Artillery Observation Post

Back Coast Path, Walberswick, Suffolk

Artillery observation post for field guns and part of coastal coast defences of 1940.

An important part of Britain’s coastal crust defences was field artillery: batteries of field guns placed behind the invasion beaches whose task in the event of attack was to shell the invaders as they landed. Over the summer of 1940 there was piecemeal build-up of artillery in Suffolk and by September 1940 it was possible for field guns to sweep the whole coastline with defensive fire. Target acquisition was determined by forward observers in observation posts who could relay information back to their guns by field telephone and, in the small number of cases where the equipment was available, by radio.

The system relied heavily on the ability of the forward observers to spot for their guns further behind the lines and, as a result, the location of the observation posts (OPs) and the protection of their occupants were crucial to effectiveness. OPs required exceptionally wide fields of vision and, given the muted topography of this part of Suffolk, it is unsurprising that any tall buildings and elevated sites potentially marked themselves out as good locations.

This OP was built on the promontory overlooking the area to the south of Walberswick and was the position for spotters from ‘E’ Troop, 347 Battery 136 Regiment Royal Artillery, whose four 75mm guns were further inland at Sallow Walk Covert. Originally, it was integrated with trenches and pillboxes, which have since been removed.

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