More Exciting Content on the Way!
Whilst our main business is delivering high quality WW2 workshops for schools, we also hope to inspire parents, teachers and students outside of school to take an interest in their local history. With that in mind, we're going to be creating more free content on our website and YouTube channel to share useful tools and information to help make this easier for those don't know where to start, or are looking for ideas. We'll be exploring resources available online, as well as people and organisations you can approach for information. There are so many places out there with amazing stories to tell and some of them are right on your doorstep!
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Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery Visit
In the last couple of blogs I've talked about visiting a Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery in Cornwall. The visit had to be postponed due to the weather. However, after the heavy snow departed after a short stay in the county, we finally made it to the site. We'd visited the Battery for the first time a year and a half ago and we found a big difference in the overgrowth when we visited this time, particularly around the gun emplacements.
We're now editing the footage and will post the video to the website and YouTube channel when it's completed.
In the meantime, here's a few photos from our visit to wet your appetite!
While the HAA Battery visit was postponed, we took the opportunity to investigate a Second World War structure on one of our local beaches.
Providing the foundations for the sailing club's wooden building on the beach, the type 24 Pillbox is still standing the test of time overlooking the shore at Pentewan Sands in Cornwall.
Pillboxes, which get their name from the shape of the old fashioned boxes which pills and medicines used to be dispensed in, were built by the thousands in 1940 as a defensive measure against the expected German invasion. Whilst they were, and still are in some cases, located on beaches and coastlines, many were also built inland to defend strategic positions across the country.
Although there were seven types of Pillboxes, varying in shape (circular, square, rectangular, hexagonal and octagonal), these standard designs could also be altered to suit the needs of a specific area. For example, a Type 24 Pillbox in a certain place may have had an extra annexe built on to house another gun.
This particular pillbox at Pentewan isn't the only defensive structure overlooking Pentewan Sands. In the photograph below you'll see a building that has been converted as part of a private dwelling on the cliffs. According to the Defence of Britain project, this is variant small, square shaped pillbox with an embrasure for a heavy machine gun.
To find out more information about Pillboxes, visit the Pillbox Study Group's website (http://www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/) – a fantastic resource full of photos, facts, diagrams, and history!
There are two other WW2 buildings we're intending to investigate at Pentewan. We'll also be posting a video of our Pillbox visit online soon too.
It is important to note that we obtained the permission of the land owner to visit the Anti-Aircraft Battery and enter the buildings. We were informed of their condition and safety prior to our visit.
Please don't just go wandering into historic buildings wherever they may be. They can be very dangerous places and may pose a risk to life, not just due to their age (they may be structurally unsafe), but also their location, and because others who've been there before you may have left things behind. Amazingly, in 2014, a group of teenagers made the newspapers after discovering a Pillbox in Norfolk whilst rambling. The building contained original live hand grenades left by the defenders in WW2!
Live ammunition is not the only dangerous items that have been discovered inside pillboxes. When we visited a site a few years ago, we discovered smashed glass on the floor and used needles. These structures are usually dim inside so without the aid of a good torch, you may not know exactly what you're treading on!
We at Wartime Reflections accept no responsibility for any damages or injuries caused by ignoring this advice. We follow the advice of the Pillbox Study Group as we “do not encourage anyone to undertake any form of clearance of vegetation from historic sites, as it can expose them to physical damage and inappropriate use, it may also contravene a variety of statutory regulations. Any alterations or clearance of vegetation should only ever be done with the agreement of the land owner and relevant authorities. If you cause any damage to a listed or scheduled monument it could be considered a Heritage Crime.”
We can enjoy these structures and learn a lot from them without going inside. Going inside is not worth the risk to your health and safety.