Welcome to Seelöwe Nord

by Phil Johnson | February 16th, 2010

The Hotchkiss 6 Pounder Pill Box – Hunmanby Gap, Filey Bay, East Yorkshire

Seelöwe Nord uses real settings and historical context, despite being a work of fiction. This photograph shows the remains of a British pill-box from 1940, covering the beach of Filey Bay and the exit from the beach at Hunmanby Gap. The bracket for an anti-tank gun or heavy machine gun can still be seen by the firing port. As can be seen, the position is situated in defilade with an excellent shoot right down the beach. Due to erosion, the pill box will not be around for much longer. This area of Filey Bay is the setting for one of the early battles in the novel. Visitors can walk this stretch of coastline and still see the remaining pill boxes and beach defences from 1940, including the derelict remains of the heavy gun battery at Reighton Gap, most of which has toppled onto the beach.

The Cover Photograph

The photograph used for the cover was provided courtesy of the US National Archive and Research Agency (NARA) via Joe McCrary at photoresponse.com, an official vendor for the agency. The cost was pretty reasonable, less that £20 sterling, and has no known copyright, though source credits are applicable. The design team at the publishers did a fantastic job with the cover. I asked them to make it stark, aggressive, bold and uncompromising. I think they achieved my wishes and much more. The photo is actually purported to have been taken in Russia during the battles on the Eastern Front, and to be honest, it looks a little posed, however, I thought it reflected the sub-title of Seelöwe Nord perfectly – THE GERMANS ARE COMING!

Defence in Depth

All along the coastal strip of Filey Bay, you can see the depth positions of the 1940 beach defences. This is one of three pill-boxes that are mutually supporting and situated in depth of the Reighton Heavy Gun Battery. They also bar the advance inland towards the Reighton-Speeton ridge which dominates the exits from the beach at the southern end of Filey Bay.

Each month we’ll be taking a detailed look at some of the key locations and events within Seelöwe Nord, starting with…

Next Month

Reighton Heavy Gun Battery and the assault on Hunmanby Gap

Buy Seelöwe Nord now from Amazon: http://bit.ly/cc2KfJ

2 Responses to “Welcome to Seelöwe Nord”

  1. avatar John Thompson says:

    I’ve walked this stretch of the beach and you really get a feel for just how defensive all this stretch actually was. I for one wouldn’t have wanted to be landing there!!

  2. avatar Andy Johnson says:

    Absolutely – if you ever visit Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the D-Day landing beaches, the similiarity between the coastline there and at Filey/Bridlington is striking. In Alan Brookes war diary, he notes that early on in his appointment of C in C Home Forces he toured this stretch of coast-line and was impressed with the progress of the coastal defences, saying that ‘much good work has been done there’. I suspect that the undoing of the British defences, if a landing had ever happened, would have been a simple matter of lack of ammunition and a lack of an effective mobile reserve to deal with any glider/parachute landings in depth of the beach. Even today however, one can see that the various pill boxes and associated defences were very well sited indeed.

Welcome!

Seelöwe Nord is the online home of Andy Johnson, a war fiction novelist. Seelöwe Nord is a war novel that tells the alternative history of Operation Sealion, the proposed German invasion of Britain in 1940. Followed by Thunder in May, and the recently released Crucible of Fate, the trilogy of War Fiction remains a popular read within the genre.

Andy has also started to publish small Leadership and Management Booklets drawing from his extensive experience across many sectors and industries, both military and civilian, the first of which is entitled Captains of the Gate and is now available for download on eReaders directly from Amazon.