Posted: 18 April 2009 21:06

Following on from my investigation of Vickers Gun positions, I went up onto the Downs looking for what promised to be an interesting defended locality held by two platoons and a Vickers section.

A Vickers section comprised two guns, each with a crew of five plus a range-taker and section commander. In 1941 an infantry platoon comprised 37 men, and including the two or three men in an artillery observation post, we have a locality containing a force of about 90 men. I was therefore expecting to find plenty of earthworks and evidence of substantial occupation.

I was to be a bit disappointed however; I was destined to find comparatively little, just one definite slit trench and one or two possibles. There was no sign of the OP, although I was surprised to find the Vickers gun positions still very clear and over a foot deep.

Vickers machine gun post

I identified these as the Vickers trenches partly on account of their size (these are actually smaller than the example I examined previously, only for two men), but also the ground they cover. The document that led me to this location gives the left and right arcs of fire and both positions are aligned to cover the ground.

I left the area satisfied at these new discoveries despite having only found trenches to accommodate just six of the 90 men who were dug in here in 1941. The nettles and vegetation are now springing up; this location may well reveal more come next winter.

- Pete



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Defended locality

An area defended by a force (e.g. a platoon) occupying a series of defence works, normally within a barbed wire perimeter. Localities were designed for all-round defence and usually fitted in with a coordinated scheme of neighbouring localities.

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.

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Hibbs, Peter Downs defended locality (2024) Available at: Accessed: 19 June 2024

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