With all stocks of its two earlier editions long since sold out, Shanklin Chine has published an updated, enlarged third edition of its popular wartime history PLUTO: Pipe-Line Under the Ocean.
Written by Isle of Wight author-historian Adrian Searle, the book tells the extraordinary story of the pipe-line devised in the utmost secrecy during the Second World War as the means to, literally, fuel the Allied advance from the Normandy beaches after the D-Day landings in June 1944 – before the capture of French ports could safely allow conventional delivery of petrol by sea. Initially laid above the seabed of the English Channel to Cherbourg from the operation’s Isle of Wight BAMBI terminal in Sandown Bay, PLUTO was later moved to the DUMBO terminal on the Dungeness peninsula in Kent for the much shorter route to Boulogne across the Pas de Calais.
In England both terminals were linked to a feeder pipe-line network running from the tanker ports of the Mersey and Bristol Channel, from where the fuel was dispatched. In the case of BAMBI this necessitated the laying of a cross-Solent pipe-line (SOLO) to the Isle of Wight’s north coast near Thorness – the remains can still be seen – from where the fuel was pumped across the Island to a large receiving reservoir (TOTO) in Hungerberry Copse and then fed by gravity through Shanklin Chine to the shoreline pumping station extending the full width of the bay. Clearly identified, the still evident feeder pipe in the Chine is today a key part of its heritage. On the European continent, as the Allies advanced eastwards from Normandy, PLUTO was effectively extended by specially-built British and US pipe-line systems all the way into Germany. Operation PLUTO, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower, later commented, was ‘second in daring only to the artificial (Mulberry) harbours’ in the planning for D-Day.
First published in 1995, revised as a second edition in 2004 and subsequently reprinted to satisfy continuing demand, the new edition has this year seen the PLUTO book further extended by eight pages. ‘This has allowed the inclusion of newly discovered historical material together with updates on the preservation projects principally undertaken – or still in progress – on the Island, right up to the hotly-debated restoration of the PLUTO power-house at Sandown,’ said the author. Now running to 136 pages, profusely illustrated with photographs, maps and diagrams, and locally produced on the Island by Crossprint, the third edition of PLUTO: Pipe-Line Under the Ocean, retails at £9.99. For information on obtaining copies contact Shanklin Chine on (01983) 866432.