Preparations for Operation Overlord began in January 1943. The small museum at Arromanches describes — with working models — how the operation was planned. Starting in Britain, engineers built two prefab harbors. A convoy navigated the 110-mile trip across the Atlantic, during which one of the prefabs was destroyed in a storm. The surviving one, Mulberry B, reached Arromanches. Some of its remains are still evident in the harbor.
Then came the challenges of overcoming the changing tides. Tides in this area can range up to 24 feet. To avoid interruptions in unloading due to low tides, the British engineers designed 90-foot pierheads, each weighing 40 tons, and then anchored them to the seabed. In 1944, this was a new innovation. Today, the system is widely used by marinas and off-shore drilling platforms.
Two additional displays describe the middle pier and the floating causeways with vehicles carrying equipment. These are the DUKWs, the famous amphibious vehicles that played such an essential role in the operation.
The museum also has a section that honors all the allies: Britain, United States, Canada, Poland, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, and Norway.
From there, one can visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial to pay respects. Here lie the remains of 9,400 who died, most in the D-Day landings. The Walls of Missing have an additional 1,600 names. The distance from Arromanches is approximately 15 miles, and taxis are handy. When your excursion’s complete, you’ll take a cab back to Bayeux and then the return train trip to Paris.