An Administrative Area to serve all Sub-Areas was established at a holiday camp a Hopton on the main road between Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
Four Sub-Areas had been selected in requisitioned buildings in Felixstowe and four camps within reach of Cliff Quay in Ipswich (existing camps at Orwell Park and Shrublands Park and new tented camps at Wherstead Park and Bramford Hall). The combined Marshalling HQ was at Broke Hall, Nacton. For the cover plan, area ‘W’ (around Woodbridge) was brought into use purely for road signage purposes for make believe camps in the area loading at Waldingfield.
Above: Q and R Sub Areas
Eight Sub Areas where established, four near to the docks and hards at Tilbury and four in a Forward Concentration Area in the Brentwood area. A Marshalling HQ was established at Ford Place, Stifford. A residue Concentration Area was established in requisitioned buildings in Southend and Westcliff-on-Sea.
These plans were subject to revisions and the following gives the final planned figures for loading requirements:
Notes: Force L was a follow up force to the initial landing force for Eastern Task Force (British) and
included the 22 Armoured Brigade (7th Armoured Division - the 'Desert Rats').
LST = Landing Ship Tank; LCI = Landing Craft Infantry; LSP = Landing Ship Personnel; LCT = Landing
As can be seen, Yarmouth / Lowestoft had been excluded from the final plans, but not until early April 1944 after which much work on planning and preparation had been carried out. This work was largely confined to the cover plan, in which a conference held by 21 Army Group attended by Eastern Command representatives stated that the cover plan was to be limited to road signs. Work was also to continue on a camp started at Fritton Warren just in case the port needed to be used in an emergency if other ports were put out of action by enemy action. It was also considered that the camp would be required for concentration purposes for other ports as well.
Questions were also raised about Ipswich. Firstly it was uncertain if the channel had been dredged recently enough to allow movement of vessels at all states of the tide at all times of the month. Also sustained movements would interfere with certain civil plans e.g. the need to stock 250,000 tons of coal by the Ministry of War Transport on some of the quay areas that would be required for the erection of facilities to aid embarkation. As a result it was planned to hold Cliff Quay (Ipswich) in “Reserve” in case of emergency as a port for sustained movement but no such use was made of it subsequent to the initial follow-up movements. This decision meant that the only embarkation sector in Ipswich would be Landguard Point, Felixstowe. Sub-Area camps being constructed for Ipswich were used for Felixstowe as these were more suitable for Force L than the Sub Areas in Felixstowe. These Sub-Areas comprised of existing camps at Orwell Park and Shrublands Park, both which had to be increased in size, and new tented camps at Wherstead Park and Bramford Hall. An Administrative Area was formed at Nacton Camp. In case of the four berths at Landguard Point being put out of action by enemy aircraft the beach between Felixstowe town and the mouth of the River Deben was prepared for the dispatch of LST, and the Landguard beach for LCT.
With regards to Tilbury, planning to some extent had already been undertaken for ‘RANKIN C’ which was superimposed onto the requirements for OVERLORD. RANKIN C was the code word for a rapid movement of troops overseas in the event of an armistice with Germany.
Eastern Command representatives attended Exercises “HARLEQUIN” and “JANTZEN” during the summer / early autumn of 1943 which gave valuable experience in planning for problems likely to be encountered. The object of “HARLEQUIN”, held in Southern and South-Eastern Commands, was to test the procedure for passing troops through Concentration Areas to Assembly Areas and Transit Areas during the first three days of an invasion of Europe. Exercise “JANTZEN” held in the Carmarthen area of South Wales was to practice the maintenance of a Corps on the beaches for 14 days with particular emphasis on the movement of troops through Concentration Areas to Assembly Areas and Transit Areas to embarkation.
Planning stepped up during December 1943 when the first meetings were held with the various District Commands, Royal Navy, Civil Services and RAF. This was followed by a full scale conference in April 1944 with cloth table models of Areas ‘R’ and ‘S’ when all phases of the operation were gone into in detail. Also Motor Coach Group and Royal Artillery Staff were attached to Eastern Command to help in co-ordinating movements.
By the end of April 1944, both static and movement staffs were in place. A number of small scale exercises were held to test arrangements and some units / staff attended the War Office Exercise ‘FABIUS’ (1 to 5th May 1944). This was the only chance Eastern Command had to test its planning until OVERLORD began itself.
Operation Overlord - Eastern Command 1944 - TNA