D-Day: Mulberry harbours impressive, but doubts over their value: Huge prefabricated ports were towed across the Channel to provide safe havens. Will Bennett reports

The remains of the Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches can still be seen, while a section of the one at Omaha beach has been incorporated into a fishing jetty. They remain impressive monuments to the invasion of Normandy.

The two prefabricated harbours towed across the Channel by the Allies each covered two square miles, the size of the port of Dover. They were intended to provide a safe haven for shipping but now there are doubts as to their usefulness.

Their creation stemmed from the disastrous raid on Dieppe in 1942 after which it was realised that no major port was going to be captured either early or intact during an invasion.

The British-designed Mulberries, a code name selected at random, had an outer floating breakwater sheltering an inner fixed one built of huge hollow concrete boxes five stories high.

The first components were towed across the Channel the day after D-Day and submerged. Landing ships and small cargo vessels could unload directly while larger vessels could transfer their cargoes on to barges. The Allied landing areas were also protected by lines of scuttled blockships.

Less than a fortnight after D- Day the Mulberries were both in use - for the British at Arromanches and for the Americans at Omaha - and the final roadways were being brought across. But a huge storm destroyed these and by the third day the American harbour began to break up.

The remains of the latter were used to repair the British Mulberry and the Americans had to bring their supplies across the beaches. By the middle of July 35,000 tons a day were coming by this route which was more than when they had the Mulberry.

The British Mulberry stepped up its unloading to almost 7,000 tons a day but some historians doubt whether the artificial harbours justified their cost and the use of 45,000 men to build them.

The same applies to Pluto - Pipeline Under the Ocean. This was an impressive sounding piece of technology for supplying fuel to the Allied forces in Normandy which proved of limited use.

Pluto was a three-inch diameter steel pipe welded into sections more than 30 miles long and laid from huge drums across the Channel. In theory fuel could be landed at Liverpool and sent, via pumping stations in the Isle of Wight, direct to the armies in France.

In practice it could not be deployed until the port of Cherbourg had been captured and it then took time to lay. It went into operation on 18 September by which time the Allied armies were hundreds of miles away. Despite this, the Allied supply operation for the Normandy campaign remains one of the greatest logistical achievements in history.

In the first 24 days, 4,257 ships and other vessels arrived at the beachhead and by 25 July nearly 1.5 million troops had landed.

The Allied armies needed 26,000 tons of stores a day and, with absolute mastery of the air, only the storms disrupted the supply of reinforcements, vehicles, ammunition, fuel and food for the invaders.

(Photographs omitted)

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Secondary Maths Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Year 5 Teacher

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teacher...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments