The British Response To Operation Sealion

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Dunserving
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 30 Jun 2013 16:43

Knouterer wrote:My point is that in 1940 a number of mines were laid below the (storm) high water mark, i.e. in front of the sea walls, judging by the available evidence.

Re: accidents: I don't feel under any particular obligation to draw up an exhaustive list of all mine incidents around the British coast line from 1940 to 1970 or so - sorry, I have other things to do as well -.




Ok feller, you are good at cutting and pasting, I'll grant you that.

But....

Mines laid in front of the sea walls? Well, you could hardly lay them behind it, could you? Quite impossible in that location!

And....

You are under an obligation. You made a sweeping statement that frankly is not supported by the "reason" you gave. It is quite reasonable on this forum to expect you to justify your own claims with evidence. We are interested in 1940 not 1940 to 1970.

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby phylo_roadking » 30 Jun 2013 16:46

Another fact worth noting is this -

Saturday 21 September 1940:

"A Sapper who had laid a mine on the beach near the Imperial Hotel yesterday accidentally trod on it this morning and blew himself to bits."

Monday 24 February 1941:

"A RE sergeant for some unknown reason took a section of the 7th Queens through barbed wire on to a minefield (...) seven were killed and five injured, some very badly. The sergeant cannot be found and it is thought he was blown into the sea."

This incident is also mentioned in a history of the 2/7th Queens:

“Unfortunately for the 2/7th Queen’s a tragedy occurred at Hythe on the 24th February when three mines exploded as a working party, led by a RE sergeant, was crossing a minefield. Ten men were killed outright and five injured, of which two subsequently died.”

21st June 1942.
20.35 hours five airmen of 32 Squadron were returning from bathing in the sea at CUCKMERE HAVEN near the aerodrome when one of them trod on one of the land mines installed for Coastal Defence purposes (Map Ref O.S. Sheet 134 - 956164). The mine was detonated, instantly killing two of the airmen, L.A.C. STRACHAN, 925106, and A.C.1 DOREY 1438636 and slightly wounding the others. This beach is out of bounds to all ranks."
Reminiscences of an inhabitant of Lowestoft, whose father had worked on the beach defences:
"One tragic incident happened at Southwold one Sunday morning [believe 1940]. The beaches were mined and a barbed wire fence was put outside the mines to indicate that nobody must walk on the beach. During the previous night the incoming tide had washed the barbed wire up the beach and 5 or 6 men from the other gang stepped on mines. They were all killed."


...how many of these were service deaths, or people employed to work on the defences - given that up to a third of the population of Kent and Sussex's coastal strip had evacuated by the end of the summer, and there were some very draconian legal mesures in place at that point preventing people heading for the defended coast!
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 30 Jun 2013 17:00

phylo_roadking wrote:
Absolutely right. BUT.....

Going along that road with a steep slope on one side of it and the sea on the other keeping men pinched together presenting only a very narrow front to defenders is all to reminiscent of a similar problem in Greece where 300 Spartans held back a vastly superior force of invaders!

...and........

Going across country and behind Shorncliffe presents its own problems. That area was (and mostly still is) filled with mature woodland. Moving infantry on foot through a forested area is interesting enough as any trained infanteers reading this will know, but they need support and there are only three routes leading inland in that area. All three are in valleys cutting into the slope and constitute magnificent ambushing opportunities for defenders. One is too close to Folkestone and actually runs alongside the western side of Shorncliffe Garrison, and the third requires invaders to pass through the fairly narrow streets of Hythe to get to it - and it is extremely narrow for much of its length. The only really practical route is up Horn Street - but that is rather close to the Garrison once you get inland.


Yep, the road and the slope would have had to be cleared, from the west, to allow them to progress onward to Folkestone; however, I'm not sure this would actually have taken THAT long to do. Don't forget how quickly the Germans had cleared the slopes above the far bank of the Meuse only a couple of months before of defences similarly dug in...a morning??? 8O

And of course...they're NOT restricted to the road...they could wait until low tide! :D I take it the beach itself is as wide/long and gently sloping there as along the rest of that stretch of coast?



It's pretty tough country to operate in on that slope and while boots could have got up it easily enough vehicles would be a bit different. Most, if not all, would be restricted to roads going inland.

You are quite right about the beach - it is gently shelving and the tide does leave a wide flat expanse at low tide, but then there is another problem. There aren't even now many places where a vehicle can get off the beach and over the sea wall onto land where they can begin to operate as intended. Under fire is not a good time to be driving up and down that beach looking for a place where you can get off the beach.

At high tide the sea comes rather close to the sea wall, at best the distance from the normal high water mark to the sea wall is no more than 19 metres so even with closer than normal spacing between mines there can be little doubt that the chances of treading on one are pretty slim given that an invaders boots would only touch the ground a couple of dozen times before he was through the minefield and over the sea wall.

With normal spacing of 20 feet, say 6 metres, there's only likely to be two rows between storm high water mark and the sea wall. Pretty good odds! Made better by the horrible reality that if a comrade gets sent to heaven those following know that there is an area around that mess that is going to be perfectly safe (from mines, though not from 0.303 bullets, 2 inch mortars etc etc....).

Beautiful day today. 24C, clear blue sky and very sunny. So I popped down to the coast to have a look, as the area in question is only about 15km from me. 6C colder there, misty, visibility no more than 1km. Turned round and came back home....

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 30 Jun 2013 17:02

phylo_roadking wrote:Another fact worth noting is this -

Saturday 21 September 1940:

"A Sapper who had laid a mine on the beach near the Imperial Hotel yesterday accidentally trod on it this morning and blew himself to bits."

Monday 24 February 1941:

"A RE sergeant for some unknown reason took a section of the 7th Queens through barbed wire on to a minefield (...) seven were killed and five injured, some very badly. The sergeant cannot be found and it is thought he was blown into the sea."

This incident is also mentioned in a history of the 2/7th Queens:

“Unfortunately for the 2/7th Queen’s a tragedy occurred at Hythe on the 24th February when three mines exploded as a working party, led by a RE sergeant, was crossing a minefield. Ten men were killed outright and five injured, of which two subsequently died.”

21st June 1942.
20.35 hours five airmen of 32 Squadron were returning from bathing in the sea at CUCKMERE HAVEN near the aerodrome when one of them trod on one of the land mines installed for Coastal Defence purposes (Map Ref O.S. Sheet 134 - 956164). The mine was detonated, instantly killing two of the airmen, L.A.C. STRACHAN, 925106, and A.C.1 DOREY 1438636 and slightly wounding the others. This beach is out of bounds to all ranks."
Reminiscences of an inhabitant of Lowestoft, whose father had worked on the beach defences:
"One tragic incident happened at Southwold one Sunday morning [believe 1940]. The beaches were mined and a barbed wire fence was put outside the mines to indicate that nobody must walk on the beach. During the previous night the incoming tide had washed the barbed wire up the beach and 5 or 6 men from the other gang stepped on mines. They were all killed."


...how many of these were service deaths, or people employed to work on the defences - given that up to a third of the population of Kent and Sussex's coastal strip had evacuated by the end of the summer, and there were some very draconian legal mesures in place at that point preventing people heading for the defended coast!




Excellent post Phylo!

Also, those that did live in the area were all too aware of the hazard - and were never in a million years going to go on the beach.................

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby phylo_roadking » 30 Jun 2013 19:09

It's pretty tough country to operate in on that slope and while boots could have got up it easily enough vehicles would be a bit different. Most, if not all, would be restricted to roads going inland.


I wouldn't have expected anything else than an infantry attack clearing any dugouts/post on the slope :wink: But don't forget - the Germans can put whatever they have ashore against it in order to open the way to Folkestone...while the defenders don't have any real way to reinforce it...unless any of the counterattacking forces should break through right to the coast.

You are quite right about the beach - it is gently shelving and the tide does leave a wide flat expanse at low tide, but then there is another problem. There aren't even now many places where a vehicle can get off the beach and over the sea wall onto land where they can begin to operate as intended. Under fire is not a good time to be driving up and down that beach looking for a place where you can get off the beach.


There's a good illustration of the "sea wall" down past Hythe earlier in this thread...but as you can see from the modern and WWII pics, and from my own memories, between and around Hythe and Folkestone there are lots of places where the shingle/chert came/comes up quite far toward the level of the road. I wonder just how much trouble it would have been for combat engineers to blow the "edge" off the top of the wall - it's just a foot or two of concrete - or just how many landsers with shovels it would have taken to shift the shingle into the quite low ramp that would have been needed at those places...

(...and of course, there might have been quite a lot of shattered timber washed ashore to use as fascines....!)
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 01 Jul 2013 10:10

Interesting point Phylo.

I am concerned about the idea of driving vehicles, heavily loaded, up onto the road as you suggest. You might welll be right, and I am not saying that you are wrong, but......

Piled up shingle ain't the easiest thing in the world to drive over. The sea wall is low as you say, but I think this is due to the beach itself being quite steeply sloped - I am not sure just how high the top of the wall is relative to the high water mark, (and right not I'm not popping down there to measure it) but given the short distance from high water mark to sea wall the shingle bank you describe would have to be pretty steeply sloped. I can see vehicles getting bogged down in it.... At two points on the main road down to the docks at Dover, and at one on the hill down to Folkestone from the A2, there are shingle filled traps at the side of the road for the use of vehicles whose brakes fail while descending the steep hill....

I rather like the sound of your idea, but suspect (without proof I must admit) that it would have been a difficult and slow way to get vehicles ashore at a time where speed was perhaps rather essential.

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Knouterer » 01 Jul 2013 11:01

phylo_roadking wrote:Another fact worth noting is this -

Saturday 21 September 1940:

"A Sapper who had laid a mine on the beach near the Imperial Hotel yesterday accidentally trod on it this morning and blew himself to bits."

Monday 24 February 1941:

"A RE sergeant for some unknown reason took a section of the 7th Queens through barbed wire on to a minefield (...) seven were killed and five injured, some very badly. The sergeant cannot be found and it is thought he was blown into the sea."

This incident is also mentioned in a history of the 2/7th Queens:

“Unfortunately for the 2/7th Queen’s a tragedy occurred at Hythe on the 24th February when three mines exploded as a working party, led by a RE sergeant, was crossing a minefield. Ten men were killed outright and five injured, of which two subsequently died.”

21st June 1942.
20.35 hours five airmen of 32 Squadron were returning from bathing in the sea at CUCKMERE HAVEN near the aerodrome when one of them trod on one of the land mines installed for Coastal Defence purposes (Map Ref O.S. Sheet 134 - 956164). The mine was detonated, instantly killing two of the airmen, L.A.C. STRACHAN, 925106, and A.C.1 DOREY 1438636 and slightly wounding the others. This beach is out of bounds to all ranks."
Reminiscences of an inhabitant of Lowestoft, whose father had worked on the beach defences:
"One tragic incident happened at Southwold one Sunday morning [believe 1940]. The beaches were mined and a barbed wire fence was put outside the mines to indicate that nobody must walk on the beach. During the previous night the incoming tide had washed the barbed wire up the beach and 5 or 6 men from the other gang stepped on mines. They were all killed."


...how many of these were service deaths, or people employed to work on the defences - given that up to a third of the population of Kent and Sussex's coastal strip had evacuated by the end of the summer, and there were some very draconian legal mesures in place at that point preventing people heading for the defended coast!


Good example of arguing for the sake of arguing again ... I never claimed that hundreds of civilians were killed in 1940, although quite a few were, my point was that the minefields were laid in haste and were, judging by the number of accidents, often not properly marked and fenced in, and that minimal security distances between mines and from (occupied) buildings were often not respected either.

A Royal Engineer remembers:

"We laid mines all round Benacre Ness and Covehithe. And a lot of the beach about quarter, half a mile beneath Covehithe we laid mines as well, and in fact on that beach I had to guide a stretcher party through to pick up an airman who floated ashore, body of an airman. The infantry really wanted the mines, and we said on one occasion that’s too low down, because when we get gales, which we shall do, they will move about. They said we shall be invaded by then so we had to put them where they wanted. And in fact that did happen, just not far from Benacre Ness on one occasion and four men were killed, one of them stepped on a mine, they took a short cut, shouldn’t have gone that way but they did, luckily I didn’t do the job, one of my mates did, sandbag and shovel job to gather up the remains, but that was unfortunate. But they were good mines, we tried one out on a lorry chassis, pulled a lorry chassis over it and it sent it about 20 feet in the air, they were quite powerful."
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Dunserving
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 01 Jul 2013 11:21

Knouterer wrote:
Good example of arguing for the sake of arguing again ... I never claimed that hundreds of civilians were killed in 1940, although quite a few were...........

"



Let us be quite clear about this.

What you actually wrote was, and I quote:

"In addition, many minefields were apparently not clearly marked and/or fenced off with wire, otherwise the large number of fatal accidents involving servicemen and civilians can hardly be explained."

So now your claim of a "large number of fatal accidents" has been reduced to "quite a few"!

You have not been able to support your earlier claim with any evidence, nor have you been able to answer the very sensible comment from Phylo that accidents would be likely to occur amongst those whose duties required them to enter a minefield!

What evidence is there that there were minefields that were actually not clearly marked or fenced off as opposed to "apparently" thus?

What evidence is there that "large numbers" or "quite a few" or indeed any accidents happened to people who wandered innocently into an unmarked minefield?

Your claim! You provide facts to support it!

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Gooner1 » 01 Jul 2013 13:24

phylo_roadking wrote:No, I have no trouble at all in accepting that they weren't under DIRECT Army control; as I said earlier - they were under the Ops Room(s)'s control...not the Army area command battle staffs.

And where does Hall say that?


? You seem to be understanding less the longer this goes on.
The senior RAF man at the Area/Army Commands was a Wing Commander, at the CCOR, a Group Captain.

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Gooner1 » 01 Jul 2013 13:28

phylo_roadking wrote:Meanwhile - here's an even BETTER illustration how how "open" the batteries were to bombs and shrapnel...Joss Bay at Broadstairs -

Image

8O


Good picture. It does show how well protected the batteries were! :lol:

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 01 Jul 2013 16:43

Oh I rather think in that particular case the aura of immense ego would have provided sufficient protection to cover that not given by a single skin 9 inch brick wall!

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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby phylo_roadking » 01 Jul 2013 17:31

Piled up shingle ain't the easiest thing in the world to drive over. The sea wall is low as you say, but I think this is due to the beach itself being quite steeply sloped - I am not sure just how high the top of the wall is relative to the high water mark, (and right not I'm not popping down there to measure it) but given the short distance from high water mark to sea wall the shingle bank you describe would have to be pretty steeply sloped. I can see vehicles getting bogged down in it.... At two points on the main road down to the docks at Dover, and at one on the hill down to Folkestone from the A2, there are shingle filled traps at the side of the road for the use of vehicles whose brakes fail while descending the steep hill....

I rather like the sound of your idea, but suspect (without proof I must admit) that it


Well, where I grew up...right beside a beach VERY like those in the pics, including a steep shingle berm at the top...if vehicles had to be got off the beach and couldn't make it - the "cure" was to shovel wet sand onto the shingle and make a more "solid" surface for the wheels!

It tended to be available in quantity very close by...!

Plus - the vehicles using the beach or coming ashore from barges beached by the lowering tide wpuldn't necessarily be lorries with narrow ribbed tyres on the front...they'd more likely be tracked...or 4x4....or even 6 or 8-wheeled! :wink:
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby phylo_roadking » 01 Jul 2013 17:37

? You seem to be understanding less the longer this goes on.
The senior RAF man at the Area/Army Commands was a Wing Commander, at the CCOR, a Group Captain.


If you look back - I've already said that. But HE wasn't in command, he worked to the Duty Controller.
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby phylo_roadking » 01 Jul 2013 17:47

Oh I rather think in that particular case the aura of immense ego would have provided sufficient protection to cover that not given by a single skin 9 inch brick wall!


The interesting thing there is what the wall is built from - it appears to be "press-fired", not kiln-fired brick. Press-firing brick involved the bricks being shaped, airdried, the stacked over wood like a long prehistoric "chamber grave"....then earth shovelled over the top once the fire was lit - so that the hollow brick stack baked not unlike charcoal being burned.

This results...when the "press" is dug out and the bricks let cool...in hard brick, yes - but ALL different colours on their sides from a light tan to an almost "glazed" finish...depending which face had been stacked towards the fire, and how hot it had got when baking compared to others. This is the multicoloured "wartime" brick we're all used to seeing....and it was easy to make, bricks could be press-fired right beside a claypit. In the seaside village where I was born - there was on old wartime brickpoit across a main road from a WWII airfield, where all the buildings built from brick used brick from two hundred yards away!

Press-fired brick has proved very longlasting, and pretty impoervious in most places to frosting...but it tended to be brittle 8O There are plenty of historical anecdotes from the Blitz of bombs dropping outside bomb shelters constructed of this brick...and it shattering, letting the concrete roof fall on the occupants! This happened in several place in Belfast in 1941...

(Where you see similarly-constructed bombshelters on RAF fields etc - they're usually backfilled against their outer walls with earth!)

...in other words - a bomb or shell dropping too near that wall and the occupants NOT behind the gunshield/turret are going to be showered with flying halfbricks! 8O
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Re: The British Response To Operation Sealion

Postby Dunserving » 01 Jul 2013 18:28

phylo_roadking wrote:
Piled up shingle ain't the easiest thing in the world to drive over. The sea wall is low as you say, but I think this is due to the beach itself being quite steeply sloped - I am not sure just how high the top of the wall is relative to the high water mark, (and right not I'm not popping down there to measure it) but given the short distance from high water mark to sea wall the shingle bank you describe would have to be pretty steeply sloped. I can see vehicles getting bogged down in it.... At two points on the main road down to the docks at Dover, and at one on the hill down to Folkestone from the A2, there are shingle filled traps at the side of the road for the use of vehicles whose brakes fail while descending the steep hill....

I rather like the sound of your idea, but suspect (without proof I must admit) that it


Well, where I grew up...right beside a beach VERY like those in the pics, including a steep shingle berm at the top...if vehicles had to be got off the beach and couldn't make it - the "cure" was to shovel wet sand onto the shingle and make a more "solid" surface for the wheels!

It tended to be available in quantity very close by...!

Plus - the vehicles using the beach or coming ashore from barges beached by the lowering tide wpuldn't necessarily be lorries with narrow ribbed tyres on the front...they'd more likely be tracked...or 4x4....or even 6 or 8-wheeled! :wink:



Thanks! Wet sand......

That means invasion would have to be on a falling tide and not too long before low tide I suppose, given the conditions there.

....would they also need some Ulstermen with them? :thumbsup:


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