was then left untouched for several years. However, there is now a small, but thriving community enjoying the now peaceful countryside that is teeming with wildlife. It’s definitely a special place to visit if you’re heading to the RSPB Arne Nature Reserve for the day.