Archive for October, 2014


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Roadblock buoys taken from small road bridge above.

I first heard about these odd conical shaped things when I discovered the rather excellent if equally nerdy website http://www.pillbox.org.uk/index.asp. A military enthusiasts delight that even has a fetching photo of my motor in one of the pictures although that isn’t the subject matter course. I was determined to locate these strange objects which after a good chat with some friends came up trumps about a mile or so from where I live.

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Close up shot of roadblock buoys

Each buoy has a hole drilled out of the centre to allow a crowbar to be inserted to help the Home Guard etc carry them to their destination. The purpose obviously to block a road and disrupt enemy vehicular and tank movement. They tended to be placed at key strategic points which I imagine would also have been defended, thus allowing the defenders the chance to bring to a halt an advance or at least slow down the arrival of fast moving armour etc. The really interesting part is that a roadblock at that time should Codeword Cromwell (German Invasion of the British Isles) occur would comprise some 20-40 buoys (or the latter type cylinders) blocking the route.  This stream is home to over 125 of various sizes of the blighters. Now they could have all been rounded up and dumped at the end of the war or when the threat of invasion had subsided if no one wanted them or had any use for them but I think there might be more to it than that. It just so happens that these abandoned buoys are very near the line of the old railway now long gone (thanks to evil Doctor Beeching) between Eridge and Rotherfield. Just a couple of hundred yards away is the spot where the line crossed the road where I guess a level crossing would have been in place. Perfect for blocking both railway line and road if you ask me.

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The train line bank running along the tree line, just to the left out of shot the road crosses the old line, just to the right also out of shot is the stream where the buoys are located.

The railway line was colloquially known at the time as The Cuckoo Line thanks to a tradition at the annual fair at Heathfield station where a cuckoo was released to herald the ‘first cuckoo of spring’. Beginning at Polegate outside Eastbourne on the coast and running up to Tunbridge Wells where a change would take you all the way to London the strategic importance of the line is clear.  The British must also have thought so as the veritable plethora of pillboxes along most Sussex train lines defunct and still in use bear witness.

If anyone else has any views I’d like to hear them.

 


A change of venue in France this time saw the Rouen-les-Essarts circuit welcome the F1 championship for the first time (ed Atlanta board used owing to lack of an existing official formula de board) instead of Rheims. Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari) returned after injury although Alberto Ascari (Ferrari) and Stirling Moss (ERA) were absent. Their places once more occupied by 2 privateer entrants, Thailand’s Prince B Bira, and Brazil’s first Gino Bianco both in Maserati’s. Qualifying was uneventful.

Lap 1 - the field begins to spread out as Farina and Behra pull away

Lap 1 – the field begins to spread out as Farina and Behra pull away

LAP 1 – At the start, Taruffi (Ferrari) collided with Brandon (Cooper privateer) eliminating the pair before crossing the start line, while Ken Wharton’s Frazer-Nash stalled although he managed to pull away quickly afterwards. Collins also retired almost immediately after hitting the leaders but only damaging his own car. Gino Bianco’s (Maserati privateer) race also came to a premature end when his suspension gave way going into the first corner. He was closely followed by Claes’ Gordini whose suspension collapsed driving over debris after clipping the slow moving Frazer-Nash of Wharton. Other 1st lap retirees were Manzon(Gordini) collision with Frere (HWM), Bonetto (Maserati) suspension and Trintignant (Gordini) tyres.  Meanwhile Farina (Ferrari) used the advantage of his superior horsepower to open up a lead at the 3rd corner with only Behra (Gordini) keeping him in sight. Not to be outdone, Championship leader Fischer in his privately entered Ferrari began to close as Farina made a mistake at the last corner.  Behra claimed the bonus point passing Farina before the line and Fischer moving up to 6th gear in the final corner made the race for the lead a 3-way battle at the end of the lap.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Jean Behra (Gordini), 2nd – Giuseppe Farina (Ferrari), 3rd – Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer), 4th – Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari), 5th – Eric Thompson (Connaught)

LAP 2 The leading 3 cars continued to jockey for position until mistakes another mistake from & Farina saw him fall slightly off the pace. Further back Hawthorn (Cooper privateer) made steady progress while B Bira (Maserati privateer) looked impressive until he spun on the last corner forcing him to pit for fresh tyres. Eric Thompson lost control of his Connaught on the last corner as well and suffered a serious back injury as his car somersaulted down the home straight. Although the injury is not life threatening he will play no further part in this season’s championship. Villoresi (Ferrari) in his best race to date held onto 4th without the need to pit at the end of the lap passing a host of British marques fitting new tyres.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – 1st – Behra (Gordini), 2nd – Fischer (Ferrari privateer), 3rd – Farina (Ferrari), 4th – Villoresi (Ferrari), 5th Lance Macklin (HWM)

LAP 3 – At the first chicane, Fischer entered too fast and was forced to brake heavily allowing Behra ahead (who had also made a few nervous errors at the start of the lap) to open a handy lead and Farina who had been dropped by the leading 2 to close up and ultimately pass Fischer. In Behra’s mirrors the Ferrari of Farina began to close and the home French fans must have dreaded the worst as Behra became more and more cautious as the lap went on. Fortunately for both, Farina could not maintain his momentum  in the final 2 corners and Behra crossed the line first to rapturous applause, Farina taking second. The last podium place was claimed by a resurgent Luigi Villoresi who passed the lack lustre Fischer. The final points paying place was fought over by the surviving British teams with Lance Macklin’s HWM picking up the points in the end, Hawthorn the bridesmaid again in his privately entered Cooper finishing 6th for the 3rd race in succession.  The drivers championship is now firmly a 3 horse race although with the return of World Champion Ascari expected in the next race, the top three might not have it all their own way.  For Ferrari, they now appear to have a more serious manufacturer challenge in Gordini who has spent so long in Talbots shadow. But for the British teams it was still a case of development and fighting over occasional scraps left by the aforementioned heavy weights.    

RESULT

1st – Jean Behra (FRA) Gordini – 8 points +1 bonus point for 1st Lap Leader   

2nd – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Ferrari – 6 points 

3rd – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 4 points 

4th –  Rudi Fischer (SWI) Ferrari privateer – 3 points 

5th –  Lance Macklin (GB) HWM – 2 points

Championship placings after 3 races

1st – Fischer (SWI) Ferrari privateer – 20 points (2 wins)

2nd – Farina (IT) Ferrari – 18 points (0 wins)

3rd – Behra (FRA) Gordini – 15 points (1 win)

NEXT – Race #4 – GREAT BRITAIN – Silverstone & the return of Alberto Ascari