Mulberry Harbour

Mulberry Harbour.

Lying just off the beach at Shoeburyness is the broken remains of one of the World War II floating harbours. The harbours or Mulberries as they were code-named, were built to assist with the D-day landings in France. In order to keep up the momentum of the attack it was necessary for vast supplies of equipment, stores & men to be brought ashore on the French coast quickly. As the beaches chosen were unsuitable for this task, plus the fact that all of the harbours in France were heaverly defended a way had to be found to move supplies & equipment quickly.

In 1943 Professor J.D. Bernal came forward with an idea of constructing a floating barrier to act as a harbour. This idea was expanded on by Brigadier Bruce White who drew up the final designs for the Mulberry Harbours. Each Mulberry Harbour was constructed mainly of Phoenix, caissons these were in essence floating reinforced concrete blocks. These Phoenix blocks were some 60 metres long by 18 metres high with a width of 15 metres, these were joined together to form 2 separate harbours on D-day stretching some 9.5 Kilometres in length. To anchor these harbours into position it was necessary to sink 59 merchant ships to guard against the harbours from being broken up in rough weather.

The Phoenix at Shoeburyness was one of 135 units that were built on the banks of the river Thames. This particular unit was one of several that were anchored in the Thames awaiting movement round to Dungeness on the Kent coastline, having broken away from its anchor the Phoenix ran aground & broke into 2 pieces where it has remained to this date since 1944.

Phoenix located at Shoeburyness at low tide.


Pictured below a Mulberry Harbour in use during D-day landings in 1944.

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