Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Richard Stone
Member
Posts: 686
Joined: 21 Mar 2020 23:27
Location: USA

Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Richard Stone » 13 Dec 2023 15:11

The attached article discusses the design and service of the 2 Mulberry Harbors that were built to supply the Allied armies during the Normandy invasion.

The article was printed in the October 1946 edition of the USA professional military reference magazine ‘Military Review’.

Combat Notes - Mil Review Oct 1946 - Mulbrry Harbor-1.png
Combat Notes - Mil Review Oct 1946 - Mulbrry Harbor-2.png
Combat Notes - Mil Review Oct 1946 - Mulbrry Harbor-3.png
Combat Notes - Mil Review Oct 1946 - Mulbrry Harbor-4.png
Combat Notes - Mil Review Oct 1946 - Mulbrry Harbor-5.png
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Richard Stone
Member
Posts: 686
Joined: 21 Mar 2020 23:27
Location: USA

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Richard Stone » 13 Dec 2023 15:12

This is the final page.

Combat Notes - Mil Review Oct 1946 - Mulbrry Harbor-6.png
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Richard Stone
Member
Posts: 686
Joined: 21 Mar 2020 23:27
Location: USA

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Richard Stone » 01 Feb 2024 04:45

The attached short article shows the post war salvage and reuse of several Mulberry Harbor concrete caissons to repair war damaged dikes in Walcheren, Holland.

The article was printed in the June 1948 edition of the USA professional military reference magazine ‘Military Review’.

Combat Notes - Mil Review June 1948 - Mulbrry Harbor-6A.png
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

daveshoup2MarDiv
Member
Posts: 1067
Joined: 07 Aug 2023 02:55
Location: Hawaii

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 25 Mar 2024 06:15

Interesting. As impressive the bombardons and such were, the marine architecture and materials were pretty standard; concrete hulls had been built in series during WW I, and floodable structures were hardly new, either. The use of blockships and hulks as breakwaters to form artificial harbors, or enhance existing ones, was not new either.

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3748
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Mar 2024 11:07

The Mulberry Harbours had two significant impacts.

#1 Logistic. It did lower the logistic risks of launching the cross-channel assault. Sure, the Ameircans managed without one, but with a considerable investment in manpower and ambibious vehicles.

#2 Operational. The use of the artifical harbours liberated the allies from the urgency of capturing a port and blindsided the German defences, which were sited on the assmption that the Allies would need a deep water port early on. This was reinforced by apparent rehearsals in 1942 on St Nazaire and Dieppe. The Mulberry Harbours also led the Germans to grossly under-estimated the rate of the allied build-up ashore, based on their own planning figures for operations over open beaches.

daveshoup2MarDiv
Member
Posts: 1067
Joined: 07 Aug 2023 02:55
Location: Hawaii

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 27 Mar 2024 02:54

Sheldrake wrote:
25 Mar 2024 11:07
The Mulberry Harbours had two significant impacts.

#1 Logistic. It did lower the logistic risks of launching the cross-channel assault. Sure, the Ameircans managed without one, but with a considerable investment in manpower and ambibious vehicles.

#2 Operational. The use of the artificial harbors liberated the allies from the urgency of capturing a port and blindsided the German defenses, which were sited on the assumption that the Allies would need a deep-water port early on. This was reinforced by apparent rehearsals in 1942 on St Nazaire and Dieppe. The Mulberry Harbours also led the Germans to grossly under-estimated the rate of the allied build-up ashore, based on their own planning figures for operations over open beaches.
Sure, but the point is simply that as impressive a construction program as it was to get everything together between September, 1943, and May, 1944. the basic concepts - marine construction with concrete, floodable structures, blockships, etc - was not especially new.

Kurt_S
Member
Posts: 415
Joined: 02 Jun 2022 10:22
Location: Freiburg

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Kurt_S » 04 Apr 2024 22:41

Sheldrake wrote:
25 Mar 2024 11:07
The Mulberry Harbours also led the Germans to grossly under-estimated the rate of the allied build-up ashore, based on their own planning figures for operations over open beaches.
What's a good source on German planning expectations for OVERLORD logistics? The Germans developed their own mobile port infrastructure for SEALION (eg Seeschlangen), so it's surprising that they couldn't foresee the Allies doing the same.

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 3568
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by T. A. Gardner » 05 Apr 2024 02:35

The Allies quickly found out that the easiest way to increase tonnage delivered was to have ships anchor in the harbor and unload to DUKW and landing craft.

Image

Image

That avoided the congestion at the few pierheads available with limited capacity.

daveshoup2MarDiv
Member
Posts: 1067
Joined: 07 Aug 2023 02:55
Location: Hawaii

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by daveshoup2MarDiv » 05 Apr 2024 04:32

If they'd had LARC-LXs, the war would have been over by Christmas!

Image

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3748
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Apr 2024 10:25

Kurt_S wrote:
04 Apr 2024 22:41
Sheldrake wrote:
25 Mar 2024 11:07
The Mulberry Harbours also led the Germans to grossly under-estimated the rate of the allied build-up ashore, based on their own planning figures for operations over open beaches.
What's a good source on German planning expectations for OVERLORD logistics? The Germans developed their own mobile port infrastructure for SEALION (eg Seeschlangen), so it's surprising that they couldn't foresee the Allies doing the same.
I think I read this in Stephen Badsey's contribution to "The Normandy Campaign Sixty Years On edited by John Buckley. He sourced this from OKW appreciation attributed to Jodl. If and when I find the book I will update or amend this answer.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Normandy-Campa ... =4&depth=1

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 6399
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Apr 2024 19:23

Sheldrake wrote:
05 Apr 2024 10:25
Kurt_S wrote:
04 Apr 2024 22:41
What's a good source on German planning expectations for OVERLORD logistics? The Germans developed their own mobile port infrastructure for SEALION (eg Seeschlangen), so it's surprising that they couldn't foresee the Allies doing the same.
I think I read this in Stephen Badsey's contribution to "The Normandy Campaign Sixty Years On edited by John Buckley. He sourced this from OKW appreciation attributed to Jodl. If and when I find the book I will update or amend this answer.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Normandy-Campa ... =4&depth=1
The difference is considerable.

The German Seeschlange (and variations such as the Landebruke 674) was designed to act as a stand-alone temporary jetty rather than as part of an integrated man-made harbor. It was similar to, but somewhat smaller than the "Spud Pier" at 20 by 20 meters as opposed to 61 by 18 meters. I am not sure that the Seeschlange had the fully automatic electrical winching system found in the "Spud Pier" either, which allowed the Allied design to adjust to the tide. The Seeschlange also required three vessels to float it, while the "Spud Pier" was built on a ponton, so could be floated into place without the added complication.

The German planning also did not attempt anything like the blockships, bombardons, and caissons that made up the artificial harbor. The "German Jetty" at Alderney was installed as a more or less permanent structure and was actually built as an extension of the existing Commercial Quay.It consisted of two of the Krupp-design sections and the single Dortmunder prototype. It lasted until it was demolished in 1976, mostly because it was inside the existing protected harbor at Braye Bay.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Kurt_S
Member
Posts: 415
Joined: 02 Jun 2022 10:22
Location: Freiburg

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Kurt_S » 05 Apr 2024 19:27

Sheldrake wrote:
05 Apr 2024 10:25
I think I read this in Stephen Badsey's contribution to "The Normandy Campaign Sixty Years On edited by John Buckley. He sourced this from OKW appreciation attributed to Jodl. If and when I find the book I will update or amend this answer.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Normandy-Campa ... =4&depth=1
Thanks, I found and read Badsey's entry in the volume. Some relevant excerpts:
Nowhere in Seventh Army and Army Group B
records is there any indication that Rommel or any other senior German
officer grasped the operational, rather than logistic, significance of Mulberry:
that it had freed the Allies from the early capture of Cherbourg. This was a
major blind spot in the German response to the Normandy landings.
...
But the
German lack of response to the significance of Mulberry in terms of the
battle is only explicable in the context of their military doctrine and culture
of the time, which stressed tactical and operational prowess while neglecting
and undervaluing logistics,15 and a military orthodoxy that simply fixated
on the nearest major port to the Allied landings.

FN15: See M. van Creveld, Fighting Power (London: Arms and Armour, 1983) and
T.N. Dupuy, A Genius for War (London: Macdonald & Janes, 1977). As may
be guessed from their titles, both authors enthusiastically support this German
doctrinal approach
Just a note on a recurring theme: The above excerpts reflect the low analytical standards of the military history profession. Badsey is saying that excessive German focus on tactical/operational prowess (over logistics) led them to focus on defending Cherbourg. That's obviously contradictory, as strong emphasis on Cherbourg's defense had a supremely logistical rationale, as Badsey recognizes.

It's also analytically and obviously false to say that van Creveld - perhaps the most famous author on logistics - "enthusiastically supports" a doctrinal focus on operations/tactics over logistics.

God I wish military historians were smarter.

Kurt_S
Member
Posts: 415
Joined: 02 Jun 2022 10:22
Location: Freiburg

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Kurt_S » 05 Apr 2024 19:31

Richard Anderson wrote:
05 Apr 2024 19:23
The difference is considerable.
Appropos of themes re military historians, note the incapacity to differentiate "Germans had a concept of mobile unloading infrastructure" from "The ad hoc German ideas of 1940 were developed to the same degree as the Allies had reached by 1944."

User avatar
Georg_S
Forum Staff
Posts: 5565
Joined: 08 Dec 2016 12:37
Location: Sweden

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Georg_S » 05 Apr 2024 20:16

Kurt_S wrote:
05 Apr 2024 19:27
Sheldrake wrote:
05 Apr 2024 10:25
I think I read this in Stephen Badsey's contribution to "The Normandy Campaign Sixty Years On edited by John Buckley. He sourced this from OKW appreciation attributed to Jodl. If and when I find the book I will update or amend this answer.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Normandy-Campa ... =4&depth=1
Thanks, I found and read Badsey's entry in the volume. Some relevant excerpts:

Just a note on a recurring theme: The above excerpts reflect the low analytical standards of the military history profession. Badsey is saying that excessive German focus on tactical/operational prowess (over logistics) led them to focus on defending Cherbourg. That's obviously contradictory, as strong emphasis on Cherbourg's defense had a supremely logistical rationale, as Badsey recognizes.

It's also analytically and obviously false to say that van Creveld - perhaps the most famous author on logistics - "enthusiastically supports" a doctrinal focus on operations/tactics over logistics.

God I wish military historians were smarter.
Hello Kurt,

Bare with me , what do you mean with the last sentence. You are actually misscrediting almost every member of this forum

/Georg
"Information not shared, is lost"

Personal Blog - http://wennallebruderschweigen.blogspot.com/
Support AHF - app.php/support
My Project - www.führerliste.com
Contact: [email protected]

Kurt_S
Member
Posts: 415
Joined: 02 Jun 2022 10:22
Location: Freiburg

Re: Allied Mulberry Harbors - Normandy 1944

Post by Kurt_S » 05 Apr 2024 20:45

Georg_S wrote:
05 Apr 2024 20:16
Hello Kurt,

Bare with me , what do you mean with the last sentence. You are actually misscrediting almost every member of this forum

/Georg
No, it's not a swipe at the forum members generally. Rather, it's a complaint that at the "elite" (published) level of military history, there is a tolerance to repeat fashionable slogans (e.g. Germans ignored logistics) even when, as in the excerpted passage, the application of the slogan is plainly nonsensical.

To rehash: The author is saying that the Germans defended Cherbourg obsessively because they were too focused on tactics/operations over logistics. Yet the author also states that the Germans defended Cherbourg obsessively to deny the Allies a port (ie for logistical reasons). The author (Badsey) is publishing obvious nonsense. Yet the author probably expect that, because the slogan (Germans ignored logistics) is fashionable, his writing will not be scrutinized.

In past iterations of published military history, by the way, it was fashionable simply to claim that the Germans were qualitatively better at everything. This too was false but also insufficiently scrutinized until, after a few decades, military historians began to notice that the Germans weren't good at everything.

In my opinion, military history at the elite/published level is full of these "fashionable" falsehoods. That's true of many disciplines, such as many social sciences, as well. It is also my opinion, however, that military history is less resilient to fashionable falsehoods because of (1) popular audiences that are broader - and less discriminating - than scholarly audiences, (2) patriotic sentiment that isn't relevant in most other social sciences or historical fields, and (3) the low academic prestige/priority of military history, which fails to channel the "best and brightest" into the elite levels of the military history field. From the linked article:
trendsetting
institutions like Harvard and Yale offer hardly any mili-
tary history courses at all, and those they do offer are
eclectic. Yale recently denied tenure to the one faculty
member who regularly taught operational military history
courses (those that consider battles and campaigns), and
it does not seem likely to replace her with someone of
similar competence and interests. This phenomenon has
been repeated at other institutions around the country as
senior military historians retire and are not replaced.
Another academic military historian observes:
Outside the subfield, all this work tends
to be lumped together, however, and
academics with little exposure to serious
scholarship in the field may assume that
it is a discipline defined by the weaker
end of the spectrum.

To repeat, none of this applies to amateur military historians [99% of this forum], nor to those professional/academic military historians who produce really good work (and there are many, including some on this forum).

Nonetheless, it is important to the truth-seeking project that we point out systemic problems in the field of military history when we see them. A lack of analytical rigor at the elite, opinion-forming level that leads to the proliferation of fashionable nonsense is a serious problem that I see.

I would further note that high-level critique of the analytical quality of military analysis is not out of bounds for institutions such as the Army War College, which published this oft-cited paper convincingly arguing that the very concept of strategy in US practice is incoherent.

Return to “WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic”