WWII Tank Traps, Northern Beaches

What is this pyramid shaped concrete block doing sticking out of the water at Bayview on the shore of the Pittwater estuary? This is in fact some of the last remaining evidence of the impact that World War II had on Sydney during the early 1940s.

During the war, Sydney suffered a couple of arguably minor incidences, including the Japanese raid on Sydney Harbour in 1942 and the shelling of the Eastern suburbs approximately a week later. But it’s hard to imagine what the feeling must have been like around Sydney during these times as the fear of Japanese invasion grew.

In 1941-1942 the Federal Government wanted to ensure that mainland Australia had adequate defences in place to help defend against such an invasion. As a result the Allied Works Council was formed to ensure these were put in place. This concrete tetrahedron tank trap was one of such measures.

The Northern beaches was identified as a region particularly susceptible to land invasion from the Japanese. So 300 of these tank traps were strategically placed along the shoreline with the first group of eight traps placed on Fairy Bower Beach in Manly. Each trap was about 5 feet high and weighed approximately 2 tonnes. They were embedded in the mud and at this point placed in between mangrove trees which I assume provided additional protection from landing vehicles. I read that only six of these traps remain intact.

Visiting this site on a typical sunny Sydney day as people walk past with their dogs and others out in their sailing boats, it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like in the early 40s with black out laws were in place, a submarine boom net across Sydney harbour and barbed wire fences on many of our major beaches including Bondi. Do you know of any stories about life in Sydney during WWI or WWII? Perhaps told by your parents or grandparents? Or perhaps we have some followers old enough to give personal accounts?

Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.


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