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Report - Taunton Stopline – Weycroft - August 2011

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by Munchh, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Munchh

    Munchh 28DL Member
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    You may have come across the odd pillbox or concrete cube and paid no real attention to it. Some people view these as uninteresting and not worth spending time on and I can understand how they are easily dismissed by the casual observer.

    There are numerous Anti invasion Stoplines all over the UK and were built in response to an expected German invasion in the months following the evacuation at Dunkirk.

    So if you have ever wondered why they’re there and would like to know a bit more about their history and purpose, read on.

    History

    Source: ADS

    The Stop Line comprised a wide variety of defensive features including numerous pill boxes; anti-tank obstacles; barricades and ditches; barbed wire entanglements; artillery gun emplacements; machine gun emplacements; fortified buildings; moveable anti-tank road and rail blockades; and mined roads and bridges

    The survey for the Taunton Stop Line was carried out by 516th Corps Field Survey Company Royal Engineers. Work on the southern area, which included Axminster, began in July 1940 and was undertaken by the 551st Army Troops Company Royal Engineers. The Stop Line was initially manned by units of the Field Army and was the responsibility of 48th Division of VIII Corps. Supervision and reinforcement of all garrisons stationed in the anti-tank islands was undertaken by the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry. Logistical support for the Field Army was provided by the Axminster Company of the Seaton Battalion, Devon Home Guard. However, when the Field Army was later withdrawn the Home Guard were given responsibility for maintaining and manning the defences.

    Situated just north of Axminster is the Village of Weycroft. The Mill is listed as a defended building on the DOB database. The TSL is in evidence to the west and east of it.

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    GE map shots legend

    Blue – Barbed wire
    Brown – AT Cubes
    Magenta – possible firing lines

    Starting from the west;

    S 34 – Pillbox, type 24 – S0001220 - 50°47'40.22"N, 2°59'16.39"W

    almost directly below the bridge demolition on the bank of the river

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    S 35 – Pillbox, type 22 – S0016298 - 50°47'37.77"N, 2°59'15.65"W

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    S 37 – Pillbox, type 26 - S0001349 - 50°47'32.84"N, 2°59'28.02"W

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    Excerpt from ‘The Taunton Stopline General Report January 1941’

    (1)The road and rail blocks are divided into three catergories designated in the attached list by the prefix of the letters A, B, and C in front of serial no.

    Serials ‘A’ - Those along the line of the obstacle but on minor roads or tracks which could be closed at an early stage after an invasion without unduly interrupting communications across the obstacle.

    Serials ‘B’ – Those along the line of the obstacle but on minor roads which cannot be closed till the attack is threatening. These will include all railway stop gates, which are shown on separate list attached.

    Serials ‘C’ – Those in rear of the obstacle which must not be closed till the enemy is definitely attacking, and making progress against the defences.

    (2)The work of completing a block will consist of fixing rails, arranging the tetrehedra in correct position and also fixing and placing of anti tank mines.

    (3)(a) Serials ‘A’ will be completed by the three British Auxiliary Military Pioneer Companies (Locations: Chard, Axminster, Taunton) under the orders of the officer commanding No. 6 Group Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps at Coombe St. Nicholas, telephone Chard 2120. These will take approx. 3 hours to complete provided transport has been made available. The officer commanding is authorized to requisition necessary transport on code word ‘Cromwell’ as a minimum 2 buses per Company (total 6) will be required.

    The code word ‘Screws’ will be passed to officer commanding No. 6 Group Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps to start closing of Serial ‘A’ road blocks. On completion of ‘A’ serial, officer commanding No. 6 Group Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps will arrange for 2 unarmed Auxiliary Military Pioneers under an NCO to be left at each serial ‘A’ block till taken over by incoming garrison. Remainders of the Companies should then move to the serial ‘B’ blocks and man the positions with armed parties and be ready to complete blocks on receipt of the code word ‘Bolts’. Should the incoming garrison arrive before orders are received to complete these blocks, 2 Auxiliary Military Pioneers trained at laying tank mines will be left with the garrison and remainder withdrawn under orders of No. 6 Group Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps.

    (b)As the main roads through the line at Durston, Ilminster and Chard blocks serial no. B7, B32, B43 are going to be kept available for units moving back through the line from the west, and in consequence blocks may have to be removed to allow for this, a party of 5 A.M.P. will permanently remain at these blocks to assist garrison in removing them if and when required, this applies particularly to the handling of anti tank mines.

    (4)Officer commanding Auxiliary Military Pioneer Group will also arrange to have sufficient trained Auxiliary Military Pioneers left at ‘C’
    serial blocks for placing anti tank mines.

    (5)There are a certain number of weak points in the anti tank obstacle which will be strengthened by anti tank mines. These will also be placed in position by the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Companies on code word ‘Screws’ under arrangement of officer commanding Auxiliary Military Pioneer Group. Sentries must also be left at these points till garrison arrives.


    As you can see, the planning, procedures and logistics were worked out in detail and this is just a small excerpt from these documents (top secret at the time of course).

    S RL 27a – Railway Gates/ block – S0016430 - 50°47'33.62"N, 2°59'27.62"W

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    Large gathering of AT cubes opposite the mill viewed from near to S 34

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    And to the east;

    S 33 – Pillbox, type 22 – S0016346 - 50°47'40.70"N, 2°59'1.00"W

    The anti-ricochet wall was a tight fit to the entrance and generally looked too big for the box. It also knows what it’s number is.

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    S 30 – Pillbox, type 24 – S0001227 - 50°47'46.90"N, 2°58'53.40"W

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    S 29 – Pillbox, type 24 – S0001228 - 50°47'47.82"N, 2°58'44.74"W

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    SV 6 – Vickers MMG – S0016302 - 50°47'47.50"N, 2°58'40.40"W

    The approach to the Vickers boxes is formidable

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    View from the main embrasure

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    destroyed gun table

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    SV 5 - Vickers MMG – S0001234 - 50°47'48.24"N, 2°58'38.67"W

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    Throughout the TSL key rail and road bridges were marked and prepared for demolition. These were either final or deferred demolitions depending on the status of any invasion. Alert response time was anywhere between 1 and 4 hours, the latter where members of the Home Guard were involved. All of the logistics planning is also committed to paper in the original documentation. There’s a staggering amount of information in this data set, far too much to post here.

    Thanks for reading this, hope you enjoyed. :)
     

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