*** World War II Britain preparing for invasion

World War II Britain: Preparing for Invasion (June 1940)

Figure 1.--Here some Brutish children are sutably impressed as the Home Guard trains on artillery pieces they began receiving for coastal defense we think about October 1940. We think it is the Home Guard because rge Regular Arnmy was less likekly to train withb children around.

For centuries, Britain's defense was primarily the Royal Navy. In World War II, this was no longer the case in 1940. The Royal Navy had to withdraw major fleet elements from the Channel because of the vulnerability to air attack. The plan was to to bring them back once the invasion began. So the first phase of the invasion battle would be in the hands of the RAF which is what the Battle of Britain was all about. The RAF had the Chain Home radar system, but in 1940 this was only for air attack, not a a ship born invasion. After the Dunkirk evacuation, Prime-Minister Churchill delivered his memorable "We shall fight on the beaches" speech to Parliament (June 4, 1940). Fighting on the beaches, however, was something Britain was not at the time prepared to do. In World War I, Britain's defenses were the Trench line in northern France. And this was expected to be the same in again. Only with the stunning German victory and looming fall of France, the British coast was largely undefended. And this had been made worse because, although the British Army had been saved by the Dunkirk evacuation, all of its heavy weapons, especially artillery had been left behind in France and it would take months to reequip the Army. So very quickly Britain had to build its coastal defenses, what the Brits called the Coastal Crust. And it short order, southern England was turned into a prepared battlefield. The British coastal defenses at time of the fall of France consisted largely of antiquated forts built during the Napoleonic and Victorian era when France was seen as the major threat. These were antiquated, but not unimportant because to succeed the Germans needed to seize a port. (The same problem the D-Day planners faced.) So the major ports had some defenses, including a small number of heavy guns. There guns were World War I vintage heavy guns, which were upgraded with modern optical and eventually radar ranging systems. To sustain and equip a substantial invasion seizing a port was critical. The old forts like Dover Castle also provided secure locations for command and control centers. Nothing was in place, however, to defend most of the beaches. The War Office with France tottering set up the Directorate of Fortifications and Works (FW3) to begin hardening coastal defenses. Major-General G.B.O. Taylor was put in charge. The British began building large numbers of concrete and brick pillboxes all along the Channel and southeastern coast. Some still stand. They were built by local soldiers and labor with locally available materials. There were six basic designs. These were primarily for machine guns, but some were for field guns as well. Ditches and treches were dug, including anti-tank ditches. Beaches were closed off for holiday makers and the errection of beach defenses began. The Army mined the beaches and laid barbed wire barriers. The Royal Navy laid extensible off shore mine fields. The Home Guard would be an important part of the defense if as expected the Germans came in 1940. Deception and disinformation was also important. This involved camouflaging real weapons and fortifications. And efforts were made to create the impression of the existence of defenses that did not exist. Unlike during the run up to D-Day, the Luftwaffe was able to conduct extensive photo reconnaissance. Drain pipes were made to look like real guns. Dummy pillboxes were constructed. [Wills, p. 163.] Not much of this existed in May 1940, but by September when the German Operation Sea Lion landings were planned, the British had begun to harden their coastal defenses and the Army had begun receiving heavy weapons. And this was a hard break, because after September the weather in the Channel begins to deteriorate.



Navigate the CIH World War II Section:
[Return to World War II: England alone page]
[Return to World War II: England page]
[About Us]
[Allies] [Biographies] [Children] [Concentration camps] [Countries] [Decision] [Denyers/Apologists] [Displaced persons]
[Economics] [Eisatzgruppen] [Eugenics] [German Jews] [Ghettoes] [Impact] [Justice] [Literature]
[Movies] [NAZIs] [Occupied Poland] [Process] [Propagada] [Resistance] [Restitution] [Questions] [SA] [SS] [Special situations] [Targets] [Wansee Conference]
[Return to the World War II]
[Return to Main Holocaust page]
[Return to the Main mass killing page]
[Return to CIH Home page]

Created: 7:20 AM 11/29/2022
Last updated: 5:05 PM 12/4/2022