Posted: 21 June 2006 10:17

Anti-Tank Cubes at Cuckmere Haven Regular readers of my blog (if such people exist) are probably bored of this photo by now, but it appears here for the third time to tie up a loose thread left by my archive visit of 10 May.

(Note: if you've just found this page through Google and are expecting to read something relating to The Da Vinci Code, then I apologise).

I mentioned a success I had in relation to the grafitti on a dragon's tooth on the east side of the Cuckmere Valley; I was right in my interpretation of '133 Coy 3 Sect' as the text inscribed in the cement.

Grafitti on Anti-Tank Cube at Cuckmere Haven

My research tracked down the war diary of 133 Company of the Auxilary Military Pioneer Corps (AMPC).

Upon opening the file, on the very first page I found the following:

3 June 1940. Employed at CUCKMERE VALLEY constructing tank traps, gun posts, roads etc. under RE (Royal Engineers).

This is a highly unusual occurrence of (to me) Holy Grail proportions:

  1. In my experience of researching the minutiae of obscure subjects, it's unusual to find the precise piece of information in the archives you set out to find.
  2. It's even more unusual to find it on the first page of the first file you examine.Do I need to point out that it's also highly unusual for a concrete block to tell me where to start looking in the archives for documents describing its creation?
  3. I have been unable to take a photo of the grafitti that is clearer than the first one that unwittingly revealed the text; it has something to do with the angle at which sunlight casts a shadow across the block.

To further confirm the grafitti, the war diary distinguishes where each of the ten sections were employed as the company was dispersed around the Sussex coastline:

1 September 1940: Nos. 3-4-5-8-9-10 Sections working at CUCKMERE VALLEY Defence Works under RE.

Conclusive (concrete?) evidence that 3 Section of 133 Company were here in 1940.

- Pete



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Anti-tanks blocks, popularly known as dragon's teeth. Not to be confused with smaller blocks known as pimples, cubes can be upwards of 1m square. Many examples in Sussex have apexes or chamfered edges, leading to them being incorrectly recorded as coffins.

War diary

A record of events kept by all units from the point of mobilisation. A diary's contents vary enormously from unit to unit; some give detailed entries by the hour on a daily basis while others merely summarise events on a weekly/monthly basis.

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