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Monday, 22 February 2010

German Defences - Part 2

This post concentrates on Field Enginnering. The following images are from a German Manual of Field Engineering dating from 1943 and as can be seen the field works are similar to those used by the British, so were the weapons pits etc at Westleton dug to represent German Field Works as part of Exercise Kruschen?
Rain over the last two days allowed some progress on the website - Defence against Gas and Defence against Parachutists now posted.

German Defences - Part 1

A year or so ago I first learnt about Exercise Kruschen, held at Dunwich Common (including Westleton Walks) in 1943. It was the first serious attempt to practice an assault against the German 'Hedgehog' Defence. I am now aware that all the concrete structures, dugouts etc were constructed for this exercise based on a 'Hedgehog' or Igel and that a serious study is under way of this Exercise. Anyway it got me thinking about German Field Engineering and defence works. The German principal of defence was to group complimentary works, each work providing fire for its own defence as well as covering the dead ground of its neighbours.The strongpoints were in turn arranged in an irregular pattern of depth.The Allied Forces were well aware that any invasion of the Continent would involve assaulting such prepared positions, consisting of concrete and field works.
So do the features I have been recording at Westleton Walks resemble any German defences? Presumably the training works constructed at Dunwich/Westleton would be based on intelligence of German defences.  The destroyed concrete structure, with is wide embrasure, does have some vague resemblance to the so called Waasenaar Emplacement (found in the Waasenaar district of Holland) or the Cantilever type of emplacement (both Machine Gun emplacements)..
German Field Works, not surprisingly, strongly resembled those in the British Field Engineering Manuals ( weapons-pits, crawl trenches, slit trenches etc).
When the new study on this exercise is published it should make fascinating reading.
Top: Google sketcp reconstruction of destroyed concrete structure, Westleton Walks
Second down: Waasenaar Emplacement
Third down: Cantilever type of emplacement
Bottom: Hypothetical plan of German Beach defences showing strong points ('Hedgehogs') in depth

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The following set of images are of a artillery observation post (near Beach Farm, Benacre) with a Suffolk Sq Pillbox nearby. The artillery OP has 15" thick walls and a 12" thick roof; it may have been subjected to gunnery practice (as in the last two pillboxes in my last post) as there is damage to the roof. The Suffolk sq pillbox is again constructed with conventional shuttering as opposed to the pre cast blocks used for shuttering found further south. The concrete weapons shelf is also continuous as opposed to  a separate shelf for each embrasure.
Top: Suffolk Sq pillbox and Artillery Observation Post in background
Second down: Rear  of Suffolk Sq Pillbox showing blast wall
Third down: Artillery Observation Post
Fourth down: Kessingland from Observation Post
Bottom: Another Suffolk Sq pillbox seen from Suffolk Sq Pillbox.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Pillbox Target practice

Well, did not make Eastern Command Line due to distractions - its at least a 1 1/2 hr drive, so visited Benacre area instead. Many pillboxes in this area so will detail the visit in a few bolgs. First up are a couple of Suffolk Squares, which are as far as I can see unrecorded (at least they are not on the DOB data base I've got). Both are constructed using wooden shuttering as opposed to the pre cast blocks you find further south. Both have obviously been used post invasion role to test direct weapons fire against embrasures.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Another pleasant sunny afternoon at Westleton. I was not intending to publish a post on this visit as I knew the weapons-pits I was mapping were only shallow depressions. However a few pieces of pottery I found I thought were worth a post on the blog.
The top photo show the pottery stamps on two items found. Both were from potteries in Stoke - Booths Ltd (1891 - 1944) and George Jones & Sons (1873 - 1951, showing their characteristic crescent mark). Besides 303 cartridges they are the first datable evidence I have found (not that you need datable evidence its 1940-45!).
Middle photo is the Booths Ltd piece
Bottom photo is the most interesting earthwork mapped today - two weapons-pits (in red) linked by a crawl trench (in blue).
Weather permitting will visit part of Eastern Command Line tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Mortar rounds

Thanks to WW2 Talk, I now know  what the remains of the mortar rounds I found at Westleton Walks are - 4.2" Mortars. These were introduced by the British in 1942, initially to fire chemical weapons but later both High Explosive and Smoke Rounds were developed. The British 4.2" Mortar was distinctly different from the American 4.2" mortar. The rounds I found were chemical rounds (presumably white phosphorus), part of Exercise Kruschen training???????
Image is a chemical round which I found on

Monday, 8 February 2010

Waveney Forest again

Mon 8th Feb
A miserable grey day on the Suffolk Coast seemed an ideal opportunity to revisit Waveny Forest. Struck gold dust this time. Right from the start I want to emphasise that I found out about this area from a post on WW2 Talk by R Thomas (EH), so the details posted here are not my original discoveries (you can see his post on WW2 Talk, Home Front Forum although you will have to join to see his sketches of dugouts etc).
So what did I find? Many dugouts (all obviously lacking roofs, but much deeper remains than I have found in Suffolk), four gun pits aligned on the St Olaves Bridge, many weapons-pits and slits and a crenellated section post. Most remarkable although are the dugouts with a concrete roof, as Roger says in his post the condition of the wire netting revetment is remarkable. Also in evidence are many concrete bases for huts and man holes for a sewer system, which local dog walkers told me was the American camp area which apparently also included a cinema! The condition of the earthwork remains matches the best I have found in Suffolk so far, which is why I was keen to visit the area, to get as many details and measurements as possible of WW2 earthworks.
Top photo: Part of a twin dugout linked by a trench which would no doubt have been covered. The entrance is clearly visible. The roof would have most likely have consisted of timber supports to  corrugated sheets with earth and perhaps rubble to act as a shell buster. The dugout(s) have a number of weapons-slits on one side; in this respect it's similar to the one on Minsmere Dunes although the dugout itself is far more substantial.
Middle top: Entrances to underground dugouts, presumably ammunition storage (TG460 003).
Middle bottom: Inside of dugout - note angle iron supports and wire netting revetment.
Bottom: sketch of plan of twin-dugout with weapons-slits with, insert a plan of one of the four gun pits which has slit trenches nearby (presumably as shelter for the gun crew in case of aerial attack although the slits are far nearer the gun position than recommended by the field engineering manuals).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Westleton again!

Sun Feb 7th.
Hopefully you are not too bored reading about holes in the ground at Westleton. But there is another point to this blog. We all know that even today, pillboxes are often regarded as 'eyesores' and are still being demolished to make way for development, but what about earthworks? Most, if not all surviving earthworks on the Suffolk Coast today are on nature reserves. I know that every care is taken to avoid damage to earthworks. This is easy for obvious works such as anti-landing ditches. But many earthworks today remain only as shallow depressions (esp weapons-pits / slit trenches etc) and are not at all obvious. The biggest threat to such remains is heathland restoration which often involves large scale scrub clearance and litter stripping. The area I visited today had recently had scrub cleared with the brash chipped. I am sure some earth works will have been 'lost' due to this. At the same time it was obvious that work had avoided the most obvious remaining earthworks. I am in noway arguing against heathland restoration - we have lost the vast majority of the 'Suffolk Sandlings' in the last 100 yrs and it is vital to protect the remaining fragments. Hopefully then, this project, recording such earthworks (even works dug for training purposes) may be of value. Works recorded today included four large pits (purpose unknown), a section of trench (crawl trench?) and several weapons-pits and weapons-slits.
I also found two fragments of a large mortar round. Have not identified them yet. The ignition cartridge on one had an ICI badge, the number 12 and Kynoch stamped on it.
Top  - part of trench recorded today. It could be an in-filled slit trench or a crawl trench.
Middle top - large pit
Middle bottom - fragments of large mortar
Bottom - map of features recorded today

Monday, 1 February 2010

Waveney Forest

Over the border into Norfolk today to visit Waveney Forest - looking for Waveney Redoubt which sounds similar to the one at North Warren - didnt find it but many training earthworks in the forest including a possible LMG emplacement (although I'm not fully convinced!).
Also a couple of pillboxes including the 1st war one (see Henry Wills book - when still obviously still in use as a booking office).
Top and second down - 1st world war pillbox.
Third and fourth down - type 22
Fifth down - possible LMG weapons-pit with 'extension' for bren tripod to fire on fixed line.
Bottom - LMG weapons-pit with extension for bren tripod to fire on fixed line - Military Training Pamphlet No 30 Part V Protective Works