The shores of Braunton Burrows, in North Devon, were of great importance during the Second World War. In 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Paul W. Thompson had to train American soldiers in preparation for the final invasion of Normandy.
The similarity to the coasts of Normandy made North Devon an ideal location. The entire coastal area from Braunton Burrows to Morte Point was assigned to the American Army as Assault Training Centre (A.T.C.).
The Assault Training Centre moved its headquarters from Grosvenor Square to Woolacombe and many thousands of troops, landing craft and tanks moved into the area.
Images of American troops during their preparations for D-day. North Devon.
The northern end of Woolacombe Beach was used as a demolition training area.
Morte Point was used as a target for anti-tank guns and ship’s artillery, and served as an area for air support demonstrations.
The exercises that took place on the plateau area of Baggy Point were intended to simulate attacks on enemy beaches. Dummy bunkers were built to simulate enemy gun emplacements. There was also an observation post at the western end of the Cape as well as temporary roads built especially for exercises at Braunton Burrows.
The 146th Engineer Combat Battalion of the United States Army, who had trained at Baggy Point, were one of the first troops to land on Omaha Beach.
Captain Sam H. Ball, Jr. receives from Montgomery the Distinguished Service Order of Great Britain in a field in Normandy. Ball was part of the 146th Engineer Combat Battalion who would be one of the first to land on Omaha Beach.
Croyde Bay was used for loading and unloading troops in amphibious vehicles, while the large-scale attacks on Baggy Point and Woolacombe were practised. There were occasional casualties, but the intense training they received prepared them well for the landings on the beaches of Normandy.
Did you notice an error?
Have you noticed a language or writing error? Please let us know, as this will only improve our reporting. We will correct them as soon as possible. Your personal data will be treated confidentially.