Diver Gun Strip

Although Suffolk received its first flying bomb on June 16th 1944 , which landed at Peasenhall, this was actually a ramp launched missile that had malfunctioned and overshot its target, London, continuing until it ran out of fuel. The main V1 activity was not to reach Suffolk until September.

By the beginning of September 1944, the Allies had overrun the V1 ground launch sites – the last ground launched missiles were fired on September 1st. On September 5th, III Kampfgeschwader 3, a bomber unit which specialized in the air-launching of flying bombs, launched a few bombs from its Dutch bases before leaving for North-west Germany.

It was widely believed the V1 Campaign was more or less over. Orders were issued for the AA guns in the Diver Gun Belt to return to the areas they came from to resume defensive duties or await disbandment. The possibility of resumption in air-launched missiles was however taken into consideration. Although it was realized that air-launched missiles could target anywhere, the only limit being the range of the launching aircraft, it was assumed that the enemy, “being a Hun of one idea”, would continue to attack London, so the decision was taken to retain the Diver Box.

On September 16th, after a lull of 11 days in the V1 campaign, III KG.3 resumed its attacks on London, but this time extending their lines of attack over East Anglia, to the north of the Diver Box. A plan was hurriedly put in place to move guns to the East Coast – initially an additional 16 heavy and nine light batteries to the Harwich area and also three new sites in the Lowestoft / Yarmouth area. It soon became evident though that the Germans were air launching missiles well to the north of the Harwich area. It was recognized there was a limit to the extent that guns could be moved north to meet this direction of attack due to manpower shortages. As it was still assumed that London would be the main target in preference to northern England, the decision was taken to redeploy all the available defences from the South Coast to the East Coast, stretching from the Diver Box to Great Yarmouth. This deployment was known as the ‘Eastern Diver Gun Strip’, and extended in depth between lines running parallel to the coast 5,000 yards inland and 10,000 yards out to sea. The ‘Diver Gun Strip’ was itself part of the ‘London Diver Defence Area’.

Right - The Diver Gun Strip and Diver Box, part of the London
Diver Defence Area. RAF Groups and Sectors also shown.

AA Command received confirmation to abandon the Gun Belt on Sept 23rd and orders were issued to redeploy to the Diver Gun Strip. It was anticipated that the move would take four days. The move from the South Coast to the Strip did not go as well as the move from the Kentish Gun Belt to the South Coast due in principal to transport problems, manpower shortages and a breakdown in communications. The narrow, twisting roads of East Anglia did not help matters! The move of some 300 static guns was only completed on October 13th, 18 days later than intended.

The GDA areas of Harwich and Yarmouth / Lowestoft were incorporated into the Diver Gun Strip. Gun sites were classified as Diver, Diver/Normal or Normal. New sites were constructed and given either a Diver only role or a combined Diver/Normal role. Some of the existing sites were equipped with remote control predictors, AA No. 10 and Radar AA No. 3 Mk. V to enable them to perform a Diver role as well. The remaining existing sties had a Normal only role. When the Diver Gun Strip was in force, only those sites with a Diver or Diver/Normal role could engage flying bombs; Bonzo ammunition was to be used. When the Diver Gun Strip was not in operation, only those sites classified as Normal could open fire under normal engagement rules in force for the GDA. Bonzo ammunition was not to be used – ammunition fused with 208 was to be used.

Right - 3.7" HAA gun which has been mounted on a Pile mattress, Southwold.
Note the simple ammunition "trench shelter" locker.

Diver and Sroup layout
3.7 inch soutwold

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