19 Jun 2013
Our speaker for June was SMHS member, Peter Hibbs. His talk for the evening was ‘The Battlefield Beneath Your Feet'. It detailed the stages of the war in East Sussex covering The Phoney War, The Invasion Scare, Overlord/Diver and Stand Down/Clear Up.
Pete explained that following the declaration of war there was a period where nothing really happened - then came the invasion scare. The Local Defence Volunteers were formed in May 1940 and General Ironside, Commander-in-Chief GHQ had multiple problems. When the British Expeditionary Force were evacuated from Dunkirk, they left behind 600 tanks, 1000 field guns/artillery pieces, 500 anti-aircraft guns and 850 anti-tank guns, Ironside could not fight a mobile war. He had no option but to put in place static linear defences including stop lines, coastal defences and nodal points, all designed to hold up invading forces long enough for regular troops to advance to meet the enemy.
Using Google Earth Pete showed how the Royal Military Canal was incorporated into a Stop Line and re-fortified with pillboxes. He took us through a computer reconstruction of the anti-invasion defences at Cuckmere Haven and familiarised us with nodal points using Cripp's Corner as a local example.
Moving on to the Overlord/Diver period he touched on the V1 threat and focussed on Brighton's Stanmer Park, a D-Day marshalling area and the landing craft hards and embarkation points along the Sussex Coast.
Pete's research entitled The Defence of East Sussex Project is undoubtedly the most comprehensive study of the WW2 anti-invasion defences in the East Sussex. His website http://www.pillbox.org.uk is worth visiting on a regular basis as he keeps an up-to-date blog of his adventures…
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7.30pm for 8.00pm start
Function Room of the
Royal Oak Public House,
Station Street, Lewes,
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