This could have been one of the first clashes between the two sides as Hitler’s invasion force fought its way off the beach at Climping and moved inland over the coastal lowlands of West Sussex in September 1940. It was, in fact, a highly realistic acting out of Hitler’s plan to invade along the south coast exactly 70 years earlier. War gamers travelled from across the south to take part in September 2010 and it was the first event of its kind to be held along the Sussex coast. The battle raged over 500 acres of farmland alongside the Ford Air Rifle Ranges site, with British and German infantry in authentic uniforms vying for supremacy, using replica air-powered weapons firing plastic ballbearings.
Skirmishes on the first day saw the well-organised Germans achieve their objectives of taking the bunker, a radar station and fuel and ammunition dumps, although not without fierce resistance from the British, who succeeded in blowing up some targets. It was a different story on the second day, however. Perhaps the British drew courage from the piper leading them into battle but the Germans found the going much tougher. Their commander was captured, although after a civilised lunch he was released. The climax in the afternoon, with a showdown in the arena and both sides fighting for Ford Airfield. The Brits came out on top – and the course of history remained virtually undisturbed.
Littlehampton Sea Cadets’ Band led those taking part and spectators to the nearby war memorial, where two minutes’ silence was observed.
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