A View of the Defences at Sizewell

Michael Radford, Bury St Edmunds

I lived in Leiston until my father was called up in about 1941, then my mother and I went to West Suffolk for the rest of the war. Before we went my father must have taken me to Sizewell to see the beach fortifications, as I recall some of the elements of defence along the beach. It must be remembered that I was only about five years old, so the detail may not be correct!

As far as I remember the [Dragon's] teeth were the first line of defence, large lengths of flanged structural steel cut off at an angle, set in concrete slabs probably cast at low tide and pointing at 45 degrees out to sea in order to rip the bottoms out of landing barges. There may also have been a band of mines, but the real memory is of a long line of builder's scaffolding structure stretching towards Dunwich.

To the best of my recollection it consisted of upright poles in a line along the beach set in the surf line. Each of these were braced from the rear by another pole at about forty five degrees towards the sea and fixed near the top of each pole by a clamp. I believe that there was also a horizontal member at the base to form a triangle, and these were repeated at a few feet apart along the beach, with horizontal stabiliser poles parallel to the sea fixing the whole lot together to form a structure, probably with cross braces. It was a maze of tubes. I doubt whether it would have stopped anything but light vehicles and got in the way of infantry.

There was a lot of barbed wire too on curly poles and I understood that the fishermen had a path which they followed through the mines so that they could continue to fish.

We returned to Leiston after the hostilities and at that time the remnants were still on the beach, the odd dragon's tooth with a jagged irregular concrete base, and the anti tank blocks, some of which were there on my last visit, as they are at Walberswick. Remnants of the rusty scaffold poles and many of the clamps continued to emerge from the shingle beach for a long time afterwards.