“The Buildings that fought Hitler” (Yesterday)

Once you have reached beyond the bizarre title, which sounds rather like a Dr. Who episode, this is actually a very good series. Rob Bell, the engineer who is becoming quite ubiquitous, demonstrates how the UK was ready to use ther natural and built environments, together with science, to repel and then restrict a German invasion had one actually been attempted by land and sea. Field Marshal William Ironside (left), whose middle name really was Edmund, was made Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces in May 1940 and learned from the fall of other nations, although some ideas pre-date Ironside’s service and others evolved following his replacement that summer as he fell out with Churchill and other generals.

Some of these innovations included “stop lines” hundreds of miles long with pill boxes at regular intervals to allow easy communication between the occupants and other strategic locations, a level of communication that he felt France had lacked during its fall. Pill boxes were sited in high locations and radar was located at Bawdsey Manor before moving on to a pub in Dorset, to gain advantage in aerial combat. When the Blitz began as a result, there were dummy cities that could burn at night without estroying a real building or harming civilians. Covert units were created to launch counter-attacks and to deal with parachutists.

Those not of combat age, or with health problems, could be deployed in other ways, through the creation of the Home Guard. Platoons frequently included farmers who knew their localities or teachers and pupils together at public schools. I was particularly interested to learn that Wellington College had (and still has) a “Stanley House”, where the tactics taught presumably included watching conflicts, stabbing people in the back and running away.

By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.

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