Pillbox typology

Plans of Pillboxes found in Suffolk - will be regulalrly updated.


Suffolk Square

A square shaped bullet proof infantry pillbox for rifles and light machine guns, with slight variations in design.  It was designed by CRE 55th Division and is unique to Suffolk. The walls were 15” thick and the roof 11” thick. It usually had two embrasures in each side except for the entrance side which had one. At least two examples had three embrasures in one side. The entrance was protected with an L shaped blast wall or porch. The blast wall was usually chamfered to maximise the arc of fire from the embrasure on the entrance side.  There is internal anti-ricochet wall making the pillboxes quite vulnerable and it was not surprising that many were “strengthened” in 1941 by blocking up some of the embrasures.


A variety of shuttering was used. Between Aldeburgh to Thorpeness and in south Suffolk, pre-cast concrete blocks were used. The Walberswick  pillboxes used bricks for the internal shuttering and pre-cast concrete blocks for the external shuttering. From Southwold to Lowestoft, most were constructed with timber shuttering.  Embrasures were precast, either stepped or splayed, sometimes both types used in the same pillbox. In some examples, an embrasure was added to the blast wall.  


Pillboxes from Aldeburgh to Lowestoft had concrete weapon shelves, some continuous, while those in south Suffolk had wooden shelves. Remains of demolished pillboxes suggest that reinforcing rods were not used in some of the pillboxes. One pillbox at Trimley has an anti-aircraft chamber attached, as found on Type 23’s.


The pillbox is only found in the forward defences (i.e. in defence of, and to the rear of, the beaches). None are found on the inland stop-lines.  Documents list the number constructed as 245.






















Above: Left - typical Suffolk Square.  Middle - a variant with three loopholes in the front side.   Right - precast double loophole (top) and single loophole (bottom)


Twin Medium Machine Gun Pillbox

Four remain today out of 11 constructed in 1940, including two at Blythburgh sited as a pair.  These are shell proof pillboxes, with 42” thick walls (except for the rear wall and blast wall which was 15” thick) and roof. It is an irregular hexagon in shape, with two chambers each for a Vickers machine gun and separated by an anti-ricochet wall. Tables are provided for the machine guns.  They are constructed on a concrete raft (approx 20”) thick. An 4” diameter air vent is provided in the rear wall.









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