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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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

75mm Field Gun Battery Position - Part 1

Posting on this blog and the two websites has certainly slowed down over the last few months but this does not mean I've been idle - far from it! I've now completed my field work in the main Westleton training area, made another visit to the National Archives and also been carrying out recording in two other areas with David Sims. The next few blogs will detail the work on one of these locations.

I stumbled on this site last winter, but as I am so far behind in converting cassini grid references could not tie it down to any locality in the War Diaries. However David was able to provide the answer - it is the position of a four 75mm gun battery . It is an interesting survival as earthworks related to actual Field Batteries are incredibly rare which is strange considering the number of practice gun pits that still survive in Suffolk.

We have interpreted the remains as comprising a Battery Command Post, and at least two remaining gun pits (it is possible that all four remain). Stretching the imagination a little a fifth pit may have been dug to position one of the guns for an anti-tank role:  "Guns must be prepared to engage tanks and where a road or other likely tank approach exists in the vicinity of the posn, a gun position must be reconnoitred and prepared (if necessary) to deal with tanks approaching along such a road etc." - HQRA 55th Div.

First Image: GPS Plot of Field Battery Battle Position.
Second Image: Trench, possibly part of the Battery Command Post
Third Image: Gun Pit
Fourth Image: Could this pit have been dug as an anti-tank position? The pit is screened from view of the road except for the area in which the car can be seen.

This position does not appear to have  occupied for long. It is first noted in 52nd Field Regt's War Diary in Jan 1941, part of the artillery covering the front of 42nd Division. Work on the position probably commenced on 15th Jan 1941 when the  War Diary notes "Regiment organised on a 2 Battery basis (205 battery - A,B and E Troops; 206 Battery - C,D and F Troops). Troops move into Battle Positions".  The position we have found was the Battle Position of "A" Troop, 205 Battery. The War Diary notes that "Preparation of Battle Positions continues" throughout much of January. "A" Troop undertook firing practice on Jan 28th. 42nd Div were relieved by 15th Div during Feb 1941 and 130 Field Regt took over from 52nd Field Regt (with "E" Troop, 494 Battery taking over the position). "E" Troop had a primary defensive fire task of Walberswick and a secondary defensive fire task of Dunwich. These tasks were almost at the maximum range of the gun (approx 7,500yds).

Above: Fire Plan of "E" Troop, 494 Battery

RA 15th Division  Operation Instruction No 28 dated 26th Mar 1941 detailed a change in gun positions "with a view of making available the greatest possible fire power available for A/tnk defence and siting Arty within defended localities".  "E" Troop were to move  to Tinker's Walks. This move was to be completed by 16th April.

The next post will look in more detail at the remains and try and relate them to what information we can   glean about Field Battery positions with reference to Field Engineering Manuals and War Diaries.

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