Site Name: Sarre (Kent) - South East Army Command Brigade Headquarters
Sub Brit site visit January 1998
[Source: Nick Catford]
In late 1940 a network of underground battle headquarters was established by South East Army Command with tunnels excavated at Tunbridge Wells, Canterbury and Reigate.
Photo:One of the three access stairways
Photo by Nick Catford
Two of the stairways lead directly into the main spine corridor. This
is brick lined for most of its length but the western end is unlined
with rotting timber pit props; this section appears to be unfinished.
There are two brick lined rooms on either side of the corridor with
a third room at the eastern end. Two of these rooms still retain lettering
on the brick work, one is labeled 'Sigs' indicating that it was a signals
room and the other is labeled 'Clerks Int Sec'. Four of the rooms have
small rectangular alcoves set into the walls. One of the rooms has three
metal pipes protruding from the ceiling, these carried cables to the
surface. There is a fourth cable duct in the corridor.
Photo:Looking east along the spine corridor. Note 'Clerks Int Sec' painted on the brickwork
Photo by Nick Catford
The third stairway leads to a 35 metre long tunnel supported with inverted steel hoops and lined with corrugated steel sheets, similar to the many coast battery deep shelters found along the Kent Coast.
The floor is littered with rubble from minor roof falls
but the brick lined sections of the tunnels are generally in good condition
although timber door frames are rotting or have gone altogether.
Survey by Andy Miles
Redrawn by Paul Wells
After the war, the three entrances were bricked up but when visited in 1998 access to the eastern stairway was possible as the corrugated steel lining that protruded some distance out from the quarry face had largely rotted away. The other two stairways had been backfilled with rubble. Since that date the three entrance tunnels have been bulldozed and all evidence of their position has now been lost.
Five Nissen huts and several other hut bases can still be seen on the quarry floor but these may be the domestic camp for a heavy anti-aircraft gun battery located nearby.
Similar underground Battle Headquarters have been identified in Sussex, Devon, Cheshire, Cambridgeshire, and Powys