Other Defences

Pillboxes are sometimes referred to as defence posts, blockhouses or police posts. Concrete pillboxes were first used by the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War. The idea was copied by the Germans in World War One and later by the British. Some pillboxes were sited to defend coastal batteries, airfields, radar stations and factories, others were part of stop lines. More than 18,000 were built during 1940. There were a dozen standard pillbox designs, but in fact many more designs were used. The Defence of Britain Handbook describes them as “a basic squat, heavily constructed building, usually flat-roofed, no more than 1.98m high and quadrilateral, polygonal or circular in plan. There were one or two entrances, sometimes protected by a porch or wall. They all have a series of horizontal slits (firing loops, loopholes or embrasures) to provide interlocking fields of fire over the anticipated direction of attack”. Most pillboxes were designed for rifles or light machine guns. More heavily armed examples had Vickers machine guns, antitank guns or Hotchkiss guns. Pillbox walls are almost always of concrete, sometimes with brick shuttering or stone facing (Lowry 1996, 79-82). The threat of an invasion was lessened in 1941 when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. No more pillboxes were built after February 1942.

Boldon (HER 5380)Grid Reference:NZ353601

This Picture taken from an RAF photograph in 1946 (Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive) shows a number of concrete type structures across the road from the resevoir. As in the Italian POW camp elsewhere in Boldon they have used the natural features of the land as extra defences by using old quarry workings to locate the Gun's its proximaty to the road providing an ideal checkpoint for those traveliing from the Hylton direction.

This location is the top end of the golf course near hylton Road so would have had a good view of the sea and today still lies undeveloped scrub land on the edge of the course, whether or not any evidence of its previous use can be found under the scrub is unknown other than maybe some foundations but nothing is immediately evident from the road side.

This is on the opposite side of the road where the resevoir is located. Same one? or one to watch the road and one to watch the sea?
Grid Reference:NZ354606

Spigot Mortar Emplacements

29mm Spigot Mortars, also known as “Blacker Bombards”, only started to be introduced into defensive planning in the summer of 1941. Before this time, antiinvasion measures had been based around static lines of pillboxes. Even as early as 1941 many had questioned the utility of such inflexible defences. In February 1942 Home Forces declared that recent experience ‘points most strongly to the fact that the pillbox is not a suitable type of fortification for either coastal or nodal point defence’. The new defensive arrangement focused much more on earthworks and more flexible defences than on conventional fortifications. The Spigot Mortar fitted into this system perfectly. These mortars were very simple devices, and were issued to the Home Guard to use against enemy vehicles. They were set up in 4ft deep dug-outs, with a ‘pedestal mounting’ - a large concrete pillar with a steel pin in the top, to which the mortar could be attached. Each mortar would be issued with four kits for making emplacements, meaning that four alternate positions could be provided for each weapon, giving much more flexibility of deployment than under previous defence arrangements. These mortars were given priority in coastal regions, but were also often placed near bridges and road junctions, and wherever an ambush would be most effective.