Posted: 28 September 2009 19:17
A return visit has made me change my mind on the locality I found recently; I now think it was an army position as a result of a map-reading error.
It's actually an extraordinary coincidence that I ever found these positions in the first place, due to an oversight on my part. The grid reference that lead me to this location was simply for the 1km grid square; the Home Guard locality was said to be in the area of a reservoir but I didn't realise that there are two in the same square, one of which was not marked on the military one-inch map. It was pure luck that, walking half a mile in completely the wrong direction, I stumbled across these trenches and pits!
But I now think these are not Home Guard as they're not the locality I was originally looking for; I have now visited that area and it's too overgrown at the moment to see if anything remains.
These pits are actually within a general area I know to have been occupied by the field army; there was some military activity in this area, including a firing range down in a nearby valley but I didn't previously realise that the ground this far out was held.
My original visit also completely overlooked the probable reason for these pits and trenches being here; the photo below shows the sewer pipe weapon pits again.
I made a mistake here - not for the first time I've been guilty of this one and probably not the last. Of the two concrete weapons pits, my attention was diverted by the one that had the least material in it (nearest the camera above) and I somehow convinced myself that these pits were identical.
Not so. My second visit revealed that the other pit is not identical and that it actually contains a mounting for an anti-aircraft light machine gun (AA LMG) in the centre, as seen below.
I didn't see this originally due to the large amount of dead wood in the pit but discovered it the painful way by jumping down into the pit without realising the pintle was there; had I seen it beforehand I would've avoided it. (Another mistake; look before you leap...)
The presence of this mount answers a couple of questions. The mixture of slit trenches and concrete pipe pits is perhaps explained by the latter being AA LMG posts with the trenches as ground defence positions. I had wondered about these pits being set slightly back from the edge of the high ground; crouching in one you can't see down the slope as you can from the trenches which are further forward. It also confirms the military nature of these pits as I've only seen this method of construction referred to in documents as being employed in beach shingle.
I don't know if the removal of part of the front portion of the lip of this pipe is significant or not; it may have been a guide to an arc of fire or just general wear and tear. I imagine the neighbouring pit had no AA LMG due to the danger of two gunners accidentally whirling around and muzzle-sweeping each other in the heat of battle.
The other pit was probably for the gunner's mate who could break cover and load a fresh magazine on the gun in between aircraft making passes and also act as an observer.
The mounting itself is set solid; probably concreted in, but I didn't really dig down as time was short and I had the slightly embarrassing task of explaining to a bemused pair of mountain-bikers why I was standing in a hole with a camera and tape measure...
Anti-Aircraft LMG (light machine-gun); an LMG post set up as a defence against low-flying aircraft. Most likely to be a Bren or Lewis gun on a mounting or fired from the hip using the 'hosepipe' method.
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 It's not a Home Guard locality... (2024) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216641/ Accessed: 4 March 2024
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