Author Topic: Defences on the River Medway  (Read 244 times)

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Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2015, 08:43:51 am »
A Type 24 by the Medway at Teston:

cliveh

Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2015, 10:15:14 am »
A Type 24 by the Medway at Wateringbury:

cliveh

Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2015, 10:52:52 am »
A Type 24 by the Medway at Nettlestead:

cliveh

Knouterer

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2015, 15:19:02 pm »
Drawing annexed to the War Diary of the 922nd Defence Battery showing Post no. 17 covering Branbridges Road, East Peckham.
These units were raised specifically to man the 6pdr guns in the pillboxes. Up to about November 1940, these guns were manned by personnel from various artillery units which had lost their guns in France, but as new (or refurbished) equipment became available they were needed again in their normal roles. Since the gun crews of the 6pdrs in pillboxes only had to engage targets they could see, with direct fire, and they had no radios, field telephones, vehicles or any other of the many items of equipment that a fully equipped field art. battery would have, training could be very considerably simplified compared to "real" artillerymen.
The Defence Batteries, grouped in Defence Regiments, accordingly consisted of a cadre of about 10 officers and NCOs and 20 ORs from artillery units plus some 90 raw recruits.
The 920th Bty started training at the beginning of Oct. and took over 8 posts from the 15/17th Med Bty RA on 22 Nov. These pillboxes were near Maidstone on the Medway line, mostly covering bridges.
It soon appeared that the conditions that might occur in winter had not been taken into account, or insufficiently so, when the defences were constructed.
23 Nov.: "Posts 14, 15 and 16 abandoned owing to flooding. Guns dismantled and brought into barracks."
From a report on training exercices in December it appears that each post was manned (in principle) by:
1 Sergeant
1 Bombardier
1 L/Bdr
3 man gun crew
3 spare gunners
3 men manning a Lewis MG (usually set up for AA fire about 50-100 yards away in a sandbagged or concrete position)
1 AT gunner (Boys)
1 D/R (despatch rider, usually with a motorcycle but in this case possibly with a bicycle or on foot)
1 cook
The sergeant had a revolver and there were 7 rifles for the rest, from which we can conclude that the men working the 6pdr had none and the Lewis crew perhaps one.

Batteries were organized (as of early Nov.) in a Bty HQ (3 officers and 35 OR) plus two Troops (1 2nd Lt, 4 Sgts, 4 Bombardiers and 50 OR).
Unit transport was minimal, judging from the WD of 922 Bty:
19 Oct. "Our sole means of transport to date is one 8 cwt van."
10 Nov. "Two more motor cycles + a 8 cwt utility van have arrived."
2 Jan. 1941: "Troop commanders will ear mark available transport in the Village of Hadlow and East Peckham - These vehicles will be commandeered in an emergency."
When disbanded in early March, they still had only these two small trucks plus 7 motorcycles, which were handed over to the RAOC.

From a report of the 922th Bty from January, there were 48 rounds per 6pdr and 1300 rounds per Lewis. Not every post, it seems, had a Boys AT rifle. These were probably only issued to posts covering main roads &c.
The 923rd Defence Battery was a "mobile" battery but I don't know whether that means that they had guns on wheeled carriages or that they had their own transport and could move their guns into unoccupied pillboxes quickly.
The Defence Batteries did not last long. In early 1941 they were disbanded (although a few seem to have survived a few months longer), the guns were handed over to local infantry units (Brigade AT companies) and personnel was sent to "real" artillery units, mostly in Scottish Command it seems.
Eastern Command had some 22 DBs.

As can be seen from the drawing, the 6pdr guns were positioned to engage enemy tanks from the side at fairly close range, 250 yds or less, which was necessary to have any hope of success, given that they had a very low muzzle velocity for an AT gun (415 m/s).

Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2015, 18:27:54 pm »
Great idea to have these all on one thread  - thanks John!  :)

And thanks Knouterer for that very interesting additional info.

cliveh

Knouterer

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2015, 16:17:52 pm »
My pleasure - see also:
http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-455-1/dissemination/pdf/Text_Reports/DA16_TEXT_-_PENSHURST.pdf

To round off the short and uneventful history of the 922nd Defence Bty, the officer keeping the War Diary allowed a touch of bitterness to creep into his final entry of 5.3.1941:

"We had a glorious bonfire with all the hundreds of orders and instructions which have been received during the last two months, many of them quite redundant. No postings for the officers have come through so the C.O. is letting us go on leave pending receipt thereof. The Battery is now defunct. FINIS."

Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2015, 11:50:57 am »
A Type FW3/24 pillbox overlooking the river at Nettlestead Green:

cliveh

Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2015, 08:45:21 am »
A large collection of A-T Cylinders and Buoys on the Medway foreshore at Grange now being used to prevent tidal erosion of the riverbank.

cliveh

Offline cliveh

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2015, 09:07:27 am »
Another Type 24 pillbox at Teston:

cliveh

Online John

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2024, 17:43:34 pm »
A highly-decorated pillbox on the foreshore of the River Medway at Cockham Reach, to the east of Lower Upnor. I don't know enough about pillboxes to state the type - some sources on the internet give it as Type FW3/22, whilst the Kent Historic Environment Record lists it as a Type 24.
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline PNK

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2024, 19:55:04 pm »
It's dead whatever type it is. Did it tumble down due to erosion or did someone chuck it over the side?

Online John

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2024, 05:53:27 am »
It originally sat a few feet further inland, above the high tide mark, but mother nature always wins in the end..
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline PNK

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Re: Defences on the River Medway
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2024, 13:09:27 pm »
I never really thought of the Medway suffering from erosion but as it is quite a bit wiggly (technical term?), I suppose it must be. Oxbow lakes of the future?