While writing a short article for a newsletter, I mentioned the Royal Observer Corps underground monitoring post inside the Pirbright ranges. Looking at the Defence Training Estate [DTE] website for more info, which I sadly didn’t find. We are, though, blessed, if that’s the right word, with lots of military training estates land in and around us.
I thought you might be interested in what I found in the DTE’s Home Counties Public Information Leaflet. There are a couple of places I’ll be keen to visit, when possible of course. One of which is the Atlantic Wall – see more about it HERE. I’ve included a photo of it, which you can click on to expand.
Many training areas are the homes of archaeological sites. These include bowl barrows and a variety of other tumuli. Many, once common, Second World War pillboxes and bunkers scattered round the Estate have survived because of their location, and are now in the process of being listed.
Few visitors will know of the Atlantic Wall built in the heart of Surrey. This wall, complete with the evidence of the breaching methods, still stands erect on the slopes of Hankley Common. Built during the Second World War, it was used to train D-Day troops in the art of attacking Hitler’s fortifications. Visitors may think and reflect on how many lives were saved because of the thoroughness of the Armed Forces’ training and in doing so realise why training areas are required.
There are 2 war memorials located within the Estate. Bramshott, forever synonymous with the Canadians and the site of their Great War Hospital, is the home of one of their most important war memorials. An avenue of red maples and sugar maples has been planted alongside the A3 road. This is a regular site of pilgrimage for many Canadians, and all visitors are requested to show the normal respect due to such a site. The avenue replaces the original memorial, which was demolished during a non-military road-widening scheme. Visitors should include the Bramshott village church in their itinerary, as 318 Canadians are interred in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery which forms part of the church grounds.
Military hardware is to be found on many of the Home Counties sites: a remnant of an Abbott self-propelled gun (of Cold War vintage) is to be found in the Longmoor area, alongside 2 Chieftain tanks. These weapons are still used as training aids and visitors should look but not touch. This especially applies to children: though attractive, these old vehicles hold many traps. They were never designed as playthings or climbing frames; they are dangerous.