Drone footage by Phil Wood
Gold Beach and Arromanche on D-Day
The Little town of Arromanches -Les-Bains on the French coast in Normandy was part of the D-Day Landings on the 6th of June in 1944. Arromanche was in the ‘Gold Beach’ zone east and in the English landing sector. It Lies east of Omaha Beach in the American sector and west of Juno Beach. The Arrmoanche beach is naturally protected by a cliff on each side. On these two cliffs of about 20 metres high the German build their defences.
The British forces, the 1st Dorset Regiment and the 1st Royal Hampshire Regiment, landed around 07:30 on the beach of Le Hamel-Asnelles, just east of Arromanches. The beach was protected by two pockets of resistance complete with bunkers, anti tank weapons, mortars, machine gun posts, mine fields, barb wire and infantry, named Widerstandsnest 36 and Widerstandsnest 37. The fight was fierce and it costs the British 3 commanders and a great deal of soldiers. It wasn’t until the arrival of reinforcements and together with Sherman Flail tanks, that a break though was forced. After this the British troops moved inland at high speed and a company of the 1st Royal Hampshire Regiment, part of the 231st Brigade, succeeded in taking Arromanches-Les-Bain on the same night around 21:00.
The Mulberry Harbour
After D-Day the allied were in dire need of a harbour to supply the ground troops. They had chosen Normandy for the beaches but the beaches lacked good sized harbours. Before D-Day the engineers constructed floating harbours, codenamed Mullberry. At first they created ‘Gooseberries’, the allied sank dozens of ships on designated locations in front of the beaches to create breakwaters. About 70 obsolete vessels sailed in from Oban – Scotland. After these block ships were in place they towed caissons over the channel and let them sink to complete the Gooseberries. These so called Phoenix Caissons were sank on two locations were the Mulberry harbours would arise. Mulberry A (American) at Omaha Beach near Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Mulberry B (British) at Gold Beach near Arromanches.
Between the caissons and the beach they placed Pilons and Beetles on which a road could float on the sea and elevate with the current sea level. The floaters under the road were named Beetles, and they carried Whales, which are road parts. On top of the caissons anti aircraft guns were placed for protection of the harbour.
The Allied build two complete artificial harbours at the Normandy coast. Mulberry A was in use only 10 days, a severe storm damaged it so badly that it was out of commission and was not repaired. It was never used again. The British Mulberry was secured better on the sea floor and sustained far less damage, this harbour was repaired and was in use until the port of Antwerp in Belgium was liberated and taken relatively intact. Daily 9000 tons of material was brought in at Arromanches until the end of August. In it’s 5 months of operation Mulberry B delivered half a million vehicles, 4 million tons of supplies and over 2 million.
Arromanches is easy to visit and to find. You can see the caissons in the sea, you can see them even from the gun batterie at Longue-sur-Mer. You can see Phoenix Caissons, Beetles and a Whale from the beach. Most parts are on the beach or in the sea, the Whale lies close to the beach.