First written for the War Illustrated 1942.
German fortifications were being built on a large scale along the coasts of Norway, the Low Countries and France, in an attempt to frustrate any landing by the troops of the Allies. These defence works, begun by the Todt Organization, were carried on by his successor, Dr. Speer.
While work was going on in the defence zones the area was cleared of all inhabitants. Trees were cut down to give a clear field of fire, and this drawing shows the general lay-out of the fortifications, which were often 30 miles in depth. Notice that the strong points were planned to give a field of fire in all directions and that provision is made for mobile guns to reinforce the fixed positions. Mobile columns, including tanks, were held in readiness at nodal points to reinforce when required.
Shown in the drawing are (1) Sea mined. (2) Barbed wire and tank traps. (3) Trench system. (4) Concrete pill-boxes and gun emplacements under construction. Batteries of concrete-mixers, large mechanical grabs and armies of men were employed. (5) Field gun sited in a pit and covered with brushwood, etc. (6) Party entering a large semi-underground system. (7) Large field gun covered by camouflage netting. (8) A second gun being placed in position by the crew, who are lifting the trail from the carrying wheels. (9) Lorries bringing supplies of food and ammunition. (10) Sectional view of an underground storehouse. A small anti-tank gun is being manhandled out of the large doors whilst a party of men are using the manhole to carry out small arms. (11) Sectional view of a large armoured pill-box, built to concentrate fire in many directions. (12) Heavy A.A guns in camouflaged sites. (13) Towers of a type often built to raise light A.A. guns above surrounding buildings. This one is in a small village in which troops would be billeted and armoured vehicles (14) held in readiness. (15) An armoured column is seen debouching from a village in the distance. (16) Long-range gun on railway mounting going along a cutting. The Germans claimed to have many such guns, some of the larger ones being used to shell the Dover area and convoys passing through the Straits of Dover.