(Shallow Beach – In low tide it’s a long way to the waves)
And this is what he wanted: He want to send a huge number of knights to the beautiful land with very powerful weapons in enormous big galleons (we call them ships now) and save the people from the bad guys. He wanted them to arrive by sea and to land in the most surprising place. A place where a galleon could never come ashore before. A place where the bad guys would never expect them to land. This place was called a shallow beach.
A shallow beach is not deep enough (even today) for an enormous big galleon. It would get stuck way way out in the deep water, and then how would you get the weapons to dry land? (This is the point when the advisors started mumbling to each other.) But Winston had an idea. “A portable floating harbour.” (This is the point where the advisors got a bit negative.) “and pretend fog, so the bad guys can’t see what we’re doing” (this is where the advisors started to get rude, and Prince Winston put up his hand to stop them.) “and finish it all by next June”.
(Some war time postcards)
Prince Winston was considered an inspirational speaker, so he must have inspired them, because they set to work. And they had a lot of work to do. Prince Winston had put the date in his calendar with a big D (for “this is the day”, I think) and there wasn’t much time. Of course he knew himself that there wasn’t much time, but he couldn’t concern himself with that. His job was to keep his attention on what he wanted and he did that very, very well.
(Picture of Mulberry B as it was in 1944 and the message sent to his CCO)
There’s a famous message that he sent by carrier pigeon to his CCO (I think it stands for, Chap who Carries out my Orders). It was at a time when there were a few dodgy problems with no solutions to be found. He said (and I’m paraphrasing a little) “The bits of the harbour have to float even if the sea is moving, the sea always moves. Whatever you do don’t lose any of the bits – tie them to something. Take a little break and stop thinking and don’t be worrying too much – never helps. Don’t be sending me any more messages about how difficult it is, if it wasn’t difficult we’d have done it long ago. Love and hugs Prince Winston of Church Hill.”
That was another example of his inspirational speeches, except he didn’t speak it…. he wrote that one down….
(Some of the anchor points of the floating harbour)
Well, the day (the one on the calendar with the D on it) came and the galleons set out in the dead of night. There were thousands of them. With hundreds of thousands of knights on board. They went in order of the job they had to do.
The very, very first ones to do their job were the men and women in the kingdom who built the bits of the portable floating harbour. They worked in secret in factories. When they had finished they had to hide the bigger bits in their famous The Ames river. This was so that the bad guys circling overhead would not guess what was going on. They worked hard, for long hours, but they were inspired by the Prince’s speeches so – no problem.
The first ones in the sea were old galleons, they had to sail all the way from Prince Winston’s kingdom to the place of the shallow harbour. There, they were sunk. Their job was to break the water, a technical term which means “make the sea move less” (going out on a limb here but it’s my best guess). They knew it was an honourable and brave thing that they did that night. (The knights got onto small boats before the sinking, the old galleons went down alone). In doing so they honoured all the knights who were lost in the battle of the flying stones.
(View from the beach today of the Phoenix caissons (shoe box shaped stones))
Next came the Phoenix galleons, they carried enormous shoe-box shaped stones (there were no shoe boxes at that time, of course, but I’m mindful of giving you an accurate pictorial representation, so needs must…). There were one hundred and fifteen of them. When they were about two kilometres from the shore the stones were pushed into the sea. Their job was to be a nice safe wall, with enough space to let the later galleons in, but enough wall to keep the sea calm.
(Caissons in distance and blues)
With just these two things in place they had an area the size of one thousand football pitches in which to assemble their floating portable harbour.
But did they do it? Find out tomorrow……
By now I’m somewhere in the Irish Sea or maybe the English Channel, so it’s time to tidy the house, I’ll be home soon, Mairead