WWII Defensive Pillboxes

arfah

LE
Talking of pillboxes with many floors, I visited the one below as a boy (in about 1985). It is an (offshore) minefield control bunker at Burnham on Crouch in Essex. I've only ever seen one of the type so don't know whether it was a one - off.

It is my intent to re-visit and take a couple of snaps this forthcoming weekend... About an hour’s walk away and it’s free phys.
 
It is my intent to re-visit and take a couple of snaps this forthcoming weekend... About an hour’s walk away and it’s free phys.
If you don't mind posting some photos, they would be very interesting.
You are in an area with a decent amount of defence-related structures.
 
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I think it’s right to point out that the whole sector of fortifications that they were very much conditional on the premis that
(1) the Germans actually managed to invade
(2) we had the resources to man them.
(3) The concept of fortifications was defeated by fluid movement on the continent, (Eben Emael) and Maginot.
Germans did not have the technical ability to invade unlike us only 5 years later.
If we take the oft discussed Seeloewe and take the position that Germany would not have succeeded, then the pillbox defence system becomes a PR excercise. Given the positioning of the more inland defensive sites, it’s probable that had the Germans managed it we would already have surrendered.
We'll never know, of course. Public morale wasn't quite as robust as it was naturally portrayed at the time (Home intelligence reports are now available reporting 'defeatist' conversations across the UK); more importantly we don't know the morale and therefore the fighting effectiveness of the land forces, especially after the unmitigated defeat and loss of equipment and personnel in France. However, researchers only need to look at the performance of Fighter Command. In spite of being outnumbered 3:1 by the Luftwaffe, the RAF prevailed and reported instances of LMF were few.

Another aspect was the scorched earth policy that was communicated by the government. Whether it was the use of fourgasse systems, or the publicised threat of use of chemical weapons, HMG was prepared to defend this sceptre'd isle to a degree simply not seen on the Continent. Much was made of the time of the absolute might of the Royal Navy - not only to defeat invasion forces - but to carry on the flight globally. Churchill also regularly cited the strength of the Empire in defence of the 'Christian World'. This is a moot point; if Britain fell, the war was to be conducted from Canada. Quite how the UK would be retaken from the other side of the Atlantic would be an interesting Alt-history excursion.

Thankfully, we will never know.
 
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tiv

LE
Plenty of photos showing small trench systems to the sides of some although not all pillboxes
I can' t find the source but recall reading that eventually the pillboxes were to be left unmanned as targets to distract the attacker, and the defence conducted from trenches nearby. There was also the move away from stop lines to nodal points or anti tank islands mentioned in the link here:

 

arfah

LE
If you don't mind posting some photos, they would be very interesting.
You are in an area with a decent amount of defence-related structures there.

It’s just a shame that on the opposite bank, Foulness/Shoeburyness is unaccessible.
MOD test artillery ammunition every so often. Can’t really blame them for not wanting Joe civvy to go rambling off the beaten track.
 
It’s just a shame that on the opposite bank, Foulness/Shoeburyness is unaccessible.
MOD test artillery ammunition every so often. Can’t really blame them for not wanting Joe civvy to go rambling off the beaten track.

I used to visit the George on Foulness, especially 23rd April, by arrangement with the landlord who would notify gate security. Still advised to stick to the roads.

A colleague went to the other pub which seemed more like a Nissen hut on the day it was closing. That landlord thought trade might be picking up after all until told it was a 'farewell' visit.
 

tiv

LE
It’s just a shame that on the opposite bank, Foulness/Shoeburyness is unaccessible.
MOD test artillery ammunition every so often. Can’t really blame them for not wanting Joe civvy to go rambling off the beaten track.
Never saw anything to get excited about in there though I didn't get over all of it. The rump of the old ranges is accessible though some of the emplacements have been destroyed/buried. Left are the HQF Bty, a large gun pit, an emplacement where the high angle fire trials were conducted, a pillbox in the sea wall, the experimental casemates, a couple of search light emplacements and two magazines dating back to the early day of the site. Sadly they have all been secured with steel doors thanks to the local inbreeds using them for drug taking etc.

This is the HQF Bty:

HQF.jpg


and from bottom left the Experimental Casemates, the High Angle Pit (Now roofed over) and a gun pit. It is though that the pit used by Moncrieff was alongside and now buried.

Casemates.jpg
 

tiv

LE
I used to visit the George on Foulness, especially 23rd April, by arrangement with the landlord who would notify gate security. Still advised to stick to the roads.

A colleague went to the other pub which seemed more like a Nissen hut on the day it was closing. That landlord thought trade might be picking up after all until told it was a 'farewell' visit.
The one at Courtsend?, went there once As you say like a Nissen Hut beside a house.
 
I think I spotted one this am that I'd not seen before. Seems to a round brick built structure, on the B2244 (Junction Road) south west(ish) of Bodiam opposite the entrance to the Park Farm campsite.
View attachment 572480
Anyone know of it?

Never been aware myself, although I travelled that way many a time.

There's an ant-tank position on DoB as Northiam, but actually on the Wittersham Rd from the Isle of Oxney, facing SE across the Rother. This made me wonder what plan there was for Oxney as a whole, being high ground over what used to be the coast.

Have any local historians covered this ?
 

tiv

LE
I came across two photos of the HQF Bty when in use and sort of stitched them together to get this. The two guns on the left are 4.7" and those on the right 6" with a 9.2" mounting covered up in the emplacement just beyond.

HQF Battery Comp.jpg
 
There's this one just down the road from my usual workplace, it would have guarded Hounslow Heath I guess. All the trees/shrubbery in this Streetview lift have now mostly gone as there's work being done to the old golf course and the view from the road is much better. All the ivy is gone from the structure, too, and it's back to brickwork.

Pillbox.JPG
 
We'll never know, of course. Public morale wasn't quite as robust as it was naturally portrayed at the time (Home intelligence reports are now available reporting 'defeatist' conversations across the UK); more importantly we don't know the morale and therefore the fighting effectiveness of the land forces, especially after the unmitigated defeat and loss of equipment and personnel in France. However, researchers only need to look at the performance of Fighter Command. In spite of being outnumbered 3:1 by the Luftwaffe, the RAF prevailed and reported instances of LMF were few.

Another aspect was the scorched earth policy that was communicated by the government. Whether it was the use of fourgasse systems, or the publicised threat of use of chemical weapons, HMG was prepared to defend this sceptre'd isle to a degree simply not seen on the Continent. Much was made of the time of the absolute might of the Royal Navy - not only to defeat invasion forces - but to carry on the flight globally. Churchill also regularly cited the strength of the Empire in defence of the 'Christian World'. This is a moot point; if Britain fell, the war was to be conducted from Canada. Quite how the UK would be retaken from the other side of the Atlantic would be an interesting Alt-history excursion.

Thankfully, we will never know.
ISTR there were some worrying (at the time) mass observation reports from Hull which suggested the locals were less than full of blitz spirit.
 

tiv

LE
Just beyond the HQF Bty is a pillbox built into the sea wall. Three loopholes facing seaward, entrance at rear now obstructed with a Pendine block.

DSCF0054.jpg
 
I came across two photos of the HQF Bty when in use and sort of stitched them together to get this. The two guns on the left are 4.7" and those on the right 6" with a 9.2" mounting covered up in the emplacement just beyond.

View attachment 572635
Very exposed to hostile fire; impossible to camouflage - was this an experimental battery? If one gun was hit, chances are all crews would have been taken out of action - if not the guns themselves.
 

tiv

LE
Very exposed to hostile fire; impossible to camouflage - was this an experimental battery? If one gun was hit, chances are all crews would have been taken out of action - if not the guns themselves.
No, it was for the Coast Artillery School that was based there till being moved to Llandudno in WWII. There was no magazine, just a serving room with hoists up to the guns
 

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