D Day Landing Craft Markings

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Noel Burgess, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi,
    Thanks for posting the photo. LCM 1241 was part of 650 Build Up Flotilla, Force “J” so it is not a 3 Div sign.

    I think the markings are either Flotilla or Squadron markings. There are some photos around showing triangles painted on the ramps of some LCM.

    The photo looks like it was taken in front of WN 31 on the west side of the River Seulles at Courseulles, Juno Beach. The building with the tower was demolished at some stage but some of the other buildings are still there.

    Regards

    Danny

    LCM 1241 650  Flotilla  Mark.jpg
    courseulles  c  mark.jpg
     
    mark abbott likes this.
  2. Danny is right, the LCM lies right at the foot of the double embrasure 5cm KwK bunker of Wn 31 at the western side of the mouth of the Seulles on MIKE RED Beach, the second bunker (above the starboard upper corner of the LCM ramp) being the H669 housing a 8,8cm PAK of Wn 29 at the opposite (eastern) side of mouth of the Seulles on NAN GREEN Beach, seen from the rear.

    I agree that the triangle on the LCM is probably a Flotilla or Squadron symbol. It might be Red for JUNO?

    Michel

    [​IMG]
     
  3. prairie4me

    prairie4me Junior Member

    Thank you to all for your comments and invaluable information. I returned to Library and Archives Canada and spent 2 1/2 days going through documents and microfilm. Good news and bad news - while I still have yet to locate the nominal rolls with respect to embarkation tags, I did find a summary of sorts with the following description: "War Establishments, Strength and Reinforcements- Movements of Formations and Units to NWE- 3 Cdn Inf Div to NWE giving strengths by unit, ship numbers, embarkation dates etc. Jun 4 (Op Overlord)". There are detailed lists giving the ship name or number and craft number with the corresponding craft serial number. The date is also provided for each craft as well as the number of Officers and Other Ranks.
    This information has been compiled from other documents and in spite of receiving advice from LAC, I have been unsuccessful in finding the nominal rolls. The way it works at LAC, is you must type into the Archive Search Box what you are looking for. If what you type in does not match the title LAC has given the document(s), nothing of value comes up.
    I did record the pages for the SD&G Highlanders, HLI and North Nova Scotia Highlanders. I am afraid I have not been much help.
     
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Cheers,chaps. Glad it was of use.

    Danny-on the colour photo, those are Belgian gates lined up along the riverbank, aren't they?
     
  5. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hello Idler,
    Yes, they are Belgian Gates lined up.

    They were not put in that position until after the war going by photos that I have seen.

    Attached are a few more photos taken post war. I would think Photo 4 was taken around 1945/46.

    Regards

    Danny

    1  e.jpg 2  e.jpg

    3  e.jpg 4  Courseulles  east  e.jpg
     
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    see http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/58356-new-veteran-member/

    quotes from new member, below:
     
  7. A hearty welcome to the forum Frank! We are very glad and lucky that you joined!

    You have perhaps already read the account by the Squadron Officer Lieutenant Commander Max Owens Waldemar MILLER, R.N. here:
    http://www.combinedops.com/LCT%20Squadron.htm

    Lt Cdr MILLER might be the Senior Officer who was on board your craft.

    Do you happen to know which army unit your craft carried on D Day? It should be one of the following:

    2nd Battalion The King's Shropshire Light Infantry (2 KSLI)
    2nd Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment (2 WARWICK)
    1st Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment (1 NORFOLK)

    Michel
     
  8. Bunts

    Bunts WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hello Michel, We landed the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. I have been told that it was Lt. Com.Millar but conversations were limited to a couple of signals he asked me to send. By the way, a number of our K.S.L.I carried bikes I Have not seen the account you mentioned.
     
  9. Frank,

    From your and Lt Cdr MILLER's account it seems that LCI(L) 380 was indeed Serial 311 (2 KSLI Battalion HQ craft), which was planned to land the following personnel and equipment at H+150 on QUEEN WHITE :

    174 men with 47 bicycles airborne from 2 KSLI
    3 men from 'A' Bombardment Tp
    3 men from HQ 185 Inf Bde (incl 1 Padre)
    1 man & 1 handcart WT from 'L' Sec Div Sigs (1 x 22 set)
    3 men from 3 Recce Regt (contact det)
    4 men from 7 Fd Regt SP (BC 17 Fd Bty)
    9 men from 223 Fd Amb
    5 men from 17 Fd Coy RE

    As already mentioned elsewhere in this thread, Serial 311 was part of Group 11 which comprised a total of nine LCI(L), which were to deploy from the Lowering Position as follows:

    QUEEN RED.....QUEEN WHITE
    .........317....................311
    .........318....................312
    .........319....................313
    ...................................314
    ...................................315
    ...................................316

    This would normally mean that the landing disposition should have been as follows:

    QUEEN RED.....QUEEN WHITE
    319 318 317.....311 312 313 314 315 316

    However, both you and Lt Cdr MILLER state that your respective and most probably common craft was the one furthest on the left (East), which means there must have been an inversion of positions at some point between the craft bound for QUEEN RED and some of those bound for QUEEN WHITE. This might have happened during the run in, because Lt Cdr MILLER states that "when it became obvious that the left-hand beaches were so cluttered up with burning craft that beaching there was impossible, they foresaw my swerve to starboard and when father turned, they all turned."

    Another explanation, which I favour, would be that LCI(L) 380 was (as planned) the leftmost craft of the right sub-group (bound for QUEEN WHITE) only, not of all LCI(L) in Group 11. The fact that this right sub-group had to swerve to starboard means that it got further away from the left sub-group (bound for QUEEN RED), and the clutter of craft in-between made it impossible to keep this left sub-group in view.

    Do you have any document, report or else which could help us determine more precisely where LCI(L) 380 landed?

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  10. Bunts

    Bunts WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Michel, Sorry,I have no documentation but as a small point, I do recall that Lt. Com.Miller (from you information I am sure that it was him) was a little concerned about our position because he said a couple of times "we are all out of sequence and I got the impression impression that the flotilla was in the wrong place. I know exactly where we landed because it was more or less in front of an unfriendly looking "Strongpoint" which we expected to blow us out of the water until through my binoculars I could see about half a dozen previous occupants laid side by side at the foot of the building with a message chalked above them so that we did not have to worry about them, I did not go back to the beaches for 65 years but the first place i went was to that spot.There were only foundations there but I still go to stand on them even now. Kindest regards Frank (Bunts) Hope that this is not too chattty
     
    dbf likes this.
  11. Arty

    Arty Member

    Chaps,

    Thought I might ‘wade in’ on this great thread…

    Regards the arrival time of Group 11, as Michel’s pointed out the Group was due at H +150 (ie. 0955hrs). Lt Commander Miller’s info suggests the Group landed more or less at the same time. However the respective War Diaries of the Battalions being landed differ by some 20 minutes (no big surprise as the quality of information in War Diaries varies considerably!)

    Norfolks…“This Bn being part of the follow up Bde, landed at H + 150, but was landed 5 mins early at 0950.…”

    Warwicks…“The marching personnel and the three LCIs were due to touch down at 0955 hours. The three LCIs approached the beach at LION-SUR-MER, on time, together. The beach was under mortar and shell fire and there were still some snipers left in the houses along the promenade. 'C' Coy's LCI hit a mine on the beach, and was also hit by a shell, whilst 'D' Coy's LCI had both its ramparts shot away….”

    KSLI…“1010 The LCI's carrying the Bn touched down very much as planned at LA BRECHE D'HERMANVILLE. It was NOT an easy landing, 4 to 5 ft of water and a sea running. The beach was still under Shell Fire. However with the aid of ropes carried ashore by the Navy the heavily ladened men struggled ashore with few casualties and little loss of equipment. One LCI shortly after we had disembarked was hit by Shell Fire and sunk….”

    The statement in the KSLI’s War Diary regards an LCI being hit is noteworthy, as it might just be LCI(L) 380 (LTIN 311). Although a large number of LCI(L)’s were indeed damaged in the Sword area on 06June, I’m 99% sure that none were actually sunk (some ended stuck on the beach for a short period, whilst others didn’t manage to get way until repairs were affected and the tide returned. Photographic evidence shows that around 1630hrs there were five LCI(L)‘s high and dry).

    Meanwhile it would seem likely that by the time the KSLI left the beach area most of the craft of Group 11, with the probable exception of LCI(L) 380, were beginning to un-beach. Lt Commander Miller stated: “I could see the tank landing craft coming up astern and knew it was time to be off, so I hoisted the signal to withdraw…”. The Tank landing Craft Miller was referring to were almost certainly Group 12, due at H+185 (ie. 1030hrs) and consisting of eleven LCT4‘s. Thus we have a tentative time for Group 11’s departure of around 1030hrs.

    Regards the exact landing point of LCI(L) 380 we might actually have aerial photographs of it departing, with assistance, around 1050hrs. At that time, compliments of the USAAF, there was an aerial photo sortie. Even from 5000’ LCT4’s, LCT5’s, LCI(L)’s & LCI(L)’s can all clearly be distinguished. At that time there were NO LCI(L)’s on Queen Red, White or Green beaches. However about 200 yards out to sea from the far left hand (ie. eastern end) of Queen White an LCI(L) can be seen being towed out by an LCT5. LCT(A) 2012 commanded by Temp Lt MS Van Heems was used to tow damaged craft off the beach . It reportedly “salved two LCI(L) and one LCT in this manner…almost continuously under fire….”.

    Around 1105hrs there was yet another USAAF photo sortie in which the six US LCI(L)’s of Group 13 can be identified - there are no other LCI(L)’s on Queen Red, White or Green. The apparently damaged LCI(L), possibly 380, can still be seen under tow about 1000 yards off the beach, heading back to Blighty, very slowly…

    Back to you Frank - can you recall getting towed off the beach?

    Michel, PM coming your way shortly…

    Arty
     
  12. Bunts

    Bunts WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Arty, I I set down a long reply and now it has been wiped, really annoying iI will come back to it i want to make some comments unfortunately have to go and if i cannot answer tomorrow night it will be about 3/4 wks sorry. KINDEST REGARDS BUNTS (Frank)
     
  13. Bunts

    Bunts WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Michel and Arty

    There are so many points I'd like to make that it's difficult to know where to start!

    I have now read Lt Com Millar's account of his experiences on D-Day and I'm certain that he was not the Senior Officer on LCI(L) 380. I earlier accepted your references to naval orders quoting him as being allocated to 380 as confirmation of his name even though I was not convinced that he was the man

    The following are my reasons

    1) Our beach was completely clear when we arrived - there were no sunken tanks or need to crunch through damaged craft
    2) There were no villas or promenades in front of us purely sand dunes to which the KSLI were urged to head for shelter to avoid machine gun fire etc.
    3) LCI(L) 380 had received a direct hit and we were stranded until repairs and the tide allowed us to pull off the beach at around noon
    4) Lt Com Millar refers to being off the bridge - our Senior Officer did not leave the bridge
    5) The craft mentioned in the photograph which is thought to have carried Lt Com Millar could not have been 380 (we did not "round up" any craft having been fast on the beach at that time)
    6) We witnessed Lord Lovatt arriving with his Commandos approximately 200-300 yards on our port side towards the casino at Ouistreham (this may help you to establish our position and timings)
    7) We were not towed off the beach we pulled off under our own power, in fact we were asked by one of our other LCI's (I believe 378) to tow them off the beach, we tried to do this but we were not successful and had to refer them to the Beachmaster

    Additionally having now seen a photograph of Lt Com Millar I believe that our Senior Officer was a Commander and much older than him

    After the direct hit we had a few seriously wounded KSLI men on board who needed medical attention, the Senior Officer asked me to contact any large ship that I thought would have surgeons and medical facilities. Quite a few either could not or would not take our wounded until we came across a large Polish destroyer who agreed to take them. We managed to get one man across but the rough water caused any further attempts to be abandoned and we proceeded on to Newhaven. I'm not sure of the timing but it was getting late and as soon as we arrived we were winched out of the water onto a cradle at which time an army of dockyard workers came aboard and worked through the night to make the craft seaworthy again.

    After the crew had cleaned up the craft (no mean feat when you consider that we had originally left Newhaven at teatime on Sunday 4th June and returned late on Tuesday 6th June!) we re-loaded with troops and were back on the beach on Thursday 8th June

    As I'm sure you can imagine what should have happened and what did actually happen are often two very different things!!

    If there are any other questions I will be only too pleased to answer them

    Kindest Regards

    Bunts (Frank)
     
  14. Arty

    Arty Member

    Bunts,

    Thanks for your detailed recollections. Based on your description of the beach it looks as though your LCI(L) touched down on the middle or left ie. eastern end of Queen Red beach. The western end of Queen Red was fairly choked with damaged equipment, whilst the entire length of Queen White beach was a promenade with houses on it. Landing furthest craft to the east would have exposed the LCI(L)’s port side to gunfire coming from the direction of the Gerry beach defences at Riva Bella.

    You mentioned in an earlier post that you landed more or less in front of an unfriendly looking strongpoint. There were two strongpoints directly facing Queen Red beach - the strongpoint codenamed “COD” at the western end & the strongpoint codenamed “SKATE” adjacent the eastern end. Today, COD has all but disappeared, the bunkers demolished and/or buried. However the gun bunker of the strongpoint codenamed “SKATE” still exists today - a house has been built on top of it. 6 years ago when you visited the spot you landed at back in '44 did you perchance take a photograph?

    Again you’ve mentioned that the tide allowed you to pull off the beach at around noon. On the day the tide peaked around 1050hrs and likely did not ebb until after 1200hrs. As I mentioned previously the aerial photo sortie around 1050hrs shows there were no LCI(L)’s on the beach at that time. That is all nine LCI(L)‘s of 263 Flotilla, which had landed the three battalions of 185 Infantry Brigade had left the beach by 1050hrs - one having been apparently towed from the eastern end of Queen White by an LCT. I cannot help thinking that being damaged and temporarily stuck on the beach (which was under fire) would have indeed seemed like hours - however your LCI(L) evidently departed, under it’s own power, closer to 1100hrs rather than noon.

    You also mentioned witnessing Lord Lovat arriving with his Commandos approximately 200-300 yards on your port side, adding it may help to establish your landing position and timings. Unfortunately that’s thrown a spanner in the works! Brigadier the Lord Lovat landed on Queen Red at 0840hrs. The last Commandos of Lovat’s 1st Special Service Brigade were landing soon after 0910hrs. The events were well documented, photographed and filmed. This occurred 45 minutes before the infantry battalions of the 185th Brigade (including the KSLI) began landing.

    Now I’ll ‘muddy the waters’ (mainly to ‘stimulate’ other members of the forum ;)). Four LCI(L)’s did indeed land between 0810hrs and 0840hrs on Queen White and Queen Red. One was carrying Engineers, two the Suffolks (et al) whilst the fourth LCI(L) had onboard the KSLI’s Unit Landing Officer party. It also carried elements of the King’s Regiment - specifically C Company of the 5th Battalion, the King’s Regiment. I have not established the pennant number of this last mentioned LCI(L) (however it supposedly belonged to 261st LCI(L) Flotilla) - it‘s LTIN was 230 and it probably landed on the far left of Queen Red around 0825hrs.

    Working out just what was supposed to have happened and what did actually happen is very much what this forum’s about. It’s great that your part of it Bunts.

    The photograph I've attached is a low resolution composite aerial photo - time about 1050hrs 06Jun44 - I've annotated it with various craft types etc

    Regards
    Arty
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Just to add to the uncertainty, here are the timings as reported by PMLO 3 Brit Inf Div:

    TIMINGS.....................LOG
    1015 hrs....H + 170 mins....KSLI ashore.
    1020 hrs....H + 175 mins....NORFOLKs moving ashore.
    1030 hrs....H + 185 mins....WARWICKs ashore.


    I would assume that "ashore" means "all personnel disembarked" rather than "craft touch down", since the time of touchdown is mentioned for other craft in the same table. Crossing this with the times of touchdown reported in the respective War Diaries, this would mean that 2 KSLI performed a record disembarkation in just 5 minutes, while 1 NORFOLK had not yet completed their disembarkation after 30 minutes and 2 WARWICK took 35 minutes.

    I guess the KSLI guy taking notes for the War Diary missed the mandatory "let's synchronise our watches" moment...

    At least these timings by PMLO do match Arty's estimated time of unbeaching :)

    Unfortunately no timing is provided by PMLO for Group 12's landing.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  16. Arty

    Arty Member

    Michel,

    Referring back to Commander Miller’s account (again) he suggests that the LCI(L)‘s of the Flotilla arrived at much the same time….“before my signal was halfway up the mast, they were threading their way between the obstacles into their three columns and, as we neared the beach, they came up into line abreast without more ado.”

    If the LCI(L)’s carrying the KSLI landed 15 minutes after those carrying the Warwicks then there would have been a gap in the formation in the order of 4.5km (a rough estimate based on a speed of 10 knots)…Perhaps the intent of the KSLI War Diary’s author was to record what time the Battalion actually got ashore….

    And we do have times for Group 12’s arrival (which was due at H+185 ie. 1030hrs). Courtesy of Major Clifford, OC A Sqn, 22nd Dragoons: “1028hrs. Touch down opposite right exit…” Whilst from the War Diary of the Staffordshire Yeomanry: ”Touched down at 1030 hrs on White beach…”

    Regards
    Arty
     
  17. Lt Cdr MILLER might not have been in a craft of Group 11 after all, but in one of Group 14, i.e. LCI(L) 111 (Group 14), as mentioned in the Combined Ops page.

    From "You're in The Navy Now: A Teenage Recruit Sees Front Line Action in WWII" by Alan Higgins, pages 79-81, seen on gogglebooks (unfortunately these pages are not online anymore):

    [LCI(L) 111]
    Page 79
    "You have been given the great honour of landing on the extreme east flank of Sword Beach, which is expected to be the most hotly contested. I know you will conduct yourselves commensurate to the occasion."
    Page 80
    For this invasion we were flotilla leader and carried a Lieutenant Commander, Royal Naval Reserve, in addition to our two-ringed skipper, Harry Collinge
    [Tempy Lt Harry COLLINGE, RNVR 30.7.42], and a sub lieutenant, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, who was 'Number One'. After loading 170 troops, we anchored in Shoreham Bay while the powers that be decided whether the invasion was 'on' or 'off'.
    (...)
    From Portsmouth we sailed to Newhaven to prepare for D-Day.
    (...)
    Page 81 D-Day and after
    As we reached the beach and began unloading, the first casualties were sustained (orders were for all wounded to be landed on the beach). There was one soldier being (helped by two others, his left foot and boot as one in a mangle of flesh and leather. I shall never forget the almost apologetic look he gave me as he passed by.
    An LCT shot alongside us and onto the beach with its cargo of tanks ablaze and ammunition exploding. Able Seaman Harry Gee, a Yorkshireman, was on our forecastle blazing away with his Oerlikon 20mm cannon - a brave effort, bearing in mind that the air was alive with bullets and shrapnel etc. On the upper deck I was observing the landing with great interest, when all hell broke loose.
    As I ducked back into the wireless office for cover, we sustained a direct hit. The usual smell of cordite and the cries of wounded men came from No. 3 troop space, where a shell had entered the packed space and exploded, leaving wounded and dying men as the shrapnel made its exit from the port to the starboard side.
    Our skipper shouted down the voice pipe for me to see if No. 3 troop space was cleared. This I did with great alacrity, as I knew from past experience that as soon as we had disembarked all our troops, we could kedge (anchor) off the beach and reach the relative quiet among the offshore fleet. However, as I was halfway down the ladder of No. 2 troop space, a soldier who was sitting on the

    (...) [part of account not online]
    Page 84
    Chapter 9
    Some workmen from the Southern Railway pumped us out and welded dozens of patches of shell damage in a very short time.
    That night we were loaded again, ad thus began what was to be a daily shuttle to the beachhead, the only respite being riding out of the famous five-day storm, which caused severe damage to all the unloading facilities.


    A/B Harrold GEE C/JX. 366994 was awarded the DSM for saving wounded troops that day. See here:
    http://www.dnw.co.uk/auction-archive/catalogue-archive/lot.php?auction_id=133&lot_id=65735

    However, that page states that:
    "In the case of L.C.I. (L.) 111, however, that policy was overidden, for she was ordered to land on “Sword” beach to collect casualties, and was hit by a shell below her waterline as she withdrew."
    which seems to be at odds Alan Higgins's account, who states the LCI was hit as she first landed...
    But it fits with Cdr MILLER statement that
    "After taking the casualties to a destroyer, I returned to the beach to watch the remainder of my squadron disembark their loads."

    Cdr MILLER also states that
    "Clear of the beach, I took stock of the damage and found, to my relief, that only three craft needed help and their friends already had them in tow. I collected their wounded from them and despatched the lot back to Newhaven."
    i.e. this group of LCI(L) did not participate in the Ferry Service.

    LCI(L) 169 however, carrying troops from 1 NORFOLK, thus part of Group 11, did not go back to the UK but went on unloading troopships right after unbeaching (interview of Henry Charles SIVELLE, coxswain of LCI(L) 169 by the IWM:)
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80017307
    (According to this interview, none of the troops or crew was wounded while on board of LCI(L) 169, which herself was undamaged, during the first landing on D Day.)

    This might mean that the LCI(L) in Group 11 were meant for the Ferry Service, while those in Group 14 were to return to the UK. However again, the ONEAST orders seem to imply that all LCI(L) (except one from the Reserve Group) were to return to the UK, so the allocation of some (at least LCI(L) 169) to Ferry Service must have been an ad hoc order by DSOAG.

    Michel
     
  18. Arty

    Arty Member

    Michel,

    Great stuff from you as usual. However notwithstanding this ‘twist’ that you’ve unearthed, this doesn’t help locate LCI(L) 380, or the ‘missing‘ three LCI(L)’s of 263 LCI(L) Flotilla (ie. there were twelve LCI(L)’s in 263 LCI(L) Flotilla, only nine of them were used to land the Battalions of 185th Inf Bde. Where’s the other three? Nb. the Advanced Brigade HQ of 185th Bde was reportedly ferried ashore on a LCI(S) at 1000hrs).

    I still tend to believe that the LCI(L)‘s carrying Battalion’s of the 185th Bde touched down more or less together. The time given in the KSLI’s War Diary strikes me as a ‘red herring’.

    Of note we know the pennant numbers of two of the LCI(L)’s carrying the Norfolks, which are 126 & 169. Lt EGG Williams, Norfolks, in his memoirs reported that LCI(L) 126 was hit by a mortar bomb which damaged it’s port ramp. Commander of LCI(L)126, LT EW Moore, wrote (after the war): “Jerry hit us with three mortar shells and several 88s apart from machine gunning us, this knocked out our radio shack, cut our telegraphs and wrecked the steering gear…”

    Have you established the pennant number of the third LCI(L) that carried the Norfolks?

    Regards
    Arty


    ps....The preview of "You're in The Navy Now” has reappeared on Googlebooks
     
  19. Excellent, Arty!

    I didn't have LCI(L) 126, so that's it for NORFOLK, since LCI(L) 300 was the third craft, which must have been Serial 317, the Bn HQ craft, because she carried the Colonel, and also because she was the leader of the three craft carrying the NORFOLK, i.e. the port column led by Serial 317:

    "The War of the Landing Craft" by Paul Lund and Harry Ludlam, pages 156-157
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [Temporary] Lieutenant Sidney Henry, RNVR, [1.3.43] commanding LCI 300 was leader of a sub-section of the 263rd LCI Flotilla carrying troops of the Norfolk Regiment from Newhaven to SWORD beaches.
    'The Colonel whom I carried wanted his three LCI to land opposite a gap in the sand dunes defined from the excellent low-level aerial photos which had been taken. We landed at H Hour at precisely the spot he wanted, but unfortunately the gap led to a building which looked as though it had been a hotel but was now full of Germans firing down on us from the windows with what appeared to be mortar rifles. On the run-in to the beach I ran on to a submerged beach obstacle which holed the engineroom and detonated a mine under No.2 troop-space - then holes started appearing in the decks where the mortars were hitting. The explosions stunned everyone momentarily and then we all shook ourselves and swung into action. The Oerlikon gunners started blasting the hotel, the foc's'le men lowered the ramps and I dashed off the bridge to pull my first lieutenant out of the water where he had been blown by one of the blasts. Then followed the grim task of sorting out the dead and wounded - removing all effects from the dead and giving the wounded temporary first aid.
    'By this time our gunners had silenced the enemy fire and the troops had got up the beach unscathed and disappeared over the sand dunes. I looked round and found we were the only one of the flotilla left on the beach and I pulled off and headed for a cruiser which took my wounded. The motor-mechanic kept telling me that the level of water was rising in the engineroom but there was nothing I could do, and after casting off from the cruiser I heard an ominous hissing which indicated that the water had reached the air-intakes. We were then drifting about 10 miles out - and rather alarmingly towards the Seine and German-held Le Havre. We buried the dead at sea. The only weights available were sections of the galley stove which we dismantled and the young matelots, who had been considerably shaken by the day's events, thought it all very callous, not knowing that the landing craft commanders had been expressly forbidden to bring back any bodies back to the UK so as to avoid choking the embarkation ports.
    'By now the stern was under water and if we remained afloat we looked like finishing up in the Seine and "in the bag". Fortunately I managed to flash up an LCI in the distance and she steamed up and took my crew off; then, with four of us still aboard, all on the bridge in case she took a sudden dive, the LCI towed us back to Newhaven. Imagine my feelings when, rather pleased with myself at having got the craft back despite everything, I was confronted by an irate harbour-master shouting "Don't bring that bloody wreck into my harbour!" Muttering imprecations against all "base-wallahs" we beached the craft on the shingle outside the harbour.
    'The tide went out, leaving us high and dry, and we did enough repairs to seal off the after compartment so that she floated high enough to be allowed into the harbour on the next tide. A messenger arrived from the squadron office to tell me to report there. It was near dark as I walked along the quay, tired after two and a half days without sleep, to be waved frantically aboard an LCI lying alongside with engines already running. Her CO had been killed and I walked straight up on the bridge and gave the order to cast-off - it was back to Normandy.'
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (I'm trying another way to highlight quotes from books, because I find italics tiresome...)

    The mention of "a building which looked as though it had been a hotel" is interesting. I'm not sure whether it means Villa Beauséjour by Exit 13, which would match MILLER's account of a substantial shift West, or maybe one of the larger villas either side of COD, or even the Maison de la Mer slightly further inland between Exits 22 and 23.


    Michel
     
  20. Some more muddling info on Group 11:

    "The D Day Landings" by Philip Warner p65-67:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From Mr J. M. Bossom [Temporary Acting Sub-Lieutenant John Michael BOSSOM, RNVR, 14.1.44]

    I was attached as an additional officer to the 263 LCL(L) Flotilla which was part of Force J on D Day, 6th June 1944. The flotilla, with others, was based in Newhaven and prior to D Day one of my jobs was to accept and deliver the top secret documents as they were issued from Allied Headquarters, near Portsmouth. They were brought from there by officers often at the dead of night and I had to distribute them to the commanding officers of the landing crafts lying in the harbour and obtain signatures for them. I was provided with an escort of Royal Marines and we were all fully armed. I leave you to judge the sort of reaction one got when one was shaking a man at two o'clock in the morning and asking him to sign documents.
    On D Day we landed on Sword Beach at Bernières-sur-Mer. I was attached for this operation to LCL(L) 165, commanded I believe by Lieutenant Hall. We embarked at Newhaven the KSLI — 140 men and 140 bicycles, if my memory is correct. The planners believed that the army thus mobile would reach Caen on D Day and capture the town.
    The landing craft was equipped with a kedge anchor, which was paid out over the stern as the approach was made to the beach. The object was that the kedge anchor was dropped about 200 yards from the point of impact and when unloading was completed the winch drew in the cable which enabled the landing craft to go into deeper water. We went in at a fair speed in order to give the troops as dry a landing as possible.
    On reaching the beach, which we did at H plus 30 (we were sent in earlier because the operation was going so well), we were met by a bombardment of mortar shells coming from the fortified villas edging the beach. The Germans realised that a landing craft was almost powerless if the kedge anchor cable could be severed, and to this end they were using mortar shells with green phosphorous smoke. Our cable was one of those that they successfully cut.
    While we were on the beach, the coxswain of our vessel sighted the point from which some of the mortar fire was coming and directed by voice adjacent landing craft oerlikon guns to concentrate their fire at the point from which the mortar fire was coming. This proved fairly effective.
    I can remember clearly, at the starboard side of the craft, whilst we were on the beach, there was a knot of Commandos, who were obviously having a discussion about tactics. Jerry dropped a mortar bomb in the middle of this group and it disintegrated. One of the party involved staggered towards our vessel and asked if we could take him aboard. He was severely wounded in the face. We had had instructions not to pick anybody up but his condition was such that compassion overcame orders. He was brought aboard, taken into the CO's cabin, given morphine and a large dressing was put over his shattered face. We then withdrew from the beach and collected on the way, round one of the propeller shafts, the severed cable of the anchor. This meant that effectively we had only one screw working.
    All able-bodied ships were ordered back to the UK by Command Ship and we were ordered to rendezvous with another ship in the flotilla that had been badly damaged going on to the beach — we found out later this was due to Teller mines, it had staved in two of the troop-carrying quarters leaving a number of dead inside. We managed to effect a tow on this vessel and ourselves proceed back to the UK. Progress was necessarily very slow, we were limping along on one engine anyway and the tow was a serious drag. Our passage from the south of the Isle of Wight to Newhaven was at times more in reverse than forward due to the very strong tide running against us. Nevertheless, we eventually arrived off Newhaven where we beached the towed vessel before proceeding into harbour ourselves.
    We had made arrangements for an ambulance to collect the wounded Commando and the stretcher bearers were waiting to come aboard. However, he refused such aid, stood up, saluted the captain and said, 'Thank you for all you have done, sir,' and marched on to the quay. Certainly one of the bravest men I have ever met.
    I turned in at the shore base where the officers were quartered and slept for seventeen hours, then sailed again on another landing craft back to the beaches. My memory of this trip is not as vivid, except that when we arrived back at Newhaven we were in time to collect the full force of the storm that raged over the beaches. This kept us outside the harbour for a number of days.
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    Note: I couldn't find which "Lt Hall" this could be. The Admiralty Report on NEPTUNE gives Tempy. Lt. J[ohn] C[harles] BUCKLAND, R.N.V.R. (seniority 12.9.42) as the Commanding Officer for LCI(L) 165.

    There are many other puzzling parts in this narrative. We may discard the mentions of "Force J" and "Bernières-sur-Mer" as obvious postwar mix-ups, but they cast a strong shadow of doubt on the remaining oddities.

    One of them is "On reaching the beach, which we did at H plus 30 (we were sent in earlier because the operation was going so well)", which, if correct, would mean that LCI(L) 165 was possibly one of the three LCI(L) (Serials 228-230) of Group 8, planned to beach at H+60. But according to the Landing Tables of 19 Mar 44 only one of them, Serial 230, was to carry any KSLI troops, and only four of them, with no bicycles at all on board any of the three craft.

    Therefore, either more KSLI troops (with bikes) were carried by Serials 228-230 than in the 19 Mar Landing Tables, or Sub-Lt Bossom identified and remembered only a very small portion of the troops, or the touchdown time he reports in altogether wrong, and he was part of Group 11 and did carry the KSLI (which means at least one of the Hull number/Serial matches for Fabius was not retained on D Day).

    This latter option is perhaps the more probable, since the part on towing off another LCI(L) could mean LCI(L) 165 was just the one which towed LCI(L) 300 back to Newhaven (see previous post).

    What we need is to see the Enclosures to the Admiralty Report on NEPTUNE...

    Michel
     

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