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Monday 31 May 2010

Bawdsey Beach Pillboxes

As well as the remains of obstacles already blogged on,  two pillboxes can also be found on the beach to the south of the emergency battery. These pillboxes were part of the defences for this battery (another can be found on the beach to the north of the battery). Both are type 22's and unusually for second war pillboxes  they had heavy metal doors. The embrasures were also reinforced with metal plates, of which one can be seen on the beach.  Traces of the internal brick anti-ricochet wall can be seen.The remains of the anti-tank wall defending the battery to the south can also be seen (it is intact in parts to the north). Two further pillboxes can be found on the cliffs above the beach,  but more on these on the next blog.

Photo 1: Two type 22's on beach
Photo 2: Type 22 and remains of anti-tank wall
Photo 3: Type 22 with metal door nearby
Photo 4: One of the metal plates fixed above the embrasures for reinforcement

Saturday 29 May 2010

Bawdsey Beach part 2

Continuing with obstacles, there are a number of Dragon's Teeth present on the beach. These were basically large metal pointed spikes sunk into the beach at half tide level designed to rip the bottom of enemy invasion barges. No sign of any concrete blocks, as the remains of the ones I've already blogged on at Thorpeness so I am wondering if these were just pushed into the beach as they are. Also many concrete 'A' frames, of which I have no idea what they were for!
Photo 1: Dragon's Tooth
Photo 2: Sketchup showing measurements
Photo 3: Concrete 'A' frame, purpose unknown
Photo 4: Measurements of 'A' Frame

Thursday 27 May 2010

Bawdsey Beach part 1

Firstly in memory to all those involved in 'The Miracle of Dunkirk' including the often forgotten men who formed the rear guard and fought until killed or captured, allowing the evacuation to be successful. They will not be forgotten.

A visit to Bawdsey Beach at low tide (Mon 17th) revealed the remains of various anti-landing obstacles, also two pillboxes (will post on these on a future blog). I assume that the concrete blocks and iron were used to anchor naval Z1 scaffolding.  The iron uprights were constructed of both angle iron and RSJ's, and all have four holes approx 13/4" diameter. The blocks were anchored into the sand with the angle iron/RSJ projecting from the bottom of the concrete block as well as four 3/4" round metal rods. The current location of the blocks is certainly at half tide level. See attached Sketchup diagram for full measurements. 

Above the high tide level (although for how long!!!) are the remains of some scaffolding. Next post will include some details on 'Dragons Teeth' and concrete 'A' frames which I have no idea what they were for.
Photos 1 to 3 - concrete blocks with angle iron / RSJ's
Photo 4 - Sketchup of one of these blocks
Photo 5 - remains of scaffolding.

Monday 24 May 2010

Orford and Amateur Cricket!

Despite no posts in the last couple of weeks, have visited a few sites - much material for the blog which is just as well, as with vegetation now growing up, field work will probably slow right down until Oct/Nov. So on Sun 16th walked from Orford to Butley Ferry and back around Gedgrave Hall. Orford was a company locality during 1940-42, and Orford Quay considered a possible enemy target, allowing them to sail badges up the River Alde and unload at the Quay. Indeed this was the assumption for unloading the main  enemy force in Exercise Force Donnerwetter which I have already blogged on. 
In the  car park at Orford a number of concrete blocks can be found, at least a couple I am certain are standard 3 ft tank blocks. Others have scaffolding poles through the middle, possibly  for anchoring naval Z1 scaffolding? They may of course not be war time at all, sometimes you have to take a step back and remind yourself that every lump of concrete you come across is not the remains of some anti-invasion defence! Along the seawall just to the south is a Suffolk Square dug into the seawall, covering the approach to the Quay. At Butley Ferry, came across some scaffolding remains, again possibly war time or perhaps just the remains of an old jetty. Nothing on the walk back past Gedgrave Hall.
During the last week, a couple of finds on the heath, a small aluminium or zinc tag and a .50" browning round (now deactivated!!! - have also attached a pic of all the SAA found over the last couple of yrs). The tag has writing on it: Rendan Manufacturing Company (GB) Ltd / Brit. Patent 480082 / Brit. Appln. 35433/38 / CTS. 294/W/9446 (CON.I) / R.W.E.S Type No A000394. All I have been able to find out about this is that Rendan Manuf. Co was wound up in 1952 and had a works team in Halifax & District Amateur Cricket Association league, certainly playing during the war. I guess the tag must have come from some sort of ammunition box.
Much more to come over the next few weeks, including another trip to the Eastern Command Line this last weekend.
Photo 1: Concrete blocks, Orford. Second in from the right almost certainly a 3 ft tank block
Photo 2 and 3: Suffolk Sq dug into seawall, Orford.
Photo 4: Remains of scaffolding at Butley Ferry
Photo 5: Browning .50 heavy MG round (deactivated - note marks on bullet left by the jaws of bench vice!!) and unidentified metal tag.
Photo 6: Small arms ammo found to date

Thursday 13 May 2010

Benacre / Kessingland Part 2

Ended up today in the area just south of Kessingland ('The Denes' on a modern OS map). This area used to known as Benacre Ness (Ness being a small headland) but there has been much erosion here since the end of the war. However a good selection of defences remain in the area (I have already posted a blog on the observation post and a couple of the pillboxes).
The first photo shows a remaining snapshot of the 2nd War landscape. The water body is the only remaining gravel extraction pit remaining (originally three) which was dug during the war in order to obtain a supply of gravel which was used to construct the defences in the area (pillboxes, tank blocks, coastal defence battery, roads and tracks). This probably explains why the Suffolk Square pillboxes in this area appear more solidly built than those further south  (which used pre-cast blocks as shuttering). The ditch was known as 'The New Cut' and originally extended to Benacre Broad. Although it shows up on aerial photos during the war, I'm unsure if it was dug as an anti-tank ditch or is pre war. Even if pre-war it would have provided a ready-made anti-tank ditch. The pillbox in the background (left) is one of several remaining in the area, built using the aggregate dug up from the pit. The second photo shows the remains of another Suffolk Square (the blast wall), clearly visible in dunes in wartime aerial photos!
Third photo shows some of the remaining anti-tank cubes - last time I visited just a few tips were showing through the shingle but the strong NE winds have eroded some of the shingle ridge. Last photo shows a destroyed Suffolk Square, also clearly visible on aerial photos with supporting trenches.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Benacre / Kessingland Part 1: Sanitary Pipe Works

A strange title for this blog, about a walk in the Benacre / Kessingland area I  admit! So I better explain it! Today (Mon 10th May) decided to check this area to see if coastal erosion that I have already bloged on re Thorpeness had revealed any fresh 'finds' in this area, one of the quickest eroding sections of the Suffolk Coast. In particular I was interested in any visible evidence of Covehithe Emergency Coastal Battery. Also on my recent visit to the NMR Centre in Swindon I had recorded some aerial photos showing buildings in this area in 1940/41 (no idea at the moment if they are military or not). Covehithe Cliffs have eroded markedly since the war so any evidence was going to be along the tide line. All I could find weres many remains of sewage systems! These did resemble some of the remains I have found in camps (eg HAA Battery camps) still surviving. One pipe was manufactured by H R Mansfield, Church Gresley. Church Gresley is in Darbyshire, 15 miles from Darby and 6 miles from Ashby-de-la Zouch. From a Google search I was able to trace H R Mansfield Sanitary Pipe Works from 1895 to 1945! Of course I have no idea if the sewer system remains on the beach are from military buildings or not, but the complete lack of other building remains would suggest the buildings themselves were dismantled, just leaving the underground sewer in place. Subsequently, cliff erosion has resulted in depositing the sewer system on the beach. This would make sense, for example, with emergency coastal batteries, many of which were scheduled for removal at the end of the war.

Not really a website update, but have added a couple of interesting snippets to Defence Works - Minefields-Buildings in Defence on the site.

Hopefully, a less off-beat post tomorrow!
Image 1: A complete manhole from a sewer, Benacre/Covehithe Beach
Image 2: Sewer Pipe, manufactured by H R Mansfield, Church Gresley

Monday 10 May 2010

Quick post on a Somme relic (not me!)

This post is not because I have not got anything to say on Suffolk - hope to do a quick post on a walk around Kessingland in the next few days. Rather it is to highlight an amazing (at least I think!) survival from the 1st War pointed out to me by my brother. You may remember I posted an image of three German stick grenades we found. Well on reviewing his photos my brother noticed some writing still remaining on the handle on one - clearly visible is 5 1/2 - relating to the time of the fuse. So checked my photos and yes its there!!!!! Amazing, I think, still visible after 90 odd years!

Thursday 6 May 2010

Unusal Finds

Strong NE winds continue to erode a part of the cliffs at Thorpeness revealing more WW2 remains. Previously on this blog I mentioned the last time we had a prolonged period of strong winds, some eroded dragons teeth were revealed. In the latest burst of erosion even more are now showing. Also a block of concrete from the toppled pillbox revealed some writing - clearly visible are traces of a number followed by 'Coy RE'. As 558 Field Coy designed and oversaw the construction of this style of pillbox it must surely relate to them - see attached pic of the 'reconstructed' writing.
However the most unusual and puzzling find was a small cartridge id by folks on WW2 Talk (any questions you have on WW2, just post on this forum and you will get an answer!) as being from the United States M1 Carbine (calibre .30 inch).  Getting my calipers out I can confirm the measurements are spot on. The cartridge is dated 1943 and the manufacture stamp 'C', relates to Lake City. This was a US Government factory and began manufacturing the .30 carbine cartridge in 1941. I am unaware of any US troops in the area during the war (nearest I can think of is the large US camp at Fritton, Norfolk). I have found a reference to the British testing the carbine as a possible replacement for the Lee Enfield but such trials would not have been held at Thorpeness! So what it is doing here is a mystery - if anyone reading this blog has any info please leave a comment!
9th Kings Defence scheme now on the website (under 55th Division). 
Image 1: WW2 decay on Thorpeness beach
Image 2: Remains of a 'dragons tooth', under the toppled pillbox
Image 3: One half of a pre cast embrasure
Image 4: 'Reconstructed' 558 Coy RE
Image 5: The M1 .30 calibre cartridge (left) with a 9mm for comparison
Image 6: The US M1 Carbine and clip of ammo  (Author: Curiosandrelics)

Monday 3 May 2010

Bank Holiday Washout

Well it rained in Suffolk all day on Sunday! This resulted in time to work on the next defence scheme - 9th Kings should be on the website in the next few days. Despite a very very windy and sometimes wet Monday I was still not going to brave the bank holiday traffic so took the opportunity to get some photos  of local WW2 remains I have recorded (but not up till now photographed). These included the Gorse Hill (Aldeburgh) ROC post - images attached. I wont bore you with the rest - basically they are piles of destroyed concrete (which probably explains why I have not got round to photographing them until now!).