Snapshot 14: A view worth defending

Wanderlust Picture Club - Snapshot 14

© Wanderlust Picture Club 2017

With Dunkirk – in history, and in film – presently occupying the collective consciousness, it was startling to come across a direct link to that terrifying past resting quietly in rural Berkshire.

Sitting either side of this canal, drenched in a sunlight which burst in intervals through clouds dark with rain, was a pair of pill boxes – gun emplacements guarding road and river from enemy tank advancements.

More real in concrete than a cinema could ever communicate, these defences formed part of a line which stretched across Wiltshire and Berkshire – the Ironside line – and stood as a rapidly constructed response to the imminent and highly likely prospect of a German invasion.

Nowadays, they sit quietly beside a winding lane. Bar a plaque at their front, there’s little to show the significance of these hulks of brick.

Look what’s around them, though, and it’s clear to see exactly what they were protecting: the freedom of nature, the rural beauty not just of Britain but of a world without prejudice, and the liberty to cruise one’s canal boat at leisure.

Levity aside, they’re a frightening reminder of what was and could have been – and a reason, if a movie isn’t enough, to be thankful.

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