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#1027932 - 2nd Jan 2017 6:27pm Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion.
w10694 Offline

Registered: 31st Dec 2008
Posts: 240
Loc: cheshire
The Wirral WW2 defences, and in particular Birkenhead.

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.


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

Edited by w10694 (2nd Jan 2017 6:35pm)

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#1027944 - 2nd Jan 2017 8:32pm Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694]
locomotive Online   content

Registered: 18th Dec 2013
Posts: 231
Loc: Upton, Wirral
very interesting, I remember the Dragon's Teeth on the Leasowe sandhills, but I can't remember when they were taken away.

#1027977 - 3rd Jan 2017 3:07pm Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694]
Excoriator Online   content
Wise One

Registered: 21st Jan 2010
Posts: 837
Loc: wirral
I think it's time we stopped fighting WW2 and let it slide into the past.

#1027994 - 3rd Jan 2017 8:59pm Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694]
pacef8 Online   content

Registered: 27th Dec 2008
Posts: 466
Loc: south wirral
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.

#1028004 - 4th Jan 2017 10:39am Re: Birkenhead - Defence Lines WW2 against invasion. [Re: w10694]
joney Online   content

Registered: 29th Apr 2012
Posts: 140
Loc: france
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.


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