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Saturday 26 June 2010

TNA Visit

An incredibly successful visit to the TNA, with over 2,200 photos of documents taken on this visit alone, I have a substantial amount of updating to do!!!!. Now on my hard drive is every defence scheme of every battalion/brigade/division/11 corps that still exists from 1939-1942 in Suffolk (I think anyway!!)  plus numerous GHQ docs, Coastal Battery Fort Records, details on Eastern Command Line, details on training exercises, etc. Still many more docs to search though (e.g. Field Engineer Coy's, HAA, Diver sites, etc etc).
A power cut resulted in a free afternoon, a long walk along the river, and never missing an opportunity came across this pillbox from one of the inner London Defence Lines.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Bawdsey - The End (For now at least)

If anyone is actually following this blog, you will possibly be glad to know this is the last post on Bawdsey for the moment! Included in this post are some photos of the old infrastructure for the Bloodhound surface-air-missile site and also a concrete artillery observation post on Hill 50 which I believe has not been recorded before. At present I know of three other artillery concrete observation posts in Suffolk, one at Benacre and two at Walberswick. This one sort of resembles the Walberswick ones in the three narrow observation slits. Several more purpose-built concrete artillery observation posts were built according to war diaries than these remaining survivals - hopefully may come across more in the future? Of course most artillery observation posts utilised existing buildings (church towers, lighthouses, windmills, residential houses) as well as infantry pillboxes and earthworks. I have even come across some  mentioned in a war diary as being in a haystacks and trees in 1941 (you would kind of expect this in the hurried improvised days of May - August 1940 but 1941?).
Off to The National Archives for 3 1/2 days next week, concentrating on war diaries for 1942/3 so hopefully expect a few updates to the website over the coming weeks. Also making good progress on 6th R Sussex Defence Scheme.
Photo 1: Sewage System, Bawdsey Bloodhound SAM site
Photo 2 & 3: I think these are Type 87 radar plinths
Photo 4: Plan of artillery observation post, Hill 50
Photo 5-9: Artillery observation post

Monday 14 June 2010

Bawdsey Radar - Defences

Bawdsey Radar site, on the Suffolk Coast, was considered a very likely target for the Germans, either in the event of a full scale invasion or a raid in order to gather information/obtain intelligence. It was thus heavily defended and this post will look at some of the still visible defences at the northern end of the site. 
Protection against low level air attacks was provided by a number of light anti-aircraft purpose built emplacements. These were basically a sunken brick pit with a shelter. Still remaining in some of the pits is the socket of the Stork Mount (for twin mounted lewis guns). One emplacement consists of a Hazzard mount for the Oerlikon 20mm gun. Numerous pillboxes defended Bawdsey, including this bullet proof type 24. It has been strengthened to embrasure level with a brick skirt filled with rubble. There can still be found remains of the numerous tank blocks that were built to defend Bawdsey - these four guard an exit from the beach. Wire entanglements would also have formed part of the defences. The remains a triple Dannert Concertina wire obstacle can still be seen, possibly dating from the war. Instead of screw pickets, angle iron pickets have been used. No doubt earthworks would have formed part of the defences - one can still be found along the cliff-top.
I promise only one more post on Bawdsey Radar (some photos of the post war site), plus another post on details of a concrete artillery observation post, previously unrecorded.
Photo 1: Brick built anti-aircraft emplacement
Photo 2: Plan of brick built ant-aircraft emplacement
Photo 3: Socket for stork mount
Photo 4: Hazzard mount for 20 mm gun
Photo 5: Type 24 pillbox
Photo 6: Four standard 5ft cube tank blocks
Photo 7: remains of triple Dannert Concertina fence
Photo 8: Remains of earthwork.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Free Air Dispaly

Very quick post - free air display over the house today by two P51 Mustangs (yep, they are the two dots in the attached photo!). Hopefully another post on Bawdsey tomorrow (only two more after that I promise! - but it was a very productive day).

Saturday 12 June 2010

Bawdsey Radar

Probably not the most sensible thing I've done, going down into the underground reserve transmitter block. As with any derelict or old military structure you should take great care - sensible guidelines can be found on the Derelict  Places website. Any site I've posted on this blog should not be assumed safe! I came across the entrance by pure chance and could not resist a look. Cannot believe it has not been properly sealed. 
Anyway, climbing down, met with an unpleasant smell and a swarm of flies (hanging around the many dead rabbits that had fallen down!). As the pics shows, nothing remains in the underground chamber except what I assume is the part of the ventilation unit. Interestingly, the surface air shafts seem to be quite a distance away from  the space I visualised the underground bunker to occupy. There were no other doors inside that I saw, so I do not know if the sunken reserve transmitter block actually occupies a wider area than I explored. A second sunken bunker can be found further south, but thankfully no access to this!
Photo 1: Main ground entrance - consists of two concrete slabs on small rails (presumably one for equipment access and one for people access).
Photo 2: Ventilation shafts
Photo 3: Presumably secondary / emergency access or exit (the gloves are not mine!)
Photo 4: Shaft from secondary entrance to underground bunker
Photo 5 & 6: Main room of underground bunker
Photo 7 & 8: Stairs for main entrance
Photo 9: Presumably the remains of the ventilation unit

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Bawdsey Radar

Continuing south along the cliff top at Bawdsey, its possible to get some views of the second war and post war parts of the Bawdsey Radar complex. This post shows parts of the transmitter block and reserve transmitter block. It is actually possible to go down into the buried  reserve transmitter (next post).
Photo 1: Transmitter block
Photo 2 - 4: Reserve transmitter blocks and mast bases
Photo 5: Braithwaite water tower
Photo 6: 'Joint Box'
Photo 7-8: Remains of electrical equipment

Saturday 5 June 2010

On the cliffs above the beach which I've posted on during the last few posts, a further two pillboxes can be found. One is a unique combination of a type 22 and 23 pillbox (type 22 being the familiar hexagonal infantry pillbox and type 23 being a rectangular pillbox with an open chamber in which a light anti-aircraft mg was mounted and an enclosed infantry chamber). The other is a circular pillbox dating from the First World War. This pillbox has clearly been incorporated into the Second War defences as it has a  concrete slab added to the roof for re-enforcement and two Turnbull mounts for light mg's have been added. The mounts have been added to embrasures which would allow the mg's to fire in enfilade along the cliff top.
Photo 1: Combined type 22 and 23
Photo 2: Entrance to combined 22 and 23
Photo 3: Interior of combined 22 and 23 (taken in the infantry chamber of the 23 looking into the 22)
Photo 4: Circular First War pillbox - embrasures at different heights are typical of this design
Photo 5: Remains of Turnbull Mount
Photo 6: Machine gunners view looking south along Bawdsey cliff top