somerset pillboxes                                  



























                               THE  MAIN UK WWII PILLBOX TYPES 



                                                 (Photo: Type 22.  Weycroft, Devon  - Spring 2005)                  

    TYPE 22

The most common of the pillboxes built in Britain, 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)

    TYPE 23

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) 

    TYPE 24

A 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)                     

    TYPE 25 

This 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)                  

    TYPE 26

A 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 surroundings.



                               (Photo: Type 27. RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire  - Autumn 2004)

    TYPE 27

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)

    TYPE 28



   TYPE 28a

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.

The 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 Type 28a.  The structure pictured had board shuttering.



                          (Photo: Vickers MMG emplacement. Boshill Cross, Devon - Winter (Jan.) 2005)    


The 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)



The 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 structure's completion.                                                        

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 landowner first.











                                                                                                                  DAVID TACCHI  2003 - 2014

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