Call to reveal hidden Morse code message
NORMANDY veterans are calling for 'one of Torquay's best kept secrets' to be revealed more publicly.
They claim visitors to the D-Day embarkation slipways are frequently unaware there is a Morse code message hidden in the lights on the harbourside.
Now they are asking mayor Gordon Oliver if it is possible to make the secret message easier to de-code by including an information board teaching people Morse code.
Ken Sturdy, chairman of South Devon and Torbay Normandy Veterans' Association, says school pupils and pilgrims to the notable historic site would be able to unravel the Morse code message if more information was given.
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The Morse code reads 'Vanishing Point' and is set into the granite floor.
It forms part of the £40,000 sculpture which includes the seven-metre steel ring and a separate cross of lights on Beacon Quay.
But the coded message frequently flummoxes visitors, even those who know Morse code, because it can only be read from left to right from the slipway side.
Mr Sturdy, who is 92, said that the recent Heritage Open Days had attracted visitors from all over the world: "There were a lot of visitors and people are extremely interested when I tell the tale of the embarkation wall.
"But the only thing is that none of them knew about the Vanishing Point Morse code message.
"People walk over the spelling out of the words Vanishing Point along the quay and they don't even know it's there.They haven't got a clue."
Mr Sturdy praised the work of artist Bob Budd: "It was a very original way to commemorate all the American forces because they did vanish from here.
"One of the people I was speaking to recently was a woman from Shiphay who remembers as a young girl all these handsome American boys.
"There were thousands of them. Then suddenly one day they all vanished."
An estimated 25,000 American troops set off from Torquay harbour on June 6, 1944, bound for Normandy as part of an Allied invasion, the biggest in human history, involving 850,000 soldiers.
The embarkation ramps at Torquay harbour were constructed by British soldiers over nine months in 1943.
Mr Sturdy said: "There is not another war memorial like it in the world. It's totally unique.
"But the problem is that even people who live here don't know about it. The words start at the town end and it must be Torquay's best kept secret."
The art work at the top of the 70-year-old concrete embarkation hards was unveiled in October, 2006.
Now Mr Sturdy thinks the unique memorial needs more publicity.
"A little board should be erected. It doesn't need to be very big. The mayor Gordon Oliver should realise how much this history boosts Torbay.
"If they had a Morse code alphabet up there it would be educational for all the school children who are brought down here by there teachers.
"I think that would be a very good idea because they could have fun puzzling it out."