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Bill Thayer

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Force Mulberry
by
Alfred Stanford
Commander, U. S. N. R.

The Author and the Book

Alfred Stanford (1900‑1985) is primarily remembered today for what he writes about in this book: he was the Deputy Commander of Mulberry A (initially, of Task Force 128), the artificial port facility created at Omaha Beach, the American sector of the Normandy landing in 1944, that made D‑day possible. He writes therefore as a primary source and often an eyewitness to the events he records, and had access to all the official documents and confidential memoranda behind Force Mulberry. He never writes in the first person, and other than in the personnel lists in Appendices 1 and 2, mentions himself by name only once; but appears frequently enough under his title ("Deputy Commander Mulberry", "Deputy Commander TF 128", "D/CTF 128") — sometimes rather strikingly.

The following photograph and biographical capsule is from the book jacket:

The Normandy landings have of course been told and retold in hundreds of books and articles, but as the 1951 publishers' jacket blurb takes care to point out, Force Mulberry was the first full account of the extraordinary military construction project to make it into print: not surprisingly, since his intimate involvement in every phase of the venture gave him a running start. In particular, CDR Stanford was particularly well placed to tell us the administrative rivalries, haggling, and just plain snafus behind the scenes; and tell us he does: maybe a third of his book deals with them, and I found it an eye-opener.

Contents

Introduction

7

Number Twenty (London, September, 1943)

19

Operations Room. The Problem of Invasion

26

"This project is so vital . . ."

34

"Top Secret, Bigot"

43

"The magnitude of the job is unprecedented. . . ."

63

". . . an assault of matériel, operated by man."

78

"We must . . . rely . . . upon technical surprise."

101

"The success of the invasion would depend . . ."

121

"Believed to be H. M. S. Minster."

137

"Request . . . program be anticipated . . ."

149

"Proceed in to . . . new LST pier . . ."

163

"Outlook Wednesday to Friday little change . . ."

177

". . . keep clear of Mulberry area . . ."

185

"Flow can be maintained."

194

Glossary

201

Mulberry Bibliography

205

Appendices

1

Task Organization and Assignments USN Personnel in Portsmouth Area — Mulberry A

207
2

Task Organization and Officer Assignment

211
3

Tugs 750 Horsepower and Over — Mulberry Only

217

M. O. W. T. Small Tugs Under 750 H. P. — Mulberry Only

221
4

Allocation of Assembly Area — Mulberry Tugs

222
5

Tonnages of Cargo Unloaded at the Omaha and Utah Beaches — 6‑30 June 1944

229

Tonnages Landed at Omaha and Utah Beaches — July and August, 1944

231

Illustrations
(Following page 176)
— each of the captions below is a link —

U. S. S. "SC 1329"
Gooseberry
Phoenix under construction
Sinking a Phoenix caisson
Phoenix breakwater line
First LST coming in to Lobnitz pierhead
LST ready to discharge
First vehicles roll ashore
Steel bridging supported by pontoons
Huge storm wave breaks
Twisted wreckage
In the wake of the storm

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here appears to be the first and only one. It rose into the public domain on Jan. 1, 1980 since the copyright was not renewed in 1978‑1979 as then required by law: details here on the copyright law involved.

Illustrations

In the printed edition is illustrated with 12 photographs, on a single signature of glossy pages following p176. I placed each of them in what I felt to be the most appropriate spots. The links given in the table above are of course to those new locations.

In addition, two hand-drawn black-and‑white maps, not included in the author's list of illustrations, are found on the pastedowns of the printed book. In the case of the front pastedown map of the Channel, the gutter was impossible to scan and I was forced to adjust the original a bit. I colorized both maps for readability, following my usual scheme; and again, I inserted them at suitable spots in our text:

A general map of the English Channel, showing the principal ports and areas mentioned in the text, as well as Utah Beach and Omaha Beach.
A plan of Mulberry A

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was well proofread. The inevitable typographical errors were few (except for proper names) and all trivial: I marked them with a dotted underscore like this, or with a bullet like thisº when inside a link; as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words or the bullet to read what was actually printed. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also few.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.



[image ALT: A large concrete structure seemingly floating on the ocean, being pulled or accompanied by a tugboat. It is a Phoenix unit of the 1944 Normandy landings. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'Force Mulberry' by Alfred Stanford.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a sort of abridgment of the book's jacket, which the front flap credits as from a painting by Lt. Comdr. Dwight Sheppler, USNR.


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Site updated: 10 Feb 22