Posted: 5 October 2006 00:10
Last Monday I took the train to Hastings and cycled out to Pett Level, to visit the remains of a WW2 Emergency Coast Battery.
The battery originally had two 6-inch guns mounted, although one gun position seems to have been totally destroyed, a house standing in the area where you would expect it to have been. One position does, however, survive reasonably intact.
The first building I came across was the two-storey Battery Observation Post (BOP); unfortunately I could only access the ground floor as the stairs to the upper level have been removed.
Moving about 20 metres eastwards, I came across an emergency exit hatch with a vertical ladder downwards into the dark gloom of a passageway that lead into one of the gun positions.
Torch in hand, I descended into the darkness, finding that the bottom half of the ladder had been removed, leaving me with a bit of a drop to negotiate.
I found myself in a passage with two storerooms on my left, with the main gun position ahead of me.
Reaching the end of the passage, I found a door (right) out onto the overgrown gun floor, or a further passage to the left, leading through the magazine.
Walking down the passage, I wandered into the magazine area, divided into five sections by partition walls.
Walking along the magazine passage, I wandered out onto the gun floor through the second door, seen at right; the overhead roof has been long since removed.
Moving back into the rear, I came across the war shelter, which was the room in which the gun crew were billeted when off duty. I had a bit of a shock at this point; while taking the above photo, I became aware of a "ft-ft-ft-ft" noise behind me!
Whirling round in alarm, expecting to find some grotesque apparition about to pounce, I instead discovered a butterfly on the ceiling beating its wings, obviously woken up by the camera flash!
Well, being in a dark, spooky room ten feet below ground, wouldn't you be freaked out by it??!!
Let's just say you had to be there...
A fire control centre for a gun battery, the term is usually synonymous with Emergency Coast Defence batteries. A BOP might be purpose-built or be established in an existing building, such as a Martello Tower. The BOP usually housed a range-finder as well as a Dumaresq fire control computer.
Protective shelter in which a coast artillery gun crew are stationed ready for the call to action, hence its close proximity to the gun emplacement.
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Hibbs, Peter Pett Emergency Coast Defence Battery (2024) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216505/ Accessed: 5 March 2024
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