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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Monday, 21 November 2011

More evidence of live firing exercises - Westleton

Had a couple of hours spare this Sunday so spent a pleasant sunny afternoon at Westleton. Decided to check some bare ground again, expecting to find a few bits and pieces after any rain (or what little we have had this year) since my last visit in spring.

Found another mass of 303 cartridges, all fired by a Bren Gun. Nearby were some badly eroded weapons-pits, which next to I found another few 303's. 

In the main group I uncovered 134 fired cartridges, many more undoubtedly still present just under the surface. Of these 109 were manufactured by Winchester Repeating Arms and dated 1942; three by Defence Industries, Verdun, Canada, dated 1942; two by Greenwood & Batley, Leeds, dated 1940; three by ICI, Kynoch Standish, nr Wigan, 1940; two by ICI, Kynoch, Yeading, Middlesex, 1941; one by Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, Kent, 1940; 14 unidentified and three I am puzzled about. The stamps on these cartridges are RL 28 and K 29. I assume that RL and K refers to the manufacturer (Royal Laboratories and ICI Kynoch) and 28 and 29 the date of manufacture (i.e. 1928 and 1929). Both these dates would have been even before the Bren Gun was invented! My question is why was such old ammunition  still being used in 1942/43?

Above: the cartridges found this Sunday. Note the purple ring on the primer anulus on the cartridge on the bottom photo (indicating a normal ball round) still clearly visible after all these years.

I assume that these cartridges were fired as part of the new Battle Drill training (rather than just firing at targets as on a range). The Instructors' Handbook on Fieldcraft and Battle Drill, issued by C.I.C Home Forces, 1942,  emphasise the importance of using live ammunition in Battle Drill training. I am exploring the possibility of a third website, Military training in Suffolk, WW2, but with two other sites currently 'works in progress' I am not sure if this a good idea just at the moment! Anyway I am building up a good data base of evidence of training.

 Above: Traces of weapons-pits clearly visible in the shadows of the afternoon sunshine. 

Another visit to the Archives this Wed/Thur with far more documents that I want to look at than I will have time for!!


  1. whilst walking at westleton i have found a number of 25 pound artillery fuses over the years but can find no evidence of there ever being such guns in the area. Do you have any records of such guns existing please.

  2. The whole area was used for training from 1940-44. Certainly during 1943 a major training exercise was held to investigate the best methods of attacking German strong points (Exercise Kruschen) which included live firing with 25 pdrs. Still working on this and I suspect live firing by 25 pdrs may also have been carried out during other training exercises.

  3. thanks for your help is there much still to be seen/found in the area.