7th Manchesters

The battalion front extended from Lake Lothing in the south to Gunton in the north. Part of the battalion front was held by the Royal Navy. The battalion intention was to defend its front and destroy any enemy forces landed within it.

The Defence Scheme comprised of holding a line of posts continuously around the battalion front. These posts were to be constructed to hold at least 7 men complete with weapons, ammunition, rations and water. All posts were to be constructed for all round defence and were to be camouflaged. There was to be no withdrawal from posts. For anti-aircraft defence, slit trenches were to be dug at least 20 yards from posts and at right angles to posts from which two or three men could open rifle fire at low flying aircraft. Posts were to be manned day and night. Beach obstacles included mine fields and various wire obstacles. The reserve, available for immediate counter attack comprised the carrier platoon, motor cycle platoon, mortar platoon and the bulk of the HQ platoon.

According to the War Diary, fire power support was provided by 369 Field Battery, 109th Field Regt., an armoured train and machine guns from a company of P.L Kensingtons. However this appears to be in part inconsistent with 55th Division War Diary – it gives 369 Field Battery’s left hand battery (four 75mm guns) as only firing up to Lowestoft Harbour. The Divisional War Diary also lists 204 Field Battery (four 4.5” howitzers) covering beaches from Lowestoft Harbour to Corton.

Initially, the battalion also held the “Normanston Park” Line, with the L.D.V holding observation posts and other designated posts/road blocks to be held in emergency. On 19th August, instructions were received for the battalion to hold the new “Oulton Line", with the Home Guard taking over the “Normanston Park” Line.

How serious the threat of invasion was taken at the time can be judged from a memo from the commanding officer to be read to all ranks. The memo refers to all leave cancelled (except for the “gravest reasons”) and that all ranks were to be no more than five minutes from their posts. It also states that anyone who attempts to evade their duties, apply for leave on questionable grounds, who goes sick unnecessary was nothing less than a traitor and deserter in the face of the enemy. It also emphasized that the battalion was now in the front line, and that troops may at any moment have to fight and stay fighting – no withdrawal.

The war diary also provides some interesting statistics on the strength of troops, weapons and ammunition. As at September 1940, the battalion strength was 35 officers and 856 other ranks. Weapons were:

867 rifles (184,769 rounds), 48 Bren Guns and 6 Lewis Guns (109,000 rounds), two 3” mortars (159 rounds), 12 2” mortars (568 HE and 294 smoke rounds), 16 anti-tank rifles (940 rounds), 36 .455 pistols (624 rounds) and one .38 pistol (6 rounds). It was also expected to receive six Thomson sub-machine guns in the immediate future. The battalion also had 62 pedal bicycles, 20 motor cycles (5 awaiting spares), one car, five 8 cwt trucks, six 30 cwt trucks (one awaiting spares) and 10 Bren carriers.
..

 7th Manchesters - Battalion south area (showing Normanston Park 7th Manchesters - Battlion north area
 and Oulton Lines)

 

  7th Manchesters - LDV posts

 
  7th Manchesters - Blocks and Demolitions
 
References:

7th Manchester papers, NRA
55th Div papers, NRA

ldv

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