The important role Trebah Gardens played in the D-Day landings

The important role Trebah Gardens played in the D-Day landings

Trebah Gardens and the significance it played in the D-Day Landings

During 1943 and the first half of 1944, approximately 27,000 American soldiers arrived in the Fal Estuary to gear up for the Normandy Invasion. Various embarkation points were established in and around Falmouth to facilitate this enormous military operation. These troops required accommodation as they prepared to transport their armour, equipment, and supplies from Falmouth to the battlegrounds of northern France.

Trebah Gardens played a pivotal role in D-Day, providing a temporary base for thousands of American GIs. After extensive preparation and training, these soldiers departed from the serene Cornish beach towards the hazardous Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. To accommodate military needs, the beach was adapted, including the destruction of the original granite boathouse. A significant jetty was constructed in the middle of the cove, and flexible concrete ‘chocolate block’ matting was laid over the shingle to allow vehicle access. On June 1, 1944, a regiment of 7,500 men from the 29th US Infantry Division, along with their tanks, artillery, and vehicles, set off from Trebah’s beach in ten 150-foot flat-bottomed LST landing craft. They braved five days of rough seas to the Isle of Wight before heading to the D-Day assault, landing on Omaha Beach on June 6 and suffering significant casualties.

In the 1960s, the beach saw partial restoration efforts by Donald Healey, a noted figure behind the Austin-Healey motorcars. Despite the restoration, remnants of Trebah’s wartime role are still evident, with concrete sections remaining on parts of the beach and the chocolate block matting repurposed on nearby paths.

The annual Military Day tradition began under the ownership of Major Tony Hibbert, MBE, MC, and his wife, Eira Hibbert. After an illustrious military career during World War Two, which included fighting at Arnhem and earning the Military Cross in 1945, Tony and Eira purchased Trebah in 1981. They initiated a restoration project to return the garden to its former glory, eventually transferring ownership to the Trebah Garden Trust in 1990. Discussing Military Day, Trebah’s CEO Jon Cummins remarked:

“Military Day is a significant event for us at Trebah. It is crucial to honour the brave men and women who embarked from Trebah Beach, recognize the historical importance of these events, and uphold the tradition of hosting Military Day annually. We are proud to collaborate with the Parachute Regimental Association and other supporting groups, especially this year as we mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.”

Tom French, a trustee of the Royal Cornwall Branch of the Parachute Regimental Association, added:

“For over 25 years, we have commemorated the bravery of the 29th US Infantry Division at Trebah. Our connection with Trebah Garden began through our late President, Major Tony Hibbert, and we are dedicated to honouring the sacrifices made by that generation.”

For those studying the Second World War we recommend a visit to Trebah Gardens for your next school trip to Cornwall and the important role it played in the D-Day Landings.  This tropical paradise for geography students and complements a visit to the Eden Project.

Wy not check out our itineraries for Cornwall and ask for a quote for your next school trip.

 

 

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