Easton Wood Bty

Coast Battery 328 (547 Coast Regt.) was initially established at Covehithe on June 16th, 1940. On September 28th 1941 the battery was ordered to move to Easton Wood. Construction of gun house, BOP, engine room and CASL emplacements were of brick and reinforced concrete by R.G Carter Ltd, Drayton. Accommodation consisted of wooden huts erected by Slater Bros., Chelmsford. A well for water was constructed by Colby, Framlingham. Use was also made of requisitioned beach huts. The battery closed down in May 1944. A small detachment remained to maintain the guns until January 1945. From this date only two men remained until November 1945 when the guns were removed and taken to Landguard Fort for scrap.

  Above: location map of Easton Wood Emergency Coastal Battery

The Battery role was to engage enemy landing craft or amphibious AFV’s. Warships could be engaged if within range and no landing craft targets present. If no landing craft or ship targets were available or in times of poor visibility the battery could engage a pre arranged SOS target, the beaches in the Benacre Broad area. Such fire was to be observed only (either from a Coast Regiment OP or Field Artillery OP).

  Above: left - arcs and ranges of CASL's, guns and range finder. Right: Methods of engagement

Included in this Fort Record Book are some interesting notes on the probable method of enemy landings (after the first phase of bombing and airborne / parachute troop landings). It was assumed that a front of at least 3,000 yards would be required to land an Armoured Division. A minimum of 30 ships for troops and 24 tank landing craft would run straight onto the beach. About three hours would be required to complete the landing. It was considered that due to the relative shortage of enemy destroyers, Coastal batteries would not be engaged by them during any attempted landing.

The battery had two fighting lights and general rules of using these included:

Light not to be exposed until the last possible moment to avoid giving away its position. Lights would search for targets in their own arc of traverse. Any target picked up would be engaged by both guns (Battery Command). If the second light then picked up a target, its respective gun would switch to that target (under command of gun control). If a closer target appeared in the beam, guns would switch their fire onto this target. On destruction of target, lights would continue searching for other targets.

Should capture of the guns be imminent with no hope recapturing, they would be destroyed by inserting a HE shell into the muzzle and firing the gun, causing the shell to explode. If recapture was likely, the locks and slide boxes would be hidden in a secret location by the battery commander.

547 Coast Regiment had its own code word for raids ( ‘Stand To’ and ‘Action Stations’ were only to be used for full scale invasion) – ‘Gangster’.

• ‘Gangster Alert’ - warning of raid
• ‘Gangster Action’ – raid in progress
• ‘Gangster Stand Down’ – Stand down

This warning would be followed by details of where the raid was expected. It was in use by the Regiment only and would not be understood by other units.

For defence, the battery had two Bren lmg’s, two Solothurn machine guns on mountings, one 75mm Field Gun (with 600 rounds of ammunition) and two Blacker Bombards. One company of infantry at Southwold was detailed for support on ‘Stand To’. Also in the vicinity was a section of 51st Heavy Regt. with mobile 6” guns.

The Bren guns had a light AA role. These guns also had a secondary role of engaging enemy ships and troops if no aircraft targets were present (enemy aircraft only to be engaged if they committed a hostile act against the battery). During night they were laid on fixed line.

 
  Above: Plan of Easton Wood Emergency Coastal Battery

Above: Two aerial photos of Easton Woods. Note Infantry posts and anti-landing trenches. Source - Easton Wood Fort Record Book, TNA.

Technical details:

Guns – two 6” Mk XI on PVI mountings ( no 1 gun manufactured in 1911, no 2 in 1912)
Rangefinder – Barr & Stroud 12 ft Naval – type F.Q 2
Fighting Lights – No 1: 90 cm projector Mk vi with mark V lamp
  No 2: 90 cm projector mk v with mark V lamp
Engines – two 22kw Lister engines in single engine room.

Reference: Easton Wood Fort Record Book, TNA

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