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Monday 25 April 2011

Barking Tye Pillboxes

There is some interesting correspondence at SRO between a resident of Barking Tye and the Parish Council, dating from 1992, on these pillboxes. One resident of the village was particularly keen to see them demolished as he considered them to detract from the Tye ('Tye' means a settlement built around a common or green). Correspondence with English Heritage at the time suggested that EH were only interested in designating pillboxes to be of 'Historical Interest' if they were good examples of disguised ones, a particular or unusual structure or those with a proven defence role. (I don't think things have changed). 

These two at Barking Tye are not unusual (they are a Type 22 and Type 23, both common) or part of any defence position / stop line. The village was not a Nodal point, or on a key reinforcement route or other essential traffic route. So what was their role?

According to the correspondence anti-aircraft guns and a search light were stationed on the Tye, no doubt part of nearby RAF Wattisham's AA defences. It is also feasible they could be to guard against airborne/paratroop landings in the vicinity of the Aerodrome. Certainly single Type 23's and 22's can also be found at other search light sites in Suffolk.

The correspondent who was hoping for their removal had also costed the job. A demolition company would charge (1991) using a breaker and 360 deg machine £1400 plus vat for each pillbox. However he had been in touch with 212 Squadron Royal Engineers at Wattisham who would be prepared to do the job at minimal cost as a training exercise. The question of these pillboxes had been discussed at Parish Council meetings over a number of years. Thankfully the Parish Council decided unanimously to retain them, so I was able to visit nearly 20 years on!

Image 1: Type 23, Barking Tye
Iamge 2: Type 22, Barking Tye
Image 3: Type 22 with Type 23 in background (LH side) on the Tye

Sunday 17 April 2011

Trimley - Unique Suffolk Square Pillbox

The third and final post in the visit to Trimley a couple of weeks ago concerns what may be a unique surviving 'Suffolk Square' type pillbox. It's a typical 'Suffolk Square' with the exception of an open Anti-Aircraft chamber added on, much the same as a Type 23 pillbox.  It is bullet proof with walls of 1 ft 3 inches thick. Like all 'Suffolk Squares' it lacks an anti-ricochet wall. It's in good condition, especially the brick shuttering in the interior of the pillbox. Clearly visible is the word 'Coronet' - a quick search on the web revealed this is manufactured by Hanson Bricks Measham Works and if it is the same firm its still manufacturing bricks today.

Image 1 - 3: The exterior of the pillbox.
Image 4: The open AA chamber.
Image 5: Pre-cast rifle embrasure on the open AA chamber.
Image 6-7: Interior of the pillbox.
Image 8: Coronet Brick.

Sunday 10 April 2011

GCI Radar - Trimley

Following on from my last post on H2 - HAA emplacement, Trimley, I also visited the site of the GCI (Ground Controlled Interceptor) Radar site at Trimley on the same day. I must admit I do not know that much about WW2 Radar so most of the details for this post come from Wickidpedia.

Chain Home Radar sites only picked up raiders as they came in over the sea. Once they had crossed the British Coast, tracking was entirely reliant on the Observer Corps.  To improve on this situation, the RAF established a network of 'Ground Controlled Interceptor' Radar stations. These stations were able to direct search lights onto enemy raiders but more importantly vector night fighters to a close proximity of the raiders so they could be engaged. GCI was up and running from 1941 but I think the Trimley site was only operational from early 1943.

I presume the remains at Trimley toady are of the the main operational building plus some of the domestic huts.

One more post on the Trimley visit to come - as far as I know a unique 'Suffolk Square' Pillbox in that it has an AA well attached much the same as a Type 23 Pillbox.

Images 1- 11: Presumably the  main Operations Building
Images 12-17: Remains of the Domestic site
Image 18: large concrete rubble remains
Image 19: Remains of the wire defence - barbed wire and screw pickets

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Coastal Erosion

Just found this amazing photo taken in 1979 of a pillbox at Covehithe. Its from geograph and as the caption with it says it must now be 70-100 mtrs out to sea. Makes you realise how quickly we could soon lose other WW2 fortifications along this stretch of the Coast.

Reproduced under creative commons licence
Attributed to Pillbox taken by the sea by Adrian S Pye

Sunday 3 April 2011

Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery: H2 Trimley

This battery was part of the Harwich / Felixstowe AA defences and within the Harwich Gun Defended Area (GDA). The battery was originally armed with four 3.7" guns. Towards the end of the war the site was earmarked to receive 5.25" naval guns (Land Service). The 5.25" was introduced into land service in 1942, with  originally twin equipments. Subsequently two types of single gun equipment were developed - one for an AA role and one for a twin AA/Coastal Defence role.

For the first time the following features were available in British AA artillery: electric firing, air blast gear, hydraulic power operated traversing, elevating, loading tray and ramming gears.

It also performed better than the 3.7" guns. Max height range (90 deg) was 55,600 ft (41,000 for the 3.7"); effective ceiling (which is limited by type of predictor and fuse) with Predictor No.10 was 43,000 ft (23,500 ft for the 3.7"); lethal radius of burst for Category A damage (prevention of accurate bombing ) was 100 ft (55ft for the 3.7") and category B damage (failure of aircraft to return to base) was 70 ft (35ft for the 3.7").

Four guns were mounted in concrete lined pits on a Mk 1A mounting. A rectangular open back mild steel shield was provided for each gun. A power house, gun store and shelter were situated below ground adjacent to each gun.

Much still remains of this site including the four gun pits, engine room/stores, command post and radar tower

Image 1: The remains of H2 5.25" HAA Battery
Image 2-4: The Command Post
Image 5: Command post and ramped radar tower
Image 6-7: Ramped radar tower
Image 8: View of battery from top of radar tower
Image 9: Generator room and stores etc
Image 10  & 11: Markers for water and electricity cable
Image 12: Gun pit with attached underground power house, shelter and gun store 
Image 13: Gun pit with ammunition lockers
Image 14 & 15: Presumably road blocks, including some at nearby farm. Dimensions do not match that of the standard 'pimple' given in Field Engineering manuals.