Britain and her Empire went to war in 1914 with little knowledge and experience of constructing permanent, shell proof defensive structures. Some masonry fortifications, such as defensive blockhouses in South Africa, had been built, but the Royal Engineers were more versed in simple temporary defences suitable for mobile warfare. Home defences were a limited number of forts around naval ports, and Martello Towers from the Napoleonic era on the south and east coasts. It was left to the Navy to defend Britain’s coasts.
The Germans, by contrast, like other continental countries such as France, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Poland, and Austria, had been constantly renewing and updating border forts for centuries. They had also maintained fortification and siege elements of their armies, who were experienced in designing and constructing strong shelters. Both German and French armies began the war with a degree of expertise in what was to become a static war with little movement. However, by 1918 the British were to surpass both the enemy and her allies in the design and construction, with supply and logistics, of such shell proof cover for troops and defensive positions.
This comprehensive book gives the history of development and innovation of concrete bunkers, pill boxes, blockhouses and general concrete constructions during the First World War. Many of these structures – some showing obvious signs of war damage – still exist in France and Belgium today.
All the existing structures, with photograph are shown within. Many entries have contemporary maps showing how they fitted into a defensive system, whilst for others the location can be identified from the text. GPS coordinates are given for each entry, except for a few on private land..
ARMAGEDDON’S WALLS British Pill Boxes 1914-1918
This excellent and comprehensive illustrated guide shows how the British made up for their lack of experience and expertise in building fortified defences in 1914, and by the end of the Great War had surpassed friends and foes alike in their construction. Shows all such extant structures left today in France and Belgium with their GPS co-ordinates.