Post-war Demining Operations in the Norfolk Wash and Police Invasion Procedures from the Second World War

A closer look at Norfolk Record Office document, C/PO 1/60.

This intriguing document contains primarily Copy Number 500 of the 1942 revised version of procedures that the British Police should take in the event of an invasion by Nazi Germany (the document appears to account for a naval invasion as opposed to a Para drop).

The front of the document mostly revolves around telegrams between a Chief Constable S. Van Neck (based in Norwich), and a West Norfolk police officer, Superintendent Woodeson MVO, Sandringham Division. Detailed within are the copies, recopies and original texts distributed to officers from five different police districts in relation to the demining of the North Norfolk coast, ranging from sea mines in Hunstanton to pipe mines in Holme.

Also contained are several maps related to the demining, as well as a decommissioned AFV (tanks etc) firing range located at what is now the RSPB reserve at Titchwell Marsh. It’s hard to appreciate the slog of reports and telegrams that each police house and district would have had to trawl through following the end of the War – until you read such a wall of text as this.

Secondly, there is a large file in the middle of the folder labelled “Police Invasion Instructions” – dated May 1942. While some of the background information as to the reasoning behind the document (telegrams etc) are not included, the file does reveal that the police would, in the event of an invasion of Britain by Germany, be vital to the defence effort.

CPO 160

Plan of A.F.V. [artillery firing] range at Titchwell showing arcs of fire control. Norfolk Record Office, C/PO 1/60

Details of curfews, movement restrictions, and for prison wardens an especially stark message – “If governors receive instructions to discharge certain categories for either of these reasons, members of the Services who are within the category of prisoner ordered to be discharged will be handed over to an escort to be supplied by a local Army unit, together with a nominal roll”. It can be assumed by reading this that the government intended for quite literally all able bodied men with a prior service record to be inducted into the military..

The document overall gives a “between the lines” viewpoint of what the defence of this country would have looked like, calling for total mobilisation of all adults. Eighty years later, it makes for both unnerving and fascinating reading.

Written by JP July 2018

This entry was posted in Snapshots from the Archive and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Post-war Demining Operations in the Norfolk Wash and Police Invasion Procedures from the Second World War

  1. David Pyke says:

    well done JP


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