Wat Tyler Country Park – Second World War Defenses (1940s)

As you should know if you’re either a budding historian or keen BTP reader, Watt Tyler country park is situated on the GHQ line – the 1st line of defense in WW2 against a German assault on the capital. Whilst the majority of the park’s history is focused on it as an early 20th Century explosives factory (read here http://beyondthepoint.co.uk/historic-locations/bowers-gifford-to-pitsea/wat-tyler-country-park-explosives-factory-early-20thc/), it also features numerous defenses remaining from the Second World War.

The first is this pillbox. It would have been above ground in the day, being currently partially buried, and would have housed a Vickers Machine Gun – a stereotype ‘unbeatable’ machine gun, which is in fact not that common as the armament for British pillboxes, instead most used a light machine gun, or rifle. It has a compass or something ontop and a wooden fencing around it, and features a blast wall behind the entrance hole, which is covered by a loop hole for a pistol to attack any trying to take it from the rear. The wall would hve covered the pillbox from explosions, but most importantly would have made it an extremely difficult angle to lob a grenade inside.

The buried Vickers MG pillbox

The blast wall with pistol loop

Next we saw some anti-tank blocks – concrete blocks put on the shores to stop enemy vehicles getting onto the mainland.

Anti-Tank Block

Next was the park’s second pillbox, which was the most common type along the GHQ line, a type 24. It has two pistol loops guarding either side of the doorway, and would have held Bren LMGs and SMLE rifles. It now has a wooden walkay which leads on-top.

An FW3/24

The next pillbox was hidden in the bushes, found only due to help from our guide Alistair who gave us insider information on the park’s past. An external sho was tricky as the castemate was covered by the trees, although a picture below shows the man pillbox, with a blast wall covering the door behind it. This pillbox would have also housed rfiles or light-machine guns. The loopholes seen below the picture below, were sealed, with future plans to convert it into a bat cave, as is a popular trend with today’s remaining pillboxes.

The pillbox, foreground, with the blast wall in the distance.

One of the loops

For all the pictures visit here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.352068824815321.81174.238743826147822&type=3


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