D-Day book tells story of Midhurst man's ‘floating sea wall’ idea

General Lashmer Gordon Whistler of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Picture courtesy of West Sussex Records Office
General Lashmer Gordon Whistler of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Picture courtesy of West Sussex Records Office

West Sussex Record Office has released a new edition of a book to mark 75 years since the D-Day landings.

Among the stories featured by West Sussex people in the book – D-Day West Sussex – is the story of Lieutenant-Commander Robert Lochner, RNVR, whose invention helped make the D-Day landings possible.

A record office spokesman said: “Lochner experimented in the garden pond at his home at Linchmere, near Midhurst, to create ‘floating sea walls’ (Mulberry Harbours) which allowed supply lorries and other support vehicles to land safely on the Normandy beaches.”

According to documents, the ideas were ‘fundamental to the development of the artificial harbours, Mulberries, that were towed over from Selsey to Arromanches to supply the invasion forces in Normandy’.

The book is available at the Record Office in Orchard Street, Chichester, and from all public libraries in West Sussex for £7.95.

The diary of a General, written just days before D-Day, can be read by visitors to the record office. This, along with other poignant items, is on display in the reception area.

In the diary, General Lashmer Gordon Whistler, of the Royal Sussex Regiment, described how he felt before D-Day: “A very strange feeling being in England waiting for the final campaign to start.

“I hope I am not going to be too frightened.”

A Military Voices ‘listening turret’ is also available where visitors can hear first-hand accounts from veterans describing their experiences of the Second World War and other conflicts.

Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “Visiting the record office and seeing these objects first hand is an incredibly moving experience which really brings these stories to life.

“West Sussex people played a really important role in D-Day as we see in this book. It is vital that we remember the sacrifices made by commemorating the anniversary.”

Other events held to mark the anniversary have included talks at schools and the University of Chichester. There will be a screening of The Longest Day at Chichester’s New Park Cinema on Sunday.

For more information about the record office visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/ro