Lepe is a small hamlet on the shore of the Solent in Hampshire which was a secret manufacturing site for parts of the Mulberry Harbours used in the D-Day landings. It was also an embarkation point for troops and equipment leaving for Normandy in 1944, as well as the start point for PLUTO, the pipeline under the ocean which was so crucial to the success of the mission. Parts of the buildings and harbours can still be seen on the beach, as well as a memorial to those from the Royal Dragoons who died during the landings.
Used as a port since Roman times, Lepe has had successive harbours and sea-based trades including 18th century shipbuilders and an oyster industry. In 1943 the local manor house was requisitioned by the Navy to be the Headquarters of J-Force Assault Group for the West Solent embarkations.
At the same time, Lepe was used as a secret manufacturing site for the breakwaters to build six massive reinforced concrete caissons as part of the artificial Mulberry Harbours. These were used as temporary, portable harbours off the shore of France after the D Day landings, until the French ports could be recaptured and used by the Allies.
Lepe was also the location where P.L.U.T.O (Pipeline Under The Ocean) left mainland England, carrying fuel across to the Isle of Wight and then further on under the channel to Normandy to keep the troops and their equipment supplied with POL - petrol, oil and lubricants.