Monument record MCC5134 - Anti-Tank Ditch, Eastern Command Line, Chappel Viaduct to Bures


Anti-Tank Ditch, Eastern Command Line, Chappel Viaduct to Bures.


Grid reference Centred TL 9027 3059 (1098m by 4170m) (Centred on)
Map sheet TL93SW


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

During World War Two the Eastern Command Line followed the River Colne from Mersea Island around Colchester to Chappel Viaduct. It then headed northwards along the railway embankment to Bures where it joined the River Stour to Sudbury and Suffolk. Between Chappel and Bures, not only was the railway embankment or cutting used as an anti-tank obstacle but an anti-tank ditch was dug paralleling the railway along this entire length.

At Chappel Viaduct the ditch started by the anti-tank blocks at TL 8969 2849 (SMR 20005/MCC5132) and curved its way along the base of the embankment on the E side of the railway behind Viaduct Cottages (SMR 20006/MCC5133). It followed the bottom of the embankment northwards across Spring Gardens Road via a road barrier (SMR 20013MCC5138) to a position SW of Thornfield Wood. Within this half mile or so, five pillboxes stood on, or at the base of, the embankment overlooking the ditch immediately on their E side. (SMR 20008/MCC4801, 20009/MCC4802, 20012/MCC5137, 20015/MCC5140 and 20016/MCC5141). At Thornfield Wood the ditch stopped and re-continued on the W side of the line via a railway barrier (SMR 20017/MCC5142). It continued northwards with pillboxes (SMR 10018 and 20019/MCC5144) flanking its W edge. These overlooked both the ditch and the railway line which along this stretch is much lower than previously. Crossing Janke’s Green Road immediately W of the railway bridge via another road barrier (SMR 20020/MCC5145), the ditch continued northwards. After passing in front of the pillbox immediately N of the bridge (SMR 20021/MCC5146), for perhaps one mile, the railway line is in a very deep cutting with steep embankments on each side. Although apparently unnecessary, contemporary records, supported to some extent by 1946 aerial photographs, state that the ditch continued, apparently along the top of the steep embankment. As the pillboxes along here (SMR 20022/MCC5147, 20023/MCC4803, 20024/MCC4804 and 20026/MCC5148) are on the very edge of the embankment they may have punctuated the line of the ditch rather than have been behind it.

After crossing the road to the W of Nortons Railway Bridge, the ditch stopped at a position E of the Thatcher’s Arms when the railway emerged from the cutting. Crossing again to the E side via a railway barrier (SMR 20028/MCC5149, 20029/MCC5150 and 20030/MCC5151) the ditch continued northwards. It passed to the E of two pillboxes (SMR 20031/MCC4806 and 20032/MCC4808) before crossing Old Barn Road and Hall Road with a pillbox on the fork (SMR 20038, in Bures Hamlet). It continued to parallel the embankment until it reached Cambridge Brook at TL 9063 3311 whereupon it turned NE along the brook to a road barrier at Colchester Road bridge (SMR 20039, in Bures Hamlet). On the other side of the road it continued with the brook for about 70 yards before branching off NNW across the field, with a pillbox on its W side (SMR 20041, in Bures Hamlet), to join the River Stour at TL 9082 3351.<1> - <9>

See also 10> & <11>.

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> LIST: unknown. 1968. War Time Contraventions 1968. Chappel and Wakes Colne.
  • <2> LIST: unknown. 1968. War Time Contraventions 1968. Bures.
  • <3> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1492-4140. May 1946.
  • <4> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1492-4020.
  • <5> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1492-3021.
  • <6> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1635-1074.
  • <7> AP: RAF. 1949. 58-304-5365.
  • <8> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1635-1075.
  • <9> AP: unknown. 1944. US-7PH-LOC-185-5032.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Nash, Fred. 2007. SURVEY OF WORLD WAR TWO DEFENCES IN THE BOROUGH OF COLCHESTER. VOLUME 1. Volume 1.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Nash, Fred. 2007. SURVEY OF WORLD WAR TWO DEFENCES IN THE BOROUGH OF COLCHESTER. VOLUME 2. Volume 2.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Jun 17 2020 7:44AM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.