As part of its overall strategy for the defence of Britain, the government plans a wide programme of coastal fortifications and inland defences. You are part of a task force which must look at the coastal areas between Dunwich and Southwold and decide what needs to be done to prevent a possible invasion by the enemy. You have been asked to focus on Walberswick including the river Blyth. What is the time frame you have to work with? You won't know exactly when an invasion might occur now war has broken out but it could be anytime so you must work to a tight deadline.

  • Announce there will be a conference in May 1940 at which the task force will present its plan for the defence of the Suffolk coast between Dunwich and Southwold concentrating on Walberswick.
  • Brainstorm/Mindmap all the areas you will need to take into account.
  • Groups decide which areas they will concentrate on and research (eg transport, terrain, buildings, local population, weapons, etc)


  1. What are the communication technologies and transport options relevant to Walberswick available to the British Government in 1940?
  2. What sorts of buildings are needed to protect troops protecting the coast? Where would they need to be placed?
  3. What weapons are available in 1940 to protect the country and people from invasion by sea, air and on land? Where would they need to be placed?
  4. How do we prevent the enemy from finding out about and locating our defences from the air and sea in all seasons? What about spies?
  5. How do we manage the local population and keep them safe? How would we evacuate them if necessary? What about the troops we need to bring in - where will they go?
  6. How can we use the terrain (beach, marsh, farmland, high and low points of elevation) and existing buildings around Walberswick to our advantage?
  7. What are the most vulnerable and at risk areas - - where do you think the enemy would choose to invade (terrain, natural obstacles, natural features, manmade features eg roads, bridges, railway, airfields). Don't forget attack from the rear.
  8. If an invasion does occur, how do we make it as difficult as possible for it to be successful? What resources do you have to prevent this invasion or to make an invasion as difficult as possible?
  • Use your maps and the internet (eg GoogleEarth), library and other sources on the website. To present the results of your research you may wish to use models, posters, photographs, Powerpoint presentations, diagrams and maps.
  • Just as you are ready to present your research and make recommendations ...


Background Events 2 - MAY 1940 EMERGENCY!!

  • May 1940 Germany attacks Norway, Denmark, the Low Countries (Belgium, Holland) and France using a new form of warfare - Blitzkrieg or ‘Lightning War'. This means that fast-moving tanks and armoured vehicles supported by paratroopers, artillery and aircraft attack and invade these countries at lightning speed. Germany is victorious and the British Expeditionary Force is forced to evacuate France via Dunkirk leaving most of its equipment behind. Look at maps of Europe again - what does this mean for Britain and for the east coast and Walberswick? One girl who was at school at Walberswick at this time recalls:

"We were expecting an invasion: the Germans were at the ready the other side of the water. I sometimes watched from the top windows of our house out to sea, half expecting to see them coming. We kept a bag packed ready ... " Further Suffolk Memories pp.189-90

  • Now your task is urgent! The class comes together for an emergency meeting -
  1. Think like the enemy: how do you think the enemy could attempt to invade this part of the east coast?
  2. Is there anywhere for planes to land in or near Walberswick? 
  3. When do you think (eg season, month, time of day/night) that an invasion would be most likely? 
  4. If the enemy is successful in invading on the east coast, what will they need to do once they have taken control of Walberswick?
  5. What goals or aims will they have?
  6. How can you make it as difficult as possible for them to achieve these goals?
  7. What other questions do you need to ask?
  • The Government has sent a list and pictures of the following resources you can have available to protect this part of the coast:

  • Emergency Defence Battery of 2 x 6" guns
  • Dragon's Teeth - underwater steel obstacles
  • Barbed wire
  • Infantry of about 120 men with rifles and machine guns
  • Pill Boxes
  • Observation Posts
  • Searchlights
  • Anti-personnel mines - enough for a minefield of about 400 yards
  • Anti-tank cubes
  • 4 Field Artillery Guns
  • Artillery Observation Posts
  • Trenches - communication and firing
  • Bren and Lewis guns for infantry support and anti-aircraft
  • 1 mobile Anti-tank gun - 6" gun mounted on the back of a lorry
  • Camouflage netting


  • Artillery stationed in Walberswick have also been given the following orders:

    To hold the coast on the front allotted to it at all costs against seaborne invasion. The enemy will probably attempt invasion from the sea in co-operation with airborne troops landed behind the forward defences. Tanks will be included in his force. He will probably use gas.

  • Reform your groups and review your plans before the Emergency occurred. It is time to put your plans into action!

Option A

  • On sheets of sugar paper laid out the length of the classroom or hall sketch the shape of the coast with Southwold at the north end and Dunwich at the southern end. Using map keys, the equipment list, pictorial defence cards and other resources each Research Group has developed, ask them in turn to demonstrate how they would use these defences to protect Walberswick from invasion. Indicate positions of natural and man made features around Walberswick using map keys (marsh, windmill, high ground, beach, river, road, bridge, church, etc).
  • Once each group has presented, ask the rest of the class to study and comment on strengths and weaknesses, negatives and positives. Decide finally using their defence plans, whether Walberswick would be able to withstand an invasion.

Option B Introducing the enemy!

  • Consider working with another class or splitting the class in half and asking one half to secretly plan an invasion of the east coast from mainland Europe using the same planning activities and tactics as the defenders.
  • Group B (Enemy) would need to predict how Group A would defend their coastline and make plans accordingly. Plot their invasion on sugar paper maps as above.
  • This would need to be planned in two stages:
  • Invasion 1 - landing and getting control of the beach and village
  • Invasion 2 - moving beyond to begin to attack England as a whole - where would they go next? Need to consider food, drink, fuel, transport.
  • WEATHER in 1940


Bring the two groups/classes together to compare their defences and attacks. If possible invite another member of staff or parent to decide who would have been successful - the invaders or the defenders?


  • Was Britain invaded during the Second World War? What would have happened if Hitler had tried to invade in 1940? Would Britain have been prepared? Go on the virtual tour of Walberswick in 1940 and decide! Did your plan provide better defences for Walberswick than the ones carried out in 1940?