Extended Defence of Britain Database (WW2)

Database maintained by Steve Thompson

This external site {here} shows a multi-layered UK map with WW2 pill boxes,  gun emplacements and some other facilities marked.   (The Archive does not accept responsibility for external sites.)

One of our editors notes: …  the defensive complex that was built beneath Marsh Farm at Vange is not annotated on the map. Possibly a forward command post, it was massive and is thought to be used for playing paintball, currently!

Another experienced local researcher believes the map to be patchy as regards Hadleigh and Thundersley, not including all the information researched by AGES for an earlier report. It places the base for the Thundersley Auxillary Unit – for example – east of Pound Wood, but this may not be accurate.
The survey of World War Two defences in the District of Castle Point was carried out by members of A.G.E.S. Amateur Archaeology Association guided by Military Archaeologist Fred Nash for Essex County Council.

The human dimension of the various WW2 sites is indicated by a narrative involving the late Ron Grigg who lived in Thorington Avenue all his life and whose father coppiced wood in Starvelarks and in what was called The Plantation and is now Valerie Wells Wood.

“This cutting was all part of the War Effort and Ron, in his early teens, used to join his father and assist him in both woods.  The local Auxiliary Unit had a place in Valerie Wells Wood. A trench was dug and roofed over close to the wood’s southern boundary, giving the men an HQ for whatever activities they got up to.  {Ed: for more information see this reference.}

I once saw the ditch which had been partially filled in. When the Trust were about to take over the wood, two people came to inspect it, as a rumour had surfaced that old ammunition may have been left behind wherever the Unit met. I was asked to contact Ron and bring him to the wood to point out the exact site.

Ron was remarkably fit for his age but two of us had to lift him bodily over the huge lakes lying across the path. It had been exceptionally wet. Anyway Ron took them straight to the spot and was thanked for his contribution. I understood that the trench was searched, no nasties were discovered and the trench was safely filled in.

I could take you to the area but whether I could locate the exact position of the trench I doubt very much. There is quite a growth of bushes in that area now, which, of course, was the hope. When I next see the former warden of Valerie Wells I will ask him if he can add any more this. I have a suspicion that the Auxiliary Unit may have changed their favoured sites more than once. It has no official warden now so it is the responsibility of the Assistant Warden of Little Haven Nature Reserve to look after it.”

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