D Day Landing Craft Markings

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

  1. Answering my own question (even if I garbled the end of my question, which should have read 'how you can say...' :blush:), I see that you got this photo from the RUR Museum D Day page here Battle Honour 'NORMANDY LANDING'. | Royal Irish - Virtual Military Gallery

    This is not the first time you take captions or quotations from books at face value. When will you ever learn :rolleyes::)?

    I really should not have to spell out the obvious, but here it is anyway: it is the rule, rather than the exception, that WW2 photo captions in books or magazines, let alone websites, are at best misinformed, if not altogether wrong. It is also a very human tendency to read things into photos which are not there, especially if relatives are concerned. There is only a limited number of D Day photos available, much less than the number of units taking part in it, so it is entirely understandable that some units should claim that they appear in a photo although there is no basis for such a claim at all.

    This is why ww2talk is so precious, because here we endeavour to stick to the historical truth based on hard facts and sometimes heated discussion :D

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  2. I have to confess it was pot luck!

    I take your point about relying on these references. Are we agreed, though, that B5039 is D Company of 2RUR? IWM says "The infantry on the right have been identified as 2nd Royal Ulster Rifles from 9th Brigade." Are we able to rely on IWM for these?

    The picture below is on an official board at La Breche stating that it is RUR, but I think I can discount that, as it says they were in the 185th Infantry Brigade!


    I have also seen reference to the below being 2RUR but am now starting to doubt myself!!!!

  3. I really don't know... The IWM do not seem to be that sure either, and short of knowing the source for this identification and being able to verify it, we have to exercise caution in this case too. Maybe a high resolution view of the shoulder bands would show 2 RUR, maybe not. Or perhaps a formal identification of one of the men on the picture has been achieved, but I do not know anything about that. And why D Coy rather than any other company I wouldn't know either.

    Other sources (such as the very respectable ATB D Day Then and Now) also state that these men "have been identified elsewhere as belonging to the 2nd Royal Ulster Rifles", without any further precision either.

    This is IWM B5041, and the only (nearly) sure thing is that the Carrier 'VAMPIRE' belongs to a Mortar platoon of 2 KSLI (AoS 69, plus the 3 Div formation sign presumably on the nearside rear mudguard).
    The man with the Red Cross armband might belong to 9 Fd Amb...

    This is IWM B5084 and belongs to a series of photographs shot by Jimmy Mapham between his landing spot and the road junction at La Brèche, and so most probably does not show 2 RUR.

  4. Thanks. I think I should concede defeat!
  5. '"Fret not thyself, noble knight," answered Rebecca',

    there's still hope! Apparently someone has indeed identified one of the blokes on B5039:
    2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in WW2: 6th June - The Normandy landing

    Quite interesting blog by the way, mostly for the numerous photos it contains. The text is more debatable, pinched as it looks to be from various books but without giving any source or credit.

    The photo caption obviously comes from David Orr's book The Rifles Are There, itself probably quoting the RUR Museum, although I can find the photo but not the caption on the Royal Irish website.

    Before accepting such an identification we should still see another photo of this "Rifleman McNaul from County Antrim", or compare some of the other faces in B5039 with those on confirmed 2 RUR group or individual photos.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  6. Paddy WIllis

    Paddy WIllis Member

    Hello Michel

    I was directed to this forum today through the son of one of the 2RUR soldiers landed at Sword and have just signed-up, being extremely pleased to have done so! (Forgive me as this typing may not be in the correct sequence for display here).

    My father was Lt Harry Willis, who was indeed First Lieutenant of LCI(L) 375, landing 2RUR. I am pleased to have found so much wonderful detail that you and others have researched and offered within these pages. If only Dad was still around to share in the experience. I can confirm that his own recollections of the beach correlate to Paddy White's, although Paddy omits to mention that after spending the night on the beach they are eventually towed off back to be moored off Gilkicker Point in the Solent for several days before eventually being moved to the oldest dry dock (next to HMS Victory). Shortly after he is posted to Scotland for his skipper's training, ahead of joining LCTs going to the Far East (he was a spare skipper who at Gibraltar took command of a craft whose No1 wrote a book entitled "Saved by the Bomb").

    I very much look forward to having more time to trawl through the threads and filling in more of the gaps I have in piecing together the details of his D-Day experience.


  7. Welcome Paddy!

    I am very interested in anything you have about 2RUR as I am writing a book about my grandfather and great-uncle who were in 2RUR and died within a month of each other in Normandy.

    Your father is listed as the source of a long list of LCIs that were supposedly carrying 2RUR, but there were only 3. Any information you have on the other craft would be gold dust!
  8. Thanks. My turn to educate you!

    The book "The Rifles are there" was one of my first sources (about 8 years ago). The text does indeed come from that book, however, this is the book I referred to as having several inaccuracies, including saying that 2RUR were on LCI(L)-973, which we know to be incorrect. The book is also written as if all of 2RUR were on one boat and makes no mention of LCI(L)-375 nor what happened to it.

    The reference for the quote on the photo is the RUR museum. I was in touch with the museum at the start of my research and they sent me a picture of LCI(L)-375 that hangs on the wall in the museum saying it was carrying 2RUR. The curator told me that that meant my grandfather was onboard, which he may or may not have been.

    The book is also the source of my original belief that the picture of the men on Queen Red was 2RUR. The source is again the museum. It also has a picture of men of the airborne landings in a jeep, saying it is 1RUR. The Pegasus archive says that the photo has been regularly incorrectly cited at 1RUR.

    Most of the text on the blog you refer to comes from the book, which is mainly quotes from the war diary.

    I see we also now have contact from Lt Harry Willis's son, which may help us further.
  9. Hello Paddy and welcome!

    Your joining the forum now is absolutely great and with perfect timing! It even looks like your have been reading my thoughts, because only a few hours ago I was looking for the first time at a page written by your father and at a photograph of LCI(L) 375 that I had never seen before, all on the RUR blog, and was precisely thinking that it would be nice to be able to contact you and talk about all this!

    Here are the page and the photo:
    1st Lt Willis Memoirs of 2 RUR Landing LCI (L) 375.JPG
    1st Lt Willis Photo of 2 RUR Landing Craft LCI (L) 375.JPG

    The above photo showing LCI(L) 375 was possibly shot from the other LCI(L) which beached opposite Exit 11 just left of La Brèche villa, as per this other photo also credited to your father Lieut. Willis. See also this post.
    1st Lt Willis Photo from 2 RUR Landing Craft LCI (L) 375.JPG

    LCI(L) 375 is definitely left (east) of Exit 11, probably more or less opposite Exit 12 or Villa Les Algues (see various posts in another thread):
    1st Lt Willis Photo of 2 RUR Landing Craft LCI (L) 375 - Notes.JPG
    Do you know anything about these photos, about who took them and how they came into your father's possession? Are there any additional ones?

  10. Paddy WIllis

    Paddy WIllis Member


    Sadly I have very little on the RUR. Dad had an unsuccessful attempt at contacting the Regimental descendants ahead of one of the D-Day reunions, and makes only passing reference in his memoir to them being in his charge for the landings.

    The person who directed me here is Paul Scanlon who is also researching his own father's experience in 2RUR. I will suggest that he joins this forum as there is clearly a goldmine for him to explore...


  11. Paddy WIllis

    Paddy WIllis Member

    Thanks Michel

    The photos and the page from Dad's memoir were posted to the RUR blog by Paul Scanlon who is responsible for my finding my way here. I need to dig out Dad's files, but he received photocopies of three photos of LCI(L)375 from a source at the Landing Craft Association. Clearly someone else has the originals. As you can see, the quality is not great and the paper copies are creased. It may be that within the correspondence I can establish whether the source is named. When I have some more time (writing this on commuter train...) I will have a look and let you know what I find.

    I was in Lion sur Mer a few weeks ago and was trying (unsuccessfully) to establish where exactly he put ashore, so I am delighted to find that it looks like you can accurately identify the spot for a return visit.

    May i ask how you came to be such an authority on this section of the landings? Do you have your own connections? There may be a ton of info I've yet to read from previous years!

    Incidentally, I don't know if he is on the forum but I follow BattlefieldArchaeologist on Instragram, John Henry Phillips, who has researched the sinking of an LCI(L) HQ that was one of the first ashore with a group of commandos. He is making a documentary with one of the surviving crew members "No Roses on a Sailor's Grave". His website is johnhenryphillips.com and at the recent anniversary there was an unvelining in Lion-sur-Mer of a memorial to Patrick's shipmates.

    All the best for now,
  12. Thanks to the photo showing LCI(L) 375 grounded on QUEEN WHITE Beach, using an aerial view shot in the afternoon of D Day, we can identify her and therefore her exact location, as well as the angles of shot of the various photos:
    LCI(L) 375 - Aerial view.jpg
    LCI(L) 375 - Aerial view - Notes.jpg

    LCI(L) 375's bow was directly opposite the limit between villas "Cendrillon" (which does not exist any more) and "Rose des Vents" (which survived to this day):
    Cendrillon 6.jpg Cendrillon 3.jpg

    Strangely enough, good present-day photos of this area are rather scarce. Check this post for a small aerial view which might help you locate "Rose des Vents" correctly.

    The aerial photo also tells us that there was not just one, but two LCI(L) (both of the second series) stranded opposite Exit 11.

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  13. Arty

    Arty Member


    Great thread still sailing along merrily. Thought I’d just insert a couple of more pics that help to illustrate the story.

    The oblique aerial photo taken about 1630hrs just keeps on giving and giving…on the ‘Slice’ I’ve marked the entire width of Queen White beach – on it we can see LCI(L) 375 sitting close to Exit #12 (as MS has so rightly pointed out), with the two other LCI(L)’s aground directly in front of Exit #11.

    Aerial photo 51988 AC-  taken about 1630hrs 06Jun44.jpg

    'Slice' of aerial photo 51988 AC - taken about 1630hrs 06Jun44.jpg

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  14. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Photo taken in August 2012 of this area.



    a1 Aug 12.jpg
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  15. Paddy WIllis

    Paddy WIllis Member

    Wonderful, thank you!
  16. How true!

    From a record kept by Captain Group S Three in HMS GOATHLAND:
    "1555 Beaches being cleared slowly. Stores L.C.T. being unloaded. 17 L.C.T. and 7 L.C.I.(L) dried out. About 6 damaged."

    The oblique aerial photo 51988AC mostly confirms this, with two corrections:
    1. There were not 7 LCI(L) but 5 LCI(L) plus 2 LCI(S) (LCI(S) 509 & LCI(S) 512, on ROGER GREEN)
    2. The two disabled LCT(A) (LCT(A) 2052 & LCT(A) 2191) on ROGER GREEN (far left in the photo) were apparently not included in the count.
    Craft Count - 51988AC - p013132.jpg


    (Edit) PS
    5 craft identified so far on this photo, only 21 left :D
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
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  17. Another view of the stretch of QUEEN WHITE Beach between Exits 11 & 12, as a continuation of the photo shot from one of the LCI(L) opposite Exit 11:
    Exits 11-12.jpg
    Of note in the foreground are a heap of discarded/damaged bikes, the edge of a Marston Mat (aka PSP) up Exit 11, and in front of the villa a web of wire close to the ground. I'm note sure whether this particular patch was mined, but it certainly looks suspect.
    A 40mm SP Crusader stands guard in front of La Clémence, presumably of A Tp 218/73 LAA Regt.

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  18. Paddy WIllis

    Paddy WIllis Member

    I've managed to trace the letters that accompanied the copies of the photos of LCI(L)375 on the beach. Apparently they were taken by John Nickels who was aboard LCI(L)374. These were sent to my father by Tony Chapman, who is/was an archivist for the LST & Landing Craft Association. I've written to Tony at the Leicester address I have from his letters but I don't have a date and so don't know when they were corresponding. It would appear that he has the originals. This evidence strongly suggests that it is 374 that is lying to starboard of 375 at Exit 11, apparently cheek by jowl with a sister ship.
  19. Excellent tracking Paddy!

    The LST and Landing Craft Association is no longer, and Tony Chapman died five years ago (on 6 June 2013). However, and this testifies to his dedication to the Landing Craft veterans cause, the documents he patiently collected over the years have been donated to The D Day Museum Portsmouth, now The D Day Story Portsmouth, where I suppose that they can be consulted (got to go there myself some day!):
    Special collections

    LCI(L) 374 being the cameracraft fits nicely with the apparent state of the tide as noticed by Arty here and her reported beaching time (1900hrs), as reported by Lt Pugh (see Arty's post #103 above).

    So that's now 6 craft identified out of 26 on 51988AC :salut:

  20. Arty

    Arty Member


    Though the photo of LCI(L) 375 on the beach does indeed seem to have been taken from the LCI(L) to starboard, I do not believe it was LCI(L)374 that was stranded to starboard of LCI(L)375.

    As we know LCI(L)375 touched down at 1200 hrs when the first tide was high, but starting to ebb. Hence LCI(L) 375 was stuck on the beach (notwithstanding any damage). The two LCI(L)’s to starboard of her (ie. in front of exit 11) almost certainly touched down at the same time and also became stranded as the tide ebbed. That is, they were almost certainly from the same group which landed the troops of 9 Inf Bde.

    Whereas LCI(L) 374, which, according to Lt Pugh was carrying beach group personnel, didn’t land until 1900 hrs ie. on the second tide. However the LCI(L)’s carrying the beach group troops apparently had to re-beach and the troops actually waded ashore about 2030 hrs (seen in IWM B5003 etc). LCI(L)374, according to Lt Pugh again, apparently then got off the beach to report to the SOFC for ferry duties. The second tide was not at full flood until about 2315hrs, thus it is not likely that LCI(L) 374 touched down squarely alongside LCI(L)375.

    The mid afternoon aerial photo (taken about 1430hrs), the oblique aerial photo (51988AC, taken about 1630hrs) and the photos taken from the deck of the stranded LCI(L) in front of exit 11 (about 2100hrs) all appear to be of the same LCI(L)'s that arrived at 1200hrs - therefore not LCI(L) 374.

    The photograph of LCI(L) 375 itself was perhaps taken in the late afternoon ie. it's starboard side is in full sun, the second tide is probably rising, and there's not a huge amount of activity apparent on the beach.

    I think we’re still only 5 out of 26…..

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018

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