Record Details

NHER Number:51893
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of World War Two defensive anti tank ditch around city of Norwich

Summary

World War Two defensive anti-tank ditch around city of Norwich and associated defences, including anti-tank cubes, spigot mortar emplacements, pillboxes and road blocks are visible as earthworks and structures on aerial photographs.

Images

  • Row of Anti-Tank Blocks and Crossing.  © C. Kolonko
  • Row of Anti-Tank Blocks  © C. Kolonko
  • Anti-Tank Ditch at TG273096.  © C. Kolonko
  • Anti-Tank Ditch at TG274095.  © C. Kolonko
  • Anti-Tank Ditch at TG274095.  © C. Kolonko
  • Dannert Wire Picket at Anti-Tank Ditch at TG274095.  © C. Kolonko
  • Metal Revetment posts at TG274100.  © C. Kolonko
  • Anti-Tank Ditch at TG274100.  © C. Kolonko

Location

Grid Reference:TG 23 10
Map Sheet:TG21SW
Parish:GREAT AND LITTLE PLUMSTEAD, BROADLAND, NORFOLK
HELLESDON, BROADLAND, NORFOLK
NORWICH, NORWICH, NORFOLK
OLD CATTON, BROADLAND, NORFOLK
SPROWSTON, BROADLAND, NORFOLK
THORPE ST ANDREW, BROADLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

March 2009. Norfolk NMP.
A World War Two anti-tank ditch and associated defences are visible as earthworks and structures on aerial photos (S1)-(S27). The defence dates from the early part of World War Two, being constructed during June, July and August of 1940 (S28). The defences were made up of a mixture of a steeply profiled ditch, with associated bank, and concrete block anti-tank obstacles, road and rail blocks. Pillboxes and spigot mortar emplacements were situated at strategic points along the route (see below). The ditch appears to have had at least one vertical side, and measured approximately 4.5m in width (S30, p. 87). It stretches for at least 6.5 km around the northeast of the city of Norwich through the TG 21SE and TG 20NE mapsheets, from TG 2426 1199 to TG 2760 0816, where it meets the river Yare, following field boundaries as much as possible.

For the most part, the defensive line is formed by the anti-tank ditch, with associated intermittent bank. In places, other features are employed in place of, or as well as the ditch. Double lines of anti-tank cubes were employed in Sprowston, between TG 2449 1194 and TG 2464 1194 to cross the back gardens of a more built-up area, and between TG 2467 1181 and TG 2482 1168, north of which a stretch of infilled ditch is visible in 1947 (S18). At present it is unclear why this section of ditch was filled in; further mapping in quarter sheet TG 21SW, and the potential availability of earlier photographs for this area, may provide further information. Shorter breaks in the line of the ditch (for example at TG 2444 1195, TG 2506 1176, TG 2537 1152 and TG 2550 1122) allowed access to fields and were protected by further anti-tank cubes.
In the southeast of mapsheet TG21SE, in the parish of Thorpe St Andrew, between TG 2731 0999 and TG 2733 0994 and TG2733 0987 and TG2734 0978, the anti-tank ditch appears to have been filled in in two places by 1942 (S1), where disturbed soil is visible. It may also be possible that the ditch was never dug here, as anti tank cubes and anti-tank defences in the form of steel pins or rails were in position here by 1945 (S5), (S7) (S19) and (S23), suggesting that the farm track was in frequent use. The filling in of the anti-tank ditch in 1945 (S5) is very typical of what was going on up and down the country at that time (Roger J. C. Thomas pers. comm.). The mixture of the use of a ditch, concrete obstacles, and steel rails is not unusual, neither is the fact that the anti-tank ditch isn't continuous; however, being able to see the cubes and posts so clearly on a photograph is (Roger J. C. Thomas pers. comm.) (S5). This section is visible as a filled in ditch by 1951 (S24). To the south, as the ditch turns to the east and meets the Norwich to Cromer railway line, an additional section of ditch is visible (S10) stretching from TG 2750 0901 to TG 2745 0896, perhaps as an extra line of defence for this strategic section.

Several further stretches of anti-tank cubes were visible, as a supplement to the ditch, situated at intervals from TG2733 0985 to TG 2760 0816, where the defences met the river Yare (NHER 20338, 32535-6), which suggests that this south-eastern section was considered especially vulnerable, perhaps due to the proximity of the two main rail lines, Norwich to Yarmouth and Norwich to Cromer. There were also several anti-tank defences in place at field entrances, consisting of anti-tank blocks, and concrete settings for steel pins and rails. These were visible in Thorpe St Andrew at TG 2733 0986, TG 2742 0965, TG 2736 0958 and TG 2739 0946 (S5) (at the latter two points anti tank cubes were recorded as still extant in 1993 (NHER 32532) (S31)), TG 2743 0919, TG 2744 0907 (S5), TG 2767 0903 and TG 2779 0903 (S7).
As well as the stretches of anti-tank cubes, other defensive structures were visible along the line of the ditch. A probable type 24 pillbox was located at TG 2746 1009 (NHER 51900) to the east of Pound Lane on (S1) and (S19). Associated defences positioned along the line of the anti-tank ditch include Type 24 pillboxes (NHER 51895 (S2), (S6) (S14) and (S18) NHER 51899 (S4), (S6), (S9) and (S18), NHER 51900 (S1) and (S19) and NHER 51901 (S2) and (S18)) spigot mortar emplacements and/or weapons pits (NHER 51894 (S18), NHER 51897 (S13), NHER 51898 (S6) and NHER 51967 (S7)), a heavy machine gun emplacement (NHER 51896) (S13) and (S16), road blocks (NHER 51906) (S13) and (S16) and rail blocks (NHER 51968 and NHER 51969 (S7, S15 and S21 )).

Portions of the ditch and anti-tank cubes appear to have survived in some form into the post-war period, although largely not beyond 1947 (S14)- (S17). As has already been described, other sections of the ditch were filled in during the war, although these were usually replaced by lines of surface defences, such as anti-tank cubes or road blocks. The lines of anti tank cubes visible to the south of the railway line were still extant in 1961 and 1964 (S25) and (S27). Anti tank blocks between the two railway lines were also still visible in 1964 (S26). As stated above, some sections of anti-tank cubes were recorded as still surviving in 1993 (NHER 20338, 32532 and 32535-6).
E. Bales (NMP), March 2009.

April 2010. Norfolk NMP.
The World War Two anti-tank ditch and associated defences is visible on aerial photographs continuing west through map sheet TG21SW, from TG 2426 1199 to TG 1975 1110 (S32-S61). The anti tank ditch had been previously recorded as an anti-glider trench (NHER 40841) where it passes through Catton Hall Park (S38).
The tank ditch is visible filled in in places by 1947 (S54, S56), but several sections of anti tank cubes and road blocks are still extant during this period (S54).
There are at least four pillboxes visible along this stretch of the anti-tank ditch (S33, S34, S40, S52) and clearly incorporated with its defences, at least one of which is demolished by 1951 (S59) whilst the western most pillbox is still extant during this period (S60). It is likely that this is the pillbox recorded as NHER 32546.
There are also at least three spigot mortar emplacements visible on this stretch of the ditch, along with at least eleven road blocks, many of which have been set up within residential streets, between stretches of anti-tank cubes.
E. Bales (NMP), April 2010.

July 2010. Norfolk NMP.
The World War Two anti-tank ditch and associated defences is visible on aerial photographs continuing north-south through map sheet TG10NE, from TG 1927 0996 to TG 1876 0801, where it joins the River Yare (S62-S77).
It is visible as a ditch and bank as far as TG 1917 0965, where the defences change to anti tank cubes where they are visible between houses.
The tank ditch is visible filled in in places by 1946 (S70, S72-74), but several sections of anti tank cubes and road blocks are still extant during this period (S74). There is also evidence of small piles of material, possibly dispersed storage for military purposes, although this is unclear, along Chapel Break Road and East Dereham Road, leading away from the city (S70).
Two possible pillboxes are visible along this stretch of the anti-tank ditch, at TG 1873 0937 and TG 1891 0823 (S68-69), and clearly incorporated with its defences, although they are not entirely clear, as they are partially obscured by vegetation on the available photographs. There may also be at least three further possible pillboxes visible along Long Lane, Bawburgh (S72), situated at approximately TG 1597 0997, TG 1608 0999 and TG 1663 1002, although the latter of these particularly is uncertain, and all may in fact be vegetation as they did not appear to be visible in April 1946.
There are also at least five road blocks visible on this stretch of the ditch, many of which have been set up between stretches of anti-tank cubes.
E. Bales (NMP), 20 July 2010.

September 2010. Norfolk NMP.
The World War Two anti-tank ditch and associated defences is visible on aerial photographs (S78-S80) as it crosses the southeastern corner of map sheet TG11SE, from the River Wensum at TG 1 1981 1048 to TG 1918 0966, where it joins the previously recorded section in TG10NE, see above entry.
A type 24 pillbox is incorporated into the defence at TG 1934 1010, but has been removed by 1951 (S81). As with the other sections recorded it is visible as a broad and steep-sided ditch, flanked by one or two banks. Any significant breaks in the ditches are protected by anti-tank cubes forming barriers and road blocks. The southern section of the ditch has been filled in as earlier as September 1945, and the site is being redeveloped into housing.
A drainage channel to the north of this section of anti-tank ditch, running from TG 1980 1050 to TG 1944 1073, has evidence of a possible bank of upcast material alongside the channel in 1942 (S63). This may have formed part of the defensive system as it would have partially bridged the gap betweent this section and the one to the north, that appears to terminate at the river bank at Hellesdon. However it was not completely apparent whether this upcast related to World War Two defences or relatively recent maintenance of the channel. A similar bank of upcast obviously related to maintenance is visible along this line on later aerial photographs, suggesting that this may also be the case in the 1940s.
S. Horlock (NMP), 01 September 2010.

April 2012.
Site visit conducted by C. Kolonko (HES), 06 April 2012. Line of Anti-Tank Blocks still present at TG275087. Two blocks have been moved out of situ and used to block access to the field within which the line of Anti-Tank Blocks is situated.
C. Kolonko (HES), 26 April 2012.

May 2012.
Photographic Survey conducted by C. Kolonko (HES), 13 May 2012. Recorded possible earthwork remains of the Anti-Tank Ditch at TG273096, TG274100 and TG274095. Also recorded an original Barbed Wire metal picket in situ at TG274095 and metal revetment posts at TG274100.
C. Kolonko (HES), 14 May 2012.

Monument Types

  • ANTI TANK BLOCK (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ANTI TANK DITCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • CUBE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PILLBOX (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ROADBLOCK (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SPIGOT MORTAR EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TANK TRAP (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 (FP) 22-5 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6127-9 07-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6186-9 07-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/789 6029-30 10-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/789 6148-52 10-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/789 6053-6 10-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/789 6242-6 10-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1143 5001-2 29-JAN-1946 (NMR).
<S9>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1143 5025-6 29-JAN-1946 (NMR).
<S10>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 2055-6 27-JUN-1946 (NMR).
<S11>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 3G/TUD/UK/70 5078-9 28-FEB-1946 (NMR).
<S12>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 3G/TUD/UK/70 5118-9 28-FEB-1946 (NMR).
<S13>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1254 6013-4 20-MAR-1946 (NMR).
<S14>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1429 3010-11 16-APR-1946 (NMR).
<S15>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 2054-5 27-JUN-1946 (NMR).
<S16>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2019 5108-9 18-APR-1947 (NMR).
<S17>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2003 5253-4 14-APR-1947 (NMR).
<S18>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5038-45 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S19>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5212-6 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S20>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2063 6161-2 14-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S21>Vertical Aerial Photograph: NMR. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2063 6194-6 14-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S22>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2063 6223-4 14-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S23>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. NMR TG 2709/5 (RAF 30009 CPE/UK/2362 SFFO-0062-63) 16-OCT-1947.
<S24>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/725 (Vp2) 5047-8 21-JUN-1951 (NMR).
<S25>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1961. MAL 61500 7352-3 30-AUG-1961 (NMR).
<S26>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1964. RAF 58/6402 (F21) 0020-21 06-JUL-1964 (NMR).
<S27>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1964. MAL 64696 4004-5 13-OCT-1964 (NMR).
<S28>Publication: Kent, P. 1988. Fortifications of East Anglia. p 193.
<S29>Monograph: Bird, C.. 1999. Silent sentinels: the story of Norfolk's fixed defences during the twentieth century.. p 40.
<S30>Monograph: Brown, I. & Lowry, B. (eds.). 1996. 20th century defences in Britain: an introductory guide.. p 90.
<S31>Recording Form: [various]. Norfolk Defensive Structures Survey Recording Form. Norfolk Defensive Structures Survey.
<S32>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Luftwaffe. 1940. Luftwaffe GX10018 SK9 (GB1040S) 31-AUG-1940 (NMR).
<S33>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF N139 11 18-MAY-1941 (NMR).
<S34>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF N139 18-20 18-MAY-1941 (NMR).
<S35>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA 470 56-7 11-APR 1942 (NMR).
<S36>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 26-7 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S37>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 55-6 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S38>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF FNO/35 6026-7 02-JUN-1942 (NMR).
<S39>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1943. RAF? Z8 04-MAY-1943 (NLA TG 2311 F8).
<S40>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/483 6025-9 06-JUL-1945 (NMR).
<S41>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/772 6051-2 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S42>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/772 6091-2 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S43>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/772 6135-6 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S44>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/772 6173-4 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S45>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/772 6214-5 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S46>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6033-4 07-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S47>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6047-8 07-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S48>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6114-5 07-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S49>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/975 6233 07-NOV-1945 (NMR).
<S50>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/1007 6179-80 15-NOV-1945 (NMR).
<S51>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1428 3015-7 16-APR-1946 (NMR).
<S52>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1633 5069-70 09-JUL-1946 (NMR).
<S53>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1636 3148-9 09-JUL-1946 (NMR).
<S54>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5047-9 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S55>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5054-5 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S56>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5188-9 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S57>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2111 5021-2 28-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S58>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. NMR TG 2312/6 (RAF 30009 CPE/UK/2362 SFFO-0103) 16-OCT-1947.
<S59>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/644 5115-6 20-APR-1951 (NMR).
<S60>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/644 5125-6 20-APR-1951 (NMR).
<S61>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1953. RAF 82/759 0152-3 09-APR-1953 (NMR).
<S62>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF 48/HAV 3041-2 13-MAR-1942 (NMR).
<S63>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 61-2 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S64>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 87-88 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S65>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1943. RAF? Z15 04-MAY-1943 (NLA TG 1808F).
<S66>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/770 6227-30 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S67>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/770 6232-3 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S68>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/795 6090-1 12-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S69>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/795 6094-5 12-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S70>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 3G/TUD/UK/70 (part II) 5131-4 28-FEB-1946 (NMR).
<S71>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1307 7052-3 26-MAR-1946 (NMR).
<S72>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 4072-3, 4081-2 27-JUN-1946 (NMR).
<S73>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 4075-6 27-JUN-1946 (NHER TG 1809B-C).
<S74>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1633 5020-5 09-JUL-1946 (NMR).
<S75>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2063 6165-6 14-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S76>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF 30005 CPE/UK/2328 0367-8 27-SEPT-1947 (NMR).
<S77>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/644 5075-6 20-APR-1951 (NMR).
<S78>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 87-88 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S79>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 87-88 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S80>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/770 6318-20 06-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S81>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/767 Vp2 5125-6 29-JUL-1951 (NMR).

Related records

40841Related to: Anti glider trench (Monument)
51894Related to: Possible World War Two weapons pits, practice trenches or spigot mortar emplacement on the line of Norwich anti-tank ditch (Monument)
51898Related to: Site of a World War Two spigot mortar emplacement on the line of Norwich's anti-tank ditch (Monument)
51896Related to: Site of World War Two pillbox and gun emplacement at junction of Salhouse Road and Woodside Road (Monument)
51968Related to: Site of World War Two rail block (Monument)
51969Related to: Site of World War Two rail block (Monument)
51895Related to: Site of World War Two Type 24 pillbox on the line of the Norwich anti-tank ditch (Monument)
51899Related to: Site of World War Two Type 24 pillbox on the line of the Norwich anti-tank ditch (Monument)
51900Related to: Site of World War Two Type 24 pillbox on the line of the Norwich anti-tank ditch (Monument)
51901Related to: Site of World War Two Type 24 pillbox on the line of the Norwich anti-tank ditch (Monument)
32535Related to: World War Two anti-tank blocks (Monument)
32536Related to: World War Two anti-tank blocks (Monument)
32532Related to: World War Two anti-tank blocks, Norwich anti-tank perimeter (Monument)
51967Related to: World War Two spigot mortar emplacement (Monument)
51897Related to: World War Two spigot mortar emplacement beside Woodside Road (Monument)
20338Related to: World War two tank obstacles (Monument)
51906Related to: WWII road blocks on the line of the Norwich anti-tank ditch (Monument)
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