2/4 Essex

The battalion arrived at Saxmundham on 2 Nov 1939 with “B” Company moving to Aldeburgh and “D” Company to Leiston. The battalion was responsible for holding the Coast from Aldeburgh to Blythburgh.

On code word “Armada” the following operation order was to be put in place. “B” Company was to hold Aldeburgh and “D” Company Leiston with a series of Strong Points. “T” Company was in reserve at Yoxford. “HQ” Company held Knodishall Whin with two platoons with another platoon in reserve at Knodishall Green. Battalion staff were based at North Lodge, Saxmudham and provided another reserve. An advance battalion HQ was to be established at Knodishall Whin. The following light signals were to be used:

• Red – when the strong point was completely surrounded and being attacked on all sides.
• Green – when enemy divided and are advancing past the strong point.

Companies were to detail two runners to report to advance battalion HQ as well as a dispatch rider being available.

Any Invasion force was only to be opposed by the battalion’s light machine guns and anti-tank rifles between Aldeburgh and Sizewell until they were outnumbered when they were then to withdraw to the area held by their companies. This withdrawal would be covered by the Bren Carrier platoon.

Main roads were to be blocked but not destroyed.

341 Battery, located at Westleton, was responsible for the area Cliff House (south of Dunwich) to Dunwich .

  Above: Defence Scheme, 2/4 Essex - based on 163rd Brigade papers, TNA

All troops were to carry 100 rounds ammunition and one days iron ration. Each anti-tank rifle was to have four magazines. A 15 hundredweight truck was to move to advance battalion HQ at Knodishall Whin where 20 boxes of ammunition was held for distribution as required. The remainder of the Battalion ammunition was held at Battalion HQ (with a three ton lorry available for distribution to forward companies).

Advanced dressing stations were to be established at Aldeburgh and Leiston with the Casualty Clearing Station at Saxmundham.

The war Diary notes that works on digging defence posts began on 16th Nov. Also noted are mobile patrols sent out by companies on roads Leiston, Aldringham, Thorpeness and Aldeburgh as well as beach patrols at Thorpeness (Diary entry 4th Jan 1940).

A Diary entry on 6th Feb 1940 notes a report from Coast Guards at Walton on Naze reporting balloons were ‘being strewn’ by the enemy and were filled with a highly dangerous gas that exploded on touch. A BBC news bulletin (7th Feb) reported that these were in fact meteorological balloons and quite harmless!

References:
2/4 Essex papers, TNA
163rd Brigade papers, TNA

essex

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