“It must be remembered that the modern battle is largely fought along the road systems” – Military Training Pamphlet No. 23 Part II – The Infantry Division in The Defence, 1942.
In 1940, towns and villages which the main road network ran through were designated Nodal Points.
The object of Nodal Points was to:
To harass, impede and delay the advance of the enemy.
To deny roads on which the Nodal Points are situated to enemy Armoured Fighting Vehicles and motorized vehicles.
Where Nodal Points are situated on natural lines, they may be used as bounds for forward movement of reserve formations
The Home Guard was to provide the garrison for these defences. Nodal Points were to be held to the last man and last round. They were to be given all round defence, based on mutually supporting posts with a central ‘keep’.
The following towns and villages were designated Nodal Points in 1940 (with priority in terms of constructing defences):
First Priority: Ipswich, Melton, Wickham Market, Stratford St Andrew, Saxmundham, Yoxford, Blythburgh, Halesworth, Wrentham, Beccles, Leiston.
Second Priority: Stratford St Mary, Nayland, Bures, Hadleigh, Claydon, Framlingham, Debenham, Eye, Ixworth, Oakley, Botesdale, Bungay, Sudbury*, Long Melford*, Lavenham*, Bury St Edmonds*.
Third Priority: Haverhill, Stradishall.
* On Corps Line
In 1941 Eastern Command catergorised Nodal Points as either Catergory A, B or C :
Catergory A - Nodal Points within 15 miles of the Coast. Those on the routes of re-inforcing formations. Those with five or more essential roads leading into them.
Catergory B - Those points east of the GHQ Stop Line not in Catergory A.
Catergory C - Those points west of the GHQ Stop Line not in Catergory A.
By 1942 Eastern Command had included all Nodal Points under the definition of 'Defended Places' and the definition of Catergory C had become those places with an Invasion Committee in place with a seperate military representative and their own defence schemes.
The definition of a Defended Place was any place having an approved garrison of sufficient strength to hold its defences. It could be a location of any size from a large town to a small village and the garrison could either be Field Forces or the Home Guard. Corps Commands and District Commands were responsible for selecting Defended Places and approving their garrison and defence scheme. Terms such as Nodal Points, Defiles etc were no longer to be used.
The object of a Defended Place was to deny the use of roads to the enemy, to cause the enemy casualties and delay – i.e. to have a cumulative effect on the enemy’s strength and speed of advance and allow the reserves to strike back at the enemy under favorable conditions.
The requirements for a Defended Place in order of priority were:
Central keep with an adequate garrison
A reserve held centrally and ready when necessary to take offensive action.
If sufficient men available, defended localities covering the main approaches.
Alternative positions prepared.
The purpose of the defences was to avoid defeat in detail, prolong the defence after the enemy has penetrated or by-passed the locality and enable guerilla tactics to be used when the defence can no longer maintain its position.