Wartime tank traps uncovered on Northumberland beach

The discovery of Second World War barricades have transformed a beach on the Northumberland coast into scenes reminiscent of the film Saving Private Ryan.

The coastal defences are believed to have been built in 1940 after the Dunkirk evacuation to protect against potential invasion.

The steel barriers have been exposed for the first time in ten years on Blyth beach following heavy rainfall and high tides.

War time anti tank traps have been exposed on a Northumberland beach for the first time in a decade following high tides and heavy rains which stripped away much of the sand

War time anti tank traps have been exposed on a Northumberland beach for the first time in a decade following high tides and heavy rains which stripped away much of the sand

War time anti tank traps have been exposed on a Northumberland beach for the first time in a decade following high tides and heavy rains which stripped away much of the sand

The metal poles were driven into the sand to protect the beach in the early 1940s when fear of a possible German invasion were at their highest

The metal poles were driven into the sand to protect the beach in the early 1940s when fear of a possible German invasion were at their highest

The metal poles were driven into the sand to protect the beach in the early 1940s when fear of a possible German invasion were at their highest 

Around four feet of sand was stripped from the beach following the high tide and storms to hit the beach at Blyth

Around four feet of sand was stripped from the beach following the high tide and storms to hit the beach at Blyth

Around four feet of sand was stripped from the beach following the high tide and storms to hit the beach at Blyth

A giant sinkhole opened up on the same beach last week. 

Colin Durward, director and chairman of Blyth Battery said: ‘After Dunkirk there was a very real threat of invasion and that’s why the Home Guard was brought in to defend.

‘The beach now looks like a scene out of a WW2 film like Saving Private Ryan.

‘I guess for some people you could even describe it as looking like scaffolding, metal pipes and bits that it’s made out of.

‘These defences are another example of how we as a country are not prepared to give up lightly.

‘It’s exciting for people to see history coming to life. The reminders of it – whether it’s ammunition getting washed ashore or these defences being unveiled.

Local historian Colin Durward said it was likely the Home Guard built the defences to repel a potential German attack

Local historian Colin Durward said it was likely the Home Guard built the defences to repel a potential German attack

Local historian Colin Durward said it was likely the Home Guard built the defences to repel a potential German attack

Hitler ordered his generals to plan for the invasion of Britain, however to enact Operation Sealion the Luftwaffe required complete aerial superiority to increase the chances of success of his invasion

Mr Durward said the newly-uncovered structures were akin to those fitted to Curracloe Beach in County Wexford for the filming of the dramatic landing scenes in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks

Mr Durward said the newly-uncovered structures were akin to those fitted to Curracloe Beach in County Wexford for the filming of the dramatic landing scenes in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks

Mr Durward said the newly-uncovered structures were akin to those fitted to Curracloe Beach in County Wexford for the filming of the dramatic landing scenes in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks

According to Mr Durward, there are no known photographs of the beach from the war

According to Mr Durward, there are no known photographs of the beach from the war

According to Mr Durward, there are no known photographs of the beach from the war

Mr Durward said he believes this is the first time the wartime defences in Blyth have been exposed in a decade

Mr Durward said he believes this is the first time the wartime defences in Blyth have been exposed in a decade

Mr Durward said he believes this is the first time the wartime defences in Blyth have been exposed in a decade

According to Mr Durward, during the war, the beach would have also been protected by landmines and other obstacles

According to Mr Durward, during the war, the beach would have also been protected by landmines and other obstacles

According to Mr Durward, during the war, the beach would have also been protected by landmines and other obstacles 

‘There is a lot of stuff out there with stories to tell.’

In recent weeks, rain fall across Northumberland has reached higher totals of 35/40mm in some locations.

It is understood that this, along with high tides, resulted in the barricades being exposed.

Mr Durward added: ‘They haven’t been unearthed for at least ten years.

‘There were minefields and obstacles because it was the first beach where an invasion could take place north of the Tyne, so the beaches up to Berwick-upon-Tweed were all set up with defences.

‘New parts of the defences have been exposed that I had not seen and when you see something new it is just terrific.

‘There’s no known photographs of what the beach looked like during the wartime so when these bits are unearthed it’s another piece that features into your imagination of how it really was.

‘They are a testimony of what people went through in the war.’ 

Why have the objects reappeared after a decade?

Approximately four feet of sand was stripped away from Blyth beach following some especially high tides and heavy rains. 

It is highly likely that the sand was shifted along the coast in a process known as longshore drift. 

Ordinarily, the wind blows the waves on the beach at an angle which pushes the sand and sediment up the beach. When the water returns to the sea it goes perpendicular to the beach. 

This causes a zig zag motion pushing sand along the coast line. 

In areas affected by longshore drift, wooden groynes are installed to keep the sand on the beach. 

But in times with heavy rain or high tides, the protective groynes can be overwhelmed – especially when the waves approach from a different direction.   

It is likely that the missing sand will be replaced naturally over the coming months.  

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