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Lancashire At

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Anti-Invasion Defences

Peel Park 2

In 'The Spirit of Haslingden and Helmshore: The 20th Century in Photographs' by Chris Aspin and J. Simpson, there is a photograph of a railway sleeper on end with the following quotation:

Near Haslingden High School "close to the playing field in Green Lane. The railway sleeper was one of several hundred driven into the ground between Broadway and Greens Lane to deter enemy aircraft from landing".


Today, the railway sleeper has been consumed by the hedgerow (Two photos - ABOVE LEFT) and is less clear than in the 1990's photo in the book.

However, just a few yards away we found the remnants of another (ABOVE RIGHT - two photos).


Elsewhere, in Bury, there is a reference on a local Golf Course of anti-invasion posts being erected. If we manage to find the relevant reference and even get to the site to record the evidence we will post it here.


Other anti-landing obstacles used during WW2 included: Drainage pipes, old cars, baths, scrap metal, wooden fact anything that could be found locally to do the job. Thankfully these defences were never tested.

Anti Glider trenches Ramsbottom


BELOW: Anti-Landing defences near Haslingden High School - old railway sleepers. CLICK on a photo to enlarge it.

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WW2 signposts

Confusing the enemy: Remove all Signposts.


During WW2, under the threat of invasion, many signposts were removed or disguised so as to confuse any would be invader.

(See famous photo LEFT).

But what about Boundary Stones? Some were hidden or disguised - but were some deliberately defaced? We have found several that have had names removed. Was this done in WW2 or later?

BELOW: A Boundary Stone on Holcombe Road, Greenmount.

All names have been removed but the letters U.D.C. still remain. Was this deliberate damage due to a boundary change or as part of WW2 invasion defences?

ABOVE RIGHT & BELOW RIGHT: Two sides of a boundary stone with all its information removed - Market Street, Edenfield.


Why remove the names of places that would still exist after a boundary change? Surely this is more likely a Second World War anti-invasion defence?

LEFT: On Longsite Road, Holcombe Brook, Bury.

Again, all names removed.


RIGHT: A Boundary Stone in Turn Village, on Rochdale Road. "Township of......"?


BELOW: On Bolton Road between Hawkshaw and Greenmount, Bury

The ABOVE RIGHT (two pictures) Boundary Stone is credited as a WW2 defacement in 'Further Rossendale Rambles' by Ian Goldthorpe: On Page 74: "Just before View Cottage note the old boundary stone, which was defaced for security reasons during the Second World War. It was probably erected shortly after Ramsbottom Urban District Council was formed in 1894, and marked the boundary between Ramsbottom and Edenfield"


This is the only reference we have of this being a WW2 act.

Please tell us your views if you have a relevant reference which may help.

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ABOVE & RIGHT: On the Edenfield Road at the Rochdale/Edenfield border - another Boundary Stone defaced. Surely a result of WW2 actions to confuse the enemy

IWM anti invasion cars

LEFT: Photo used Courtesy of The Imperial War Museum: "Derelict cars have been placed in this field to act as an anti-invasion device, preventing enemy aircraft from landing, should an invasion occur."


BELOW LEFT: Photo used Courtesy of The Imperial War Museum: "Anti-invasion defences: baths and water troughs being placed across the fairways on a golf course to prevent enemy aircraft from landing."


As well as the above local examples of railway sleepers erected  and ditches dug, things no longer of use were placed in fields and open areas deemed at risk of allowing gliders or planes to land. The two photos (LEFT) are not local but such things were done locally.


In the book 'Manchester's Buses 1906-1945 by D. M. Eyre (1971) P59 we are told the following about Manchester's Ringway Airport: "When the war came, fifty double-decker buses from the Corporation fleet were sent to be distributed about the airfield to deter German airborne forces from attempting a landing. Whether the prospect of collision with Manchester Condors did in fact dissuade the enemy High Command from mounting such an operation will never be known, but the Royal Air Force was soon requesting that the buses be removed so that the airport could be used by No. 1 Parachute Training School".


Today, Ringway is known as Manchester Airport.

During WW2 it was an important establishment.  Sometimes credited as little more than a non-military small scale flying facility. In reality it had an important role to play in many different ways. Of course it kept this secret at the time. More to come on Ringway one day.....

IWM golf course

Buses, cars, old baths, anything really - Things used in WW2 to prevent airborne troops from landing

We think this is the best evidence that the boundary stones and milestones were delberately damaged during WW2:

RIGHT are two chiseled out mile posts in Walton le Dale. The script at the top and bottom look different. It as if the town and mile number has been chiseled out, and then repaired in a deeper setting at a later date. It only makes sense that these have been later re-instated after WW2. No other reason makes sense. The destinations and distances have not changed.

UPDATE: Feb 2019

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LEFT: A defaced boundary stone, near the Methodist Chapel, on Gregson Lane, Hoghton near Preston.


RIGHT: Another defaced boundary stone on Little Crosby Road, Crosby. This one is not far from the Western coast and a possible invasion force.


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In the early years of the Second World War, when we feared an attepted invasion was bound to happen, Britain built various types of anti-invasion defences. The most obvious ones, Pillboxes, can be seen to this day. But others are harder to spot and this page records a few of these.


The belief at the time was that Germany would attack by a combination of air invasion and a sea assault. On most of the invasions up to that point, Germany had sent troops in first by parachute or glider prior to the main invasion. And therefore Britain tried to defend against this. Lancashire still has remnants of anti-glider trenches, anti-glider posts and possibly deliberate sign post damage.


Elsewhere on this site we also have Barrage Balloons, anti-aircraft guns, pillboxes, stop-lines, and anti-tank cylinders all are other parts of Lancashire's anti-invasion defences.

ABOVE: Anti-glider trenches still visible on Google Earth. These are at Peel Park, Accrington.

We have a whole page about these trenches HERE

LEFT: Part of a map of anti-glider trenches for Ramsbottom. They are drawn in pencil.

Courtesy of Bury Archives. Our thanks for their permission to use this image.


See our page about this map and more images HERE

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