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Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. #1027932
2nd Jan 2017 6:27pm
2nd Jan 2017 6:27pm
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 243
cheshire
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w10694 Offline OP
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cheshire
The Wirral WW2 defences, and in particular Birkenhead.

[Linked Image]birkenhead defences-1 01-01-17 by y10694, on Flickr

We obviously feared that the Germans could hold a limited invasion of the Wirral, with a seaborne invasion along the Leasowe beaches, and with airborne troops landing at RAF Hooton (mentioned), and probably RAF Sealand, and other flat fields in the area.

Birkenhead was essential to the war effort, as it is on the Mersey, across from Liverpool. The capture or disruption of Birkenhead would have been a disaster, as it would disrupt the WW2 activity in Liverpool, on the Mersey, shipyards and the Irish Sea, the Atlantic convoys and affect the use of Liverpool as a command and control centre.

Birkenhead was declared to be an "Anti-Tank Island", with several rings of defences. It even earned a place in the English Heritage book "Beaches, fields, streets and hills... the anti-invasion landscapes of England, 1940" as the Bromborough Pool A41 bridge was so important. The book is only available 2nd hand at over 150 now. The book does not have any maps of the Birkenhead Defences.

The EDOB (Extended Defence of Britain) database lists all known Wirral artefacts, but they appear to randomly spread across the Wirral, each in isolation and quite meaningless. The EDOB is a Google Earth kmz file download here:

Extended Defence of Britain - Google Earth Overlay (kmz)

However, I found the precursor chapters of the book online in the ADS website pages, available to download. The chapter for Bromborough Pool bridge does include a map - obviously removed for space issues (or secrecy ?). However, the map is geographically inaccurate, and has no key. But, all the same it's a great find.

Bromborough Pool Bridge - a defence study

As a challenge, I've mapped the defence map onto Google Earth, and created my own copy by correcting the geographical errors, and adding a bit of inspired guesswork to a degree that it all makes sense, more or less. It's quite accurate in the rural areas, but very hard to follow in the urban areas.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE URBAN AREAS ARE ALL APPROXIMATE LOCATIONS BECAUSE OF THE POOR QUALITY OF THE ORIGINAL MAP.

The defence lines tend to follow 'natural' lines of defences, and major roads.

My key is:

Blue line - Leasowe beach defences - usually large concrete cubes, cylinders and 'dragons teeth'.

Red - outer defence circle, anti-tank blocks, anti-tank ditches, pillboxes, pre-aimed weapon locations. Also a small circle around Wallasey.

Green - inner defence circle, anti-tank blocks, anti-tank ditches, pillboxes, pre-aimed weapon locations. Also a line of Anti-tank defences down along Woodchurch Road - obviously an expected German route into Birkenhead.

Purple - South Wirral defensive line - roughly from Hooton to Neston.

Yellow - appears to follow the A540, A41 and a route between them through Birkenhead - we have to assume that it represents supply / essential roads.

The red cross is Bromborough Pool Bridge

The other small black crosses (sometimes !) represent structures, ie Pillboxes - perhaps all were not built.

Birkenhead WW2 Defences PKP.1 Google Earth Kmz (this will require downloading, and opens in Google Earth):

Google Earth KMZ of the Birkenhead Defence Lines in WW2


Last edited by w10694; 2nd Jan 2017 6:35pm.
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Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1027944
2nd Jan 2017 8:32pm
2nd Jan 2017 8:32pm
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 417
Upton, Wirral
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locomotive Offline
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Upton, Wirral
very interesting, I remember the Dragon's Teeth on the Leasowe sandhills, but I can't remember when they were taken away.

Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1027977
3rd Jan 2017 3:07pm
3rd Jan 2017 3:07pm
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Posts: 1,780
wirral
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Excoriator Offline
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Excoriator  Offline
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wirral
I think it's time we stopped fighting WW2 and let it slide into the past.

Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1027994
3rd Jan 2017 8:59pm
3rd Jan 2017 8:59pm
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 522
south wirral
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pacef8 Offline
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Listening to the world service today about the hs2 line and its wider track that will be continental gage. It noted that this will bring chinese high value imports direct to the north .
I wonder if this is the vision wbc saw when trying to oversea a foreign storage site on wirral waters .

All that ring of steal to protect the north west trade in the past thwarted by europe.

Anyway nice research Phil.

Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1028004
4th Jan 2017 10:39am
4th Jan 2017 10:39am
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france
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joney Offline
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I think the not so wise Excoriator has not had to suffer WW2 otherwise he would not have made that comment. Has not had to sit in a classroom when the register is called and there is no response because classmates are no longer alive or buried in rubble. Has not had to sit in an air raid shelter while bombs rained down not knowing whether his home would still be there when he emerged. Has not lost close relatives. I cannot forget.

Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: Excoriator] #1036677
7th May 2017 3:41pm
7th May 2017 3:41pm
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 62
Liverpool.
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steviebyday Offline
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Liverpool.
its called History

Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1036693
7th May 2017 9:36pm
7th May 2017 9:36pm
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 14,059
Birkenhead
diggingdeeper Offline

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diggingdeeper  Offline

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Birkenhead
The horror of war should never be forgotten .... but it will frown


We don't do charity in Germany, We pay taxes. Charity is a failure of governments' responsibilities - Henning Wehn
Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1036828
9th May 2017 9:29am
9th May 2017 9:29am
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france
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joney Offline
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I remember some heavy guns installed on Harrison Drive New Brighton pointing at the river and also a pillbox with a fake tiled roof and painted on it, Ices, sandwiches, snacks etc.

Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: joney] #1036838
9th May 2017 1:12pm
9th May 2017 1:12pm
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 14,059
Birkenhead
diggingdeeper Offline

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Birkenhead
Originally Posted by joney
I remember some heavy guns installed on Harrison Drive New Brighton pointing at the river and also a pillbox with a fake tiled roof and painted on it, Ices, sandwiches, snacks etc.


You can see the Kings Parade HAA gunsite on this photo.



Attached Files

We don't do charity in Germany, We pay taxes. Charity is a failure of governments' responsibilities - Henning Wehn
Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694] #1037041
11th May 2017 8:26am
11th May 2017 8:26am
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Posts: 199
france
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joney Offline
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The guns I remember on Harrison drive looked like ex naval guns not capable of traversing but fixed. They were also painted grey. It was also reassuring during the blitz to hear Pom Pom guns adding to the A.A. cover if Royal Naval ships were in dock


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