Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Eastrop Farm Anti Aircraft Battery

PLEASE NOTE: This site is on private property and not open to the public.

You can download a PDF of other local defences here.  

The Eastrop Farm Battery is located a stones throw from Coleshill House.

Bill King tells us more "It was one of four Heavy AA Sites located around Swindon. Each was sited, with overlapping fire arcs, to defend a quadrant of sky around Swindon. The purpose of Eastrop was not to defend Coleshill it was sited to defend the North Eastern approach to Swindon and South Marston aircraft factory. Eastrop was the Eastern Quadrant with a fire arc running through (roughly) 000 to120 degrees. The other sites were Lower Wanborough (Southern Quadrant) with a fire arc running through (roughly) 100 to 210 degrees and covering the South Eastern approach to Swindon and South Marston aircraft factory; Whitehill which was the Headquarters site, defending the Western approach (Western Quadrant) with a fire arc running through (roughly) 180 to 320 degrees covering the South Western approach to Swindon and the GWR works and Blunsdon (Burytown) defending the Northern Quadrant covering the North Western approach to Swindon and the GWR works with a fire arc running (roughly) 300 to 020 degrees. The sites were constructed in 1941 as part of the third phase of AA defences at Vital Points (VP's)

The early equipment was 3 inch Mobile AA guns but from late '41 was Fixed (later Mobile) 3.7 inch AA guns.
Whitehill, Wanborough and Blunsdon all had concrete emplacements with 'ready use' ammunition lockers.
Eastrop only ever had the hardstands for the guns. Each site had accommodation for some 120 personnel located at approx 300 yards from the gun positions. In the case of Eastrop the accommodation ran alongthe north side of the Highworth - Coleshill road. The Swindon Heavy AA defences were augmented with 16 individually sited 40mm Bofors light AA guns and a 'Z' Rocket Battery located at Stratton (manned by South Marston works Home Guard) to defend the South Marston aircraft works. Also a number of searchlight sites spaced at (roughly) 3000yard horizontal and vertical intervals were located across the country."

Paul Thompson, a local historian has been to see the site and he has taken these great photos, he comments

"The bunker part is in mint condition, all but a little flooded, the roof is in sound as well. What is nice is that most of the gun mounts are still there in the floor of the 4 gun pits and some nice use of drain pipes for ammo tunnels out the bunker" (see Below) 

Highworth AA Battery

Highworth Battery

The outhouse, normally have a wood or coal heater in it from previous batterys, some have toilets as well.

Inside the battery

A good 2ft of water inside, looks like astroturf.

"The control room has always been prone to flooding. Perhaps that is why Eastrop site was the least used site of the Swindon AA defences.

The Auxiliers from Coleshill certainly 'raided' the AA sites at both Eastrop and Blunsdon as part of their training at Coleshill. They were tasked to leave chalked 'X' marks on guns, MT and other equipment on the sites."

"The earthenware pipes leaving the control room at the centre of the Eastrop site were not for ammunition supply. The ammunition was located in 'ready use' lockers at the guns fed from a magazine approx 200 yards away. The earthenware pipes are for the Electrical cables (one to each gun) through which the data of range, heading and elevation was fed from the control centre which collated information from a range finder and predictor. Each site eventually had a mobile Sperry Mk1 gun laying radar."  describes Bill King.

electrical cable runs

Artillery Mounts

Artillery Mounts

"The Swindon gunsites were manned by a number of different artillery units between 1941 and the Spring of 1944 when all the guns were withdrawn to defend the 'invasion' ports from possible German air attack. They were later moved to the south-east coast when the 'Buzz -Bomb' affensive began. All the Swindon gun sites were strpped out and most of the buildings dismanted in the period 1946 - 48. The gun positions and hardstandings were left. The hardstanding  floors of the buildings of the Eastrop site were only broken up about five yeas ago and the resulting hardcore can still be seen as weed covered piles of rubble."

You can download a PDF of other local defences here.