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French honour Mulberry engineer

The 65th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day beach landings in France will recognise the crucial role that British engineer Allan Beckett played when a new memorial to his work is unveiled as part of the 6 June celebrations.

In addition, the mayor of French town Arromanches-les-Bains will honour Beckett by naming a town square after him.

The sea off Arromanches on the Normandy coast was the location for the Mulberry Harbour which supported the invasion of northern France by hundreds of thousands of Allied troops and equipment.

The memorial will feature a full size replica of the kite anchor which Beckett designed specifically to keep the floating harbour in position for the invasion. The anchor is being made in Kent and will be shipped to Arromanches
in the next few weeks.

Specially commissioned bronze busts of Beckett will complete the memorial which will take pride of place in the newly renamed Espace Beckett in Arromanches.

“It is great that the French are recognising British engineering achievement in this way,” said Beckett’s son Tim Beckett.

“The bridge system was designed in a week - he was told by Churchill to just go and sort it out and much of the design work around the anchor system he just did off his own back.”

Beckett’s floating bridge system connected the Mulberry’s pierhead to the shore, kept in place by the kite anchors which were light but with great holding strength.

The roadway on the bridge had to be strong enough to withstand loads imposed by constant wave action.
Beckett’s design, which had been tested in winter weather in Scotland, survived a storm which struck on 19 June 1944, and raged for three days.

Beckett died in 2005 aged 91.

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