The Defence of Suffolk, 1940

Here you will find information on how Suffolk (and Walberswick) was defended during the early years of the Second World War, the much wider programme of fortifications, the Suffolk Stop Lines.

 

Defending Suffolk, 1940

  • Walberswick lay within a 90-mile stretch of coastline from Southend to Lowestoft where landings by German forces were thought possible. 
  • Of the four harbours in this area, Harwich and Lowestoft, with their extensive facilities, were considered the most likely objectives for German invasion, but Southend and Walberswick were also deemed to be priority targets.

Priority Targets

Map of the East Coast showing harbours thought to be likely targets for capture in the event of a German invasion.


  • German military activity also heightened the perception that operations might be directed against the Walberswick area. 
  • The laying of mines off the coast in places such as Orford, that were unsuitable areas for landings, but their absence from the beaches from Sizewell to Lowestoft was cited as possible evidence for German intentions.
  • The flat hinterland across much of this part of coastal Suffolk was also felt to be vulnerable. 
  • At Walberswick, the large expanses of heath to the west of the village almost seemed to invite use as a drop zone for paratroopers intent on seizing the port and the muted, flat, terrain was judged by British commanders to be excellent tank country.
  • In early June it was established that tanks could be landed without difficulty on large stretches of Suffolk's beaches and so it is little wonder that officers reconnoitring likely places for a German invasion rated the area 'a very dangerous locality'.

General View of the landscape inland from Walberswick

General view of the landscape inland from Walberswick. This muted landscape was though to be good tank country and also provide landing grounds for paratroopers - the small bracken-covered mounds in the distance mark the line of an anti-landing ditch constructed in 1941.