The Defence of Walberswick, 1940

Here you will find a brief account of how Walberswick was defended and what fortifications were put in place. This will be followed by information on the kinds of features put in place to defend Walberswick.

Walberswick was deemed vulnerable to a German attack because its small harbour could be used to unload men and supplies. It also had a beach suitable for landing armoured vehicles. From May 1940 great efforts were made to put Walberswick into a state of defence, part of a wider scheme across Britain to create a 'coastal crust' of fortifications. The defences were complex and were made up of a number of different elements. The kinds of defences are listed below. Click on the links below for more information about each element of the defences and see where each one was located via an interactive map.

  • In order to provide harbour defences, the mouth of the Blyth was blocked with two wooden trawlers and later a large wire net. This was to guard against a German attempt to bring ships into the port.
  • An Emergency Coastal Defence Battery was established just to the north of Walberswick, with two six inch guns that could fire on approaching German ships. As a last resort, these guns could also fire on any German vehicles that landed on the beach.
  • The first line of defence on the beach was a row of Dragon's Teeth: metal spikes set in concrete placed below the high water line that were intended to rip the bottom out of any landing craft or barge attempting to land.
  • A minefield with anti personnel mines was also laid on the beach.
  • To disrupt the movement of enemy infantry, much of the beach was covered with barbed wire.
  • To stop movement of vehicles there were anti-tank cubes - large concrete blocks placed in lines to prevent tanks from moving inland and up and down the beach.
  • The mainstay of Walberswick's defence were the infantry, who would have subjected any German soldiers to rife and machine gun as they tried to negotiate the beach obstacles. Walberswick was defended by a company of infantrymen (about 120 men) from the 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment, who had built trenches that overlooked the beach and open areas around the port. Their section positions were provided with concrete pillboxes, small fortified outposts that offered protection for the defenders.
  • The men of the 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment were armed with a variety of weapons and vehicles.
  • In support of the infantry, there were several field artillery guns placed inland from the coast whose fire could be directed onto the beach. In order to facilitate this, concrete artillery observation posts were placed with the infantry positions so that a forward observer could identify targets for the guns.
  • A road block was established in Walberswick to prevent enemy vehicles moving inland.
  • Finally, the defenders could also call upon the support of a mobile anti-tank gun, which comprised a six-inch gun mounted on the back of a lorry.