Posted: 10 May 2009 21:17
Since my discovery of a treasure map I've made a couple of trips out into the field to see if I could find any defence works using it.
I'm not surprised that the map didn't lead me straight into gun positions, as there was no guarentee that the markings on the trace were any more accurate than some of the grid references I come across in documents.
However, the map can provide inroads in the same way a prehistoric cave painting does. A representation of a hunting scene on a cave wall tells you that spears were used, even though the exact method of the spear's construction is not depicted. The map's marking of gun positions may not be exact, but it will indicate the general idea of the defensive fire plan, allowing me to go to a rough location and try and find the best placement area.
In the event I didn't find any anti-tank gun pits, but I did confirm a few earthworks I'd previously seen as trenches belonging to 'A' Company.
I then wandered through 'C' Company in order to get to 'D' Company, but the latter's position seems to have been obliterated, or else I'm not looking in the right place. I did find one trench, but it was in a grey area between 'C' and 'D' coys, so I can't positively say to which company it belonged. The area was being held by a platoon of sheep at the time I visited and so I wasn't able to sweep the ground thoroughly; if there are more trenches there, they're probably 'D' Coy, otherwise, the trench was a 'C' Coy outpost.
I moved into the gap between 'C' Coy and 'B' Coy and suddenly came across a series of trenches. However, I had done my homework this time and knew that this position was not related to the 1942 battalion locality I was investigating, but was a 1941 Vickers gun platoon reserve position that was only to be occupied if a local infantry company situated on the low ground was to be moved onto the Downs in an anti-parachutist role. Finding these trenches (seen below) reminded me of a wartime cartoon depicting a pair of birdwatchers peering into a bush and declaring "it looks like last season's machine gun nest" (!)
This position was for a Vickers gun platoon (4 guns), so I was glad to be able to locate what appeared to be four pits that were large enough to house a gun crew. Two are on the forward slope shooting along a valley, one is on the top of the slope to the rear and the fourth is over the other side of the crest, covering the rear. All are supported by slit trenches.
Not a bad find by any means, but not what I was expecting to find!
A defended locality intended to be held by a platoon.
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 X doesn't quite mark the spot (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216628/ Accessed: 25 September 2017
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