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Bridge widening in the build up to D Day

©IWM H38320. Contractors working on widening and strenthening Mill Road bridge Brockenhurst during build up to D Day

©IWM H38320. Contractors working on widening and strenthening Mill Road bridge Brockenhurst during build up to D Day

The build up to D-Day was not just about the build up of forces and the collection of men, armaments, Mulberry Harbours, and landing craft in the Forest and along the coast. An essential part was the work required to keep the roads open and in useable condition for local residents as well as essential troop and supply movement.

Following text is based on extracts from an article: Hampshire's Highways Under Military Occupation by Malcolm Walford in Hampshire Studies 2012 (11): Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society, Volume 67

The damage to roads and bridges was a huge issue for the New Forest roads originally constructed to carry only light traffic, but were now receiving continuous use by heavy traffic. The continuous use also hindered running repairs to the roads and led to regular complaints from the county surveyor, who also had to contend with a diminished workforce following regular competition from other military contracts.

During early 1944 a large undertaking of road widening, junction improvements and bridge strengthening was commenced as essential preparations for the movement of men and equipment to their marshalling areas, which were located short distances from the embarkation hards. Lepe and Lymington came under marshalling area B.

The work necessary on the south coast of Hampshire before D-Day can be summarised as follows:59 miles of road widened to 22 feet (for two way traffic)

  • 17 miles of road widened to 16 feet (for one way traffic)
  • 16 bridges widened or strenghtened
  • 337 passing places or laybys (for breakdowns) constructed
  • 118 road junctions or sharp bends reconstructed in concrete or apshalt for tracked vehicles

The photo shows one such bridge on Mill Road just east of Brockenhurst being re-inforced

All Photos are credit: Imperial War Museum for Non-Commercial Use (Licence)

Historic date: 1944

Location: Brockenhurst

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