‘Hidden’ defences uncovered

Spigot mortar base in The Curlew Centre car park.

Spigot mortar base in The Curlew Centre car park.

As the nation commemorates The D-Day Landings, forgotten defences in the Second World War history of Sutton Bridge – designed to resist a German invasion from The Wash – are being uncovered.

It’s well-known that the parish was home to an RAF station, where pilots were trained, but it also had searchlight teams with anti-aircraft guns, concrete pillboxes and spigot mortar emplacements.

Pillboxes were guard posts with holes or slits through which weapons could be fired and have long been familiar landmarks on the east coast.

The less well-known spigot mortar emplacements had a steel pin set in a central concrete base – mortar guns that fired 20lb high explosive bombs would be attached to that pin by a Home Guard crew, usually of three men, who were in a surrounding trench.

With the help of local historian Beryl Jackson, parish councillor Shirley Giles is mapping the pillboxes and spigot mortar emplacements and hopes one day to produce a heritage trail leaflet.

One spigot mortar emplacement is passed by scores of people daily as it’s almost hidden in the undergrowth beside the car park at The Curlew Centre, in Bridge Road.

People assumed it was part of the drainage system for the nearby loos, but Beryl knew its real purpose.

Shirley now hopes the parish council will mark the spot with a plaque so that people will know that it played a role in the village’s wartime history.

Shirley said: “I think it’s important that people know what it is.”

Two other spigot mortar emplacements are in East Bank, opposite the port, and at South Holland Drain.

Beryl was brought up at Fields Farm, Sutton Bridge, and can recall there being a pillbox on their land.

She said: “My father had it blown up after the war because he wanted to farm the field.”

Beryl, who is in her 80s, well remembers the fear that the Germans would invade through The Wash and says that’s why Sutton Bridge was so heavily defended.

Her family’s farm was also home to a searchlight unit for anti-aircraft guns.

• Wartime installations like pillboxes are listed on the Historical Environment Record for Lincolnshire.




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