World War 1 & World War 2 Bunkers & Underground Structures

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A bunker is a defensive military fortification. Bunkers are mostly below ground, compared to blockhouses which are mostly above ground. They were used extensively in World War I and World War II. During the Cold War, massive bunker complexes were built to house both strategic (command & control) infrastructure as well as government personnel and stores for the event of a nuclear war. During that time, bunkers became a part of American culture with people building backyard fallout shelters, though these were not intended to protect against direct attacks as bunkers normally would.

Trench Bunkers

Another type of bunker or blockhouse is a small concrete box, partly dug into the ground, which is usually a part of a trench system. Such bunkers give the defending soldiers better protection than the open trench and also include top protection against aerial attack (grenades, mortar shells). The front bunker of a trench system usually includes machine guns or mortars and forms a dominant shooting post. The rear bunkers are usually used as command posts or Tactical Operations Center (TOC), for storage and as field hospitals to attend to wounded soldiers.

Many mines in France were transformed into bunkers by both the Germans and the French in World War I and World War II.

Dug-in guard posts (with loopholes for firing through) and made from concrete are also known as 'pillboxes'. The originally jocular name arose from their perceived similarity to the cylindrical boxes in which medicinal pills were once sold. They are in effect a trench firing step hardened to protect against small-arms fire and grenades and raised a little to improve the field of fire.

Pillboxes

Their use seems to have developed during the period of the First World War when defence in depth using the Machine Gun Corps was being perfected. However, most of those seen in Britain, having been left over from the 1940 invasion scare, are designed for use by riflemen rather than for machine gunners. The concrete nature of pillboxes means that they are a feature of prepared positions and their original use is likely to have been in the Hindenburg Line. This is likely to have been the time when they acquired their incongruous English name. The Oxford English Dictionary's earliest record of the use of the word pillbox in connection with a defensive post is from 13 September 1917, after the German withdrawal onto the Hindenburg Line.

Pillboxes are often camouflaged in order to conceal their location and to maximize the element of surprise. They may be part of a trench system, form an interlocking line of defence with other pillboxes by providing covering fire to each other (defence in depth), or they may be placed to guard strategic structures such as bridges and jetties.

Visits to Bunkers & Underground Structures

Guernsey German Underground Hospital

Useful Links

A web site dedicated to the study of Pillboxes in the UK

The WWII bunkers Flickr Group

See Also

Famous Treasures Lost & Found
Famous Treasure Finds in the United Kingdom
Famous Treasure Wrecks, Spanish Galleons
Pirate Treasure - Hidden Plunder
Treasure Maps, Codes & Ciphers
Lost Gold & Silver Mines, Caves & Tunnels
Nazi Gold - The Spoils of War
The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau
Lost Biblical Treasures
The Treasure Hunters
Digging For Relics of War
Danger!!! - A Serious Warning!!!
Digging For Battlefield Relics
Visits to Famous Battle Sites
My Military Metal Detecting Finds
Battlefield Digging Links
Gold Panning
Back Garden Gold Panning
Gold Panning & Prospecting in the UK
Gold Panning & Prospecting In Europe
Gold Panning & Prospecting Equipment
Scuba Diving
Training & Equipment
Treasure Hunting Underwater
Wreck Diving Around The UK
Underwater Archaeology
Underwater Treasure Hunting Links
Collecting Coins & Artefacts
Coin Collecting - Numismatics
Collecting Artefacts & Antiquities
Cleaning and Photographing Coins and Artefacts
Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries - Dangers In Coin and Artefact Collecting