Pakefield Bty

  Location Map of 326 Battery, Pakefield

Pakefield Emergency Battery was situated on 50 foot high cliffs, on the site of a holiday camp, to the north of Pakefield Lighthouse. A cutting ran up from the beach, 200 yards in length and 200 yards south of the battery. It was established in May 1940 by the Royal Navy, with two 6” guns. On July 17th, 326 Heavy Battery R.A took over from the Navy. The battery was bombed on at least two occasions during 1940, with one fatal casualty, 2/Lt Latter. The battery consisted of separate buildings for the engine room, casemates and war shelters, but these were all connected with underground passages. The battery office, dining hall and cook house were situated in buildings adjoining the lighthouse and a Royal Observer Corps Post was located in the lighthouse tower.

The main role of the battery was to:

1. Supplement the existing defences of Lowestoft Port and prevent its seizure by an enemy seaborne force
2. To prevent troops and tank landing vessels from approaching and landing on the beach
3. Secondary role of engaging targets on beach only if no vessels remain afloat.

According to the Fort Record book, the most likely methods of the enemy attempting to capture Lowestoft Port would be by:

1. Mass attack by E boats and flying boats and small vessels carrying troops supported by airborne troops.
2. Low flying aircraft dropping mines to block the harbor entrance.
3. Tanks and troops landing on the beaches.
4. Destroyer attack at night or under the cover of smoke.

Distribution of fire was directed by Fire Control, Lowestoft. At night or in conditions of smoke, targets were to be selected by the battery Gun Control. Certainly at first ammunition was limited and due to the extent of water to be covered, the battery could realistically only open barrage fire off the entrance to the port (at a rate of six rounds gunfire, pause one minute and then repeat). Due to the threat to the port, the battery was under orders to fire immediately on any E boat or submarine, or in cases of bad visibility or night any vessel on which no information was available (restrictions meant that no friendly vessel could proceed within three miles of the coast without prior arrangement).

Concerns were expressed at the camouflage (or lack of it) for the battery – it being noted that the ‘whole layout was more conspicuous than any of the dummy batteries’.

  Left: Pakefield Battery (WO 192/64 -
  TNA). Above: Search light beam arc

For defence, the battery had three spigot mortars and four Bren guns. Weapons-pits and trenches were dug for local defence. Infantry support included an infantry company stationed nearby. Emergency water supply was held in a 1,000 gallon tank at the rear of the magazines. Battle casualties were to be treated in the battery First Aid post, at the rear of the magazines. Serious cases were to be evacuated to the R.A.P at Kirkley Road. The owner of Pakefield Hall, Mr Barrett, had agreed to take the wounded if transport failed. The first plan of the battery also shows two pillboxes and minefields on the beach. The pillboxes are not on the 1943 plan and CASL No 2 has moved from the beach to the cliff top, presumably a result of coastal erosion. Indeed there is a report of No 2 CASL out of action in Jan 1943 due to exceptional tides and winds on the night of Dec 29th 1942.

Pakefield was one of the selected sites for the new dual purpose 5.25” Coastal Artillery / Anti-Aircraft guns. A survey of the site recommended that this was to be sited 100 yards back from the cliff top due to erosion. It was probably never built, the war ending before work could begin.

Today the area is still a Holiday Camp. No traces of the battery remain. The lighthouse to the south of the battery holding the ROC post can still be seen, with a loopholed wall surrounding it.

Technical Details:
Guns: Two 6” Mark XI on P.V mountings.
Searchlights: No 1 CASL – Mk 1 star with Mk 6 A.A projector; No 2 CASL – Mk 1 with Mk 5 A.A projector.
Max beam range 3,500 yards.

References
Pakefield Fort Record Book, TNA

  Left: Battery Plan 1940
  Below: Battery Defences 1943

pakefieldbty
Bty Photo

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