Dunster Beach Pillbox


Following the fall of France in June 1940, Britain was suddenly at risk of invasion by the victorious  German forces and embarked on an emergency programme of beach defences. The holiday chalets at Dunster Beach were requisitioned for a military camp and concrete pillboxes started to be built. At first, they had a shallow V-shaped plan, but standardised hexagonal ones were added later. The beach would also have been defended by barbed wire and other obstructions to prevent ships and aircraft landing. Over 18,000 pillboxes were built in a few months in Britain at the end of 1940, despite serious shortages of cement and iron for reinforcing.


This pillbox is of a design known as Type 24 with a longer rear wall than the other five sides. Each side has a loophole for firing out of, but this had the five sides. Each side has a loophole for firing out of,

but this had the disadvantage that only one or two loopholes will be facing towards the enemy. Most of the defending troops would have been in trenches and the pillbox would have been used to protect a machine gun or similar weapon. Inside the pillbox is a Y-shaped brick wall to stop enemy bullets from ricocheting around inside.


To prevent pillboxes becoming an obvious target, they were camouflaged and many of the ones along the West Somerset coast had beach cobbles embedded in the walls. Further inland they had roofs and chimneys added to make them look like sheds. The photograph shows that the beach stones were piled up around the pillbox to improve the camouflage. It is likely that this was an experiment, as there would be no reason to take photographs otherwise. No other surviving pillboxes have the low wall that stopped the stones falling and blocking the doorway, so it seems that the experiment was not considered a success.