BLOCKS ON THE BEACH

  • In the summer Milly and her family went to Walberswick on the Suffolk coast for a day at the beach. They turned off from the A12, drove through the countryside and then along The Street (Milly thought that was a funny name for the main street!) through the village, past St Andrew's Church on the left to the fork with Lodge Rd, and on by the Anchor Inn. Just before the tearooms and the village green at the junction with Ferry Rd, they turned right onto a gravel track which went across a narrow bridge and into the beach carpark. You can see how they got there by looking at Google Maps!
  • A man came out of a small hut to take money for the parking and directed them to the end of the carpark near the black beach huts. Although it had rained earlier, it was sunny and warm and they were all very excited about a day at the beach! Milly's father parked the car next to some giant concrete blocks lined up around the car park. Each block was spotted with yellow-orange lichen and several had their corners broken off and lots of cracks on their surfaces.
  • "Are they to stop cars going onto the beach?" Milly asked.
  • "Maybe now they are", answered her father, "but I think they were something to do with the war.
  • "The war? Which war?" Milly asked, puzzled. Surely a village like Walberswick was too small and unimportant to be affected by a war. 
  • "Oh Milly, always asking questions! The First or the Second World War, I'm not sure which," said her father. 
  • "I'm surprised they haven't been moved," said her mother. "After all, they are not exactly beautiful - in fact the beach would look a lot better without them."
  • "I suppose the blocks are useful for keeping cars off but they are ugly!" her father agreed.
  • As they walked over the pebbles and found a place to put their towels and bags, Milly looked out over the sea, often grey or brown but very blue today. She thought about what it would mean to have a war being fought here. She couldn't imagine why anyone would fight over such a small out-of-the way place - wars were fought overseas and in cities weren't they? She wanted to know more!
  • Milly looked around for some information but couldn't see any. Later when they went to the tearooms for ice creams, she asked the lady who served them about the blocks and she said that they were from the Second World War to stop the tanks and that there were other remains of the war scattered about the village and the coast. Milly was surprised. Were there tanks in Walberswick? She thought the war had happened in Europe! She had learnt at school that London and other cities had been bombed and she'd heard about Dunkirk and D-Day but none of that had anything to do with Walberswick! Did it? 
  • Milly decided to take a photo of the blocks so she could show someone who might know more about why the blocks were on the beach and what happened in Walberswick during the Second World War.

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  • After a short swim in the sea (it was quite cold!) she asked her father if he would walk with her to look for the other remains. Some were very hard to find!


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  • This building was hidden under brambles and this was the best photograph Milly could get. But another one up high next to the footpath was easy to see:


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  • In fact Milly and her father were able to go right inside! There were some steps down and a doorway.

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  • Inside was quite exciting! Her father lifted her up so she could see out.


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  • When she got home Milly decided to see what else she could find out. She made a list of questions:
  1. Who put the blocks on Walberswick beach and why?
  2. Why were the other structures built and who used them?
  3. How did the war come to Walberswick?
  4. What was it like to be living here then? Were people afraid?
  • What other questions could Milly have included on her list? What else would you like to find out?
  • How do you think Milly could find out about the war in Walberswick?
  • What places could help her find answers to her questions?
  • Who could she ask? Could she ask someone in her family? Who would have been alive then? (World War 2 started in September 1939 and ended in 1945. Milly thought about how long ago that was.)
  • How long ago was it? (She was 10 now. Someone who was her age in 1939 would have been born in 1929.)
  • So how old would they be now? (Her father was 28 when she was born in 1999. So her father was born in 1971, her grandfather in 1946 and her great-grandfather in 1919. That makes 4 generations! If he was still alive, her great-grandfather might have been able to answer some of her questions but he had died a few years ago. And her grandfather hadn't been born until the war was over. Her mother's family did not come to Britain until a long time after the war so they couldn't help.)
  • See if you can find out whether someone in your family might be able to remember what it was like to be in Britain during the war.
  • Where should she look next?

Don't mention the war?

  • Milly looked at the google map again and there was a link called Visit Walberswick so she clicked on it http://www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/tourism?gclid=CLKTxqaTl50CFaAA4wodbHmy1w
  • There were guides to Felixstowe and Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Framlingham but there was no guide to Walberswick. Instead she found a website about Walberswick http://www.walberswick.ws/ but there was no mention about a war or remains. She did find out from the map that there used to be a railway to Walberswick and a station but it stopped running in 1929. She got excited when she saw that there were some photos and postcards on the site but nowhere was there any pictures of the blocks on the beach or any other remains and no mention of the war! This was very curious, Milly thought. Had there been a war in Walberswick?
  • ➢ What other internet search terms should Milly use to narrow her search?
  • When Milly added WW2 to her Walberswick search term she finally found what she was looking for - this website!