Back to the (Atlantic) Wall

A Wee Jaggy Bits o’ History Special on how the British Army trained on how to crack Hitler’s Atlantic Wall on D-Day.

Hitler was determined to fortify the coastline of the occupied countries and he charged the Organisation Todt with building a series of coastal defences along continental Europe to deter invasion and the odd Commando raid.

The Allies had a problem in that they knew they would have to face the German  coastal defences but they didn’t know what the best way of tackling them.
So they built replicas of the defences on a moor near Stirling and basically blasted them to bits with various types of ordinance to see what worked best.
The moorland had been used in WW1 for trench warfare training and range practice, it was fairly remote. Stirling Castle and a whole host of army bods were nearby so Sherifmuir was the logical choice for the tests.

The site is broken into four areas, the largest is a 86m length of Atlantic Wall of varying thickness, 3m in height with an anti-tank ditch in front. The remaining three sites are various styles of bunkers.

The Atlantic Wall

Atlantic Wall pano , Sheriffmuir 074 copy

Atlantic wall Panorama

The wall may have been topped with barbed wire, although no trace of this remains and the stanchions for the wire may have been vertical when built and some scallywags have bent them all over.

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 006 copy

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 011 copy

The wall at its thickest

You can see the anti-tank ditch to the right of this picture

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 061 copy

The Wall at its thinnest

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 030 copy

The Wall as it thins down

Now the blasting bits. The largest breech is this 4m section in the thickest part of the wall

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 070 copy

Front “Seaward” side

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 026 copy

Section and along the top of the wall,seaward to the right

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 023 copy

The breech from the “landward” side of the wall

The wall has been perforated in various places

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 060 copy

Rear, a large 8″ or so hole and a number of smaller 40mm sized indentations

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 063 copy

Front. A hit near the top blasted clean through. Note the ball indentations on the reinforcing rods

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 009 copy

Front. A low down hit from a large caliber wine bottle

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 036 copy

Front. The projectile about 3″ hit square on and bounced out to the left. Note the tip of the reinforcing bar bent outwards

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 062 copy

Front. A 3″ hole clean through. Note the ball marks on the reinforcing bars and the bent bar to the right.

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 033 copy

Front. A tunnel with damage to the top of the wall

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 068 copy

Rear. The back of the wall has been beveled by something. There may have been a door or a blast wall here at one time.

Atlantic Wall , Sheriffmuir 038 copy

Rear. The end sections of the wall have been totally destroyed.

Bunker 1

This bunker was built using lessons learned from the German North African campaign. The bunker has two firing platforms on top and a shelter in between.
No real damage can be seen to this bunker, the front or seaward side has an earth embankment in front of it and there’s certainly no damage to the landward side.

Tobruk shelter , Sheriffmuir 013 copy

The top of the Tobruk Shelter with the seaward side to the left, two firing positions on top and two entrances either side

 

 

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