Lowestoft South Pier Bty

Lowestoft South Pier battery consisted of two quick firing 12 pounder guns with two fixed beam fighting lights and was established in June 1940. The battery was under the command of  544 Coast Battery (based at Grand Hotel, Lowestoft). With Lowestoft Fire Command being absorbed into 544 Coast Battery, Lowestoft South Pier Battery was operationally controlled by the Army plotting room at Great Yarmouth. Radar stations serving the plotting room were located at Hopton and Benacre. The guns, situated on the east end of Lowestoft South Pier controlled the only entrance to Lowestoft Harbour. The Gun houses, CASL’s, magazines and engine rooms were brick built (9” thick) with reinforced concrete roofs (1 foot thick).






























                                          Above: Plan of Lowestoft South Pier Battery


The main role of the battery was:


1. In a close defence capacity, to engage all hostile craft in range, priority given to smaller craft (Motor Torpedo Boats, landing craft, midget   submarines) and prevent entry of enemy craft into the port of Lowestoft.

2. To prevent hostile craft from landing troops on South Pier or south Beach, by fire from the 12 pounders or small arms fire.

3. To hold South Pier from attacks from the rear from parachute troops or tanks/troops landed on beaches.

4. To act as in the capacity of coast guard, reporting on movements of shipping, observed pyrotechnics and suspicious movements of aircraft.


The guns would be fought at Battery Control. If multiple targets appeared, as would almost certainly have been the case in invasion or raids, Battery Control should be prepared to hand control of one gun to Gun Control, Battery Control normally keeping No 1 Gun under his control – this was all at Battery Control’s discretion according to the particular circumstances.


Priority of targets was as follows:


1. “E” Boats

2. Submarines

3. Small surface craft

4. Upper structures of larger craft.


The guns were lettered from the right i.e. No. 1 Gun ‘A’ (Able) and No.2 Gun ‘B’ (Barker) and distribution of fire was to be achieved by each gun engaging their respectively lettered targets (see distribution of fire diagram below). General Principals were that no gun would be idle while targets were present; fire was to be ceased on disabled vessels (although there was a warning that it was an enemy rouse to pretend to be disabled).


Rules for engaging vessels during day time were:


1. The Battery Commander could open fire on his own initiative on any vessel committing a hostile act or any obviously hostile craft.

2. The Battery was not to fire a ‘bring to’ round on a vessel unless instructed to.


Night time (and bad visibility conditions) engagement rules were:


1. The Battery Commander could open fire on his own initiative on any vessel committing a hostile act or any obviously hostile craft.

2. The battery could fire a ‘bring to’ round on any unidentified vessel after consultation with the Examination Officer.


In extreme circumstances if communications were severed, the Battery Commander could act fully on his own initiative.






















 Above: Fire Plan - Lowestoft South Pier Battery

 Right: Arcs of gun fire and fighting light illumination, Lowestoft South Pier Battery










For close defence, the fort was equipped with two U.P 2” Rocket Projectors and two Bren Guns as well as four Sten Guns and rifles. The defence of the port itself was the responsibility of the Royal Navy.  Naval units based at the port included motor torpedo boats, mine sweepers and layers, auxiliary vessels and patrol vessels. Naval tactics on either invasion or raid would be to send every possible vessel out to engage at close quarters. In addition, naval personnel would defend the port with small arms against enemy troops.


No War Diary was kept until mid 1942, but some details in the Fort Record Book after this date include:


1. Bomb grazed the watch shelter on 5th May 1942 but fortunately did not explode.

2. Pier damaged early 1942 due to ship colliding with pier. This resulted in No 2 Gun and No 2 CASL being dismantled to enable repairs to the pier, both being re-erected in August 1942.

3. Late 1942, observation post also established in St. Luke’s Hospital.


Also recorded was No 1 CASL temporally out of action in Feb 1943 due to water logging caused by heavy seas.


Domestic arrangements included a water supply from the town’s mains supply. Water was supplied to the gun position by a pipe in the tunnel under the pier. The Officers mess was based at No 7 Marine Parade, the Sergeants mess at No 6 Marine Parade with officers billeted in requisitioned buildings on Marine Parade.  Other ranks were based in Nissan huts on the pier. On ‘Action Stations’, all ranks were to be accommodated on the pier within the boundary of the fort. Of interest is the list of rations held for three days to feed 60 men:  tea, 7 lbs; sugar, 29 lbs; salt, 4 ½ lbs; milk, 33 ¾ lbs; flour, 35 lbs; biscuits, 106 lbs; margarine, 19 ½ lbs; jam, 20 ½ lbs; concentrated soup, 152 tins; preserved meat, 69 ¾ lbs.


Technical Details:


Guns – two Mk 1 Quick Firing 12 pounders on Mk 1 mountings. Max range 8,000 yards. Auto-sight range limit 1,400 yards.

Search lights: two fixed beam 90cm mark VI giving illumination of 050˚ to 100˚ with a max range of 1,400 yards. Two Lister 22kw engines (with a further two reserve Lister 22kw engines). Also held was one mobile projector.
















 Left- East end of pier, with light house and concrete base, possibly No 1 Gun base. Middle - Lowestoft South Pier. Right - 12 pounder Q.F gun.



Lowestoft South Pier Fort Record Book, TNA


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