Home Page
The Coalhouse Fort Project was started in the 1980's to maintain, restore and promote Coalhouse Fort. The Fort was built between 1861 and 1874 and remained in service until 1956 when Coastal Defence was abolished.
How to Find Us
This page shows directions to Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury, Essex, RM18 8PB. Directions are shown by road, rail and bus.
Membership Information
How to join the Coalhouse Fort Project Team.
Fort Plans
Plans of the fort showing magazines, casemates and roof positions.
Recommended Reading List
This list, although not exhaustive, lists some of the books that cover Coastal Defences in England and Wales. Some are out of print due to their age but they can be found in libraries and second hand book shops.
Recommended Booklets
As with the reading list it is not exhaustive. Most forts such as Nothe in Weymouth, Newhaven in Sussex and Landguard in Sufffolk all produce their own leaflets and books obout themselves. ISBN numbers are shown where available.
Links Page
This page includes links to other sites I have found useful in studying forts and associated defences.
Guided tour
These pictures follow the route taken by the guided tour. The tours take about an hour, during which you will hear an abridged history of the fort from its conception until 1956 when coastal defence was abolished.
Pictures From 1983
This gallery contains pictures of the fort from 1983 when the restoration was begun. It also includes comparison pictures from 2006 and will include photos of various events throughout the year.
Pictures From 1984
These pictures show the progress made after one years work by a dedicated group of volunteers
Pictures From 1985
These pictures were taken in December 1985 and show further improvements made in the previous year.
Pictures From 2005
These pictures were taken during my first year as a guide at Coalhouse Fort. They show the various defences installed during the Victorian Period, WWI and WWII.
Shoeburyness Gunnery School
The Shoeburyness Gunnery School was closed down a number of years ago to make way for a housing estate. Some of the emplacements that were, for many years on MOD land can now be reached.
Shoeburyness Heavy Quick Firing Battery
This battery would have mounted two 6" breech loaders and two 12lb quick firing guns. The guns were served with two shell lifts, one for each gun feeding from magazines below. Both guns were served by a common cartridge lift.
Shornemead Fort, Kent
These pictures show the remains of Shornemead Fort, one of the sister forts to Coalhouse. It is similar in size, but a mirror image being on the other side of the Thames. It was largely destroyed with explosives used by the Army School of Demolitions.
New Tavern Fort, Gravesend, Kent
New Tavern was built to protect London from invasion by an enemy using the River Thames. Henry VIII had a blockhouse built nearby c1539 to cross fire with others at West Tilbury, East Tilbury, Milton and Higham.
Maunsell Army Sea Forts
These pictures were taken on the 21st September 2003 from the Pocahontas out of Tilbury Riverside.
Satellite pictures from Google Earth.
These pictures show a number of Forts and Batteries on the Isle of Wight and around Portsmouth viewed from space illustrating the various layouts and forms these structures take.
More satellite pictures
These Google Earth satellite pictures are of the Forts and Batteries in the Plymouth area.
Landguard Fort
Landguard Fort is situated at the mouth of the River Orwell opposite Harwich Redoubt in Essex. As Felixstowe is an important deep water terminal the area has always been well defended
Newhaven Fort, East Sussex
Newhaven is a Palmerston fort built as a result of the 1859 Royal Commission and was the first to use a large ammount of concrete in its construction. It is run by Lewes Council and is open to the public for a number of weeks each year.
Newhaven Fort, East Sussex
With so many things to see at Newhaven, I have decided to include another page of pictures,
Newhaven, East Sussex, Emergency Battery
These three gun emplacements lie approximately 800m to the West of Newhaven Fort. They were installed during WWII to mount 3 x 6" breech loaders. The battery is in very good condition with most of the original buildings intact but bricked up.
Puckpool Mortar Battery, Isle of Wight
A large and well preserved battery looking out across the Spit Banks between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Built between 1863 and 1865. Re-worked in 1889 and again between 1901 and 1945.
Brean Down Fort, Somerset
Brean Down Fort, Near Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset. One of 'Palmerston's Follies' built as a result of the 1859 Royal Commission.
High Angle Battery, Portland, Dorset
The High Angle Battery, Portland is situated outside Verne Citadel overlooking Weymouth Bay. The Battery was built to mount 9" Rifle Muzzle Loaders firing high angle shots to penertrate the thinner deck armour of the enemies ships
Wormhoudt Massacre Site
On Tuesday 28th May 1940, a number of young soldiers - mostly British - were massacred in cold blood by the SS of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler.
V1 (flying bomb) Vengance weapon site, Hazebrouck
In the woods near Ebblinghem to the West of Hazebrouck, Northerm France are the remains of a V1 fixed launching ramp. The V1 (flying bomb) was launched against London and resulted in the deaths of over 6,000 people
Corton, Suffolk defences
As the East Coast was so heavily defended during WWII, a large number of structures have survived. Several pillboxes, a tank trap and an anti-tank gun emplacement can be found along the Corton Beaches.
Pictures of Coalhouse Fort
Photographs of Coalhouse showing: Depression Position Finder (Battery Observation Post): WWII Gun houses: Degausing monitor position: 1943 Bofors position: Loop-holed firing position:
Bradwell on Sea Defences, Dengie Peninsula, Essex
The Dengie Peninsula lies between the Rivers Blackwater and Crouch and is surrounded by a flood defence wall. As the coast is low laying it could have been an ideal landing area for an invasion. Bradwell also had an airfield between 1942-45.
Burnham on Sea Defences, Dengie Penninsula
The entrance to the river Crouch was protected by a number of pillboxes running East from Burnham. They were joined by a mine field control tower, still present and in good order. To the West of Burnham was an army camp, and a WWII cinema still stands.

Wormhoudt Massacre Site

Wormhoudt is 1Km south east of
Esqeulecq near the D17 Rue de Wormhout. 50 degrees 52 minutes 47.26N 2
degrees 26 minutes 36.80E.

www.esquelbecq.com, click here for more information

"Lest we forget"

1/8-Memorial site of la Plaine au Bois and the Massacre Barn.
In 2000 the meadow where this tradegy took place was saved from destruction by the Franco-British Association.

2/8-"The sacred Tree"
A pollared poplar dating from before May 1940. It was the nearest tree to the massacre barn, a cowshed destroyed in about 1960.
In 1972, British veterans who fought in the area rediscovered the site and placed crosses there. It became a place of pilgrimage and proud witness to the thousands of veterans who come to pay homage to the victims.

3/8-A cowshed into which about a hundred prisoners were packed like sardines in the late afternoon of Tuesday 28th May 1940. Twelve members of the SS second Battalion under the command of Wilhelm Monhke began the slaughter by throwing five grenades into the barn. A British Captain, Lynn Allen decided to try to escape, taking with him Bert Evans who was injured, his arm almost severed in the explosion.
Running along close to the hedge, keeping their heads down to avoid the gunfire of the SS, the two men arrived at a pond.
In the cowshed the bloodbath continued. As the SS had failed to kill everyone, two groups of five survivors were taken outside and callously shot in the back.
A storm broke out at that moment and killing intensified, bursts of gunfire mowing down men so far unhurt, the wounded and those who were already dead. Out of about 100 prisoners, about 15 survived. On Friday May 31st they were discovered and cared for. For several of the group, it was sadly too late; they died as the SS left the scene.

4/8-"The Mercier Farm"
This farm belonged to the owner of the meadow where the massacre took place.
On the morning of May 28th 1940, his two daughters came to milk the cows and soon found themselves in the thick of the fighting. One of them fled from the barn, terrified, to return to the farm. In the afternoon, their father, M.Mercier came to look for his second daughter by crawling along ditches shortly before the fighting ended and the prisoners captured at Wormhout were brought here to be executed.

5/8-"The pond at la Plaine au bois"
As they were escaping, Lynn Allen and Bert Evans arrived to this pond and dived into it. An SS arrived, pointed his pistol at the British Captain and in cold blood shot him through the head. He also aimed at Evans who was shot in the neck. He collapsed into the water as if dead.
After several minutes, Evans crawled out of the water and made his way to the Bollengier farm where he arrived in the evening. A doctor gave first aid. He was taken to hospital where his arm was amputated.
In 2005, Bert Evans was still alive and visits the site every year.
The body of the Captain was never found. The pond was cleared and the contents form the foundation on the Belvedere which is now his tomb.

6/8-"The Belvedere"
Inaugrated on 28th May 2004, this commemorative mound was created using material from the original pond and earth excavated to make a second new pond.
From the top there is a panoramic view over the plain and of Mont Cassel - also the scene of fierce defensive fighting from May 27th - 30th.

"In memory of
the soldiers and civilians who died during the second world war in this area of Flanders as victims of the Nazis.
Let us remember
the allied soldiers who were killed or injured during the fighting, the British and French prisoners who were murdered here in 1940, the civilian victims of the towns of Wormhout, Esquelbecq and Ledringham, the members of the Resistance Movement who died in concerntration camps or were shot by firing squad and the population who suffered through 1562 long days of occupation, requisition and privation"

7/8-"The Fort Rose Farm"
Situated at Ledringham, a village which was bravely defended from May 27th - 29th by the 5th Glosters, it was the headquarters of A Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Warwickshires on the morning of May 28th then at the end of the day it fell into the hands of the SS.
The British soldiers were assembled in this farmyard before being marched across the fields to the barn at la Plaine au bois where most of them were murdered.

8/8-"The Bollengier Farm"
In May 1940, this was a French Army Depot, guarded by a soldier, Robert Vanpee, born in nearby Quaedypre.
May 28th 1940, after having rescued Sepp Dietrich, head of The Leibstandarte, the SS occupied the farm and one of the SS perched on a tank was shot.
The Nazis lined up the whole Bollengier against a wall. The soldier Vanpee surrendered and was taken into a field and shot. His body was discovered in the summer 1941 with 35 British soldiers in a common grave near the barn.
He now rests in the British cemetery at Esquelbecq, alongside his comrades of the Warwickshire and Cheshire Regiments and the Royal Artillery.

"In remembrance of those soldiers of The Royal Artillery, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment and The Chesire Regiment who were slain by troops of the SS Leibstandarte in and around a barn which stood on this site on May 28th 1940.
This barn is a faithful recreation of the original building and stands as a monument to the memory of those men who died on that day.
We remember them"

"Forgive, but Never Forget"

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