British coastal defences prepare for invasion

The crew of a coastal gun emplacement 'somewhere in England' prepare for action.

All along the coast of Britain defence emplacements and fortifications were being rapidly established. The overall strategy was that any invasion force would be severely disrupted, hopefully destroyed, by the Royal Navy. The main British Land forces would be held inland and directed to the landing points when they became known.

This still called for a relatively thin crust of defensive positions on the coast itself, ready to disrupt any initial landings and contain them until re-inforced:

‘We can and must … inflict as heavy casualties as possible on the enemy and disorganise him during the actual landing. Our second and more important task is to prevent him exploiting an initial landing success by blocking all main approaches until such time as Tps [troops] from the mobile Division can arrive in the area and effectively deal with the enemy’

163 Infantry Brigade Operating Instructions:
TNA WO 166/1036

The 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment were based at Walberswick in Suffolk, facing potential invasion forces from the North Sea. The 450-500 men in this former Territorial Army unit were responsible for seven miles of coast line to a depth of 6 miles. By the end of June they felt that they were reasonably well prepared:

Bulcamp June 30th

The Battalion, as a result of a really hard month’s work in which every man has played his part is now fully prepared for any eventuality. We can assure any prospective visitors, whether they are coming to protect us or not, of a warm welcome. All forward companies have completed very good defensive positions. In the interior there is plenty of room and the men are very comfortable when they have to sleep at their posts. On the exterior there is a diversity of camouflage varying from rubbish heaps to innocent looking fishing huts. Along the beach both at Dunwich and Southwold, also Walberswick, there is an imposing array of concrete anti-tank obstacles, which in some places pass right in front of the section post.

All personelle have fired their rifle and L.M.G. courses and each company in turn fired at toy balloons by way of A.A. practice. Several balloons were shot down. D. Company with four were the top scorers. As many men as there were ammunition for fired the Anti-Tank rifle. They found it to be far less frightening than they had expected. It has now been found possible to allow one platoon of each company to go out training locally each day.

2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment War Diary
TNA WO 166/4680

For much more on the coastal defences of Britain at this time, including animated reconstructions, see WALBERSWICK.

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