Teachers' Notes

The activities in this section are based on developing Key Skills and Thinking Skills - knowing ‘how' as well as knowing ‘what' - embedded in the National Curriculum.

  • Information-processing - pupils locate and collect relevant information, sort, classify, sequence, compare and contrast, and analyse part/whole relationships.
  • Reasoning - pupils give reasons for opinions and actions, draw inferences and make deductions, use precise language to explain what they think, and make judgements and decisions informed by reasons or evidence.
  • Enquiry - pupils ask relevant questions, pose and define problems, plan what to do and how to research, predict outcomes and anticipate consequences, and test conclusions and improve ideas.
  • Creative thinking - pupils generate and extend ideas, suggest hypotheses, apply imagination, and look for alternative innovative outcomes.
  • Evaluation - pupils evaluate information, judge the value of what they read, hear and do, develop criteria for judging the value of their own and others' work or ideas, and have confidence in their judgements.


  • The introduction focuses on what the students already know about the war and introduces the notion of invasion, past and present. Using maps, atlases, google earth and googlemaps, sources and resources on the website and the internet students connect the local area and East Anglia to events in Europe and understand why, because of its geography, East Anglia was vulnerable especially after May 1940.
  • The main task requires the class in groups to become part of the task force planning the defence of the coast, in particular Walberswick, in late 1939 - early 1940. This is a research task - possible group topics are suggested but the teacher may wish to set their own or have the students determine the priority research areas. They can base their research on the historic photographs, maps and sources in the learning section of the website as well as on book and internet-based material. They are to present their plan at a Coastal Defence Task Force Conference scheduled for May 1940 (before Blitzkrieg!) The presentations may include Powerpoint, 3D models, posters, diagrams, maps and charts etc. Teachers will best know how long to allocate for this research phase. Just as they are ready to complete their research and present their plans, announce the Emergency occasioned by Blitzkrieg and the evacuation of Dunkirk May 1940.
  • Students look at the maps again and decide what this means for East Anglia. Their task becomes urgent!
  • There are picture cards on the site of defence structures and resources they can use to defend the coast:
    •  Emergency Defence Battery of 2 x 6" guns
    •  Dragon's Teeth - underwater steel obstacles
    •  Barbed wire - double apron and concertina static defences
    •  Infantry of about 120 men with rifles and machine guns
    •  Pill Boxes
    •  Observation Posts
    •  Anti-personnel mines - enough for a minefield of about 400 yards
    •  Anti-tank cubes
    •  4 Field Artillery Guns
    •  Artillery Observation Posts
    •  Searchlights
    •  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
  • Tell them that the orders are for the troops to hold the coast at all costs against invasion - there will be no falling back or retreat. This makes the success of their defence plans all the more important.
  • In order for the students to better visualise the coastline they are defending, it is suggested that a roll of sugar paper be laid out in the hall, classroom or corridor or other open space and a sketch of the coastline from Southwold (north) to Dunwich (south) be made using thick black pen.
  • There are two options for this stage of the activity. In Option A students in groups then present their defence plans, positioning the picture cards on the sketch map and adding models, their own pictures and keys wherever appropriate. As each group demonstrates their plans, ask the other groups to note down strengths and weaknesses, positives and negatives of the plan. Complete this with a whole class discussion of these and suggested improvements and alterations.
  • Decide finally using their defence plans, whether Walberswick would be able to withstand an invasion.
  • In Option B Introducing the enemy! you could work with another class or split the class in half and ask 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:
  1. Invasion 1 - landing and getting control of the beach and village
  2. Invasion 2 - moving beyond to begin to attack England as a whole - where would they go next? They would need to consider food, drink, fuel, transport.
  • 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?
  • Finally the plenary could be in the form of a class discussion of what might have happened if Britain had been invaded in 1940 or later. The class could debate whether Britain would have been able to withstand an invasion or not based on what they have learnt. They can take a virtual tour of the Walberswick defences in 1940 and decide.




The Learning Curve
Home Front Heroes (resources from Suffolk Record Office for local impact of WW2 for KS2)
and also pack sent to schools
History Learning Site

Resources on the website:
Maps and photographs
Defence Cards
Timeline 1939-1941
Minute Book, Walberswick School 1939-1941
Log Book, Walberswick School 1939-1941
War Diary 2/4th Battalion The South Lancashire Regiment May 1940
Memories of Walberswick people during World War 2
2/4 South Lancashire Regiment Home Defence Scheme East Anglia April 1940
War Diary 558 Field Company Royal Engineers November 1940

Suffolk's Defended Shore - Coastal Fortifications from the Air by Cain Hegarty and Sarah Newsome, English Heritage, Swindon 2007
East Anglia at War 1939-1945 by Derek E. Johnson, Jarrold Publishing, Norwich 1994