Posted: 17 October 2009 01:13

A quick recce of a couple of bridges over the Cuckmere River revealed no surviving evidence of roadblocks.

My first stop of the day was actually in Berwick, to investigate the site of a tank harbour. There were no signs of any earthworks or of the 44 Chruchill tanks that would have been there on Action Stations, ready to move onto the Downs. As these tanks' role was purely offensive, defensive positions may not have been dug in the harbour.

The first bridge I recce'd was Chilver Bridge which has been replaced since the war. The roadblock here comprised cylinders and buoys, although there were none evident. Construction of 21 pimples was recommended, along with a handful of sockets and hairpin rails, but it's not known if this work was ever carried out.

Roadblock recce

Moving south, I went to look at Sherman Bridge on the A27; the name, however, predates the Sherman tank, and so there is no military connection with it.

Despite this, the Churchill tanks I mentioned above might have rolled over this bridge on their way to engage Panzers pushing inland; an interesting exercise log describes them doing this.

Unfortunately, Sherman Bridge is of similar modern design to Chilver Bridge and has probably been greatly widened, meaning that any defence works such as slit trenches have been completely destroyed.

Roadblock recce

Again, cylinders and buoys would have been situated here, with pimples and sockets recommended to bolster them. Again, whether this ever happened is speculation at the moment; the movement of friendly tanks across the bridge was vital for the defence.

Some additional research reveals that both Chilver and Sherman Bridges were pre-registered targets for a troop of 25-pounder guns at Polegate and it's likely that this was the preferred means of denying the use of these structures to the enemy.

- Pete



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Action Stations

A state of readiness issued whenever invasion was deemed imminent. This alert required 100% manning of defences.


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.


Reinforced concrete cylindrical obstacles with a shaft down the centre in which could be inserted a crowbar for manhandling, or a picket for barbed wire. Cylinders were 90cm high and 60cm wide and deployed in groups of three as a more effective alternative for buoys.


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.


Concrete-lined shafts dug into road surfaces into which rails or RSJs (hairpin or straight) could be inserted to form a roadblock. When not in use, a wooden cover was placed over each socket.

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Hibbs, Peter Roadblock recce (30) - Cuckmere bridges (2019) Available at: Accessed: 25 August 2019

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