Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Trux, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Russell Francis

    Russell Francis New Member

    Hi Michel,

    Amazing stuff great spot re the markings. I will try and find out which craft he was assigned to, it maybe the Royal Marines may have more info. Spooky but the chap right at the beginning of the clip whose profile you briefly see looks remarkably like him!!!
  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    I am afraid that 800 Flotilla did not land any Canadian troops on D Day. They did not arrive in time to do any work on that day. The Flotilla sailed with Group JM2 which assembled at Chichester and departed from the Nab at 0530 D Day. It then had a hundred mile crossing at 5 knots. The weather was very bad, with gales and rough seas which forced some craft to return to port. Most however made the crossing on time.

    Group JM2 consisted of:
    ‘F’ Squadron LCM. 600, 601, 606, 650, 651, 652 Flotillas. Total 96 craft.
    ‘A’ Squadron LCVP. 800, 801, 802, 803, 804 Flotillas. 80 craft.

    LCVP would be used for unloading as required and for despatch duties. They rarely carried personnel, LCI(L) being used for this.

    800 and 801 Flotillas were used for Alert Patrols. It was thought that there was a real danger of human torpedoes or similar being used against ships in the anchorages. Even though there were several lines of patrol vessels to seaward and there were other beaches to east and west Force ‘J’ had a patrol organisation in place.

    LCVP Flotillas 800 and 801 were to provide groups of six craft to patrol each of the four anchorages off Juno. Each patrol had a LCI(S) as a base. Group 1 patrolled the LST anchorage, Group 2 patrolled the MT anchorage, Group 3 patrolled the coaster anchorage and Group 4 patrolled the Sailing anchorage. A fifth group of eight LCVP was kept under the control of Senior Officer Assault Group on HMS Waveney. These were to be assigned to individual ships as the situation required.

    The LCVP patrols were to patrol the anchorages if there was a risk of attack. If human torpedoes were known to be in the area then the patrol craft were to drop 5lb charges every ten minutes. The stand by flotilla of LCP(L) would augment the patrols as ordered by the Senior Officer Assault Group and would also drop 5lb charges every ten minutes. All patrol craft were to carry a dim blue light for identification and were to return to the parent LCI(S) every thirty minutes for information and orders. Patrol craft did not carry wireless.

    There was also a despatch service operating within Force ‘J’ and providing a two hourly service to all important authorities ashore and afloat. This was operated by LCVPs.

    In addition LCVP were to be allocated as workboats as follows.
    Naval Officer in Charge. 1 LCVP based at Gooseberry 4.
    Principal Ferry Control Officer. 4 LCVP based alongside LCH.
    Senior Officer ferry Control 1. 4 LCVP based alongside LCH.
    Senior Officer ferry Control 2. 4 LCVP based alongside LCH.
    Port Operating Company. 4 LCVP based at Gooseberry 4.
    Military Landing Officer. 2 LCVP based at Gooseberry 4.
    Flotilla Officers. 13 LCVP based with Flotilla Officers.
    Maintenance, minor craft. 8 LCVP based at Gooseberry 4.
    Maintenance, major craft. 2 LCVP based at LCT anchorage
    Maintenance, coastal craft. 2 LCVP based at LCT anchorage.
    LSE. 2 LCVP based alongside LSE.
    Depot Ship Pool. 10 LCVP, plus any remainder, based at Depot Ship.

    4jonboy, Roy Martin and Aixman like this.
  3. Russell Francis

    Russell Francis New Member

    Thank you for that information, I have listened to part of Tony Lowndes oral account and I guess my Grandfathers role would have been a similar experience, i.e. arriving circa 19:00 on D-Day and patrolling the anchorage for a couple of months, do you think I will be able to find out which actual craft he was assigned to? Happy to go back to Kew again or seek info from the Royal Marines, although I believe their Museum at Portsmouth has been closed, whilst looking for a new venue.


  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    The photo in post 217 shows the LCVPs moored alongside one of the redundant ships sunk as part of Gooseberry 5, the breakwater off Sword Beach. It should be possible to identify this ship from its number but I have not yet managed this. I believe it was used as the depot and accommodation ship for the LCVPs so your grandfather would have spent some time on board.

    Linking individuals to specific craft is very hit and miss. I have army War Diaries which contain lists of personnel, their assignments, leaves, disciplines and promotion but this is rare. Lists would have existed but have rarely been kept.

  5. The ONEAST orders state that Blockship #427 was MARIPOSA, allocated to GOOSEBERRY 4, therefore JUNO, not SWORD as I first wrote and as the caption and other sequences of the IWM film imply. But maybe MARIPOSA was actually scuttled off SWORD instead of JUNO as planned...

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  6. I did not have the time to check it all yesterday, but now things have cleared up a bit:

    Starting at 03:15 ADM 1264 shows a different shoreline from the previous clips which where clearly shot off SWORD (see the blazing dump for example).

    The three Blockships are #427 (MARIPOSA), #324 (MANCHESTER SPINNER) and #426 (BENDORAN), all allocated to GOOSEBERRY 4, so this must indeed be JUNO Area, which better matches "A" Build up Flotilla's belonging to Force J.

    Roy Martin likes this.
  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    I agree. Frustratingly Google has many references to the US Matson Line ship Mariposa but no details for the UK registered Mariposa. The blockships provided useful accommodation but little seems to be recorded about this. Perhaps you know different.

  8. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    3,807 grt built 1914. Looks like a Kaye and Co of London name, but I can't find her in Talbot-Booth, so perhaps they acquired her after 1943. Unfortunately the Plimsoll Lloyd's Register site seems to be down every time I try
    Trux likes this.
  9. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Doesn't seem to be in Kaye fleet list
  10. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    The book “Les Sentinelles du Silence” by Patrick David has the following about “MARIPOSA”

    1914, 3807 tonnes, ex GREEK MARINER, ex GALEB, ex CEFNBRYN, ex DE DINJE, ex THEOFANO, ex IOANNIS VATIS (Neill & Pandelis Ltd, G O Till manager).


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  11. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    From the D-Day Ships,
    Br (British) MoWT ( Btitish) Ministry of War Transport.
    17thDYRCH likes this.
  12. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    She'd been around hadn't she! I see that she was in convoys from OG4, so must have been one of MOWT's panic buys at the begining of the war. Strange she isn't in Empire Ships, which incliudes a chapter on purchased and requisitioned ships.
  13. I wish I did! I am however not certain that the blockships were planned to be used for accommodating crews of the Build up Flotillas / Ferry Service. Although several books say so, I have yet to see a primary source that confirms it. Blockships from various GOOSEBERRY shelters appear on a number of IWM films, which show that the decks of most of them were awash at high tide, leaving only the upper parts of the superstructure potentially habitable. Still, there might have been sufficient room in these, and perhaps enough blockships with dry decks, to house a significant portion of the crews.

    Each Assault Area had a couple of Depot and Repair ships allocated for the maintenance of ferry service personnel. Quoting BAGO Section III (Accommodation, Amenities):
    Minor Landing Craft. The provision of 50% spare crews is
    intended to ensure that, allowing for casualties to craft,
    it will be possible to man all available craft and to run
    half of them continuously. Relief crews will live in the
    depot ships when not manning their craft.

    Crews manning their craft were to obtain hot meals and drinks from LB(K) (Landing Barge (Kitchen)).

    ONBA Section II (Build-up) Appx IV (Allocation of Ferry Craft to Sub-area NOICs) allocates Depot Ships HMS HAWKINS, SS ASCANIUS and HMS SOUTHERN PRINCE to Force "J" craft (see Mike's Post #84).

    ASCANIUS was alloted the following flotillas:

    6 LCM Flotillas (600th, 601st, 604th, 650th, 651st, 652nd) – 96 craft
    3½ LBV(2) Flotillas (1st, 2nd, 3rd, ½ 4th) – 42 barges
    "A" Squadron LCV(P) – 64 craft (minus 1 Flotilla to "S")
    US LCV(P) – 80 craft

    which computes to a total of 266 craft and close to 2000 men (including spare crews and flotilla staff) to be accommodated every night. I do not know what the maximum capacity of ASCANIUS was, but judging by this photo it must have been quite a lot!

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  14. "Between 19 April and 12 May 1915 Ascanius (A11) was refitted to transport 1820 men as well as twelve horses."
    Source: Across the Sea to War

    I presume that the accommodation available for NEPTUNE must have been on a similar level.

    The mention of horses begs the question of whether any such animal was ever brought over to the continent during the invasion...

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  15. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Haven't seen any mention of horses in 1944, plenty brought over in 1939/40!
  16. The account on BBC - WW2 People's War - A Tale of Six Scaffolding Poles: Juno Beach on D-Day is probably a partial transcription of Tony Lowndes' interview.

    "Our accommodation was to be on an old troopship the S.S. Ascania [sic] which would be anchored inside the ring of blockships opposite Juno Beach."
    "We then (...) made ourselves comfortable on Ascania which became our operating base."
    "After a few weeks we moved into a tented camp behind the beach and Ascania sailed away."

  17. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    Hi, as nothing more than a show of solidarity (as in I have no additional information) I can tell you that I am researching my father-in-law’s role in WW2; he was part of the crew of LST 159, LTIN 1741, which sailed for D-Day in the same group as LST 239. Tracy
  18. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    I thought this personal account might be of interest here, from the memoir of Jim Harris, RN, based on LST159 - part of Group 332:

    The loading of tanks of all sorts, including flail tanks, unwieldy-looking creatures. A tank with 2 giant ‘arms’ on its sides, with very heavy chains between the 2. A simple but ingenious way of clearing through a minefield with the arms put out in front of the tank and the heavy chains were sent revolving round., hitting the ground well in front of the tank – it appeared to work well. After the vehicles and drivers and a few supply troops were embarked, Royal Navy frogmen came aboard. These were supposed to be the men that I was supposed to take inshore before the ‘fireworks’ started, to clear the mines and booby traps known to be on the shoreline. In the event, the weather was so rough as to make that idea impracticable. Once we had started loading no-one was allowed ashore except the Captain. My LCA was ready, having had an overhaul, a hasty but nevertheless thorough one, or so I was assured. I remember sailing past Fort Blackhouse preparatory to anchoring in the Solent, and having a large party of Wrens (WRNS) waving at us; I was near my boat, and on my own, and they all appeared to be waving at me personally – wishful thinking! They were very close and I could see that one of them was crying. In retrospect, I feel that I should have wanted to put my arms around her and comforted her but in reality I remember thinking ‘ what is she crying for?’. Although I thought that I was a veteran I really knew so little about human nature. I was 21 years of age and for 5 of those years I had been involved in the war in some form or another, the last (almost) 3 years abroad, so I knew very little about ‘normal’ human living. I only knew about the company of men, having had so little contact with anyone else.

    After the ship was anchored, surrounded by so many ships, we were told that the date for invasion was June 5th. Today was June 4th. This ship was going to be in the vanguard and my boat was to be dropped with the frogmen as close as possible, whilst keeping the main ship well off shore and out of sight. This seemed as though it was an impossible task for the sea was rising and a Force 8 or 9 gale was forecast. It was going to be very hard to launch the boat in weather such as that. A signal was sent later postponing the operation by 24 hours. I can recall a feeling of deflation or let-down. My adrenalin was running; in today’s terms I presume I was ‘hyped up’. I have never discussed this with anyone, but I often wonder if other men felt the same way. I was young, but very experienced – it was a job I knew how to do well. I confess that it was a buzz of excitement, not of fear, for I can honestly say that I could not envisage anything happening to me. It could and would happen to a lot of other people, but not to me. In my mind I was invincible. When the order to move finally came, late afternoon of the 5th, the gale did not seem to be easing at all and I, nor the frogmen, could not foresee how an LCA could live in such rough water. I was clear that the launching, if it could be managed at all, would have to take place much closer inshore than was originally intended and furthermore, from a practical and a weather point of view, the job of dismantling booby traps or mines just below the surface of the water would not be possible, which proved to be the case. So many plans that seemed to be eminently practical and brilliant were negated because of the foul weather, chief amongst which was the use of ‘rhinos’. These were flatboards of empty or air-filled tanks towed behind ships and the idea was for the large landing ships to get as close to the shore as possible and the ‘rhinos’ would then, with the aid of 2 very powerful outboard motors, steer to the bows of the LSTs, load tanks, unload them onto the beach and then return for another load until the LST was unloaded. This was done to prevent the large ships being stranded when the tide receded. It was a disaster, and was finally abandoned and the LSTs were beached and had to wait for the tide to ebb and flow back again. This could have proved disastrous, but in the event it was a huge success as very little resistance came from the enemy – who, because of the extreme weather and the unexpectedness of a landing on such an open beach (JUNO NAN), were caught totally unawares. I was already on the beach when the first landing ships came in. The mines and booby traps were being attended to as the tide receded, very much more comfortable and far less risky. What my job appeared to be was to get the ships unloaded as quickly as possible. Large wire mats were put in front of the bow doors to prevent the heavy tanks and other vehicles being bogged down in the soft sand. I was in and out of the water so often that I finished up just wearing a pair of briefs. The beach had to be cleared as soon as possible. There were a considerable number of vehicles stuck, particularly on the high tide line, together with wrecked ‘Rhinos’ and small assault boats, through collision or shell fire. Most of these had to be cleared, for by now it had been accepted that the only way to keep supplies coming was to keep beaching the landing craft at high tide. The shoreline had to be cleared because the ships heading for the beach could easily be holed by this debris. It was surprising to us all how long the Germans took to react. That breathing space of two or three days was a godsend. It enabled the beach to be cleared and ‘block’ ships to be stationed and sunk to make an artificial harbour. After the slaughter of Salerno and the chaos of Anzio, for me D Day and plus was the easiest landing of them all, apart from the weather.

  19. Nick Ashman

    Nick Ashman New Member

    Hi Mike! I’ve come across this thread as i’m trying to find information about my Grandad, who was in the RAMC and landed in Normandy on D- Day. He was in No. 33 field dressing station. I am interested to know if you know if any where records might be kept on the work they did? I’m also trying to track which Canadian unit they were seconded to do I can track where he went on the push through Europe. Where should I be looking?

    Thanks for the help and for already helping to join some dots up. Sadly my grandad never wanted to talk about the war so details are so thin now but I and his family are keen to try and discover more about what he did.
  20. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    I will see what I can find. I can tell you that 33 FDS was a Beach Group unit. It did not operate with the Canadians but remained in the beach area, on Nan Beach.

    More later.


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