Back to Trail Four – Wigtown to Stranraer


The scenic harbour village of Garlieston is a quiet and unspoilt corner of our region. However in 1943 it became the site of Top Secret preparations for D-Day, the Allied invasion of occupied Europe which took place on the 6th of June 1944.

The invasion was to take place on the flat sandy beaches of Normandy – perfect for driving a landing craft ashore and unloading troops and light weapons. However to hold the beach head in the hours and days after the initial invasion, the Allies needed a proper port to unload much larger troopships and supply vessels. The Germans would fight hard to defend any port, so the Allies decided to take one with them…

The Mulberry Harbours were concrete structures which floated and were towed into position before being sunk to create an instant heavy-duty pier. Sleepy Garlieston, hidden away in the corner of Galloway, had a very similar sandy beach and was chosen as the site for these harbours to be tested and to train the men who would assemble them for real on the beaches of France. By the end of March 1944 the last of the men and harbour sections had been towed away, ready to play their part in the invasion.

Today, you can still find the remains of some of these sections, called ‘Beetles’, lying on the shore.

Image credit – Solway Firth Partnership

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