Posted: 21 December 2010 12:14

A series of excursions some months ago took me to some areas which had witnessed Commando training; to my delight evidence of this training was still to be found 70 years on.

The "Vikings" were troops engaged in Commando training at a series of locations across East Sussex from 1942 onwards; a short series of posts will describe some of my discoveries of evidence of this activity still to be found in the landscape.

I will not be revealing any precise locations other than those already well-known.

Our first evidence is not, strictly speaking, directly related to the Commando training itself, but is interesting in itself and would have been seen on a daily basis by aspiring "Vikings".

One area of WW2 concrete hard-standing for vehicles in close proximity to one training area bears footprints. Locals tell me that no cement has been laid at this particular location in recent years and my research indicates that the concrete in this area dates to WW2.

What we have is a series of footprints in the concrete surface; they might have been left by the engineers who laid the slab, but I would suggest that the men who left them were probably unaware that the cement had not yet fully set until it was too late and so were not involved with construction. It may be that the incident occurred in the dark and so it was not realised that the ground underfoot was wet cement and not mud.

Viking School

Standing in the first footprint and comparing my trainer size, it seemed to me that the culprit had a shoe size similar to mine (somewhere between 8 and 9) and my stride pretty much matching the prints would indicate a height of about 6ft.

On a subsequent visit I took along a pair of size 8 WW2 Ammunition Boots (my size) and, in a Cinderella moment, found the size and shape fitted perfectly.

Viking School

A fascinating and rare piece of evidence and so far as is known, unique in East Sussex.

Part 2 in this series will examine some slit trenches in some of the training areas.

- Pete



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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 Viking School (1) - Footprints in the landscape (2018) Available at: Accessed: 19 June 2018

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