Former home of D-Day harbour engineer, Bangor
Hugh Iorys Hughes, who lived here, came up with the idea of a floating harbour for the D-Day landings in France in 1944.
Born in Bangor in 1902, he was educated mainly at Friars School before studying engineering at Sheffield University. He was from a family of keen sailors and often raced on the Menai Strait with his father and two brothers. Later he designed many of the craft that he sailed. After graduating, he established himself as a civil engineer in London. One of his works was the design for the dry dock that berthed the clipper Cutty Sark until the disastrous fire in 2007.
Early in the Second World War, it occurred to Hugh that a floating harbour might be required later in the war, to land soldiers and supplies on European soil without the difficulty of first capturing a heavily defended port. He sent his idea and drawings to the War Office but his initiative wasn’t taken up until his brother Sior Hughes, a Commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, impressed the scheme on a senior colleague and the idea was reconsidered.
In June 1942, Hugh was asked to produce plans for a prototype “floating harbour” that could be towed to Normandy and installed on the shallow beaches. Hughes worked tirelessly over the next couple of months on his vision. The prototypes were built and launched at the mouth of the river Conwy, which he knew to be suitable from his experience of sailing along the North Wales coast.
The prototypes, along with two others, were tested in south-west Scotland. The War Office decided that its own design was the best, but Hugh was kept on as a consultant. He worked on the calculations for a breakwater, to protect the piers that were now known as the Mulberry Harbour.
After the war he continued to practise out of his London offices, designing buildings and transport infrastructure for the city while indulging in his love of sailing. A modest man, Hugh arguably never received the recognition for his wartime service that he deserved. He died in 1977 and his ashes were scattered on the Menai Strait.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno
Postcode: LL57 2RY View Location Map