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World War II Anti-Tank Obstacles

A Grade II Listed Building in Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7602 / 50°45'36"N

Longitude: 0.1488 / 0°8'55"E

OS Eastings: 551650

OS Northings: 97828

OS Grid: TV516978

Mapcode National: GBR LSY.8FH

Mapcode Global: FRA C762.FSW

Entry Name: World War II Anti-Tank Obstacles

Listing Date: 23 July 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393398

English Heritage Legacy ID: 505514

Location: Cuckmere Valley, Wealden, East Sussex, BN25

County: East Sussex

District: Wealden

Civil Parish: Cuckmere Valley

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: West Dean All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Listing Text

SEAFORD

594/0/10014 CUCKMERE HAVEN
23-JUL-09 World War II anti-tank obstacles

GV II
Anti-tank obstacles, of cube and pimple form and an anti-tank wall, at the mouth of the Cuckmere River, 1940

DESCRIPTION: Two lines of concrete anti-tank obstacles to the west and east of the mouth of the River Cuckmere. West of the river: immediately adjoining the river an anti-tank wall running in a south-westerly direction. Defensive line continues with an anti-tank wall surmounted by anti-tank cubes of which there are about 18 survivals, approx. 1.8m x 2m x 1.5 min dimension. The most westerly pair turn at an angle towards the sea. East of the river: a slightly curving line of about 20 anti-tank pimples. Square in plan measuring and approx. 1 sq m with pyramidal tops. Elements of joining sleeper wall also visible.

HISTORY: Cuckmere Haven served a variety of functions during the Second World War. It provided a bombing decoy for the nearby Newhaven harbour, was a departure point (following D-Day) for cross-Channel cables and was also used for artillery and coastal defence training. The topography of the valley, flanked by high chalk cliffs, meant that it was identified as a potential landing place for an invading German army and as such was afforded extensive anti-invasion fortifications during 1940. The fortifications incorporated defences against both sea and air attack with the chalk downs on either flank being trenched to prevent the landing of enemy aircraft.

Begun in June 1940, the Cuckmere defences were substantially completed by August/September of that year and are marked on German aerial reconnaissance photographs and mapping of this date. The defences ran the length of the valley from the sea to Exceat Bridge although concentrated towards the southern end of the valley close to the river mouth and beach. Some of the individual elements also covered the northern end of the valley as well as the west and east flanks, providing protection from any outflanking manoeuvres. As well as these concrete anti-tank obstacles, the valley is also defended by anti-tank banks and ditches, pillboxes and gun emplacements. The design of the defences uses the natural topography to best effect and the gun positions have been carefully located to ensure overlapping fields of fire. The Second World War remains survive in good condition although were originally more extensive and would have been supplemented by more temporary defensive measures such as barbed wire entanglements on the beach.

The anti-tank obstacles at Cuckmere Haven were constructed to protect a weak spot in the coastal defences. Cuckmere Haven is an accessible river estuary and valley. It is located between stretches of coastline with very high chalk cliffs and would therefore have had appeal as a German landing-place. The anti-tank obstacles were intended, in this eventuality, to prevent enemy armoured vehicles from heading in-land. Tactically their purpose was to prevent enemy progress but in the event that an enemy vehicle did attempt to drive across an obstacle, its vulnerable underside would be exposed to defensive fire

SOURCES:
Foot, W, 2004, Defence Areas: a national study of Second World War anti-invasion landscapes in England. Report for English Heritage and the Council for British Archaeology.
Foot, W, 2006, Beaches, Fields, Streets, and Hills: the anti-invasion landscape of England, 1940
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/collections/blurbs/324.cfm Defence of Britain Project Database site references S0008610; S0000807; S0014662; S0008609
www.sevensisters.org.uk includes information on the country park and the Cuckmere Estuary Restoration Project.

REASON FOR DESIGNATION:
Two lines of World War II anti-tank obstacles at the mouth of the Cuckmere River are recommended for designation at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Good surviving anti-tank obstacles either side of the Cuckmere River mouth which are one of the most visible components of the Cuckmere Valley Second World War defensive landscape;
* a group which includes an anti-tank wall as well as anti-tank cubes and pimples;
* located within an important historic context of Second World War remains.

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