Naval Dockyards Society Conference - From Yards to Hards

Posted: Monday 25th March 2024

Naval Dockyards Society Conference - From Yards to Hards


Event date: Saturday 18 May 2024

Naval Dockyards Society 28th Annual Conference (in-person)

Location: The D-Day Story, Portsmouth - Partner and Venue: Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, Portsmouth PO5 3NT

Sponsored by the Society for Nautical Research

From Yards to Hards: Preparing Allied naval forces for the 1944 Normandy Landings


How were UK and overseas naval establishments occupied in constructing, supplying, and transporting harbours and pipelines?

The Allied assault on German-occupied France on and after D-Day (6 June 1944) was only possible through naval support, from the largest warships and merchant vessels through to the smallest landing craft. Existing dockyards, harbours and shipyards in the UK, the US, Canada and Bermuda played a vital role in building, preparing, maintaining and repairing the Allied fleets. Remains of these coastal installations survive as tangible heritage of this endeavour.

However, the magnitude of the projected naval and land forces required many more temporary bases and facilities, which entailed systematic forward planning. The roles of these establishments included supporting landing craft flotillas, building Mulberry Harbours,[1] embarking troops and supplies, and supplying fuel via the PLUTO pipeline. Workforces were dedicated to planning, victualling and furnishing all kinds of supplies. Personnel went through an equivalent period of training and preparation. Eight speakers will address these themes.


10.00-10.30 Registration & Refreshments

10.30–10.35 Welcome Dr Ann Coats, NDS Chair

Morning: Strategy - Chair Andrew Whitmarsh, Curator The D-Day Story
10.35–11.05 Dr Andrew Jeffrey, From Operation Claymore to the Normandy decision: The critical role of Scotland’s Combined Operations bases in Allied preparations for D-Day. 
11.05–11.35 Dr John M. Curatola LtCol USMC (Ret,) Amphibious Allies: Overlord Preparation and the Combined US/UK Effort. 
11.35–12.05 Matthew Mackmin MBA, MSc, Operation NEPTUNE and the Combined Operations Experimental Establishment. 

12.05–12.55 Buffet Lunch

Afternoon: Logistics & Equipment - Chair Ian Stafford, NDS Committee
12.55–1.25 Chris Barrington Brown, The Logistic Build-Up to D-Day.
1.25–1.55 Dr Adrian Webb, The road to D-Day: The Hydrographic Department's role in supplying Allied Forces.
1.55–2.25 Andy Skinner, Southampton and the Preparations for Operation Overlord.

2.25–2.45 Tea break

2.45–3.15 Dr Jacob Thomas-Llewellyn Prefabricating Victory: The Design and Development of the MULBERRY Harbours, 1942–1944. 
3.15–3.45 Dr Ian Buxton MBE, Building the Tank Landing Craft.
3.45–3.55 Andrew Whitmarsh Curator The D-Day Story, LCT 7074.

3.55–4.05 Valediction & comfort break
4.05 -4.45 Optional visit to LCT 7074
5.00 Museum closes

Download Full programme

Booking details


Complete and return one form per delegate by 11 May to the NDS Treasurer full details, options and costings can be found in the Booking form.

Download Booking form

Queries: contact Dr Ann Coats

Updates see: Conferences | Naval Dockyards Society



* A hard is a firm beach or foreshore where marine structures can be built and launched; it is also a sloping roadway at the water’s edge for beaching vessels and landing materials – the D-Day hards were UK beaches which loaded landing craft.

[1] See J. Humberstone, ‘Mulberry Harbours: Operation Neptune’s Artificial Ports’, Dockyards 27:2, December 2022, 30-34.


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