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Mulberry A

On 27 June 1944, a reconnaissance aeroplane flying over France photographed the damage to the artificial harbour at Vierville, Normandy, after a series of heavy storms. This harbour codenamed 'Mulberry A' was constructed of prefabricated sections which had been towed across the English Channel after D-Day and assembled to form breakwaters, unloading piers and floating pontoon roadways. These extensive temporary structures were vital to the Allied logistic effort in the absence of a deep-water port and played a major part in supporting the ongoing battle for Normandy.

 

During a storm on 19 June, many of the concrete sections of Mulberry A broke loose, wrecking the network of floating causeways and jetties. Mulberry B, a second artificial harbour at Arromanches, survived the storm and continued to provide an invaluable service for many months afterwards.

 

These images from sortie 106G/1138, flown in the aftermath of the storm, show the sheer scale of the Mulberry operation in action, along with the growing Allied presence in France, from troop and cargo landings to temporary airfields and personnel tents.

 

 

Frame 3014

 

This image shows numerous Landing Ship Tanks (LST) washed up against pontoon 'Whale' roadways and onto the beach. Flat-topped 'Phoenix' prefabricated concrete breakwaters can be seen afloat and onshore. Merchant cargo and tanker ships lie offshore (one with barrage balloon aloft) with an escort corvette-type warship. DUKW amphibious trucks can be seen shuttling supplies and personnel between ships and the beach, while numerous vehicles are heading off the beach along roads and into vehicle parking areas to the south.

 

 

Frame 3016

 

This image shows several vessels shuttling supplies and personnel between ships and the beach, while numerous vehicles are heading off the beach along roads and into vehicle parking areas to the south. Many personnel tents and foxholes can be seen in and around fields to the south west of the port.

 

 

Frame 4012

 

This image shows damaged 'Bombardon' steel breakwater sections lying offshore from Vierville-sur-Mer. Large merchant cargo ships are unloading supplies onto motorised barges. A requisitioned civilian paddle steamer is also visible. A loose 'Spud' jack-up unloading pier can be seen, disconnected from a 'Whale' pontoon roadway. 'Corn Cob' block ships are also present.

 

 

Frame 4016

 

This image shows the eastern end of a temporary forward airfield (Saint-Pierre du Mont - ALG A1) with steel mesh runway and taxiways. Fourteen Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft (366th Fighter Group) and a Martin B-26 Marauder (416th or 322nd Bombardment Group) are visible, dispersed around the perimeter on square parking mats. Twelve tents have been pitched along the southern tree-line of a field adjacent to the roadway. A probable anti-aircraft battery is located east of the runway.

 

A wire-bound coastal defence position is located on the cliff-edge with two possible radar antennae to the rear, and sunken generator and control buildings between. Numerous defensive gun positions and pillboxes are visible on the cliff edge with sunken crew bunkers adjacent.