D-Day training sites were created in Britain in order to practice for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Northern France by allied forces in 1944. In 1943, in an area of Hankley Common known as the Lion’s Mouth, Canadian troops constructed a replica of a section of the Atlantic Wall. It is constructed from reinforced concrete and was used as a major training aid to develop and practise techniques to breach the defences of the French coast prior to the D-Day landings.
The wall is about 100 m (330 ft) long, 3 m (9.8 ft) high by 3.5 m (11 ft) wide. It is divided into two sections between which there were originally steel gates. Nearby are other obstacles such as dragon’s teeth, reinforced concrete blocks and lengths of railway track set in concrete and with wire entanglements. Many of the relics show signs of live weapons training and the main wall has two breaches caused by demolition devices.
The preservation of the Wall is managed by Army Training Estates with the assistance of the MOD Hankley Conservation Group.