Below is a video of the Marchwood Mulberry Beetle wrecks recorded a few years ago. They stretch from Hythe Marina along the Dibden Bay beach to Marchwood Military Port on Southampton water and were constructed for the D-Day landings in 1944.
Do not trespass: Aside from accessing via the water, one of the access points to these Second World War wrecks between Marchwood and Hythe is via private land. Seek permission if you wish take that route.
Sometimes these are referred to as the Marchwood shipwrecks, these Mulberry Harbour Beetles were never actually used in the end for the D-Day landings at Normandy.
Instead they ended up being surplus to requirements and were placed along the Marchwood and Hythe water to act as breakwaters and coastal defences to protect reclamation areas.
But what exactly were these World War 2 wrecks that stretch up the coastline from Hythe to Marchwood on Southampton water?
Short history of the Marchwood Beetle wrecks
During the Second World War, British forces built a military port in Marchwood just over the water from the city of Southampton. The port was constructed to help the war effort in supporting the allied troops in advance of the 1944 D-Day invasion.
As part of this effort, the plan was to build two artificial harbours (codenamed “Mulberry”) They would be built at various locations around the UK including Beaulieu, Marchwood, Southsea, and London.
The Mulberry harbours would then be towed over the English Channel to France for the D-Day landings. These temporary portable harbours were an engineering masterstroke and were designed to help rapidly offload cargo from ships onto the beaches.
For example, the Marchwood Mulberry Beetle parts you see here were floating pontoons made from concrete and steel. They could be linked together, creating a “road” from ship to land.
According to research, 39 of these Beetles can still be seen along the beach on the Southampton water. I didn’t count them myself, but if you watch my video you can see my son running along them as part of our explore.
At the end of the Mulberry Beetles you will see two shipwrecks. The first one is made from concrete, so I assume it’s part of the Mulberry harbour construction.
The second one is a wooden shipwreck near Marchwood. I don’t know for certain, but a social media comment I read said it could be a boat used on D-Day. I don’t know how true this is though.