With the prospect of invasion in 1940, following the evacuation at Dunkirk, Britain quickly prepared for the expectation that Germany would try to invade this country. As well as the coastal defences, inland preparations began too, with the hurried construction of small brick and concrete bunkers, known as ‘Pill-Boxes’.
(All photos can be enlarged, to be seen in detail)
Many of these remain, and can be found in all parts of the country, including this one at a country lane road junction in the small hamlet of Hoe, around one mile from where I live in Beetley. The idea was to site them at strategic points, including close to targets like railway tracks, and the places where various roads converged. This one is very near the now disused railway line that once carried trains up to the north coast of Norfolk, and the towns of Holt, Sheringham, and Cromer. They were intended to be occupied by either Home Guard volunteers, or regular troops. Defended by a light machine-gun, and ordinary rifles, having to fight inside the cramped space of one of these small buildings cannot have been a welcome prospect for any soldier given the task. As you can see from my shadow in this photo, the entrance was small, and the interior only had room for around three men.
If German parachutists had arrived in force, it is unlikely that such a defence would have troubled them for too long. The position is easily outflanked by a larger body of troops, and the fate of those inside would be inevitable. They would either be killed during the fighting, or captured. Had they managed to inflict any casualties on their attackers, there is also the real possibility that they might have been executed after surrendering.
Over the last 79 years, nature has done its best to reclaim the ugly intruder. But it is a testament to how well-made it was that it still exists today, exactly as it would have looked in 1940. And it could still be used for the purpose it was intended for.