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A Norfolk War Walk

December 22, 2014

On a hot day in September we walked from Weybourne Hope on a ramble towards Sheringham. Very clear views across a deep blue sea. The cliffs here are eroding swiftly sending sandstone down on to the gravelly beaches.

Weybourne Beach (c) John Bainnbridge 2014

Weybourne Beach (c) John Bainnbridge 2014

We had come to see the defences put here in

Type24 Pillbox and machine gun nest. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Type24 Pillbox and machine gun nest. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

1940, when Britain had serious expectations of being invaded by Hitler’s Third Reich.

Inside the Pill Box. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Inside the Pill Box. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

In fact the defence of this area began even earlier than that. Just a hundred years ago the east coast towns of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool were shelled by German warships, killing hundreds of civilians.

The British government began to see how vulnerable this country was to attack across the North Sea (often still called the German Ocean). There is quite a deep anchorage off Weybourne Hope, ideal for ships landing invasion troops. There were even defences in this area way back in 1588 at the time of the Spanish Armada.

Climbing up from Weybourne Beach we passed two good examples of machine gun pill-boxes, and then another standing in what is now the middle of a cultivated field, but which in 1940 was placed in a hedgerow.

Type 24 Pill Box. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Type 24 Pill Box. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Further on are two more, one now converted into a bird hide.

As we continued we passed a very deep ditch

Weybourne Defences. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Weybourne Defences. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Weybourne Defences (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Weybourne Defences (c) John Bainbridge 2014

now on the edge of the cliff. Had this been on lower ground it might have been assumed to be a tank-trap. It wasn’t. It was probably filled with barbed wire to thwart attempts to scale the cliffs to outflank the defences of Weybourne Hope. It might have been used to shelter rifleman firing down on to the beach below.

Fortunately, these defences were never used. The Nazi invasion never came.

But it might have.

Generations today might have had to think of Weybourne Hope in the way they consider battlegrounds like Ypres or Arnhem, Bastogne or Alamein.

Defensive Ditch (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Defensive Ditch (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Norfolk 2014 115

Now the sea itself is attacking these defences, eroding them away, putting them much nearer to the cliff edge than they ever were.

So do go and look at them while they are still there. They are a hugely important part of

Windmill near Weybourne (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Windmill near Weybourne (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Britain’s history.

Weybourne Beach. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Weybourne Beach. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2014 11:04 am

    Your posts about the Norfolk coast make me realise that it is a part of the country we have never visited and that we are missing out on a fascinating land/seascape. Must plan a visit for 2015 – a New Year’s Resolution!!

  2. December 22, 2014 2:22 pm

    Great shoots. Wish sec were there. Happy Christmas. PS: I wonder if it’d work for you as it does for us – for your copyright symbol, try typing “option/g.”

  3. December 22, 2014 2:25 pm

    I used to walk up there when we lived in Norfolk – a long time ago now. Thank you for the superb photographs…and the timely warning that the sea is on the march.

  4. December 22, 2014 4:02 pm

    Thank you all! Well worth a visit and an ever improving path right along the coast. Very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

  5. December 23, 2014 2:21 am

    Funny but I just read about the shelling of Scarborough and the East Coast a couple of days ago – prior to that, I had no idea anywhere so rural had been shelled here – or even anywhere further north than about Sheffield. Those kind of places are great to look round now but I’m glad there was no attack to look back upon…
    Carol.

  6. December 23, 2014 7:42 am

    Apart from the war stuff it is a lovely stretch of coast to walk!

  7. December 30, 2014 8:15 am

    nice photographs. Live near there

  8. December 30, 2014 5:38 pm

    Thank you, a fascinating place.

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