Aldeburgh Battery

 
  Location of 328 Coastal Battery

Aldeburgh Battery was formed by the Navy in June 1940, the guns mounted and given overhead cover constructed with steel frames and sandbags. On July 28th it was taken over by 328 Heavy Battery, Royal Artillery, under command of 11 Corps. In Sept and Oct 1940 the war shelters and Lister engine house were built (by local building firm W.C. Reade). A dummy battery position was constructed on the Aldeburgh-Thorpeness coast road consisting of sandbagged gun emplacements complete with dummy guns. A new battery observation post was completed in August 1941 in the old mill building. In Sept 1941 No 2 Gun casemate was rebuilt, given overhead concrete protection. No 1 Gun casemate was rebuilt in Nov, extending the arc of fire southwards (care had to be taken not to demolish the Martello tower at Slaughden when firing!) and also given overhead concrete protection. A relief of personnel took place on Jan 6th 1942, 354 Heavy Battery relieving 328 Heavy Battery. The training Nissan hut was built in June 1942. On Dec 29th 1942, the sea undermined the platform of No 1 Gun, repairs undertaken by builders W.C. Reade and completed on Feb 15th 1943. The battery was connected to the town water supply and sewer system with the exception of some of the latrines in the watch shelters.

The battery ceased to be operational in Nov 1943, finally closing in May 1944 with the guns not removed until Jan 1946. Buildings requisitioned for the use of the battery were: Mill House – BOP; Brudenall Hotel Annex – men’s sleeping quarters; 61 and 62 Crag Path – men’s sleeping quarters.

  Plan of 328 Coast Battery

The primary role of the battery was to engage enemy landing craft. Target priority was as follows:

1. Transports, tugs towing barges and mobile barges
2. Amphibious tanks
3. Small craft, excluding E Boats.

Gunners were under orders not to continue fire on stricken vessels if other targets were still available. Guns were not to cease fire until all targets destroyed, if only one target remaining it was to be engaged by both guns. Method of engaging targets was as follows:

Targets in line abreast – guns will engage targets from their respective flanks, working inwards.

Defensive fire was to be bought down on the approaches to the beach to the north of Aldeburgh town in response to an SOS call.

For defence against land attack, the battery personnel had four Bren guns and two spigot mortars and U.P Projector rockets (firing 2” high explosive rockets). Anti-aircraft defence was provided by two Brownings mounted in the Observation Post and later by a Bofar, also apparently mounted on the roof of the observation post. A 75mm anti-tank gun was also part of the battery defences. The battery would also receive assistance from the Infantry Battalion located in the area as well as the Home Guard. Aldeburgh and its beaches were protected with minefields, naval scaffolding, concrete tank blocks and anti-tank ditches. The marshes to the south could be flooded and those to the north partially flooded. In 1943, operation orders for ‘Action Stations’ stated it was the battery commander’s responsibility to order the flooding of the marshes to the south.

Mines were also be attached to mine - buoys by fishing men, under instruction form the local naval commander, for defence of inshore waters.

Bleach and gas proof suits were available for protection and decontamination if the enemy used gas. Battle casualties were to be carried to either Aldeburgh Cottage Hospital or the R.A.P at Gover House by stretcher bearer then taken to the Medical Dressing Station at Framlingham by Field Ambulance.

Today, the Mill which housed the observation post still exists, as well as traces of No 1 Gun casemate and the war shelters. Some of the concrete tank blocks can also be seen just to the south of the observation post.

Technical Details:

Guns: 6” naval Mk II on VII mountings (no 1 gun manufactured in 1916 and no 2 in 1914). Max range 11,000 yards.
Search Lights: CASL No 1 – Mk V in Mk V projector; CASL No 2 – Mk V in Mk VI projector. Both beams have max range of 3,500 yards. Two 22kw Lister engines in brick built buildings with concrete roofs.
Range Finder: Type F.Q.2 Barr & Stroud range finder with 1% accuracy limit of 6,000 yards.

 Plan showing arcs of search light beams (with arcs of fire for guns)

  Top right - concrete tank blocks with Battery Observation
  Post in background.
  Top right - Battery Observation Post and Range Finder
  Post with remains of No 1 gun casemate in background.
  Bottom right - remains of No 1 gun casemate

Referneces:
Aldeburgh Fort Record Book, TNA
Aldeburgh 1939-1945, G Dewing, 1995

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Aldbtyplan3
Targets in Line astern
No 1 Gun No 2 Gun
Approaching Leading Target Second Target
Approaching from the N Leading Target Second Target
Approaching from the S Second Target Leading Target
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