Royal British Legion

Great Yarmouth

"help someone rediscover life"

This year's running total for our 2016-17 Poppy Appeal stands at £35,932.62

RBL's Benefits and Money Advice service has set up three new clinics at Pop In centres

The total amount of money donated to the 2014-15 Poppy Appeal was £37,692.66

Great Yarmouth War Years

Great Yarmouth was a "Front Line" town during both the First and Second World Wars. Read about incidents that occurred during these times.

Second World War Defences

When war was declared on 3 September 1939, Great Yarmouth was well prepared. The memory of the Great War, which had ended with the armistice in November 1918, was still in people's minds. They expected gas attacks, air attacks and, like all east coast towns close to the Continent, invasion by the enemy. The issue of gas masks was quickly completed so that everyone from babies - given respirators - to the elderly were protected.

The Council distributed Anderson shelters which were to be sunk three feet into back gardens and the tops covered with a thick layer of earth or sandbags. Many people had, in fact, spent the spring and summer of 1939 constructing dug-outs in anticipation of war. Now they completed the process. The Anderson shelters were large enough to house six people and for most they were free of charge. Those earning more than £250 a year had to pay £10.00 for them.(The Morrison indoor shelter for people without gardens wasn't introduced until 1941.) Public air raid shelters were also constructed in various parts of Great Yarmouth including Church Plain, north of the Market Place.

Road blocks were set up by the Army around the outskirts to check on any person or any vehicle entering or leaving the town. Access to the sea front areas was similarly restricted by road blocks. Gun batteries with searchlights were set up on Gorleston cliffs, the harbour's mouth and North Drive. Anti-aircraft guns were installed all over the town. As in other front line towns around the East Coast, the Yarmouth and Gorleston beaches were out of bounds and strewn with mines and barbed wire. Tank traps were put in place and more pillboxes built; those left over from WWI were renovated. As a further precaution against invasion, a hole was blown in the Britannia Pier to prevent enemy vehicles from using it to come ashore. The Norfolk Broads were not forgotten either as a possible landing spot for seaplanes. Holiday craft were requisitioned to patrol the whole area and some were moored across the larger broads to act as obstructions.

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