THE roar of huge engines overhead, explosions as bombs fall...

It sounds like the scene from a frontline battlefield, but in fact, it was a common feature of a quiet spot on the Somerset coast not too long ago.

You may not know, but even to this day, the county coastline is home to a bombing practice range. 

The site, in Bridgwater Bay, is officially known as the Lilstock Royal Navy Range and is where pilots can hone their bomb-dropping skills before entering the battlefield for real.

The site assumed huge significance during World War Two, with bombers dropping sand-filled 'bombs' (which only contained a small amount of explosives) to replicate the real thing, for target practice.

This continued until 1995, when the site was reclassified as a range for use only as a helicopter gunnery range, with operations still happening now, coordinated from RNAS Yeovilton, albeit infrequently.

During the planning process for the nearby Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, a report was produced into use of the waterway by military aircraft.

It said: "The Lilstock Royal Navy Range is located in open water approximately 4km to the west of Hinkley Point, off Lilstock.

"The range has previously been used for dropping sand-filled practice bombs containing small amounts of explosives, however, this practice has ceased and the range is now used occasionally for rotary wing air gunnery training."

And in 2004, Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger asked then-Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram how many objects were dropped on the Kilve Bend (part of the range) in the previous five years.

Mr Ingram told the House: "The range at Kilve Bend, part of the Lilstock Royal Navy Range, served until 1995 as a practice bombing range for fixed-wing aircraft using inert ordinance.

"It was redesignated as a helicopter gunnery range that year and nothing has been dropped by aircraft on the range since."

A control/observation tower still sits on the coastline at Lilstock - captured by Somerset Camera Club member Peter Flecken recently and included here.

Yeovil Express: OBSERVATION: The tower at Lilstock. PICTURE: Peter Flecken/Somerset Camera Club
OBSERVATION: The tower at Lilstock. PICTURE: Peter Flecken/Somerset Camera Club

And one little-known, intriguing feature of the Somerset coast also has a link to the range.

Alongside the more widely-known, countless pillboxes and machine gun emplacements on the coast - part of the defences for the Bristol Channel - sits a large, concrete arrow.

Located high up on Brean Down, the arrow remains in place today, a reminder of the military activity in the area in decades passed.

It is no longer quite so visible - it was previously painted white to be easily seen by pilots - but it was used to show the way to the range and remains intact.

Here are some photos showing the arrow - and its position - as well as the Lilstock bombing range:

Yeovil Express: IMPORTANT SPOT: Where the range - and the arrow - sit on the Somerset coastline
IMPORTANT SPOT: Where the range - and the arrow - sit on the Somerset coastline

Yeovil Express: HARDLY VISIBLE: The conrete arrow, which showed pilots the way to the bombing range
HARDLY VISIBLE: The concrete arrow, which showed pilots the way to the bombing range

Yeovil Express: RELIC: The concrete arrow sits high up on Brean Down in Somerset
RELIC: Zooming in, the concrete arrow is clear, sitting high up on Brean Down in Somerset

Yeovil Express: STILL THERE: The arrow - which we've cricled and painted white (as it was during World War Two)
STILL THERE: The arrow - which we've cricled and painted white here (as it was during World War Two)

Yeovil Express: OBSERVATION: The tower at Lilstock. PICTURE: Peter Flecken/Somerset Camera Club
OBSERVATION: The tower at Lilstock. PICTURE: Peter Flecken/Somerset Camera Club

Yeovil Express: WARNING: A sign at the Lilstock tower. PICTURE: Peter Flecken/Somerset Camera Club
WARNING: A sign at the Lilstock tower. PICTURE: Peter Flecken/Somerset Camera Club