Not what you expect to find on a modern housing estate, really.
We are in Stone Cross, about two miles west of Pevensey, and this is indeed a Second World War pillbox.
Built in 1941 as part of a network of such defences, and abandoned the following year once the threat of invasion was over,…
…this particular pillbox would have covered a roadblock set up down the road had the Germans actually come.
What makes this pillbox even more interesting,…
…is what still remains inside.
This is a Turnbull machine gun mounting, its cradle attached to a steel loophole frame fixed to the inside of the embrasure with the attached gun bar projecting towards us, on to which could be fitted, in this example,…
…a Bren light machine gun (the information board shows a Bren in situ), although there were Turnbulls with different gun bars for different types of machine gun.
The device allowed precise vertical and lateral movement and, of course, ensured much better stability for the gun and gunner; it had a traverse of 90°, an elevation of 11 1/2°, and could be depressed up to 12°.
The loophole mountings for the Turnbull…
…can still be seen in the centre of three openings, the fourth, on the left, now missing, although three of its retaining bolts are still in evidence.
The cradle could be easily moved from one embrasure to another, if required, by the simple procedure of lifting it off the pivot bearings on one mounting and slotting into those on another.
I presume the ambush site would have been somewhere down there.
The steps in the embrasures are to prevent bullets from deflecting off the sides…
…and finding their way inside the pillbox. Simple, effective, and not something we find on our Flanders travels.
The Turnbull machine gun mounting, viewed from outside the pillbox.
A major vote of thanks, I think, to the guys who stepped in, only a couple of years ago, when the houses were about to be built and the pillbox demolished, to ensure that it was listed and thus preserved.
Much interest for the Pevesney Pilbox article.
Here in Western Australia, near the port of Fremantle, we have a preserved defence tunnel system for coast watch & defence dating from WWII.
Go to http://www.artillerywa.org.au>raahs>leighton
to view the tour photos & features.
You bring back memories Harvey. My late English father-in-law George Hardwicke was Sergeant manning one of the 6 inch guns at Leighton Battery (aka Buckland Hill). The AWAS lasses played a huge part.
As part of Fortress Fremantle (including Leighton) a large array of guns and Pill Boxes were along the coast plus the nearby Garden and Rottnest Islands, the latter having two 9.2 inch guns and more (father-in-law was also stationed there). From memory when I was stationed at Rottnest during my National Service, these were 1903 models ex Gibraltar re-barreled in 1938. Thus must have some WW1 history.
After the fall of Singapore Fremantle became the largest submarine base in the southern hemisphere. A story in itself.
All this is another good reason for a Magicfingers visit
Thanks Harvey. And for the link. I have had a thorough look around.
Another fascinating post MJS – thank you. I must confess to having a wry smile to myself seeing the Bellway logo on the info board because it will surely last many hundreds of years after the houses have collapsed – I know, I used to subcontract for said building company many years ago! What is not so well known is that there are still a number of WW1 pillboxes extant – for info have a look at this https://www.homefrontlegacy.org.uk/wp/case-studies/identifying-first-world-war-pillboxes-in-the-uk/
That is a very interesting link for which I thank you Nigel. I can imagine your wry smile re: Bellway btw. Been looking through some of your photos this morning – I usually find myself drinking tea and eating scones at the Lizard Point restauarant a couple of times a year.
Great little post as it’s heartening to see how this has been preserved and maintains the local history in a modern setting. So often similar pillboxes are filled with rubbish and graffiti.
Thanks Mark. Agreed.
Great to see! I vaguely recall seeing something on the news about this a few years ago when they were campaigning to save it.
Oh that’s amazing, which road is this on as I live locally and have never seen it!
Hello Rob. Go down Rattle Road heading east a couple of hundred yards past the windmill, and it is in the new estate on the right – very close to Rattle Road – if you look on Google maps you will see it in the very top left corner of what was then, when Google last photographed it, a field, and is now a housing estate.
I also found this: ‘It is believed that the extant structure was not the first to occupy this site as the Germans interpreted a defensive position at this site in 1940, which is marked on contemporary German maps.’