Welcome to this blog which is intended to accompany a website on how Suffolk was defended during the Second War. The blog will describe my trips out and about looking for the remains of the Second War defences while the Website will concentrate on putting these into context.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

Wilford Bridge, Melton Sun Apr 18 part 3

It was quite a thrill to come across this pillbox, which as far as I have been able to ascertain has never been 'officially' recorded before (at least its not on the Defence of Britain data base or Suffolk County Council HER - although both have now been sent details!), but even more surprisingly is a design never recorded before. In all likelihood, it is a one-off unique design. It is basically an irregular hexagon, which housed a six pounder anti-tank gun on the usual holdfast. Standard Bren gun embrasures are on four of the other sides and the smallest side has a rifle embrasure. It had a low level protected entrance on one side plus another low level entrance on one of the other sides, no doubt an access point for the six pounder. On the side with the anti-tank gun embrasure there is a second very narrow embrasure - an observation slit? Its a shell-proof pillbox (approx 40 inches thick). The nearest pillbox that resembles this design is the Eastern Command shell proof version of CRE1094 (Osborne, 20th Century Defences in Britain - Suffolk) - a regular hexagon with six Bren embrasures and the same type of   protected low level entrance. 
It directly covered Wilford Bridge, and I can only assume its gone unrecorded for so long because it is actually on the northern side of the Deben (all the other known pillboxes covering this bridge are on the south side). It just goes to show that even today, new finds can be made in the field. British WW2 Home Defences are still a largely neglected and forgotten subject, with pillboxes still regarded as 'eyesores' or 'in the way'. Considering the period 1940-41 probably saw the biggest military engineering project ever undertaken in this country at a time when Britain faced a grave threat, its a sad state of affairs.
Nearby I also came across this Nissan Hut, still lived in with the apt name of 'Nissan Cottage'! Finally thanks to the owner of the garden in which one side of the pillbox is in for allowing me access for photos and to take measurements.
Image 1: Plan of the pillbox
Image 2: The anti-tank gun embrasure
Image 3: Bren embrasure, with metal plates on the inner 'step' of the embrasure
Image 4: Interior shot showing a standard Bren embrasure, the small rifle embrsaure and the low level entrance
Image 5: Protected low level entrance
Image 6: 6 pounder holdfast and embrasure - also the second narrow embrasure - an observation slit?
Image 7: Narrow (observation slit?) embrasure with eight metal bars across it
Image 8:  Exterior of pillbox - the protected entrance can be seen on the left with the second low level entrance (access for the 6 pounder) on the right.
Image 9: 'Nissan Cottage'

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