Extensive D-Day training and preparations revealed

The D-Day landings [Via]

A Scottish castle in the far north of the UK is a little known hero in the preparations for the D-Day landings and ultimately the liberation of Europe during World War Two.

Castle Toward near Dunoon is a 19th century castle on the shores of the Cowal Peninsula. Now the castle is being put up for sale for £1.75 million.

The castle was taken over by the British government in 1942 and was renamed HMS Brontosaurus. It became the site of some of the Army’s most rigorous D-Day training and many servicemen were killed even in the preparation exercises.

The castle’s land extends to sloping shore lines into the Clyde estuary, and soldiers would be tasked with practicing the impending D-Day landings complete with live bombs, smokescreens and low-level fighters. The soldiers would arrive in landing craft on the shore line, make their way up the beach and attempt to get over onto land.

Troops would spend a week at the castle to take part in the intensive training course, where they would also have to get used to swimming in full kit and take part in demanding physical training in the nearby hills.

British war time Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Supreme Allied Commander Lord Mountbatten made official visits to the castle during the training period.

Today the castle has had one of its rooms named after Churchill and the remains of the troops’ huts still stand in some parts of the castle grounds.


Military training ahead of D-Day was a massive task and took place at various sites all over the UK. In 1943 an assault training centre was built on the south Devon coast, and 3,000 locals had to be evacuated from the area.

The training exercises gave the military and government the opportunity to identify issues and problems and give them a chance to fix them before the actual D-Day landings. The first training exercise that took place in Devon found problems with troop communications, there was a general sense of chaos and there was a lack of understanding of the overall mission.

In more training disasters, in the spring of 1944 almost 800 US soldiers died after three ships stationed off the Irish coast were targeted and attacked by a German U-Boat.

A massive full-scale rehearsal also took place on the Devon coast using all 23,000 US troops, known as Exercise Tiger. During preparations, training also took place in Florida at Camp Gordon Johnston, the Mail Online reports.

An essential element of the training was to ensure that the Army, Navy and Air Forces were all working together. An official Combined Service Centre was established to help the three military units work together more efficiently and effectively.

After the war, Castle Toward and its estate was purchased by the Corporation of Glasgow and was usedfor educational purposes. Since then it has been owned by the local authorities.

The castle has 25 bedrooms, six reception rooms and large grounds with amazing views over the peninsula.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE