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Anti Invasion Defences – Hastings Seafront

Anti Invasion Defences - Hastings

The above image shows part of the anti invasion defences put up along Hastings seafront during 1940* I can’t imagine how it would have felt to the residents of Hastings seeing these go up. German forces had conquered great swathes of Europe, and forced our army to evacuate at Dunkirk. That operation was successful in rescuing the bulk of our forces, however a huge amount of equipment was left behind. In the skies above, the Battle of Britain was beginning.

Preparations in Hastings included blowing up part of the Harbour Arm, and dismantling the beach side section of the Pier. These measures were taken to prevent German forces from using them as landing stages. Time passed and the threat ebbed, but for those months during 1940 the prospect of seeing the German invasion force on the horizon was a real possibility. The strength of our Navy, and the victory by the RAF  ensured that Operation Sealion never got started. Historians now doubt whether the invasion was ever seriously considered. If you’re interesting in that type of thing, the entire German plan can be downloaded and read.

The other interesting aspect to the original photo is the sailor and his parents watching the anti invasion defences being built. Can anyone identify them?

I found the original photograph in Hastings Library, so credit for it goes to East Sussex Libraries service. The two photographs used to create the image above are shown below.

*This date was on the original photo, but the commenters below have kindly identified the photo as being taken in 1943 when the defences were dismantled. The soldier on the right is Fredrick William Horton of Canadian regiment 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards.


Anti Invasion Defences

Anti Invasion Defences


4 responses to “Anti Invasion Defences – Hastings Seafront”

  1. Pete avatar

    I think they are dismantling the defences as the bared wire is snipped in piles. It would have been laid from coils and bounced along onto the angle iron pickets which also seem to have been cut. The pipeline along the rear is a mystery though. Hastings Pier was also sectioned in the Access Section and the 15 columns or so replaced in 1946. Two oil pipes ran along the pier deck fed by tanks on White Rock hill. One was to set fire to the sea in the event of invasion. Maybe the pipe was a similar contraption.

    Well done with the merging of the pictures.

    1. Compelling Photography avatar

      Thanks Pete. The comment below confirms that they are being taken down. I was misled by the date on the original photo! I too wondered about the pipe.

  2. Glen avatar

    Your Anti Invasion Defense is correct. But it was late 1943 and they were taking it down. The soldier on the right is a Canadian Fredrick William Horton of the 4PLDG’s.

    My father… I have the same picture hanging in my living room here in Canada….

    1. Compelling Photography avatar

      Wow, fantastic. Thank you for the information. It’s great to be able to put names to the faces of the people in these photographs.

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