“Garlieston’s Secret War” Exhibition is back (2024 update)

Last run in 2019, the popular Garlieston’s Secret War Exhibition is back. The exhibition highlights Garlieston and Scotland’s role in the testing and development of the D-Day Mulberry Harbours.

Now running at the village hall, overlooking the harbour where much of the testing originated, the exhibition features a scale model, a slideshow and other display material. The exhibition is open until end September, Friday to Sunday, from 10:00 ’til 5:00. Entry is by donation.Mulberry Harbour trials in Garlieston Harbour

The Solway coast around Garlieston was chosen by Brigadier Sir Bruce White of Tn5 for the testing and development of the Mulberry Harbour prototypes. The area offered tidal conditions similar to those off Normandy and was far from spying eyes. The shore path from Garlieston to Rigg Bay and Cruggleton was requisitioned by the War Office without informing the Galloway House Estate factor. Cairn Head (Portyerrock) on the road to the Isle of Whithorn was also a test site.

Mulberry Harbour remains can still be found at Garlieston Bay, Rigg Bay and Portyerrock. The remains are now scheduled historic monuments.

The Mulberry Harbours were an engineering marvel. Testing began in earnest in May 1943 and a little over a year later the components were towed to France and a huge harbour was assembled just off the French coast. Thanks to the counter-intelligence activity around OPERATION FORTITUDE, the German military’s gaze was elsewhere.

After D-Day. Mulberry harbour in full flow.

The exhibition builds on the success of the publication of A Harbour Goes To War, written by Jane Evans, Liz Palmer and Roy Walter and published in 2000. The book sold 3000 copies following publication and will be republished in paperback later this year.