Troop embarkation site, Lepe

AddressLepe, Southampton SO45 1AD, UK
Location typeTroop Embarkation Site
AccessPublic Access
Site Ownership and Access InformationThe area is now part of Lepe Country Park, which is open in the daytime. Remains of the area's wartime activities can still be seen today. Concrete blocks can still be seen on the beach: they were placed there to enable vehicles to move across it more easily when loading onto landing craft. There are several 'dolphins' that were part of the pier on which landing craft tied up while troops boarded. There is also a stretch of platforms and slipways where the Mulberry Harbours caissons were built and launched.
Contact detailsSee Lepe Country Park website.

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The shore at Lepe and nearby Stone Point were used embarkation points for troops camped in Marshalling Area B. They had space for four Landing Craft Tank (LCT).

Many Allied troops waited for D-Day in camps throughout the New Forest. Some of these embarked here at Lepe, whereas others used embarkation sites to the east or west, particularly Southampton. This group of camps was known as Marshalling Area B.

From 31 May onwards, and according to a highly detailed timetable, troops began to make their way down to the coast and embark onto the ships and landing craft that would take them to Normandy. Vehicles were often loaded earlier, and troops on foot embarked only just before D-Day. The troops bound for landing on D-Day were followed by forces who would be landing on subsequent days, forming a steady stream moving down towards the south coast that in many places continued for months.

Lepe was also a site were parts of the Mulberry Harbours (artificial harbours) were built. Six type B2 Phoenix caissons were constructed here. Once moved across to Normandy after D-Day, these huge concrete structures would form part of the breakwater for the Harbours. The use of Mulberry Harbours was vital to the success of D-Day as they allowed thousands of tonnes of vehicles and goods to be unloaded onto the Normandy beaches each day. Tugboats towed construction components for these floating harbours across the Channel before being assembled off the Normandy coast. Two harbours were built in total: ‘Mulberry A’ was constructed at Omaha Beach and ‘Mulberry B’ at Gold. Each harbour required a vast 140,000 tonnes of concrete.

A key part of the Mulberry Harbours was the outer breakwater. To create the breakwater, old ships and Phoenix caissons were sunk in lines to create the breakwater. The Phoenixes were large concrete structures, with hollow chambers inside. They could be floated in order to move them, but when in the correct position, water was let into the internal chambers and they would sink onto the sea bottom.

View on the D-Day On Your Doorstep map