Duplex Drive Tank Training Wing

The west end of Stokes Bay, Bay House and Alverbank Hotel were requisitioned by the 79th Armoured Division for the training of the crews who would operate the Duplex Drive (DD) Tanks on D Day.

The DD tanks were conventional Valentine and Sherman Tanks that were fitted with canvas screens and propellers. The screen was supported by air-filled pillars and struts as well as a series of tubular frames. When inflated, the equipment enabled the tank to displace more than its own weight in water, thus making the tank buoyant. When at sea, only the top 3 feet of screen could be seen, concealing the tank beneath the waves. The DDs were part of “The Funnies”, which were developed to combat the various German Defences and Obstacles.

The site here at Stokes Bay was used between September 1943 and May 1944 as the Saltwater Training School (B Wing). Crews had previously attended training at A Wing, which was a freshwater lake called Fritton Decoy on the Norfolk/Suffolk Border.

DD Tanks were parked in the vicinity of the Mobile Home Park and here they were waterproofed and maintained. The tanks would be driven down to hards on the beach below the present day car park, and loaded onto naval ships called Landing Craft (Tanks) or LCTs.

Each LCT would hold 9 Valentine DDs, and once loaded they would motor out towards the Isle of Wight. 1200 yards off the coast the DDs would inflate their screens and launch into the sea, swimming the remainder of the way to Osborne Bay.

Upon returning the tanks would drive through a concrete pool and be washed down to rinse off the saltwater. LCTs would be refuelled from large capacity storage tanks (300tons) and water tanks (5000gallons) formerly located on the grass between the two car parks.

Over the 9 month period 1200 men trained here – with each Regiment attending for three weeks before moving on to train with the forces they would join on D Day.

AddressGosport PO12 2QT, UK
CountyHampshire
Location typeOther
AccessPublic Access
Site Ownership and Access InformationSea front and open space open to the public. Car park at beach side. Leaflets are available in Bayside Café or the Diving Museum. Bay House and Bayside Mobile Home Site are private, however Alverbank Hotel and Park is public open space.
Contact detailsFor more information on the history of this site, contact Stuart Burgess: Stuart@duplexdrivetanks.co.uk.

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