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Title:World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft Gunsite, 100 metres West of Princes Cottages
Originator:Salvatore, J. P.
Summary:WWII heavy anti-aircraft gunsite known as Down Thomas. Built in 1940, as part of the defences for Plymouth, with four 3.7-inch gun emplacements and manned by 210 haa battery in august 1941. Subsequently, two other emplacements were added for 3.7-inch and/or 4.5-inch guns. During the period of use the battery was divided into two parts. The living area to the east (alongside spring road) contained the accommodation and general administration buildings. The operational area lies to the west. This formed the fighting element of the site and included the gun emplacements, a command post and a magazine. The gun emplacements are approached by a concrete access road leading from the accommodation site. The final 15m length of this road leading to the emplacements is included in the scheduling. The gunsite comprises an array of six gun emplacements arranged around a loop at the end of the access track. The gun emplacements are of two different types: four are octagonal and are of a standard type for 3.7inch guns, they are believed to have been constructed as part of the original battery of 1940, whilst two are rectangular and are believed to been constructed a little later possibly for 4.5inch guns. The four octagonal emplacements form an arc to the south of the command post whilst the two rectangular additions sit at the northwestern end of the array. The octagonal emplacements each have six internal rendered brick-built ammunition lockers (some retaining wooden fixtures and fittings) built against the 1.5m high concrete block walls which are embanked with earth for extra protection and which surrounded the guns. Concrete 'holdfasts,' some of which retain metal fixtures, mark the positions of the guns, which were manoeuvred into place via a single access gateway in each emplacement. The rectangular emplacements are similarly enclosed by concrete block walls embanked with earth and with a single entrance. They are however provided with only two ammunition lockers, one at either end against the shorter walls. The semi-sunken command post is situated within the access loop towards its southern end. The building is protected by earth banks and has a standard suite of rooms including a plotting room, telephonists' quarters, and offices. Built into the top of the building are protected positions for spotting equipment, observation platforms, and a pillar for a range finder. Also within the access loop is a 5-bay magazine protected by blast walls; each bay (known as a recess) retains its stencilling for detailing numbers and types of shells stored. The magazine is accessed by its own concrete track which has embedded rails to facilitate the movement of shells to the access road. A semi-sunken building to the south of the magazine, but still inside the access loop, may be a shelter. To the exterior of the access loop and just north of the easternmost gun emplacement is a concrete block building which may represent a shelter. On the northern side of the loop is a further concrete block building which, although it has been altered and entrance widened in the post-war period, is believed to be the remains of a contemporary WWII stores building.

Associated Monuments (1)

MDV13884Down Thomas Battery, Wembury (Monument)