Invasion success is celebrated at Duxford Imperial War Museum

IWM Duxford celebrated the donation of the Whale, a floating roadway section from Mulberry Harbour B

IWM Duxford celebrated the donation of the Whale, a floating roadway section from Mulberry Harbour B, which was crucial to the success of the Allies in breaking out from the beaches of Normandy following D-Day. Les Amis du Pont Bailey with Mrs Ida Beckett and the Beckett family. - Credit: Archant

Part of an inventive solution which helped the success of the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944 has been unveiled at Duxford.

Mulberry Harbour. Picture: IWM

Mulberry Harbour. Picture: IWM - Credit: Archant

The Imperial War Museum is the new home for the Whale, a floating roadway section from Mulberry Harbour B, which was vital to the success of armed forces following the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.

It is the only object of its type in the UK and has been donated by Les Amis du Pont Bailey and transportation from France paid for by the family of Major Allan Beckett, the Whale designer.

The Whale was recovered in the 1950s from the remains at Arromanches on the British Gold Beach. It was used as a road bridge over the River Vire at Pont-Farcy until flooding caused damage to the concrete supporting the bridge in 1990. The contractor employed to dispose of the Whale decided not to sell it for scrap. In 2008, the Whale was gifted to Les Amis.

Major Beckett’s wife Ida joined Les Amis at the event on Saturday (April 9).

Mrs Ida Beckett next to the Whale

Mrs Ida Beckett next to the Whale - Credit: Archant


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Christopher Long, of Les Amis, said: “I feel proud of England and of Imperial War Museums in particular. It has taken me eight years to save this bridge and in the end the museum pretty much did my job for me.”

Mrs Beckett said: “I feel very proud of my husband’s achievements. He was such a modest man, I think he’d think it was a lot of fuss about nothing. I think it’s wonderful, it is a reminder to us all of such an engineering feat. It was quite remarkable.”

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James Taylor, assistant director of narrative and content at Imperial War Museums, added: “Whales were floating roadways that were integral to the Mulberry harbours built immediately after the Allied landings in Normandy on 6 June, 1944.

“Our Whale span comes from the British Mulberry at Arromanches and is an extraordinary feat of engineering in itself.

“The Whales helped ensure that soldiers, vehicles and supplies could be brought ashore to take part in the campaign to liberate continental Europe from Nazi domination and to bring to an end a regime that had brought death and suffering to millions.”

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