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HER Number:MDV74997
Name:Post Defences at Woolacombe


The remains of metal post anti-invasion defences which occasionally show above ground on Woolacombe Sands. Most of these obstacles were probably removed partway through the Second World War to allow military training exercises to take place.


Grid Reference:SS 45 43
Map Sheet:SS44SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMortehoe
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishMORTEHOE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DEFENCE OBSTRUCTION (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD (Between))

Full description

Morrison, D, 17/02/2014, WWII Post Defences, Woolacombe Beach (Correspondence). SDV356277.

Image showing exposure of WWII defence posts after storms.

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

No post structures were observed on the available aerial photographs, dating from 1946. However as Gunn states that the posts were used as anti-landing defences in the early part of the war, it is likely that the posts had been removed several years prior to 1946. They may be similar to the posts in the intertidal zone at Croyde and Braunton, observed on aerial photographs taken in the 1940s, forming part of extensive defences around the North Devon Coast.
Copies of Second World War ground photographs show girder-like posts erected in the sand with military personnel in the foreground. Copies of photographs supplied by Mortehoe Parish Council seem to show the rusted and vegetated remains of low posts, I-shaped in cross section and aligned in rows, presumably the remains of the girders exposed by the shifting sand. They appear to be up to circa 40 cm in height, but Stephen Reed states that when he visited in approximately 2008-2010 they had become reburied.

Horner, B., Jan 2009, Wartime Defences (Correspondence). SDV341711.

Scaffold defences, consisting of rusting poles which occasionally show above ground on Woolacombe Beach. May be part of the British anti-invasion defences of 1940-41, or possibly part of the 1943-44 United States Assault Training Centre.

Gunn, B., n.d. [1999], Tales of Old Woolacombe, 47 (Monograph). SDV350728.

Gunn states that the remains of a few square posts set in the sand sometimes become visible. He says these were anti-invasion defences against sea and airborne landings, and that hundreds were removed when the beach was used for military landing manoeuvres in the later part of the war. Those remaining are the bottoms of posts that has previously snapped off in storms.

Mortehoe Parish Council?, Undated, Copies of WWII and modern photographs of anti-invation defences at Woolacombe Sands (Ground Photograph). SDV350803.

Copies of three ground photographs of Second World War date ('source unknown') and 19 modern photographs ('source Mortehoe Parish Council') are annotated as 'Woolacombe Beach WWII anti-glider defences'. The former depict upright girders and the latter show rows of low posts in the sand.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV341711Correspondence: Horner, B.. Jan 2009. Wartime Defences. Email to A. Winder. Printout + Digital.
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
SDV350728Monograph: Gunn, B.. n.d. [1999]. Tales of Old Woolacombe. Tales of Old Woolacombe. 47.
SDV350803Ground Photograph: Mortehoe Parish Council?. Undated. Copies of WWII and modern photographs of anti-invation defences at Woolacombe Sands. Unknown. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV356277Correspondence: Morrison, D. 17/02/2014. WWII Post Defences, Woolacombe Beach. Addition of HER record. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV103040Related to: Anti-invasion defences in the intertidal zone at Croyde Sands (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Feb 24 2014 2:33PM