Brackenbury Battery was sited to the N.E. of Felixstowe, about 5,000 yards N.E. of Landguard Fort. The Battery consisted of two B.L. 9.2” Mk.XX guns with metal shields providing overhead cover. The emplacements were approx 107 yards apart. The primary role of the Battery was Counter-bombardment but it also had a secondary close defence role (against vessels attempting to enter the Harbour or operating in the approaches to the Harbour) and also could engage land targets. The Battery could also engage radar concentration targets.
The Fort and Barracks were constructed during the period 1914-15. It consisted of two 9.2” guns and two BOP’s, one acting as a reserve BOP. The 9.2” guns were replaced with two new guns during 1929/30. During the Precautionary period in September 1938, the Battery was manned by 176 Heavy Battery, Suffolk Heavy Regt R.A.(T.A.). When mobilisation was ordered in August 1939, the District Gunners along with regulars at Landguard fort prepared the equipments for action. 176 Heavy Battery R.A.(T.A.) again manned the Battery, strengthen with drafts of men too young to be sent overseas. Work that needed to be carried out on mobilisation was the transfer of ammunition from the magazines to the recesses, preparation of trenches and strong points, wiring, and, for the guns, the assembly of the gun breech carrier mechanisms and assemblies, assembly of sights and electric firing gear. Extensive repairs to the seawall at the Battery had to be carried out during the summer and autumn of 1940.
Right: 9.2" gun, Brackenbury Battery, on mobilisation
During November 1941, extensive alterations and additions to the layout of the Fort commenced. The right BOP became the day time observation post, with the B&S Rangefinder moved into this post. The left BOP became the night time post and was modified to include a Directing Station which controlled two fighting lights. The existing engine room was re-equipped with two Lister Engines and a reserve engine room with a Lister Engine was constructed. To cover against blast, reinforced concrete walls were built around each gun emplacement and the engine room.
Long range Counter-bombardment fire was conducted by a BOP with range finding by PF Convertor. Long range vessels to be engaged were Cruisers, Armed Merchant Ships and similar craft.
Close defence fire was to engage Boom Smashers and Blockers.
The above roles were not ridged and operations could require different classes of ships to be engaged. Concentration of fire with other Fixed Defence Batteries was envisaged, with the observation of the fall of shot not considered to be a problem due to the different sizes of splashes. If problems of observation of shot were encountered, Fire Command would instruct Batteries to fire in salvo from the right (Harwich, Landguard , Brackenbury etc) with a specified number of seconds between each Battery firing.
For concentrated groups of targets (e.g. concentrations of landing craft), the concentrated target was to be divided into “sectors”, each gun to engage the middle craft in its allocated “sector”.
The Battery was also able to engage land targets if required. Unobserved fire was only to be carried out on the request of the relevant sector commander. Beaches occupied by the enemy on which the Battery Commander had visual observation on were to be fired upon. In exceptional circumstances, the Battery could be required upon to fire on inland targets such as road junctions – this was to be carried out only on the orders of Higher Army Formations.
For close defence against a land attack, the Battery position defences included a pillbox, slit trenches, a 75mm gun and two Bofars which could be deployed for close defence. In addition, two Solothurn guns in an AA role could be dismounted from their AA mounts and placed on each BOP. The Battery was also issued with Spigot Mortars, five static positions being constructed within the interior of the fort.
Instructions for the disbandment of the Battery were received on September 23rd 1952.
Equipment (as at 1945)
Guns – two B.L. 9.2” on Mk.V mountings
Rangefinders – P.F Mk.P/Q.; B&S No.9 Mk.I
Searchlights – 90cm motor controlled projector H.C.D S/L Lamp with moveable concentrated beam