FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Landguard’s legacy

Posted in England, Felixstowe by folkestonejack on July 11, 2015

Although it was the fort that drew me to this spot on the Suffolk coast, I didn’t realise at the outset how fascinated I would be by the defensive constructions of the Second World War which now sit in the middle of a nature reserve. It is quite a legacy but the peaceful setting of today makes it incredibly hard to fully appreciate the climate of fear in which they were constructed, following the fall of Dunkirk.

One of many defensive features from the Second World War scattered across the peninsula

One of many defensive features from the Second World War scattered across the peninsula

An assessment of the threat posed by invasion in 1940 emphasised the extreme vulnerability of the coastline in this area, which can hardly have been a great surprise since it had been recognised as such across the centuries (indeed, it was actually subjected to attack in 1667 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War). The area of greatest concern stretched from Landguard to the Deben, where the beaches were considered to be likely spots for the landing of armoured vehicles, thereby providing them with immediate access to the roads heading inland.

To counter this threat the defences at Landguard Point were strengthened with a combination of concrete pillboxes, batteries, infantry trenches, searchlight emplacements, steel scaffolding barriers, barbed wire entanglements, anti-tank blocks and dragon’s teeth (pyramids of concrete designed to impede the movement of vehicles). In addition to this, barrage balloons were sited across the peninsula. Inevitably, it is the concrete pillboxes that have survived to the present day.

The density of these defensive constructions was repeated across the nearby coastline. A total of 263 pillboxes had been constructed in the South Suffolk sector by November 1940, supplemented by 42 on searchlight sites (according to the handy four-part guide to second world war archaeology in Suffolk which are freely available at sites across the county, including at Landguard Fort).

Defensive points at Landguard Point

Coastal defence at Landguard Point

Today the shingle spit at Landguard is a nature reserve where you can take a stroll along the boardwalk and admire the vegetated shingle habitat which is populated with sea kale, sea rocket and scarlet pimpernel. It is a wonderful spot to visit and take a moment to relax.

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