Saturday, 7 November 2015

We shall fight on the beaches...

Fraisthorpe Beach is a long sandy beach near Bridlington. Not particularly accessible but probably popular enough in summer. Not so popular on a foggy day in November but an excellent and almost deserted walking beach with miles of firm sand. The beach is littered with old tank traps, pillboxes and the remains of other concrete structures hurriedly erected during WWII. The picture above shows a line of concrete blocks disappearing into the mist.

Coastal erosion has undermined this pillbox and left it on the beach. Originally it probably stood on the low cliffs behind so erosion must be quite rapid here. The interior is littered with plastic bottles, a tribute to one of our greatest modern industries - sugared water.

These things are not an uncommon sight but Fraisthorpe Beach is very flat and vulnerable so it seems to have been quite heavily defended and consequently there is still much to see. 

Whether or not these preparations would have made much difference I don't know, but my non-military eye says not. Perhaps they were intended to promote preparedness and the reality of the threat rather than repel a determined heavy assault.

As far as I could see there was no information to tell younger people what the structures are, why they were built, what they represent . Defending a way of life is not longer politically correct, so maybe the official mind wanders off in other directions these days. 



Mark Wadsworth said...

Those things are great for playing hide and seek or soldiers in.

There are equal and opposite ones on the Normandy coast. We went there on holiday in about 1983 and I went in one and it had a swastika and "1942" cast into the concrete. I was surprised the Froggies hadn't got rid of it.

Demetrius said...

We lived up the road for a while in the '60s and I have often wished we could have stayed but work meant moving. Perhaps, I should have taken the risk and changed tack. There was nothing better than a bright sunny day with a stiff cold Nor' Easter coming off the sea.

Sam Vega said...

I have seen museum displays relating to these defences, and there seems to have been a lot of intelligent thought behind them. In the south, they were built inland to create lines of defence exploiting natural barriers such as rivers and canals. The idea was to slow down advancing forces until the regular army (apparently 100,000 men based in England) could get to them, and the navy would steam down from Scotland and cut them off by taking control of the channel.

A K Haart said...

Mark - the ones I saw were full of rubbish and no good for playing. Nearly sixty years ago I played in and around a local Derbyshire pillbox which was good fun.

Demetrius - I like the area too. As you say, there is nothing like beach walking out of season. Even the fog was atmospheric.

Sam - yes, I've seen them all over the place in strategic areas, even far inland in Derbyshire. It all feels very last ditch to me but it had to be done.