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Seaside Defences

| Modern * South Coast |

The view along the costal path from Barton to Milford on Sea is too good to spend much time peering down onto the beach. Look far enough into the distance and you can see the chalky stacks of the Isle of Wight rocks jutting out towards the Channel, held back by the Needles Lighthouse. But if you tear your eyes away from the horizon in just the right spot you might see a few metal blocks half buried in the sand, trying not to be noticed.

These forgotten boulders once had a crucial military role. They were the men on the ground, the front line in British defence. During World War Two, when the idea of a German maritime invasion was becoming a real possibility, these disrupters were placed along the coast to tear holes into the hypothetical invading tanks.

Although they never had the chance to fight for King and Country, the real issue that these boulders have exposed is the dramatic erosion of the Southern coast over the course of only a few generations. Initially buried deep in the seabed, several feet of erosion later and the jagged metal rocks are now plainly visible.

The increasing violence of strong tides and storms on this stretch of land has meant that the sandy beaches and cliff edges are collapsing into the ocean, scooping away at the once-strong natural defences. Local environmentalist groups have been pulling together support for conservation protection initiatives, but the coastal communities will be the first ones hit with the global-warming induced extreme weather.

The 80-year-old military equipment is fascinating for historians, but their rediscovery also demonstrates a very new threat than the one they were first made for.


Milford on Sea, Lymington SO41 0LX


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