Record Details

NHER Number:38512
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of World War Two training area


A group of World War Two military training features, include weapons pits and practice trenches and possible barbed wire obstructions, are visible on aerial photographs around the remains of Overstrand Mill (NHER 6802). A searchlight battery was located in the field to the north of this site (NHER 38967).

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2539 4018
Map Sheet:TG24SE

Full description

March 2004. Norfolk NMP.
A group of World War Two military training features, include weapons pits and practice trenches and possible barbed wire obstructions, are visible on aerial photographs (S1-4). The site is centred on TG 2539 4018 and located around the site of a post-medieval windmill (NHER 6802). A searchlight battery is located in the field to the north in 1940 (NHER 38967).

Centred around the windmill in 1940 are signs of recent activity and possible construction and/or trench digging, visible on oblique aerial photographs (S1), although the site is too far in the background to be able to identify individual features. In 1941 the site does not look like it is currently being used for military training (S5). This may be due to the removal of the searchlight battery to the north (NHER 38967). In 1942 a series of weapons pits and short practice trenches get dug around the windmill (NHER 6802), centred on TG 2542 4019. A slit trench is also visible on either side of the hollowed track up to the mill.

The windmill base is hexagonal and at first glance would appear to be a pillbox. However it is quite large, 6.6m across and is located in the correct position for the mill. The base of the mill survives until at least the late 80’s, see NHER 6802, and therefore it is unlikely had it been converted into a pillbox that this was not recorded at a later date, although it is possible. Other Norfolk windmills are known to have had loop holes added into the structure, such as at Ludham Bridge (NHER 5236) and the Stacey Arms, Great Yarmouth (NHER 10387) (Bird, 1999:36-7) (S6).

A short stretch of zigzag trench is visible in 1943, centred on TG 2536 4024. Constructed to the north of this in-between January 1943 and 1946 (S3-4) is a pronounced oblong trench at TG 2538 4024, a similar earthwork is located to the south at TG 2532 4015. Both measure 9m by 4m and are flanked by a bank of upcast to the north. The northern example being much more pronounced. The purpose of these earthworks is not clear, although it is assumed that they relate to military training. Next to the northern earthwork at TG 2539 4025 is a possible small structure visible in 1942 against the field boundary (S2). This has been removed by 1943 (S3).

At TG 2535 4016 is a possible cluster of four small pits and trenches. There is possible evidence of digging in this area in 1940 and 1942 (S1-2), although the features cannot clearly be distinguished at these times and were mapped from 1946 aerial photographs (S4). These have been interpreted as weapons pits, although it is also possible that they may merely be extractive pits, see NHER 35580 for similar features.

Possible traces of barbed wire may be visible on some of the aerial photographs, although it cannot be identified with any certainty (S1-3). In 1943 is meandering dark linear is visible to the south of this site, coinciding partly with a low earthwork bank (NHER 38968), thought to be a post medieval field boundary. It is possible that this was augmented with barbed wire. However on oblique aerial photographs from 1940 (S1), this line appears to mark a change in vegetation. The northern perimeter of the knoll on which the windmill sits, also looks like barbed wire may sit on top of the surrounding earthworks (see NHER 6802 for details), although again this is not certain.
S. Massey (NMP), 18 March 2004.

Monument Types

  • EXTRACTIVE PIT? (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1901 AD to 2100 AD)
  • BARBED WIRE OBSTRUCTION? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY TRAINING SITE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PILLBOX? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PRACTICE TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SLIT TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • WEAPONS PIT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1940. NMR TG 2540/8 (MSO 31020 26/BR14/12 4903) 19-SEP-1940.
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF AC/59 53-4 19-JUN-1942 (NMR).
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1943. RAF AC/161 5065-6 04-JAN-1943 (NMR).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1634 4120-1 09-JUL-1946 (Norfolk SMR TG 2439A-B).
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. NMR TG 2540/16 (MSO 31255 S378/H50 24) 07-AUG-1941.
<S6>Monograph: Bird, C.. 1999. Silent sentinels: the story of Norfolk's fixed defences during the twentieth century..

Related records - none

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