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HER Number:MDV102587
Name:Military training area and practise obstacles on Instow Sands

Summary

Six parallel lines of beach obstacles are visible as structures on aerial photographs taken in January 1945, only one of which appears to have been extant by April 1946. The structures are interpreted as replica Atlantic Wall anti-invasion defences and part of the Second World War military training area for Operation Overlord. No structures are visible on later available aerial photographs, suggesting deliberate removal soon after the war ended.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 471 311
Map Sheet:SS43SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishInstow
Civil ParishWestleigh
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishINSTOW

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ANTI TANK BLOCK (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY TRAINING SITE (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1945, RAF/106G/LA/102, NMR RAF/106G/LA/102 5001-5002 17-JAN-1945 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349060.

Six parallel rows of structures are visible.


Royal Air Force, 1945, RAF/106G/UK/891, NMR RAF/106G/891 4048-4049 08-OCT-1945 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349055.

A dark linear mark is in the sand is visible, but no structures.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1420, NMR RAF/106G/91420 3236-3237 15-APR-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349553.

One row of obstacles is visible as a partial line of structures. Position is unlikely to be exact it is considered accurate to within approximately 10 metres.


Wasley, G., 1994, Devon at War 1939-1945, 190-192 (Monograph). SDV72735.

Instow Sands is identified as a feasible seaborne landing ground for enemy troops in North Devon Defence Plans dated to 1940.


Carter, D., 2000, Illustrated History of Appledore, 139-140 (Monograph). SDV349897.

A photograph of Instow Sands from the sea shows troops wading ashore. Several trucks are waiting on the beach, and a gate-like structure is also visible. The date is given as 1944, and Carter notes that the landing craft were still used during military training at Instow into the 1960s.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S., 2011 - 2012, North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV349018.

Six parallel lines of beach obstacles between 60 and 150 metres in length and are visible on aerial photographs taken in January 1945. By October of that year only one row is partially visible as a dark linear mark on aerial photographs, although a different row is visible as a line of structures on aerial photographs taken in April 1946. Although Instow Sands is identified in documents from 1940 as a possible landing ground requiring defence, some of the visible structures can be identified as replica Atlantic Wall anti-invasion defences, implying that this area was a core part of the United States training site during the Second World War. A North Devon Museums Service photograph taken from a vessel at sea and dated 1944 shows troops wading ashore, presumably preparation for Operation Overlord, on Instow Sands, and a fence-like structure on the beach could be a replica Belgian Gate. In the inter-tidal zone the rows of obstacles included Czech Hedgehogs closest to shore, adjacent to a line of posts that could have secured a barbed wire apron 5 metres wide. On the seaward side of these were a row of possibly triangular features, perhaps the metal fin-shaped defences called Hemmkurvenhindernis, then a row of compartmentalised structures, and a row of what appear to be Dragon’s Teeth anti-invasion blocks. The line furthest from the shore comprised a mixture of defensive constructions, including a staggered row of rectangular blocks, a possible scaffold structure 6 metres in width, and more triangular structures. Three of the rows might have been partly removed before 1945, with an earthwork ditch but no structures visible along part of the row, although the ditches extend around the extant structures and are more lilkely to be related to erosion than removal activity. No structures or earthworks are visible on later available aerial photographs, suggesting deliberate removal when they became obsolete soon after the war.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV349018Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S.. 2011 - 2012. North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. ACD383/2/1. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV349055Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1945. RAF/106G/UK/891. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/891 4048-4049 08-OCT-1945.
SDV349060Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1945. RAF/106G/LA/102. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/LA/102 5001-5002 17-JAN-1945.
SDV349553Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1420. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/91420 3236-3237 15-APR-1946. [Mapped feature: #62051 ]
SDV349897Monograph: Carter, D.. 2000. Illustrated History of Appledore. Illustrated History of Appledore. Paperback Volume. 139-140.
SDV72735Monograph: Wasley, G.. 1994. Devon at War 1939-1945. Devon at War. A4 Hardback. 190-192.

Associated Monuments

MDV57283Parent of: Braunton Areas A, B, C and D of US Assault Training Centre (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6132 - North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty NMP Project

Date Last Edited:Aug 21 2012 12:01PM