Posted: 22 October 2009 09:28
An excursion in search of an underground battle headquarters took me into a small trenched locality on the Downs.
The HQ site yielded nothing. I was, however, not totally surprised at this as the document I got the grid reference from was only suggesting it as a suitable site to relocate to after two failed attempts to establish an underground HQ on the Downs.
I did find a few slit trenches in the area though; this is not listed as a Downsforce static location, but is reasonably close to the point to which the mobile Bren carrier element would have withdrawn had it failed to check a German advance from the beaches. It's quite possible that this position is associated with this, although I have seen references made to an "infantry-cum-tank" (i.e., infanty/tank co-operation) exercise in this area too.
Of the six trenches I found, two were of interest in that they employed a breastwork to raise the height of the parapet to provide better command of sloping ground. The photo below shows the position from the flank.
Seen from the front (and photographing into the sun), the breastwork is clearly visible; note how it provides a more or less level parapet on sloping ground, allowing a much wider arc of fire.
Even though I have no absolute documentary evidence on this position I expect it to have been a battle position rather than solely an exercise arrangement.
The general design of the slit trenches may possibly indicate 1940 construction and therefore predate Downsforce; the documents for this period covering this area are patchy.
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.
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Hibbs, Peter Yet another Downs locality (2021) Available at: http://wwww.pillbox.org.uk/blog/216644/ Accessed: 13 May 2021
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