4th Suffolks

Operation Order No 1 (8th Nov 1939), 4th Suffolks notes expected enemy action was:

(a) dropping of parachute troops for sabotage or to disrupt communications
(b) Landing on beaches or sudden attacks on the ports of Lowestoft and Yarmouth either for sabotage or to seize the port for larger landing operations.

For the defence of Lowestoft, 4th Suffolks had two companies (‘A’ and ‘C’ company) and a mortar detachment. In support was 148 Field Regt (419 Battery) with six 18 pounders and 200 naval ratings. For defence against parachute troops, ‘B’ company was based at Loddon (just over the border in Norfolk) and H.Q company at Harleston. Battalion reserve, ‘D’ company, was at Beccles. Battalion HQ was at Ashmans Hall, Beccles. The Regimental Aid post was at Carlton Colville. Four stretcher bearers were to be attached to both ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies on the alarm being given. Ammunition available was 50 rounds per rifle, 1,000 rounds per light machine gun and 4,000 rounds per Bren Carrier.

Instructions were issued that no defence works were to be dug or wiring carried out. However breastworks could be constructed when sandbags became available. In the event of a landing, ‘D’ company was to move to Carlton Colville to keep the Lowestoft-Beccles road clear – any evacuees where to be encouraged to move in a southerly direction via Henstead /Sotterley.

On Nov 15th, ‘D’ company relieved ‘C’ company, ‘C’ company moving just over the border into Norfolk at St Olaves (its role to defend the road and rail bridges over the River Yare). Lowestoft Operation Order No 1 detailed the defence of Lowestoft. identification of enemy vessels was the responsibility of the Naval lookouts (end of South Pier and SE turret of South Pier Pavilion) and Coastguard lookouts (NE corner of Hamilton Dock). On receipt of the alarm, ‘A’ and ‘D’ companies were to man the posts shown on the map below. The officer commanding 419 Field battery would receive information direct from the senior Naval Officer and would open fire on all craft identified to him. If in doubt he would use the guns in an ‘Examination Role’ and If the first warning shot was ignored would open fire without further warning. A First Aid Post was to be established at the Seaman’s Institute, Suffolk Road.

Battery Role: A - cover approaches to harbour and beaches southwards
  B - cover entrance to harbour
  C - cover entrance to harbour
  D - cover approaches to harbour and beaches northwards
Infantry Role: No 1 post - to cover beach and protect battery position C
  No 2 post - cover beaches south and prevent enemy moving north along mole
  No 3 post - cover entrance to harbour and South Pier
  No 4 post - cover entrance to harbour and South Pier
  No 5 post - cover South Pier
  No 6 post - cover beaches southwards and exit from South Pier

The swing bridge was to be closed to traffic during Air Raids or Raid alerts. If the bridge was damaged by bombing a motor –boat would be available for military use.

HQ company role was to man positions at Carlton Colville to prevent enemy movement south from Lowestoft in the event of any successful landing. The Training Company would move to Beccles and Aldeby to cover the crossings over the River Waveney. One platoon of ‘D’ company was to co-operate with the permanent guard of R.D Station at Stoke Holy Cross (Norfolk).

In May 1940 things became more urgent, no doubt due to the events happening in France, as demonstrated by 18th Division Operation Order No 1, 11 May 1940. The Code word for enemy attack was ‘Seagull’: attack probable – ‘Seagull Expected’; attack on coast imminent – ‘Seagull Arriving’. On ‘Seagull Arriving’ work on digging and wiring defences was to begin. The Operation Order of 11 May stated that ‘Seagull Expected’ was to come into force with the addition that all defence posts at Lowestoft were to be dug and wired at once. The 18th Div Defence Scheme dated 26th May 1940 notes that road and rail bridges between Lowestoft and Reedham (Norfolk) were to be prepared for demolition. The role of the Local Defence Volunteers was noted as being static and their primary role being information collection and distribution.

References:

4th Suffolk papers, TNA
18th Div papers, TNA

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