hamble pillbox bunker

Type 26 Pillbox on Satchell Lane, Hamble

During the Second World War, Hamble was home to an airfield as well as a Spitfire repair facility. The village is also on Southampton Water, which would have been a possible approach from any invading enemy.

The village is rich in WW2 history; for example there’s the two XDO posts on the beach as well as the Bofors gun position on the coastline too. There’s also this pillbox bunker on Satchell Lane in Hamble, not too far from Southampton.

bunker Satchell Lane hamble
The pillbox bunker on Satchell Lane in Hamble is covered in heavy foliage.

Often when people take photos of pillboxes and fortifications, they don’t really think about why the structure is there. However, it’s important to always consider the position of a pillbox as it gives you so much more insight into history.

hamble ww2 pillbox
One of the pillbox’s embrasure – the design here is to protect against incoming bullet ricochets.

This pillbox in Hamble is a classic example. It’s just on a quiet country lane, so what purpose does it serve or what is it protecting? The clue is in what used to be here: an airfield.

pillbox door
This still from video footage shows the entrance to the pillbox.

Satchell Lane surrounds the site where the WW2 Hamble Airfield was during the war, so this pillbox would have given a great vantage point should any enemy use this road. The risk could have been the enemy using the airfield to land at, or coming from the River Hamble, and using the road to get to the airfield.

pillbox embrasure view
The pillbox on Satchell Lane offers a defensive position for Hamble’s WW2 airfield.

When you consider the position, it now makes more sense. The pillbox was there to protect the airfield, or to slow the enemy should they have landed at the airfield.

The one here in Satchell Lane appears to be a Type 26 pillbox. It’s on a bank overlooking a field next to Hamble Airfield, and includes a T-shaped blast wall, with 9 corbels on each embrasure. The pillbox measures 11ft 8ins x 5ft 8ins with a concrete roof.

Satchell Lane bunker in hamble
There is a degree of debris and loose brickwork around the pillbox.

This is probably the most common pillbox type found in the UK.

I visited with my son, and we didn’t enter the pillbox on Satchell Lane as I believe it’s been fitted inside as a bat sanctuary by the Itchen Hamble Countryside Project. Either way, the entrance is very hard to access with debris blocking the entrance.

blocked embrasure
One of the embrasures appears to have been blocked with concrete.

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