Above: Two pillboxes in Felixstowe disguised by painting (one as a car and one as a petrol station). Left hand photo shows a Type 24 on the Eastern
Command Line with a false roof added.
There is little in the War Diaries of Home Forces in Suffolk detailing the camouflage of pillboxes. Lt Col Birchall, General Staff 55th Div notes that many beach pillboxes were still obvious and that some had been painted two brightly to merge in with the background. The War Diary of 2/4 South Lancs notes a diversity of camouflage from “rubbish heaps to innocent looking fishing huts.” There is mention in one War diary of a pillbox disguised as a haystack. Lt-col Ovey D.S.O notes pillboxes “were very cleverly camouflaged as teahouses, haystacks, bus shelters etc”. But the War Diary of 127 Brigade, 42nd Div notes that “most posts are so very obvious, both to the air and ground observation. The whole of the defences will have been well photographed by German recce aircraft.” This statement would also refer to Field Works as well. However the diary does note that useful work can still be done to camouflage defence works so they would be a surprise to German forces, especially if they landed some distance from the posts and also casualties and the noise of battle would cause confusion.
Above: Left - pillbox built into a 13 Century Chapel, Minsmere. Right - An example of how not to disguise a pillbox, MTP No 46. The pillbox is disguised
as a rubbish dump but one loophole has already become blocked.
Military Training pamphlet No.46 part 2 makes the point that fire trench excavation usually makes a lot of mess, making observation from air obvious. In order to conceal earthworks, the pamphlet states good siting is fundamental. If possible, trenches should be sited to fit in with favourable backgrounds e.g broken ground or hedgerows. It also recommends turfing the parapet/parados, an irregular shaped parados to link in with the background and ensuring any loopholes are masked.
Shell slits/slit trenches should also be concealed as they give away the presence and number of troops. A headcover constructed of a timber frame with netting for attaching brushwood, hessian strips etc can be constructed. Weapon-pits can be concealed in the same way.
In the home forces war diaries of units defending Suffolk there are some references on concealment of earthworks. Lt-Col Birchall, 55th Div staff produced some notes on camouflage (23rd Aug 1940) and notes that some sections of trench have been covered completely. He also notes that isolated section posts should be linked with crawl or communication trenches as this helps conceal the actual location of the strong points.
Above: Method of covering slit trench or weapons-pit (MTP No 46 Part II)
Camouflage – MTP No 46 Part II Field Defences, WO, 1941
55th Div papers, TNA
127 Brigade papers, TNA
2/4 South Lancs papers, TNA