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Thursday 23 May 2013

Eastern Command Line - Bures

This post continues on from my last post, following a part of the Command Line north of Bures towards Sudbury. As stated in my last post, the Command Line follows the railway line from Wakes Colne to Bure, with the anti-tank obstacle being an excavated anti-tank ditch. From Bures the Line follows the River Stour to Sudbury, where the river acts as the tank obstacle.

Above: New Popular Edition One Inch OS Map showing River Stour north of Bures

The defences do not seem to be as strong along this stretch of the Command Line as in other parts between Sudbury and Lavenham on which I have already posted some details on. There is only a single line of pillboxes, typically two or three bullet proof pillboxes to every shell proof pillbox. Between Long Melford and Lavenham the typical arrangement is a front line of shell proof pillboxes covering the tank obstacle while the bullet proof pillboxes covered the rear of the front line of pillboxes. This is possibly due to the fact there are no key road / transport junctions on this stretch of the line,as well as the river being a formidable tank barrier with few crossing points Bures and Sudbury.

The pillboxes are all the regular hexagonal type with a central AA well and protected low level entrance typically found along the Command Line (the bullet proof type to drawing CRE 1094 and the shell proof type to drawing CRE 1113).

Above: This aerial photo shows the difference in size between the bullet proof type (CRE 1094) and the shell proof type (CRE1113).

The following images show some of the pillboxes along this stretch of the Command Line, in what is quite a tranquil landscape. The first three images are of the same pillbox.

Monday 20 May 2013

Mount Bures MG Pillbox - Eastern Command Line, Essex

Had a great day this Sunday exploring the Eastern Command Line between Bures and Sudbury, but started off the day by visisting the bent rail block and pillbox at Mount Bures. The Eastern Command Line in Essex ran from the River Colne to Wakes Colne, when it then followed the railway line to Bures and then from Bures it followed the River Stour to Sudbury into Suffolk.

Parking in Mount Bures the first pillbox I came across was a standard CRE 1094 - a bullet proof infantry pillbox with an open central well for a AA mount. It guards a bridge under the railway line.

Above: CRE 1094 pillbox, Mount Bures

Further along the path  a remarkable survival exists (if a little overgrown!!) in the form of a pillbox complete with bent rail block and concrete tank blocks at a crossing point over the railway line. The bent rails block the crossing on the pillbox side while on the other side of the line, eight concrete blocks in two rows block the crossing. Either side of the block, the railway line is either in a cutting or on a raised embankment.

Above:  Sketch of blocks and pillbox covering a crossing at Mount Bures

The pillbox is unusual in that it is for apparently for a medium machine gun and would appear to be of a unique design.  The design is a  regular hexagon shell proof pillbox with a main embrasure for a medium machine gun and five embrasures for a rifle/light machine gun.  A table is provided for a machine gun tripod but unlike most I've seen before does not have supporting legs. The walls are 42" thick. The entrance is the usual low level covered entrance found on many pillboxes on the Command Line.  It has a "T" shaped anti-ricochet wall. It is the only infantry pillbox built on the Command Line for a medium machine gun that I am aware of; all the other designs were for Bren light machine guns. So why was it decided to sight a medium machine gun at this point?

Above: Interior and plan of a unique pillbox for a medium machine gun, Eastern Command Line - Essex

Above: Top image- the bent rail block - the pillbox can be seen hidden in the scrub to the right of the block.
Second image shows the rear of the pillbox - the bent rail block can be seen in the background.
Third image - the overgrown front of the pillbox.
Forth image - the pillbox would have had a wide field of fire
Bottom image- one of the light machine gun embrasures

Above: The concrete tank blocks. Note the blocks are covering a gap as to the left of the image it can be seen the railway runs through a cutting.

Moving onto nearby Bures, a Type 22 can be seen covering the bridge over the Stour, on the Essex side.

Next post will feature some of the pillboxes from Bures towards Sudbury.