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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.


  1. Those anti tank cubes were once lined out right along the beach from Benacre pumping station to the South somewhere-must have been a 100 or more of them but the sea has consumed them over the years-a very large pill box was once at the eastern end of the waters edge of one of those gravel pits but that has also now been consumed by the sea.

    There are still a number of pill boxes and concrete outposts a little further inland including an underground bunker going down 30 feet which I think has now been filled in.

    At Pontins to the North of Kessingland there are a number of wartime bunkers still visible and the tunnels at the camp itself which have now been also filled in or been washed away by the sea.

  2. Hi Colin
    Do you have a grid ref for the bunkers at Pontins - is there public access to them? I remember a large concrete structure visible at one of the pits when I first visited Suffolk back in 1989 - unfortunately had no interest in WW2 anti-invasion defences them! I assume it was the remains of Kessingland Emergency Coastal Battery.

  3. I remember the tunnels well as a kid when i went on holiday to kessingland you could climb down them during the early 80s.But being a bit nervous didnt venture more than a foot down the metal ladder!!

  4. The Tunnels are situated on what used to be the old Golf course at the back of Pontins Holiday camp in South Pakefield-further South from the Camp there is several old bunkers and a large bunker that had a machine gun on top during the war-the metal bars are all that are left of this and some of the pill boxes along the cliff edge have been consumed by the sea as well as the tunnels etc....

    1. Just to update this - the Heavy Anti-Aircraft tunnels and bunkers are now gone - the cliff erosion is very fast there. The remains of the two concrete slabs that mounted the guns are sitting intact on the beach, just in the water. Amazing they haven't broken up. The eroding cliffs have revealed some other shallow bunkers backfilled with rubble that are now visible from the beach, about 3ft down from the top. Just north, the rifle range retaining concrete wall fell over to the beach last week. The ROC building just south of Pontins is still perched on the edge - resisting the demand to fall over. The old Chain Home Low buildings are land side of this, so still there for a while.

  5. The small lake visible on the first photo was formed when shingle was removed to build WW2 airfields such as Ellough airfield. My grandfather, William Sampson, was contracted to move loads of shingle using his truck. There is a very well preserved "Twin Vickers Machine Gun" pillbox just inland on Beach Farm.

  6. Many thanks for the comment - I certainly did not realise that the shingle was transported so far. I have had a few little snippets of info such as this as a result of this blog - certainly information which would otherwise be lost / remain unrecorded.