Gorleston & Great Yarmouth History

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The World Wars

The Histories of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston-on-Sea have been and will always be inextricably linked. Sitting as they do at the mouth of the River Yare they have provided a first line of defence against any would be invaders from the North Sea for over a thousand years.

In both World Wars the Germans attacked Great Yarmouth. In the First World War the town was shelled from the Yarmouth Roads by the German Grand Fleet. Zeppelin airships also made the short journey across the North Sea to bomb the town.

The start of World War II in 1939 saw the defences of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston little changed from 1918. On mainland europe the Germans had shown themselves capable of overwhelming countries in a matter of weeks. Although the UK was in a militarily parlous state, immediate action was taken to install some necessary defences for Great Yarmouth and Gorleston. The beaches were mined and barb wired, tank traps and pill-boxes were built. To protect the harbour and beaches two six inch guns with searchlights were installed at North Battery at the junction of Jellico Road and North Drive. More guns were installed at the harbour mouth on the end of South Pier and The Links Battery on Goleston Cliffs was upgraded. There were also Anti-Aircraft guns installed in and around the towns.

The Second World War saw the greatest devastation to Great Yarmouth. Most of the medieval town was destroyed and a unique town layout was lost to the world forever. Of course England being England decided to rebuild Great Yarmouth in a utilitarian fashion unlike our continental cousins who recreated their devastated towns.

I leave you to judge who made the best decision.

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