Posted: 22 November 2008 19:59

I've spent the past few days creating Pillboxopedia, an encyclopedia of terms relating to UK anti-invasion defences and the invasion threat in general.

I've designed the database to work semantically, ie, it automatically searches the page content and brings back brief definitions (some illustrated) for those terms included in the text.

For example, my typing the following phrases should trigger Pillboxopedia:

- Type 24 pillbox

- Buoys

- Pimples

- Slit trenches

The above should all be defined on the left hand side.

I've done this in order to make the subject more accessible to a wider audience who may not know what a sticky bomb (there's another term) is when coming across my site for the first time.

I know when I dive into an unfamiliar subject for the first time, I find myself having to look up various expressions in Google, which is annoying as I have to jump between what I'm reading and the means of being able to fully understand it.

It also saves me having to explain terms and concepts in the main text and because Pillboxopedia is automatic, it works retrospectively, without me having to manually index and edit older pages to make it work. (There may still be some unpredictable results though!)

I'm still in the early stages of developing the database; at the moment it only appears on Pillblogs posts, but I expect to roll it out across the entire website over time, and also have a dedicated Pillboxopedia section with more detailed entries with a search facility.

If in the meantime you find a term that you think should be included in the database, or something doesn't seem to be working, then please let me know!

- Pete



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Small concrete roadblock obstacle comprising a truncated cone with domed base. A hollow shaft down the centre allowed the buoy to be manhandled using a crowbar. Buoys were deemed of little value by 1941 and cylinders seen as a better solution.


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.


Small anti-tank block in the form of a truncated pyramid. Pimples were used to extend anti-tank obstacles and roadblocks and were intended for use on soft ground.

Slit trench

Small, narrow trench designed to provide protection against shrapnel and other battlefield hazards. Technically distinct from a weapon pit (which was intended soley as a defensive position) slit trenches were also used as defence works.

Sticky bomb

The S.T. Grenade, also known as a Toffee Apple comprised a spherical bomb mounted on a throwing handle designed to stick to the target by the use of an adhesive substance enveloping the charge. A metal casing protected the adhesive; this was removed just prior to use. Unpopular due to the danger of the thrower getting the bomb stuck on their clothing. Image shows a training model.

Type 24 pillbox

A six-sided (but not a regular hexagon) pillbox. The Type 24 is the most frequently seen pillbox in East Sussex, mostly along stop lines. It can be found in thin wall (30cm) or thick wall (1m) variants.

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Hibbs, Peter Pillboxopedia (2024) Available at: Accessed: 19 June 2024

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!