70 years ago today, the Mulberry harbours at Omaha beach and at Arromanches were open for business. These extraordinary constructions – built because existing suitable French ports were too heavily defended – enabled the landing of over two million soldiers and 500,000 vehicles following the capture of the Normandy beaches on D-Day. The various sections were built in the UK and then towed across the channel, making it one of the most audacious engineering feats of the Second World War.
A heavy storm on 19 June destroyed the American harbour, however the British harbour at Arromanches – nicknamed ‘Port Winston’ – survived and was repaired using parts from the Omaha harbour. It operated for ten months in total. 70 years later, the remains of the harbour can still be seen at Arromanches, including this huge ‘Spud Pier’ section that has become washed up on the beach. At low tide, you can walk up to and around it, reach out and touch this incredible artefact of an incredible conflict.
At hide tide, the sea rises halfway up the landing surface, creating an even split between erosion by sea and erosion by air.
Now, seaweed, barnacles and limpets cover the surface where once men’s feet fell.
Out at sea, a number of the Phoenix breakwaters remain lined up, a permanent feature now of the Arromanches horizon.
Photographs by Huckleberry Hax.