Preparation covers the period from the evacuation of Dunkirk (1940) to just before D-Day (6 June 1944).
Your journey begins with an introduction to ‘The Plan’ and the commanders appointed to deliver it. A star exhibit is General Montgomery’s beret. Examples of the postcards and family photos sent in by the public in response to the BBC appeal help explain why Normandy was chosen for the D-Day landings.
Mobilising for war
‘My hat is worth three divisions. The men see it in the distance. They say, “There’s Monty”, and then they will fight anybody.’
General Sir Bernard Montgomery
As troops from all over the world gather in the south of England friendships are struck up with locals. Gifts are exchanged including a Union Jack given to a tank crew (the crew flew the flag from D-Day to VE Day). Hands-on interactives indicate the jobs that conscripted men and women would be offered and the training required.
New equipment is introduced, including floating harbours, the pipeline under the ocean, and Hobart’s funnies: a series of tanks adapted for specialist tasks. You can also see a rare example of a Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle or ‘BARV‘. Secrecy and deception were an important part of preparation. Test your knowledge of what is true and learn how fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.
The gallery ends with the Atlantic Wall and the obstacles the Allies will have to overcome on D-Day. The troops defending the wall are introduced and also the French under occupation.
Ready to go
Here visitors meet six characters who will share their experiences with you including the weatherman Group Captain Stagg who has informed the commanders of a break in the weather.