Posted: 5 June 2006 22:18

As the weather was fine yesterday, I managed to get out to Cuckmere Haven again to check out an anti-tank wall.

Anti-tank wall at Cuckmere Haven

You may ask why I keep coming back here; well, so far my efforts have been confined to the east side of the valley, but I've now found a couple of places where I can ford the river at low tide instead of having to take the long way round. Plus the scenery is so good that I defy anyone to visit and not want to return!

Another reason I need to come back is to get an accurate grid reference for the eastern end of the wall; I've borrowed a hand-held GPS receiver and am now using it to great effect to determine where things are to within 5 metres.

Viper on dragon's tooth

The end of the wall in question was effectively hidden by a dense patch of very tall stinging nettles, so I took to jumping from one dragon's tooth to the next to reach it.

I managed just in time to stop myself jumping onto the penultimate block as I spotted a viper (adder) sunning itself at one end of it. Lucky, really, as it was partly hidden from view, but I managed to get this photo of it.

I decided not to disturb it and leave well alone; although adder bites are very rarely fatal (I think that the last death in the UK was over 20 years ago), I wasn't going to take a chance. As a child, I picked up a (harmless) grass snake I found in the garden; it rapidly started winding itself around my hand, triggering an automatic response to get it off quick. It means another trip to get the GPS reading, but that's not a problem as I stumbled across a pillbox a little higher up the valley that I need to go back and record in detail.

Pillbox at Cuckmere Haven

This is another non-standard type similar to two of those I mentioned in my blog of 9 April.

It shows signs of recent human habitation and the interior was a mess, so I didn't linger (unlike the usual nasty odours in derelict pillboxes...)

It appears that this particular pillbox was originally constructed to mount a Vickers Gun, but the embrasure has a strange concrete platform built in it, leading me to think that an unusual weapon was later mounted here.

Top of the list would be the Boys anti-tank rifle, a monster .55" calibre bolt-action rifle. A very heavy and unpopular weapon, it's effectiveness was in question even in France in 1940, mainly because it was incapable of penetrating anything other than the thinnest armour. I'll have to do some research and go back for another visit.

- Pete



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A loophole or slit that permits observation and/or weapons to be fired through a wall or similar solid construction.


Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.

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