Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Trux, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The End.
    On D plus 42 The Beach Groups of 104 Beach Sub Area were disbanded and the control of the beaches passed to other headquarters. Jig and Item passed to 4 Line of Communication Sub Area which was based around Mulberry. Item was inside the Mulberry Harbour anyway. King and Love passed to 102 Beach Sub Area which operated Juno. These beaches were held in reserve in case of emergency.

    The month of July saw a steady progression in which Beach Group units passed to Beach Sub Area control. Then plans were made for the closing down of the Beach Sub Area. On 21 July all units moved from the control of 104 Beach Sub Area.

    On 18 July the Naval Officer in Charge, Gold, signal station closed down and the main RN party moved to Arromanches. On 22 July the Naval Officer in Charge and his staff left for the UK.

    (Of course it is not really the end, only the end of 104 Beach Group. There will a short interlude when some photographs and maps may be added.)

    Next. 76 AA Brigade.
  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    76 AA BRIGADE.

    I have included map references. These will make more sense when I add a map.

    The anti aircraft defence of the army in Normandy was provided by four Anti Aircraft Brigades in addition to divisional light anti aircraft units.
    76 Anti Aircraft Brigade was assigned to 30 Corps.
    80 Anti Aircraft Brigade was assigned to 1 Corps and co ordinated the work of 76 and 80 Brigades in the early stages.
    100 Anti Aircraft Brigade was a 2nd Army formation responsible for the defence of key points in the Army area.
    106 Anti Aircraft Brigade was a 2nd Army formation deployed in support of 83 Group RAF.

    From D + 5 2nd Army assumed control of all the AA Brigades and units could then be moved from one brigade to another.

    The anti aircraft defence of 104 Beach Sub Area was the responsibility of 76 AA Brigade. This was responsible also for the AA defence of Mulberry ‘B’ Harbour and Port en Bessin. Mulberry in fact overlapped with 104 Beach Sub Area but Port en Bessin was some distance to the west.

    The Plan.
    AA units would land in two phases. Phase 1 was the first three tides when the priority was the defence of the beaches and Beach Maintenance Area. Phase 2 was everything else, which took many days to land and establish.

    In Phase 1 a balanced AA group would land and come under the command of 113 HAA Regiment until 76 AA Brigade took over at the fourth tide. The group consisted of:
    113 HAA Regiment.
    120 LAA Regiment with 320 Battery of 93 LAA Regiment under command.
    Two troops of 356 Search Light Battery.
    ‘A’ Group 112 Pioneer Smoke Company.
    920 Beach Balloon Squadron.
    152 Anti Aircraft Operations Room.

    Self propelled 40mm and 20mm guns, each towing further 40mm and 20mm guns were to be the first to land, some timed to arrive at H Hour. Further LAA guns arrived throughout the day. It was planned that HAA guns would be ashore and in position by nightfall. There were delays in landing and none of the heavy guns were in position until late on D plus 1. Fortunately the Luftwaffe were slow in reacting and there were only two minor raids on the night of D/D plus 1.

    The first priority was to get LAA guns ashore to defend the beaches and particularly the beach exits. These would inevitably be congested and would present an ideal target for enemy aircraft.

    Four LAA troops from 120 LAA Regiment were to land on each beach.
    Three troops (40mm) from 395 Battery of 120 LAA Regiment and one troop (20mm) from 320 Battery of 93 LAA Regiment.
    - Two troops land and initially deploy along the high water mark from 865865 to 887868. Later some guns will move inland. They will defend the beaches and beach exits and cover an area of 500 yards out to sea and 500 yards inland.
    - A third troop was to deploy to defend road and DUKW area at 887865 to 888862.
    - A fourth troop was to deploy to defend 85 Base Group RAF Ground Control Interception unit at 8884.

    Three troops (40mm) from 394 Battery of 120 LAA Regiment and one troop (20mm) from 320 Battery of 93 LAA Regiment.
    - Two troops land and initially deploy along the high water mark from 920870 to 930870. Later some will move inland. They will defend the beaches and beach exits and cover an area of 500 yards out to sea and 500 yards inland.
    - A third troop was to deploy to defend Ver sur Mer road junction and traffic congestion at 9185.
    - A fourth troop was to deploy to defend Crepon road junction and traffic congestion at 9083.

    Three troops, a total of 12 guns, were to land on each beach.
    These are deployed to defend the beaches. There will some reorganisation as more units land and Mulberry is developed.
    113 HAA Regiment.
    391 Battery.
    ‘A’ Troop. Position 20. 891823. 2nd tide.
    ‘B’ Troop. Position 23. 870858. 2nd tide.
    ‘A’ Troop 366 Battery Position 24. 857830. 3rd tide.
    362 Battery.
    ‘C’ Troop. Position 16. 907863. 2nd tide.
    ‘D’ Troop. Position 21. 890859. 3rd tide.
    ‘B’ Troop 366 Battery Position 25. 844860. 3rd tide.

    Searchlights were deployed to provide a canopy over the beaches and Beach Maintenance Area.
    1st Section. 865863. 868854. 875864. 884853.
    2nd Section. 851862. 852851. 862840. 884839.
    1st Section. 914852. 922863. 932862. 929847.
    2nd Section. 902859. 905843. 920841. 932839.

    ‘A’ Group 112 Pioneer Smoke Company provides smoke from landward at call to cover Jig and King and the craft lying off the beaches. The smoke screen was to be on call by night on D Day.

    One reconnaissance party with officer reconnoitred the site for Smoke Control Headquarters, which was to be near a HAA or LAA Battery headquarters. Having fixed the location the party reconnoitred smoke circuit BCD. A reconnaissance party with a serjeant reconnoitred smoke circuit BAESD.

    An inner circuit ran along the shore of Jig and King and used No28 (Esso) smoke generators. An outer circuit ran inland from the ends of the inner circuit and round the Beach Maintenance Area. This used No24 smoke generators. When the outer circuit was 100% effective the inner circuit ceased. Naval LCP(L) (smoke) laid a smoke screen offshore using smoke floats. The western end of the circuits were abandoned when the Mulberry defences were established.

    Anti Aircraft Operations Room.
    152 Anti Aircraft Operations Room established its Main Operations Room in area 867848, as near as suitable to 85 Group GCI. A Liaison Party was sent to the adjacent US Anti Aircraft Operations Room as soon as possible.

    Anti Aircraft Report Centre.
    The anti aircraft units were in an unusual situation. All other units crossing the beach and going through the exits were either 50 Division units which would move forward and out of the beach areas, or beach group units which would remain to work in the beach areas. Both had their own organisations for marshalling and guiding units to their correct places. The anti aircraft units were neither and provided their own organisation.

    The first LAA troop to land on each sector assumed responsibility for setting up Anti Aircraft Report Centres at the beach exits. These centres were clearly marked with metal signs. One Anti Aircraft Report Centre in each sector was designated the Main Anti Aircraft Report Centre. All AA units reported to the nearest Anti Aircraft Report Centre on landing. The LAA Command Post of the Battery or Troop responsible was established as near to the Anti Aircraft Report Centre as was operationally satisfactory.

    The first HAA or Searchlight party to pass through the beach exit of each sector established an Anti Aircraft Report Centre in the Anti Aircraft section of the Wheeled Vehicle Transit Area. The LAA battery commander was then responsible for the continuous manning of this report centre. Once this Anti Aircraft Report Centre was established those on each beach exit closed down and became a Contact Point which directed all Anti Aircraft units to the new Anti Aircraft Report Centre. The continuous manning of the Contact Point remained the responsibility of the LAA Battery Commander in each sector.

    From 0600 on D + 1 Anti Aircraft Report Centres were established in the Assembly Areas in each sector. The responsibility for manning this became the responsibility of the HAA Battery Commander in the sector.

    The Anti Aircraft Defence Commander informed the Anti Aircraft Report Centre of any essential information and variations in the deployment orders so that these could be passed on to units as they arrived.

    Early Warning.
    Until 85 Group GCI was in operation early warning was provided by the Headquarters Ship Largs on the AA Broadcast Net. HAA troops and LAA command posts listen for warnings on their R109 sets.
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  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    AA Landing and Build Up
    The first week.

    D Day
    On D Day the exact times of various parties landing is uncertain. However one landing each unit had to send the officer commanding or his representative to report to Headquarters and the units themselves reported to the AA Report Centre.

    On D Day, 1800 hours, the Brigade Commander landed with the Brigade Major and the Headquarters reconnaissance group. They landed from two LSTs at Le Hamel and reported to the AA Report Centre where they obtained up to date information and intelligence. 76 AA Brigade Headquarters was established at Buhot, 865848, at 2230 hours. The marching party of 152 Anti Aircraft Operations Room also established itself at this location. At this point no heavy guns and no vehicles for Anti Aircraft Operations Room had landed.

    At midnight the Anti Aircraft Defence Commander reported that the Commanding Officers of 113 HAA Regiment and 120 LAA Regiment were ashore. 394 Battery of 120 LAA Regiment had landed eight 40mm guns and six 20mm guns on King and 395 Battery of 120 LAA Regiment had landed nine 40mm guns and two 20mm guns on Jig. One 40mm gun, towed by a Crusader, was drowned on landing. Some LAA guns were on craft which had not completed the crossing but would arrive later. No HAA guns had landed. During the night one reconnaissance party from 112 Pioneer Smoke Company landed on King. No searchlights or balloon parties were reported ashore.

    On D plus 1 there was little change until late in the day. Communications were slow in being established. Headquarters was still using the wireless network intended for the assault phase as the Anti Aircraft Operations Room was not yet operating. At 2200 hours the situation was that 394 Battery (40mm), less one troop, and less two guns not landed and returned to the UK, had landed on King. It also had one troop of 320 Battery (20mm). Jig had landed two troops of 395 Battery (40mm), less two guns not landed and returned to the UK and one drowned on landing. It also had one troop of 320 Battery (20mm), less two guns not landed and returned to the UK. There were now nineteen 40mm and ten 20mm ashore and in action. (In action in this case means emplaced and ready to fire).

    However at 2300 hours 113 HAA Regiment reported that it had now twenty guns in action. There were also two guns not in action and two guns total loss, all due to broken pintles. Broken pintles were a problem on all beaches. Trials and exercises had used Rhino ferries to land 3.7” AA guns from LSTs. In this case the ramp was lowered to the level of the ferry and there was no great angle between them. When LSTs were beached and dried out for discharge the AA guns, and some heavy equipment trailers, found it difficult to negotiate the angle between the lowered ramp and the beach. In some cases the strain was too great and the towing pintle snapped.

    Brigade Headquarters moved and was established in a house at 863855.

    Phase 2.
    The Brigade Commander should now be in a position to assume the role of Anti Aircraft Defence Commander of 30 Corps, the Beach Maintenance Area and Port en Bessin. As further units arrived they moved to their initial deployment areas unless there were revised orders, which there were not. These areas would change as the situation developed.

    On the 4th tide 393 Battery of 120 LAA Regiment was due to arrive. The first troop was to deploy to area 8686 for the defence of the LST pier, not constructed yet. The second troop was to deploy to area 8685 for the defence of road communications and congestion at St. Come de Fresne. The third troop was to deploy from 852860 to 860856 for the defence of the road from Arromanches to St. Come de Fresne. These three batteries were thus in position to cover the forward route from Item Beach.

    373 Battery of 114 LAA Regiment with one troop of 372 Battery under command was to land two troops to deploy at 8881 to 8982 for the defence of Refuelling and Rearming Strip 1 and two troops to deploy from 9284 to 9384 for the defence of Refuelling and Rearming Strip 2. The Anti Aircraft Defence Commander on each airstrip was to consult with the airfield commander and co ordinate all AA on the airfield including the RAF Regiment.

    All of these units were much delayed in landing. The guns of 114 LAA Regiment began to arrive on D+3 but there were only four guns for each strip, together with twelve for each strip from the RAF Regiment. 393 Battery also landed on D+3 but its headquarters had not yet arrived.

    One troop of 394/120 LAA were deployed in Ver sur Mer. 980 Beach Balloon Unit reported 26 balloons flying on King. ‘A’ Group 112 Pioneer Smoke Company set up smoke pots on the preliminary line. They had smoke for half an hour and no reserves. Again these were late in getting into action.

    However progress was made in setting up systems for those units already ashore. All HAA sites so far occupied had been surveyed by 4 Survey Regiment, an essential pre requisite for barrage firing and for ground firing.
    HAA Site 24 (‘A’ Troop, 366 Battery, 113 HAA Regiment) was linked by line to Regimental Headquarters 7 Medium Regiment so that the guns could be used in the ground role. Information was to be routed as follows: Observation Post – 7 Medium Regiment Gun Line – 7 Medium Regiment Headquarters – Gun Site 24 – Anti Aircraft Operations Room.

    The landing programme was now in such disarray that it was decided that as units arrived they should deploy direct to their final locations and ignore the rather complicated, and now somewhat irrelevant, initial locations.

    At 0900 it was reported that Headquarters 810 Pioneer Smoke Company had arrived at Meauvaines but the reconnaissance party had not yet arrived. 373/114 LAA Battery had established air defence at Refuelling and Re arming Strips Nos 1 and 2. Each had four 40mm guns from the battery plus 12 40mm guns from the RAF Regiment. Two missing guns from 395/120 Battery arrived. 113 HAA Regiment reported that two guns were definitely written off but two could be repaired.

    The guns of 393/120 Battery landed from LCTs but the Battery Headquarters had not arrived. By 1700 17 guns of 393/120 LAA Battery were deployed in the Arromanches area. At 1730 some details of 127 LAA Regiment, who would man the guns afloat at Mulberry, landed. At 1830 the Commanding Officer 125 LAA Regiment reported and went to establish his Head Quarters.

    At 1730 ‘A’ group 76 AA Brigade Headquarters arrived, less 2 officers and 17 ORs marching party. The missing party would turn up later having been delayed by the failure to sail of their personnel ship.

    As the Refuelling and Re arming Strips were about to become operational orders were sent at 2350 for Headquarters 120 LAA Regiment to contact the balloons and order them to be cleared from RRS2. Since the Emergency Landing Strip would now close balloons were instructed to fly over it at night.

    HAA guns were in action in a ground fire role. At 1920 Corps Commander RA, 30 Corps, called for a Victor Target. The call was passed the AAOR and the target was engaged at 2015. At 2355 CCRA called for Harassing Fire Target, 100 rounds on ref: 830702 from 2300 to 2359 hours. As there were air attacks at the time this was referred back to CCRA and the time was altered to 0130 to 0230. This was passed to AAOR and carried out.

    D + 4.
    At 0900 it was reported that the Reconnaissance Party of 417/125 LAA Regiment and ‘C’ Troop 356 Searchlight Battery had arrived.

    At 1240 it was confirmed that the barrage balloons on RRS2 had been cleared and at 1545 six more guns from 373/114 LAA arrived and were sent to RRS2. It was reported that airfield commander would not agree to LAA fire unless airfields were directly attacked.

    It was reported that communications were difficult. Lines laid to AAOR were difficult to maintain as they were constantly being cut by motor transport on the roads. Reception on the 22 set net from HAA positions to AAOR was poor at night due to bad interference. In order to maintain the line communications it was agreed that all regiments would maintain their own lines laid to the position by AAOR Signals, one detachment of AAOR Signals would be taken off laying new lines in order to maintain existing lines and each unit would send a party to AAOR to assist in line maintenance. This was only a temporary measure since lines continued to be cut until they were resited.

    At 1900 more HAA guns were arriving. The two lost guns of ‘E’ troop, 394 LAA Battery arrived, ‘D’ Troop was also arriving and 99 HAA Regiment reported that eighteen guns and five radars had arrived. In this the brigade was almost back on schedule. D+4 was the day when the whole of 99 HAA Regiment should have landed, each troop going direct to its assigned position as follows.
    302 Battery.
    ‘A’ troop. Position 26A. 837818.
    ‘B’ troop. Position 26B. 811811.
    303 Battery.
    ‘C’ troop. Position 20A. 905815.
    ‘D’ troop. Position 24A. 875794.
    318 Battery.
    ‘E’ troop. Position 27A. 799861.
    ‘F’ troop. Position 28A. 796844.

    As yet no smoke had been laid. The scale of enemy air efforts did not warrant it and there was a need to keep the work of clearing the beaches going all night.

    Between 0100 and 0400 HAA undertook Harassing Fire tasks for CCRA.

    D + 5.
    This was a busy day for arrivals and movements. 356 Searchlight Battery now had 15 lights in action with 8 lights still to land. 373 Battery of 114 LAA Regiment had a further six guns in action at RRS1 and there were now twelve 40mm guns in action on each of RRS1 and RRS2, plus an equal number of RAF guns. 127 LAA Regiment was in action on seven Phoenixes and three Corncobs which had arrived and been positioned round the Mulberry.

    99 HAA Regiment had thirteen guns in action spread over four sites. There were three guns at each of positions 20A, 24A, 26A since some guns had not arrived or were damaged, plus four at 26B. The regiment was ordered to move eight guns for the defence of Port en Bessin to be in action by 2000. The three guns from 24A plus five which were still on their wheels and not yet positioned were sent. 125 LAA Regiment was also ordered to move two troops to Port en Bessin by 1600. At 2020 318 Battery of 99 HAA Regiment reported 8 guns in action at Port en Bessin and 393/120 LAA reported 17 guns in action. In the meantime at 1610 ‘D’ troop 394/120, intended for Port en Bessin, was landing and was deployed near Arromanches pending the return of 393 Battery from Port en Bessin.

    This was the day when the Commanding Officer 146 HAA Regiment assumed command of the AA defence of Port en Bessin and thus becoming Anti Aircraft Defence Commander Port en Bessin. He was to liaise with US forces, who were immediately to the west and would share the petrol facilities to be established here. A Sub Anti Aircraft Operations room was established at Commes 7686. However the guns of 146 HAA Regiment were not yet ashore and as described above other units moved to Port en Bessin as a temporary measure.

    At 1600 353/112 complete with 8 guns was in Position 27, 352/112 had six guns at Position 25 and 380/112 had four guns, but no radar, at Position 24.

    76 COD reported that its equipment was badly damaged on landing so that Headquarters 16 Fire Control routed information through 80 AA Brigade. 991 Beach Balloon Squadron reported in. The Officer Commanding 418/125 LAA reported but the guns were still on the ship. This was a unit earmarked for Port en Bessin.

    At 1450 a Harassing Fire task was called for by CCRA. This was passed to AAOR. 20 rounds were to be fired every 15 minutes until further notice. Firing stopped at 1555. CCRA later asked for Harassing Fire, 100 rounds between 0200 and 0230, 100 rounds between 0400 and 0430. Task given to 99 HAA as they were the only guns within range.

    D + 6.
    This was a quite day.
    176/146 HAA reported two radars arrived but no guns. The missing Brigade Headquarters marching party of 2 officers and 17 other ranks arrived.

    99 HAA was ordered to put more fuse 117 on sites 26A, 26B and 20A for possible ground role and Headquarters 30 Corps called for a representative of Brigade Signal Officer to discuss W/T communications in view of a possible air burst shoot.

    D + 7.
    356 SL Battery had 22 SL now in action. 146 HAA Regiment reported that no sites had as yet been surveyed but 414 and 465 Batteries were ashore and waiting on the road. These were reported in action at 1935.

    417 LAA Battery landed and in action. 439/127 LAA reported lines being run to Phoenix units and blockships from HMS Despatch for control purposes. Seven 3ton of Air Raid Warning System arrived.

    Units continued to arrive and some reorganisation took place but by June 15 (D+9) 76 AA Brigade disposed of the following:

    Headquarters 76 AA Brigade. Buhot. 863855.
    152 Anti Aircraft Operations Room. Nr Buhot. 872848.

    99 HAA Regiment.
    Headquarters. Sommervieu. 836816.
    302 Battery Headquarters. St. Sulpice. 813814.
    ‘A’ Troop. Nr St Sulpice. 811811. Site A8.
    ‘B’ Troop. Nr Sommervieu. 837818. Site A10.
    303 Battery Headquarters. Nr Vienne en Bessin. 867790.
    ‘C’ Troop. Nr Vge du Chateau. 865786. Site A12.
    ‘D’ Troop. Nr St Sulpice. 906817. Site A14.
    318 Battery Headquarters. Fe du Parc. 812838.
    ‘E’ Troop. Nr Fe du Parc. 814839. Site A9.
    ‘F’ Troop. Nr Longchamps. 860829. Site A11.

    112 HAA Regiment.
    Headquarters. Ryes. 844831.
    352 Battery (‘A’ and ‘B’ Troops). Nr Arromanches les Bains. 843860. Site A2.
    353 Battery (‘C’ and ‘D’ Troops). Nr Manvieux. 817871. Site A1.
    380 Battery (‘E’ and ‘F’ Troops). St Come de Fresne. 869857. Site A3.
    These were larger sites with a whole 8 gun battery on each.

    113 HAA Regiment.
    Headquarters. Meuvaines. 892852.
    362 Battery (‘A’ and ‘B’ Troops). Ver sur Mer. 924850. Site A5.
    366 Battery (‘C’ and ‘D’ Troops). Asnelles sur Mer. 888862. Site A4.
    391 Battery Headquarters. Crepon. 901831.
    ‘E’ Troop. Nr Crepon. 909832. Site A7.
    ‘F’ Troop. Nr Meuvaines. 898848. Site A6.

    146 HAA Regiment.
    Headquarters and Sub Anti Aircraft Operations Room. Comnes. 769864.
    176 Battery Headquarters. Nr Tour en Bessin. 739838.
    ‘A’ Troop. Herils. 768840. Site YH3.
    ‘B’ Troop. Nr Tour en Bessin. 738835. Site YH4.
    414 Battery Headquarters. Nr Villiers sur Port. 739862.
    ‘C’ Troop. Huppain. 741879. Site YH6.
    ‘D’ Troop. Nr Escures. 738853. Site YH7.
    465 Battery Headquarters. Argouges. 778848.
    ‘E’ Troop. Argouges. 777849. Site YH2.
    ‘F’ Troop. Bouffay. 777874. Site YH1.

    120 LAA Regiment.
    Headquarters. Vers Sur Mer. 917854.
    393 Battery. Huppain. 741874.
    394 Battery. La Riviere. 924863.
    395 Battery. St. Come de Fresne. 862858.

    125 LAA Regiment.
    Headquarters. Arromanches. 847857.
    417 Battery. Arromanches. 847857.
    418 Battery. Huppain. 743570.
    419 Battery. Escures. 742853.

    127 LAA Regiment.
    Headquarters. Mauvieux. 822865.
    416 Battery Mulberry Blockships.
    439 Battery Mulberry Blockships.
    440 Battery Mulberry Blockships.

    114 LAA Regiment.
    373 Battery. Crepon. 904840.

    356 Searchlight Battery. St. Come de Fresne.

    806 Pioneer Smoke Company. Arromanches. Smoke trawlers.
    810 Pioneer Smoke Company. Tracy sur Mer.
    112 Pioneer Smoke Company. Ver sur Mer.

    991 Beach Balloons. Arromanches.
    980 Beach Balloons. Ver sur Mer.
    104 Port Balloons. Port en Bessin.

    Searchlights, smoke and balloons were spread over a wide area. The location given is that of the headquarters.
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  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Air raids.
    Air raids on the area were never intense. It was not easy for enemy aircraft to approach the beaches or the Beach Maintenance Area since they were in the centre of the invasion area and aircraft had the choice of flying over the adjacent beaches, over the field armies or approach from the sea. All were likely to be defended. Raids for the first two weeks were at night and by aircraft flying singly and approaching at different times from different directions and heights. Later attacks concentrated on the dropping of mines out to sea. These became a serious hazard since they were a mixture of types, difficult to sweep and with variable timers.

    Mulberry harbour, which might have been seen as a key target, was not subject to heavy attacks. For some time the enemy did not appreciate the significance of the units. When they did realise they found the area very well defended. It is anyway difficult to hit shipping, piers etc. at night and Allied air superiority prevented attacks in daylight.

    Below are the reports of air activity from 76 AA Brigade. These cover a wide area and many of the reports are of aircraft well out to sea.
    D Day There were two air raids during the night and LAA guns destroyed three enemy aircraft.
    D+1. No reports.
    D+2. There was an air raid overnight and two enemy aircraft were destroyed.
    D+3 There were air attacks at 2100 and from 2300 to 2400. Two enemy aircraft were destroyed.
    D+4. During the night were a number of attacks by enemy aircraft approaching from various directions and at heights between 3,600 feet and 12,000 feet. These were engaged by HAA guns.
    D+5. No raids.
    D+6. 20 to 30 enemy aircraft operated over the area during the night. Anti personnel and high explosive bombs were dropped. One landed on Searchlight 24 killing one man and injuring five.
    D+7. There was enemy air activity on reduced scale. Window and photographic flares used.
    D+8. During the night enemy aircraft intermingled with friendly bombers and night fighter patrols and carried out sporadic bombing at heights from 3,200 to 14,000 feet.
    D+9. During the night approximately 18 enemy aircraft operated over the area. There were several illuminations by searchlights. Aircraft were engaged by HAA and LAA. Window was used in considerable quantities.
    D+10. During the night there was enemy air activity on a much reduced scale and confined to a period of 50 minutes. There were raids by FW 190 and Me 109. Two FW 190 machine gunned a Spitfire taking off from RRS1.
    D+11.There were air attacks by day. Position A8 was machine gunned by a ME 109. A14 was engaged by a DO 217. An LAA site of 120 LAA was attacked by two ME 109 with cannon at tree top level. At night ten enemy aircraft flew over between 2330 and 0515. These were engaged by HAA and LAA at heights between 2,000 and 15,000 feet. Window was extensively used.
    D+12. At night there was a small number of enemy aircraft which were engaged by HAA only.
    D+13. During the night approximately 15 enemy aircraft operated over the area. Engaged by HAA.

    Window refers to aluminium strips dropped to confuse radar. It reflected radar waves and made it difficult or impossible to identify targets.
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  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    LAA guns were late in landing in many cases and by the night of D Day there were only seventeen 40mm and eight 20mm guns in action. Half of each type were self propelled and mounted on Crusader chassis. Each Crusader also towed a trailer mounted gun. One towed 40mm gun became a total loss on landing.

    Deployment on shore took place in accordance with the Key Plan. LAA guns were deployed across 104 Beach Sub Area, the area inland of Mulberry Harbour and on elements of Mulberry itself. Either directly or indirectly all were able to assist in the defence of Mulberry, some on site and some on the approaches. Some LAA guns were deployed for airfield defence and at Port en Bessin but seventy two 40mm and eighteen 20mm guns were deployed on land in the area. As RAF LAA units had arrived for airfield defence it was possible to deploy more guns for harbour, beach and maintenance area defence, especially where vulnerable bottlenecks had developed.

    Usually the Anti Aircraft Operations Room controls HAA guns and only passes information to LAA batteries. Arrangements were made for the Anti Aircraft Operations Room to control LAA barrages via a LAA Controller based at the Operations Room. This would usually only be at night when LAA batteries could not engage targets visually. LAA batteries did not have radar at this time.

    The Operations Room was to have the following LAA personnel who were drawn from LAA units according to a rota:
    One Officer acting as LAA Controller. He is responsible for the supervision of the LAA personnel but his presence in the Operations Room is only essential at night, or in poor visibility.
    Two NCOs to act as tellers. Tellers pass information to LAA batteries. They select information likely to be of interest to LAA batteries from the plotting board and broadcast it (that is transmit to all batteries rather than individual batteries).
    Three driver operators with a No 22 wireless set. To transmit information from the tellers or orders from the Controller if line communication is not available.
    Three men to act as plotters. Plotters mark the position and movement of aircraft on the LAA Plotting Board.

    As was standard procedure in AA units communications were initially by wireless until line communications could be established, when wireless remained as a backup. After D plus 3 there was line communication from the Operations Room to all batteries. Batteries also had Receiver R109 or a 22 set to receive wireless communications.

    By day tellers broadcast information to batteries in the form of a short message containing:
    Direction of plot from the Operations Room.
    Range of plot, in yards, from the Operations Room.
    Direction of flight.
    Identification if known.
    Number of aircraft if known.
    Height, in feet, if known.
    For example: North East - 20,000 – South – Hostile – 4 – 10,000
    Battery Barrage Control Officers could then make their own preparations and issue their own orders.

    By night the tellers could broadcast general information to keep the Battery Barrage Control Officers in the picture but fire was usually by barrages on the orders of the Anti Aircraft Defence Commander and under the control of the LAA Controller. There was a LAA Board in the rear of the Operations Room. On this board was plotted information from the main Operations room plot or other sources. On the LAA Board was marked the centre point of each battery layout and round it was drawn a circle at a range of 4000 yards. This had the sixteen compass points marked on it. These points were to be Barrage Points and were lettered A to P in a clockwise direction starting from North. Each battery set was in a different colour and assigned a different number for easy identification. The Controller had a speed rule set for a speed of 300mph and with a Warning Line, a Last Switch Line and a Fire Line marked on it. When laid from the centre of the battery layout along the correct compass point line this gave the Controller the information he needed to judge when a plot was close enough for the guns to be alerted to Stand By, when it was too late to change any information and when fire should be opened.

    The sequence of orders was then:
    The Anti Aircraft Defence Commander orders the LAA Controller to ‘Prepare for Barrage’. This order is repeated by the LAA Controller to the Barrage Control Officers.
    The Anti Aircraft Defence Controller makes his estimate of the most effective height for fire and informs the LAA Controller who in turn informs the Barrage Control Officers.
    From now on control is in the hands of the LAA Controller who passes orders to the Barrage Control Officers. The sequence of orders to individual batteries is:
    ‘Stand By’ followed by the angle of fire.
    ‘Barrage Able’ as the plot crosses the Warning Line.
    ‘Switch’ followed by new information if the Controller thinks the original information is wrong. This must be given before the plot reaches the Last Switch Line.
    ‘Fire’ as the plot crosses the Fire Line.

    The LAA Controller may fire more than one battery at a time or a series of different batteries in succession. The minimum barrage however was the battery of 18 guns firing 8 rounds each.

    LAA Batteries might also be required to fire Umbrella Barrages over Vulnerable Points. This might be necessary if an attack is being made by low flying aircraft without sufficient data for a Radial Barrage. Batteries were assigned to a sector with the Vulnerable Area as a centre point and would fire a barrage of a pre determined number of rounds. Orders, communications etc. are as for the Radial Barrage.

    Six Radial Barrages were organised around six groups of LAA guns. An umbrella Barrage was organised over Mulberry. None were much used.

    LAA guns are not radar controlled or remote controlled. Their usual role is to fire at low flying targets over open sights. It was possible to link an LAA Battery to the radars of a HAA gun site. In this mode the HAA radars would notify the AAOR of approaching targets suitable for LAA batteries. The LAA Controller would select one and then information on the plot would be transmitted direct from the HAA Plotting Officer to the LAA Barrage Control Officer. This would preferably be by an open line connecting through the AAOR switchboard. Wireless could be used if available.

    Triple 20mm AA guns might join in a barrage but would fire only one magazine from one barrel, and only when using self destroying ammunition.

    As spare equipment from HAA batteries became available a separate LAA Gun Operation Room was set up at 872848. This consisted of a HAA Plotting Trailer, a Light Warning set and a Radar AA Mark3 No II from 112 HAA, plus the personnel listed above. The LAA Controller continued to receive orders from the AADC via the AAOR using line or 36 set to a R208 set at the Gun Operations Room. The LAA Controller exercised direct control of unseen fire by line or 22 set to Battery Control Posts, which in turn were in direct communication with all gun positions by line or wireless.

    A considerable number of 40mm guns were also deployed at sea.
    - Sixteen were on the headquarters/depot ship Despatch moored in the Mulberry Harbour.
    - Twelve were on Landing Barge Flak moored in the Mulberry Harbour.
    - Four were on Blockships.
    - Ten were on Phoenix units.

    There was very little likelihood of a HAA gun hitting an individual aircraft at which it aimed. The fact that the target was capable of moving in three dimensions, the time of flight of the shell meant that it had to be aimed at where it was predicted the aircraft would be when the shell arrived in 20 seconds or so time and the fact that the shell had to be fused to explode at the right time and place all made a direct hit or near miss unlikely.

    A considerable amount of equipment was necessary to enable HAA guns to operate effectively, and there were several methods of fire control available,
    - Predictor control with visual lay. The simplest method in which a target was identified and then tracked using optical range finders and height finders. Together these enabled a target to be tracked and details of height, speed, direction and height fed to a predictor which was set for all the variable and predicted where the plane would be when the shell arrived.
    - Predictor control with radar lay. As above but using data from radar instead of optical instruments.
    - PBL. Plotting Backtiming with Linkage. When the positions predictor is out of action or the target is out of predictor range data from another position’s predictor can be used and adjusted.
    - PLM. Plotting with Linkage, Manual. When radar equipment is out of action and data is passed from anther position.
    - ZCB. Zone Concentration Barrage. Used when all individual systems of fire control have become impossible.
    - Barrage. Gun Position Officer has prepared data so guns can engage rapidly if normal methods are impossible. Fill the sky around the vulnerable point in the hope that the enemy aircraft will fly into the shrapnel.

    Rates of fire were very flexible. The following could be ordered.
    Very slow. One round per minute.
    Slow. Two rounds per minute.
    Normal. Three rounds per minute. This rate could be maintained for long periods.
    Rapid. Four rounds per minute.
    Intense fire. Twelve rounds per minute. For short bursts only
    Intense fire with mechanical fuse setter. Eighteen rounds per minute.

    Normally HAA guns fired at targets flying above 10,000 feet, leaving the air space up that height to LAA fire.

    Heavy Anti Aircraft guns were very flexible and adaptable. Apart from their primary task of putting up a high altitude barrage over vulnerable points they were frequently called on to give fire support in a ground role. Any HAA gun within range could be given ground targets by Corps Commander RA and if the guns were not needed for anti aircraft work they would fire on the orders of a forward observer. Guns needed to be firmly anchored since the mountings were designed for high angle fire and low angle firing could cause them to move and tilt, thus affecting the range and bearing of the shells. Prolonged fire in one direction also caused stress and the gun mountings were rotated.

    There was no demand for HAA guns to act in a coast defence role in Gold Sector although this was done on Sword. HAA batteries did however find a role for their radars. Each troop of four 3.7” guns had:
    1 X trailer, 5ton, 4 wheeled, Radar AA No1 Receiver
    1 X trailer, 5ton, 4 wheeled, Radar AA No1 Transmitter
    1 X trailer, 5ton, 4 wheeled, Radar AA No3 MkII
    2 X trailer, 2ton, generator.

    These radars were for surveillance and target acquisition and for target tracking and gun laying. However there was seldom need for all the available radars to be employed in these roles. Often target information came from other sources and all firing orders came from the AAOR. The guns might be deployed on six or eight gun sites rather than a troop site of four guns. This meant that there would be spare radar sets. When it seemed that raids on the shore installations were not having much success the enemy resorted more frequently to dropping mines off shore. These soon caused damage and loss to the ships and craft sailing to and fro daily as well as to those in the anchorages. Radar sets were sited to observe and record the fall of mines so that shipping could be warned and minesweepers alerted. Radar AA No3 MkII was preferred for this work but Radar AA No1 sets were also deployed initially.

    Some Radar AA No3 MkII sets were also deployed in an anti mortar role. One was sent to the Caen area and later some were loaned to field units. These sets were able to track in coming mortar bombs and then plot the track back to its source. If done quickly this enabled the field artillery to fire on enemy mortar positions before they could move. At the end of June this was still experimental and the procedure still being worked out.

    By the end of June ninety six HAA guns were deployed.
    - The greatest number, sixty eight 3.7” guns, was positioned for the defence of the Mulberry Harbour. These were deployed in five 8 gun positions and seven 4 gun positions.
    - Twenty four guns in six 4 gun positions were deployed for the defence of Port en Bessin.
    - One troop of four was with 30 Corps in a ground role.

    Searchlights were operated by 356 Searchlight Battery RA. A Battery consisted of a headquarters and three troops each of eight lights.

    Searchlights were landed about a day late in all cases and none were in action on the first night. As they arrived they were deployed in accordance with the Key Plan. ‘C’ Troop 356 Searchlight Battery arrived on D+4. And on
    D+5 356 Searchlight Battery had 15 lights in action with 8 lights still to land. (This gives only 23 instead of 24).
    They were reported to have ben invaluable. Although only two enemy aircraft were actually destroyed in their beams the enemy was forced to give up low level night time attacks on shore targets and concentrate on mine laying at sea. One searchlight received a direct hit by a bomb, with one killed and five injured.

    On June 14 at 1120. G2, Anti Aircraft, 2nd Army requested a reconnaissance for two search light beacons south of Bayeux and at 1200 the Brigadier commanding 106 AA Brigade and his Brigade Major called regarding the beacon. 106 AA Brigade was the formation which supported 83 Group of 2nd Tactical Air Force. Two searchlights were detached for this duty and were positioned four miles south of Bayeux. They were in action on the night of June 14 and they remained until June 29. On orders of 83 Group and Tactical Air Force via 106 AA Brigade one light was illuminated pointing vertically upwards. This gave a reference point for night fighters. Two lights were necessary to allow for down time. The carbon elements burnt out after a few minutes. They were positioned well inland because night fighters did not operate over the beaches or Beach Maintenance Areas which were gun zones.

    All the searchlights landed were 90mm models fitted with Light Control Radar (LC or Elsie). These could track an aircraft and then illuminate it when it was within range of the LAA guns. LAA guns required visual aiming, not being equipped with radar. Searchlights and crew were carried in a 3ton 6 X 4 Leyland Retriever with searchlight body and power take off for a generator.

    Searchlights received warnings and information by wire from the Anti Aircraft Operations Room or via the nearest LAA position.

    Communications proved difficult. Except for LAA with divisions and corps line communication was the preferred method. In the early stages wireless was used until lines could be laid and then wireless was kept as a backup communication system. In the early stages it was found impossible to establish line communications since bulldozers and flails tore up lines on the ground, while mobile cranes and equipment on low loaders carried away overhead lines. In the beach area t one time the average life of a line was only twenty minutes.

    On D plus 4 it was decided that special measures needed to be taken to maintain line communications, especially since wireless reception on No22 sets was poor at night. This was the time when air raids were most likely. It was agreed that all regiments would maintain their own lines laid to the position by Anti Aircraft Operations Room Signals. In addition one detachment of Anti Aircraft Operations Room Signals would be taken off laying new lines in order to maintain existing lines and each unit would send a party to AAOR to assist in line maintenance.

    On D plus 6 all line laying personnel in the Brigade were pooled under the Brigade Signals Officer and it was decided to scrap all existing lines and lay a new network. The area was divided into three zones. Multiple pairs of lines were then installed on poles to a point in each zone. From there pairs of lines radiated out as required to all units. In this system all villages and roads were avoided so the risk of the lines being cut or carried away was greatly reduced.

    Wireless communications also caused concern. Most of the frequencies allotted to 76 AA Brigade for No 22 sets were at the top end of the frequency range. These frequencies suffered interference at night and communication became very unsatisfactory. When the line system was improved and became more secure the best frequencies were allotted to LAA and Smoke units. These units were more widely spread and relied on wireless more. No 36 set broadcasts were however consistently good.

    When the communications were fully developed normal wireless nets existed from Anti Aircraft Operations Room to HAA, LAA and Searchlight units, although not all were satisfactory. In almost all cases line communication was established between the Anti Aircraft Operations Room and individual gun and searchlight positions.
    Attempts were made to link LAA guns on the various arms of Mulberry by line. This was not entirely successful.

    Anti Aircraft Operations Room.
    An Anti Aircraft Operations Room was attached to and administered by an Anti Aircraft Brigade Headquarters. In this case it was commanded by a Major as Senior Gun Control Officer, assisted by two Subaltern Gun Control Officers who worked shifts. There were fifteen plotters, one serjeant to supervise and two shifts of seven men led by bombardiers.

    An Anti Aircraft Operations Room Signals Section, Royal Signals, was attached. This was commanded by a lance serjeant and had three linemen, nine operators switchboard, three operators wireless and line and an electrician.

    A cable laying section were also added. This usually had a small headquarters of a Lieutenant with batman driver and a jeep, an orderly with motorcycle and a 3ton lorry carrying a storeman and driver plus cable and signal stores. There were usually three detachments, although some had four. Each detachment had two jeeps each towing a 10cwt trailer and carrying two linemen, plus a cable laying vehicle with mechanical cable layer.

    AA Defence of Mulberry ‘B’.
    It was not practicable or necessary to have HAA guns afloat. HAA guns had sufficient range to cover the Mulberry Harbour from the shore and a considerable number of guns were deployed to cover it. LAA guns were deployed in the Mulberry by the following means:

    - 34 Phoenix units each had a 40mm gun with 4,000 rounds of ammunition and a No 38 wireless set. Manned by 127 LAA Regiment.
    - Three Corncob blockships with No 38 wireless sets had a total of four 40mm guns each with 3,000 rounds of ammunition. Manned by 127 LAA Regiment.
    - Sixteen 40 mm guns were on the headquarters/depot ship Despatch moored in the Mulberry Harbour. Manned by 127 LAA Regiment.
    - 36 20mm guns were mounted at the end of the piers in Mulberry. These were manned by 969 Port Floating Equipment Company as required.

    15 LBF manned by 139 LAA Regiment were due to arrive off the beaches on the second tide. Initially five of these were for Gold to protect the beaches on Jig/King Sector. Later they could be moved to other sectors.

    Six Eagle ships also accompanied Force G. These were converted paddle steamers fitted with a variety of LAA guns. Their light construction did not allow heavy weapons so most had two or three 2pdr, three of four 20mm and an assortment of machine guns. They did not have any means of fire control but could put up enough fire to deter attackers. They were manoeuvrable and shallow draft and so ideal for coastal work.

    The Mulberry Blockships were all successfully positioned and sunk with the exception of A18. This ship was damaged, listed badly on sinking and came to rest out of position and with broken back. It was impossible to man the gun on this position. Phoenix units were all successfully positioned.

    Crews for the guns on the Phoenix units and Blockships crossed the Channel on the units and were ready to come into action immediately. It was originally intended that gun detachments should be divided into three minimum detachments, each capable of operating the gun. These minimum detachments would rotate so that at any one time there would be one on the unit at readiness, one on the unit but stood down and one on shore resting. However the personnel had made themselves comfortable on board and asked to be allowed to remain. It was decided that full detachments would be left on board and guns would be taken out of action in rotation so that the detachment could go ashore for rest, baths etc. Gangways were fixed between the Phoenix units so that there were no problems with the maintenance of unmanned guns.

    When the storm of 19 June blew up there was not sufficient warning to get the detachments afloat to shore. No forecast of the storm had been received by the Naval Officer in Charge, Mulberry. During the afternoon high tide the water was within two to three feet of the top of most Phoenix units and waves were breaking over the guns. The Naval Officer in Charge considered that it would be almost impossible to get a boat safely alongside the units and the detachments would be safer staying on board. By this time communications were reduced to Aldis Lamp and loudhailer from HMS Despatch. However a RASC harbour launch managed to evacuate all detachments by 2200, except for those on A68 and A115 which had been sunk in shallower water and therefor not in danger. Personnel had to leave behind all personal kit and equipment and much ammunition was washed overboard. Unit A44 was still afloat at sea, not having been placed yet. It was attended by a tug but capsized during the night with some loss of life.

    On June 22, when the storm was over, all the Phoenix units were visited and such kit and equipment as remained was salvaged. Four Phoenix units had disintegrated and several more were too damaged to be used for LAA guns.

    On June 28 guns were manned as follows:
    - On the Gooseberry Arm of the harbour the four Blockships each had their 40mm guns in action and there were four more on Phoenix units.
    - The Main Arm and the West Arm each had three Phoenix units with 40mm guns manned.
    - Others were manned as the units were repaired.

    The Ordnance Officer inspected the remaining ammunition and found it serviceable after maintenance. 50% had been washed overboard.

    Landing Barges Flak.
    LBFs were stationed off the beaches to give anti aircraft defence cover to the shipping and craft moored and discharging. Each barge carried two 40 mm Bofors from 139 LAA Regiment. Their main task was to provide day time defence on the orders of the Anti Aircraft Operations Room via battery headquarters. Only wireless communication was generally possible although Aldis lamp was available as a backup. It was difficult to fit the barges into a night time barrage system.

    When the storm of 19 June struck the barges were still off the beaches. Some were able to shelter in the Mulberry harbour but six were driven ashore and became total losses. The twelve 40mm guns from the wrecked barges were landed and after maintenance were deployed at Port en Bessin. 30% of their ammunition was lost. Eight barges remained serviceable of which five remained in the Mulberry Harbour, one needed repair and two were transferred to Port en Bessin.

    Sixty balloons with hand winches were taken over for 30 Corps beaches. These were inflated and ready to be flown. Many were flown from LCTs and LSTs for the crossing and then carried ashore by their two man crew with assistance from the Beach Groups. A Balloon barrage was planned with balloons 500 yards apart and three rows in depth. The intention was to force enemy aircraft to fly above the height of the barrage where they were a better target for the guns. It would be unwise to fly an aircraft between the balloon cables.

    No balloons could be flown within 2000 yards of a landing strip, nor in a 30 degree approach funnel at either end of the strip.

    Sixty additional balloons were phased in for use on the Mulberry harbour.

    Balloons were controlled by the Anti Aircraft Defence Commander from the Anti Aircraft Operations Room by line to the Senior Officer Balloons attached to 76 AA Brigade.

    Balloons landed early from LCTs and LSTs and were able to fly a barrage over the beaches on D Day. An effective barrage over Mulberry took longer to establish and was not available by day and night until D plus 10. All the balloons had hand winches and so the height was controllable. Land based balloons were flown below the cloud base by day and could be close hauled within an hour and a half of the order being given by the Anti Aircraft Operations Room. 83 Group RAF agreed that balloons should fly at operational height by night unless ordered to be close hauled.

    Balloons on Phoenix units etc could not be flown below cloud level or close hauled within a reasonable time because of the difficulties in obtaining boats and transporting winching parties.

    On D+2 980 Beach Balloon Unit reported almost all balloons were flying over the beaches and over the Rearming and Refuelling Strips. On D+4 the balloons were removed from the strips and the approaches to them. Some were moved to the site of the Emergency Landing Strip when and from D+5 Balloons were to be flown over it at night.

    On D+5 Headquarters 991 Beach Balloon Unit reported. Its balloons were to be flown over the various elements of Mulberry ‘B’ as they arrived.

    On June 19 Headquarters 104 Port Balloon Unit arrived. This was to deploy thirty balloons at Port en Bessin.

    Smoke detachments were deployed but never once was a smoke screen laid over 104 Beach Sub Area beaches and the smoke company was withdrawn. Smoke was always seen as a two edged weapon. When laid it may or may not hinder the enemy but it did halt the work of the beaches.

    ‘A’ Group 112 Pioneer Smoke Company set up smoke pots (No24 smoke generators) on the preliminary line on D+2. They had smoke for half an hour and no reserves.

    At 0900 on D+3 it was reported that Headquarters 810 Pioneer Smoke Company had arrived at Meauvaines but the reconnaissance party had not yet arrived. On D+8 (June 14) 810 Pioneer Smoke Company reported 29 out of 30 Essos (Smoke generator No28) arrived. They were to be in action on June 16.

    Smoke was laid over Mulberry. This was a precautionary measure at dawn and dusk and was available at call throughout the night. Initially 76 AA Brigade Headquarters experienced difficulty in getting the Naval Officer in Charge, Arromanches, to decide each day whether smoke should be used or not. It was eventually agreed that smoke should be made between 2300 and 2330 and between 0400 and 0430 without reference to the Naval Officer in Charge. The navy had the right of veto on the use of smoke and usually only objected when it would interfere with the beaching or unbeaching of craft on Item Beach, which was inside the Mulberry breakwaters. However some naval authorities objected to the use of smoke since there had been no serious attacks on the Mulberry and it did retard or stop the work of unloading.

    The main part of the smoke screen laying operation at Mulberry was provided by ‘B’ Squadron, Smoke Making Trawlers with Esso smoke generators manned by personnel from 806 Pioneer Smoke Company. The trawlers were withdrawn from the fishing grounds and equipped with oil burning smoke generators. It was intended that the thirty trawlers would operate in two groups of fifteen, with one group always at Mulberry and the other returning to the UK for refuelling and restocking with smoke oil. The trawlers were to be positioned off the Mulberry and be spaced at approximately 160 yard intervals. They were to have been ready to make smoke on a line some 2,400 yards long on the night of D plus 3 to D plus 4.

    The Esso generators were to be manned from ¾ of an hour before sunset until ordered to stand down.

    The Squadron was commanded by Senior Naval Officer ‘Brownjack’, the code word for the trawlers. The Headquarters ship was No11, His Majesty’s Trawler River Leven. There were six groups of five, each with a group leader on trawlers 12 Taipo, 21 Lephreto, 31 Isobel, 41 Staunch, 51 Roxano and 61 Tocsin. All trawlers had their numbers painted clearly in white on each side of the bows.

    Orders were communicated from the Smoke Control Headquarters on shore to the trawler groups by No 22 set to R109 receivers. Communications from ship to ship was by wireless, loud hailer, small craft or Aldis lamp as available. As a backup orders could be sent to the Naval Officer in Charge for transmission over the Port Wave.

    It was planned that LCP(L) (Smoke) would be available from D plus 3 to form an emission line 2,400 yards long inshore of the trawlers. They would move on a predetermined course and drop a smoke float every 30 yards. This would be repeated every 15 minutes, the life of a smoke float.

    Some reorganisation of smoke afloat was necessary. No LCP(L) were available for Mulberry or the area offshore of Port en Bessin. The eastern flank of the British area had a greater need. It was found that it was possible to re bunker and re water trawlers in the Mulberry so that only five needed to return to the UK at any one time for maintenance and collection of fog oil. There were then twenty five trawlers available instead of the planned fifteen. Of these five were sent to Port en Bessin, leaving twenty for Mulberry.

    It was found that in average conditions the smoke screen at Mulberry was effective but without the LCP(L)s to fill the gaps it could not be 100% effective in adverse conditions. Fifteen trawlers were requested from Mulberry A which was badly damaged and not being completed. This allowed ten trawlers to be deployed at Port en Bessin and thirty at Mulberry B.

    esso smoke.jpg

    Esso Smoke Generator of a Pioneer Smoke Company.

    2 Tactical Air Force.
    The RAF played a large role in the defence of the beaches. Apart from the balloons RAF radars were an important part of the anti aircraft defence plan. The primary task was to control allied air activity but they also provide longer range early warning for anti aircraft units. 24 Wing GCI (Ground Controlled Interception) of 85 Base Group RAF landed on D Day and came under 83 Group RAF. It was in operation by the evening. Later 83 Groups own Group Control Centre was established and assumed control. An Air Liaison Party for the GCI was found by 160 AAOR from 105 AA Brigade.

    Three airstrips concerned 76 AA Brigade since they were established in their area. An Emergency Landing Strip was established in the area 8885. This was for use by aircraft in trouble and unable to make the 100 mile journey back to the UK. Two Refuelling and Rearming Strips, RRS1 and RRS2, were established in order to refuel and rearm tactical aircraft, which returned to the UK each evening. These were each 3,600 foot long and located at 8881 to 8981 and 9284 to 9384. These were operational by D plus 3. Each strip was defended by twelve 40mm guns of the RAF Regiment but had also an equal number of LAA guns from 73 AA Brigade.
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  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Port en Bessin.
    (And 47 RM Commando)

    Port en Bessin was a small but useful harbour on the boundary between the British and US beaches. It was just inside the Gold Sector but had a separate organisation and did not come under the control of 104 Beach Sub Area. Fortunately it was found to be virtually undamaged and could be taken into use immediately. There was an outer harbour formed by jetties which curved round to enclose a sizable protected area. There were also two docks with lock gates.

    The town itself was not strongly defended but there were three strongpoints positioned to deter a landing from the sea. One was on 200 foot high cliffs to the west, another in a similar position to the east while the third was on the road inland. There were lighter defences round the harbour.

    47 RM Commando landed on Jig Green West about 09.50. They had been carried across the Channel on two LSI of Force ‘J’, Princess Charlotte and Victoria, and then transferred to the fourteen LCAs which the ships carried. One LCA was hit while well out to sea and twelve men were killed and a further eleven injured but who managed to reach shore. Four more LCAs were lost on the beach obstacles which by this time were underwater. A further forty three men and much of the wireless equipment were lost.

    Obviously the loss of personnel, loss of wireless sets and the fact that the route to Port en Bessin was still held by the enemy caused a delay and it was afternoon before the Commando was ready to move off towards their objective. A wireless set was borrowed from Headquarters 231 Brigade and the Commando detoured inland, fought their way through La Rosiere. Here they lost a further twelve men but captured some German weapons to replace those lost on landing. They then dug in for the night around Escures.

    The attack planned for D+1 did not go smoothly. The attack on the coastal defences was delayed because the wireless set to be used to co ordinate naval fire support was not working. In the meantime the Commando cleared some of the houses of the town and the strongpoint on the road inland was charged and captured. In the afternoon the attack on the coastal strongpoints was mounted with the support of fire from the cruiser HMS Emerald and three squadrons of Typhoons firing rockets. The western strongpoint was captured fairly quickly but the eastern one proved more difficult. ‘A’ Troop attacked uphill but met with strong resistance in the form of small arms and machine gun fire plus mines and flamethrowers. Two Flak ships in the harbour also joined in and the troop was forced to withdraw after suffering nearly 50% losses.

    A German counter attack cut off the Commando troop which had been left to hold Escures and overran the Commando rear headquarters. Ammunition was running low but fresh supplies were delivered by RASC lorries which had driven through German fire to reach the town. Gradually the Commando cleared the remaining enemy posts in the town until they held all of it.

    Late in the day a Commando patrol discovered a path up to the eastern strongpoint and a fresh attack was launched. There was fierce fighting over a number of bunkers before the position was secured. Escures was then recaptured and the garrison surrendered at 0400 on D+2.

    At first light on D plus 2 the Naval Officer in Charge, Port en Bessin, opened his headquarters there. There was some work to be done by Port Repair Parties but the outer harbour was available almost immediately and the inner harbour and dock were available soon after. It proved ideal for the landing of stores from coasters or LBVs and soon exceeded all expectations. The naval organisation was not able to take full advantage immediately but by D plus 8 the port was handling over 1,000 tons a day.

    Port en Bessin also became a major facility for handling bulk petrol. In a fully mechanised army petrol became a vital element in the supply system, both for tactical operations and for maintenance of the army group as a whole. Being near the border between British and US beaches it also landed petrol for the US forces.

    Petrol was distributed to units in cans. However transporting petrol in cans was not economical in labour and shipping space. It was usual to transport petrol to the theatre of operations in bulk and then transfer it to cans either at the port or at railhead. Up to D+18 all fuel was packed in UK and delivered in jerricans. From D+18 onwards packed POL would continue to be imported as the most efficient way to deliver jerricans to the theatre but increasing quantities of bulk petrol were delivered. Empty jerricans were to be returned to petrol depots and be stored until they were needed for refilling from bulk deliveries.

    Open beaches were nor suitable for bulk deliveries of petrol and Mulberry was not designed to handle tankers so the small port of Port en Bessin was used for the discharge and bulk storage of petrol. As soon as the area was secured, on D+2, a reconnaissance party under Captain, Senior Officer ‘Pluto’ and Captain, Senior Officer ‘Pluto’ Second Division started surveying the area. By D+6 it was confirmed that the area was indeed suitable although there were numerous underwater snags to be cleared or avoided. On D+9 the vessels of ‘Pluto’ Second Division sailed and the construction of Tombolas, which were pipelines running some hundreds of yards from the water edge to permit deep draught tankers to discharge off-shore, was started. This work was interrupted by the storm of 19 to 22 June but the craft and equipment employed on the task were able to shelter in the harbour and resume work on hauling the pipelines to shore as soon as the storm passed. The first line was completed on D+19. Army engineers had been working on pipelines ashore so that fuel could then be discharged and stored in tanks until it was pumped into army pipelines taking it to storage tanks near Bayeaux. The second line was completed on D+38. Each line delivered an average 2,000 gallons a day and this was limited only by the capacity of storage and shore pipelines.

    By the end of July:
    Two ship-to-shore lines had been completed.
    Six tanker berths were in operation with pipe connections laid.
    Tanks, balance tank installations and pumps had been completed for MT and aviation spirit.
    Three 6" pipelines were laid to Blary in No 2 Army Roadhead and one 6" aviation fuel pipeline had been completed to Coulombs.

    ‘Pluto’ Second Division consisted of:
    HM Trawler Grampian
    HM Trawler Cedar
    HM MFV 81
    HM MFV 118
    HM CB Gold Bell
    HM CB Gold Drift
    Passenger launch
    Motor boat for diving party.

    Pluto= Pipeline Under The Ocean.
    MFV= Motor Fishing Vessel.
    Gold Bell and Gold Drift were requisitioned mercantile cable vessels used to carry flexible pipeline.

    Smaller Chant type tankers were able to moor inside the harbour at Port en Bessin and discharge through pipelines. Chants were small prefabricated coasters. Components could be manufactures in small workshops and then assembled on specially constructed slipways. The tanker version could be used for the carriage of jerricans in the early stages and then used as bulk tankers when the facilities for discharging them were available.

    Vehicles could also be landed from LCTs onto a slipway by the fish quay in the outer harbour. This was not done on a large and scale and was usually limited to landing vehicles and equipment needed in the port.

    Port en Bessin d.jpg Port en Bessin dock.jpg port en Bessin LCTs.jpg Port en Bessin MT.jpg
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  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    From Port en Bessin to the user in the field.

    pipeline 2.jpg
    A Chant tanker discharging petrol into the pipelines inside Port en Bessin outer harbour.

    The pipelines lead to storage tanks and then onto the depots round Bayeaux.

    petrol 2.jpg
    Bulk tankers, Beford semitrailers, load from the storage depot.

    petrol filling.jpg
    Petrol Filling Centres fill Jerricans.

    Filled Jerricans are transported forward.

    Jerricans eventually reach frontline units and tanks are refuelled from them.
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  8. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    A couple more pics of Port en Bessin. It seems as if the German flakbarge was sunk by the Marines after they came under sustained fire. The civillian manned ASV after salvaging it. Both pics Battlefield

    Attached Files:

  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Interesting pictures Roy. I am sure much more could be said about Port en Bessin but it does not appear much in the accounts of D Day and the beaches.

    I have been looking at the very detailed set of drawings of Mulberry B by Geoffrey Futter which appeared in Military Modelling many years ago. Probably nearly forty years ago. Does anyone know if these were ever published in book form. It would be a pity if this work were lost to us. I imagine they are copyright so I cannot post them here.

  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Mulberry plan.jpg

    The story of the Mulberry Harbour hardly needs retelling here. Much has been written about this great engineering achievement, designed to provide port facilities on a stretch of coast where there were only three small harbours. Since it was constructed on the Gold stretch of shore, and overlapped with the beaches operated by 104 Beach Sub Area, some details are given here.

    The Components.

    It was desirable that sheltered water should be provided to allow shipping to berth or anchor safely, and unload cargoes to be unloaded into barges and ferries. Waves are the main problem and are caused initially by the action of wind on the surface of the water and then the height of waves is exaggerated when they reach shallow water.

    Ports throughout the world have provided protection by building breakwaters of earth and rubble protected by stonework or concrete. Time did not allow this to done at Mulberry so the simple but effective method of scuttling redundant ships (codename Corncob) was used instead. These were ships which were unfit for further service but were capable of reaching Normandy under their own power. They were then scuttled in lines off the coast to provide reasonable shelter very quickly. One Gooseberry was provided at each beach, giving three in the British sector, and all were in position by D + 4. Corncobs were aligned so that each ones bow overlapped the previous ones stern. They were held in position by tugs and then scuttled by firing explosive charges. They were then fastened together with steel hawsers. Since the superstructures of the ships remained above water an additional use was providing accommodation for staff and crews working the anchorages.

    Ships used at Gooseberry 3 were:
    Elswick Park
    Giorgios P

    Bombardon relied on the fact that waves exist only near the surface. They were floating units, each 200 foot long, which were stabilised by cross arms and water ballast in the lower sections. Gaps of 50 foot were left between units and for maximum effect two parallel lines of Bombardons were moored 800 foot apart. The first short lengths were in position on D+ 2 and one mile lengths were complete by D + 7. Unfortunately the unusually severe storm of June 19 to 23 completely wrecked the breakwater so that it was only fully operational for a week.

    Phoenix caissons were to provide more permanent breakwaters. 147 caissons of six different designs, all constructed of concrete, were to be delivered in time for D day. A further 66 were to be delivered to strengthen the breakwaters for winter. All were similar in design but A1, the largest, weighed 6,044 tons while D1, the smallest, weighed only 1,672 tons. Each caisson was divided into 22 compartments in two rows, and they were open topped. Tugs towed caissons into position and then valves were opened to let water into each compartment and allow the caisson to settle on the sea bed. The larger caissons had 40mm Bofors gun mountings on a platform. The first caissons crossed the Channel on D+1 and they were positioned as they arrived, at first to extend the Gooseberries and then to form separate moles.

    Later the caissons were made more stable by filling them with sand lifted from the seabed by a dredger. They were also decked over in the autumn as part of the winterisation programme for the harbour.

    The Piers.
    Although the various breakwaters provided sheltered water it was still necessary to land all troops, vehicles and stores over the beaches. Landing would be much speeded up by providing piers and pierheads which would provide full port facilities. Mulberry B eventually had three piers. The largest was the stores pierhead which could accommodate seven coasters at a time. A small LST pierhead could accommodate two LST at the same time and a barge pierhead allowed larger ships to unload onto barges and these in turn unload onto the pierhead.

    Spud Pontoons.
    The Spud Pontoon was the essential component of all three pierheads. Pontoons were two hundred foot long by sixty foot wide. There was a leg in each corner and these were lowered to the seabed to support the pontoon when in position. Although the pontoons appear to be floating, and rising and falling with the tide, they are in fact supported by the legs and are raised and lowered by winches. Twenty two pontoons were built, the last not being delivered until late June.

    Pontoons were divided into 24 separate water tight compartments and the ends were shaped to reduce resistance when under tow. Wooden fenders were fitted along both sides and a cambered non slip deck was fitted. Normal dockyard equipment was fitted, including bollards for mooring ships, capstans and winches and cargo derricks, plus anchors, life rafts, and four 20mm Oerlikon AA guns. There were two diesel engine/generator sets to power the various winches, capstans and bilge pumps. Pairs of legs were connected by a gantry and on one gantry only there was an armoured control house for the operator controlling the winches for all four legs. Controlling the height of the pontoon was a highly skilled job, and one requiring constant attention. The pontoon should not be allowed to float or the legs would lift off the sea bed and the unit would drift. At the same time the pontoon should not be allowed to raise clear of the water as this would put too great a load on the legs. Adjustments had not only to be made for the rise and fall of the tide but also for higher than normal waves.

    Intermediate Pierhead Pontoons.
    In order to provide extra space for berthing, and for parking and manoeuvring vehicles, Intermediate Pierhead Pontoons were built. These were eighty foot long and fifty six foot wide. The original eighteen pontoons were constructed of reinforced concrete. Only six were used and these were later replaced by similar items in steel. Intermediate Pierhead Pontoons were free floating and rose and fell with the tide. They were fastened to a Spud Pontoon at one end by wire ropes which allowed some movement relative to the Pierhead Pontoon. The other end of the Intermediate Pontoon had fittings for a Telescopic Bridge Span such as connected all pontoon units.

    The Roadways.
    To connect the pierheads to the shore floating roadways were designed using floats and bridge spans. Together the floating roadways and floats were called Whale.

    Bridge Spans.
    The bridge span was designed to carry any wheeled vehicle plus tanks up to Class 25. Each span was eighty foot long and the roadway was ten foot wide. There were two lozenge shaped lattice side girders which were connected by a strong central cross girder plus six other more flexible girders. This allowed some flexibility to accommodate wave movement. Decking was of pressed steel and was made in sections ten foot by two foot. These were laid lengthwise and bolted to the cross girders. Operationally the steel decking was used only for the outer four foot on each side and the centre two foot, where no wheels or tracks would go, used wooden planking. Kerbs were fitted to protect the side girders.

    LST Pierhead Bridge Spans.
    The side girders used on the bridge spans connecting the LST Pierhead to the shore were strengthened to Class 40 to carry all tanks including Churchill.

    Telescopic Bridge Spans.
    Telescopic Bridge Spans were in most respects similar to the standard span but the centre section of each side girder was constructed so that one half could slide inside the other. This allowed movement of up to nine foot. In roadways every sixth span was telescopic to allow for changes in the length of spans due to movement. They were also used to connect Spud Pontoons in pierheads. In this case the movement was more useful to accommodate inaccuracies in positioning units.

    Beetle Floats.
    The Beetle Floats supported the roadway in Whale units. The standard float was forty two foot long and fifteen foot wide. There were a number of separate compartments so that the float could still function if holed. Many of the floats were made of reinforced concrete and these were used for sections of the roadway which would remain afloat at all stages of the tide since they risked damage if the grounded. Steel floats were used near the shore where they might ground at low tide. Both types carried a standard steel transom beam with bearings for connecting the bridge spans. Some 650 floats of all types were built and there was always a good reserve stored between the two roadways from the stores pierhead to the shore.

    Spud Beetle Floats.
    A number of larger floats were built and fitted with four Spud legs. These were for use on rocky areas where to allow the floats to ground would cause damage. The legs were lowered to the sea bed and locked in position. Eventually engineers cleared the rocks and the floats were allowed to ground in the same way as the standard type.

    Shore Ramp Floats.
    The Shore Ramp Float served the purpose of both providing the roadway with a secure anchor to the shore and an easy vehicle exit from the roadway to the shore. The float was eighty foot long, thirty foot wide and tapered from seven foot high at the seaward end to six inches at the shore end. The seaward end had seatings for a standard roadway span. Although they were floats they were not intended to actually float when part of a roadway. They were winched onto the shore at high tide and then flooded so that they settled firmly onto the ground.

    Crossing the Channel.
    Moving all the Mulberry components across the Channel was a major task, in the event made even more difficult by bad weather. A large number of tugs were made available and components were assembled into suitable tows. All components had been designed with towing in mind. Where possible caissons, pontoons and floats were fitted with accommodation for a passage crew.

    Roadway sections were normally assembled into a tow of six roadways, one of which would be telescopic, on six floats. Some tows were composed of five floats and a shore ramp float.

    No1 Port Construction and Repair Group was responsible for the assembly of the components.

    Most of the tows set off from their assembly areas on D-1 and were held in mid Channel. On D + 1 marker buoys were placed for the piers, blockships and caissons, and boom laying craft laid out moorings for the Bombardon units. Caissons were towed into position and handed over to harbour tugs for final positioning. On D+4 units for the stores and LST piers were towed into position and handed over to harbour tugs.

    The Final Layout.
    The original plan was altered for two reasons. Firstly there were minor alterations made in the light of more thorough and accurate surveys carried out on D Day and afterwards. Secondly the damage to Mulberry A and the subsequent abandonment of that harbour led to more components being available. When complete there were the following elements:
    - The breakwaters which gave sheltered water for the other elements.
    - A sheltered area for the unloading of larger ships into barges.
    - A Stores Pierhead for the unloading of coasters.
    - A LST Pierhead for the unloading of LSTs, and later the loading of hospital ships.
    - A Barge Pierhead for the landing of cargo transhipped from large ships to barges.

    The Stores Pierhead consisted of seven Spud Pontoons positioned in a line where the depth of water at low tide was some twenty foot. Four of the Spud Pontoons had Intermediate Pierhead Pontoons attached to them to provide parking and manoeuvring space. All pontoons were connected by Telescopic Bridge Spans. Two Floating Roadways connected the pierhead to the shore at Arromanches.

    The Barge Pierhead was originally two Spud Pontoons and an Intermediate Pierhead Pontoon positioned at right angles to the shore and in shallower water. A single Floating Roadway connected the pierhead to the shore at Arromanches. Later a further Spud Pontoon and an Intermediate Pontoon were added at right angles to the original pierhead.

    The LST Pierhead used standard components but all were modified to handle LSTs. A Spud Pontoon was positioned at right angles to the shore just outside the one fathom (6 foot) line. A second Spud Pontoon was positioned at right angles to the first to allow a LST to moor on either side of it. So that the LSTs could use their bow doors to discharge tanks and other vehicles two Buffer Pontoons were fastened to the first Spud Pontoon. This Buffer Pontoon provided a ramp on which the LST could beach itself, and vehicles could then drive up onto the Spud Pontoon. The second Spud Pontoon had two major additions. Firstly it had an elevated ramp which allowed vehicles to drive off the upper deck of the LSTs and onto the pontoons. Secondly it had heavy ‘Baker’ fenders which absorbed the force of LSTs hitting the pontoon when berthing. A single reinforced Floating Roadway connected with the shore at Cabane. This pierhead allowed LSTs to discharge their loads in minutes rather than hours and soon only one LST berth was needed. An extra Spud Pontoon with Baker fenders was added to provide a berth for hospital ships on one side.

    The components were assembled into convenient tows and moored, or in the case of the caissons sunk, around the Solent. For the crossing of the Channel components were towed by larger naval tugs.

    Captain, Naval Officer in Charge Mulberry B was responsible for the construction and operation of the harbour. The first Mulberry convoys sailed on D Day and included
    - handling tugs, control ships and mooring forces in the morning
    - Bombardons from Portland and Corncobs from Poole in the afternoon
    - Phoenix in the evening.
    Mulberry tows used dedicated routes P, Q and O from St Albans Head, Selsey and Dungeness to a point north of the German mine barrier and then used channel 56.

    On D+1 the advanced engineer parties carried out their reconnaissance and then placed markers at the high tide level and on higher ground for the aligning of the first two piers. The Royal Navy laid marker buoys for the caissons and blockships. Royal Navy boom laying vessels also laid moorings for the Bombardons although confusion over the orders led to these been laid in deeper water than intended.

    From D+2 onwards Whale and Phoenix tows sailed daily when the weather allowed. They were difficult tows and only 15 days out of the first 42 were in fact suitable and some were lost including 5 Whale tows, 2 Phoenix tows and 2 tugs. Whenever possible they were taken across by LSD or car float.

    The caissons were towed to within a mile of the shore by their large tugs and were handed over to the smaller harbour tugs which were to manoeuvre and position them.

    On D+3 the survey was complete, the Phoenix were being sunk and the central Whale pier was under construction.

    On D+4 the pier sections began to arrive and were positioned by tugs. The roadways were towed in sections which were assembled and then positioned between the piers and the shore. This proved a difficult task in choppy seas.

    By D+8 the stores pier and its roadways were in position and operational.

    By D+10 the Bombardons were complete, the Phoenix were half complete and two pier heads were in use and landing 1,500 tons of stores a day.

    AA defence was provided on shore and on the Phoenix. 30 smoke trawlers were also provided for each Mulberry. 15 were on station at any time while the other 15 were replenishing smoke oil at Portsmouth. The trawlers were hastily fitted vessels withdrawn from the fisheries. HDML patrols were maintained round the outer anchorages and LCVP patrols were maintained in the harbour entrances. These were against midget submarines and human torpedoes.

    Operating Mulberry.

    Army Transportation Units.

    The Operation of Mulberry was entrusted to 10 Port Operating Group which consisted of:
    1044 Port Operating Company
    1046 Port Operating Company
    1047 Port Operating Company
    1049 Port Operating Company
    1044 Port Maintenance Company

    Also to operate the machinery of the Mulberry were
    870 Port Floating Equipment Company.
    969 Port Floating Equipment Company.

    Also working in the port were 3 and 4 Inland Water Transport Operating Groups which consisted of:
    3 Inland Water Transport Operating Group
    940 Inland Water Transport Operating Company
    953 Inland Water Transport Operating Company
    961 Inland Water Transport Operating Company
    966 Inland Water Transport Operating Company
    987 Inland Water Transport Light Aid Workshop
    4 Inland Water Transport Operating Group
    951 Inland Water Transport Operating Company
    965 Inland Water Transport Operating Company
    987 Inland Water Transport Light Aid Workshop

    To provide labour 22 Pioneer Group provided:
    98 Pioneer Company
    240 Pioneer Company
    261 Pioneer Company
    307 Pioneer Company
    Three more Pioneer Companies were to be attached from the Beach Sub Area.

    Units from other beaches, especially Sword, moved to Mulberry when they were no longer required for their original tasks.

    These units were timed to arrive as follows:
    An eleven man reconnaissance party from Headquarters 10 Port Operating Group. This included the Officer Commanding and was to make detailed plans for the accommodation and deployment of the companies as they arrived.

    The remainder of the Headquarters 10 Port Operating Group arrive together with 45 men, 3 motorcycles, a car 2 seater, a 3ton 4 X 4 GS and a water trailer. At the same time the Headquarters and administrative personnel of 1044 and 1049 Port Operating Companies arrive each with 35 men, a motorcycle, an amphibious jeep, two 3ton 4 X 4 GS and a trailer fire pump.

    317 men from each of 1044 and 1049 Port Operating Companies arrive on the stores coasters which they will discharge. Landing separately was the heavy equipment, each of the two companies having 14 men, two motorcycles, a jeep, two RB 19 crawler cranes and two RB10 crawler cranes.

    Also landing on D+4 were
    64 men from 1046 Port Operating Company
    55 men from 951 Inland Water Transport Company arriving in the barges that they are to operate plus 4 men and a 15cwt landing separately.
    15 men and a 3ton 4 X 4 GS from 972 Inland Water Transport Light Aid Workshop.
    52 men, a 15cwt Compressor and a 3 ton 4 X 4 GS from 1053 Port Maintenance Company.
    160 men and two unspecified vehicles from 98 Pioneer Company.

    Headquarters and administrative personnel of 1046 Port Operating Company arrives with 35 men, a motorcycle, an amphibious jeep, two 3ton 4 X 4 GS and a trailer fire pump. Also arriving was a 60 ton self propelled floating crane and 21 men from 6 Inland Water Transport Floating Crane Section.

    17 men from Headquarters 22 Pioneer Group land with an unspecified vehicle and a motorcycle. Also landing were 290 men and three unspecified vehicles from 240 Pioneer Company.

    The remainder of 1046 Port Operating Company arrived with 267 men, two motorcycles, a jeep, two RB19 crawler cranes and three RB10 crawler cranes.

    A busy day for new arrivals.
    1047 Port Operating Company landed 181 men, two motorcycles, a jeep and a 3ton 4 X 4 GS.
    1053 Port Maintenance Company landed a jeep, a 15cwt and a 3ton 4 X 4 GS towing a fire pump.
    951 Inland Water Transport Operating Company had 227 men arriving in the barges they were to operate and eight men, a motorcycle a car 2 seater and a 3ton 4 X 4 GS landing separately.
    965 Inland Water Transport Operating Company had 131 men arriving in the barges they were to operate and a car 2 seater landing separately.
    972 Inland Water Transport Light Aid Company landed 48 men and a 3ton 4 X 4 GS.
    98 Pioneer Company landed 132 men with one unspecified vehicle.
    261 Pioneer Company landed 240 men with three unspecified vehicles.
    307 Pioneer Company landed 240 men with three unspecified vehicles.

    The Inland Water Transport Operating Companies now operated the following:
    6 TID tugs
    80 PBR (Powered Barge Ramped)
    1 60 Ton Self Propelled Floating Crane
    1 60 Ton Dump Floating Crane

    No further personnel or vehicles arrived until D+21 when the remainder of administrative personnel arrived.
    19 men, a motorcycle, a car 4 X 2 and a 15cwt arrive from 4 Inland Water Transport Group Headquarters.

    12 men with a jeep and a car 4 X 2 from Headquarters 10 Port Operating Group arrive.

    10 men with two cars 4 X 2 and a water trailer from each of 1044, 1046 and 1049 Port Operating Companies plus 23 men and a car 4 X 2 from 1053 Port Maintenance Company. Each unit also landed several tons of unit stores.
    Juha and Aixman like this.
  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Air photos of Mulberry B.

    mulberry x7.jpg
    The breakwater of sunken blockships and caissons is in place. The water inside the breakwater is noticeably calmer than that outside. Some shipping is already sheltering although the pierheads etc have not yet been completed.

    mulberry x4.jpg
    The stores pier is complete but the barge pier is not. Craft are ferrying between the shipping and the beach. There is a lot of movement already.

    mulberry x8.jpg
    The stores and LST piers are complete and operating. LCTs are discharging vehicles on Item Beach and more are waiting. The habitation on the left is Le Hamel, inside the Mulberry breakwaters now. Again notice the difference in the swell inside and outside the breakwater.

    mulberry x9.jpg
    All three piers, barge, stores and LST, in operation. The beaches are still being used to supplement the piers however. The white objects are not whales but balloons.
    Aixman likes this.
  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Positioning the roadways. These arrived already assembled into lengths of floats and roadway sections. They were then positioned so as to connect shore ramps with piers.

    mulberry x2.jpg mulberry x6.jpg mulberry x3.jpg mulberry x20.jpg mulberry x15.jpg .
    Aixman likes this.
  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    At the stores pier.
    mulberry x5.jpg mulberry x13.jpg
    Two photos taken at much the same time and showing the same ship, SS Flathouse. It seems to be discharging sacks and Bailey Pontoons.

    At the barge pier.
    mulberry x18.jpg
    Pioneer labour transferring ammunition from a barge or lighter to a Bedford OY 3 ton 4 X 2 backed up to the edge of the Barge Pier. A tug is moored outside the barge.

    Ships, as opposed to coasters, moored at buoys inside the breakwaters as they were too large to use the stores pier. Port Operating Company personnel discharged the stores from the ship to barges using the ships own winches and derricks.

    Pioneer labour transferred the loads under the supervision of Port Operating Company and Port Ammunition Section personnel. A GT Company RASC then operated a circuit from the pier to the ammunition dump and back.

    At the LST pier.
    mulberry x23.jpg mulberry x24.jpg
    Little labour required except for traffic control.
    4jonboy and Aixman like this.
  14. D-DayDodger

    D-DayDodger Member

    Airfix Magazine also ran a 13-part series of articles with drawings by Geoffrey Futter from June 1981 to August 1984. I only have the July 1982 issue (Part 9 - The LST Pierhead), but the magazines do appear from time to time on eBay.

    I must add my thanks to you for all the research you've undertaken on Sword, Juno and Gold and your generosity in sharing it here. I've learnt so much.

  15. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    I have tried to find who might have the copyright to the Mulberry drawings. I am pretty certain that they were never published in book form. The only book listed anywhere for Geoffrey W Futter is the Funnies. Only one Geoffrey W Futter is listed anywhere I can see is in Kings Lynn. The person who wrote the articles was in Leeds but it may be the same one. The publishers no longer exist so cannot help.

    I have the set of drawings but magazine publishing at the time was not of today's quality. The drawings are good but the paper is thin and my attempts to scan them always show the faint image of the reverse of the page.

  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    While I am here:

    I found an interesting piece in one of my many books on the navy of the Napoleonic era. I had not really noticed it before. It seems that the Royal Navy developed their own version of the LSI or APA. Old and redundant warships, frigates and small ships of the line were converted in the same way as the WW2 LSI. They were fitted out to carry some 300 troops. Officers had their own accommodation aft. Some of the original armament was retained for defence and some gun ports were retained for loading and unloading. The deck was modified to accommodate stacks of landing craft on cradles. These could be lifted and lowered into the water using the ships spars and booms. The landing craft were wide and shallow draught so that they could beach easily. Troops sat down the centre and naval oarsmen sat down the sides. Swivel guns to fire canister could be fitted to the bows to clear the beach of opposition.

  17. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I can't take credit for the trick, but a sheet of black card or paper behind the page should reduce the effect.
  18. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

  19. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I obviously have not got the hang of this quote function.

    There is some confusion over the ferry service mentioned in post 98. The Landing Tables say that the personnel remaining on the LSI(L)s were taken to shore by LCAs returning from earlier trips to shore. Other sources say that they were landed by LCTs. The truth is that both are correct. The LCAs which had carried the reserve battalion to shore were to unbeach and wait a mile offshore. The LCT(3)s which had carried DD tanks were to report to the LSI(L)s as part of the Ferry Service. Two LCTs were assigned to each ship. They carried the personnel to a position one mile offshore where the LCAs met them and completed the journey. The LCAs then returned to their mother ships and the LCTs went to the outbound waiting area. All then went home.

    The LCT(3)s were designed for steeper beach gradients than found on the Normandy beaches. They grounded in water too deep for personnel to land from them.

  20. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The narrative for all three beaches has hitherto ended when the brigades move inland. This section follows the brigades until the end of D Day, and sometimes after.


    1 Hampshire Regiment.
    The Capture of Le Hamel.

    When the acting Commanding Officer, 1 Hampshire Regiment decided that the capture of Le Hamel could not be achieved by working along the beach but would be best effected by an attack through Asnelles the companies were separated. ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies was reorganising as a composite ‘C’ Company in Les Roquettes. ‘B’ Company was nearing Asnelles village. ‘D’ Company was following ‘B’Company and making for the gun position at Cabane. The beach and Les Roquettes were being heavily mortared and there was frequent Nebelwerfer fire on Asnelles.

    The movement of ‘C’ Company from Les Roquettes to Asnelles was hampered by apparent minefields. All the fields for a mile inland were wired off and had ‘Achtung Minen’ notices displayed. It seemed that there were many more minefields than had been expected and were shown on the maps. Eventually it was realised that some ‘minefields’ had white notices while others had yellow and the yellow ones corresponded to those marked on the maps. The white notices were dummies. In fact the intelligence reports of minefields were very accurate. Air photographs actually showed mines clearly because the grass growing over mines or recently dug earth appeared quite different. Another good clue was provided by cattle. The grass on genuine minefields was not cropped by them so that the grass was long, and no cattle were visible.

    There was little enemy opposition apart from snipers and mortar fire. ‘B’ Company arrived in Asnelles first and was reorganising after some street fighting. ‘C’ Company arrived and met ‘B’ Company at the road junction 878860. Battalion headquarters was established at a house in the village 300 yards from the junction.

    ‘B’ Squadron Nottinghamshire Yeomanry do not seem to have been aware of the change of plan and were still trying to attack Le Hamel along the beach road. I Hampshire Regiment record that they saw DD tanks were seen near Le Hamel and at one point a DD tank approached up the road from Le Hamel. Unfortunately it exploded and burst into flames at the road junction 877861, blocking the road.

    As it was not clear if Le Hamel was still held by the enemy ‘B’ Company was ordered to make its way to the crossroads at 876865 and report. It later reported that the enemy position was still very active and one platoon had suffered casualties. However the company held on to positions at the cross roads.

    A short order group was held and a plan for the capture of Le Hamel made. ‘B’ Company would hold their position and give support to ‘C’ Company as it advanced and established itself along the lateral road in Le Hamel from cross roads 878866 to crossroads 876865. This would place them within 250 yards of the enemy position around the sanatorium. ‘B’ Company would then assault the position supported by fire from ‘C’ Company. ‘C’ Company’s advance began at 1345 hours. Some opposition was met and the lateral road was not gained until about an hour later.

    ‘B’ Company moved forward to the final objective but were held up when about 50 yards short of the sanatorium by heavy fire. At that moment an AVRE from Team No2, which had left the beach through Lane No3, appeared from the direction of Asnelles. This AVRE had lost wireless contact with its control tank and joined three DD tanks which were heading towards Le Hamel to engage the anti tank gun emplacement there. Unable to assist in this action the AVRE headed to Asnelles and met with ‘B’ Company. The AVRE was contacted and it attacked the sanatorium from the landward side. When five petard rounds had hit the building 1 Hampshire Regiment were able to get inside. Once the sanatorium had been secured the rest of the strongpoint was mopped up. The strong 75mm gun emplacement which had caused losses all day was finally taken when a petard round blew in the rear door.

    It is not clear exactly what support 1 Hampshire Regiment received in their assaults on Le Hamel. Certainly the navy devoted considerable effort early in the day in attempts to neutralise the 75mm gun emplacement which caused so much damage and delay. At about 0630, H-1 Hour, the gunboat Flores with three 5.9” guns moved close inshore to engage the position. Flores had been unable to contact the spotting aircraft assigned to it and so fired directly over open sights. This had little effect since the emplacement was positioned to fire along the beach and was well protected from the sea. When the gun opened fire on the beach it was engaged by the destroyed Undine with four 4.7” guns at 0805 hours. This seems to have silenced it for a while. It was again engaged by the smaller Hunt class destroyer Cottesmore with four 4“ guns between 0827 to 0840 hours. The 75mm continued to fire on the beaches and Cottesmore fired on it again at 0930 hours.

    After the above engagements Naval Force ‘G’ was unable to give support because 1 Hampshire Regiment had lost contact and was unable to call for support. Without knowing the situation ashore and the exact plans or location of own troops the naval force could not fire. Report of Commander Force ‘G’ says ‘ It was exasperating to know that they were meeting with stiff resistance and to have destroyers and supporting craft lying close offshore but unable to help them’. The same report says that the navy did give support for the final assault on Le Hamel with a concentrated bombardment by Landing Craft Gun, Landing Craft Flak and destroyers. Details are sadly lacking.

    The War Diary of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry does not mention supporting 1 Hampshire Regiment. Other sources mention DD tanks being in the area but there is no mention of their being involved in the assault. The Westminster Dragoons, Flails, do not mention giving support except when helping the infantry off the beaches. The Crocodiles of 141 Regiment RAC were still drowned on the beach.

    147 Field Regiment RA reported knocking out two anti tank guns by firing over open sights some time in the morning. There is no other mention of shooting in support of 1 Hampshire Regiment.

    It appears that the crucial support came from a single AVRE, which proved very effective.

    While ‘B’ Company was mopping up the Le Hamel East strongpoint ‘C’ Company with the AVRE was sent to deal with the position at Le Hamel West, 870864. Again the enemy put up a stiff resistance but the petard rounds fired at fortified houses enabled the infantry to close with the enemy. The DD tanks did assist in this clearing up operation.

    ‘D’ Company had meanwhile been sent to capture the radar station on the cliffs east of Arromanches. This was taken with only slight casualties. Sniping was reported from Arromanches but the Forward Observation Bombardment Officer called for fire from destroyers. The destroyers then began to soften up the enemy position at Arromanches West, 843867.

    The battalions Carriers now arrived. These were especially welcome since they brought much needed ammunition. They were accompanied by a half troop of AVREs. Le Hamel was reported clear at 1600 hours and ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies were ordered to move and disperse in the area of the Cabane position. A battalion order group was held at the radar station which gave a good view over the next objective, the position at 843867. Plans and orders were given for the next phase.

    The plan was for ‘D’ Company to skirt the town from the south and to take the position from the rear. Arrangements were made for a 15 minute bombardment by a destroyer, followed by a 10 minute concentration by 147 Field Regiment. ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies were to support the attack with small arms fire from the forward slopes of the radar station. On the capture of the objective ‘D’ Company would send a platoon to deal with the observation post on the edge of the cliff at 837872.

    The attack was successful. There was little resistance and no casualties. By 2100 hours the position was completely clear of the enemy.

    An attempt was then made to secure Tracy sur Mer but enemy resistance was stubborn. Snipers in the woods and orchards about the village had good cover and the light was fading and it was decided to postpone the operation until first light. For the night the battalion established positions near Come de Fresne and west of Arromanches.

    1 Dorset Regiment.
    ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies of 1 Dorset Regiment reached Buhot about 1330 hours. The approach had been across open country and under enemy fire which caused casualties. Beyond the village the objective of Point 54 was on high ground and was approached up a sharp rise over open ground. The high ground seemed to be more strongly held than had been expected. Most of the fighting here was done by ‘C’ Company which took the objective and then moved into position to support the attack by ‘D’ Company on Puits d’Herode.

    ‘D’ Company moved out of Buhot at about 1400 hours and surprised and captured a company of German pioneers and their transport. At 1500 hours ‘D’ Company with tanks of ‘C’ Squadron Nottinghamshire Yeomanry and supported by fire from ‘C’ Company on Point 54 started their attack on Puits d’Herode. They over ran several posts, including anti tank guns, in the woods to the south of the strongpoint but could not get into the strongpoint itself. They had suffered casualties and no longer had the strength to complete the task.

    ‘A’ Company was ordered to attack Puits d’Herode from the south west. They were supported by tanks from ‘C’ Squadron Nottinghamshire Yeomanry and by fire from ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies. Artillery support was given by 90 Field regiment RA which had a Forward Observation Officer on Point 54 and the regimental commander at battalion headquarters. The guns were firing from a position to the west of Meuvaines village. The attack was successful and by 1700 hours ‘A’ Company had occupied the strongpoint.

    While this operation was taking place a party of the enemy attempted to counter attack the flank of ‘C’ Company on the high ground south west of Point 54. They were repulsed.

    It remained for 1 Dorset Regiment to capture the battery position at 848853 (Arromanches 1). ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies carried out the assault with the support of Nottinghamshire Yeomanry and 90 Field Regiment RA. Fire support was provided by ‘D’ Company from Point 54. It was found that the enemy had pulled out leaving the guns and equipment behind.

    The battalion heavy weapons from the support company had been assembling at Les Roquettes and now moved up to join the battalion. The battalion reorganised and took up positions at the southern end of the Point 54 plateau as planned. ‘B’ Company which had been providing a firm base at Les Roquettes moved up to take over Ryes from 2 Devon Regiment.

    Although the gun position Arromanches 1 was thought to have contained four 105mm guns it was found that there was only one 75mm gun and that was in the open. There were three other concrete platforms under camouflage netting but these were not occupied. The 75mm gun does not seem to have fired. It was engaged by HMS Emerald which fired 185 6” shells between 0542 and 0855 hours. The position had also been a target for air bombardment but the nearest bomb crater was 200 yards away.

    Having secured all their D Day objectives the battalion occupied positions on the Point 54 feature and in Ryes.

    2 Devonshire Regiment.

    The battalion had made its way inland and assembled at Les Roquettes. ‘C’ Company was still heavily engaged near Le Hamel but the remainder of the battalion moved off from Les Roquettes at about 1120 hours. Initially ‘D’ Company was in the lead but when it suffered casualties, including the company commander, from harassing mortar fire ‘A’ Company moved into the lead. The battalion advanced roughly along the line of Le Gronde river. About 1000 yards from Ryes ‘A’ and ‘D’ Companies came under fire from well concealed machine guns and snipers and were held up. The country was very close and it was almost impossible to locate the small parties of enemy who held their fire until short range. In attempting to advance against these tactics the two companies suffered many casualties including five officers and the Forward Officer Bombardment. It was not possible to communicate with the battalions mortars or with the supporting self propelled artillery. The Commanding Officer decided to leave ‘A’ Company to contain the enemy and protect the left flank while ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies by passed the opposition and moved on to Ryes. By 1625 hours ‘B’ Company had reached Ryes and occupied it. ‘B’ Company remained to hold the village while the remainder of the battalion took up positions on the high ground to the north west of Ryes. ‘A’ Company were counter attacked but the enemy were driven off.

    ‘A’ Squadron, Nottinghamshire Yeomanry record that they had moved through Meuvaines to Buhot and then moved to Ryes in support of 2 Devonshire Regiment. The latter do not mention any support from tanks and soon afterwards the Yeomanry were supporting the Essex Regiment.

    By this time ‘C’ Company had extricated itself from Le Hamel and was on its way to join the battalion. They had been pinned down by snipers on the outskirts of Le Hamel and suffered many casualties including the Officer Commanding. 511 Battery RA fired in support and knocked out two anti tank guns. ‘C’ Company joined the battalion north west of Ryes. Later it was sent forward to occupy Maas de Cradaille, 8184, in preparation for the attack on the Longues position next day. They were brought to a halt at La Rosiere, about a mile short of their objective.

    One reason that enemy resistance on the Jig beaches was stiffer than expected was that the German 352 Division had taken over the defence of the western half of the sector held by 716 Division and had used some of its infantry to thicken up the coastal ‘crust’. 50 Division now faced three infantry battalions instead of the one which had been expected. Two of these battalions were troops of low category, one was composed of ‘volunteers’ from the east, and did not offer prolonged resistance but the troops of I Battalion, 916 Regiment of 716 Division were different and fought stubbornly in the Asnelles/Le Hamel area.


    7 Green Howards.
    7 Green Howards cleared the Ver sur Mer Battery and then continued the advance to the River Seulles. ‘C’ Company continues along the eastern road to Crepon while the remainder of the battalion moved west to the River de Provence. The battalion met some opposition in Crepon and also south of the village on the road to Creully. Here they suffered their first casualties.

    The planned mobile column under the second in command now got under way. It consisted of ‘A’ Squadron 4/7 Dragoon Guards with ‘B’ Company riding on the tanks, plus a section of Carriers. The column reached the bridge at 906805 where an enemy staff car was destroyed before the column came under fire from an anti tank gun located on the far side of the bridge. This was dealt with by artillery fire and ‘C’ Company moved up to secure the bridge. The mobile column moved on to the west and seized the bridge at S. Gabriel, which turned out to be only a foot bridge. A rare failure of intelligence.

    South of Creully there was some machine gun fire and the battalion mortars went into action. There was no great delay until the village of Fresnay le Crotteur was reached. Here the approaches were held by machine guns and self propelled anti tank guns. Four of the tanks of 4/7 Dragoon Guards were hit.

    Further progress was halted by naval gunfire. At 1840 hours the Headquarters Ship received a request from a Forward Observer Bombardment for fire on tanks moving north from Rucqueville. The task was given to Orion but there was some delay because of the lack of a spotting plane. Orion engaged the tanks from 1940 to 2012 hours. Three tanks were reported destroyed and the rest scattered. Some of the naval shells fell amongst the 7 Green Howards.

    When the firing stopped the 7 Green Howards pushed on towards Coulombs. The village was reported to be clear but the leading troops were fired on from the fortified farm at La Parc, 878752. As it was now getting darl and it appeared that a carefully co ordinated attack would be needed to clear the farm the battalion was withdrawn for the night to the high ground just north of Coulombs.

    HMS Orion engaged the farm of La Parc from 2105 to 2138 hours.

    5 East Yorkshire Regiment.
    At 1200 hours the battalion was ordered to advance to St Leger as planned. At 1500 hours the battalion was held up to the north of St Gabriel by an infantry company and two self propelled 75mm guns. A successful attack was made in which the Commanding Officer was wounded. By 1750 St Gabriel was occupied. At 1830 hours the battalion was ordered to Brecy. The battalion had progresses only about 300 yards south of St Gabriel before they came under fire from automatic weapons and two 88mm guns in woods at 884737, about half a mile to the north of Brecy.

    The battalion was very tired by this time and the Brigade Commander decided to attack with 6 Green Howards on the right of 5 East Yorkshire Regiment. The objective was a house north west of the Church in Brecy and the start line was to be the road from Vaussieux to St Gabriel which was to be crossed at 2130 hours.

    6 Green Howards.
    6 Green Howards reached the north bank of the River Seulles from Le Manoir, 8680 to Tierceville bridge, 915808. They had orders to by pass opposition wherever possible and they were well south of Crepon by 1500 hours having collected prisoners on the outskirts of the village. They then proceeded to establish a firm base at Villiers le Sec when it arrived about 1800 hours. The battalion was then to halt until the situation in the St Gabriel area became clear.

    At 2030 hours the battalion resumed its advance and formed up across the River Seulles for an attack on Brecy. This went in on time, supported by 86 Field Regiment RA and one platoon of ‘B’ MMG Company, 2 Cheshire Regiment. The attack was successful and 5 East Yorkshire Regiment was able to work their way forward into Brecy itself.

    The two battalions re organised for the night. 6 Green Howards were concentrated just west of Brecy with battalion headquarters at 878785.

    Headquarters 69 Brigade.
    The Brigade Commander had landed and gone to the Main Beach Signal Station with his Rover jeep. The M14 Halftrack being used as Brigade Headquarters control vehicle was stranded on the beach on landing. The purpose of the Main Beach Signal Station was to provide communications in just such a situation as this. The Brigade Commander borrowed two spare wireless sets in handcarts which the Signal Station had, again for such an occasion as this, and the Brigade Headquarters then moved forward to Ver sur Mer and was established in farm buildings there by 1300 hours.

    At 1645 the Brigade Commander ordered the headquarters forward to Villiers le Sec. At 1950 he moved it again and by 2025 hours it was located in the woods near St Gabriel, 889796. They occupied a farmhouse which had been used by a German signal unit. It was reported that there were civilians looting the abandoned stores and a number of horses, some German Army and some French farm horses, though it was impossible to tell which was which. (German Army horses would surely have some form of marking).

    Longues sur Mer Battery..

    The battery at Longues sur Mer differed from other batteries along the Normandy beaches in that it was a German Navy (Kriegsmarine) coastal defence battery. While the other, army, batteries along the coast were primarily anti invasion/anti raid defences the naval battery was intended to engage moving enemy warships which might threaten the coastal area and the port of Le Havre. The guns, emplacements and fire control equipment were designed specifically for the role.

    Construction of the Longues sur Mer battery started in September 1943 but not completed until April 1944, indeed not quite complete then. It was to have four M272 concrete casemates built to Class B standard which called for two metre thick concrete to sides and roof. They were positioned some 250 yards inland. The guns were modern naval 150mm weapons built by Skoda in Pilsen and usually fitted to warships. These guns were mounted on a fixed turntable and platform and had an armoured shield as used on destroyers, with armour on front sides and roof. Range was some twelve miles which allowed the battery to fire on the transport areas/lowering points on Gold and Omaha beaches. The design was superior to that of army casemates in several respects most notably by having a large concrete platform or raft which prevented the casemate slipping, tilting or subsiding under heavy bombardment. The embrasure was protected by a heavy overhanging projection which gave protection to the gun since any shell fired at long range must follow a projector which ends with it descending at an angle.

    An essential difference in the fire control was that the Longues sur Mer battery used the same system as used on warships. This was designed to track and engage moving targets. A M262 fire control bunker was placed on the cliff edge where it would have a good view of the area to seaward. This was a two story structure, again with two metre thick concrete. The upper story had optical instruments for range finding and tracking targets as well as observing the fall of shell. Below was the equivalent of the naval transmitting centre. This received all relevant information about the targets range, bearing and speed as well as information on wind, temperature and humidity which could affect the flight of shells and the performance of the propellant. The control equipment could then predict the point at which ship and shell should meet. The information was then transmitted automatically and electronically to the guns. Corrections were made by observing the fall of shell and adding the observations to the existing data. There were two observation posts, one to the east and one to the west which could give a position by triangulation and which could give more accurate observation of the fall of shot.

    The battery would have been even more formidable if it had been provided with its own radar. There were three radar stations in the area but they had no direct communication with the guns. They reported to their own control centre which sent information to the various batteries. This was too slow for use in gunnery control.

    The battery was manned by naval personnel but had been placed under the command and control of the army. Defence of the area was provided by the army. There was also one captured Russian 122mm gun which was intended for use mainly in firing star shells for illumination of targets, although it could, and did, fire high explosive.

    The battery posed a considerable threat to shipping since it was superior to army batteries in several respects. Its guns were modern whereas army guns tended to be obsolete and captured items. The fire control was superior to that of the army batteries and designed for use against shipping. However its reliance on hi tech (for the time) equipment made it vulnerable to allied bombing. All the communications cables between the control bunker and guns were cut and the only means of signalling available was by flags and this was made difficult by poor visibility due to smoke and dust.

    On the morning of D Day HMS Ajax bombarded the battery from 0530 hours, as soon as it was light enough to see. This caused little damage and the battery fired on the headquarters ship HMS Bulolo at 0600 hours. Bulolo was forced to move its position. HMS Ajax returned together with HMS Argonaut and they bombarded the battery, firing 179 rounds, until it ceased firing at 0845. By this time two of the guns had been put out of action by shells landing directly on the embrasure of the casemates.

    The battery remained quiet until the afternoon when the remaining two guns fired towards Omaha beach. The French cruiser Georges Laygues returned the fire and the battery remained silent. The 122mm gun positioned in the open fired on both Gold and Omaha beaches during the day.

    Early on D+1 the infantry defending the area were withdrawn and an assault was mounted by ‘C’ Company, 2 Devonshire Regiment. There was little resistance from the elderly (in military terms) garrison and 120 of the battery personnel were taken prisoner.

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