Infantry

  • The defence of Walberswick primarily lay with the infantry. In 1940 men from the 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment were charged with defending the village and surrounding area. The regiment was part of a larger formation, 164 Infantry Brigade, itself part of 55th Division, in turn part of 11 Corps. Documents from all of these formations shed light on the defence of Walberswick and the surrounding area.
  • The 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment were a Territorial battalion (in this case, the terms Regiment and Battalion are interchangeable) that chiefly recruited from Warrington and St Helens. In April 1940 the battalion formed part of Eastern Command and from the middle of May the Battalion boundary covered a distance of nearly of nine miles. When Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, they were allocated a shorter section of coastline to defend.
  • The battalion had a paper strength of 800 men and was divided up into five Companies, one Headquarters (HQ) Company and four Rifle Companies. Walberswick was defended by one of these Rifle Companies: 'C' Company of the Battalion. The company, consisting of about 120 officers and men, was divided into three platoons and a Headquarters based at a requisitioned house in the village, 'The Towers'. 
  • Platoons of about 36 men, commanded by a subaltern were in turn divided into three sections and a HQ.  The latter would have held the platoon's Boys anti-tank rifle and 2 inch mortar. In command of each section would have been a corporal or a lance corporal who were probably armed with a Thompson submachine gun. 
  • The remainder of the section would have been made up of seven riflemen armed with the standard Lee-Enfield rifle, together with two men to fire the Bren light machine gun. The battalion had limited mobility, but did have the benefit of a small number of Bren Gun Carriers.
  • The sections were strung out in a line along the coast at Walberswick, separated from each other; very much a linear, 'thin red line' form of defence. Their basic protection was a Section Trench often combined, particularly at Walberswick, with a Pillbox.

Battalion Chart

Chart showing the organisation of the 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment. The battalion followed the standard British army organisation for 1940. During 1940 the battalion suffered from a lack of equipment and, as a Territorial Battalion only recently embodied, contained many men newly arrived from training depots with limited experience. Click Here to view a larger version of this image

Headquarters

C Company Headquarters, 'The Towers' in Walberswick. Now private dwellings.

C Company

Photograph of 'C' Company 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment taken in 1941. Although there would have been changes in personnel since the previous summer, a substantial proportion of these men built and manned the defences in and around Walberswick in 1940. (Copyright Museum of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment)

C Company

Photograph of 1940 showing the company command of C Company. The Company Commander, Major Hadfield MC, is seated in the centre with the Company's senior soldier, Company Sergeant Major Goodier to his left. The officers in command of C Company's three platoons are standing behind. The two men on the left of the photograph are from the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), later the Home Guard. This photograph is valuable evidence for the suggestion that the LDV and army troops responsible for coastal defence had some kind of co-operative role. (Copyright Museum of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment)