How D-Day was ‘invented’ with Gallipoli inspiration? Here is an answer in 3D

How D-Day was ‘invented’ with Gallipoli inspiration? Here is an answer in 3D

Emre KIZILKAYA PARIS – Hürriyet Daily News
How D-Day was ‘invented’ with Gallipoli inspiration Here is an answer in 3D As I stand on the beach of Arromanches, a small town in northern France, I watch hundreds of soldiers rigorously working aboard warships and scores of tanks slowly moving on platforms that link the military vessels to the land, floating in a swelling sea.

Instead of binoculars, I have 3D glasses to see around, but witnessing the key logistics operation for the largest military landing ever is exciting even when you do it in a virtual world.

I was among the journalists who were invited from around Europe to try this new 3D simulation at Dassault Systèmes headquarters in Paris this month, just before the 70th anniversary of the gigantic military operation.


Tim Beckett (inset R) and Nicolas Serikoff (inset) are among
the developers of the 3D simulation of the D-Day at Dassault
Systèmes headquarters in Paris

Officials of Dassault and its Passion for Innovation Institute explained how they virtually constructed the Arromanches artificial harbor and now-forgotten military vehicles as a timely tribute to the engineers who played a vital role in the Allied victory in World War II.

Operation Overlord was launched at dawn on June 6, 1944, commonly known as D-Day, with the Normandy landings in which British, Canadian, and U.S. forces were landed at the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches.

The Gold Beach landing to establish a beachhead between Arromanches and Ver-sur-Mer as a primary D-Day objective was so crucial that it was able to change the war’s fate.

The artificial harbor built by English engineers on Gold Beach at Arromanches, codenamed “Mulberry B,” was built in three days and used to sustain the massive invasion for the next eight months, landing over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tons of supplies. As the first temporary deepwater facility of its kind ever devised and attempted, it was the product of a series of innovations developed by Maj. Allan Beckett of the Royal Engineers.

After I was immersed in the 3D simulation, which I also had a first-hand experience of how the pontoon bridge and "kite" anchors were behaving on June 6, 1944, during high tide and low tide, I took the chance to speak to Allan Beckett’s son, Tim Beckett, who is also an engineer.

“D-Day wouldn’t have succeeded without the defeat in Gallipoli,” Beckett answered one of my questions regarding similarities and differences between two largest seaborne landings in the history of mankind.

In the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, Allies had initially managed to complete an amphibious landing, but ultimately failed after the fighting became a battle of attrition as Ottomans were reinforcing their troops.

“Winston Churchill, one of the main architects of the Gallipoli Campaign, had to resign because of this failure. But he took the lesson that sustaining a landing is crucial for victory. So, on D-Day, he didn’t leave anything to chance,” Beckett said.

“Mulberry B” was actually supposed to transport far less cargo and was designed to last only three months. However, it was forced to shoulder the burden alone, after the second artificial harbor, codenamed “Mulberry A,” built by American engineers on Omaha beach at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, was severely damaged during the Channel storms of late June 1944 because it was not securely anchored to the sea bed. “Mulberry A” was then abandoned before its construction was done.

Beckett’s “kite” anchors, which moored the floating metal roadways mounted on pontoon units of concrete or steel, and the legs that rested on the seabed but allowed the floating platforms to move up and down with the tide were the keys to success. “Mulberry B” not only survived the storm, but also continued operations round the clock, thanks to these innovations that secured it.

The remnants of the artificial harbor, like some pieces of 600,000 tons of concrete between 33 jetties and 15 km of floating roadways or sunken block ships that were used as breakwaters, could still be seen in the waters of Arromanche today.

“But they’re slowly eroding away. That’s why we wanted to preserve them in an interactive and immersive virtual reality environment as our digital heritage,” said Nicolas Serikoff, Dassault Systèmes’ Interactive Experience Specialist who also conducted the research for the project.

The project titled “They Invented D-Day” includes the virtualization of two military vehicles, apart from the 3D simulation of “Mulberry B.” The Landing Craft, Vehicle & Personnel (LCVP) designed by American engineer Andrew Higgins and seen in movies such as Saving Private Ryan is the first vehicle. The second one is the Waco CG-4A glider.

“LCVP was carrying troops through the Channel, while Waco was for airborne transportation. Both of these craft used were mainly made of wood, since steel was in short supply. That’s why only a few reconstructed examples remain today,” Serikoff said.

To have perfect virtual copies of these craft, Serikoff travelled to the United States, Britain and France, finding and restoring the poorly preserved original plans.

Dassault Systèmes’ recreation of the Mulberry Harbor was featured in a two-hour documentary, “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets,” produced by the PBS science series, NOVA, and aired on May 28. For the film, a team of experts carried out an extensive survey of the seabed bordering the D-Day beachheads of Normandy, revealing the ingenious technology that helped the Allies overcome the German defenses.

As a French software company that specializes in the production of 3D design software, 3D digital mock-up and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, Dassault Systèmes presents its D-Day tribute as a social responsibility project. The company’s Passion for Innovation Institute had other cultural and educational projects in the past, including the virtualization of the Giza Plateau in Egypt and a historical reconstruction of Paris throughout the ages.

“3D is our common language as humanity. It can abolish barriers between countries, nations, cultures, just like it’s been doing between companies and production processes,” said the company’s vice president, Mehdi Tayoubi.

And does Dassault Systèmes have a plan to virtualize the Gallipoli Campaign, too?

“Why not?” Tayoubi said in reply.