Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery "H5 Little Oakley", Harwich

Back 350m north east of Little Oakley Hall.

The site includes the remains of a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft batterylocated 350m north east of Little Oakley Hall.

The site includes the remains of a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite located 350m north east of Little Oakley Hall. The battery, documented in wartime records as `H (Harwich) 5, Little Oakley', became operational in 1942 to form part of an extensive deployment of batteries across south Essex. It maintained four Heavy Anti-aircraft guns arranged in a line from north west to south east (against the direction of incoming enemy aircraft) and mounted in square emplacements set at 25m-30m intervals. The emplacements (numbered 1 to 4 from north to south) were built to a single pattern, measuring 13.5m across and protected by concrete walls 0.5m thick and 1.5m high. The two northern emplacements survive largely intact and the southern emplacements both retain substantial sections of surrounding walls. A concrete-covered shelter for the gun crews was built out from the main wall of emplacement 1, and a similar structure is indicated by a concrete floor alongside emplacement 3. Emplacement 4 contains four internal ammunition recesses (covered chambers supported by short internal walls), and two recesses survive in each of the two central emplacements. One recess in emplacement 4 and another in emplacement 2 contain original wooden racking. 
The racks have three tiers, with three substantial beams apiece to support the weight of the anti-aircraft shells. Some of the beams in emplacement 2 are still clad in a protective layer of canvas. The central holdfast for one gun (a steel socket for the locating spigot on the gun's mounting plate) remains visible, set into concrete in the floor of emplacement 2.

The gunsite's main ammunition supplies were stored in six ammunition huts positioned near or between the emplacements. The location of these huts, slightly to the north of emplacement 4, can still be identified and is included in the scheduling. The surviving concrete floor of one of these huts carries the impression of the corrugated sheeting originally used for the superstructure. The gunsite originally included a command post, placed centrally behind the emplacements (to the west), and a range of accommodation buildings situated some 150m to the north east. These structures have been demolished.

The Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 350m north east of Little Oakley Hall, is a rare survival of its type in the country. The square design of the four emplacements is unusual; although several have been documented for Essex, the four at Little Oakley are believed to be the only surviving examples. The survival of the wooden and canvas ammunition racking within the ammunition recessess is extremely rare and one of only a handful remaining in the region.

Little Oakley is one of only nine sites in existence (in any form) from an original wartime deployment of about 40 HAA positions across Essex - a pattern designed to combat German bombers en route to the capital, the Thames estuary and other military targets in the south east of England. It provides a valuable insight into the development of anti-aircraft measures in the region and is a significant, visible reminder of the nature of home defence during World War II.

Gun emplacement

Gun emplacement

Ammunition racking

Ammunition racking

Crew shelters

Crew shelters

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