WWII Invasion Defences

Racecourse Lane Pill Box

 Created 15-03-2003    Last update 15-03-2003

To the southwest of the footbridge in Racecourse Lane, Paulsgrove there is or rather was a WWII Pillbox. The bridge crosses the main Southcoast Railway Line, and the Pillbox would have provided a guard point for this, as it was expected that any invading force would try to use the Railway network for movement of troops and material. 

The Pillbox is a Type 26 and was of unusual design. It was of the Prefabricated type, that is to say it was actually erected as a kit of parts in one day. The square walls - including the loopholes and the door - were made of pre-cast pillars with slots in, into which were slotted paving slabs, both inside and out. On the second day the concrete and scrap steel were delivered to site and the wet concrete poured into the gap and then on the third day the roof was put on top and the gun mountings fixed to the 4 loopholes. There were no more than 260 built anywhere in the UK.

Its official defence grouping was: Anti-invasion defences of Portsmouth (Western Command) anti-tank island. [GHQ and Comd: Cassini Q01. 5 Corps Operation Instruction No.41 of 5.9.40 - PRO WO 166/249].


With thanks to Peter Cobb - UKFC


Grid Ref SU638057

Racecourse Lane bridge

Looking south, this is the footbridge that crosses the main South Coast Railway line. The pillbox was located on the other side of the bridge to the right.

Pillbox guarding the railway line

Looking west at what's left of the Pillbox - on the lower left - guarding the railway line. Incredibly someone somewhere has taken the decision to destroy it. This photo was taken on 15th March 2003. Surely Portsmouth City Council can't have a policy of search and destroy - can they?

Pillbox close up

It can be seen that the walls are around 15 inches thick. The prefabrication has been removed but the outline of the slotted posts and the paving slab walls can be made out. It was built in the period 1940 / 1941.