Posted: 9 January 2010 20:09

The current freezing weather has prevented me from getting out, so I spent an hour or two outside building a Type 22 Pillbox in the snow.

The photos below show the process; the final product was about 70cm in diameter, about 40cm high and was built purely by eye, hence the dodgy geometry. A piece of board was used to mark the hexagon and then snow built up along each wall and packed hard.

Ice Concrete Pillbox

The finished product resembled a Christmas cake:

Ice Concrete Pillbox

Ice Concrete Pillbox

Looking through the door; unfortunately, the baffle wall fell over as I was adding the roof.

Ice Concrete Pillbox

Ice Concrete Pillbox

So what brought on this seemingly juvenile behaviour?

Well, I was looking through a 1945 Royal Engineers pamphlet on Snow and Mountain Warfare and found reference to the Ice Concrete Pillbox.

This was made from a mix of two parts sand to one part gravel with water; this slush was to be poured into normal shuttering to freeze solid, producing the pillbox seen at right. The 'concrete' could be reinforced with brushwood or metal mesh.

An interesting thought occurred to me as I built my snow pillbox; a lot of trampling in the snow during construction would probably have revealed the location of the ice concrete pillbox either by exposing the vegetation underneath (depending on the depth of snow) or simply through tracks and footprints left by the working party. However, these would begin to be covered by the next snowfall and a real advantage of this design is the ease with which it could be camouflaged, particularly if dug into a hillside.

Whether any were ever actually built is not known; they certainly would not have been constructed in East Sussex as snow rarely lasts long enough down here to make the effort worthwhile. No, this structure is definitely for more permanently frozen parts of the world.

How long my Type 22 model will last is anyone's guess...

- Pete



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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.

Type 22 pillbox

A small hexagonal pillbox for six men not commonly seen in East Sussex, though a few still survive along the Royal Military Canal stop line.

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Hibbs, Peter Ice Concrete Pillbox (2024) Available at: Accessed: 17 July 2024

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