WWII Defensive Pillboxes

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Or you had retractable pillboxes designed to defend airfields...

Pickett-Hamilton fort - Wikipedia
A Pickett-Hamilton fort is a type of hardened field fortification built in Britain during the invasion crisis of 1940–1941.The Pickett-Hamilton fort was designed to be lowered into the ground while it was not in use, as such it would be inconspicuous and would not interfere with the passage of taxiing aircraft or other vehicles. The fort could be raised to about 2 feet 6 inches (0.76 m) above ground level where it would be a physical impediment to aircraft and vehicles and from where a small crew could fire with rifles or light machine guns.




Wordsmith
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
There are a variety of interesting pillboxes up here around Lairg and Bonar Bridge, as well as an unusual road block and blockhouse outside Carbisdale Castle (Home of King of Norway during WW2.

With regard to those who thought that we were game over if the Germans got to Nurthumberland, we were really knackered if they got up here!
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
In the immediate aftermath of Dunkirk, Milch went to Goering and proposed that the Luftwaffe use its Ju52 transport fleet to air land troops on airfields in the UK to get a bridgehead to capture ports and bring troops over. If you'd done that at Hawkinge, you might have got Dover as a port. At the start of the war, the Luftwaffe had a fairly large Ju52 fleet, so might have got a division with light AA and A/T guns into Hawkinge. With the port of Dover captured, you might have got merchantmen shuttling across the channel with heavier equipment (Calais - Dover) and a steadily expanding bridgehead in Kent.

Immediately after Dunkirk, there weren't many fully functioning army units in the UK and the Luftwaffe could really have hammered any RN destroyers trying to intervene. Interesting scenario.

Wordsmith
 

TamtamPWRR

War Hero
There are a lot of these around my way, around Horsham and Guildford. They are part of the GHQ Stop Line previously mentioned that goes through Surrey and Sussex. If you want a quiet little day trip around Guildford, take a walk up St Martha's Hill. Halfway up from the carpark you'll see a brick and concrete pillbox, trees have grown up around it but you can appreciate the ground it commands. Not pillbox related, but carry on up to the church and you'll find a VC winner is buried there, General Bernard Freyberg, commander of the New Zealand division in WW2. His son is buried next to him, a medal winner too.
 
As seen in Duxford today. The annoying red line is the display barrier cord.
View attachment 293833
Apparently they had issues with filling with water whilst underground. Its pneumatic jack is just visible in the background.
Not only that but I recall reading that they were next to useless. The embrasures would only allow weapons to be used against ground assault. While this might seem useful against attack by parachutists, the concrete wasn't thick enough to keep bullets out - and beefing it up with a sandbag surround would have defeated the object of retraction.
 
In the immediate aftermath of Dunkirk, Milch went to Goering and proposed that the Luftwaffe use its Ju52 transport fleet to air land troops on airfields in the UK to get a bridgehead to capture ports and bring troops over. If you'd done that at Hawkinge, you might have got Dover as a port. At the start of the war, the Luftwaffe had a fairly large Ju52 fleet, so might have got a division with light AA and A/T guns into Hawkinge. With the port of Dover captured, you might have got merchantmen shuttling across the channel with heavier equipment (Calais - Dover) and a steadily expanding bridgehead in Kent.

Immediately after Dunkirk, there weren't many fully functioning army units in the UK and the Luftwaffe could really have hammered any RN destroyers trying to intervene. Interesting scenario.

Wordsmith
Not so sure about that one: thanks to the parsimonious deployment of the RAF squadrons to BEF, any Tante JUs flying in meaningful numbers would have been ripe pickings for 11 Group, aided and abetted by 10 and 12 Group.

Further, Dover was a port, not the port-the RN had some strength in the Home Fleet and would have seriously reduced the numbers of any invasion fleet.

I've seen elsewhere (damned if I can remember where, though) a postulated scenario such as yours and the received wisdom was that for a Division (-) to be effectively airlanded, it would have required the WHOLE Ju52 fleet in the first wave: Goering was most certainly not going to risk such a gambit.
 
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Grey Point Fort in NI. Between Holywood and Bangor. Very much worth a visit if you are over this side of the Irish Sea .They fire the gun about once a year as you can see. Very often there are reenactors there who can answer questions and bore the arse off you if you listen to them long enough. I should know, one is a work colleague, so I get it during working hours as well.
 
My grandad was in the home guard, and had a policy of shooting all nuns on sight, which probably prevented an invasion.




Not his court martial though.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
I've seen elsewhere (damned if I can remember where, though) a postulated scenario such as yours and the received wisdom was that for a Division (-) to be effectively airlanded, it would have required the WHOLE Ju52 fleet in the first wave: Goering was most certainly not going to risk such a gambit.
They had around 500. Each could carry 18 troops. Assuming 3 trips a day (and only 5% losses) you could have put 20,000 men on the ground a day. Give the Luftwaffe about a week to prepare by hammering the RN destroyers in Dover and mass low level fighter sweeps to destroy aircraft on the ground on the Kent, Sussex and Surrey and it could have resulted in a difficult to dislodge lodgement.

Goering of course didn't allow it. Both he and Adolf were concerned about destroying the still intact (but very demoralised) remaining French forces and the British forces still in France in the Normandy/Brittany area. But it's an interesting scenario - and one the retractable pillboxes were intended to deal with.

Wordsmith
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Grey Point Fort in NI. Between Holywood and Bangor. Very much worth a visit if you are over this side of the Irish Sea .They fire the gun about once a year as you can see.
Been looking at my copy of the official history 'Defence of the United Kingdom'. Appendix XIX gives the guns defending ports in November 1940. That gave 224 guns of 4" and above around the major ports and 77 around the minor ports.

I looked up Dover out of curiosity as that will have been one of the better defended ports:
  • 1 x 14"
  • 2 x 9.2"
  • 13 x 6"
  • 2 x 4"
and a number of lighter calibre quick-firing guns.

I found this website of where three of the 6" guns were mounted.
The Western Heights - St Martin’s Battery

And an impressive field of fire.


Wordsmith
 
They had around 500. Each could carry 18 troops. Assuming 3 trips a day (and only 5% losses) you could have put 20,000 men on the ground a day. Give the Luftwaffe about a week to prepare by hammering the RN destroyers in Dover and mass low level fighter sweeps to destroy aircraft on the ground on the Kent, Sussex and Surrey and it could have resulted in a difficult to dislodge lodgement.

Goering of course didn't allow it. Both he and Adolf were concerned about destroying the still intact (but very demoralised) remaining French forces and the British forces still in France in the Normandy/Brittany area. But it's an interesting scenario - and one the retractable pillboxes were intended to deal with.

Wordsmith
I think the strength of Milch's proposed argument lies in the fact that it would have happened immediately and not waiting 3 months for the air defences to be strengthened. In reality though letting the Brits escape at Dunkirk was the huge mistake.
 

daz

LE
They had around 500. Each could carry 18 troops. Assuming 3 trips a day (and only 5% losses) you could have put 20,000 men on the ground a day. Give the Luftwaffe about a week to prepare by hammering the RN destroyers in Dover and mass low level fighter sweeps to destroy aircraft on the ground on the Kent, Sussex and Surrey and it could have resulted in a difficult to dislodge lodgement.

Goering of course didn't allow it. Both he and Adolf were concerned about destroying the still intact (but very demoralised) remaining French forces and the British forces still in France in the Normandy/Brittany area. But it's an interesting scenario - and one the retractable pillboxes were intended to deal with.

Wordsmith
Likely nowhere near that sortie rate, given that forming up would take time and they would be spotted on radar and interceptors vectored into the formations as they got into range.

Again, unlikely in the extreme given that at the time they had little to no anti ship capability, especially against fast moving ships that fired back...... not to mention the rest of the fleet that would be steaming hard towards the "invasion" fleet.

Because that worked so well in real life - worst case, the RAF pulls back to airfields out of the limited range of the Luftwaffe and still contests the airraids and the transport flights.

It should also be pointed out, that if the fighters are pissing about try to knock out airfields, they're not doing their day job, escorting the bombers for instance - then covering the transport aircraft etc later on
 
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There's one in Faringdon which was until very recently still defended apparently.
http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/8210919.display/#gallery1
Funnily enough i was googling pillboxes earlier and that came up . Turns out that a retired colonel complained of a pillbox being damaged by kids on his land to the police . He put a plant pot in there full of dirt with stubbed out fags on top , but beneath was something that went bang .....

Retired colonel accused of explosion admits he is 'social hand grenade'
 
They had around 500. Each could carry 18 troops. Assuming 3 trips a day (and only 5% losses) you could have put 20,000 men on the ground a day. Give the Luftwaffe about a week to prepare by hammering the RN destroyers in Dover and mass low level fighter sweeps to destroy aircraft on the ground on the Kent, Sussex and Surrey and it could have resulted in a difficult to dislodge lodgement. . . .Wordsmith
Sorry, chap, I'm not seeing it: the airfields available to the Reich in N France, immediately post-Dunkirk, simply could not take that amount of traffic and use.

Further, as BoB proved, the ME110 was easy meat for Spitfires and Hurricanes. Thus, if Goering had decided to use 110s to escort 52s, it would have been a turkey shoot. As BoB evolved, it had the farcical example of ME110s (a 'fighter') escorting Ju88s and Do117s (bombers) and the whole being escorted by Me109s!

. . . so, during the respite and lull post-Dunkirk, other than faffing about with retractable pillboxes, the SE corner of England was becoming less of a walkover than has been envisaged. The Channel was NOT a safe place for German shipping and the air was an even less permissive environment than water.

Anyway, many apologies for the Fred Riff - though this sub text is one I'm sure that we'll (@Wordsmith et al) revisit again.

And again.

And . . . :cool:
 

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