Posted: 27 July 2013 20:59

I can't believe that it's been 18 months since my last Roadblock Recce! A trip to Bodiam identifies the location of a roadblock and the Type 28A pillbox guarding it.

Standing just 100m away from Bodiam Castle, the pillbox is very well-known; it proved exceptionally difficult to photograph it today due to its popularity with visitors.

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

Actually, I'm glad this was the case - it's fantastic that a younger generation are exploring and asking questions.

I remember my first venture into this particular pillbox over 30 years ago. I was on a school trip to the castle and was the only member of my group not to be put off by the mud and puddles that covered the floor to a depth of two inches. Fortunately, the interior has been greatly improved by virtue of it being comparatively clean and whitewashed in recent years.

The photo at right shows the main compartment with pedestal mount upon which the six-pounder gun would have been mounted - if one was ever made available.

The photo below shows the infantry compartment, separated from the gun position by the wall at right. It's this additional room that distinguishes this from the standard Type 28 pillbox and makes it a Type 28A.

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

The pillbox is dug into the landscape, with a sunken entrance to the rear. The retaining wall incorporates an embrasure, which is an interesting feature seen on many of these stop line pillboxes.

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

We've seen the pillbox; I've included the photo below of Bodiam Castle itself to illustrate an earlier type of fortification, but we haven't discussed the roadblock yet!

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

The block itself was situated on this hump-backed bridge over the River Rother, 235m away from the pillbox. The river formed part of the Corps Stop Line, and, as Bodiam Bridge is a crossing, it received the protection of the pillbox and an array of obstacles.

According to the 1941 Roadblock Report that inspired my roadblock visits, this block comprised 18 cylinders, 7 sockets with vertical RSJs and 15 buoys.

But these were not deemed sufficient; the report recommends doubling the number of cylinders and the addition of 10 hairpin rails.

In the event, these extra obstacles were not implemented, even though the block was not regarded as being redundant.

Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam

No remaining evidence of the roadblock to be seen today, but at least we know what was once here from the documents, and with the bonus of a surviving pillbox!

- Pete

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Buoys

Small concrete roadblock obstacle comprising a truncated cone with domed base. A hollow shaft down the centre allowed the buoy to be manhandled using a crowbar. Buoys were deemed of little value by 1941 and cylinders seen as a better solution.


Cylinders

Reinforced concrete cylindrical obstacles with a shaft down the centre in which could be inserted a crowbar for manhandling, or a picket for barbed wire. Cylinders were 90cm high and 60cm wide and deployed in groups of three as a more effective alternative for buoys.


Embrasure

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


Pillbox

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.


Sockets

Concrete-lined shafts dug into road surfaces into which rails or RSJs (hairpin or straight) could be inserted to form a roadblock. When not in use, a wooden cover was placed over each socket.


Stop line

A physical continuous anti-tank barrier, normally a river and/or railway line, often defended by pillboxes. Stop line crossings (roads, railways and bridges) were to be made impassable.


Type 28 pillbox

A pillbox designed to house a small artillery piece (typically a WW1 6-pounder gun), usually sited to cover a bridge or other defile. Type 28a variant had an additional compartment for infantry defence.



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Hibbs, Peter Roadblock Recce (35) Bodiam (2017) Available at: http://wwww.pillbox.org.uk/blog/216726/ Accessed: 21 November 2017

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!