6th Royal Sussex

The battalion area comprised mainly of good flat agricultural land dotted with small woods. It was considered ideal tank country but also with good fields of fire. Some good natural anti-tank obstacles existed in the forward area. Easton Broad protected the right flank for approx 3 ½ miles, in the centre Covehithe Broad provided an adequate obstacle for 800 yards while the left flank was covered by Benacre Broad and the Hundred River and marshes. Also to the north of Covehithe Broad, cliffs rising to 15 foot ran for three quarters of a mile. The nodal point of Wrentham was in the centre of the battalion area. Roads in the area are mainly narrow and twisting.

The most likely from of attack expected were large surprise air landings in the rear area combined with a seaborne attack. Defence was to be organized in depth to counter this threat, including alternative anti-tank gun positions to fight a ‘Western Battle’ i.e. airborne attack in the rear of infantry localities. Artillery and machine guns had alternative tasks to fight the Western Battle. A rear line of platoon localities was also constructed from the marshes in the south running through Scots Covert-Golden square-Priory Fram-Benacre Wood-Foxbarrow Covert. Anti-tank ditches covered both the front and rear area.

There is an interesting note in the War Diary about crops obscuring fields of fire of Defence Posts. If this was a problem, arrangements were to be made for cutting implements and farm rollers to be kept near posts so that the crop could be flattened with the minimum of delay on ‘Action Stations’. In addition, 10 filled sandbags were also to be kept at posts in order to raise the fire step or weapon mountings to clear any obstruction.

The beach was protected with tubular scaffolding, minefields and concrete tank blocks. Wire would appear to have been in short supply – when sufficient wire became available the intention was to wire along the line of the rear defended localities, all company sub-areas, platoon areas and section posts. In addition tubular scaffolding was to be wired to the height of three Dannert wire coils.

Road blocks were of removable metal rails except for where roads in the rear defended localities bisected wire obstacles, when the tubular scaffolding road block was in use. On ‘Action Stations’ all road blocks were to be put in place. Those more than 5 miles from the Coast were to be removed after 5 minutes. Those within 5 miles of the Coast, with the exception of reinforcement routes, were to remain closed. Road craters were to be fired on the orders of Battalion HQ, orders from company sub areas if the local commander thought the situation warranted it or by the firing party without orders if enemy AFV were approaching. Three bridges in the area were prepared for demolition – at Potters Bridge, Latymere Dam and Rushmere.

The principal role of the artillery covering the Battalion front was anti-ship, anti-barge and anti-tank. Anti-tank guns were to move to their principal position covering the beaches on ‘Action Stations’. The RAF could provide close bombing support, with a pre arranged target in the Covehithe area. RAF squadron No 2 (squadron letters K.O) was responsible for reconnaissance of the area. The pilot would call for a signal by circling and firing a green very light. All units down to company had a T Panel apparatus and RAF signal manual. A message dropping station was also in the battalion area.

Reserves for counter attack were small, the idea of the Defence Policy being to make full use of the sea as an anti-tank obstacle. Immediate reserves were an Anti-tank company and one section from 7th Royal Sussex. In support of 15th Division, two Brigades of 42nd Division were to move to concentration areas at Ipswich and Debenham on ‘Action Stations’.

The battalion maintained a mobile anti-paratroop column consisting of one platoon and one section of carriers. The column was to report to the section post at Wrentham Cross Roads at 9.00am daily. The Rifle Companies took it in turn to provide the duty platoon. If ‘Action Stations’ was called, the locality of the duty platoon was to be manned by ‘thinning’ out other section posts.

The RAP was located at Church Farm, South Cove with the exception of ‘B’ Company, who were to use the RAP located at Benacre Park. The Prisoner of War cage was located at Sotterley Hall.

The Home Guard in the area was ‘A’ Company (Covehithe, Wrentham, Benacre and Henstead platoons) and ‘D’ Company (Frostenden Platoon), 4th Suffolk Battalion. The principal role of the Home Guard was the defence of Wrentham, a nodal point and also adding depth to the defence by defending other posts in the battalion area.

6th Royal Sussex Defence Scheme - Section posts, road blocks etc 6th Royal Sussex Defence scheme - Artillery Fire Plan

  6th Royal Sussex Defence Scheme - Home Guard Posts

References:
6th Royal Sussex, papers, TNA
37 Brigade papers, TNA
15th Div papers, TNA

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