Posted: 14 November 2007 22:49

The one advantage of having been ill for several weeks is that when I've not been sleeping uncontrollably and have had the energy, I've made progress on my anti-invasion research.

Since I launched www.pillbox.org.uk last March, I've done absolutely nothing with it; no updates, nothing.

This is partly to do with the complex Concrete Evidence database and the small amount of time I've had to work on it, but the scope of the website was causing me headaches too. Should I include data and pictures from contributors and for what areas?

The decisions regarding these issues were pretty much made for me shortly after launch; I took some good advice that came my way and decided not to take on the responsibility for other people's information and to restrict myself to a set area.

The reasons for this were based on common sense and practicality; it's unrealistic to try and record the defences for any and every area of the UK (The Defence of Britain Project has already attempted this), and so I've opted for a manageable area, and one that I know well; my native East Sussex.

However, I don't believe that to simply to be able to identify a pillbox that still stands in the landscape as a Type 24 is sufficient, given the research material that is known to exist (i.e., that which I've been scrutinising at TNA for the past 18 months).

My interest started off in a very small way, and my research was only ever intended to be a small project, but I got addicted and it's grown into something bigger than simply recording the surviving sites that I've visited.

To understand and interpret those defence works that remain, a comprehensive study of the defences in their entirety (ie, including those that have not survived) needs to be undertaken. This means building up a list of defence works from defence schemes, operation orders and unit war diaries as well as other sources such as aerial photographs.

I've been meaning to get this research electronically off the ground for many months, but was wondering how to coordinate and collate the data.

A database (similar to Concrete Evidence) was the logical step, but the latter didn't lend itself well to accommodating the new data for various reasons, so I created a new database for the purpose. Whereas Concrete Evidence records what remains, Documentary Evidence will only include documented defences for the time being, regardless of whether they still exist or not. There will, of course, be overlap between the two databases and the intention is to eventually merge them into one, with Documentary Evidence being the main database into which Concrete Evidence is either absorbed or grafted on to.

This will entail a restructure of Concrete Evidence, probably to remove those few defences not in East Sussex (I may yet retain those in Kent) and also the removal of the parent/child relationship, as this is more appropriate for Documentary Evidence.

Documentary Evidence will not be publicly available for the foreseeable future, but basic statistics will be accessible, hopefully in the coming weeks.

- Pete

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Defence of Britain Project

A large project run by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) 1995-2002, collecting data on 20th century military structures submitted by a team of some 600 volunteers. The result was a database of nearly 20,000 records which is available online. The anti-invasion section of the database contains nearly 500 entries for East Sussex.


Defence scheme

A military plan of defence for a specified area. Defence Schemes were issued at numerous levels. Defence Schemes were later known as Plans to Defeat Invasion on the orders of General Montgomery.


Pillbox

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.


TNA

The National Archives (formerly The Public Records Office or PRO).



This site is copyright © Peter Hibbs 2006 - 2017. All rights reserved.

Hibbs, Peter The Defence of East Sussex (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216533/ Accessed: 25 September 2017

The information on this website is intended solely to describe the ongoing research activity of The Defence of East Sussex Project; it is not comprehensive or properly presented. It is therefore NOT suitable as a basis for producing derivative works or surveys!