Pillbox Types

During May 1940 the branch of the Directorate of Fortifications and Works (FW3) at the War Office was set up under the Directorship of Major-General G.B.O. Taylor. It’s purpose was to provide specific pillbox designs to be constructed throughout the countryside at defensive locations.

During June and July 1940 saw the FW3 branch issue 7 Basic Designs. However, often, once in the field, the local construction companies modified these under the direction of the area commands. Occasionally, a ‘one-off’ type was designed to the War Office standard by the Command and Corps Chief Engineers.

This then is the fundamental basis for the thousands of pillboxes that we find littered across our present day landscape.

The FW3 pillbox design concept was to provide a simple ‘fieldwork standard’ that could be constructed very quickly. Most designs consisted of or incorporated some of the following features:

Minimum of Bullet/Splinter Proof protection
No attempt was made to provide living accommodation
Some designs were enhanced to Shell Proof standard
Simple Blast Walls to protect open entrances
External flat side walls with rectangular or polygonal shape
The use of common designs with standard sizes for doors, loopholes and flat sides made it easier to `mass produce` items for concrete shuttering and hence the speed of construction. However, with the general countrywide lack of material it was often necessary to use bricks as the shuttering. This often fools the casual observer into believing that the whole structure is constructed of brick. Closer examination often reveals the integral reinforced concrete ‘back-bone’!