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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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Trenches - a section post at Walberswick and training trenches in the Dunwich Battle Training Area

It's been awhile since I last posted, although this is not a result of a lack of activity. I have currently been working on a new project, which is taking all my  time but more of this later. I am still managing to get out and about though, and much to my amazement have stumbled across a set of training trenches in an area I thought I'd completed my field research in. So this blog will feature these earthworks, plus a return visit to a 1941 section post that I have already posted on, but have returned for a second look at. 

"Swastika Trench" - Walbesrswick 1941 Section Post

There were two reasons to revisit this trench. Firstly, thanks to D Sims for pointing me in the direction of a Home Guard manual that illustrates a swastika type trench (although only a one man bombing trench as opposed to a section post) and secondly I wanted to record it more accurately before the area becomes too scrubbed over. This trench, I am sure,  is a section post dating from 1941 covering the anti-tank ditch in the rear of Walberswick for the "Western Battle". During 1940, the priority was developing the forward beach defences; in 1941, work began on developing the defence in depth, to defeat an attack from the rear - the "Western Battle", i.e. an attack from enemy airborne troops that were landed in the rear of the beach defences. 

Above: Image 1 - a plot of the "swastika" trench using tape and offsets
Image 2: A one man bombing trench, modified into a "swastika" trench illustrated in a Home Guard Manual
Image 3: Aerial of the area in 1945 (anti-tank ditch shown by the red line and the location of the swastika trench is circled)
Image 4: Aerial of the area today

Previously, I had only recorded this trench by GPS track; I wanted a more accurate plot using tape and offsets. Another look at the ground also revealed how well this trench was sighted. Only one leg of the "swastika" is visible from the anti-tank ditch, the rest of the earthwork is on a reverse slope, out of sight from an enemy approaching from the west. The trench has been dug to the old "fire trench" and communication trench dimensions as illustrated on my previous blog on this trench. 

 Above: Images 1-3 - one of the communication trenches; note the meter ruler for scale in images 2 and 3.
Image 4 - one of the fire bays, with a meter rule for scale.
Image 5 - the field of view over the anti-tank ditch from a nearby weapon-pit; the anti-tank ditch was located in the general area of where the pig farm is currently located, which can be seen in the extreme distance of image.

So my thinking is the obstacle was covered by direct fire from this trench to prevent enemy infantry and engineers from creating crossings over the anti-tank ditch, but also fire positions were hidden from the enemy on the reverse slope. 

In summary, an interesting reappraisal of this trench - would love to know how accurate my conclusions actually are!!

Training Trenches -  Dunwich Battle Training Area

Came across these at work (one of the benefits of my job!!) and revisited this weekend to record. It is what seems to be a platoon locality, dug for training purposes. These earthworks are quite a distance from any others that I know of. They consist in the main of a series of crawl trenches linking up weapon slits; a couple of crawl trenches run off from the "front line" to large pits in the rear. Also there are a number of weapon slits and V shaped weapon slits in the rear. The crawl trenches vary from eroded to quite well preserved; there must be the chance that all the weapon slits on the forward edge were linked with a continuous crawl trench originally. Cannot really say much more about these training earthworks at present, except I regard them as some of the most significant and well preserved I've come across. 

Above: Image 1- the network of crawl trenches and weapon slits; area circled is shown in image 2.
Image 3 - 5 - part of the trench network can be made out in these images. 

Finally, just completed field work on many training earthworks at Westleton Heath, a fascinating site - more to come soon!!

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