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The Canadians Cuckmere Cairn: |
by Peter Tyrrell
Attempting to unravel the sequence 1940s activity at this location has consumded endless hours of research. Yet all manner of field work, interviews, accessing archives and correspondence has ultimately drawn a blank on the issue. The forgoing is therefore an outline of the research to date, its publication may unleash memories or links to the incident - or may serve as a final expression of investigations undertaken. On Monday 6th November 2006 a modest gathering of Seaford local officials and a Canadian High Commission representative stood with Royal British Legion banner bearers close to the former Coastguard station at Cuckmere Haven. The ceremony was a sequel to a local report of a WWII enemy attack on Canadian soldiers camped there and the testimony of a Home Guard farmworker who witnessed the event. His account stated 'I will never forget the day in 1940 [sic]when a Canadian company came to Cuckmere and pitched their tents in this field. I was stationed here and knew that bombers regularly used this valley for navigation purposes. I tried telling the commanding officer, but he was not interested in what I had to say. Two mornings later the Messerschmitts arrived. Just as the sun was rising they came skimming over the water and up the valley.
Around Alfriston they banked hard and came back. Bearing down on the tents they opened fire. Steam, soil and grass rose in front of them as bullets and bombs entered the ground' 'All the young men in the marquees and bell tents were killed. Their commanding officer who was shaving at the time in the middle coastguard cottage died instantly when a shell went through the wall that held his mirror'.
Personally I responded to the newspaper reporter's invitation for comments on this incident and made myself unpopular in some Seaford quarters for speaking out. I thought the Seaford Head Nature Reserve Committee had been unwise in placing the flint cairn there based on an unsubstantiated report, when there were numerous WWII aircraft and army incidents that could have been similarly acknowledged based on facts, RAF archives and regimental diaries. This set about some personal research into the coverage that obviously had merits - despite known minuses. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Brookwood in Surrey was contacted. In time they very kindly provided two lists, Canadians Died in Sussex and Canadians Buried at Brookwood. From this observation any block of casualties could be viewed; however there was only one date that showed a number Canadian soldiers having been killed. A Lieutenant, a Private and a Sapper, all duly named and detailed - other than the place where or how they had perished. So at least a likely date was achieved.
RAF Friston Record Book
For some time I had been in possession of a copy of the RAF Friston Operations Record Book from The National Archive at Kew. This set of intriguing documents had been immaculately typed out by the respective Commanding Officers at the aerodrome, from 1940 to 1944, as a record for their Air Historical Branch. A deep study of the entries provided some intriguing results. On 21 June 1942 five airmen of 32 Squadron had defied a ban and bathed at Cuckmere Haven. Returning to their quarters one of them trod on a land mine laid for defence purposes, two airmen were killed and the other two were injured. Significantly a Coroners Inquest was held the following afternoon. An entry in The Operations Record Book for 9 July 1942 reads . . . At 6.05 hours two ME 109E's appeared without prior warning and dropped two 500lb bombs on the aerodrome which they proceeded to strafe with cannon fire and machine-gun fire. The bombs fell on the edge of the north-south runway and did superficial damage to the aerodrome surface but the blast caused damage to the buildings of the S.H.Q. [Gayle's house at the time] and one Nissen hut used as a barrack stores. Cannon fire damaged the blister hangar (which had only been erected the day before). Several of the personnel had narrow escapes. The ground defences had little opportunity of retaliating against such a sudden, low-flying attack and both aircraft got away safely under the cover of low cloud which was present at the time. So that is basically all that has been put in place linking the potentially nearby incidents relating to the Home Guard farm workers statements.
Outcomes of research work
The next phase has been to confirm the dates of the three CWGC named soldiers bereavement. However numerous messages and links to Canadian Veterans associations and official war authorities in Ontario and Ottawa have drawn a blank. Even the families of the soldiers involved may not know the real reasons for their son's demise. Chatting to former police officers, about a Coroners Inquest situation and the RAF mines incident from May 1942, reason led to a potential Inquest for the CWGC trio of named soldiers. However resorting deep into 1940s mortuary records for Seaford and Newhaven at East Sussex Record Office has failed to tie-up the events stated satisfactorily. One final grasp was to contact H.M East Sussex Coroners Office at St Leonard's-on-Sea. They kindly responded suggesting that I contact the County Archivist, which I had effectively done in communications with a supportive Senior Archivist at ESRO. The other Coroners Office observation being 'I have no records under my control which could conceivably assist you'.
So that research exercise is effectively exhausted, so close potentially yet the record books have been closed. Thus the true details on that Cuckmere cairn may never be inscribed. A veil of secrecy being drawn, shrouding the shrine.
We had been looking for a Coroners Inquest for these men, as such Inquests were held for two RAF men killed by coastal mines on 21 June 1942 and a soldier, Signalman Alwyn Gardner Royal Tank Corps, who died after a tank that he was servicing went over the cliffs into the sea on 7 July 1942. However the Canadians were effectively Killed In Action and subject to Canadian Provost and the Visiting Forces Act 1933, 1940, 1942.
The dawn attack on RAF Friston on 9 July 1942 was barely two days after the Allies Operation Rutter invasion planned for 7 July, but postponed due to bad weather to 18 August as Operation Jubilee - the horrendous Dieppe Raid of 18 August 1942.
Battle of Britain research and memorial |
A curios connection has emerged between the church of St John sub Castro in Abinger Place, Lewes, and a Battle of Britain pilot who was fatally shot as he hung on his parachute harness near Heathfield - writes Peter Tyrrell.
With the growth of the Lewes environs in towards the mid Victorian century of religious fervour the curate, Peter Guerin Crofts the Younger, at St John's sub Castro in Abinger Place, became overwhelmed by the volume of his congregation that had almost trebled. To accommodate this rapid rise in faith he had demolished the 11th century Saxon church and from 1839 had built the current place of worship. To the designs of George Cheeseman, resplendent in its knapped flint work with brick facings, the property cost £3,000 to erect. The landmark edifice is now grade II Listed and Peter Guerin Crofts the Younger is buried in the family vault at the church.
The Battle of Britain was famously fought out in the skies of southern England between July and October 1940. Saturday 28 September 1940 was a particularly dramatic day, with repeated encounters overhead. Flying Officer Peter Guerin Crofts had been airborne from Croydon twice during the morning of 28 September 1940 on operational sorties to intercept enemy aircraft that had crossed the coast close to the Beachy Head area.
Around 13.30 hours an aerial dog-fight developed above Heathfield in East Sussex. A large formation of Me.109s was intercepted by 605 Squadron from Croydon. At 13.55 hours amid the exchanges Hawker Hurricane V6699 flown by Flying Officer Peter Guerin Crofts, aged 22 years, was shot down. The pilot baled out, but was fired on by his combatant. He became detached from his harness and fell to his death in a field at South View Farm, Dallington. His aeroplane crashed nearby at Red Pale Farm.A number of local people can recall the tragic incident still. A local nurse named Sheldon went to the aid of the pilot who was already dead. Hurricane V6699 was usually flown by F/O Bob Foster, but just the day previously he had force-landed at Gatwick with a blown engine.
Flying Officer Peter Guerin Crofts was born 20 January 1918 at St George's Square in London. Shortly after the tragic incident the pilot's mother Mrs Margaret Crofts erected a simple roadside cross close to where her son had fallen. The plot became consumed by weeds, ferns, bramble and lay undisturbed over the years. In 1972 a local man Gerry Leeves mentioned to Heathfield RAFA Branch that he recalled a memorial being placed at the roadside adjacent to South Views Farm in 1940. Members of Heathfield RAFA searched and found the cross that had weathered severely, but the inscriptions were legible.
In the spring of 1974 with the aid of a farm tractor the entire site was cleared with the blessing of the landowner Mrs May who donated the plot of land to the project. The area was duly fenced of by Warbleton Parish Council and the replacement cross, crafted by Harry Parsons was installed. With an inaugural unveiling ceremony in September 1974 when Heathfield RAFA held a memorial service at the roadside cross. Their band and standard bearers and cadets joined in the ceremony. That first ceremony being blessed with a cloudless sky and glorious sunshine above. That team organisation was later joined by Uckfield RAFA, although overall numbers fell away and management passed to Eastbourne RAFA in 1985 when Jim Crofts instigated the annual Parade and Service that has perpetuated to this day.
Over the years the RAFA wreath has been laid by a number of dignatories, including Lord Derek Dowding and Wing Commander Bob Foster DFC AE - the Battle of Britain pilot who flew in 605 Squadron with Peter Guerin Crofts and was airborne on the same fatal mission. Another senior RAF officer laying a wreath has been Air Commodore Tom Prickman - the Commanding Officer of Kenley Sector during the Battle of Britain. One enduring factor of the Dallington Cross ceremony has been the participation of bugler Richard Boswell. Richard has missed performing the Last Post on just one occasion when was unwell with a throat problem and his niece took his place.
Members of the public are invited to participate in the short roadside Service. From its 1985 inception the ceremony had been managed by Flt/Lt Jim Crofts MBE AE. Jim (no relation) was a Controller at RAF Kenley during the Battle of Britain. More recently the ceremony has been organised by W/O Dave Smedley. After the Parade and Service refreshments are served at Bodle Street Green village hall by Women's Institute ladies.
The memorial to Peter Guerin Crofts 33381 can be found driving south from Wood Corner by the Swan Inn east of Heathfield on the B2096 Signs show from South Lane show Bodle Street Green. After Oaklands Farm bear right. At Padgham Corner, a grassed island plot, bear left to Red Pale Farm. The memorial is on the right going south. OS 661177.
Although the official details remain that the pilot's parachute failed to open there was an eye-witness account by young Alf Rogers, who later emigrated to Australia. Alf was standing less than a quarter of a mile away with his father and stated that the pilot's parachute did open, the enemy circled at least twice as the helpless pilot hung on his parachute. Alf was obviously an eye-witness to numerous such dog-fights, being resident at Punnets Town high on the South Downs ridge. He was quite clear what he saw, but did not know of the pilot's fate as he disappeared below a tree line.
Alf later visited the crash site and found the Hurricane buried nose first in the ground, the wings being sheared off. Similarly Eileen Relf of Punnets Town, recalled the terrible howling roar as the plane plummeted out of the skies. Alf stated this was the only occasion that he saw a such a fatal attack on an airman on a parachute.
It has been stated that Peter Guerin Crofts was nephew of Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, but more recently this has been denied by surviving members of the family. Clearly in notes left by Jim Crofts it states 'The date for the unveiling of the [second] Cross was 28 September 1974. The pilot's only living close relative Mrs Peter Fitzgerald, his sister, who lived in County Limerick had disclosed that her brother was a nephew of Lord Dowding'.
Lord Dowding who is honoured as the architect of the victory of the Battle of Britain. In some people's opinion his reputation became tainted after a citation in the national press. Lord Dowding (London Gazette Dispatch 1940) said he felt German pilots were quite within their rights to shoot at British pilots on parachutes. The enemy rationale being that trained aircrew were less easy to replace than an actual aeroplane. Conversely enemy airman who baled out over Britain were effectively already in captivity.
Jim Crofts wrote 'Another who laid a wreath at an earlier service was Group Captain Gordon Davies CBE, AE, who at one time was Commanding Officer of the Royal Air Force Central Flying School. It is fitting to include a quote from Group Captain Davies who with his wife visited the ceremony on many occasions and stated "that simple service in the stillness of the Sussex countryside was one of the most moving ceremonies that he had ever attended". Speaking of Flying Office Peter Guerin Crofts to whom we pay homage the Group Captain said "He was a man of his time. Patriotic and proud of the history of the British Empire, he knew the importance of defending all that his generation valued and loved. He epitomised all that was fine and honourable in a generation of young men of whom Britain will for ever be grateful. Victory and the preservation of peace in our land are the true memorials to these gallant young men".
A memorial to another Battle of Britain pilot lays nearby at the entrance to Giffords Farm, Dallington on the B2096. OS 687191. On 27 September 1940 Pilot Officer J.R.B. Meaker of 249 Squadron died when his parachute failed to open.
Various PLT jpgs available of the ceremony and the site.
The pilot Peter Guerin Crofts died aged just 22 years on his third mission of 29 September 1940.
Hurricane Mk1 RAF serial R4118, Squadron code UP-W, UK civil registration G-HUPW, at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Faiford, Gloucestershire in July 1988. Photo by Adrian Pingstone. This aircraft has a chequered history. It was delivered new to 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron in August 1940 and it flew 49 combat missions from RAF Croydon.
Destroying three enemy aircraft and damaging two others. Eventually it was sent to India for training and then unceremoniously stored. It was rescued and has been and is presented in original markings as the last flying Hawker Hurricane from the Battle of Britain.
Copyright Peter Longstaff-Tyrrell February 2011.
Mystery property at Ewe Down.|
The site at Exceat, Seaford , OS 5105 9909 has been researched by members of Alfriston & Cuckmere Haven Historical Society over a period of about two years.
It is shown on John de Wards 1618 survey map as an ‘ancient chapple’. Geo-phys tests led to the unearthing of the plot as shown. Theoretically it is the ’wrong way‘ around for a church. Yet no agricultural, commercial nor personal clues have been found there. One ACVHS member suggests it may have been a leper colony due to its isolation.
SMHS suggest that given its location it may well have been a keep, garrison, gun garden or battery, to guard the earthern Exceat causeway (A259) from French invaders that was recorded in 1369 as adyke - not a ditch.
The virtues of Ewe Down as a defence site were evident of old. TNA Kew MPH 1/132 includes - Under a survey by the Quarter Master Generals Dept 1797-1798 a list was compiled of stations of a cordon of towers proposed to erect a Martello Tower on the heights on the west side of Cuckmere to command Exceat Bridge and causeway.
The site is best accessed by the finger-posted footpath beside the riverside bungalow opposite the Golden Galleon.
Ewe Down is prounced Yoe Down is Sussex dialect.
Lewes Home Guard|
Balsdean farmer Arthur W. Dalgety belonged to Lewes Home Guard, led here by Col Sykes on the gray. 52 mounts formed the 'Lewes Cossacks' - defending the Downs that was once the domain of Saxon, Norman, Roman and French invaders.
The full story of Balsdean and its demise is recorded in 'Lost Villages of East Sussex' by Peter Longstaff-Tyrrell.
Bishopstone Station pillboxes.|
Bishopstone Station stands robust as an Art Deco gem, although the railway facilities there are little used and were never fully developed commercially. The station was erected in 1938 to replace the requisitioned Tide Mills station. Prominent in the roof structure of Bishopstone station are a pair of WWII pillboxes, facing inland, that were added on by Royal Engineers in 1940.
Finding the Few by Andy Saunders|
This research project will be a compelling prospect to digest for anybody with an interest in WWII aviation archaeology, particularly those of us resident in the South East. The 1940 Battle of Britain skies over southern England were a time of immense courage and adrenalin fuelled passion. Many men gave their lives to keep our island free and some of these men exited into the summer skies with no trace of them ever being recorded.
This remarkable book acknowledges the lives of a dozen airmen shot down and listed MIA and who remained unacknowledged for decades until diligent research and fieldwork, primarily by the author, brought identification of them and closure for their families.
Each case represents a fascinating human story, of drama, loyalty, love and tragedy - even humour - and each one represents a startling tale of detective work and ironic coincidences - oft times revealing controversy.
Finding the Few ends with mystery still unsolved, the book has photographs throughout and will stand as a timeless fitting testament to those airmen lost but now not forgotten.
Jesse Rogers B-17 Wootton crash crew|
This summary is an accumulation of research from British Columbia , Canada , via a family friend of descendants of Lt Jesse D. Rogers USAAF and by Peter Longstaff-Tyrrell in Polegate East Sussex UK who lives near the crash site.
Extracts from 'Pieces of Nostalgia ~ 91st BG stories' linked with researcher's notes, USAAF reports and East Sussex Record Office and Sussex Police accounts, along with local newspaper coverage.
Previously conflicting accounts of the last flight of B-17D 42-29973 from USAAF Bassingbourn airfield near Cambridge on 31st August 1943 have been compiled. This project attempts to complete coverage of the incidents.
'August 13 1943 our fourth mission with original crew. ME-109 and FW-109s attacked our wings blazing elly up below us. Repeated passes wing to wing the Hargis aircrew on our left wing in Dame Satan (42-2990) was hit by a 109 that came barely over tour left wing. I watched as it left formation. '
Over the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt , bombs raked the target area, and great columns of brown smoke and dust were rising. They met us again and again head on the way out. All ammunition in the nose was expended. Hot cartridge cases were three inches deep and burned your ankles. We made it, but four of the 322nds crews went down, including Dame Satan. Fifty years later I learnt of their fate, although some of the crew were POWs. We had 20-mm shrapnel damage, a direct hit at the waist window, a gunner with leg wounds and a gaping hole in the left wing from flak.
The mission cost 65 B17s, including eleven from the 91st Bomber Group. It was the first great air battle of the War. We were just scared and glad to be back, as we watched a B-17 land safely with wounded aboard. We learned later that Lt James A. Judy had been shot down and then pulled out of a slow spin, ordered his crew to bailout, then hedge hopped the crippled ship with only his wounded engineer aboard to crash land at Manston Airfield (Kent) in My Prayer (42-5712).
All aircraft and aircrew losses were not due to enemy action. Not just a few were caused by pilot error, accidents, assembly at altitude, mechanical failure, bad weather conditions and just plain foul-ups.
After the Schweinfurt raid aircrews flew 'milk runs' to bomb airfields occupied by the Germans in France . (A 'milk run' was only when you were back at base).
On August 31 missions to Amiens and Romilly airfields the 91st was just over over the Channel coast of England . As I watched the squadron above and to the right a B-17 at the same time another aircraft attempted to fill the position from below and they spanked together - disintegrating and falling below. As I watched their falling debris and bomb loads, a damaged 'chute with part of a body floated to our right. I thought 'No survivors, twenty men gone to glory.'
The Eager Beaver (42-29816) and L'il Audrey (42-24523) crashed into the sea. One report states that only one crew ember survived- S/Sgt Charles E. Allen 15102666.
Belle Tout revisited.|
1.Target lines mounted on narrow gauge rail track ran above the cliffs at Shooters Bottom and down the hillside from Belle Tout. That line taking the route of the new access road laid in Easter 2010. A traverse dip in the main road still indicates the track trench that was concealed by boarding when not in use enabling road traffic could pass over. The scar left by the target line is seen right of the pond in this 1950 TNA photo.
2. Canadian Westminster Regiment troops fire a 2-pounder off Cornish Farm towards Shooters Bottom. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Dept National Defence and Michael Ockenden's book 'Canucks by the Sea.) Belle Tout and its target line can be seen in the distance.
3. Poor beleagured Belle Tout stood resilient to attack until postwar reconstruction of the granite edifice took place.
1. Target lines mounted on narrow gauge rail track ran above the cliffs at Shooters Bottom and down the hillside from Belle Tout. That line taking the route of the new access road laid in Easter 2010. A traverse dip in the main road still indicates the track trench that was concealed by boarding when not in use enabling road traffic could pass over. The scar left by the target line is seen right of the pond in this 1950 TNA photo. 2. Canadian Westminster Regiment troops fire a 2-pounder off Cornish Farm towards Shooters Bottom. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Dept National Defence and Michael Ockenden's book 'Canucks by the Sea.) Belle Tout and its target line can be seen in the distance. 3. Poor beleagured Belle Tout stood resilient to attack until postwar reconstruction of the granite edifice took place. One of the most notable county landmarks has been battling against circumstances since in was erected in 1843. Firstly it was coastal fog that eclipsed it's usefulness as an actual lighthouse. It became a private home and then during WWII the granite edifice was abused by friendly-fire Allied troops` - leaving the now Grade II Listed Belle Tout in dire need of restoration in the post war years.
In his concise account of Canadian troops stationed around Eastbourne during WWII Michael Ockenden accessed numerous Regimental War Diaries at The National Archive at Kew to complete the revised second edition of his tile 'Canucks by the Sea' published by Eastbourne Local History Society. The author states . . . The War Diary for the range party states that firing began on 1 January 1943, although it did not officially open until 14 January.
Almost at once came a foretaste of the problems which would meet the CO, Captain Ray Mambert, and his men. Units would arrive unexpectedly - and then have to return without firing because procedures were not yet in place to warn shipping in the Channel. Artillery regiments sometimes travelled long distances with guns and equipment, only to find that the range had been double-booked. The fault did not lie with the range party.
The first reference to damage appears in the War Diary on 24 January. 'Two more right angle direct hits on the Lighthouse' And the following day 'The score of hits on the Lighthouse has reached thirteen, one on the garage doors'. Just when it seemed that the gunners had got their eye in, a note on 12 February reads 'Belle Tout scarred to the tune of 18 hits to date'. All accidents of course. There was another hit on 17 February and one more the next day, but after this the standard of gunnery had either improved or no more hits were recorded.
'It [the track] consisted of a light railway constructed in the autumn of 1941 crossing the valley formed by two hills, on one of which stands the lighthouse. The rails ran part of the way up the hill, finishing in a deep dugout. Inside this was an old car - minus tyres - and the back wheel was used to tow a life-size [hessian outline of a tank] target of a tank up and down the rails. Soon afterwards firing began and by 1942 it was incessant from dawn to dusk, never stopping even on Sundays'. (James Doone. Eye-witness account, Sussex County Magazine c1948).
Former local resident Don Barrow recalled the power for the moving target narrow gauge track came from the back axle off a Dodge army truck chassis insitu on the hill. The outline of the ditch created by the track crossing the coast road was distinct until quite recently. (PLT has a photo or two.)
In early 2011 a new access road to the lighthouse was created (due to cliff erosion dangers to the existing track), roughly taking the course of the WWII moving target railway diagonally across the highway towards the dew pond.
The photo shows troops of the Westminster Regiment firing 2-pounder guns on the Shooters Bottom Range near Beachy Head . The outline of Belle Tout is clearly visible on the horizon - also the scar tracing the path of the moving target narrow gauge rail track. Howitzers and 25-pounder guns fired at moving targets from a ridge near Cornish Farm.
Men of the range party were billeted at Birling Gap, at the former Children's Delight holiday home and the club house for the nine-hole golf course there, that site is now used as public car parks. There were also moving target lines at Michel Dene west of Birling Gap. For 6-pounder guns and two others described as Dive Bomber and Sub Calibre ranges. Little is known of these sites although curiously remnants of narrow gauge rail track were jutting out from the cliff top into the 1990s and this compiler found two lengths of narrow gauge rail track actually laying on the beach below the cliffs.
In the year 2009 remake of Grahame Green's Brighton Rock classic novel, and movie, the closing scenes moved from Brighton Pier to the east side of Belle Tout. The location is used variously in the movie, a night time lamp beaming out, rotating, from the top of the tower over the countryside. The climax arising when the villain 'Pinkie' has acid thrown in his face and goes over the cliffs at the lower end, of the recently chalked over coastal, old track to the lighthouse. Belle Tout is now a luxury Bed and Breakfast retreat affording an unrivalled panorama.
Aerial photos like this view of the WWI Army Service camp, at what is now the Holmbush shopping centre and A27 bypass at Portslade, offer a fascinating panorama of army life via these hutting foundations.
In reality the downland there is very hilly although progress inland along Erringham Road towards Truliegh Hill, with a modern map locating east on Buckingham Barn beside the bypass, brings this view into a time warp reality.
The Lost Patrol
The role of WWII Home Guard Auxiliary Units remains an enigma for some people, although in reality they were only a minor element of the numerous support groups for the Regular Army. Their auxiliary adage being added to distract attention to their activities. Yet this subject remains an avid topic of research and media attention and several books have been produced on the underground Army theme.
Groups of selected Home Guard volunteers would be approached to ask if they wanted special duties, their local knowledge being a prime asset. Each patrol comprised of about seven personnel who were trained in subversive rearguard reports and raids if the enemy landed. These patrols had a live expectancy of a fortnight, or less, if the enemy occupied the county. It has been interesting to know some of the former members, since deceased, who reckoned they were still obligated under the Official Secrets Act.
The scene shown relates to my being shown the entrance shaft to the Hellingly Patrol retreat, that Stewart Angell had covered the previous year in his book The Secret Sussex Resistance, Middleton Press 1996. The site consisted of a collapsed corrugated iron roof of a Nissen hut that the Royal Engineers had excavated towards the eastern edge of Park Wood Hellingly. We subsequently excavated the bunker one Sunday morning, fortunately Stewart was the much fitter person as we shifted loads of light sandy soil, after photography and measuring we had to back-fill the spoil. The depression at the site has changed dramatically in subsequent years and was quite difficult to find recently.
Defending Sussex Beaches 1940 - 1942|
From Selsey Bill to the Kent border
This latest tour de force from John Goodwin is a companion to his previous Middleton Press titles. His military Defence of West Sussex hardback was first published in 1985, then followed his fascinating softback Military Signals from the South Coast. Indeed John was putting his research into book form long before many readers expected to find such material of bookshelves. His coverage of the South Coast defence infrastructure is again a thoroughly complete outcome of his years investigating its and WWII activity in the region - all lavishly illustrated with original photos or line-work .
Sussex in the early 1940s stood ready to try and repel an air and sea-bourne invasion. The public where told what to expect when the enemy arrives! John was there as a lad and he describes what happened when the military took over the beaches and countryside and set about making the county impregnable - despite huge logistical problems.
John explains what forces were available, their shortcomings and how tactics changed under different army commanders. Regiments, artillery, tanks, weapons, coast batteries, armoured trains, plus naval and army communications are covered in detail.
Chapters on army radar, harbour booms, nets, also land a sea minefields, deal with little known aspects of county defences. The book contains over 120 contemporary maps and photographs. Three pages headed Principal Sources Consulted invite any reader to journey deeper into these absorbing years of county history.
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