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Gun Emplacement and Fort Henry, Purbeck

Description: Gun Emplacement and Fort Henry

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 November 2012
Building ID: 1411809

OS Grid Reference: SZ0378482841
OS Grid Coordinates: 403784, 82841
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6452, -1.9478

Locality: Purbeck
Local Authority: Purbeck District Council
County: Dorset
Postcode: BH19 3AU

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Listing Text


Gun emplacement of 1940; to the east an observation post, known as Fort Henry, erected in 1943, both situated on Redend Point.

Reason for Listing

The gun emplacement and Fort Henry at Redend Point are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Design: a well-preserved gun emplacement that retains some of its original camouflage paint and which forms part of a significant group of Second World War anti-invasion defences;
* Historic interest/association: Fort Henry provides an impression of the scale and significance of the preparations for D-Day and is associated with the most prominent figures of the Allied forces;
* Group value: for the close physical and historical relationship between the gun emplacement and Fort Henry, as well as the other surviving Second World War structures in the area.


Studland Bay was one of the two stretches of Dorset coastline where a German invasion was considered most likely. In 1940, the defence of the Dorset coast was the responsibility of V Corps whose 50th Division had its headquarters at Blandford Forum. Anti-tank islands were established in towns in the area and a number of stop lines were also constructed. Anti-invasion defences were constructed along Studland Bay in response to the threat of a German invasion. Forward defended localities were established along the line of the beach at Studland and a number of pillboxes and other defensive structures were constructed. Anti-tank cubes blocked possible exits from the beach at three locations and minefields were also situated amongst the sand dunes. Most of these defences were in place by early August 1940. In October 1940, the infantry battalion in the Studland Sub-Sector (Studland Defence Area) was the 7th Bn. Suffolk Regiment. By April 1941, it had been replaced by the 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards. The Dorset Home Guard unit also manning defences at Studland was No.2 (East Purbeck) Company, 7th (Wareham) Battalion was manned by No.2 (East Purbeck) Company, 7th (Wareham) Battalion of the Home Guard.

From the autumn of 1943, Studland Bay became an amphibious assault training area as part of the preparations for D-Day on 6 June 1944, one of the most significant dates in modern history, defining the start of the final phase of World War II in Europe. Six weeks prior to D-Day, Allied troops gathered in Studland Bay to undertake three full-scale training exercises to prepare themselves for the amphibious landings that were to take place on the beaches of Normandy. The rehearsal, codenamed Exercise Smash 1, was the largest live ammunition practice of the whole war period; battle training was also carried out using the anti-invasion pillboxes erected within the Defence Area. The bay was also the scene of a major experiment to test the effectiveness of burning oil as a defence against a German seaborne invasion, known as Project Fougasse, it involved piping oil to the sea and firing it by explosive charges.

By August 1940, a gun emplacement for a six-pounder gun had been constructed at Redend Point in Studland, part of the anti-invasion defences laid out around Studland Bay. Its line of fire was partly blocked by the construction in 1943 of Fort Henry, a purpose-built observation post, immediately to the east. It was built by the Canadian Royal Engineers and was named after their home base in Ontario. In April 1944 King George VI, Winston Churchill, General Sir Bernard Montgomery, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Acting Admiral Louis Mountbatten observed a demonstration of carpet bombing followed by assault landings, part of Exercise Smash 1, from Fort Henry.


MATERIALS: reinforced, shuttered concrete; brickwork to the interior of the gun emplacement.

DESCRIPTION: the GUN EMPLACEMENT is built of concrete and brick. Its open-front faces north-east, overlooking Studland Bay, with a concrete canopy that breaks forwards slightly at the centre. Graffiti on the roof reads, "R. Daman 1940. AG 229 Batt. 58th Med. Reg." The gun holdfast circle survives, while there are the remains of some original camouflage paint on the rear wall. To the rear are two underground rooms that are accessed from side passages. The left-hand room retains two ventilation shafts, although these are destroyed above ground. FORT HENRY is situated on the cliff edge, immediately in front of the gun emplacement. It a large rectangular structure of reinforced concrete and is orientated north-west to south-east. It measures 138m long and 3m wide and its walls are 1m thick. To the seaward (north-east) elevation is a recessed observation slit that runs the entire length of the structure. Entrances at either end provide access to the interior which takes the form of a long, narrow corridor with a staggered blast wall at approximately the halfway point.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.