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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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Goose Hill Platoon and Company Training Exercise - Dunwich Battle Area

On my last visit to TNA, I came across some documents detailing platoon and company training (D Company, 7 Borders), with live firing, in the Goose Hill area during 1944. The documents refer to this area as being part of the Dunwich Battle training area, although the area had been secured with live firing rights since 1942 by 54th Division for use with its Battle School.

The ‘object’ of the exercises were to exercise both the platoon and company in the attack. Both exercises were ‘one sided’ and controlled by a ‘Director’.  Both drills practised are straight out of the Instructors’ Handbook on Fieldcraft and Battle Drill (GHQ Home Forces, 1942). Last Sunday I visited the area - it is possible to walk most of the ground although it is hard to visualize the landscape due to the conifer plantations. If Sizewell ‘C’ Nuclear Power station ever goes ahead the area will become out of bounds!

Above: Top - Goose Hill aerial, 1945
Middle: 1946 OS map of the area.
Bottom: The Triangulation station (Trig Point) in the vicinity of the 'Pimple' - showing how the plantations make it impossible to visualize the landscape today.

Platoon attack exercise

The ‘narrative’ of the exercise stated that a section of enemy paratroopers were in the Pimple / Summer House area. The platoon was to attack and kill all the enemy on Goose Hill. The platoon was to carry out a right flanking attack.

The platoon advanced along the track from Kenton Hills. On emerging in the open, the point section was fired on by a light machine gun situated in The Pimple area. The point section was ordered to halt and became the ‘fire section’,  i.e. using it's Bren Group, to beat down enemy fire and gain fire superiority while the ‘main effort’  was to be made by the other two sections by a right flanking attack to secure the area The Pimple – Summer House.  The platoon’s two inch mortars covered the movement of the other two sections to the Forming Up Point (FUP) for the attack with five minutes firing of smoke rounds.

Above: The platoon attack exercise, based on converted grid references and the exercise narrative.

Company attack exercise

The ‘narrative’ of the exercise stated that a party of German parachutists (approx 30 strong) and landed and were somewhere on Goose Hill. The company was to deal with them at once.

On advancing  along the track from Kenton Hills, the leading section was fired upon from a wood. The section advanced by the pepperpot method and found the wood empty. The pepperpot method was basically fire and movement – the section split up into three groups (the Bren group and the Rifle group split into two parties). Each party advanced independently, each group at a time getting up and running 20 yards then lying down. As soon as one group drops down the next group gets up. The Bren group should be on the flank to give as wide an arc as possible for fire while on the ground. The method was based on the fact that it would take a rifleman or machine gunner a few moments to aim on a target and produce accurate fire by which time the target had gone to ground.

Above: The approx. position the leading section was fired upon along the Kenton Hills track, according to the exercise narrative. 

On advancing further the leading platoon was fired upon from The Pimple – Summer House Ridge. The platoon commander was to realize it was a company task and that The Pimple would need to be secured first. The Pimple was to be secured as for the platoon exercise.  The platoon then became the ‘fire platoon’ for the ‘main effort’ of the company which was to secure the Summer House by a right flanking attack. Three inch mortars were used to put down smoke on the Summer House and also two minutes rapid fire just before the attack went in.

Mortar firing practice

As part of the D Company’s period of training at the Dunwich Battle training area, practice firing of 2” mortars was to be carried out at Leiston Common and Broom Covert. Practice firing of 3” mortars was also to be carried out in the Ash Wood area. 

Above: Broom Covert, with Sizewell Power Station in the background

I did not find any mortar fragments on either Leiston Common or Broom Covert area despite a detailed search. A few years ago I did find an unexploded 2" smoke round in the plantations on the Pimple - Summer House ridge.

However, as usual on Goose Hill, I found a number of .303 cartridges and also one .300 cartridge from a variety of dates and manufactures:

.303 cartridges
Royal Laboratories – one dated 1941 and one 1928
Crompton Parkinson, Guiseley, Yorks – two dated 1944
South African Mint, Kimberley Factory – one dated 1943
Defence Industries, Montreal, Canada – one dated 1944
Winchester Repeating Arms – one dated 1940
On a further five cartridges it was not possible to fully read the stamps.
.300 cartridge
Remington Arms Co, Bridgeport – 1941

Above: Sunday's hall of WW2 artifacts

I am not exactly sure what the Summer House was, but the 1946 OS map does show a building. The only evidence remaining today is what could be an infilled septic tank.

Above: An infilled septic tank - all that remains of the Summer House?

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