Hayling Island's contribution to D-Day | Nostalgia

Last Sunday, the 77th anniversary of D-Day, members of the Solent Overlord Group met on Hayling Island along with their vintage vehicles.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 4:07 pm
The Mulberry Harbour caisson in Langstone Harbour. Picture: Bob Hind
The Mulberry Harbour caisson in Langstone Harbour. Picture: Bob Hind

The event was organised by Richard Coates and car dealership Darren Ford sponsored the event by supplying fuel tokens.

The owner of John’s Beach Cafe allowed his car park to be used for the occasion and Rebecca from Hayling Print supplied the enlarged photographs on display.

One of the oldest was a BMW German motorbike and sidecar combination dating from1943 belonging to Paul Hocking.

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Of the four Mulberry Harbours, called Phoenix breakwaters, constructed at Hayling, only two made it to Normandy. Picture: Bob Hind.

Paul would have been in Normandy, where he has attended remembrance services three times with his combination, but Covid barred any visits to the D-Day beaches this year.

Paul has owned the machine for 20 years. He bought it from Norway and it was delivered in crates.

The bike has a 750 flat twin engine with 10 gears, five high and five low. When Paul last visited Normandy he drove the combination more than 700 miles in a fortnight.

Six members of the Solent Overlord Group brought their vehicles to display. Seen here are five of them. From the left are: Jerome Caroll, Trevor Pearce, Myrddin Evans, Don Harris and Chris Salter.

A German BMW R75 motorbike and sidecar from 1943 belonging to Paul Hocking. Picture: Bob Hind.

Trevor owns the 1942 vintage Ford Jeep, one of only 16 of the type constructed. It was used by the Long Range Desert Group in the north African and the Libyan desert.

The jeep is fitted with twin Vickers machine guns which look realistic although made of wood by Trevor. He says he was regularly stopped by police inquiring about his ‘armed’ vehicle. I’ll publish more photographs of other vehicles tomorrow.

Built for the Mulberry Harbour off the Normandy beaches this caisson in Langstone Harbour has been lying in the mud for 77 years. Originally there were four Phoenixes, as they were called, but the one in the harbour failed. It has always amazed me, and many others, how a concrete box could float, but they did.

The caissons were constructed between 1943 and 1944. They were then sunk so prying German aircraft could not see them. The Hayling caissons were sunk off Pagham but unfortunately another was faulty and only two of the Hayling constructions were towed to Normandy.

Members and owners of the vintage army vehicles who belong to the Solent Overlord Group. Picture: Bob Hind.

Many thanks to Ollie Phillips and Sven Bolton of the Langstone Harbourmaster’s office for taking me out to the wreck.

Over the years it has broken its back in two places and with the thousands of tides the reinforced concrete is slowly being eroded. But I think it will be many years before this piece of history disappears.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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Although they look real these twin Vickers machine guns were made of wood by owner Trevor Pearce. Picture: Bob Hind