Site 6. Wester Anti-Tank Obstacles

If the Germans had invaded Caithness at Sinclair’s Bay it was expected that the enemy would first attempt to form a beachhead in or around the dune complex. From there they could consolidate their forces before breaking out into the countryside beyond using elements of their proven blitzkrieg tactics.

The dune complex created a very effective natural barrier to infantry and tanks. Where the Wester River runs out through the centre of the dunes there is a large gap that would make an ideal path off the beach for an invading force. This was identified as a major weak point so it had to be blocked.

To accomplish this a line of extra-large interlinked anti-­tank obstacles were erected across the gap. These were much bigger than the usual anti-tank cubes, measuring 5 feet wide by 6 feet deep by 5 feet high (1.5m X 2m X 1.5m). The front was angled to present a forward-facing edge. The obstacles were spaced 4 feet apart (1.2m) and are joined to each other by two steel tram rails set into the sides about 18 inches (50cm) from the top.

A row of nine concrete obstacles are still visible embedded into the south side of the river, blocking what would have been an open exit from the beach onto the flat links beyond.

Wester River Obstacles

Like the other defence works in Sinclair’s Bay the construction is crude with evidence of two types of shuttering having being used. They appear to have been constructed in two stages with the base first using corrogated iron shuttering. The girders were laid in position, then a concrete cap was poured on top into wooden plank shuttering.

Cracking is now taking place and three of the blocks have fallen to pieces and lie in the river. The others are protected by the sand that has built up around them over the years and the tram rails are now very corroded.

Additional anti-tank mines were laid on the beach in front of these obstacles. The formidable Flame Barrage was added later to protect this vulnerable area.

Wester River Obstacles
Remains of the Obstacles are Still in Place
Remain of Obstacles at Wester River
Remains of Obstacles at Wester River