On the 6 June 1944 thousands of troops with their vehicles and supplies left Britain via locations such as Lepe Beach in the New Forest for the beaches of Normandy. This was D Day, the start of the great campaign to liberate Europe and to bring the Second World War to its end.
- The concrete floor remains of the site buildings used by construction workers and the military. They are dotted about in the Country Park area.
- Water Tower Base used for water purification, required because so little fresh water was available on site.
- Construction Platforms where the caissons were constructed. Today, although parts are storm damaged, the platforms run for 374 metres and are 11m wide and 1.3m high. The platforms were large enough to construct all six caissons simultaneously, reflecting the urgency of the work.
- Beach Hardening Mats which resemble huge bars of chocolate, were held in place by a series of iron hooks. They were laid out to strengthen the beach enough to take the weight of the tanks and other vehicles being driven onto landing craft.
- Dolphins forming part of the pier head used to load ships departing for Normandy.
- Bollards used to tie up the ships that were being loaded for the invasion.
- Concrete Slipways run from the rolling track walls to the sea. These were used to launch the caissons at high tide
This recent drone footage of the site gives a birds eye view of the extensive features that were designed and built to support Mulberry and D-Day at Lepe.
You can find out more about the New Forest’s vital role in D-Day from Mulberry Harbour, to holding camps, road widening, advanced landing grounds, PLUTO and Embarkation by visiting our main page on D-Day in the New Forest.
Y-4 – Stores – no descriptions
D-3 – Vehicles for 231 Brigade & Vehicles for 69 Brigade –
231 & 69 Brigades were the assault brigades for Gold Beach landing on Jig and King Sectors respectively
D-3 – Self Propelled Artillery, 231 Brigade
These were 25-pounder Sexton = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexton_%28artillery%29; units were 90 and 147 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.
D-3 – Duplex Drive Tanks, 231 Brigade
Sherman D.D. tanks of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD_tank
D-2 – AVRE, 231 Brigade Assault Vehicle, Royal Engineers; 6th Assault Regiment, R.E., equipped with modified Churchill Tanks, including some of the so called ’Flying Dustbins’
D-2 – AVRE, 69 Brigade With their Petard Mortars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Assault_Brigade_Royal_Engineers; they were accompanied by Squadrons from the Westminster Dragoons with their ‘Sherman Crab’ flail tanks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Dragoons#Second_World_War.
D-2 – Duplex Drive Tanks, 69 Brigade Sherman D.D. tanks of the 4/7 Dragoon Guards
D-1 – Army Fire Service. We do not know what his was composed of.
- The Westminster Dragoons claim to have been the first unit ashore on Gold Beach
- The D.D. tanks were landed directly on the shore due to the rough conditions.
- The loading tables list the Landing Craft by number
- The Canadian Unit the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, which was attached to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division which formed the core of ‘Force J’ the assault force for Juno Beach, they left the area in April 1944 to prepare for embarkation from the East side of Southampton Water. The embarkation points at Lepe were in constant use for training and for ferrying troops to and from the Isle of Wight, well before the D-Day loading, during this earlier use infantry units were also frequently using the site, not just mechanised units.
The storm that arrived late on Friday evening (14 February 2014) exposed a couple of small brick structures in the beach front car park. Further erosion along the coast caused a possible gun emplacement to start to collapse on to the beach.