After the coastal defences, the GHQ Line was the longest and most important, designed to protect London and the industrial heart of Britain, and was considered to be the last chance of defence. The War Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff Committee were not content to sit and wait for the Germans to make the first move; considerable efforts were to attack, by air and sea, the enemy shipping which had been assembled in occupied ports between The Hague and Cherbourg, starting in July 1940. As planning was underway for the WWII Allied invasion of Normandy, a means to supply fuel was addressed. In April 1943, the waterlogged corpse of a British Royal Marine was found floating off the coast of Spain. More immediately available were ten destroyers at the south coast ports of Dover and Portsmouth, a cruiser and three destroyers at Sheerness on the River Thames, three cruisers and seven destroyers at the Humber, nine destroyers at Harwich, and two cruisers at Rosyth. On the section of the line in Essex, between Great Chesterford and Canvey Island, the defences were made up of around 400 FW3 type concrete pillboxes, which were part of the British hardened field defences of World War II. Many of the road-blocks formed by Ironside were semi-permanent. In the Firth of Forth in east central Scotland, Inchgarvie was heavily fortified with several gun emplacements, which can still be seen. On 1 July 1940, one cruiser and 23 destroyers were committed to escort duties in the Western Approaches, plus 12 destroyers and one cruiser on the Tyne and the aircraft carrier Argus (I49). Jared King, Civitanova, Italy. I n 1940 a network of defences was hastily built all over the British Isles to prevent an anticipated German invasion. Rating. Rather than attempting to ignite oil floating on water, nozzles were placed above high-water mark with pumps producing sufficient pressure to spray fuel, which produced a roaring wall of flame over, rather than on, the water. 2020-08-28T15:09:22Z In a period known as the Phoney War, soldiers on both sides trained for war and the French and British constructed and manned defences on the eastern borders of France. [60][61] The second type comprised railway lines or RSJs bent or welded at around a 60° angle, known as hairpins. They were not, therefore, intended to operate as a long term resistance organisation. [138] Some notable operations are shown below: Between 15 July and 21 September, German sources stated that 21 transport vessels and 214 barges had been damaged by British air raids. The remnants of gun emplacements on the coast to the north, in North Queensferry, and south, in Dalmeny, of Inchmickery also remain. Bombers and crop sprayers would spray landing craft and beaches with mustard gas and Paris Green. Brooke favoured removable blocks. 76 Special Incendiary Grenade (a glass bottle filled with highly flammable material of which more than six million were made),[16] and the No. It was allocated premises at Electra House and was dubbed Department EH. The cubes generally came in two sizes: 5 or 3.5 feet (1.5 or 1.1 m) high. [62][63] In both cases, prepared sockets about 6 inches (152.40 mm) square were placed in the road, closed by covers when not in use, allowing traffic to pass normally. There was, however, no means of communicating with them once they had gone to ground, which greatly reduced their strategic value. [114] Mustard gas was manufactured as well as chlorine, phosgene and Paris Green. [9] The first Valentine infantry tanks were delivered in May 1940 for trials and 109 had been built by the end of September.[10]. [133][134] Auxiliary Units were only expected to operate during an organised military campaign, with an expected lifespan of 14 days. We should certainly have a desperate struggle and the future might well have hung in the balance, but I certainly felt that given a fair share of the fortunes of war we should certainly succeed in finally defending these shores. The First World War made it clear that assaulting prepared defences with infantry was deadly and difficult, but similar preparations in Belgium had been overrun by well-equipped German Panzer divisions in the early weeks of 1940 and with so many armaments left at Dunkirk, British forces were woefully ill-equipped to take on German armour. The rate of construction was frenetic: by the end of September 1940, 18,000 pillboxes and countless other preparations had been completed. Stavros Atlamazoglou. For the British, the year concluded with the bloody First Battle of Ypres in Flanders where they sustained over 50,000 casualties. 13 September: Three destroyers sent to bombard Boulogne but the operation was cancelled due to bad weather. Here’s our list of our top 100 favorite British slang words and phrases. Far from it. [45][49], Large cylinders were made from a section of sewer pipe 3 to 4 feet (91 to 122 cm) in diameter filled with concrete typically to a height of 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m), frequently with a dome at the top. Meet the small group of elite British commandos who went deep behind enemy lines early in World War II. British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilisation in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. [124] These SOE elements went on to form the core of the Political Warfare Executive in 1941. Beaches were blocked with entanglements of barbed wire, usually in the form of three coils of concertina wire fixed by metal posts, or a simple fence of straight wires supported on waist-high posts. Their task was to spread false rumours and conduct psychological warfare. Volunteers were encouraged to use anything that would delay the enemy. [Emphasis as in original].[89]. Usually, gravity sufficed but in a few cases a pump assisted in spraying the mixture of oil and petrol. The British engaged upon an extensive programme of field fortification. In the event of invasion, the Royal Navy would have sailed to the landing places, possibly taking several days. [149], The question of whether the defences would have been effective in invasion is vexed. Consolidated Instructions to Invasion Committees, 1942, p. 19. The infantry tanks included 27 obsolete Matilda MkIs but the rest were almost all the very capable Matilda II. [20] Although the German High Command suspected that the British may have been developing these systems, Zeppelin test flights had proved inconclusive. As armies became more mechanized, the need for secure sources of fuel and lubricants became the sine qua non for military operations. ... A Mitsubichi factory devoted to building medium tanks sits in disuse after the end of World War II. [109], Early experiments with floating petroleum on the sea and igniting it were not entirely successful: the fuel was difficult to ignite, large quantities were required to cover even modest areas and the weapon was easily disrupted by waves. In the following June and July, FW3 issued six basic designs for rifle and light machine gun pillboxes, designated Type 22 to Type 27. The reserve would only have been expected to report for duty in an invasion. These blocks would be placed strategically where it was difficult for a vehicle to go around – anti-tank obstacles and mines being positioned as required – and they could be opened or closed within a matter of minutes. On 17 July 1940 Churchill spent an afternoon with Brooke[28] and was soon convinced that they were in close agreement as to how best to defend the nation. Although the standard capacity is 44 imperial gallons (55 US gallons), historical records generally refer to 40-gallon drums and sometimes 50-gallon drums apparently interchangeably. Hitler was not ideologically committed to a long war with Britain and many commentators suggest that German invasion plans were a feint never to be put into action. "[94], In 1941, in towns and villages, invasion committees were formed to cooperate with the military and plan for the worst should their communities be isolated or occupied. A further 215,000 were evacuated from ports south of the Channel in the more organised Operation Ariel during June.[4]. American broadcaster William Shirer recorded large numbers of burns victims in Berlin; though it is not clear what he personally saw, it seems likely his reports were influenced by rumours. The British engaged upon an extensive programme of field fortification. Hitler's invasions of Poland, Holland and Belgium were greatly helped by the fact that the civilian population was taken by surprise. Drain pipes stood in place of real guns,[118] dummy pillboxes were constructed,[119][120] and uniformed mannequins kept an unblinking vigil.[121]. Solutions to this problem included the pop-up Picket Hamilton fort – a light pillbox that could be lowered to ground level when the airfield was in use. [84] Petrol pumps were removed from service stations near the coast and there were careful preparations for the destruction of those that were left. Perhaps most importantly, the population was told what was expected from them. 84 barges were damaged at Dunkirk. On the same day as the Battle of Dunkirk, Scotland Yard issued a memorandum detailing the police use of firearms in wartime. With the emergency evacuation of the BEF from the beaches of Dunkirk there was an obvious and urgent need to build defences against the threat of Nazi Invasion. By the end of July, Churchill could claim that Britain was a nation under arms. Thames division had the smallest rifle allocation with 61, and "S" Division the largest with 190. It was difficult to defend large open areas without creating impediments to the movement of friendly aircraft. The areas most vulnerable to an invasion were the south and east coasts of England. In 1944, the British Army retained an "abnormally large force of over 100,000 men for defence of the United Kingdom and other contingencies which could have been used in Normandy" according to American historian Carlo d'Este.[148]. Compare. So are the fishes ..."[147]. [95] The members of committees typically included representatives of the local council, the Air Raid Precautions service, the fire service, the police, the Women's Voluntary Service and the Home Guard, as well as officers for medicine, sanitation and food. Consequently, the defences generally ran along pre-existing barriers to tanks, such as rivers and canals; railway embankments and cuttings; thick woods; and other natural obstacles. It must be remembered that if my diary occasionally gave vent to some of the doubts which the heavy responsibility generated, this diary was the one and only outlet for such doubts. [122], In 1938, a section funded by MI6 was created for propaganda, headed by Sir Campbell Stuart. [37] Admiralty scaffolding was deployed along hundreds of miles of vulnerable beaches.[38]. A contingency plan called Operation Banquet required all available aircraft to be committed to the defence. While an understanding of the Line's creation is vital to any study of World War I, World War II, and the period in between, this knowledge is also helpful when interpreting a number of modern references. The Secret Intelligence Service had, however, been making plans for this eventuality since February 1940, creating the core of a secret resistance network across the country. Once the troops landed and began their advance, a reliable supply of fuel would be needed for the tanks, trucks, and other vehicles, as they moved across France and Belgium to Germany. The only place that seems to lack the typical British queuing is when one is at a bar, pub or club. It was used at the old Eglinton Estate, which had been commandeered by the army, to provide its army operators with the necessary experience. It was therefore decided to build a static system of defensive lines around Britain, designed to compartmentalise the country and delay the Germans long enough for more mobile forces to counter-attack. [62] By the end of July 1940, an additional nine hundred 75 mm field guns had been received from the US,[99] – the British were desperate for any means of stopping armoured vehicles. Meanwhile, read these instructions carefully and be prepared to carry them out. Later in 1941, more sophisticated weapons were made available such as the Blacker Bombard anti-tank weapon, the Northover Projector (a black-powder mortar), and the Smith Gun (a small artillery gun that could be towed by a private motorcar). An i… 73 Grenade (an anti-tank grenade resembling a Thermos flask). [153][154][155][156][157], Following the failure to gain even local air superiority in the Battle of Britain, Operation Sea Lion was postponed indefinitely. [131], The War Office did not treat the threat of invasion seriously until the collapse of France in May 1940. When World War II began, the West had a good chance to defeat Hitler. On many of the more remote beaches this combination of wire and mines represented the full extent of the passive defences. This was known as the Bison and consisted of a lorry with a concrete armoured cabin and a small concrete pillbox on the flat bed. [39][40][41], Many small islands and peninsulas were fortified to protect inlets and other strategic targets. About this rating Origin. The importance of oil had become apparent during the First World War. In addition, the Auxiliary Units included a network of civilian Special Duties personnel, recruited to provide a short-term intelligence gathering service, spying on enemy formations and troop movements. [96] Instructions to the invasion committees stated: "... every citizen will regard it as his duty to hinder and frustrate the enemy and help our own forces by every means that ingenuity can devise and common sense suggest."[97]. 4 October: Second attempt at Operation Lucid, this time cancelled because of bad weather. [159], British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War. [70] Home Guard troops were largely responsible for the defence of nodal points and other centres of resistance, such as towns and defended villages. [74] Airfields, considered extremely vulnerable, were protected by trench works and pillboxes that faced inwards towards the runway, rather than outwards. [21] By the end of July, a dozen additional destroyers were transferred from escort duties to the defence of the homeland, and more would join the Home Fleet shortly after. The invasion of Norway was a combined forces operation in which the German war machine projected its power across the sea; this German success would come to be seen by the British as a dire portent.[2]. Naval vessels and hundreds of civilian boats were used in the operation. [59], There were two types of socket roadblocks. Many piers were not repaired until the late 1940s or early 1950s. Sea Lion was never taken beyond the preliminary assembly of forces. Searchlights were installed at the coast to illuminate the sea surface and the beaches for artillery fire. This was deeply resented by the War Office who created the Auxiliary Units as a more respectable military alternative. Further out to sea, Inchmickery, 1.6 miles (2.6 km) north of Edinburgh, was similarly fortified. In addition, there were designs for gun emplacements suitable for either the Ordnance QF 2 pounder or the Hotchkiss 6 pounder gun (designated Type 28) and a design for a hardened medium machine gun emplacement.[81]. The wireless network did, however, only become operational from 1941 and was based upon a very rigid system, which meant that it was unlikely to survive more than a few days following invasion. Because of the possibility of the police assisting the armed forces, firearms and ammunition supplied to divisions were increased. In mid-1940, the preparations relied heavily upon field fortifications. Although limited in range, they were reasonably effective.[101]. The chains and cables could also be made into psychological barriers to tanks by attaching an imitation bomb to them, an impression which could be augmented by running a length of cable from it to a position out of sight of a tank commander. The Sten submachine gun was developed to replace infantry weapons left in France, and to supplement supplies from America of the Thompson submachine gun . The longest and most heavily fortified was the General Headquarters anti-tank line, GHQ Line, which ran across southern England, wrapped around London and then ran north to Yorkshire. In July 1941, construction of field fortifications was greatly reduced and concentration given to the possibility of a raid in force rather than a full-scale invasion. [103][104] They were usually deployed in batteries of four barrels[105] and would be placed at a location such as a corner, steep incline or roadblock where vehicles would be obliged to slow. I am beginning to think that the Germans may after all not attempt it. It is now known that the Germans planned to land on the southern coast of England; one reason for this site was that the narrow seas of the English Channel could be blocked with mines, submarines and torpedo boats. On 25 September 1939, the unit was mobilised to Woburn Abbey[123] where it joined a subversion team from MI6, known as Section D, and by July these teams became a part of the newly created Special Operations Executive (SOE). The result was the construction of Stop – Lines, consisting of man made objects located to enhance the natural ‘lay of … The later experiences of the Canadian Army during the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 1942, American forces on Omaha Beach on D-Day and taking on Japanese defenders on Pacific Islands showed that, under the right conditions, a defender could exact a terrible price from assaulting forces, significantly depleting and delaying enemy forces until reinforcements could be deployed to appropriate places via the sea and inland. [8] VII Corps also included a brigade, diverted from Egypt, from the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force. 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