On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, we are looking at the part that the Hamble Valley played in the operation that started the end of WW2.
HMS Cricket in Bursledon was a secret training base for the flotilla of landing craft that would be taking the men and their equipment, supplies and machinery across the Channel from Warasah and Hamble.
On the night of the 5th June 1944, British and Allied naval and commando units sailed from the river Hamble for the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches.
A memorial to HMS Cricket can be found in the grounds of Manor Farm Country Park and commemorates the combined operations and landing craft base and those that gave their lives during the Normandy landings.
PLUTO – pipeline under the ocean.
Developed after Lord Mountbatten asked for something to supply petrol to the invading army at D Day, the fuel carried by PLUTO passed through the Shell depot at Hamble and was transported onto Cherbourg via Lepe and Bologne via Dungeness. The operation ran from Sept 44 to July 45, it took only 10 hours for the pipeline to be laid to France after D-Day, 1125 miles of pipe was laid with 26 pumping stations. The value of the recovered pipeline after the war was £1,100 a mile; it was salvaged for its lead which was in short supply after the war.
General Sir Thomas Riddell-Webster said:
‘Pluto saved a very large tanker tonnage which was badly needed in the East and so had a reaction which extended all over the world’ and General Dwight Eisenhower described the idea as ‘second in daring only to the Mulberry artificial harbour projects’
In addition prior to D-Day 212 ships and landing craft were refuelled in 24 hours at Hamble before crossing the channel.
D DAY TABLE
A more informal memorial can be found at the Victory Pub where a table-top was carved with names of the soldiers and sailors who were stationed in the village prior to the D Day landings in 1944.
Warsash was the base for HMS Tormentor the training facility for small scale raiding forces and the Forfar forces that would attack the coast of France and survey the beach prior to the main landings, so as to judge if the sand would support the weight of the tanks for example
Just down the coast Netley hospital which was originally developed for soldiers returning from the Crimea, became during the Second World War the base for the US Navy 5th hospital and taken over by SNAG 56 (Special Naval Amphibious Group) in February 1944.
The 1000 bed hospital was tended by naval nurses, the only American females in the European operation at this time.