Defence Structures used during the 1939 - 1945 conflict
Eastern Command Line at Chappel


The four major WW11 Defence Lines




This is where the line altered its course and here substantial defences were installed. There was a 100yd gap between the natural barrier offered by the river and the embankment to the north. This gap was heavily fortified to withstand an assault by the German army.


The armourment consisted of:-


Viaduct Fortifications

pillbox pillbox
Structure 1 - Artillery Pillbox with 6 pounder Hotchkiss Gun covering the Colchester Road.

Structure 2 -Infantry Pillbox with machine gun to fire into the road.

tank traps
Structure 3 -Each of the arches was blocked by 5ft square concrete cubes. A second row (left) was angled to provide greater protection.

Structure 4 -Three 6ft diameter cylinders filled with concrete were placed in the shallow end of the river to prevent tanks breaching the line. Presently located on the river bank.


Gun Emplacement pedestal with stainless steel pivot. Alongside the pier of the viaduct next to the pedestal (left) are the remains of two ammunition alcoves side by side.

Gun Emplacement pedestal with a (now rusty) plain steel pivot. This is unusual as most were of stainless steel.

Both positions would have benefited from the protection of the brick arches.

Structure 5-In 1942 two 29mm spigot mortars (Gun Pedestal) added beneath the arches.

By 1942, when spigot mortars were supplied to the Home Guard, the concept of “Stop-lines” had been largely discredited in favour of nodal point defence and the siting of the two spigot mortars at Chappel Viaduct probably reflects this rather than an attempt to add further to the Eastern Command Line

Structure 6 -North end of viaduct, Pillbox with anti-aircraft gun to prevent attacks from the air. No picture available.
Structure completely covered in undergrowth, located on private land.

Today, as you can see most of these defenses still survive, the three Pillboxes, the concrete cubes, the concrete cylinders together with the spigot mortar gun pedestals.

The line continued it`s path to Bures using the rail track as we said before. At Bures, the Command Line once again diverted away from the rail track back to the River Stour where it continued on towards Sudbury and finally to stopping somewhere near to Bury.

(No data available on what happened to the line at Sudbury)
Acknowledgment to supplying additional information.
Courtesy of Essex CC Heritage Site for location of structures, Oct 2003
Fred Nash for the SEAX records.

Link to Main Eastern Command Line Information