Posted: 10 March 2009 22:10

The Defence of East Sussex Project is three years old; I'm amazed at what I've managed to find in both the archives and the field.

I described the origins of the project back in January, so I'll restrict my ramblings here to looking back at some of the things I've done.

In 2006, I had already been undertaking research at the National Archives for several years, and so it was a seamless transition to move into anti-invasion defences.

I've found some fantastic documents, including a few Holy grails in June 2008, which have triggered many field visits as a result.

A few of my favourite moments are listed below:

Pillbox ballistics (Feb 2007)

I went slightly outside my area of study to Ruckinge in Kent to investigate wartime damage to a Type 22 pillbox on the Royal Military Canal.

Damage to Type 22 Pillbox

Pillbox weapons mountings (Nov 2006)

A simple experiment to determine the purpose of concrete piers set into the internal walls of Type 24 pillboxes.

Type 24 pillbox embrasure with Bren Gun

Demolition chambers (May 2008)

Following some clues in a document, I located some evidence of demolition chambers in the bridge at Bishopstone.

Bishopstone Bridge


My Downsforce project has been a highly satisfying exercise in using documentary evidence to locate field works. So far I've recorded over 150 earthwork defences with more possibly in the pipeline.

Slit trench

In three years I've gone from being an ignoramus to being a bigger ignoramus; having been through 300 archive files, I've come to realise that the more I know, the more I realise that I actually know very little.

To date, I've notched up a total of 1624 database records describing 1676 functions that total 1832 features and works - hundreds more than I ever dreamed of uncovering.

What will happen in the next three years?

- Pete



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10 June 2020 - 10 July 2020

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31 December 2018



Term applied to a structure scheduled for demolition or already demolished. Walls and small buildings might be taken down to clear fields of fire or impede enemy passage by destroying a bridge. Some demolitions were not intended to be carried out until after invasion had begun, for example, certain bridges or road craters (pipe mines).


A loophole or slit that permits observation and/or weapons to be fired through a wall or similar solid construction.


Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.

Slit trench

Small, narrow trench designed to provide protection against shrapnel and other battlefield hazards. Technically distinct from a weapon pit (which was intended soley as a defensive position) slit trenches were also used as defence works.

Type 22 pillbox

A small hexagonal pillbox for six men not commonly seen in East Sussex, though a few still survive along the Royal Military Canal stop line.

Type 24 pillbox

A six-sided (but not a regular hexagon) pillbox. The Type 24 is the most frequently seen pillbox in East Sussex, mostly along stop lines. It can be found in thin wall (30cm) or thick wall (1m) variants.

This site is copyright © Peter Hibbs 2006 - 2020. All rights reserved.

Hibbs, Peter Three years on (2020) Available at: Accessed: 10 July 2020

The information on this website is intended solely to describe the ongoing research activity of The Defence of East Sussex Project; it is not comprehensive or properly presented. It is therefore NOT suitable as a basis for producing derivative works or surveys!