Mystery at Shingle Street
July 5, 2007 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Shingle Street is a tiny, picturesque hamlet on the coast of Suffolk harbouring a big WW2 mystery: the best developed rumour is of an attempt by the Germans to invade Britain at this spot which was anticipated and intercepted by pumping fuel onto the sea surface and setting fire to it. UK files on the subject are closed, again mysteriously, until 2021. Ronald Ashford, who claims to have been an eye witness, has a lot more information. You can stay.
posted by rongorongo (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Neat post. In 2021, when these files are released and someone no doubt makes an FPP based on them, I plan on shouting "double!"
posted by chinston at 10:19 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fascinating. I wonder if German war archives can shed more light on it.
posted by StarForce5 at 10:25 AM on July 5, 2007

The first link states the files were declassified..

" Then, in 1992, allegations that a German raiding force was burned to death there in 1940 exploded
across the national press. The rumours soon spread to include fatal chemical warfare trials and a friendly-fire disaster in 1944.

The result was the kind of undignified media scramble spurred by the Hitler Diaries, involving public outcry, the tabling of questions in the House of Commons, and the early declassification
of HO 207/1175."
posted by zeoslap at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2007

In summary, only four Germans came ashore and they all died by crashing their plane into the Channel. The burning bodies on the shore myth was propagated by MI6 (whihc is like the CIA)
posted by zeoslap at 10:33 AM on July 5, 2007

From teh "eye witness" link:

Adolf Hitler had been set on the idea of the quiet conquest of Britain for some time; a country as rich in history as his own and with its own empire.

This sort of editorializing does not reassure me that the analysis will be fair and unbiased.

Why Orford? That is, why would both the Germans and the British decide that Orford would be the best place to invade? Or did the British lay down oil pipes along the shingle of every beach on the English Channel in order to thwart and invasion?

I think the first link "Shingle Street" has the best explanation:

wartime hysteria + washed up bodies of German airmen + site of secret and ominous military installations = MYSTERY
posted by KokuRyu at 10:48 AM on July 5, 2007

"Don't panic Mr Mainwaring!"

He's still not dead you know. The man's immortal.
posted by longbaugh at 11:37 AM on July 5, 2007

What editorializing? England has been around a long time and I don't think anyone would argue that the British Empire existed.
posted by DU at 11:40 AM on July 5, 2007

I highly doubt this was an actual invasion of Britain. Operation Sea Lion was planned with between 60,000 and 160,000 troops. Torch (a smaller invasion) used about 75,000. Possibly it could have been a Jubilee/Dieppe sized raid (6,000) to test defenses. But anything more than that, and the numbers involved don't make sense. Besides, after the war someone on the German side would have spoken up. The three "reasons" (and there are major problems with them) given for the coverup all take into account the British side. What would Germany have to gain from keeping this secret?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2007

There's no way an entire invasion force could be burned alive right off the coast of Southern England without everyone knowing about it. Some small suicide force intent on causing havok? Perhaps. But this site is claiming an invasion force, whether cut by air attacks or not.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:40 PM on July 5, 2007

Lovely place. I would love to stay here for a month or so. But I have to settle for 4 days in Galveston. sigh...
posted by jmccw at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2007

Why on earth would the embattled British govt cover up a victory in 1940?
posted by A189Nut at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2007

Why on earth would the embattled British govt cover up a victory in 1940?

Ah, it was all a conspiracy, don't you see? A devious conspiracy masterminded by treacherous elements within the British upper classes! That's why the government had to cover it up! Mr Ashford has all the details on his website:

With agreement from the enemy for a safe passage to Australia the families of many prominent MPs and industrialists with Edward VIII and the Duke of Kent in prominence and in sympathy with Hitler's cause are in my view a major cause for this secrecy. I have investigated these events as thoroughly as possible, in spite of this stifling of information you can find the results of my efforts on this website. My post and probably my telephone have been interfered with. I have had no letters or phone messages regarding these events since I put it on the Internet, if this is true, and I think it is, I am sure you will agree it is against our liberty of free expression. I have also been blocked by publishing companies and the press have been refused publication of my story. Why is it still such a sensitive subject? It proves beyond doubt these events I have described are true.

Yes, well, there you have it.
posted by verstegan at 12:29 AM on July 6, 2007

Why on earth would the embattled British govt cover up a victory in 1940?

To artificially raise the "terror level", enabling stringent new "security measures" to control the populace and increased funding for the military-industrial complex.
posted by Joeforking at 1:56 AM on July 6, 2007

Oh, and the "eyewitness"?
We heard a tremendous amount of gunfire and explosions. The night sky was lit up with a red glow. Sporadic gunfire went on for several hours.
Not really an eyewitness.
posted by Joeforking at 2:00 AM on July 6, 2007

As the BBC article points out there was a lot of media interest and speculation about this in the early 90s and some questions were asked in parliament. The reply was pretty much "no evidence of a German invasion in our files of the event - and in fact you can have a look at all the documents for yourselves in just thirty years time" - mystery solved!

In 1940 the Suffolk coast must have had just the right mixture of isolation and paranoia to spawn rumours of this sort. On the other hand they did bother to evacuate the village and this is the area that has harboured a nuclear detonator test site , the British Resistance Organisation (trained to act as saboteurs in the event of a WW2 invasion) - plus of course a few crash landed aliens and a one eyed devil dog.
posted by rongorongo at 2:53 AM on July 6, 2007

If anyone cares the documents in question are no longer classified, you can buy a copy here
posted by zeoslap at 7:01 AM on July 6, 2007

Use to live quite close, its an awsome place to go for a walk if you're nearby, and it definitely has the air of somewhere mysterious.

Wish I still lived in the region. Seems like there's plenty of other old abandoned other US bases/stuff around to explore. See
posted by cgfoz at 3:02 PM on July 6, 2007

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