No trace of that extraordinary project remains, but there is plenty of evidence left of the other great feat of invasion engineering. Just along the coast at Arromanches lie the massive remnants of the giant concrete “Mulberry” harbor known as Port Winston, a truly astounding feat that took the labor of 45,000 men to build in sections that were towed across the Channel after D-Day and assembled. There was a twin harbor on Omaha Beach, but it was carried away in a gale just three weeks after the landings. The remains of Port Winston—with many of its concrete caissons still in position, providing a clearly visible, mile-long outline of the vast man-made harbor—can serve as a particularly evocative anchorage on a calm day. By June 20, 1944, this improvised port was handling more than 6,000 tons of military supplies a day.
The British and Canadian sectors of the invasion coast, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches, stretch from here to Ouistreham. Their beachfront towns, popular and affluent resorts before the war, were badly damaged but quickly recovered and are today charming and busy vacation spots. Courseulles, which saw some of the heaviest fighting of D-Day, is now a packed yachting harbor with two marinas and a museum dedicated to the huge Canadian contribution to the invasion, the futuristic Juno Beach Center, which opened last year.
This Memorial Day, remember those who were lost serving our country on the high seas in the U.S. Navy aboard PT Boats. Recently we were invited out for a ride on the only operational combat-veteran PT Boat, PT 305 in New Orleans.
See what it was like here. ▶