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10 April 2016, 09:28
A whale's been donated to the Duxford museum, but it may not be what you think!
The Whale is a floating roadway section from Mulberry Harbour B, which was crucial to the success of the Allies in breaking out from the beaches of Normandy following D-Day. It is the only object of its type in the UK and a direct tangible connection with a pivotal moment in world history.
The massive kit's been donated by Les Amis du Pont Bailey and made possible with support from the family of Major Allan Beckett, the wartime designer of the Whale.
It was presented to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford yesterday; also present was Mrs Ida Beckett whose husband, Major Allan Beckett designed the Whale during the Second World War.
Mrs Beckett said
"I feel very proud of my husband's achievements. He was such a modest man, I think he'd think it was a lot of fuss about nothing! I think it's wonderful, it is a reminder to us all of such an engineering feat. It was quite remarkable."
James Taylor, Assistant Director of Narrative and Content, Imperial War Museums, said:
"Whales were floating roadways that were integral to the Mulberry harbours built immediately after the Allied landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. Our Whale span comes from the British Mulberry at Arromanches. An extraordinary feat of engineering in themselves, the Whales helped ensure that soldiers, vehicles and supplies could be brought ashore to take part in the campaign to liberate continental Europe from Nazi domination and to bring to an end a regime that had brought death and suffering to millions."
Visitors to IWM Duxford will be able to see the commanding presence of the Whale, an astounding piece of engineering and a monument to enormous human endeavour, next to the Land Warfare exhibition. Land Warfare is home to the Normandy Experience and the Monty exhibition. Together they tell the story of the final months of the war in Europe, from D-Day, through the fierce battles in France to VE Day."