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Blue plaque for East Ham engineer who played key role in D-Day landings

PUBLISHED: 15:03 12 January 2017

Cllr Ken Clark and Major Allan Becketts widow Ida Beckett with other guests at the unveiling event (picture: Andrew Baker)

Cllr Ken Clark and Major Allan Becketts widow Ida Beckett with other guests at the unveiling event (picture: Andrew Baker)

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He might not have fought on the beaches, but Allan Beckett’s role in the D-Day landings cannot be underestimated.

The blue plaque to commemorate Major Allan Beckett (picture: Andrew Baker)The blue plaque to commemorate Major Allan Beckett (picture: Andrew Baker)

The designer, who created the floating bridges used to link temporary portable harbours – known as Mulberry harbours – to the shore, has been honoured for his role in the Second World War with a blue plaque outside his former East Ham home.

Major Beckett’s widow, Ida, and other members of his family joined councillors and representatives from the Royal Engineers at the ceremony on Tuesday.

Born in East Ham in 1914, Allan and his family moved to Montpelier Gardens, where the plaque was placed, five years later.

He lived there until war broke out, when he joined the Royal Engineers and created arguably his most important design.

After the war, Major Beckett initially set up as a freelance civil engineer, then joined Sir Bruce White, Wolfe Barry and Partners, where he designed and advised on major port developments and flood protection projects throughout the world.

He also carried out a feasibility study and subsequent design work, jointly with Rendell Palmer and Tritton, on the Thames Barrier lifting gates.

He married Ida in 1949, and in the same year he was awarded an MBE for his wartime work.

The couple had three children and he died in 2005 aged 91.

Paying tribute to her late husband, Mrs Beckett said: “My husband had many happy memories of his childhood growing up in Montpelier Gardens and he enjoyed living in the lively community of East Ham before the Second World War.

“Allan often told us stories of his adventures here as a child and I think he would be very proud and somewhat surprised if he knew that his old home was being commemorated in this way.

“Many thanks to the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, and his team for this great honour.””

Cllr Ken Clark added: “Allan Beckett’s historic and ingenious designs for the floating roadways made the D-Day landings possible, ultimately helping lead to the beginning of the end of the war.

“He was a visionary in his field and it is right we honour his achievements with a lasting memorial in the form of a blue plaque.”

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