Hankley Common's Atlantic Wall, D-Day Practise Site

In 1943 Canadian Troops constructed a replica section of the Atlantic Wall on Hankley Common, England. It was to be used in the training and preparation for Operation Overlord and Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy by allied forces.

A 100 meter long section of the wall was constructed 3 meters tall and over 3 meters thick split into two sections by a set of heavy steel gates. To the side of the wall there are many other obstacles including dragons teeth, railway track set in concrete and concrete blocks. Many of these obstacles show damage from the live weapons training.

Evidence of the walls use in the development and practise of techniques to breach it can be seen today including large breaches over 3 meters wide caused by Double Onions, a steel framework with 1000ibs of explosives strapped to it mounted to the front of a Churchill Tank. The tank would place the charges before backing off trailing a wire which would be used to detonate from a safe distance.

Atlantic Wall Hankley CommonLine of dragons teeth, Hankley CommonAnti tank obstacles, D-day training site at Hankley CommonDamage to the Atlantic Wall, Hankley CommonDefensive concrete blockSteel framework for concrete cubeBreach to Hankley Common Atlantic Wall caused by double onion

A breach caused by a double onion.

Dragons teethGate opening, Hankley common atlantic wall

To the right is the gap where the steel gates would have been, today there is a plaque about the site (closeup below).

Hankley Common Atlantic Wall plaque


The Atlantic Wall was built in 1943 during the Second World War by Canadian Troops as a replica of the German Atlantic anti-tank defences on the northern French coast. It is constructed of concrete, steel rods and wire. Prior to the D-Day landings the wall was used as a major training aid to develop and practise techniques to breach it with explosives.

The wall was in two sections connected by heavy steel gates and there were sections of 'Dragons Teeth" and upended steel rails on each side.

Over the years the wall has become colonised by alkaline-loving lichens, mosses, ferns and other plants because the concrete provides the lime-based substrate that these species require and which are found nowhere else in the locality They present an unusual range of plants to be found in an expanse of acid heathland.

The preservation of the Wall is managed by Army Training Estates with the assistance of the MOD Hankley Conservation Group.