THE MAIN UK WWII PILLBOX TYPES
(Photo: Type 22. Weycroft, Devon - Spring 2005)
most common of the pillboxes built in
although I only know of four on the Taunton Stop Line,
this hexagonal bullet-proof infantry pillbox has walls up to 15 inches
thick and stands 7 foot high from it's base. Riflemen would have fired
from it's 6 loopholes - one of which is built into each of the front and
side walls with a smaller one to the left of the entrance in the rear wall. With the limited visibility available through
the loopholes, the defenders of this and other types of infantry pillbox
might have found it easier, in certain circumstances, to identify and
repel an attacking force from outside the box rather than within it's
confines. The structure above has block shuttering.
(Photo: Type 23. St. Martin's Battery, Western Heights,
Dover, Kent - Autumn 2005)
Oblong in plan with walls 15 inches thick. These structures may have 3 or
more loopholes and usually held a complement of 4 men. Within the rear of the
structure is an open light anti-aircraft position surrounded by a wall and
entry would, in most cases, have been gained via metal rungs set into this wall
although the Type 23 in the photo above has an open entrance in the
left wall of the anti-aircraft position.
A Lewis gun or Bren gun would have been used in the AA role. The
structure pictured had board shuttering.
(Photo: Type 24. Sand Bay, Wick St. Lawrence, Somerset - Spring 2005)
development of the Type 22 pillbox, this bullet-proof hexagonal infantry
pillbox was garrisoned by up to 8 men and has walls up to 2 foot thick
with 7 loopholes - 2 of these in the rear wall. The defenders could have
used weapons in addition to the standard issue Lee-Enfield rifle, such as light
machine guns and anti-tank rifles.
The 'thick walled'
version of the standard Type 24 was shell-proofed, with the thickness of it's
walls increased to 3.5 foot. A standard Bren gun embrasure was built into
each forward and side facing wall with a rifle loophole each side of the
entrance in the rear wall. The 'thick walled' Type 24 is the most common
infantry pillbox along the Taunton Stop Line. The structure above
had board shuttering.
(Photo: Type 25. Fleet, Dorset - Summer 2004)
small, circular, pillbox is 8 foot in diameter, the wall is 12 inches thick
and has 3 loopholes and a small entrance at the rear. It had a complement of up to 4 men.
The box pictured above had corrugated
iron shuttering and the structure is now leaning forward due to subsidence.
(Photo: Type 26. Abbotsbury, Dorset - Summer 2004)
quadrilateral, bullet-proof pillbox with walls up to 18 inches thick. It
has up to 4 loopholes, one of these next to the entrance at the rear, and was
garrisoned by up to 5 men. The example pictured above has a loophole
in the front and side walls only. The structure
above had board
shuttering and was given a coating of small pebbles to blend in with it's
(Photo: Type 27. RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire - Autumn 2004)
Often located to defend airfields, these octagonal pillboxes have
walls 3 foot thick with 8 loopholes - one loophole in the same wall as the
entrance which is protected by a porch. In the centre of the box there is an open light anti-aircraft
position which would have been equipped with a Lewis gun or Bren gun. The
garrison of the standard Type 27 would have numbered about 10 men.
The structure pictured above has a total of 7 loopholes as the wall in
which the entrance porch was located does not have a loophole. The
structure pictured has brick shuttering.
(Photo: Type 28a. Ilton, Somerset - Summer 2004)
The Type 28 is an
anti-tank pillbox, quadrilateral in plan, housing either a mobile 2 pounder, or
static 6 pounder, anti-tank gun. There is a large stepped embrasure to the front and
two infantry embrasures, one either side of the box. There is a large rear
entrance through which the 2 pounder mobile anti-tank gun could be wheeled in or out. The walls are
3.5 foot thick.
Type 28 lacked infantry fire positions to protect the front and rear of
the structure so a side chamber was added, equipped with light machine gun
embrasures to the front, side and rear. This improved version is the
28a. The structure pictured had board shuttering.
(Photo: Vickers MMG emplacement. Boshill Cross, Devon - Winter (Jan.) 2005)
VICKERS MMG EMPLACEMENT
Vickers Medium Machine Gun emplacement can be easily recognised by it's large, stepped,
front embrasure and the massive blast wall which covers the entrance, this
will be either to the left or right of the structure. Inside there is a
large triangular shaped concrete gun table upon which the MMG and tripod would be
situated along with it's water cooling system canister and ammunition
boxes. The emplacement's 4 walls are 3 foot thick and there is a loophole
in the right or left wall, depending on which side the entrance is, also
a loophole guarding the rear. A ventilation port is usually situated
near the top of the rear wall. A garrison of at least 4 men would be
needed to man the MMG and loopholes. Along the Taunton Stop Line there
are many of these structures, sited in pairs. The structure pictured
had board shuttering.
(Photo: Vickers MMG, mount and tripod. Pendennis Castle,
Cornwall - Summer 2006)
Pillbox's, or Gun Emplacement's, inner and outer shuttering, which together
acted as a mould into which the concrete for the structure's walls etc. was
poured, was usually made up from wooden board which could be set up quickly
and, importantly, was reusable. However, the wartime shortage of wood
caused other materials such as brick, concrete block or corrugated iron to
be used also. The disadvantage in using brick or block was that the
construction of the shuttering would have taken longer, thus delaying the
Pillboxes are best photographed
in the winter months when most of the foliage has died down. If you
need to go onto private land to photograph a structure, always ask permission of the
COMPARATIVE PLANS OF THE MAIN PILLBOX TYPES
(NOT TO SCALE)