By Bernard Lowry
In the summertime of 1940, Britain requested itself no longer 'will Hitler invade?' yet 'when?' SEALION, the German invasion plan, provoked the development of pillboxes, coastal defences, heavy-gun emplacements and anti-aircraft batteries, in addition to the formation of the house safeguard and covert teams. Later, new risks changed SEALION: radar detection platforms have been improved in the course of the Blitz years, as have been intelligence-gathering structures and listening posts. From 1944, Britain used to be back confronted with a perilous danger, Hitler's 'Vengeance weapons'. This identify presents a concise evaluation of Britain's protecting platforms, and provides a brilliant photo of battle at the domestic entrance.
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Additional resources for British Home Defences 1940-45 (Fortress, Volume 20)
ATS personnel man the predictor in the foreground: this controlled the shell fuse settings and the range, bearing and elevation of the guns. In the centre spotting binoculars are being used, whilst the range finder is being studied in the background. In the upper left-hand corner is one of the guns: the number 5 on the gun pit may indicate that this was a six-gun battery instead of the more usual four guns. (IWM H 32338) To give an added measure of protection against enemy bombers, bombing decoys were introduced under the aegis of the RAF’s No.
Conversely, more British naval reserves could therefore be allocated to possible anti-invasion measures. Additionally, Mussolini’s offer of troops for SEALION was disdainfully refused by Hitler, although bombers of the Regia Aeronautica would appear briefly and ineffectually over eastern England in November 1940. Hitler’s order that all preparations be in place by mid-August 1940 was impractical: the Kriegsmarine was just not ready. It was inferior in size to the Royal Navy and had already suffered heavy losses in the Norwegian campaign.
Whilst no messages from agents were detected (these having been either arrested or ‘turned’), the operation did provide much useful information on enemy signals traffic and led to the significant enlargement of the ‘Y’ intercept service. The latter, first established in the early 1920s, became part of SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) prior to the war: it provided technical analysis on wireless signals and made a crucial contribution to the overall intelligence effort. The war witnessed the rapid development of intelligence gathering systems and a series of listening posts (‘Y’ stations) were built throughout the country to feed intercepted enemy signals traffic to the Government Code and Cipher School (later GCHQ) at Bletchley Park (Station ‘X’).