QuerQuay’s D-Day Secrets
What did Sir Winston Churchill, General Montgomery, General Eisenhower, Lord Mountbatten and General Patton do at QuerQuay?
QuerQuay is built on the site of Inglenook, the original old railway cottage, which nestled by the slipway to the Dartmouth-Kingswear Higher Ferry and was home to railway crossing keeper Bob Aston and his wife Edith.
The Generals Secret D-Day Meetings
In the days leading up to the June 11 1944 D-Day Allied assault on the Normandy beaches the little cottage was the secret location where Churchill, Montgomery, Eisenhower, Lord Mountbatten and General Patton met to finalise their strategy for the D-Day landings. Their decisions and subsequent actions led to the liberation of France and Belgium and the defeat of the Nazis and changed the course of world history.
The Road to Normandy
This pretty little corner of coastal Devon, known as Britannia Crossing was where the road from Torbay and the North crossed the London-Kingswear steam railway track and ended on the slipway to the ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth. Down this road came the thousands of British, Canadian and American troops who boarded the tank landing craft (LCTs) and joined the 5000 ships that crossed the English Channel. The 326,000 seaborne troops with 50,000 vehicles were supported by 11,000 planes carrying airborne troops.
This was the biggest military operation in modern history masterminded by Montgomery, Eisenhower, Mountbatten and Patton from this little cottage. Churchill also joined the meetings and he can be seen with his trademark hat and portly build, in the group, overseeing operations in the photograph below (standing on the slipway, top left).
A Secret Date with Destiny
Their meetings were secret and so was the day of the assault. Thousands of men were ready to go at any moment while the generals waited for conditions to be optimal. Then on 6 June 1944 the exodus began, culminating in June 11, D-Day, and the Normandy Beaches.
Operation Tiger and the Great Evacuation
There’s a lot more history associated with the QuerQuay site and it’s South Hams surroundings. The earlier launch of Operation Tiger, Churchill and Eisenhower’s training operation, designed to harden the green young Canadian and American conscripts to battle conditions, necessitated a devastating evacuation of local villages. Leadership errors led to huge loss of life due to friendly fire on the shores of Slapton Sands and in the Channel nearby, where US tank landing craft were taken down by German E-Boats.