Wroxham & Coltishall

I ‘fort’ it was here somewhere

Just Regional
Jun 28, 2013 2 mins read

A second world war secret has been uncovered at RAF Coltishall.

A Pickett Hamilton fort, which has not been seen since the war, was found 10 days ago under grass near the main Cold War runway. It is one of three known to have been built on the airfield.

Another discovery has been a pen for a Hurricane or Spitfire fighter planes, brought back to life after vegetation was cut back by the Council’s Norfolk Monument Management Project.

Pickett Hamilton forts were effectively disappearing pillboxes set into the landing ground surface, which could be raised via hydraulics to surprise the enemy.

The newly-discovered fort at Coltishall is currently full of water but David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager at Norfolk County Council, is hopeful it can be pumped out and perhaps brought back to working order.

And Paul Francis, chairman of the Airfield Research Group, said: “We were thrilled to have made so many discoveries in recent weeks. It reinforces just how much history there is associated with the former base.”

The fighter pen is rare because of how it was built – made from bags of concrete.  Twelve fighter pens were originally on the former base but only two have survived.  George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The fighter pen is one of the most important heritage features on the site and we wanted to take action at an early stage to make sure that this is properly cared for.”
On his visit to the base today, Mr Nobbs also laid a wreath at a cemetery near the site at the grave of famous movie maker Otto Walter Kanturek.
In 1941, Hollywood film maker Mr Kanturek was getting footage of Hurricane planes over RAF Coltishall for a movie called A Yank in the RAF, but the camera plane he was in collided with one of the Hurricanes. The wreath was laid 72 years after Mr Kanturak died.

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