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Thread: Allan-Williams Turret - Wroxall/Ventnor - Isle of Wight

  1. #1
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    Default Allan-Williams Turret - Wroxall/Ventnor - Isle of Wight


    Ok nothing too exciting, but as they are quite rare, thought Id post it up for others to see.
    I found this while scouring the island with FlashEarth, so thought we should go and investigate.

    This turret is located in a random field between Wroxall and St Boniface down Ventnor. It is also very near the vent pipe for the old Ventnor railway tunnel. The only viable reason for this situated here was to possibly help protect RAF Ventnor during the war.
    Given that there were only 200 made, we have 3 of them here on the Island, the other 2 are situated on top of Bembridge Fort (a later report;)).

    A bit of history;
    Pillbox formed by a metal turret, which could be rotated through a full 360 degrees, set above a steel and brick-lined pit Manned by two crew members usually with a Lewis Gun. It was designed for all types of light machine gun to be fired either through the front loophole which was further protected by shutters, or through the circular opening in the roof in a light anti-aircraft role. It could also be armed with the Boys anti-tank rifle. The army did not favour the design, most were installed at airfields. Nearly 200 Allan Williams Turrets were made and installed, salvaging of the metal after the war means that today very few remain.

    (Allan Williams Turret & Plaque at Exmouth Beach)


    First impressions is that it seems to be complete and in reasonable condition.


    And again.


    The loop hole doors still slide.


    The top loop hole still has the lid although its detached.


    The entrance pit still has the cover.


    Looking out of the top loop hole, with gun mount in view.


    Looking out of the lower loop hole, with gun mount in view.


    And again.




    With the doors of the lower loop hole shut.


    It still has a seat in it, but the other is rusted away.


    One of the wheels it used to revolve with, the whole inside was covered with snails, and it didnt rotate.


    This is the vent for the old Ventnor railway tunnel.
    Now with a cover on it, as Southern Water own it.

    More info can be found here;
    http://www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/
    http://www.pillboxesuk.co.uk

    Thanks for looking, comments welcome :)
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  3. #2
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    Funky little box.

    thanks for sharing. :)
    Nothing to see here, Move along!

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  4. #3
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    Just realised, maybe this should have gone in the WW2 Defences forum :(
    Last edited by Urban Mole; 29th Oct 08 at 12:10.
    >>> Moles Wight Exploration <<<
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    Can you just imagine the racket in there if you had to fire off your gun? You'd be deaf in seconds.
    Do it safely, or not at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seahorse View Post
    Can you just imagine the racket in there if you had to fire off your gun? You'd be deaf in seconds.
    You would also be dead in seconds if any enemy happened to notice you were there.

    Lethal little things for the occupants!

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  7. #6
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    I've always thought of pillboxes as being deathtraps anyway. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, as the song goes.

    "Who's shooting at us?

    Some fecker in that flimsy looking concrete thing over there.

    Righ, let's get the twat."


    That kinda thing.
    Do it safely, or not at all.

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  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seahorse View Post
    I've always thought of pillboxes as being deathtraps anyway. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, as the song goes.

    "Who's shooting at us?

    Some fecker in that flimsy looking concrete thing over there.

    Righ, let's get the twat."


    That kinda thing.
    thats all ways been my thinking of them as well.
    give me a tank :D
    Nothing to see here, Move along!

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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    thats all ways been my thinking of them as well.
    give me a tank :D
    They were only ever designed to be a nuisance, they had no real tactical value other than to delay the advance of an invasion by a day or two.

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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    give me a tank :D
    Any sort of fixed position such as a pillbox would have been extremely dangerous agreed.........but ...safer in a tank ??????
    Uuuuuuuuuuummmm .well maybe but then again.............
    Trouble is..... as any tanker will tell you (or at least an ex-tanker from WW2 days anyways if not a more 'modern' ex-tanker ) when you are in a tank advancing across an open area of ground you have very little option other than to keep going until you are hit.........the old adage that a tank was thicker than an army issue shirt was true but an infantryman had the luxury (admittedly not in the first world war he didn't ) of dropping to the floor and / or seeking cover......a tank often has no option other than to keep going towards the enemy until knocked out............and when as in WW2 you were highly likely to be up against summat far superior to your own vehicle (both in armour protection and firepower) then it must have been rather frightening to keep forging ahead literally just waiting for an almighty BANG! as your tank got knocked out......
    If you were lucky (very lucky) you may just be able to get out and run...... on the other hand you were probably already dead from the concussion or dead from the blast or were being roasted alive whilst trapped inside .......Not so sure I'd fancy being in a tank myself..........
    Many years ago an old friend of my Dads related to me how come he only had the very mangled remains of stubs for digits on both hands....he had been a tank driver in the western desert and his tank had been knocked out and from a range that it was almost impossible for them to have seen where the fire came from..........the concussive force of the shot jarred the tank (a LeeGrant as I recall...) to such an extent that the turret and the forward hatches were completely jammed and it also started to burn very furiously .....he couldn't get back into the turret to climb out as the turret was on fire and also because the turret wasn't pointing forward when the tank got hit the 'basket' wasn't aligned with the access 'doorway' from the front compartment and he also couldn't get his own hatch open.....the tank was burning well by now and he and the machine gunner in the front were rapidly being choked by the smoke and fumes and the sheer heat.....somehow or other he got his hatch open and he and the machine gunner managed to climb out and ran towards the rear to get clear .....
    When he finally stopped someone got hold of him and pointed out to him (!) that in his sheer panic of being burnt alive he had smashed his hands literally to bits in getting the jammed hatch open........He always considered himself very lucky that he had got out .....only he and the machine gunner did ..everyone else in his crew was killed .......Thats was the end of the war for him and he was invalided home..........He never thought much of being in tanks and reckoned he would always rather have been an infantryman...............

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    Amazing story about your dad's friend, smiffy. Just goes to show the need to do what you have to in order to survive.
    Great to see the Allan-Williams turret, Urb. I find it difficult to understand the reasoning behind that design, but quirky and interesting to us today.
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