Winner of the History & Tradition section of the 2019 East Anglian Book Awards.
This book examines the landscape archaeology of the Second World War on the section of the east coast of England known as the Suffolk Sandlings (the coastal strip from Lowestoft to Felixstowe), an area unusually rich in military archaeology. It was in the front line of Britain’s defences against invasion throughout the war and as a training ground it was the setting for nationally important exercises in the lead-up to the D-Day landings.
In 1944 it also played a major role in Operation ‘Diver’, the defence against the flying bomb. The Sandlings is therefore an ideal testbed for much wider questions about the militarisation of the landscape during the Second World War.
This important new study considers how this area was transformed in the course of the conflict by synthesising an extensive range of sources, including the physical remains of defences and training, aerial photographs, the war diaries of military units on the coast, oral history and artistic representations. What emerges is the most detailed account to date of a coastal landscape during the Second World War.
A highly innovative interdisciplinary study, this holistic approach reveals in astonishing detail the struggle to build defences in 1940, the dramatic reorganisation of those defences in 1941? 2 and the slow transformation of the military landscape from one of defence to one where troops prepared for the offensive.
The reader is shown not just a new view of the wartime landscape, but a new methodology for the study of conflict landscapes more broadly; in this the book makes a major contribution to scholarship.
Richly illustrated with plans, maps and wartime photographs – many published for the first time – the book presents a vivid picture of a landscape in a crucial period in its history and will be of great interest to military historians, landscape archaeologists and all those with an interest in the area.
Robert Liddiard is Professor of History at the University of East Anglia and the author of many books on the history of both landscape and fortifications.
David Sims is an Honorary Research Fellow in History at the University of East Anglia.
ISBN 978-1-912260-08-9, Nov 2018, 384pp Paperback
“Rich with first-hand accounts, photos and colour figures showing deployments, Dangerous Locality offers a sophisticated yet accessible analysis – better than anything else I’ve read – of the frantic scramble as Britain faced invasion in 1940–41. With hindsight we know this never came to pass; but the perception at the time was very different, and that’s the point.” Paul Stamper, British Archaeology
“[P]rovides a distinctive perspective, both methodological and geographical, on the defence of Britain. By taking an interdisciplinary landscape approach to one particular stretch of coastline — between Lowestoft and Harwich — the high chronological as well as geographical resolution of the data creates a particularly rich, contextualised case study.” Harold Mytum, Post-Medieval Archaeology
“[W]hat really happened in the Sandlings during the Second World War has been uncovered by researchers at the University of East Anglia and is recorded by two of them in this fascinating book. To some of us this is somewhat recent history, but it is no less engrossing for having occurred ‘only the day before yesterday’.” Robert Maltster, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
“This is an extremely well structured, clearly explained and meticulously researched book. The authors provide many startling insights into the processes of interaction between human activity and the natural topography of the region. It is lavishly illustrated with many beautifully reproduced photographs and very useful maps which are clearly drawn and easy to interpret. There is also an extensive bibliography giving a full list of primary as well as secondary sources. At 363 pages it is not a quick read but it is an enjoyable one and its information has enriched our understanding of this aspect of local history considerably.” Nick Sign, The Suffolk Review
“This is a magnificent book. The authors are entitled to regard it as a ground-breaking study not only because its foray into twentieth century landscape archaeology highlights a topic only just coming into view, but also because it is on a colossal scale, breathtaking in its in-depth coverage of the topic and the area during the Second World War. Furthermore, although it is exceptionally detailed and at times highly technical, it is also extremely well written and completely accessible to the historian and lay person who has an interest in landscape and military history, World War Two and the story of this part of East Anglia's coastline.” Paul Rusiecki, The Local Historian
“This is a wonderful book, a welcome combination of accessible, affordable and learned. It sets a high bar not only for regional studies of militarised landscape, brilliantly combining archival research with field survey, but for landscape archaeology in general. Many readers will appreciate the skill with which the authors have made a complex landscape easier to comprehend. The book's greatest achievement however, and the reason it should be read beyond a conflict archaeology audience, is the impressive way the authors engage with and present landscape, a fluid and ever-changing form which always has more to reveal. I no longer live in east Suffolk, but I cannot wait to go back, and will take this book with me when I go.” John Schofield, Rural History
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