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  • Marine Parade, 
  • Instow, 
  • North Devon, 
  • EX39 4JJ
01271 861292
Opening Hours:
9am -11pm
Food Service Times:
9-11.30am // 12-3pm // 5-9pm
Our D-Day 80th Anniversary Breakfast

We wanted to share our thanks in advance to all who have brought tickets in support of our fundraiser this coming Saturday. The event was a sell-out and we are proud to be supporting the Instow Arromanches Twinning Association which is such a worthy and momentous local organisation that's close to our hearts. The following words below, written by a local historian give context as to why this date is so important and shows The Boathouse's connection to this historic event. Photographs courtesy of North Devon Maritime Museum

The Boathouse, Instow and D-Day – History on our doorstep

‘If Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, surely the sands of North Devon beaches contributed importantly to the success of the assault over the Normandy beaches.’ Paul W Thomson, Brigadier General, US Army.

From September 1943 to March 1944, over 10,000 US Army soldiers took part in three-week training courses in Braunton Burrows and the estuary, in the area known as US Assault Training Center.

Moreover, experimental equipment, which led to the success of the Normandy Landings was also designed and trialled by British Forces in the estuary and wider area.

The building we know today as The Boathouse played its part. Then Jubilee Hall, it was used as a NAAFI (Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes) canteen in 1943 and -44. Other notable properties and locations in Instow were likewise commandeered for military purposes.

Marine Parade and Instow Sands, where people today exercise their dogs before popping into The Boathouse for a coffee, were closed to the public when the US Navy moved into the Torridge estuary. Small landing craft were often beached on the sand to dry out or for repairs after providing support for training exercises in Braunton Burrows.

The Village Hall became a canteen for sailors; Strandfield House – today the site of the Commodore Hotel – was commandeered for naval officers while the North Devon Yacht Club was turned into their private club.

A former US ferry boat, MV President Warfield was towed across the Atlantic from Baltimore and moored off Westleigh as floating barracks for 300 US Navy officers and other ranks. American GIs stayed in temporary camps around Braunton and Woolacombe while some lucky ones enjoyed home comforts, living with local families.

In 1939, a Royal Marines base had been established at Instow to test amphibious equipment; four years later it became a key training facility for troops preparing to land on Gold Beach around Arromanches. The DUKW (Duck) amphibious craft, the workhorse for transporting troops in the Second World War, was tested in Instow. After the war, the camp took the name of the French seaside town. Today it is the base for 11 Amphibious Trials and Training Squadron and the Amphibious Trials and Development Wing.

Photographs courtesy of North Devon Maritime Museum


Instow Arromanches Twinning Association

The historic links between North Devon and Normandy were further cemented in 1979 by the twinning of Arromanches and Instow; an association that continues to this day with visitors from Normandy due in September to stay with host families and enjoy North Devon’s famous hospitality. To find out more about the Instow Twinning Association and how to get involved send an email to instowtwinning@btinternet.com.

Further Information

For further information on North Devon’s role in D-Day visit North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore, The Barnstaple & North Devon Museum, Burrows Centre on Northam Burrows Country Park or Braunton Countryside Centre. Devon D-Day, a self-guided tour of key sites and Northam Burrows Hidden Wartime History guided walk leaflet can be downloaded below.

Assault Training Center Friends will be organising a special D-Day 80th anniversary re-enactment on 15 June in Braunton Burrows. More information on this event can be found on via Facebook.