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D-Day relics given listing

Second World War concrete structures off Pagham and Selsey have been given special protection.


Components of Mulberry floating harbours and wartime tanks and bulldozers were added to the national heritage list for England to mark yesterday’s 75th anniversary of D-Day.


The decision by culture secretary Jeremy Wright means access to the areas around the scheduled monuments is restricted to stop uncontrolled interference. It gives the items the same protection as Stonehenge.


Mr Wright said: “As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it is right that we continue to honour the memory of those who fought for peace in one of the decisive moments of the Second World War. It is also right to recognise the engineering and ingenuity that enabled that offensive.”


Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: “Evidence of D-Day planning, rehearsal and the actual operation is all around us, on our coastline and in our waters helping to tell the D-Day story. It is vital that we protect them as a memorial for future generations.”


D-Day, on June 6, 1944, was the greatest combined land, air and naval operation in history. It was a massive assault by the Allies to invade Nazi-occupied western Europe. A total of 156,000 soldiers from Britain, America, Canada and France landed on the beaches of Normandy, with thousands of vehicles and their supplies.


Mulberry harbours played a large part in making the D-Day landings a success. They enabled enormous amounts of supplies and equipment to be supplied quickly to the invading forces.


One of the sunken breakwaters of the artificial harbours – known as a Phoenix caisson (outer) – can be seen off Pagham Beach, opposite the yacht club.


It is a rare type of steel reinforced concrete unit that was intended to be a sunken breakwater. It was sunk off Pagham, like all the others, to be towed to Normandy. It was re-floated but was re-sunk because its tug was unavailable.


However, stormy weather saw it swing round in the tide and become damaged.


A Phoenix caisson (inner), or rare steel reinforced concrete platform to connect to offshore pontoons, has also become a scheduled monument off Pagham.


Off Selsey, two Centaur cruiser tanks designed to fire at concrete targets, two armoured D7 bulldozers, a 4X4 car and a Jeep were lost on the night of June 5/6 when the landing craft which contained them capsized on the way to Normandy.


They were intended to support the 3rd Canadian Infantry Divison on Juno Beach.


Mark Dunkley, Historic England’s maritime archaeologist, said: “All the parts of the Mulberry harbours were stored off Pagham. There would have been hundreds of them. The area is still known as The Park to divers. It was a phenomenal undertaking and it’s fitting we commemorate the sacrifices that were made for D-Day on its 75th anniversary.”

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