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Remembered Today:

The invasion of Clacton


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I am sure that I have read somewhere that prior to Gallipoli in 1915, the Army and Navy had only ever staged one attempted amphibious landing, it being in 1908 and that it involved landing at Clactor-on-sea in Essex.

1. Why Clacton?

2. What happened?

3. How successful was it, and were any lessons learned?

4. Where can I find out more about the landing?

Any and all assistance greatfully received.

Bruce

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The Clacton & District Local History Society may know something. http://www.clacton-on-sea.net/Organisations/local_history_soc.htm

I tried the link within this link and it didn't work so you may have to find their contact details from the local library.

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Thanks, Berenice.

I'll try that.

Bruce

Having done so, I hadn't realised how many Mandarin speakers there must be in Clacton!

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Steven Broomfield

1. Why Clacton?

2. What happened?

Bruce

Having been to Clacton (once) the answers are

1. No idea

2. Nothing. It was shut.

, I hadn't realised how many Mandarin speakers there must be in Clacton!

Senior Civil Servants have to live somewhere.

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If you go to the Clacton Historical Society website, and then click to contact them, you get a screen in Mandarin.

Why do I have the feeling that the world just seems to keep getting more and more complicated?

Bruce

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3. and were any lessons learned?

Any and all assistance greatfully received.

Bruce

Beware Essex girl snipers :whistle:

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Were they chained to their machine guns?

Were they the first militia to be equipped with white stilettos?

Bruce

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According to The Times of August 12,1908, the University College School OTC had just "invaded" at Little Holland, near Clacton, "the same spot as the invading force landing at the Essex manoeuvres of 1904". Access The Times for September 1904 and you'll get some very detailed reports on the manoeuvres.

Many local libraries provide registered readers with access to the Times on-line archive but it's not usually available to non-readers. One can copy and paste small articles, but it would be very cumbersome to do this for those describing the 1904 manoeuvres.

Googling "Clacton invasion 1904 September" gives a few hits, including articles in overseas papers.

Moonraker

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Thanks, Moonraker

I will just have to get to see the Times articles.

I will be interested to see why anyone would want to invade Clacton (and I note it was 1904, not 1908 as i first thought).

Bruce

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Bruce, I'm guessing a bit here but in the very early 20th century there was a lot of public and Governmental concern about England being invaded and during the Great War the theory was that any German invasion would be on the East Coast. The Clacton invasion appears to have been that year's big army exercise and such was the impact of large-scale manoeuvres on the civilian community that they had to berotated around the country, and in 1904 it was Eastern England's turn. The ease of embarking troops at a large port along the Coast and perhaps rail communications might have suggested Clacton. I suspect there may be a few clues in the Times articles, but I've only had the time to give a very quick glance at them.

In 1907 the combined Southern and Eastern Commands exercised 20,000 troops in south Wiltshire. Perhaps conscious of the criticism that very few exercises were on the coast, the War Office decreed that the land east of the River Avon was to be regarded as the sea, with safe anchorages at Figheldean and south of Wilton, near Salisbury. Even so, the exercises failed to give any practice in preventing an invasion, for they started after the Blue Force had "landed" and consolidated at Marlborough. Matters were not helped by food supplies and transport not being where they were expected to be, and an overnight "armistice" had to be extended until the matter was rectified.

A year or two later, the Government was a bit more relaxed about an invasion threat and was thinking more of being engaged in a Continental war.

Moonraker

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Thanks, Moonraker

.........................................

I will be interested to see why anyone would want to invade Clacton.......

Bruce

If you are interested, this book, Can Germany Invade England? published in 1912, by Henry Bathurst HANNA, makes interesting reading. (online)

Why Clacton?

Maybe because it sort of approaches the suggested requirements for an invasion site listed in the book....

One of 6 suitable places required along the E coast with

2.5 miles long beach

Firm sandy bottom

plentiful supplies of good water along its length

Vicinity of a good sized town (there were so few that maybe Clacton would have to do)

Offering fresh food and skilled and unskilled labour

Somewhere where the sick and wounded could be housed

etc...

There's more but I think that will suffice. Not to spoil the story, but the answer to the question posed in the title of the book is....

Well worth a read, I think.

CGM

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Steven Broomfield

And, of course, The Riddle of the Sands had, in 1903, posited the possibility/likelihood of a German invasion from the Baltic islands.

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Not to mention GT Chesney's 1871 'The Battle of Dorking' where the invaders landed, not so far from Clacton, at Harwich

Free download available of late 1914 edition (with references to the Great War given in the preface) from the Internet Archive Here

NigelS

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Many thanks for all of this.

So we landed at Gallipoli on the basis of this one example, eleven years previously?

Bruce

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Steven Broomfield

In The War of the Worlds the invaders landed near Woking, which seems even more bizarre.

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auchonvillerssomme

There was a battle of Tilbury in the 1800's but I believe that was to do with a cricket match, I will dig out my old copies of the Essex countryside.

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This is a link to Clacton's WW2 defences: there is a contact given, who may be able to advise on the local history society (who presumably have forgotten to keep up with the licence on their web address) - http://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/counties/essex/clacton-vch-group-ww2-defences

Failing that you could try the Essex Record Office: http://www.essex.gov.uk/Libraries-Archives/Record-Office/Pages/Essex-Record-Office-Contact-Details.aspx

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I am sure that I have read somewhere that prior to Gallipoli in 1915, the Army and Navy had only ever staged one attempted amphibious landing, it being in 1908 a

In June 1912 landings were carried out in an exercise at Flotta in the Orkneys with artillery and stores being landed using horse boats

In November 1914 an opposed landing under cover of a naval bombardment was carried out at Sheik Said, Bab-el-Mandeb strait in the Red Sea resulting in the capture of Turkish forts, again horse boats were used.

Whilst these were much smaller in scale than Gallipoli it is untrue to say that there had been no previous amphibious landing since 1908

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I have some photographs showing troops landing at Clacton, crossing a plank bridge between a boat and the beach. Unfortunately, I have not yet scanned them and I am not entirely certain where I have stored them! Needless to say, I will try and find, scan and post them over the weekend......

From memory the soldiers were wearing slouch hats, so may show the 1904 landings. Please find attached a photo of the defending forces......

post-55476-0-71350500-1360265135_thumb.j

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Did they have a fall back postion in Romford ? or Wansted Flats ?

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Found it!

It shows the 1904 Clacton on Sea Landings!

The slouch hats showing remarkable precognition !

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Many thanks for all contributions, especially the pictures.

I wonder if the invaders had cockles for tea?

Bruce

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auchonvillerssomme

These are from the 1904 issue of the The Graphic

There are copies available on ebay.

post-11859-0-18491500-1360269182_thumb.j

post-11859-0-29282900-1360269265_thumb.j

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