147th Field Regiment RA LCT

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Michel Sabarly, May 10, 2021.

  1. Hello everybody,

    I have been trying for a while to determine the actual LCT Hull numbers of the craft which carried each troop of 147 Fd Regt RA to the shores of Normandy. Only recently have the last pieces of the puzzle finally come together.

    (Notes: in what follows, Underlined parts are results confirmed by documents or reliably dated photographs. Parts in Blue font are links to sources)

    1. Which LCT carried the six gun troops of 147 Fd Regt?

    Six Landing Craft Tank Mark IV with Landing Table Index Numbers (LTINs) 2140 to 2142 & 2177 to 2179 were assigned to the six gun troops in 147 Fd Regt (231 Inf Bde Gp Landing Table for Op OVERLORD).

    Five of these six LCT were from the 2nd Division, 49th LCT Flotilla, “U” LCT Squadron (Report by Squadron Commander “U” LCT Squadron): LCT 1027, 905, 708, 733 and 1073.

    IWM photo A23731 shows, hidden among a horde (school?) of landing craft, a row of six LCT marked U49, two of which have their hull number visible: 1073 and 640, the latter with its LTIN board 2142, which would therefore be the sixth planned LCT. No date is given for this photo, but I believe it was shot on 31 May 44. The craft are still empty and last minute changes to allocation of LTINs may have occured after this photo was shot (click on the photo, then click it again to see it in full resolution):
    [​IMG]

    A provisional list of the craft carrying 147 Fd Regt may therefore be set as follows:
    LCT 1027, 905, 708, 733, 1073, 640 (2142)​


    2. Which Troop was in which LTIN or Craft?

    The 147 Fd Regt Loading Table for Exercise FABIUS II details the distribution of Troop to LTINs as follows, shown here in the cruising disposition for the Run in Shoot.

    2142 . 2141 . 2140
    C Tp . A Tp .. E Tp

    2179 . 2178 . 2177
    D Tp . B Tp .. F Tp​

    i.e, the first flight (to land H+60) in front of the second flight (to land H+120), and the second Troop in each Battery behind its first Troop. This disposition was common to all Fd Regts taking part in Run in Shoots

    The 431 Battery Loading Tables for Operation OVERLORD confirm two of the above:

    Let’s try and find more LTIN/Tp matches, to check whether the FABIUS allocation was maintained for OVERLORD.

    Douglas Eaton, CPO 511 Bty:
    “As we approached the shore on D-Day the commander of our ‘E’ Troop LCT, Lt Ted Delve RNVR (…) the Marine Jeep was the first off and immediately disappeared under the water; the next I saw of the Marine Officer was to find him sitting against the sea wall nursing a flesh wound on his hand
    Source: 50 Years Anniversary Commemorative Booklet, The Essex Yeomanry Association, 2004

    Temporary Sub-Lieutenant Edward DELVE, RNVR (seniority 29.9.43) is confirmed as 1073’s CO (Rep Comdr U49).

    1st RM Armd Sp Reg War Diary:
    2 Jun 44
    “0730 - CO’s party embarked on LCT(4) No.1073 (Serial No.2140).”
    6 Jun 44
    “0830 - CO’s party landed, after the Jeep had been drowned and all stores and kit lost in the heavy sea. The party transferred to a LCM for the final 150 yds to the shore, and Major BJ Mabott RM was wounded in the left hand when a near miss on the craft was scored by enemy arty. He was later evacuated in a LCT.”

    Therefore:
    2140 = LCT 1073 – E Tp

    and consequenty 2177 carried F Tp:
    2177 – F Tp​

    The LCT carrying F Tp broke down en route (Sgt Palmer’s IWM interview, reel1 from 14:16 etc.).
    “LCT 1027 was also missing. This craft was the leading craft of the 147th Field Regiment (49th Flotilla)"
    (Report by Senior Officer Group 7).
    Thus:
    2177 = LCT 1027 – F Tp

    The remaining two troops (A & B) were therefore carried in LTIN 2141 and 2178 respectively.

    Lt Tony Gregson, GPO A Tp, was on board a LCT commanded by Lt Dick Offer, thus LCT 708 (Rep Comdr U49):
    “The steady voice of our LCT commander, Lieutenant Richard Offer…”​
    Source: The War of the Landing Craft by Paul Lund and Harry Lundlam

    We now have:
    2140 – E Tp = LCT 1073 ........ 2177 – F Tp = LCT 1027
    2141 – A Tp = LCT 708 .......... 2178 – B Tp
    2142 – C Tp
    = LCT 640 .......... 2179 – D Tp

    On this photo, LTIN 2178 is LCT 905:
    LCT 905 (2178), (2179), LCH 317 (2091) - Peter Mitchell.jpg
    Source: Peter Mitchell’s Memoirs - Photos from the War Years

    We will assume this was still the case on D Day. The last remaining LTIN 2179, also on this photo, must therefore be the one craft not yet allocated, i.e. LCT 733:

    2140 – E Tp = LCT 1073 ........ 2177 – F Tp = LCT 1027
    2141 – A Tp = LCT 708 .......... 2178 – B Tp = LCT 905
    2142 – C Tp = LCT 640 .......... 2179 – D Tp = LCT 733​

    We could stop here, congratulate ourselves and go brew us a nice cuppa. However, there is a glitch, which I knowingly ignored thus far so as not to over complicate things too early.

    The Report by Comdr U49 not only lists just five craft as stated above, it also specifically excludes LCT 640 from the craft allocated to Assault Duties. Furthermore, the Senior Officer of Group 7 on board ML 136 says:
    “4. Fire was opened by all eleven craft (L.C.T. 1027 was still absent) at the correct time. Ranges and changes of rate were passed through loud-hailer by the Senior Officer to the nearest craft on the starboard hand (L.C.T. 879) carrying the 147th Regiment. These orders were relayed to the remaining craft of the division by the Army inter-communications R/T system from L.C.T. 879.”

    This unexpected LCT 879 from another Flotilla and even another Squadron (33rd Flotilla, “D” LCT Squadron) must therefore have replaced LCT 640 in the last few days before D Day, which does not necessarily imply that she inherited her LTIN as well, because “the nearest craft on the starboard hand” might have been either LTIN 2142 of 2179.

    Lt Tony Richardson, GPO D Tp, on board LTIN 2179:
    “Luckily, we could see on our left the ML of the other SP Regiment which was to do a run-in shoot – 90th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Fd. Regt. RA – and, after much lamp flashing, we obtained from it a range and bearing which we passed to the other LCTs.”​
    Source: The Essex Yeomanry Journal

    This account seems to indicate that D Tp’s was the craft that ML 136 communicated with, or, in other words, that LTIN 2179 was LCT 879, in which case LTIN 2142 would have been LCT 733.

    The final question we need to answer to obtain the actual, complete match is therefore: “Was LTIN 2142 LCT 733 or LCT 879?”

    Fortunately for us, Sortie US7/1730 incudes a few frames showing 147 Fd Regt’s first flight of three LCT discharging their loads around 0830. These are thus LTIN 2140, 2141 and 2142, i.e. LCT 1073, 708 and either 733 or 879 respectively, but we do not know which is which.

    On a high resolution version of Frame P_0090, we see that the two craft on the left (West) share features that the third craft (on the right) does not possess:
    1. the remaining white band above the Blue band (denoting Force G vessels) on the fore face of the bridge is narrower (i.e. the Blue band reaches higher up)
    2. their Oerlikon pits are painted a dark colour​
    (click on photo for full resolution)
    [​IMG]

    Since LCT 1073 and 708 each exhibits both these features, and because they must necessarily be among the three craft in the photo, it results that they must be the two craft on the left, although not necessarily in LTIN order.

    The craft on the right, with the wider white band on top and light Oerlikon pits, is therefore LTIN 2142, i.e. either LCT 733 or LCT 879 (by the way, this photo also confirms that LCT 640 (dark oerlikon pits) was no longer LTIN 2142 as per A23731).

    Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any photo of 733 clearly showing the shade of her Oerlikon pits, but have identified this craft as the one along the quay on IWM A23731. This craft, like all but one of the six U49 craft in her row, has the narrower white band on top, which means that LTIN 2142 cannot be LCT 733, and must thus be LCT 879. Howwever, since identifying this craft alond the quay as 733 is also a rather long process, I will use another way to show that the third craft on the aerial view is indeed 879.

    Luckily I found a particularly high resolution version of Frame P_0091 where the Hull number, although of course not readable, appears as darker shades whose outer limits are discernable. These limits perfectly match LCT 879’s markings, and are not compatible with 733’s.
    (click on photo for full resolution)
    [​IMG]

    We may finally list 147 Fd Regt LCT as follows:

    E Tp – LCT 1073 (2140) .......... F Tp – LCT 1027 (2177)
    A Tp – LCT . 708 (2141) .......... B Tp – LCT . 905 (2178)
    C Tp – LCT . 879 (2142) .......... D Tp – LCT . 733 (2179)​

    Now let’s go get this nice pint cuppa…

    Michel

    Edited 11 May to include the original high resolution images
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
  2. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Great post Michel. However, I'll throw a possible spanner in the works. I'm having difficulty reconciling the bow of LCT 905 with the bridge of LTIN 2178 in Peter Mitchell's photo. From the angle of 905's bow, I'd expect the bridge to be behind the LCH, not where it is. I can't make sense of the figure just above the tarp either. I wonder if the netting is covering the tank deck of a laden LCT (LTIN 2178) behind an unladen LCT 905, and the bow of the former is hidden. On the other hand I could be wrong – I can't see a bridge or even a mast behind the LCH. It's tricky to work out precisely – I wish it was a bit better resolution!
     
  3. Steve,

    You're right, the photo distorts the general shape of 905 quite a bit, making it look like she is sharply bent after the bows. It must be the lens used. I think that the closeness of the shot exaggerates the perspective effect and the apparent angle of the bow with the hull side looks much larger than the actual one. The farther the photographer stands from the craft centreline, the sharper the apparent bend looks. LTIN 2179 also seems curved to starboard, but less so than 2178.

    The orientation of the two craft is deceptive, because the bows are so prominent on the photo. I suspect we unconsciously extend aft the outer top angle of the bow to imagine the rest of the craft, not taking into account the angle it makes with the hull side. What we should look at are the inner top angles of the tank deck near the ramp, which give us the approximate orientation of the whole craft. The ramps joining the hull side catwalks to the after deck also help to mentally connect the fore and after parts:
    LCT 905 (2178), (2179), LCH 317 (2091) - Peter Mitchell - Notes 3.jpg

    Michel
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021

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