The 11th Highland Light Infantry (15th Division) took over the defences Bawdsey-Hollesley on 26th Feb 1941. On deployment along the Suffolk Coast, 15th Div intelligence Summary No 1, March 3rd 1941 stated that the new Divisional Front was suitable as a first objective in any German invasion. Operational Instruction No 14 issued to the battalion on March 13th stated that work was to continue on the defence works commenced by the previous battalion. All section posts were to be completed to stage III and anti-tank guns and machine guns, if possible, were to be sited in infantry localities. A triple wire obstacle (two double apron fences with a single Dannert fence in the middle) were to be constructed for all platoon and company localities. Water rations at the rate of one gallon per man per day and food rations for seven days were to be stored at each locality. The battalion was supported by two machine gun sections from 1/7 Middlesex Regt and a range of artillery, including two six inch guns from 10/1st Super Heavy Regt.
The battalion battle dispositions were as follows:
“A” Company – defence of Bawdsey RDF station.
“D” Company – defence of Bawdsey
“B” Comapnay – defence of Alderton
“C” Company – defence of Hollesley
In addition platoons were located at Orford and Melton. The battalion reserve was located in the Hollesley area and Hill 50 (Bawdsey) was held as a strong point with infantry, machine guns, mortars(3” and 6” mortar detachments) and a 6 pdr anti-tank gun . At first battalion HQ was in a wood near Hollesley (HQ1 on map) and the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) at the Lodge (RAP1 on map). Later battalion HQ moved to a quarry in Hollesley (HQ2) and the RAP to “The Bungalow”, Hollesley (RAP2).
On orders “stand to” the following action was to be taken: the sluice at Dumb-Boy was to be opened; beach garrisons and artillery units will be manned at 100%; demolition detachments will proceed to demolition sites and keep these under constant observation; the Home Guard to be warned and all HG ranks to wear uniforms and carry arms and HG HQ’s to be manned 24 hrs. On “action stations”, all Home Guard will be called out, road blocks placed in position and demolition sites manned.
The amount of time spent on field defence construction and the corresponding lack of time spent on training is clear in this battalion’s War Diary. Work on field defences commenced on the battalion’s arrival in the area and from May onwards this included erecting Z1 scaffolding along the beach (this slowed down in June due to a shortage of material, but picked up again from July, the battalion also having to provide working parties to unload scaffolding from trains at Woodbridge station). In addition a company of C platoon was involved in the construction of defences at Melton Bridge for the Home Guard. During August the War Diary notes training during the month as having practically ceased in order to complete the field defences. Prior to its arrival in Suffolk, the battalion was also heavily involved in beach defence construction and as a result the War diary notes that standards in “B” Company were not up to scratch, with the men being ill-disciplined and dirty unless chased all the time.
The Home Guard unit in the area was “A” company, 5th Battalion Suffolk Home Guard with its head quarters at Melton. Its role was the defence of nodal points (one platoon at Alderton, one at Hollesley and one at Melton Bridge), to establish patrols and to establish observation posts (one section at Ramsholt specifically to establish an observation post).
Finally, of interest, the War Diary notes a ‘motorless day’ being set up partly to help conserve petrol supplies.
11 HLI - Bawdsey RDF Station 11 HLI - Bawdsey & Alderton
11 HLI - Hollesley 11 HLI - Orford
11 HLI - Artillery Fire Plan 11 HLI - home Guard
11 HLI papers, TNA