Sussex Military Research Projects

Pillbox survey

Project ID: SMR1026

Location: Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

Project date: 2016



Project Overview: Cuckmere Haven

Working with the authorities, excavations were conducted at a number of sites in the valley, including pillboxes and anti-tank obstacles.

Description: Survey, small excavation and set-up of machine gun to determine the use of a modification to the original pillbox design.

Following vegetation clearance at Outbrook Bank by the park rangers, easy access to the pillbox was once again possible.

The pillbox is a mirror image of a design on the eastern side of the Cuckmere River, which is known to have been to house a Vickers machine gun. However, the Outbrook Bank pillbox appears to have been modified by the addition of a concrete platform built where the Vickers gun would originally have been positioned.

The original brick platform appears to have been lowered, presumably as part of the modification. This platform was excavated but only loose rubble backfill was recorded.

The later pedestal mounting appears to have been precast and then moved into position. It is fixed in place, but the method was not established. As the most likely candidate weapon for the pedestal was the Bren gun on its tripod, and example was tested in place.

The pedestal design is clearly shaped for the Bren; the impression of a folded tripod was seen, indicating an example was pressed into the wet concrete during construction. It was also noted that the lowering of the original Vickers gun platform was to provide support for the Bren tripod's rear legs hanging down, over the pedestal edge. This confirmed the pedestal as a later modification to convert the pillbox from the Vickers gun to the Bren gun.

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