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, 26 November 2012

Sandymount Covert: Spigot Mortar Update

Following my last post, I was informed of a third Spigot Mortar pedestal surviving. This one was buried under bracken, nettles etc  and had clearly been removed from its original location. I suspect it was originally sited within the field, just on the edge of the Covert and was removed after the War (the field is ex-arable).

The pedestal is unusual in that it is slightly different  to the standard design. It has also been very crudely made, with beach shingle mixed with rubble in a concrete mix. I'm also uncertain if the pedestal was mounted on a concrete base slab- the reinforcing steel rods that the spindle was mounted on (known as the 'birdcage' or 'spider') are normally set into the concrete base slab. The attached images would suggest they were not.
The recommended shuttering for the pedestal was a concrete pipe - in this example shuttering seems to have been corrugated iron sheets for the top half - not sure what they used for the bottom half. The pedestal is also tapered.






Above: Top two images show the third Spigot Mortar pedestal in the Sandymount Covert area. Next two images are google sketchup models of the pedestal (they are not to scale, neither do they show the crude construction). Bottom image is the standard design of the pedestal.




Above: Top image shows the crude construction with shingle mixed in with rubble. Middle and bottom  image shows the bottom loops of the 'birdcage' which should be set into the concrete base slab - was this pedestal ever set on a base slab?



Monday, 19 November 2012

Sandymount Covert, Dunwich

I have posted on some of the remains to be found at Sandymount Covert a while ago, but it was one of my first posts and I have refined recording a bit since then. So another visit was required to more comprehensively record the traces of WW2.

Sandymount Covert was more or less occupied throughout the war by the military. In 1940 the Covert was an "Emergency Platoon" area, to be manned by the Reserve Company of 2/4 South Lancs Regt. if required. A Bren gun was to be sited to cover the ground to the south of the Covert.  During the second half of 1940, an Emergency Coastal Battery with two 4" guns was  established at nearby Dingle Great Hill.


Above: Location of Dunwich Coastal Battery and the two Coastal Artillery Search Lights (CASL's), of which only fragments remain now (see below)

In 1941 a section of medium machine guns from 1/7 Middlesex was in support of 15th Div, with guns sited on the eastern edge of Sandymount Covert to cover the ground towards Walberswick.



Above: Top image - Sandymount Covert and approx locations of Vickers MG Section, 1941 and the site for a Bren Gun as part of the "Emergency Platoon" area, 1940. Bottom image shows the field of fire that the Vickers guns would have had - Southwold's Harbour Jetty was the mark for the left hand arc.

Towards the end of the war, a Diver Battery was located at Sandymount Covert in the battle against the V1 Rockets as part of the Diver Strip.

Remains to be found in Sandymount Covert include a number of V shaped trenches, two spigot mortars, concrete bases for huts, remains of the sullage system and other earthworks. Deciding on what their use was or when they constructed is however problematical due to to the long occupation by the military. For example where the huts constructed for use of the personnel of the Emergency Coastal Battery or for the Diver Battery (or did the personnel of the Diver Battery take over the huts from the Emergency Coastal Battery, which closed in 1943?). Who dug the V shaped trenches and what was their purpose. Being situated some distance inside the Covert, if they were for defence presumably a lot of scrub would have to have been cut to clear fields of fire. The spigot mortars where certainly for the close defence of the Emergency Coastal Battery' s defensive perimeter as most, if not all, Suffolk's Coastal Batteries received these mortars for defence.



Above: Plot of the WW2 remains still to be found in Sandymount Covert.


So on to a closer look at  the remains:

V shaped Trenches:
I found at least eight of these, some in reasonable condition, some very eroded. In two, traces of angle iron revetment were still visible. What exactly their role was I'm uncertain of. Could either be defence or perhaps Passive Air Defence. On the southern edge of the Covert, a raised 'S' shaped bank could be an in-filled trench?


Above: One of the V shaped trenches and plan



Above: A very eroded V shaped trench, with six pieces of angle iron still present and plan


Above: Another V shaped trench shows up clearly in the afternoon shadows.


Above: An in-filled infantry trench?


Spigot Mortars
A joy to find these as I had missed them on all my previous visits. They were quite clearly sited to cover the approach to the Emergency Coastal Battery. Presumably some sort of road block would have been in place on the track.




Above: The two spigot mortars and a view of the open ground they covered. Note in the top image, corrugated iron seems to have been used for the pedestal's shuttering.


Concrete bases and sullage system
A number of concrete bases are visible along with various remains of the sullage system. Other concrete bases have disappeared under 65 or so years of leaf litter but their outline is still clearly visible.





Above: Top image- one of the concrete bases.Middle image - a soak away. Bottom image  - a nice piece of 4" glazed stoneware pipe still in situ. 


Coast Battery
The Battery still remains but is private property so no access to it. Coastal erosion has accounted for the location of the two CASL's but I think remains of both can still be seen, especially at low tide.



Above: An exceptionally low tide revealed some interesting remains. In the top image a Dragons tooth iron spike can be seen along with remains of the left had CASL. In the background is the Jetty at Southwold Harbour. Bottom image shows possible remains of right hand CASL

Saturday, 10 November 2012

11 November - Remembering: Some individual Soldiers

This last post, on our recent trip to the Somme, will end by remembering a few individual soldiers. So how do you choose out of the thousands buried in the Somme Cemeteries?

Relatives were allowed to add a personal inscription to the headstones. The British decided to charge for this as it was thought it would give the families a more personal stake in the grave (The Canadian Government paid for the inscriptions while the New Zealand Government refused to allow personal inscriptions). Most inscriptions are well known religious verses or simple messages from mum, dad, brothers and sister or wife. The following are chosen from inscriptions  that caught my attention and as I have no known relative to remember, I'll remember these names:


PRIVATE J RAMSHAW: "PAUSE, OH YOU WINDS OF FRANCE  AS AROUND HIS GRAVE YOU MOAN & WHISPER"


PRIVATE E.G. HENDERSON: "SOME TIME WE WILL UNDERSTAND"


PRIVATE C.T. CRACKNELL: "FROM OUR HAPPY HOME AND CIRCLE GOD HAS TAKEN ONE WE LOVED"


PRIVATE W.J. YOUNG: "THERE IS A LINK DEATH CANNOT SEVER  LOVE AND REMEMBRANCE LAST FOREVER"


PRIVATE J. LIGHTON: "HE HAS GONE AND I MOURN HIS LOSS"


PRIVATE C.J. DEYKIN: "TELL ENGLAND......I DIED FOR HER AND HERE I REST CONTENT"


PRIVATE P.J. BRITTAIN: "TELL ENGLAND WE LIE HERE CONTENT"


SERJEANT A.P. COUTTS: "SOLDIER, REST THY WARFARE O'ER  SLEEP THE SLEEP THAT KNOWS NO WAKING"


SECOND LIEUTENANT J.H. PARR-DUDLEY: "I FOUND YOU QUIETLY SLEEPING FAR OUT IN THE TIDES OF DARKNESS"


PRIVATE A.K. LLOYD: " GOOD-NIGHT BELOVED  GOOD-NIGHT, GOOD-NIGHT"


RIFLEMAN T.E. WALTON: "JESUS, MY REST AMID EARTH'S BATTLEFIELDS"


PRIVATE E.S. WILKINSON: "ENGLAND IN THE STORM OF WAR  FOUND HIM FIT TO FIGHT & DIE FOR HER"


PRIVATE A.P. SWIFT: "THE PATH OF DUTY LEADS BUT TO THE GRAVE"


SERJEANT A. ROUGH: "NOW 'A' IS DONE  THAT MEN CAN DO  AND 'A' IS DONE IN VAIN"















Friday, 9 November 2012

11 November 2012 - Remembering: "The Silent Cities"

The first of two posts to remember the fallen in the Great War and all subsequent conflicts. The first of these two posts was inspired by Sydney C. Hurst's book, "The Silent Cities". After the Great War, Sydney Hurst was working for the Imperial War Graves Commission, but in his spare time was working on a project to photograph the cemeteries and memorials to the missing in France and Flanders. So impressed was Maj-Gen Sir Fabian Ware (Vice-Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission) with this work, that Sydney Hurst was given special leave by the Commission to complete this work - the result his book, "The Silent Cities" (the phrase "Silent Cities" originated from Rudyard Kipling).

The book was intended  to satisfy two demands of the time - the first a photograph of the general appearance of each cemetery and, the second, to give clear indications of the situation of each cemetery as would enable its geographical surroundings to be some extent visualized and a visit easily undertaken or planned. In addition, in his forward to "Silent Cities", Maj-Gen Sir Fabian wrote: "But I hope that {Silent Cities}will also get into the hands of many who have no association of kinship with these cemeteries and memorials, but for whom the claims of national brotherhood fall on ears not deaf to the sounds of a past fading into the distance or on hearts not yet unmoved by gratitude for a sacrifice on which their present rests secure" - i.e. it was hoped that the book would also be an act of remembrance.

So I thought for this post, a few photos of cemeteries, visited during our October trip, compared with photos taken by Sydney Hurst all those years ago would be my way of remembering.



Warlencourt British Cemetery, 3 miles SW of Bapaume Sta, on Albert-Bapaume road, N. of Butte de Warlencourt. Scene of fierce fighting by 47th (London), 51st (Highland) and 42nd (E.Lancs.) Divs. in 1916 and 1918. Records 2,765 U.K., 461 Aust., 126 S.A., 79 N.Z., 4 Can., and 2 French burials and 71 special memorials.



Hibers Trench Cemetery, Wancourt. 4 1/2 miles SE. of Arras Sta., 1/2 mile NW. of village. Captured by Brit. April 12th 1917, Wancourt Tower taken by 50th (Northumbrian) Div. on 13th. Finally secured by Can. Corps Aug 26th 1918. Records 133 U.K., 3 Can., burials and 2 special memorials.



Guemappe British Cemetery, Wancourt. 6 miles SE. of Arras, 5 miles N. of Croisilles Sta., W of village, S. of road to Wancourt. Wancourt lay in the Hindenburg Line and was taken by assault April 12th 1917. Records 170 U.K. burials.



Tank Cemetery, Guemappe, 6 miles SE. of Arras, 5 miles N. of Croisilles Sta., NW. of village and W. of road to Monchy-le-Preux. Majority of casualties fell in heavy fighting for Hindenburg Line April 23rd-28th 1917 during Battle of Arras. Records 218 U.K. and 1 Newfld. burials.



Sunken Road Cemetery, Fampoux. 4 1/2 miles E. of Arras, at summit of sunken road to Bailleul. Captured by 4th Div. April 9th 1917. Cem. made by fighting units April 1917-Jan 1918. Records 196 U.K. burials and 16 special memorials.