Mulberry Harbour test site – Wigtown Bay (Garlieston Harbour)

The first prototype Mulberry Harbour (the artificial harbours used in Normandy after D-Day) was tested at Garlieston Harbour in Wigtown Bay. 

Following construction at Conway Bay in North Wales, components were towed to Garlieston for full sea trials. Garlieston was chosen due its remoteness, combined with the large rise and fall of the tide on an exposed coastline, similar to the that of the proposed landing locations in Normandy. In all, the trials took place at the harbour, Rigg Bay and Portyerrock Bay. Tests were conducted in 1943 through to 1944, and proved an invaluable learning curve as several design flaws were identified and improved, including the abandonment of a proposed ‘Swiss roll’ floating roadway, which was found to be unsuitable for vehicles but useful by troops on foot.

The use of Mulberry Harbours was vital to the success of the Day Landings as they allowed thousands of tonnes of vehicles and goods to be put ashore in Normandy each day. They enabled the Allied forces to disembark at a faster rate than was possible directly over the beaches. These artificial harbours were constructed by the Allies in many sections at various sites around the coast of the UK. After D-Day, tugboats towed the harbour components across the Channel before they were assembled off the Normandy coast. Two harbours were built in total: ‘Mulberry A’ was constructed at Omaha Beach and ‘Mulberry B’ at Gold, though they were soon damaged by a storm, and only one harbour (that at Gold Beach, off Arromanches) was kept operational. Each harbour required a vast 140,000 tonnes of concrete to build.

AddressNewton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway DG8 8BR, UK
CountyDumfries and Galloway
Location typeOther
AccessPublic Access
Site Ownership and Access InformationMuch of the area has public access.  Today, there are still several reminders of Garlieston’s D-Day past, including several concrete ‘Beetles’ on Eggerness shore, and the remains of a ‘Hippo’ structure at Rigg Bay (the Hippo was part of another prototype for the Mulberry Harbours, which proved to be less successful than the design that was chosen for use in Normandy). The remains of some Mulberry components can often be seen at low tide. In Garlieston village square there is a boulder commemorating the area's role in the development of the Mulberry Harbours.
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