WOOLMER FOREST HERITAGE SOCIETY


WWII SPIGOT MORTOR EMPLACEMENTS (#2)

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Here in the Woolmer Forest area we have two 29mm Spigot mortar emplacements, one is in Longmoor Camp and the other is at Whitehill. The Whitehill spigot emplacement location is available for those who are interested to see it. The emplacement is just inside the MOD land 100 yards from the Liphook Road 150 yards from the new "longabout" at Whithill.

The emplacement is a round brick constructed pit about 3-4 feet deep with small alcoves around the edge. In the centre is a 2-foot diameter concrete pedestal with a stainless-steel pin in the centre on top that accommodates the Spigot mortar itself. The small alcove's surround the centre accommodates rounds and parts and equipment for the mortar.

The emplacement is designed so it can traverse through 360 degrees for all round covering fire with the mortar positioned at ground level. It also gives cover and protection for the crew as they can sit lower in the pit. When these emplacements are in use they are usually camouflaged with the mortar supported and set up using the pedestal pin and the 4 heavy legs provided.

[ Click Images to Enlarge ]

The condition of the Whithill spigot emplacement is in a poor state and needs renovating its mainly over grown with bramble bushes and may have tree root growth pushing the structure about. Its also situated just on the edge of a path way used by the public which could pose as a heath and safety issue ie someone falling into the pit, beware if you plan to visit for a look. I suspect its position was to guard and protect the junction at the then Whithill crossroads and rail bridge.

Ironically these local spigot emplacements are not that far from where Lt Col Stewart Blacker the inventor of the spigot mortar lived in Liss at Coldhayes house. A friend of mine who has written many a book about British ordnance happened to have the good fortune to visit the house where the family lived until recently. Blacker family who still had a few mementoes of his inventions when he visited the house.

The Spigot Mortar was dropped from use around 1944 but its design inspired the PIAT Projectile Infantry Anti-tank projector used into the 1950s. It also inspired the design of the Petard Mortar and Naval Hedgehog spigot mortar. The Petard Mortar was a spigot mortar attached to a Churchill tank as part of Hobarts funnies used for Normandy known affectionally as the Flying Dustbin.

These were tested locally at Hankley Common on the mock Atlantic wall for breaking bunkers and busting pillboxes. Hankley Common a must see especially the Atlantic wall, worth the visit. The Hedgehog mortar was designed for use by the navy as a barrage weapon from ship to shore or as an anti-submarine weapon.

( by Chris Abraham )




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