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Arromanches: A harbor that helped win a war in Normandy, France

Arromanches Normandy France

The manmade mulberry harbors at Arromanches, France in Normandy

During World War II, Allied planners prepared to invade France and breach Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. The German high command were certain they would strike at the Pas-de-Calais, which was the narrowest stretch of land across the English Channel between England and France. They did not think they would land in Normandy.  One of the reasons, the lack of a good harbor in the Cotentin Peninsula.

#Frifotos is a hashtag on Twitter where everyone shares their photos on Friday depending on a certain theme. Today’s theme is harbors and this week is being sponsored by Mr. Stayadventurous. I have never participated, but I have finally decided to join the fray. My harbor picture is definitely not the prettiest, in fact, it may be the ugliest, but it is of great historical importance.

Many people know that D-Day was June 6, 1944. Many also know the Allies consisting mainly of Americans, British, Canadians, and a few French stormed the beaches of Normandy on this important day. What many do not know is the trials and tribulations that befell these invading armies after June 6. It took over a month and a half of brutal fighting for the Allies to slug their way through Normandy before they eventually broke out and charged westward toward Paris. Part of the difficulty was landing the additional troops and then adequately supplying them.

Since there was no harbor in Normandy, Allied engineers brought a harbor with them and called them mulberries. The idea of the man made harbor is usually credited to Winston Churchill although other minds were involved. In Arromanches and at Omaha Beach, military engineers sunk ships  to create a breakwater. A storm destroyed the Omaha Beach harbor, but the Arromanches one worked and 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of supplies were unloaded here to help the Allies in the desperate battle to break out of Normandy and liberate France and Europe from Nazi tyranny.

The picture above was taken at Arromanches, France where the sunken ships used to create the breakwater can still be seen in the distance. I visited this site as part of the Normandy Scholar Program where I studied French culture, World War II, and the Normandy Campaign in Caen, France when I was in college.


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16 Responses to Arromanches: A harbor that helped win a war in Normandy, France

  1. Charles Higgins September 22, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Very interesting history here..thanks..

    Cheers..
    Charles Higgins recently posted..Ten day trips within three hours of Las Vegas

  2. The World Wanderer September 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    This was the first week that I participated in FriFotos too. Your harbor may not be the prettiest, but out of all of the pictures, I am sure that it must be the most important. I have always wanted to visit Normandy, and now I am inspired to see this harbor for myself.
    The World Wanderer recently posted..Victoria & Albert Waterfront.

    • travelingted September 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Normandy is amazing. It is where I fell in love with travel. The history, people, and the food are just a few reasons why the province is well worth a visit.

  3. Craig Zabransky September 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    Thanks for the mention and definitely not only enjoyed your creativity with the theme, but also the story. Insane that 2.5mm men came through that man made harbor.

    Some day I’d to walk the sands of this beach myself…I am a big fan of history and there is so much there…

    stay adventurous, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Sunset Sunday – the Apollo Temple on the Island of Naxos

    • travelingted September 23, 2012 at 12:11 am #

      No problem Craig, thanks for the heads up on the theme. I have been eying #frifotos for sometime, but have never made the leap.

      Normandy is a place I would love to get back to. It is such an overlooked part of France with Paris, Nice, wine, and castles overshadowing it. Those that discover Normandy are not disappointed.

  4. Fiona September 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Nice photo, Ted – you really captured the vastness of the beach!
    Fiona recently posted..The Photo Edit: Venice

    • travelingted September 24, 2012 at 12:23 am #

      Thanks Fiona,

      The beaches in Normandy are beautiful and full of historical significance.

  5. Leah Travels September 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks for that history lesson, Ted. I had no idea. And who says travel blogs aren’t educational?
    Leah Travels recently posted..Falconry: Sport of Kings (and one Texas Girl)

    • travelingted September 25, 2012 at 12:06 am #

      Thanks Leah, history is one of my other passions, so it is nice I am able to combine history and travel.

  6. Chad September 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Nice pic and interesting topic. I’ve always been interested in WWII history, but never knew about the mulberry habors until I visited Normandy myself. I definitely recommend a visit to the D-Day beaches. Once you’re there, you really get a sense of the enormity and scope of the operation.
    Chad recently posted..Shenandoah NP Part 2: Stony Man and Dark Hollow Falls

    • travelingted September 25, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      Very cool that you have been to Normandy and have seen the beaches. I think it is a place that every American should go. Heck every traveler should go regardless of nationality.

  7. Tawny- Captain and Clark September 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    A great photo Ted. These France posts are killing me. I have my BA in French and have still never set foot on French soil (well, Martinique counts, I guess). I might need to get a few history lessons from you before I land. 🙂
    Tawny- Captain and Clark recently posted..Getting dominated by the Grand Canyon [Video]

    • travelingted September 25, 2012 at 12:08 am #

      You definitely need to use your French skills in France. They will love you for it.

  8. John September 26, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    It may not be the prettiest, but it’s still a moving photo Ted. Thanks for sharing.
    John recently posted..Berlin Street Food Show Down – Currywurst vs. Döner Kebab

  9. the lazy travelers September 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    great post! had no idea that was the reasoning.
    the lazy travelers recently posted..no travel required

  10. Pola (@jettingaround) October 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    I like the vintage look of the photo and all the historic information you provided. Nice post!
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Skyscrapers in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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