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Thursday 26 January 2012

Pre War Pillbox Design

This post is in answer to a comment I received from my last post from Hong Kong. I must admit I was pleased to see my blog entries being read from so far away! Anyway unfortunately I don't think I can really answer Kwong's questions in much detail but the following is as much as I know on inter-war design for pillboxes. The 1936 RE Manual gives three drawings for concrete machine gun emplacements, the first being the familiar 1936 Design referred to in Kwong's comment, variations of which were used in pillbox construction in the UK during 1940 (esp in Norfolk, Taunton Stop Line, GHQ Line in Surrey / Kent) and as Kwong suggests  in Hong Kong as well. 

Above: The familiar 1936 design for a machine gun emplacement.

The  other two examples of concrete machine gun posts include one of which is built into the shell of a house. The other is described as an emplacement with medium cover where concealment is necessary. I don't think this was a practical design (although please feel free to correct me) because as far as I understand it, the air space in this design, which was intended to help in the absorption of the shock of shell impact, was very hard to achieve in construction. 

Above: Top - concrete machine gun emplacement design for construction within the shell of a house. Bottom - concrete machine gun emplacement where concealment was important. Note  the air space, designed to reduce concussion from shell blast.

The manual gives several other designs for machine gun emplacements but these were all field work emplacements designed for trench systems.

Above: Three designs for machine gun emplacements which would have been incorporated into trench systems.

The 1933 Manual Kwong refers to was a Field Engineering manual - i.e. only deals with field works and not concrete emplacements, which were only considered necessary for protracted defence.

The 1925 Manual  Field Works does refer to reinforced concrete emplacements dealt with in Military Engineering Vol II (Defences) but unfortunately I don't have a copy of this. 

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Trenches again - Westleton

Made the most of a beautiful sunny day yesterday recording at Westleton Walks. I am nearing the completion of recording on this particular site after three years of exploring.  The next task, as already mentioned in previous posts will to be and try and bring it all together and and interpret the remains.The next couple of posts will look at the most interesting features recorded today, again all training earthworks.

Y Shaped Trench:
Perhaps the best trench remaining on the Walks. It is approx 5ft wide and over 5ft deep in places. There is a weapons-pit on each of the 'long arms' of the Y. It bears some resemblance to an earthwork shown in the 1925 manual Field Works (All Arms). Nearby is another large pit, with remains of angle iron revetting, connected to a crawl trench (see plan). This looks to wide for a weapons-pit, perhaps the remains of a dugout?

Above: GPS plan of Y shaped trench and Y shaped defended post, Manual Of Field Works (All Arms) 1925. The pictures of the trench taken last year (remains of snow on ground!).

Trench and pits
Not far away is another trench system. The first part of the trench is over 3 1/2 ft deep but then continues as a much shallower crawl trench, ending in a weapons-pit. Two short crawl trenches run off the main trench. In the immediate area are a series of slits and a pit dug into an existing bank (the bank is shown by a dotted line on the plan).

Above: GPS plans of trench and pits and a detailed plan of the trench. Photo shows the deepest part of the trench.