Other types that they created were the Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineer (AVRE) tanks. These vehicles were especially produced to fill in bomb craters and tank ditches with a load of wood. Other tanks were to carry bridges on their backs so vehicles could climb over obstacles or pass small waterways. For the crossing of
swampy areas or loose sand there was a Churchill tank rebuilt with an enormous role of canvas in front of the tank. This so called 'Bobbin' could roll a passable road
over 100 metres and 3 metres wide. For destroying bunkers and other strong points from up close some Churchill tanks were rebuilt to carry the Petard mortar.
The grenades were that big that these were called 'Flying Dustbins'.
Then there was the 'Crocodile', a Churchill tank rebuilt as a flame-thrower. The flame would
shoot over a range of 72 metres! From a little trailer, that was connected to the back of the tank, the fuel was brought under high pressure before being released.
A Crocodile in action, note the trailer with the fuel
The British troops made great use of the 'Hobart's Funnies', but the Americans were not that enthusiastic. They only set their eyes on the DD tanks and a few
'Crocodiles'. Because of this bad judgement the infantry on OMAHA Beach lacked heavy fire power and minesweeping vehicles, this decision did cost a
lot of lives and time. (I'll have to make a note here, OMAHA was not really suitable to use the 'Funnies' because of the high dunes in this area. This would interfere with the movement of these tanks).
WERE CAN YOU FIND THEM?
There are still some DD tanks you can find in Normandy. The most impressive are in the underwater museum just outside Port-en-Bessin, on the D 6.
Another (a Canadian) stands as a memorial in Courseulles (see the page British and Canadian sector, part two). A Churchill with the Petard mortar stands as a monument near Bernières (SWORD) (see for a picture: this page). Another AVRE Churchill, 'One Charlie', you'll find in the dunes near Gray-sur-Mer (see for a picture 'Statistics'). 'Regular' Sherman tanks can be found at the Memorial Museum at Bayeux, the OMAHA Museum, the UTAH Museum,
in Arromanches and the museum St-Mere-Eglise.
THE 'MULBERRY' HARBOUR, 'PORT WINSTON',
on the left, June 1944 and right, present day.
Arromanches was liberated in the afternoon of June 6th 1944 by the 1st Battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment that came ashore at GOLD Beach.
Despite of the heavy barrage of navy fire, just 6 civilians lost their life. Because there was a shortage of harbours in the landing area, the decision was made to built two artificial harbours,
one at OMAHA Beach and one in front of Arromanches. From 1943 some 37.000 men were working in the south of England on these harbours. Other beaches that were to
be used for offloading goods were UTAH, JUNO and SWORD. To protect these beaches from the strong waves, these beaches got a protective wave breaker. This 'screen' was
made up from 60 old ships, with the code name 'Gooseberry's. The first of these ships was sunk on 7 June. The artificial harbour 'A' (OMAHA Beach) en harbour 'B' (ARROMANCHES)
had a basis of 146 Caissons ('Phoenix') and that made the shape of the harbour and the offloading docks.
Left a 'Phoenix', right the harbour at work
Sixty of these 'Phoenix' elements had a water transfer of 6000 tonnes. The first to arrive was on 9 June. On June 18th some 115 'Phoenix's'
were already sunk and the harbours were ready for use. On that first day some 24.412 tonnes ammunitions was brought to shore. To bring the unloaded material to shore from the
docks they used a long metal road that was placed on pontoons, the so called 'Whales'. The unloading docks were floating and had a slide system of poles that were placed in the sandy bottom
so it could move on the tide. The complete Mulberry harbour consisted of 500 towed parts with a weight of 1½ million tonnes. 19 June, after its first operational day, a severe three day storm hit Normandy and destroyed the harbour at OMAHA Beach. 22 'Wales' that were on there way, were lost in the high waves. Usable parts of OMAHA were brought over to Arromanches.
This harbour, Port Winston, handled over 39.000 vehicles and 220.000 men.
The slowly deteriorating Mulberry harbour, right 'Whales' on the beach
On the beach at Arromanches you may still find some 'Whale' elements, a short distence from these elements is a unloading dock beached. The screen of
'Phoenix' elements gives a good impression of the size of this artificial harbour.
If you are planning to visit a lot of museums, buy your self a reduction ticked. You have to pay the full amount the first time but
afterwards there is a nice reduction at the most museums (a museum that does not accept the reduction ticked is OMAHA Museum 6 June 1944, this is privately owned).
above: this is how the reduction ticked looks like
A show you don't want to miss, is 'Arromanches 360', this is a 'round' theatre that runs the film 'Price of Freedom'.
There are 2 shows every hour, 10 minutes and 40 minutes passed the hour. (They accept the reduction ticket here as well). The museum about the
Mulberry harbour in Arromanches was for me personally a disappointment. The model of the harbour is worth the visit, but the larger part of the museum consists of the museum shop, that sells the same souvenirs that are sold here around the harbour. That's why a price of
€6.50 is way too high (with the reduction ticket €5.00, still to steep).