During the War at Wivenhoe. Part of "Mulberry" in the making on the River Colne. [DW]
The projected invasion of Normandy in June 1944 needed the construction of artificial harbours to get men, equipment and supplies ashore on the shallow coast. It was to be the greatest amphibious operation in history, code named 'Overlord' and more than 5,000 ships and aircraft protected and carried the invasion forces to the fifty mile stretch of beaches, and afterwards sustained them. The ingenious artificial harbours had long piers, supported on legs from the sea bottom, allowing them to rise and fall with tide and swell. At the outer ends wer pontoons and a fan shaped ramp end on which landing craft could discharge vehicles, men and supplies. Parts of these harbours were constructed at various places around the east and south coasts of England and several of the ramp end pontoons were built at Wivenhoe, on the marsh immediately above the Railway Quay. Douglas Went took this photograph of one a couple of hours before the launch from the improvised 'yard' on the river bank. The landward end of the pontoon is at the right of the photograph and the ramp shows lighter steelwork to the left.
The pontoons were fabricated on cradles running on rails across the marsh as work progressed, ending, completed, at the river bank for launch. Little evidence remains and the once green marsh is now a housing estate [TM].
In the background Wivenhoe Shipyard is full of minesweepers and naval auxiliary craft on the stocks, beyond the crane gantry. An Admiralty 90ft drifter fits out alongside the quay with a naval tug beyond her ready to tow the ramp end pontoon away after launch.
A sunny morning interlude of a river at war. [JL]
It is thought that only two whale pierhead ramps like this were built at Wivenhoe, Yard Numbers 50 and 51. [John Collins]
Plate.56 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast page 74.