somerset pillboxes                                  

























                       Somerset Pillboxes

                   WWII defences on the Taunton Stop Line and in other parts of the UK


                             (Photo: A pair of Vickers MMG emplacements on the Taunton Stop Line at Boshill Cross, Devon - Winter (Jan) 2005)

Visitors who are unfamiliar with pillboxes and other UK WWII defence structures may wish to take a look at the 'Pillbox Types' and 'Other Defences' sections before browsing through the rest of the site, these two sections contain photographs and information regarding various structures, some of which, you will come across later. 

 In June 1940, at a meeting in the County Hotel, Taunton, between various building firms and the Army, the decision was taken to commence work immediately on the Taunton Stop Line, a continuous anti-tank obstacle that would stretch from the north coast of Somerset down to Seaton in Devon.  The defensive structures along the Stop Line were built by private contractors and Army personnel, with absolute priority being given to the supply of building materials.  The purpose was to delay enemy armoured vehicles, which might land further to the south and west on the beaches of Devon or Cornwall, in their advance toward Bristol and the Midlands, long enough at any given point along the Stop Line for mobile units of the Army to arrive and deal with the incursion. 

The Line, of over 300 pillboxes plus machine gun emplacements, anti-tank gun emplacements, anti-tank ditches, infantry trenches and many other defences, ran down from the Pawlett Hams in the north of Somerset, along the River Parrett and then, following the east bank of the Bridgwater and Taunton canal southward, to Creech St. Michael where it joined and followed the dried-up bed of the old Taunton & Chard Canal.  South-west of Ilton the Line traced the route of the Great Western Railway southward.   North of Chard Junction the Line left the G.W.R. and followed the route shared by the Southern Railway and the River Axe, briefly crossing over into Dorset in a couple of places, finally following the Axe into the seaside town of Seaton, Devon, where the Stop Line ended. 

We all know that the threatened Nazi invasion never materialised but at the time the threat was very real for the people of Britain.  Had the Royal Air Force been defeated in the Battle of Britain and if, without air cover, the Royal Navy had subsequently received overwhelming damage from the Luftwaffe, the hastily constructed defences and the troops manning them would have been in the front line.    

After WWII, farmers, on who's land pillboxes had been built, were paid 5.00 for each one they could demolish but, as anyone who has ever examined one of these enormously solid structures could have guessed, in the majority of cases the pillboxes won - luckily for us and future generations.  Over the years the vast majority of pillboxes and other defence structures have been left to decay.  Many have been vandalised and defaced by graffiti, those that are completely overgrown are fortunate in having been spared most of this.

Fortunately, English Heritage has taken an interest in WWII defence structures, announcing that "the best" would be scheduled as part of it's monuments protection programme.  This is welcome news but it's a great shame that so many which might have been saved have been left to decay by previous administrations.

This website is concerned mainly with WWII defensive structures that still exist on the Taunton Stop Line in Somerset, Devon and Dorset and those existing in the rest of Somerset. 

                                  CREECH ST. MICHAEL HOME GUARD

Left to Right, Back Row: Pollard, Bill Hunt, Marc Marchant, Harold Wyatt, Not Known, Cornwall, Bob Wheadon, Triss    Foxwell, Norman Drewe, Ron Welch.

Left to Right, Middle Row: Cornwall, Mitchell, Bill Cruys, Fred Hunt, George Sandford,  Hooper, Lance Coombes, Jack Taylor, Ivor Brookes, Harold Thomas, Jim Wadham.

Left to Right, Seated: Jack Sweeting, Rub Bauer, Perce Brookes, Cubby Bishop, Sgt.Tacker Sweeting, Lieut. Fisher,    Sgt. Ron Smith, Len Mitchell, Digger Wyatt, Brian Wakely.

                                                                               (Photo: courtesy of RON WELCH)               

One of the above gentlemen, Ron Smith, still lives in Creech St. Michael and has many interesting stories to tell regarding his wartime exploits.  Ron, of Brickyard Farm, remembers seeing some of the pillboxes being built and he and his comrades trained in them in readiness for the expected invasion of their homeland.

A higher definition version of the above photograph may be seen by clicking on the following link:   which will take you to the South Staffs Home Guard website, a very interesting site featuring Home Guard units from various parts of the country.      



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                                 This website was first published in August 2003




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                                                                                                                  DAVID TACCHI  2003 - 2014

                                                                                           ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS WEBSITE WERE, UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED, TAKEN BY DAVID TACCHI