5th July 1940. Invasion Fears.
In early July 1940 a ‘South Coast Curfew’ was announced and beaches and promenades along a 40 mile stretch from Brighton to Selsey were closed to the public.(1)
Piers were partially destroyed against their potential use by enemy invaders with Today the turn of Bournemouth as 18 Field Park Company, Royal Engineers breached the structure which had stood since Victorian times.(2)
On the English east coast piers from Redcar to Brighton, the post-card symbol of the British holiday were to suffer a similar fate.
Under orders of the Regional Commissioners, curfews in Defence Areas came into force for cinemas and seafronts with any breach of regulations resulting in a court appearance.
Hasting Borough Council was quick off the mark by putting a ban on public conveniences from 9.00 pm!
Thirteen resorts including Bognor, Lancing, Worthing and Shoreham had bathing stopped and walking on the seaward side of promenade was banned as many rushed for a last bathe, before barbed-wire and mines took the place of ice cream vans.
Hotels would stay open until the regulations became operable after which they soon housed the military.
A mass exodus of people to other areas resulted, but not to Scotland as there was a ban on entry to the Highlands to non-residents, with permits required to enter under War Office Defence Regulations.(3)
Also a 250-mile stretch from Berwick to Hastings had been declared a Defence Area into which entry was forbidden except for business or other reasons.
The few desirous of a break were excluded, as no holiday makers were allowed 20 miles inland from the Wash to Hastings and five miles inland from the Wash to Berwick.
The Author went on holiday for the first time in 1949, to the Riviera of North Wales: Rhyl. Happy Days!
(1) The Daily Telegraph Wednesday July 3rd 1940 reported ‘South Coast Curfew for 40 Miles’. Beaches and promenades along 40 mile stretch from Brighton to Selsey are now closed to public under a military order which came into mid-night last night.
(2) It took two years to rebuild in 1946.
(3) Areas had been evacuated back in 1940 with a ban on entry to the Highlands to non-residents with permits being required to enter, reported on Tuesday February 27th in Daily Telegraph and announced by the War Office under Defence Regulations which came into force on March 11th.
Ref: Kent and Sussex in 1940. British on the front Line. 2004.