Mulberry harbours were temporary portable harbours developed by the British during World War II to facilitate the rapid offloading of cargo onto beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Harbours were crucial to the success of the Allies in breaking out from the beaches of Normandy and is widely considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of World War Two.
One section of these amazing structures were the "whale bridges" (this was its codename), which acted as dock piers. These piers were the floating roadways that connected the "Spud" pier heads to the land. In fact, they were a network of huge floating roads used to rapidly offload cargo and soldiers. Designed by Allan Beckett the roadways were made from innovative torsionally flexible bridging units that had a span of 80 ft., mounted on pontoon units of either steel or concrete called "Beetles".
A Whale span from Mulberry B that was reused after the war at Pont-Farcy was saved from destruction in 2008 by Les Amis du Pont Bailey, a group of English and French volunteers. Seeking a permanent home for the Whale span the group gifted it to the Imperial War Museum and it was returned to England in July 2015. It was also made possible by the family of Major Allan Beckett, his designer.
Seventy years on, after conservation and restoration work, the span now features as part of the Land Warfare exhibition at Imperial War Museum Duxford where it's on display. It is the only one of it's kind in the UK.