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Thread: Devon Coastal Defence

  1. #1
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    Default Devon Coastal Defence


    1. Coastal Artillery Searchlight Emplacement.



    This is on Seaton seafront, built into the cliff & originally would have housed a searchlight to show up invading forces for the gunners. They were often used in conjunction with an emergency coastal battery.

    A B&W photo taken some years ago. It's rather dark, but you can just about make out the curving steps up to the emplacement before the retaining wall was built.





    2. Type Variant Pillbox.
    Above the Searchlight emplacement & set back on the other side of Cliff Hill roadway is a type variant pillbox.



    The embrasures have been blocked & pebble-clad to blend in with the rest of the surface.



    A wall has been built on top of the pillbox to increase elevation.



    3. Possible Emergency Coastal Battery.
    Further up the hill & on top of the cliffs there is an hexagonal structure with a concrete surround. There is no record of this having been part of the defence system, that I could find, but it does fit in with the research re. the searchlight emplacement, and could have been the site for the emergency battery.





    The type variant pillbox could have been used in conjunction but because it's set back somewhat I suspect that it may have been a road defence rather than coastal. This is conjecture on my part, therefore if I find out differently then I'll amend accordingly.

    Photos showing the positions of the 3 emplacements.





    Examples sited can be seen under 'Other Defences' at this link http:/www.pillboxes-somerset.com
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    There's More...

    I found this oddity on the other side of the path to the hexagonal structure.It's a long concrete slab with some lead lining underneath, covering an underground enclosure. It may have nothing to do with the defence system, but I'll stick it in this thread until I learn differently.



    Cheers
    Foxy :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    And more...

    Type 24 Pillbox.

    Half-way up a field on the other side of the Axmouth Harbour bridge, & nestling into the edge of a private drive, sits the last pillbox of its' type of the Taunton Stop Line.







    The last defence structure at the Harbour itself is a coastal defence battery, which would have housed a 6 pounder anti-tank gun. Unfortunately I didn't realise it was there prior to research, so will have to go back for photos, which I will post as soon as I have.

    Cheers
    Foxy :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    Hey Foxylady I enjoyed reading about your local pillboxes, good pics too.

    3. Possible Emergency Coastal Battery.



    I read somewhere recently about these emergency coastal battery positions, I'm not 100% on this but I think they were for a 6pdr anti tank gun. The example I read about was to be used against enemy landing craft, below is a pic of the 6pdr gun they would have possibly used its a WW1 French design by Hotchkiss probably built under licence?



    The concrete slab across the path from the hexagonal gun position could have been a shelter for the gun crew? Or possibly a magazine/ammo store for the gun position?

    B :)

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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop;10818;
    I read somewhere recently about these emergency coastal battery positions, I'm not 100% on this but I think they were for a 6pdr anti tank gun. The example I read about was to be used against enemy landing craft, below is a pic of the 6pdr gun they would have possibly used its a WW1 French design by Hotchkiss probably built under licence?

    The concrete slab across the path from the hexagonal gun position could have been a shelter for the gun crew? Or possibly a magazine/ammo store for the gun position?
    Hi Bishop
    I'm sorry, I forgot to put in that the batteries were for the Hotchkiss. In fact I missed out several bits and wrote it up badly, the reason being I accidentally lost my first report whilst putting in the pics, and I was so tired when I had to do it again that I rushed it through!
    Anyway, thanks for your comments & information. I'm really excited about this. I wasn't sure at all about the cliff-top emplacements, but gut-feeling told me it all fitted somehow. I did wonder if the concrete slab sheltered an ammo store but thought I might have been reading too much into it, so it was good to hear your thoughts on this. (Good job you didn't hear my girlie squeal when I read it, though, as that would have ruined my street cred!).
    Cheers
    Foxy :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    Ms FL wrote.

    (Good job you didn't hear my girlie squeal when I read it, though, as that would have ruined my street cred!).
    Hehe :D

    I could be wrong but I believe the 6pdr gun was originally purchased for arming British tanks in WW1, obviously the tanks were out of date at the end of the war and were either sold off or scrapped but it seem the guns were retained and put into storage? Or perhaps they came from Royal Navy stocks they might have had a few and I've read that they were ex naval guns somewhere?

    Late first world war tank with 6pdr guns in the sponsons.



    Another pic of the 6pdr apparently manufactured at Elswick a huge armaments factory in Newcastle that employed over 7000 but was demolished in the 80's.



    Ammo store or bunker or possibly both would make sense for the position across the path from the gun imo.

    B ;)

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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    That's a great pic of the 6pdr gun, Bishop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop;10821;
    I could be wrong but I believe the 6pdr gun was originally purchased for arming British tanks in WW1, obviously the tanks were out of date at the end of the war and were either sold off or scrapped but it seem the guns were retained and put into storage? Or perhaps they came from Royal Navy stocks they might have had a few and I've read that they were ex naval guns somewhere?
    I've just been reading on 'The Pillboxes of Somerset' website, under Other Defences, & it says: "In February 1940, the army had ordered the reconditioning of 400 WW1 vintage 6pdr Hotchkiss guns as part of it's re-armament programme...subsequently increased to a total of 621 guns. As they came into service, the guns were mounted in reinforced concrete emplacements, or open concrete gun-pits, along the expected route of enemy attack."
    Elsewhere it does mention ex-naval guns being used & mounted in newly-built emplacements covering the British Channel approaches to Cardiff & Bristol, talking specifically about Brean Fort & the islands Steep Holm & Flat Holm.
    I too seem to recall reading something about Canadian guns, but can't remember where. The Searchlights, by the way, were 90cm ex-AA, and they've got an original one in the Weymouth CAS emplacement.
    Cheers
    Foxy :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.


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    Thumbs up Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    Hi Foxy & Bishop,

    Good info there! :)
    It's interesting how some WW2 structures were almost identical, like off a production line, but others are different (even though they do the same job). For example, the coastal searchlights near you. I've seen some at Beacon Hill Fort, and they look totally different. I'm guessing that this is because some of these structures were put up in a hurry?
    Anyway, thanks again. Hopefully below are some pics of the searchlight structures at Beacon Hill.................

    Lb

    http://i145.photobucket.com/albums/r...s/DSCN2827.jpg
    http://i145.photobucket.com/albums/r...s/DSCN2814.jpg
    http://i145.photobucket.com/albums/r...s/DSCN2834.jpg
    http://i145.photobucket.com/albums/r...s/DSCN2822.jpg
    Lb :jimlad:

    Think we're gonna need a bigger boat

    www.severallshospital.co.uk
    www.runwellhospital.co.uk

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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    I see what you mean, LB. They're totally different to the structures in Seaton & Weymouth. I haven't been able to get inside the Seaton one yet - (it's really easy actually, but an arthritic-type disability is just making it out of my reach at the moment) - so I don't know what it looks like inside or how reinforced it is, but it does look a lot flimsier outside than other emplacements I've seen.
    Cheers for that, m'dear
    Foxy :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.


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    Default Re: Devon Coastal Defence


    Hi guys,

    interesting batch of pics!

    I'm not sure what the hexagonal structure is; the slab it's sitting on appears to be WW2 concrete.

    Could it be a post-war feature such as a seat or statue plinth at all? I only query it because it looks too elaborately made for the emergency of 1940.

    I've been reading the war diaries of some of the Royal Engineers in Kent and Sussex who built the defences and the sheer haste and pressure to get stuff done (as Lb queries) doesn't fit with the neat construction of the hexagon. (I even found an example of where an old iron bedstead was used as barbed wire posts! :) )

    Lb: as to why the designs can differ, this can be down to the availability of materials locally, and also the local ground conditions. There was presumably a set of standard plans, but give the same plan to different people and you'll get different results. Different RE units seem to have had their favourite pillbox designs; in East Sussex, there's very few Type 22s, but go to Kent and you can jump from one end of the county to the other just using Type 22s as stepping stones.

    I've not previously seen the vertical slots such as are seen in your pics of the CASL (Coast Artillery Search Light) at Beacon Hill Fort, but having read the Fort Record Books* for several Emergency Coast Batteries, the arcs of searchlights are carefully plotted on maps, so those slots probably mean something. Batteries had a pair of CASLs; normally one on each flank, or on low ground if the battery was up on a cliff.

    *Fort Record Books were a handbook for a battery; they contained various gunnery data (range tables, tech. specs, gun test-fire data), but also a history of the battery, and plans of its layout and defences, and the locations of registered targets. Those that survive are the National Archives WO 192 series.

    Going back to the original pics, is the Seaton we're talking about the same Seaton in the pic below?

    Pete


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