The global stage of World War II, an 80-year-old battlefield now receding from living memory, still leaves its haunting traces across the landscape. War historian James Rogers delves into these historical relics, revealing stories of valor, innovation, and desperation. The monumental Allied Normandy invasion of 1944, meticulously planned to the smallest detail, presented a unique challenge: supplying the invasion force without a French port. Ingenious thinking led to the construction of Mulberry harbors—remnants of which remain on the beaches of Arromanches, Normandy. Amid the chaos of the June 6, 1944, landings, components of the harbors were ferried to Arromanches.
The expansive breakwater, spanning over 5 miles and comprised of concrete caissons, rose as a testament to wartime engineering. The harbors were a marvel, comprising 33 jetties, 10 miles of floating roadways, and the astonishing achievement of floating steel structures. The harbors’ significance extended beyond wartime operations; they later served to mend France’s infrastructure. An enduring tribute to human ingenuity, these harbors astounded even Albert Speer, a Nazi architect. The remnants scattered across Normandy stand as silent witnesses to an idea of simple genius—honoring the past by shaping the future.
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Top image: D-Day beach landings WWII. Source: National Archives and Records Administration / Public Domain.