Blast from the past is unearthed at naval museum

Phil Hazell next to one of the two pillboxes.

Phil Hazell next to one of the two pillboxes.

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TWO relics of the Second World War have been uncovered by staff at a naval museum.

The pillboxes, which were abandoned 65 years ago and covered in 8ft of brambles and ivy, were discovered in the ramparts of Explosion! in Priddy’s Hard, Gosport.

Museum staff cut back the decades of overgrowth to find the two structures in pristine condition.

They were built during the Second World War by the home guard who protected the munitions site.

It is hoped the pillboxes will be opened for public viewing later this year.

Phil Hazell, 46, assistant manager at the museum, said: ‘Once we cut back the gorse they looked like they had been built yesterday.

‘We think the mud and everything has preserved them. We expected to find it really wet and falling apart but it’s bone dry on the inside.

‘It’s unusual to find one in such good condition.

‘Most in this country have been knocked flat over the years.’

The pillboxes have a foot of concrete as their roof and were manned by civilians during German air raids to protect against invasion of the site, which was a key provider of munitions and heavy guns for the war effort.

A total of 227 men defended Priddy’s Hard during the war. But they were not your typical ‘Dad’s Army’, Mr Hazell said.

‘Because of what they were defending, they really were the crème de la crème of the home guard – they had access to the best kit.’

He added: ‘This would have been a very difficult site to take if the Germans had invaded.

‘But it would have been a real coup for them if they had taken it.

‘You think of the Home Guard as the Dad’s Army but these guys were seriously well trained and well drilled.

‘They wore their uniforms with pride and considered themselves as part of the army and they could fire anti-aircraft and machine guns.’

The Priddy’s Hard site dates back to the 1750s and was the main naval munitions depot for the country until it was wound down by the MoD in the 1960s.

At its peak, 4,000 people worked there. Around 2,500 women manufactured munitions there in the war.

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