On a hot day in September we walked from Weybourne Hope on a ramble towards Sheringham. Very clear views across a deep blue sea. The cliffs here are eroding swiftly sending sandstone down on to the gravelly beaches.
We had come to see the defences put here in
1940, when Britain had serious expectations of being invaded by Hitler’s Third Reich.
In fact the defence of this area began even earlier than that. Just a hundred years ago the east coast towns of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool were shelled by German warships, killing hundreds of civilians.
The British government began to see how vulnerable this country was to attack across the North Sea (often still called the German Ocean). There is quite a deep anchorage off Weybourne Hope, ideal for ships landing invasion troops. There were even defences in this area way back in 1588 at the time of the Spanish Armada.
Climbing up from Weybourne Beach we passed two good examples of machine gun pill-boxes, and then another standing in what is now the middle of a cultivated field, but which in 1940 was placed in a hedgerow.
Further on are two more, one now converted into a bird hide.
As we continued we passed a very deep ditch
now on the edge of the cliff. Had this been on lower ground it might have been assumed to be a tank-trap. It wasn’t. It was probably filled with barbed wire to thwart attempts to scale the cliffs to outflank the defences of Weybourne Hope. It might have been used to shelter rifleman firing down on to the beach below.
Fortunately, these defences were never used. The Nazi invasion never came.
But it might have.
Generations today might have had to think of Weybourne Hope in the way they consider battlegrounds like Ypres or Arnhem, Bastogne or Alamein.
Now the sea itself is attacking these defences, eroding them away, putting them much nearer to the cliff edge than they ever were.
So do go and look at them while they are still there. They are a hugely important part of