Very nearly an epic fail today but, in the end, a local site I’d saved for a quiet evening turned out to be pretty interesting.

I’d set out for a leisurely afternoon, intent on taking a look at a Home Guard shelter at Nordelph. I thought I knew where this was. Unfortunately, it turns out the building I knew of was nothing more than a farm shed and, looking back at Flash Earth with the benefit of hindsight, I now realise that the shelter was hiding just the other side of a hedge.

I also intended to visit a few pillboxes around Nordelph. They’re not the most exciting buildings, but it’s been years since I saw one up close, so I thought I’d pick a few easy targets. Again, leaving the sat nav at home turned out to be a bad idea and I pretty much drew a blank, save for locating a couple to visit at a later date. I also completely failed to notice a second Home Guard shelter yards from where I stopped the car at one point.

The weather then took a turn for the worse, so I thought I’d use the opportunity whilst most people were heading indoors to visit an ex.RAF site I’ve had my eye on for a while. This proved to be another disappointment. The alternative route in I’d planned isn’t half as straightforward as it looked on aerial photos, so I gave up and left it for another day.

Rather than draw a blank, I thought I’d use the what was left of the afternoon to pay a visit to the Allan-Williams turret at Earith. I drive past this every day, but never knew it existed until someone on a forum posted a picture of one elsewhere and I started looking for others. I knew from a Flashearth image of the site that there were some earthworks there, but it wasn’t until I walked the area that I realised what a significant defensive point it would have been, situated at the convergence of 3 rivers, 3 roads and close to a rail crossing.

At one side of the site a spigot mortar base is still in place, resplendently shiny topped and with the makers mark still clearly evident in the spigot.

A bit further back into the redoubt the Allan-Williams turret lurks like some giant relative of R2D2, missing its hatches but otherwise not looking too bad for 60 odd years sat exposed to the elements.

Clearly, this site was designed to be stealthy, but ruthless positioned. Blowing the bridge as invaders approached, men within the redoubt would have left their enemy trapped in the open with a river between them preventing them from effectively disabling the redoubt.

It’s a terrible thought, but I can’t help but wonder what the outcome would have been if Germany had ever invaded. At sites like this, regular and Home Guard troops, many of whom had fought in WW1 would have laid down their lives defending the country to the last. My gut feeling is that it would have been immensely bloody and that England would have sacrificed every last man. Whether it would have been in vain we’ll never know.

More pictures…

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