HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Essex HER Result
Essex HERPrintable version | About Essex HER | Visit Essex HER online...

Name:GHQ Line Anti-Tank Ditch
SMR Number:8893
Type of record:Monument
Grid Reference:TL 639 124
Map Sheet:TL61SW
Parish:CANVEY ISLAND, CASTLE POINT, ESSEX
SHOTGATE, BASILDON, ESSEX
FLITCH GREEN, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
BOWERS GIFFORD AND NORTH BENFLEET, BASILDON, ESSEX
BROOMFIELD, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
EAST HANNINGFIELD, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
GALLEYWOOD, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
GREAT BADDOW, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
GREAT WALTHAM, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
LITTLE WALTHAM, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
RETTENDON, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
SANDON, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
SPRINGFIELD, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
WEST HANNINGFIELD, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX
BARNSTON, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
BROXTED, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
CHICKNEY, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
DEBDEN, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
FELSTED, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
GREAT CHESTERFORD, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
GREAT DUNMOW, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
GREAT EASTON, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
LITTLE CHESTERFORD, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
LITTLE DUNMOW, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
LITTLE EASTON, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
LITTLEBURY, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
NEWPORT, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
SAFFRON WALDEN, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
TILTY, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
WENDENS AMBO, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
WIDDINGTON, UTTLESFORD, ESSEX
Wickford, BASILDON, ESSEX
BASILDON, BASILDON, ESSEX
CHELMSFORD, CHELMSFORD, ESSEX

Summary

Second World War tank trap

Full description

1993 and 2000: 2nd World War tank trap, a ditched defence around Chelmsford, showing successively as an earthwork, soil mark and cropmark on subsequent RAF vertical photography. Mostly now destroyed by recent development. <1> - <4>

2006: In 1940, with the threat of a German invasion after the evacuations from Dunkirk, a plan was initiated which called for the construction of hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of defence lines throughout Britain. In addition to the coastal ‘outer crust’, there was a vast network of inland lines paralleling the coast and connecting with each other. The most significant of these, the largest and probably the most heavily fortified, was the GHQ (General Headquarters) Line. This ran from the North of England south to the Thames and then west across the country to the Bristol Channel.

In Essex, it came in at Great Chesterford following the path of the River Cam. At Newport it bridged eastwards via Debden Water to Debden at TL 552 328. Here, an anti-tank ditch was dug which crossed the fields south-eastwards for 2 miles until it met the River Chelmer at Cherry Green, TL 570 302. The river then became the anti-tank obstacle, southwards through Chickney, Little Easton, Dunmow, Great Waltham and Broomfield to the northern outskirts of Chelmsford.

At TL 715 091 the line left the Chelmer to proceed via a second length of anti-tank ditch south-eastwards to the railway line at TL 726 082. It then followed the cutting of the railway NE to TL 729 084 where the ditch restarted. This length zigzagged eastwards to TL 742 079 where it rejoined the River Chelmer to once again head south.

At Sandford, TL 741 061, the defence line left the Chelmer for the second time to embark on its fourth length of anti-tank ditch, this time all the way to the Thames. This long stretch ran to the E of Sandon before allying itself closely to the A130 which it zigzagged its way across, through Howe Green and Rettendon to Battlesbridge. Each time the ditch was required to cross the A130, and any other road, a concrete and steel barrier was constructed across the carriageway.

From Battlesbridge, the ditch headed SSW through Shotgate, crossing the railway line via a cable barrier at TQ 761 924 to hit the A127 Southend Road at TQ 759 909. Traversing the dual carriageway via a massive road barrier, it continued its way south through North Benfleet and Bowers Gifford, crossing the A13, to eventually run out in the extensive marshes south of Pitsea at TQ 749 871. The final stretch of the defence line to the Thames was taken up by Pitseahall Fleet, Vange Creek and Holehaven Creek to join the wide river between the Thameshaven oil refineries to the W and Canvey Island to the E.

Surveyed at various times during the 1990’s and 2000’s, throughout the whole length of the four ditched sections of the GHQ Line in Essex virtually nothing of this earthwork now survives. However, its path can be very clearly seen on 1940’s aerial photographs and thus it has been possible to plot its route with confident accuracy. The entire length of the line, both in its ditched form and in its use of the River Cam, Debden Water and the River Chelmer, was fortified by pillboxes.

Many of these still survive and are documented under separate SMR entries.


<1> Ingle, CJ, Strachan, D, Tyler, S and Saunders, H, 1993-2017, NMP Cropmark Plot - 1:10,000 (Map). SEX22419.


<2> RAF, unknown, CPE-UK 2361-5092 (AP). SEX28473.


<3> unknown, unknown, 58-372-5063 (AP). SEX28474.


<4> unknown, unknown, 58-372-5098 (AP). SEX28475.


<5> RAF, 1950, 58-372-5134 (AP). SEX65887.


<6> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 2221-5219 (AP). SEX65888.


<7> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 1971-4170, 10/4/47 (AP). SEX65889.


<8> RAF, unknown, CPE-UK 2221-5219 (AP). SEX65890.


<9> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 2221-5308 (AP). SEX65891.


<10> NMR, 1949, 58-281-5006 (AP). SEX65892.


<11> RAF, 1946, CPE-UK 1788-3147 (AP). SEX65913.


<12> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 1971-3177 (AP). SEX65914.


<13> NMR, 1986, HSL/UK/8667/7473 (AP). SEX65915.


<14> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 2361-5092 (AP). SEX65918.


<15> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1496-4378 (AP). SEX67375.


<16> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1563-4068 (AP). SEX67376.


<17> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1563-4076 (AP). SEX67377.


<18> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1563-3072-3075, 3080-3081 (AP). SEX67378.


<19> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1496-3378-3380 and 3382 (AP). SEX67379.


<20> RAF, 1951, 58/699/PTIII/5062 (AP). SEX67380.


<21> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 1971-3225 (AP). SEX67385.


<22> RAF, 1947, CPE-UK 1971-4024-5 (AP). SEX67386.


<23> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1496-3229-30 (AP). SEX67387.


<24> RAF, 1946, CPE-UK 1788-3147 (AP). SEX67388.


<25> RAF, 1946, CPE-UK 1788-4147-8 (AP). SEX67389.


<26> RAF, 1953, V.58/RAF/1020/63, 133 (AP). SEX67390.


<27> Ordnance Survey, 1963, OS/63/24/60-62 (AP). SEX67391.


<28> RAF, 1946, CPE-UK 1788-4058-9 (AP). SEX67399.


<29> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1563-4128-30 (AP). SEX67400.


<30> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1496-3397-8 (AP). SEX67401.


<31> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1496-4228 (AP). SEX67402.


<32> RAF, 1953, V540/1026/90-91 (AP). SEX67403.


<33> RAF, 1946, 106G-UK 1563-3134-5 (AP). SEX67404.


<34> RAF, 1950, 58/513/PTII/5142-5143 (AP). SEX67405.


<35> Saunders, Helen, 2013, EX13/07/135-137 (AP (Digital)). SEX71624.

Monument Types

  • ANTI TANK DITCH (WWII, Modern - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Protected Status

  • Historic Environment Character Area: Chelmsford 13
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 4.4
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 4.2
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 97_1
  • Conservation Area: Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation (CHELMSFORD)
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 104
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 12.1
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 4.6
  • Conservation Area: Littlebury
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Chelmsford 4
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 102
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 6.4
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 104_1
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 97
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 13.3
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 9.3
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 98_2
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 3
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 13.2
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 2.17
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 101_2
  • Conservation Area: Great Easton
  • Conservation Area: Little Waltham
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Chelmsford 2
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 103
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 9.2
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 101_1
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 98
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 13.4
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 2.11
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 98_1
  • Conservation Area: Great Dunmow - Church End
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Chelmsford 12
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Thames Gateway 101
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 9.1
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 6.3
  • Conservation Area: Great Chesterford
  • Conservation Area: Saffron Walden - Audley End
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Chelmsford 6
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 4.5
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 2.15
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 97_4
  • Conservation Area: Sandon
  • Historic Environment Character Area: Chelmsford 9
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 4.3
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Chelmsford 2.14
  • Historic Environment Character Zone: Thames Gateway 97_2
  • Conservation Area: Great Waltham

Sources and further reading

<1>Map: Ingle, CJ, Strachan, D, Tyler, S and Saunders, H. 1993-2017. NMP Cropmark Plot - 1:10,000. paper. 1:10,000.
<2>AP: RAF. unknown. CPE-UK 2361-5092.
<3>AP: unknown. unknown. 58-372-5063.
<4>AP: unknown. unknown. 58-372-5098.
<5>AP: RAF. 1950. 58-372-5134.
<6>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 2221-5219.
<7>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 1971-4170. 10/4/47.
<8>AP: RAF. unknown. CPE-UK 2221-5219.
<9>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 2221-5308.
<10>AP: NMR. 1949. 58-281-5006.
<11>AP: RAF. 1946. CPE-UK 1788-3147.
<12>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 1971-3177.
<13>AP: NMR. 1986. HSL/UK/8667/7473.
<14>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 2361-5092.
<15>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1496-4378.
<16>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1563-4068.
<17>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1563-4076.
<18>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1563-3072-3075, 3080-3081.
<19>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1496-3378-3380 and 3382.
<20>AP: RAF. 1951. 58/699/PTIII/5062.
<21>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 1971-3225.
<22>AP: RAF. 1947. CPE-UK 1971-4024-5.
<23>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1496-3229-30.
<24>AP: RAF. 1946. CPE-UK 1788-3147.
<25>AP: RAF. 1946. CPE-UK 1788-4147-8.
<26>AP: RAF. 1953. V.58/RAF/1020/63, 133.
<27>AP: Ordnance Survey. 1963. OS/63/24/60-62.
<28>AP: RAF. 1946. CPE-UK 1788-4058-9.
<29>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1563-4128-30.
<30>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1496-3397-8.
<31>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1496-4228.
<32>AP: RAF. 1953. V540/1026/90-91.
<33>AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1563-3134-5.
<34>AP: RAF. 1950. 58/513/PTII/5142-5143.
<35>AP (Digital): Saunders, Helen. 2013. EX13/07/135-137.

Related records

5575Parent of: Tank Trap near Mill Cottages - see 8893 (Monument)
18045Related to: IND1 (Springfield) - Phase 2 (Monument)
5792Related to: Springfield Lyons (Monument)