D-day Landings

Weymouth was host to over half a million troops and nearly 150,000 vehicles that departed the town in less than a year towards the end of the War in Europe.  This of course included a major participation in troops leaving to fight in ‘The Longest Day’, the D-day invasion of occupied Normandy.  The US 1st Division (‘The Big Red One’) were to cram on to vessels in Weymouth and Portland harbours prior to setting sail for France and the assault of Omaha Beach.  The infantry were loaded on to small landing craft in Weymouth and ushered out to the larger transporter ships lying at anchor in Weymouth Bay while Portland played host to the larger hardware; tanks, guns, trucks, amphibious vehicles and other equipment. 

D-Day LandingsMulberry harbour was an ingenious piece of engineering designed specifically with D-Day in mind.  The floating breakwaters were sailed across the Channel so that the landing craft of the Normandy beaches could land more easily.  There were two harbours taken across, the largest of which was used at Omaha, the destination of the troops departing Weymouth.  Parts of Mulberry harbour can still be seen floating in Portland harbour to this day.
Forever affiliated with the Royal Navy, all of the armed forces are commemorated in the town with particular remembrance for D-day.  Around its anniversary in June every year, the town holds a veterans’ festival.  One of the highlights of the week-long celebration is the modern day re-enactment of a beach landing complete with amphibious vehicles, landing craft, soldiers, gunfire, smoke, fighting and tanks.  It’s an absolute marvel to watch as within moments, the baddies are captured, the bridge is built, the infantry are across and the tank is driving over it. 
A service at the cenotaph, directly opposite The Esplanade, is an excellent way to remember those that have given their lives to give us what we have today. 
The town’s strong links with the Royal Navy were severed slightly with the closing of the naval base at Portland in the mid 1990s.  Although the town suffered economically in the immediate aftermath with losses of jobs and supporting businesses, the winning of major industry in the Port as well as securing the sailing events for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has given the town a major boost.  The town may have lost its more traditional sailors but in its place, the town is now home to many of the nation’s modern day sailors – the gold winning Olympians from games past and hopefully, Weymouth 2012!!
The Esplanade, Weymouth Seafront Slideshow: Rob’s trip to Weymouth was created with TripAdvisor TripWow!