At the Stowlangtoft Spinney crossroads until just a few years ago, there was an interesting historic landmark leftover from WW11:   Suffolk Historic Data recorded this as a Type 22, Defence pillbox.   During the summer months, as the photo above taken in about 2010 shows, the pillbox was totally covered in rather nice foliage

No doubt the foliage, with a little pruning to clear the gunports, would have, made very effective camouflaging.   However, after the fall of France, the Germans were building up their forces in the channel ports and an invasion was anticipated imminently:   time was not on our side to allow such sophistication as natural growth camouflage!

In 1940 a network of defences was hastily built all over the British Isles to prevent an anticipated German invasion.  So-called “Stop” lines were organised across different areas of the country with carefully linked locations calculated to slow down and ultimately prevent the enemy from advancing.  The most common of these defences were called “Pillboxes,” squat concrete forts that were sited at road junctions, canals and other strategic points.

With the passage of time, it is estimated that less than 6,000 of a total of 28,000 pillboxes built still survive. They remain as permanent monuments and a silent tribute to the courage and tenacity of the British people during the dark days of 1940 when Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany. 

Apparently, English Heritage is evolving a policy for listing and protecting the remaining pill boxes. (Digital archive: Defence of Britain Project archive. UORN)

REMEMBRANCE: STOWLANGTOFT, SUFFOLK - 2020 - YouTube   (click on link to watch video)

Spinney Pillbox - November 2022 (click on link to watch video)

Although the aforementioned pillbox, represented an important physical milestone in the timeline of the village, sadly, it has been allowed to disappear.   

Happily, for aficionados, all is not lost:  There are a further two other similar pillboxes in Stowlangtoft.   One of these pillboxes is located on private farmland and out of view from areas open to the general public.

The other remaining pillbox, fortunately, is positioned in a very prominent parish spot on the eastern apex of the Spinney formed where “The Street” divides.

In the Autumn of 2020, Stowlangtoft resident Stuart White, together with a group of other, equally enthusiastic, village folk came up with the splendid initiative of using the Spinney Pillbox as a means of displaying the essence of REMEMBRANCE DAY.

The proposal was to appropriately decorate the pillbox as a personal tribute to the fallen and also as visual confirmation, conveying the Commemoration message on behalf of the village.                    

After consulting with the owner of the Spinney, whom Stuart advised voiced no objections and consented freely to the proposal, the group set about preparing the display.                                                                                                          

This involved considerable work in clearing away the dense undergrowth that over many years had virtually hidden the pillbox from view.  Union flags, symbolic poppies and flags depicting remembrance themes were all included in the decoration.  Hand-knitted symbols were also part of the display which must have meant many hours of work to produce.


I recollect that virtually every day I passed the pillbox during the Remembrance period, people had stopped their cars to view the display up close and take snaps with mobile phone cameras.

I believe that this initiative, which generated so much general interest, is a brilliant example of how community groups can add real benefit to an area.  

It was nice to see a similar display repeated again for the 2022 Remembrance period.

Accordingly, it is my pleasure to take the opportunity to personally say thank you to the group and give my own appreciation, and I think I may speak for many others who got enjoyment from their fine effort.


Mike Keeper January 2023