I’ve finally managed to find out what this strange structure was that I sighted on my camping trip to Dorset back last summer.
Its an Allan-Williams Turret. Its a pre-fabricated structure made out of steel, designed to be operated by a single man. Part of it is recessed in the ground, and the top part can rotate through 360 degrees giving an all-round field of fire. It was designed for weapons such as the Bren, Lewis, Browning and Hotchkiss Machine Guns and the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle.
199 were ordered and built, and they formed part of the many defences rushed into action during the invasion scare in 1940 after the fall of France.
This example was photographed between Dancing Ledge and St Aldhelms Head on the Purbeck Coast.
The Battle of Hooge took place shortly after the Second Battle of Ypres, between May and August 1915. Perhaps the most well-known part of the battle was the huge mine, tunnelled under the German lines, and exploded by British forces on 30 July.
Private E. Breeze, of 3 Westley Place, Landport, Portsmouth, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his part in the battle. Serving with the 1st Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, on 16 June 1915 he collected a few men and attacked the enemy’s second line of trenches, destroyed two of their machine guns and took twelve prisoners. His DCM was announced in the London Gazette on 3 August 1915.
In November 1915 the 1st Lincs were transferred to the Somme. Promoted to Sergeant, Breeze was killed on 4 June 1916. He was buried in Dartmoor Cemetery, at Becordel-Becourt near the Somme.
Breeze’s Portsmouth connection probably comes from that fact that the 1st Lincs were based in Portsmouth in August 1914 when war was declared as part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Division. It was unusual – although not unheard of – for men to join Regiments other than the local one, so it would seem that Breeze originally came from Lincolnshire, and married a Portsmouth girl while he was based there.