Reighton Heavy Gun Battery and the assault on Hunmanby Gap

by Phil Johnson | March 2nd, 2010

Well, the book has been launched for exactly four weeks and has made a good start. I have been surprised by how much interest there is in this period and subject, although I acknowledge that this is the 70th anniversary year of Operation Sealion, The Battle of Britain and Dunkirk, so I suppose that this whole era of World War Two will be under extra scrutiny for the next twelve months or so.

Anyway, as I mentioned last month, many of the settings in the book really existed in 1940 and can still be seen today. Below is a photo of the site of the Reighton Heavy Gun Battery, taken from the cliff top looking down onto the site with the tide almost at its highest point, just beyond. The site has been cut into the cliff and although most of the concrete emplacements are long gone, you can see the tantalising glimpses of what used to be there, including the mini-railway line for bringing shells to the gun emplacements.

On the beach, right below the site, you can find many of the concrete emplacements piled up in mangled heaps where they have fallen onto the sand through cliff-erosion over the last seventy years. These derelict remains have fallen amongst a row of anti-tank cubes that appear to have protected the front of the battery from a frontal amphibious assault by armour. In addition to the ruins of the gun emplacements, there are some of the smaller, defensive infantry pill-boxes.

The next photo, below, shows the approaches to Hunmanby Gap from the British perspective. This was taken from the position occupied in the book by the ‘Lewis Gun Trench’ and shows the excellent field of fire down into the draw and across the beach, which allowed Harper and his colleagues to give mutual support to the Hotchkiss 6 Pounder pill-box. That pill-box is on top of the cliff, but just off the edge of this photo at top-right. In 1940 there were no portacabins in the draw of Hunmanby Gap and so the field of fire would have been unobstructed.

Finally, in this last picture, you are looking at Hunmanby Gap from the opposite direction, right through the firing port of the Hotchkiss 6 Pounder pill-box. Saltz’s company were pinned down on the beach at the foot of this cliff, about where you can see the white drainage pipe sticking out, and the ‘Lewis Gun Trench’ occupied by Harper, Martlesham and Jackson was on top of the cliff, just left of centre, where the small clump of trees reaches the crest. Again, these trees would have been mere saplings at the most back in 1940.

Next month – The capture of Bridlington Harbour

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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.