Site 8. Fortress Wick

From the outbreak of the war Wick was considered of strategic importance. It’s harbour, large airfield and close proximity to suitable landing grounds around Sinclair’s Bay made it a prime target for an invasion site. Consequently, Wick was protected by a ring of fixed and mobile defences. These included barbed-wire obstacles, machine gun pillboxes, infantry defence positions, anti-aircraft batteries and a six-inch coastal artillery battery.

Barbed-wire obstacles ran from the Castle of Old Wick, along the southern edge of the town, then north towards the current A99 to join with Wick airfield, which was itself completely encircled by barbed-wire, then continuing to the east of the airfield until finally finishing just above Broadhaven to the east. All roads into the town were also blocked and guarded.

Six Type 24 pillboxes covered the southern and western approaches to the town, with five square Type 26 pillboxes protecting the harbour. A further Type 26 pillbox was erected at Broadhaven to protect the northern approach to the Coastal Artillery Battery situated on the cliff-top nearby.

The airfield itself was surrounded with six Bofors LAA (Light Anti-Aircraft) batteries, six Type 27 pillboxes with machine guns mounted in a LAA rôle and a further nine pillboxes around the perimeter. All these defences faced outwards to repel any external attack, but in the event that enemy paratroopers landed within the perimeter, the landing ground was also protected by a further trio of strong octagonal pillboxes facing inwards across the runways. These were supplemented with three Pickett-Hamilton Retractable Forts positioned at the runway intersections to prevent use of the runways by the enemy. These were small circular pillboxes, normally flush with the surface so as not to obstruct normal use of the runways, but which could be raised out of the ground hydraulically when needed.

Wick was also defended by two HAA (Heavy Anti-Aircraft) batteries, each with two 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns, sited at Noss Head and South Head.