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Observation Post at Sz 02566 83461, Purbeck

Description: Observation Post at Sz 02566 83461

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 November 2012
Building ID: 1411832

OS Grid Reference: SZ0256683461
OS Grid Coordinates: 402566, 83461
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6508, -1.9651

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

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Listing Text


Second World War observation post c.1942, part of the Studland Heath military training area.

Reason for Listing

The observation post at SZ 02605 83461 on Studland Heath is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a rare survival of a substantially-intact military structure within a battle training area; most were destroyed during exercises;
* Group value: with a significant group of listed Second World War anti-invasion defences.


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 By April 1941, it had been replaced by the 1st Bn.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.

Studland Heath which was just inland from the coast was used as a military training area from 1942. South-west facing observation posts were constructed on the heath to monitor the exercises.


MATERIALS: it has brick walls and a roof of shuttered concrete.

DESCRIPTION: it is situated on a slope, facing south-west, and is rectangular on plan. To the front half of the building is a sloping roof. There is an entrance to the rear, at the north-east corner. The angled front (south-west) elevation has three horizontal embrasures or observation slots that have concrete lintels and are set close to the current ground level. The embrasures were designed to be sealed, when necessary, with concrete blocks and several remain within the building.

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