Posted: 4 October 2008 21:40

On 12th August, I returned to East Dean and Friston, two localities that constituted a single nodal point.

The roadblock report lists five roadblocks at Friston and four at East Dean. I visted both areas in 2007 and 2008, when I used German mapping to try and locate further roadblocks.

Roadblock recce

This Roadblock Recce failed to uncover any further surviving evidence of defence works, although the roadblock report did give me more precise locations than I previously had.

The photo shows the approximate location of a block at the top of the hill upon which Friston lies, East Dean being down in the valley. This is the possible location of a hessian screen, listed in a 1940 defence scheme.

The screen was a simple device; by erecting any opaque material across the road, the aim was to cause a German tank to stop and consider how best to proceed, making it a sitting duck for molotov cocktails.

Upon meeting the screen, it would not be clear to the tank commander what lay ahead. Charging the screen could abruptly reveal any number of solid concrete obstacles immediately behind it, or result in the screen falling on top of the tank, obscuring vision and draping the vehicle with flammable material. Shooting at the screen would waste vital ammunition and cause the tank to stop, avoiding the screen by leaving the road would take the tank into a killing zone of mines, molotovs or other hazard.

The screeen was probably a widely-used device (numerous copies of the memo describing its deployment survive in TNA files), although Friston is the only East Sussex location where its use is explicitly described in 1940; the later roadblock report makes no mention of the screen as a roadblock obstacle, describing only concrete and rail devices.

- Pete

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Defence scheme

A military plan of defence for a specified area. Defence Schemes were issued at numerous levels. Defence Schemes were later known as Plans to Defeat Invasion on the orders of General Montgomery.


Molotov cocktail

Essentially a petrol bomb made by pouring a mixture of tar and petrol into a glass bottle, inserting an oily rag into the neck, igniting it and throwing it at the target. An improvised weapon used by the Home Guard and field army to set tanks on fire.


Nodal Point

Defended road junction(s), usually within a village/town with a Home Guard garrison intended to deny enemy use of the roads. Nodal Points were not to defend the village, but solely the road network. Category 'A' Nodal Points were to hold out for 7 days after invasion without outside assistance.


TNA

The National Archives (formerly The Public Records Office or PRO).



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Hibbs, Peter Roadblock recce (8) - East Dean and Friston (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216564/ Accessed: 25 September 2017

The information on this website is intended solely to describe the ongoing research activity of The Defence of East Sussex Project; it is not comprehensive or properly presented. It is therefore NOT suitable as a basis for producing derivative works or surveys!