Right: Main Training Areas, Suffolk 1940-1945
At the outbreak of war, the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act came into force. This allowed the Army to take possession of land and buildings (Defence Regulation 51) and for making provisions for training over land (Defence Regulation 52). Up until October 1940 the Secretary of State had to sign all requisitions himself but an amendment was made were temporary rights could be acquired with seven days notice on the authority of a Lieut. Col. which speeded up matters for local training requirements. It was always preferable though to make arrangements with individual land owners to obtain permission for troops to train on their land rather than use the Act.
When 55th Division moved to Suffolk in 1940, it identified the Dunwich-Sizewell-Westleton area in north Suffolk and the area east of Woodbridge in south Suffolk as suitable for training. These areas, in one form or another, were used for training right through the War. Ranges under Suffolk T.A. Association were available at Sizewell and Bromswell and at Landguard, under control of Officer Commanding Fixed Defences Landguard Fort. Other became available during the course of the War.
In the Spring of 1942, GHQ ordered Corps Commands to carry out a reconnaissance for suitable areas for formation Battle training using live ammunition. Commands were required to identify suitable areas that already existed or areas were land would have to be requisitioned under DR51 / D52. Sparsely populated areas in which road and rail communications did not pass through were to be chosen. In Eastern Command, 11 Corps identified the hinterland behind Orford Ness and 2 Corps the northern corner of the Thetford area.
The area west of Orford, to be requisitioned under DR51 / DR52, was approx 29,000 acres. The area was described as poor arable land, heathlands and salt marshes with a population of about 450 inhabitants. A number of problems had to be resolved and in the meantime live firing exercises at brigade group level were held at Travellers Hill area (near Bury St Edmunds). It was not until July 1943 that the Battle training ground came into existence, with the local population accepting enforced exile. The Orford battle training ground was primarily used by the 79th Armoured Division.
After the Exercise Kruschen trails (which ran from March 1943 to May 1943) had been completed, the Dunwich area also became a Battle training area in October 1943. In December 1943 a further area was requisitioned under DR52, the Southwold Assault Landing Area, although no firing was to take place except under certain provisions.
Above: Table of main Battle Training Grounds, Suffolk with area and authority of requisition under
Emergency Powers (Defence) Act
11 Corps papers, TNA
55 Div papers, TNA
54 Div papers, TNA
The Second World War:1939-1945: Army: Training in the Army, Historical Monograph, TNA
Southwold Battle Training Area papers, TNA
Battle Training Areas, TNA
Military Training in the British Army, 1940-1944, T.H. Place, Routledge, 2000
The Instructors’ Handbook on Fieldcraft and Battle Drill, C.I.C Home Forces, 1942
Infantry Training Part VIII – Fieldcraft, Battle Drill, Section and Platoon Tactics, WO, 1944