AFTER WW2 MANY thousands of concrete bunkers were built all over Albania because the country’s paranoid and brutal dictator Enver Hoxha, who ruled between 1944 and 1985, was concerned that the country would be invaded by its neighbours or others further afield. The invasion never happened. Likewise, the much-feared invasion of the UK during WW2 never occurred (except for the Channel Islands). However, in anticipation of a feared German invasion of the UK, the country, like Albania, was covered with concrete fortifications in many shapes and sizes. During a recent visit to Sidmouth in Devon, I spotted one of these, a small concrete ‘pill box’.
Located high on a cliff (overlooking Jacob’s Ladder Beach) next to Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens, this small bunker was probably constructed as part of a coastal defence system in 1940-41. Later in WW2 when the risk of a German invasion was getting smaller, it was used during the training exercises that were performed prior to the Allied invasion of Normandy in early June 1940. It was from the south Devon coast that the invasion force set out for France.
Designed to resist destruction, bunkers such as the small one I saw in Sidmouth (and the multitude of mostly hemispherical bunkers I have seen in Albania), they are both difficult and expensive to remove when they are no longer needed. Interestingly, these concrete defences are no guarantee against successful invasion, as can be seen from the ineffectiveness of the Maginot Line in eastern France and the huge structures built by the Germans on the Atlantic coast of that country.