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WWII Pillboxes

Pillboxes are small concrete dug-in emplacements that were typically equipped with loopholes through which to fire weapons. They were built in England during the early 1940s as part of local anti-invasion preparations during World War II. Several surviving examples were built in Langley Burrell during 1940 and located next to the River Avon.
They include:-

MWI31297 a type 24 (FW3/24), shell-proof pillbox on the river's north bank. It was placed in this location to defend the former Cocklebury Railway Bridge on the Chippenham and Calne Railway Line (now pathway), which crossed the river to the south. This type of pillbox is five-sided of 8ft (2.4m) in length externally and has a rear face of 13ft (3.96m). It has two rifle loops and an entrance just 2ft (61cm) wide.

MWI31522 a type 22 (FW3/22) located on the river's northwest bank. This pillbox was one of a pair which sat next to a boundary which cut off a bend in the River Avon between Tytherton Lucas and Peckingell to the east of the Chippenham-London railway line. It is also a hexagon but with rifle loops in five of the six walls and an entrance in the sixth. This example has a porch.

MWI31523 To the north of MWI31522 is another FW3/22, although on the opposite (east) bank, adjacent to the Cade Burna stream.
The duties of the local Home Guard included guarding these pillboxes, which in the event of a German invasion are likely to have also been manned by them.

The FW3/24 hexagonal pillbox was used on the Stop Line Green (SLG), which was a line of defensive structures built in England during WWII. It was part of a wider network of defences including other Stop Lines and the General Headquarters Line. The Stop Line Green was a fall-back position, defending Bristol to allow evacuation or resupply via the docks. Wiltshire is interesting because four Stop Lines run through it, all joining to the Stop Line Green.

German tactics relied on Blitzkrieg - fast mechanised advance relying on tanks covered by air support. Therefore the Stop Lines were primarily constructed as anti-tank obstacles. The line was a continuous defence of over 100 miles, where the obstacle was provided by a river, canal, railway line, or where these did not already exist, an artificial ditch or lines of concrete cubes.

Various construction techniques were used at different parts of the line, likely due to the speed of construction – it took just 4 months to build the entire defence. Many of the pillboxes have brick as their external face – concrete was poured between this and an internal formwork usually of timber. In other places, timber formwork was used both inside and out of the pillbox, resulting in an external concrete finish.

For most of the Stop Line Green in Wiltshire, the River Avon is used as the obstacle.

 

Horse Field, Langley Burrell

 

Wiltshire Heritage MWI31297  MWI31522  MWI31523 

Nearby Points of Interest