A new World War Two Heritage Trail has been launched this week to highlight some of the most important wartime sites in North Devon.

American GIs practicing attack runout from Landing Craft Personnel on Braunton Burrows, 1943. Picture: Tony KoorlanderAmerican GIs practicing attack runout from Landing Craft Personnel on Braunton Burrows, 1943. Picture: Tony Koorlander

The region played an important role in the run up to D-Day on June 6, 1944, as thousands of Allied troops came here to train on the beaches, estuaries and dunes.

The new trail has been developed by North Devon's museums and the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It features obvious locations such as the Assault training Center on Braunton Burrows, where the remains of concrete training landing craft can be seen.

Plus there are some less obvious places, such as Torrington Square where off-duty American GIs used to gather before a night out on the town, or the American Red Cross Centre in Woolacombe, now the Red Barn.

A dummy pillbox at Baggy Point, used for training in the run up to D-Day. Picture: North Devon Coast AONBA dummy pillbox at Baggy Point, used for training in the run up to D-Day. Picture: North Devon Coast AONB

A special booklet, Devon D-Day: A World War II Heritage Trail of the North Devon Coast will be available from museums from the 75th D-Day anniversary this Thursday, June 6.

Each location on the North Devon-wide, 12-point trail will be marked with a bronze plaque.

The booklet will feature an area map and grid references, helping local people and visitors to find their way around the key sites while revealing the military and human stories behind them.

Claire Gulliver, project co-ordinator said: "The North Devon coast closely resembled that of Normandy.

Remains of ‘Dragons Teeth’ anti-invasion obstacles at Northam Burrows. Picture: Sarah GallifentRemains of ‘Dragons Teeth’ anti-invasion obstacles at Northam Burrows. Picture: Sarah Gallifent

"We hope this trail will bring to life the military strategy that was being developed on North Devon's beaches, estuaries and sand dunes, in practicing for the biggest amphibious assault in military history.

"But we also hope to evoke the human stories of the British and Allied soldiers who lived and trained here, together with those of the local communities they mixed with."

The trail is part of Devon D-Day, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with additional financial support from North Devon Council, North Devon Coast AONB and North Devon Marketing Bureau.

GI soldiers at the American Red Cross Centre, Woolacombe (now the Red Barn pub) 1943. Picture: Mortehoe MuseumGI soldiers at the American Red Cross Centre, Woolacombe (now the Red Barn pub) 1943. Picture: Mortehoe Museum

Frogmen from HMS Appledore ascending the slipway at Appledore, 1945. Picture: Imperial War MuseumFrogmen from HMS Appledore ascending the slipway at Appledore, 1945. Picture: Imperial War Museum

Watermouth Cove, where a pipleline under the sea (PLUTO) was trailed between the North Devon and South Wales coast. Picture: North Devon Coast AONBWatermouth Cove, where a pipleline under the sea (PLUTO) was trailed between the North Devon and South Wales coast. Picture: North Devon Coast AONB