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GHQ Line

GHQ Line

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The GHQ Line was a defence line built in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 to contain an expected German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 invasion
Operation Sealion
Operation Sea Lion was Germany's plan to invade the United Kingdom during the Second World War, beginning in 1940. To have had any chance of success, however, the operation would have required air and naval supremacy over the English Channel...

.

The British Army had abandoned most of its equipment in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 after the Dunkirk
Operation Dynamo
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were...

 evacuation. It was therefore decided to build a static system of defensive lines around Britain, all designed to compartmentalise the country and delay the Germans long enough for more mobile forces to counter-attack. Over 50 defensive lines were constructed around Britain, the GHQ Line being the longest and most important, designed to protect London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and the industrial heart of Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

.

The GHQ Line ran from the northern end of the Taunton Stop Line
Taunton Stop Line
The Taunton Stop Line was a World War II defensive line in south west England. It was designed "to stop an enemy's advance from the west and in particular a rapid advance supported by armoured fighting vehicles which may have broken through the forward defences."The Taunton Stop Line was one of...

 near Highbridge
Highbridge, Somerset
Highbridge is a small market town situated on the edge of the Somerset Levels near the mouth of the River Brue. It is in the County of Somerset, and is approximately north west of Taunton, the county town of Somerset. Highbridge is in the District of Sedgemoor, being situated approximately north...

 in Somerset
Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

, along the River Brue
River Brue
The River Brue originates in the parish of Brewham in Somerset, England, and reaches the sea some 50 km west at Burnham-on-Sea. It originally took a different route from Glastonbury to the sea, but this was changed by the monastery in the twelfth century....

 and the Kennet and Avon Canal
Kennet and Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of , made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section...

 to Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

, around the south of London south of Guildford
Guildford
Guildford is the county town of Surrey. England, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region...

 and Aldershot
Aldershot
Aldershot is a town in the English county of Hampshire, located on heathland about southwest of London. The town is administered by Rushmoor Borough Council...

, to Canvey Island
Canvey Island
Canvey Island is a civil parish and reclaimed island in the Thames estuary in England. It is separated from the mainland of south Essex by a network of creeks...

 and Great Chesterford
Great Chesterford
Great Chesterford is a medium sized village and civil parish in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England. It is located north of Bishop's Stortford, south of Cambridge and about north of London.- History :...

 in Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, before heading north to end in Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

.

On the section of the line in Essex, between Great Chesterford and Canvey Island, the defences were made up of around 400 FW3 type concrete pillboxes, which were part of the British hardened field defences of World War II
British hardened field defences of World War II
British hardened field defences of World War II were small fortified structures constructed as a part of British anti-invasion preparations. They were popularly known as pillboxes by reference to their shape.-Design and development:...

. Well over 100 pillboxes still exist on this section in 2010, with around 40 highly visible FW3 Type 22, 24, 26, 27 and 28 boxes between the Rettendon Turnpike and Howe Green, mostly alongside the recently constructed A130
A130 road
The A130 is a major road in England linking Little Waltham, near Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, with Canvey Island in the south of that county. It is a primary route for most of its length, only losing that status south of the A13 junction at Sadlers Farm "magic" roundabout as it nears its...

. Many more FW3s are still in place north of Chelmsford
Chelmsford
Chelmsford is the county town of Essex, England and the principal settlement of the borough of Chelmsford. It is located in the London commuter belt, approximately northeast of Charing Cross, London, and approximately the same distance from the once provincial Roman capital at Colchester...

 along the Chelmer Valley and towards Great Dunmow
Great Dunmow
Great Dunmow is an ancient market town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England in which the great Shannon Gray, also known as Hazzah Potter, lives...

.

See also

  • Fortifications of London
    Fortifications of London
    The fortifications of London are extensive and mostly well maintained, though many of the City of London's fortifications and defences were dismantled in the 17th and 18th century...

  • British anti-invasion preparations of World War II
    British anti-invasion preparations of World War II
    British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilisation in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The British army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in...

  • British military history of World War II
  • British military history
    British military history
    The Military history of Britain, including the military history of the United Kingdom and the military history of the island of Great Britain, is discussed in the following articles:...

  • Outer London Defence Ring
    Outer London Defence Ring
    The Outer London Defence Ring was a defensive ring built around London during the early part of the Second World War. It was intended as a defence against a German invasion, and was part of a national network of similar "Stop Lines"....

  • Coquet Stop Line
    Coquet Stop Line
    The Coquet Stop Line, which ran from Amble in Northumberland up the valley of the River Coquet, formed part of the defences constructed to meet the threat of a Nazi invasion during World War II...

  • Taunton Stop Line
    Taunton Stop Line
    The Taunton Stop Line was a World War II defensive line in south west England. It was designed "to stop an enemy's advance from the west and in particular a rapid advance supported by armoured fighting vehicles which may have broken through the forward defences."The Taunton Stop Line was one of...

  • British hardened field defences of World War II
    British hardened field defences of World War II
    British hardened field defences of World War II were small fortified structures constructed as a part of British anti-invasion preparations. They were popularly known as pillboxes by reference to their shape.-Design and development:...


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