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

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Force ‘J’.
    The Ferry Service.

    The Naval Officer in Charge had operational control of the various craft of the Ferry Service which operated between ships and shore. The Ferry Service itself was commanded by a Principal Ferry Control Officer. He had two Senior Officers Ferry Control, one for the unloading of motor transport and one for the unloading of stores.

    Principal Ferry Craft Control Officer.
    The Principal Ferry Craft Control Officer was responsible for the allocation and operation of all ferry craft. He was responsible to the Naval officer in Charge for the execution of the unloading programme decided by the Naval Officer in Charge and the Commander 102 Beach Sub Area. He was also responsible for the inward and outward movement of coasters between the discharging berths and the sailing areas. Principal Ferry Control Craft Control Officer had the use of a Landing Craft Headquarters which was anchored near the Headquarters of the Assault Force Commander on HMS Hilary.

    Senior Officers Ferry Craft.
    There were two Senior Officers Ferry Craft, each with separate responsibilities. Senior Officer Ferry Craft 1 was responsible the execution of the programme for unloading motor transport ships and for the ferry craft assigned to this duty. Senior Officer Ferry Craft 2 was responsible the execution of the programme for unloading store ships and for the ferry craft assigned to this duty.

    Each of the Senior Officers Ferry Craft had a Landing Craft Infantry (Small) as a headquarters. That of Senior Officer Ferry Craft 1 was anchored near the Landing Craft Headquarters of Deputy Assault Group Commander Mike, to the west of the ferry craft area and convenient for the motor transport beach. That of Senior Officer Ferry Craft 2 was anchored near the Landing Craft Headquarters of Deputy Assault Group Commander Mike, to the east of the ferry craft area and convenient for the stores beach.

    Ferry craft included LCMs, LCVPs, LCT and LBVs. These could be used for vehicles or stores. Most could also be used for landing personnel but after the early hours this was mostly the role of LCI(L).

    Army units operated DUKWs and Rhino Ferries. Gradually the Rhinos were supplemented, and then replaced, by PBRs (Powered Barge, Ramped) and TID tugs. Rhinos, PBRs and TIDs were operated by army Inland Water Transport Companies, RE.

    Senior Officer Ferry Base.
    There was a Senior Officer Ferry Base responsible for the administration, maintenance, discipline and welfare of ferry craft and their crews. He was also responsible for the provision of relief craft and crews and for the allocation of despatch craft. He controlled the depot ships for the various ferry craft and also controlled the anchorage for ferry craft in the lee of Gooseberry 4. Headquarters was on the depot ship Ascanius.

    The Ferry Service retained all surviving LCT5, LCT(A), LCT(CB and LCT(HE). This was expected to amount to up to eighteen craft from the two flotillas. In fact casualties were heavier than expected on all British beaches. In Force ‘J’ three were sunk, seven were badly damaged and eight were damaged or disabled. Because of these losses each beach was permitted to retain up to twenty LCTs from the Shuttle Service. Three and a half flotillas of British manned LCT5 from the US Western Task Force transferred to Force ‘J’ after the assault but did not arrive until late on D+2. Later an unknown number of USN LCT5 and LCT6 were also transferred from the Western Task Force.

  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Force ‘J’.
    Build Up Force ‘J’.

    This consisted of three Squadrons.

    ‘A’ Build Up Squadron consisted of 800, 801, 802, 803 and 804 Flotillas with sixteen LCVP each.

    ‘F’ Build Up Squadron consisted of 600, 601 and 604 Flotillas each with sixteen LCM(1) and 650, 651 and 652 Flotillas each with sixteen LCM(3).

    ‘W’ Landing Barge Squadron consisted of:
    1, 2 and 3 LBV Flotillas each with eleven LBV plus half of 4 LBV Flotilla with six LBV
    Part of 30 Landing Barge (S&R) Flotilla with three LBE, four LBO, two LBW and the trawlers Chassemarie and Garola.
    31 Landing Barge (S&R) Flotilla with one LCE, six LBE, ten LBO, two LBW, one LBK and the trawlers King Emperor, Strathcoe, Libyan and Raetiai.
    37 Landing Barge (S&R) Flotilla with one LCE, six LBE, ten LBO, two LBW, one LBK and the trawlers Oriziba, Star of Britian and Ronso.

    These three squadrons sailed as four groups.

    Group JM1 assembled off Langstone and departed from the Nab at 0300 D Day. It consisted of
    4 X LBF, 13, 37, 15 and 4.
    9 X LBV, 19, 34, 36, 41, 116, 123, 97, 139 and 183. All were pre loaded.
    HMS Letma. Escort.

    Group JM2 assembled at Chichester and departed from the Nab at 0530 D Day. It 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.

    Group JM3 assembled off Langstone and departed from the Nab at 0630 D Day. It consisted of
    33 X Landing Barge Vehicle from 1, 2, and 3 Flotillas. 26 of these were preloaded loaded.
    6 X Landing Barge Emergency Repair, 15, 19, 20, 44, 45 and 46 of 37 Flotilla.
    2 X Landing Barge Water, 3 and 16.
    18 X Landing Barge Oiler, 1, 2, 29, 35, 36, 58, 59, 61, 67, 78, 83, 40, 48, 45, 28, 43, 41 and 66.
    Fuelling trawlers Chasse Marie, Garola, Strathcoe, Libyan, King Emperor and Daetia.
    Nimico, corvette.
    Clarinda, Yacht.
    Smoke laying trawler.

    Group JM4 assemble off Langstone and departed from the Nab at 0630 D+1.
    9 X Landing Barge Emergency Repair, 9, 54, 43, 22, 36, 21, 67, 6 and 39.
    2 X Landing Barge Water, 2 and 9.
    6 X Landing Barge Oiler, 4, 7, 8, 20, 47 and 49.
    2 X Landing Barge Kitchen. 7, 9.
    Landing Craft Flak 16 and 15.
    Altona. Yacht.
    Fuelling trawlers. Oriziba, Star of Britian and Ronso.

    The Ferry Service also received
    202 LCI(S) Flotilla with eight craft
    Sixty US manned LCVP
    an unknown number of US LCT5 and LCT6.
    All surviving LCT5, LCT(A), LCT(CB) and LCT(HE).

    Plus 15 Rhino Ferries and 200 DUKW with army units.

    The intention was that;
    Rhino ferries would be used primarily for unloading LSTs and then for unloading MT Ships.
    LCT would be used primarily for unloading MT Ships but could be used for unloading LSTs.
    LCM would be used for unloading MT Ships and Stores Coasters as required.
    LBV would be used for unloading Stores Coasters.
    LCVP would be used for unloading as required and for despatch duties.
    LCI(S), LCM, LCVP and LCT could all be used for the rapid discharge of Personnel Ships when required.

    Landing Barge Vehicle.
    These were standard steel Thames barges widely used as lighters for unloading ships. They were not of standard dimensions, being originally built for different civilian lighter companies but they did not vary greatly. Originally they were divided into three categories by size with ‘small’ being 70 foot long and 18 foot wide, ‘medium’, being 78 foot long and twenty foot wide and ‘large’ being 82 foot long and 23 foot wide. These dimensions being approximate and varying by 15% in each class. Capacity did vary considerably however from 100 tons to 200 tons.

    As Landing Barge Vehicle they were fitted with a ramp at the stern which meant that they had to reverse onto the beach. They were fitted with two Chrysler engines, each driving a propeller. Protection was provided in the form of concrete to the hull sides, plastic armour on the fuel tanks and steel bulkhead doors inboard of the ramp. A steering position was added at the stern. Three 3ton lorries or equivalent could be carried by most LBV but they were generally used for landing stores.

    Accommodation for the five man crew was rudimentary and shore accommodation, or accommodation on depot ships, was necessary.

    LCM Mk1.
    The LCM MkI was 44 foot 8 inches long and 14 foot wide. Draught at the bows was 30 inches. Two 60hp petrol engines were used to power twin propellers. Armour was fitted to decks, steering house, bulwarks and fuel tanks. A crew of six was carried, coxswain, stoker/driver and four deck hands. There was usually one officer for every three craft plus a Flotilla Officer. Load was only 16 tons so that it could not carry tanks.

    LCM Mk3.
    The LCM Mk3 was a US design. It was all welded steel and was larger and heavier than the British LCM MkI. In British service it was used as a ferry craft rather than an assault craft. Length was 50 foot and width 14 foot. Draught was 36 inches at the bow. Power came from two 225hp diesel engines. A crew of six was carried in British service. As with the Mk1 there was usually one officer for every three craft plus a Flotilla Officer. Armour was limited to the control station.

    A disciplinary note. Crews of craft which were beached or dried out were not to be allowed ashore for any reason without express written orders. Spoil sports.

    LBV plan.jpg

    LCM1 plan.jpg

    LCM3 plan.jpg

  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Force ‘J’.
    Supply and repair.

    31, 37 and part of 30 Landing Barge (S&R) Flotillas provided the supply and repair services for the Ferry Service and came under the control of Senior Officer Ferry Base. They moored at trots of buoys in the lee of Gooseberry 4.

    Landing Barge Kitchen.
    These were converted from LBVs and so had similar dimensions and details. A superstructure was added and the ramp removed. Additional armour was added to the tanks holding fuel tanks for the generator and cooking range. They could store, cook and issue food to provide 1600 hot meals and 800 cold meals a day. They also issued supplies to craft with their own cooking facilities.

    Landing Barge Oiler .
    These were steel barges without ramps. They had tanks in the hold to carry either 33 tons of diesel or petrol. In view of the nature of the cargo they were protected with plastic armour over the tanks in addition to the normal concrete sides etc. They also had steel armour watertight bulkheads.

    Landing Barge Water.
    These were similar to the LBO but with different fittings. They carried 33 tons of water in the tank plus eighty jerricans of water.

    Fuelling Trawlers.
    To supplement the barges there were also fuelling trawlers which carried only diesel, 33 tons in the hold.

    LBO, LBW and fuelling trawlers formed two teams which worked 24 hours on and 24 hours on standby, changing at 0600 daily. They were to replenish stocks during standby time. While on duty they flew Pennant ‘4’, which was hauled down if stocks were exhausted. Craft of the Ferry Service were encouraged to replenish fuel and water at any opportunity. In each S and R Flotilla, 31 and 37, five LBO carried standard Pool petrol, one carried 73 octane, one carried 87 octane, one carried 100 octane and four carried diesel. Craft had a considerable variety of engines needing a variety of fuels.

    A stock of diesel, petrol, water and lubricating oil was also carried on MT ships and MT coasters, stores coasters and LST. The MT ships and coasters only carried cased fuel and water and any balance left after unloading was left as an emergency stock either on shore or on a Gooseberry ship.

    Distilled water for batteries was obtained from cruisers by workboat. Kersosene for primus stoves was supplied from Ascanius. Dirty lubricating oil was collected and transferred by workboat to containers on Gooseberry ships. Loose coal was obtained from colliers but bagged coal for cooking was held on Gooseberry ships.

    An Ammunition Supply Issuing Ship arrived on D+1 with all types of ammunition required by ships and craft remaining permanently in the area. Warships returned to the UK for ammunitioning, and ships and craft of the Shuttle Service ammunitioned if necessary in the UK. Ammunition was drawn in bulk and distributed to ships and craft by workboats. The exceptions were Landing Craft Gun and Landing Craft Flak which ammunitioned direct from the Ammunition Supply Issuing Ship.

    Headquarters ships held a reserve of 5lb charges for the ‘Alert’ patrols.

    Large quantities of smoke munitions were used and these were replenished daily by a LCT from the UK. These stocks were then held by LCT(R) 125. Emergency reserves were held by headquarters ships.

    Three hot meals a day, and mail, were considered vital to morale and efficiency. Craft carried emergency rations but crews were normally fed from Landing Barge Kitchens. When on duty one craft from each flotilla collected food for the flotilla from the LBK and distributed it. All ships had to be prepared to provide emergency meals for the crews of workboats and other small craft. Supplies were delivered by workboat to LBK and to larger craft and ships with their own cooking facilities. Rum was only issued on stand off periods but grog money was paid in lieu. The daily rum issue would continue to be a daily right in the Royal Navy for many years.

    Work boats collected and delivered mail daily. Mail to and from the UK was carried by coaster.

    In general ships and coastal craft returned to the UK for repair. Craft of the Cross Channel Shuttle Service could be patched up sufficiently for them to be returned to the UK. All such craft carried a stock of repair materials and had some skilled personnel so that they could effect minor repairs to get them home. Any craft of the Ferry Service suffering damage or mechanical breakdown reported to the Senior Officer Ferry Service if they were afloat or to the Naval Officer in Charge if they were on the beach. Loaded craft were to make every effort to reach the beach. There were several organisations ashore and afloat to give assistance or carry out repair work.

    Fire was a constant danger when dealing with combustible materials in a war zone. It had been planned to provide each beach with four specially built fire boats but these were not delivered in time. Force ‘J’ initially had one motor fire boat which arrived on D day. To make up the shortfall six LCM1 were fitted with trailer pumps, foam equipment and breathing apparatus, plus presumably trained crews. There were also salvage tugs which carried powerful fire fighting equipment. As a last resort there were Wreck Disposal Tugs which had a qualified Salvage Officer on board and could sink ships which were on fire and a danger in the anchorages. Counter intuitively perhaps fire, together with thirst, have always been the sailors greatest fears.

    Landing Barge Emergency repair.
    These were mobile repair craft for the maintenance of minor landing craft. They were similar to the LBV but had a large crew accommodation area for two officers and twenty two men. There were work benches and storage for batteries and oxyacetylene equipment. The workshop equipment consists of a 3 ton 6 X 4 Workshop lorry No4 which could be unloaded to work ashore

    Landing Craft Emergency repair.
    These were conversions of LCV, an earlier version of the LCVP. They were equipped to carry out ‘first aid’ emergency repairs to small craft in the beach area. They carried a stock of timber, plywood and copper sheeting plus a salvage pump which also had fire fighting fittings. They were armoured and carried a crew of an officer, three men, two motor mechanics, two shipwrights, one wireman and a stoker. They were carried to the beaches on the davits of larger vessels.

    There was also a repair organisation ashore.

    LBK plan.jpg


    LBE plan.jpg

  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Force ‘J’
    Depot ships.

    Depot ships were moored just to seawards of Gooseberry 4. They provided accommodation for administrative staffs and limited accommodation for craft crews. Accommodation was also available on some of the Corncob ships of Gooseberry 4.

    Most of the small craft of the ferry service, including S and R Flotillas, used Ascanius as a depot ship, although they moored in the Gooseberry. Built in 1910she had seen service as a troopship in WWI and again in WWII before becoming a depot ship. Since Juno was in a central position on the British beaches Ascanius was also used as Headquarters Commodore Depot Ships, British Assault Area.

    HMS Hawkins.
    The LCTs of the ferry service and most other craft in the force used HMS Hawkins as a depot ship. She was a cruiser commissioned just too late for WWI. On D Day she was part of Bombardment Force ‘A’ off Utah Beach before moving to Juno. She had seven 7.5” guns, was 9,750 tons, 605 foot long and had a top speed of 30 knots.

    Southern Prince.
    A cargo liner built in 1929. She arrived off Juno on D+1 as the headquarters of Rear Admiral, Flag Officer British Assault Area. This officer was responsible for all ship to shore operations and gradually assumed command of the three Naval Officer in Charge. He moved the headquarters ashore on June 24th, officially assumed control of all British beaches on 30th June when Operation Neptune officially ended. Southern Prince was 10,900 tons, 514 foot long and had a top speed of 16.5 knots.

    Rhinos used LST Tasajera as depot ship. Tasajera was a shallow draught tanker built in 1938 and converted to LST. She was 3,952 tons, 362 foot long. Not really suited to either working with the Shuttle Service LSTs or to landing on the Normandy beaches she made one trip carrying vehicles and remained as depot ship. Tasajera dragged her anchor in the storms of June 19 to 21 and collided with Gooseberry 4. She returned to the UK so0n afterwards.

    George M Woodward.
    The USN LCVP and LCT flotillas brought their own depot ship, George M Woodward, a Liberty ship.

    Good wartime photographs of British ships are hard to find. Does anyone have a good source to suggest?


    Southern Prince.
    Southern Prince1929.jpg

  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Force ‘J’.
    Shuttle Service.

    Not all craft came under the control of the Ferry Service. LCTs and LCIs of the cross Channel Shuttle Service landed directly on the beaches. LSTs also landed directly on the beaches after the first day. It was planned that for the Shuttle Service Force ‘J’ would have the use of its surviving LCT4 flotillas. In addition there would be one flotilla from Force ‘G’, four flotilla from Force ‘L’ and one flotilla found from new production. This would give a total of fifteen flotillas, each of eight craft and organised in three squadrons of five flotillas each.

    Starting on D+3 Force ‘J’ LCTs would load at Stanswood or Gosport Stokes bay Hards. One squadron was to sail on each tide with one tide being missed every three days. Craft were to return to the Calshot Collecting Area. Each flotilla was accompanied by one LCI(L) to carry any surplus marching personnel who could not be accommodated on the LCTs.

    LCI(L) formed LCI(L) groups and worked from Newhaven or Portsmouth, sailing once daily.

    LSTs loaded at the Solent Area or Tilbury. They did not necessarily remain in their flotillas but formed groups which sailed once daily, timing the departure so as to arrive at the far shore each pm. Those LSTs fitted for casualty evacuation remained as necessary and joined a later return convoy.

    Personnel ships, all ex LSIs, sailed once daily from Newhaven and Southampton.

    As soon as the fleet minesweepers had finished sweeping the channels from Area Z to the Lowering Points off the beaches they returned to widen the channels. First task was to merge the channels to each beach so that Channels 5 and 6 became Channel 56, Channels 7 and 8 became Channel 78. Each Channel was two miles wide. Eventually there would be only one wide channel for the Eastern Task Force. This was formed by clearing the area between Channels 56 and 78 to form Channel 58. Channels were marked with buoys. Channels 56 and 78 had buoys on the centreline. Those on 56 had lights flashing every 10 seconds. Those on 78 had lights flashing every 2½ seconds. Shipping was to keep to starboard side of the Channel, that is east for northbound and west for southbound.

    On D Day and D +1 buoys were laid as the channels were swept clear. Two survey ships, HMS Scott and HMS Astral were used to lay buoys before going on o carry out survey work off the beaches. Trinity House vessels, Alert, Discovery II, Warden, G. de Joli and A. Blondel were also used to lay buoys. All of these vessels were equipped for and experienced in buoy laying. Survey vessels normally laid buoys to mark wrecks and obstacles while Trinity House was responsible for lighthouses and navigation buoys round the UK coasts. Eventually a Trinity House lightship would mark the centre of Area Z.

    Off the Normandy Coast the Eastern Task Force controlled inward and outward convoys via Captain Southbound Sailings and Captain Northbound Sailings. Senior Officer Assault Group S2, assumed the duties of Captain, Northbound Sailings and controlled shipping returning to the UK from the Headquarters Ship HMS Dacres. HDMLs 1415 and 1416, which had been marking the northern entrance to Channels 9 and 10, reported to Captain Northbound sailings for convoy assembly duty by 2300 on D day. Captain Northbound assumed responsibility for return convoy assembly and despatch at dawn on D+1. From then onwards all returning shipping was directed to the assembly area by the Naval Force Commanders of each beach and was then sailed from the Point of Departure as follows:
    - Personnel convoys sailed when ready.
    - MT Ships and LST Convoys sailed at 0900 daily.
    - Coasters sailed at 1100 daily.
    - LSTs sailed at 1600 daily.
    - Any ships missing their convoy sailed at 2000.

    By 2000 hours each day the Naval Officer in Charge informed the Naval Force Commander which ships were likely to be ready to sail the following day. At 0001 hours, midnight in effect, the Naval Force Commander signalled the Captain Northbound Sailings the names of the ships sailing in each of the routine convoys. Ships were to sail from the anchorage to the Point of Departure in single file. At the Point of Departure the columns from all three beaches join and form three parallel columns. From west to east these would be from Forces ‘G’, ‘J’ and ‘S’.

    For ships arriving at the Point of Departure, or in the case of delayed departure, waiting anchorages were established close Headquarters Ship. In the area to the south and south west were coasters, to the east and south east were motor transport ships, to the south and south east were LSTs and to the west and south west were personnel ships.

    As soon as Captain Southbound was established, also about dawn on D+1, he assumed responsibility for all shipping arriving in the Eastern Task Force Area. He knew by signal from Portsmouth and by despatch boat what shipping was due to arrive. Convoys were met by despatch boats and divided into groups for each of the three beach areas. To assist in this each ship or craft carried a board with its serial number and the type of cargo. Despatch boats from each beach collected their groups and led them to the correct anchorages. The Captain Southbound also divided the escort to the convoy and assigned them to groups for each beach. LCT and LCI(L) convoys were not escorted. Headquarters ship was HMS Nith.

    On arrival the Senior Officers of groups of LCT and LCI(L), identified themselves to the Port War Signal Station, at Courseulles, by the groups TURCO code and number of craft in the form ‘Senior Officer in ML246. 24 LCT. 2 LCF in company. Sunbeam 1’. Sunbeam being the codeword for southbound convoys. TURCO is Turnround Control in the UK.

    Naturally all of these organisations took time to establish and to mesh together but eventually it was a smooth, almost automatic, operation.

  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Force ‘J’.
    The anchorages.

    Anchorages had been laid out on charts and came into operation for the second tide. For the assault phase the LSIs had anchored at the Lowering Position some seven miles offshore. Here they hoped to be beyond the range of coastal defence artillery. They were also well placed to sail quickly if there was a serious threat. They were anyway well placed to sail as soon as their troops had been disembarked and their LCAs had been recovered. By 1730 the LSIs had sailed and the Headquarters Ship Hilary moved to a position some two miles off shore and in the centre of the sailing anchorages. The Naval Force Commander, Force ‘J’ was responsible for the assembly and sailing of return convoys from these anchorages, passing ships and craft to the Captain Northbound to assemble in his Sailing Assembly Area. There were two sailing anchorages off Juno, one to the west for the larger and faster personnel ships and LSTs, and one to the east for the slower LCTs and Coasters.

    Inshore of the Sailing Anchorages were four anchorages for holding arrivals and for unloading those ships and craft which were not to be beached. To the west was an anchorage for major landing craft, LCTs and LCI(L)s. These were held here until called forward to beach or use the NL Pontoons for unloading. Next there was an anchorage for LSTs and Rhinos. It was intended that all except a small number of LSTs would anchor here and be discharged onto Rhino Ferries. This operation was soon so far behind schedule that all LSTs were beached and dried out for unloading and the anchorage became an area for LSTs to wait to be called in to beach. A large area was allocated to the anchorage for personnel ships, motor transport ships and motor transport coasters. All of these needed room to swing at anchor and all needed the Ferry Service to discharge them. Finally there was a large area to the east for stores coasters to anchor. This area was to the seaward of an area of shallow, rocky water but there was a clear channel to the west of the coaster anchorage and DUKWs had a marked route over the rocks. Again when unloading got behind schedule it was found that coasters could be beached and dried out for unloading.

    Between the above anchorages and the Gooseberry 4 there was a smaller anchorage for the Ferry Service craft. It was so positioned that the routes from the other anchorages could readily pass down either side, those for the vehicle beach passing to the west and those for the stores beach passing to the east. Inshore of Gooseberry 4 were the trots of buoys laid out for the LBVs and LCMs. Other small craft could also shelter here.

    The channels from the LST and MT ship anchorages to the west and from the stores coaster anchorage to the east to the beaches were clearly marked by buoys. Those to port were black with a white light at night and those to starboard showed flag ‘Oboe’, yellow and red, with a red light at night. Ships were led from the anchorage to the correct beaching position by despatch boats.

    The Anchorages.
    Anchorage J.jpg

  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Force ‘J’.
    Defence of the Anchorage.

    The defence of the inner anchorage was in the hands of Force J and consisted of:
    Destroyers Kempenfelt, Venus, Vigilant, Algonquin, Sioux, Faulknor and Fury. They were to be available for fire support of forces ashore or for the defence of the inner anchorage as necessary. Four destroyers were to be on station at any one time while the remaining three could be absent for ammunitioning etc. If required any or all of the destroyers could be ordered to join the anti submarine patrols.

    Three anti submarine trawlers, Northern Spray, Northern Sun and Northern Pride. These could also be called on to join the anti submarine patrols.

    Motor Launches 123, 147, 198, 205, 246, 247 and 297 were available for anti submarine patrols.

    Landing Craft Gun 680, 681, 764, 831, 939, 1007 and 1062 were available both for fire support and defence of the inner anchorage. They could also be used to lay smoke.

    Landing Craft Flak 1, 33, 37, 21, 32, 24 and 29 were assigned specific areas of the anchorage for AA defence.
    LCF 33 anchored in the Coaster Anchorage.
    LCF 37 anchored in the LST Discharging Anchorage.
    LCF 21 anchored in the MT Ship Anchorage.
    LCF 32 anchored in the Sailing Area Anchorage.
    LCF 24 anchored off Nan beaches.
    LCF 1 anchored off Mike beaches.
    LCF 29 remained with HQ Ship Hilary.

    Two hours before sunset each day all LCF closed Hilary and sailed in company to the eastern end of Sword area, arriving at sunset +30minutes. They left Sword each morning at sunrise-30minutes and returned to the above positions.

    Four Landing Barge Flak, 4, 13, 15 and 37 arrived with the Build Up convoys and were used for the close anti aircraft defence of the beaches. When there was space they beached and dried out near the high water mark. They were powered barges with ramps, a steel deck and armour. Each carried two army 40mm Bofors guns with an officer and 15 men army gun crew. Eventually the guns could be landed.

    Arrangements were made to lay a smoke screen against air attack. The objective of this was given as ‘Rapid development of a smoke screen of sufficient intensity to cover all shipping off the beaches and to prevent hostile aircraft from identifying a point of aim’.

    Three flotillas of LCP(L), 702, 703 and 705, were available and were equipped with CSA smoke generators, MkII smoke floats and Army Type 24 smoke generators. Initially the area to be screened was two miles wide, more or less centred on Courseulles, and seven and a half mile out to sea. This covered all D Day anchorages as far as the Lowering Positions. One flotilla was assigned to each two mile by two and a half mile square and each was divided into two divisions. One division was to start and maintain the smoke screen on the windward side of the area while the other division built up the screen within the area. The outside division formed a line ahead with craft 600 yards apart and carried out an endless chain patrol to windward.

    The inside division started by using CSA generators and igniting Type 24 generators. The CSA generator was switched off when the Type 24 generators reached full volume. A fresh Type 24 generator was ignited every fifteen minutes in order to maintain a continuous screen.

    On the order ‘Cease Making Smoke’ all craft threw generators overboard, presumably the quickest way of extinguishing them, and returned to the stand by position. Craft of the inside division might remain alongside larger ships and make arrangements to receive alerts from them.

    On Day all three areas were manned. After D day the outer area was closed as shipping moved closer to shore. Eventually all shipping moved to the inshore anchorages up to two and a half miles from shore and only the inner area was manned. Flotillas were then rotated and craft could be rested or used for other duties.

    The Senior Officer LCP(L) issued orders for a deployment when wireless silence was broken on D Day, at sunset each day and when the wind changed.

    Usually screens were laid at dusk, dawn or when a night air attack was imminent, especially on moonlit nights. In the event of a ship being shelled from the shore the nearest LCP(L) was to lay a screen between ship and shore.

    Seven Landing Craft Support Large, three Mk2 and four Mk1, were also available to fire smoke bombs from mortars against shore targets and ships and craft thickened the screens by igniting one smoke float or Type 25 generator, and igniting fresh ones every ten minutes.

    LCP(L) used for smoke seem to have been fitted with two sets of low pressure CSA smoke generators and two racks of four No24 smoke generators. The CSA worked by mixing two liquid chemicals which immediately formed a mist. The smoke was effective but unpleasant and the chemicals rather dangerous to handle. The No 24 generator was a standard type used by the army and navy. It had to be ignited and once it had started to burn produced a thick smoke for some twenty minutes. Since these generators worked by burning chemicals they produced a glow which was visible from the air, especially at night, thus screens were erected over the racks.

    LCP(L) could also be used to supplement the ‘Alert Patrols’.

    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 anchorages. 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.

  8. camal697

    camal697 Junior Member

    An impressive treasure trove of information! There stuff here I thought we'd never know. I think they should name one of the assault beaches after you for your efforts! ;)
    Aixman likes this.
  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Good one Andrew. The other one is named for my old Grandma of course. (For southerners: we call grandma Nan in the north).

    Mike (and Nan).
  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Assault Force ‘J’.
    Despatch Boats.
    As soon as possible a system of despatch boats was established and organised on strict timetables. There was a Cross Channel Despatch Service using Motor Launches. This ran regularly between Portsmouth and Naval Force Commander ‘G’ who then arranged for despatch boats to forward correspondence to Force ‘J’ and Force ‘S’ and collect correspondence for the UK.

    In addition there was a regular despatch boat service from Naval Force Commander ‘J’ to Flag Officer Eastern Task Force on HMS Bulolo. This service used CMB 103, MTB 328 and MTB 344 departing from HMS Hilary at 0630, 0830, 1115, 1430, 1730 and 2030 daily. It departed from Bulolo at 0730, 0900, 1200, 1530, 1800 and 2130. This service was for urgent correspondence and Press messages. All copy from the Press correspondents and photographers was to be forwarded to the Force HQ ship marked ‘Press’ and ‘Urgent’ priority. Despatch boats were not to carry mail or passengers and were not to be diverted from their task.

    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.

  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Assault Force ‘J’.
    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.

    Plus 4 LCM for Depot Ship personnel ferry routine.

    Workboats carried out all those routine tasks concerned with supply, administration, carrying personnel, carrying despatches and general run abouts.

  12. sirjahn

    sirjahn Member

    In your research on units did you ever come across the abbreviation FOB? I have a guy who reported his unit as FOB 81. I am assuming FOB stands for Forward Observation Battery. The individual was captured on 7 June while supporting 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regt.
  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Forward Observer Bombardment.

    There is some information about these on this thread and on the similar thread on Sword Beach.

    FOB teams worked with the naval bombarding forces, directing the fire of Battleships, cruisers and destroyers etc. I will look for FOB 81.

  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    FOB Party 81 did not have a bombardment ship specifically assigned to it. When 2 Warwickshire Regiment wanted fire support the request was passed to the Headquarters ship Largs which assigned a ship as available.

    FOB Party 81. 2 Warwickshire Regiment. Land at H+150 minutes on Sword Beach. Call sign TEV. Frequency Sugar Three.

    Each FOB Party landed a three man team with the unit. This team used a waterproof No46 wireless. Later a jeep with two more men would land with a more powerful No22 set,

    I am afraid that I do not keep a record of individuals or names.

  15. sirjahn

    sirjahn Member

    Thanks for that information. The individual was a Lance Bombardier Hyde.
  16. Dale,

    There's a thread dedicated to this subject:

    Among others, see Post #43 which has transcripts of two letters written by Lance Bombardier Hyde.

  17. sirjahn

    sirjahn Member

    Yes I read that thread and PM'd you about needing Hyde's first name and any details from Rennes. I didn't want to sidetrack that thread.
  18. Educator

    Educator Junior Member


    Thanks very much for being kind enough to post this very useful information. It is very timely as I have been working on the landings at JUNO recently prior to taking a battlefield tour there later this year.

    I now need to read it all in detail.

    In a coincidence 2 very useful books on JUNO arrived today - they are

    Marc Milner D Day to Carpriquet The North Shore Regiment and the Liberation of Europe
    T Barris - JUNO Canadians on D Day

    I have gradually also been acquiring relevant documents from KEW on JUNO on the relevant units of the 3rd Canadian Division.

    I would also recommend R Anderson's book 1st Assault Brigade which covers the AVREs

    Once again many thanks

  19. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Thank you for your thanks Ian.

    I know I have not really done justice to the Canadians but my focus is the beach and its operation. There is an immense amount of information available and I am still working slowly through some of it.

    canuck likes this.
  20. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Just rounding off the seawards activity before moving ashore.

    Assault Force ‘J’.
    Gooseberry 4.
    Gooseberry 4 was the artificial breakwater off Juno and the sheltered water it provided. It was made by sinking elderly ships codename Corncob. The Corncob ships forming Gooseberry 4 were SS Bendoran, SS Empire Bunting, SS Empire Flamingo, SS Empire Moorhen, SS Empire Waterhen, SS Forbin, SS Formigny, SS Innerton, SS Manchester Spinner, SS Mariposa, SS Panos and SS Vera Radcliffe. This list thanks to Andrew and Michel. See below). The four 'Empires' were US ships completed too late for WWI and transferred to UK in WWII.

    The Corncobs were to be sunk in two and a half fathoms or less at mid tide. That allowed the hulls of the ships to provide good protection for the beaches and small craft anchorage while leaving the superstructures above water and available for other uses.

    The most important function was to provide a sheltered beach for landing craft. Second it was to provide a sheltered anchorage for small craft of the ferry service. In the anchorage there were to be buoys for mooring the various craft.

    The Corncob ships arrived under their own steam and manned by some forty merchant seamen each. Each ship was provided with sufficient fuel for the journey from the Clyde to the Normandy beaches plus two extra days steaming as a reserve. They also carried two months stores. In addition to the crews there were a number of Royal Maritime Regiment RA gunners to man the ships defensive weapons.

    There were a number of Corncob convoys, only two of which included ships for Juno. Convoy Cob 1 contained eight ships for Juno and Convoy Cob 3 contained four ships. Cob 1 was scheduled to arrive at 1400 on D+1 and was accompanied by two tugs, Empire Larch and Empire Jonathon, which would assist in positioning the Corncobs. The escorts for Cob 1 returned to the Solent to rendezvous with Cob 3 and escort it to the beach. Cob three was accompanied by two smaller tugs and the officer responsible for planting the Corncobs and code named ‘Planter’.

    The final arrival of both convoys at the position selected for the breakwater was subject to the final approval of the Commander Eastern Task Force. The Naval Commander Force ‘J’ was to keep him informed and if there was a danger that the Corncobs might come under fire before they were positioned then their arrival was to be delayed. A Corncob sunk in the approaches would be very inconvenient.

    Naval Officer in Charge was responsible overall for the erection of the Gooseberry and for routine matters concerning it.

    Senior Officer Corncob had responsibility for the Channel crossing of Corncob convoys and their delivery to the correct beach. In case of doubt each Corncob ship carried a board with its number and the number of the Corncob for which it was intended. Senior Officer Corncob sent forward ships as they were required by ‘Planter’. Ships not immediately required were to be held out of every ones way. Senior Officer Corncob was also responsible for returning the crews of Corncobs once they had been handed over to ‘Planter’. Crews were returned on LSTs which were returning to the UK and crews were not to be allowed ashore.

    ‘Planter’ was responsible for calling Corncob ships as they were required for positioning and sinking. He was then responsible for positioning the Corncob with the assistance of tugs. Finally he was responsible for sinking the Corncob in the correct position. This was achieved by placing ten pond amatol demolition charges one each side of each hold and three foot below the water line. This meant that most ships had eight such charges while larger ships had ten. Hopefully the ship would settle slowly and on an even keel.

    The Survey Officer Force ‘J’ on the staff of Naval Officer in Charge was attached to ‘Planter’ and was to assist him as required. He returned to the staff of Naval Officer in Charge when no longer required.

    Ferry Craft had four trots each of seven buoys to take 72 LCM three abreast, and four trots each of five buoys to take 32 LBV two abreast. The positions for these moorings were to be surveyed and marked by LCP(Sy). The mooring buoys were laid out by Boom Defence vessels, which had lifting gear in the bows. They were experienced in such work, normally being used to lay and maintain anti submarine booms across harbour entrances.

    Gooseberry 4 was completed at 1530 on D+3. ‘Planter’ and the tugs Empire Larch and Empire Jonathan returned to the UK. The two smaller tugs remained at the Gooseberry under the orders of Naval Officer in Charge.

    One Corncob at each end of the Gooseberry was used as a Visual Signalling Station with a land line connection to the Port War Signal Station. These used flags and lamps to call in craft and coasters from the anchorages. Port War Signal Station and Headquarters Naval Officer in Charge were established close to the western entrance to Courseulles harbour.

    It seems that the Germans were slow to realise the purpose of the Gooseberry. As late as 27 June they were reporting the presence of ships sunk, probably mined.

    Who knows the other Corncobs in Gooseberry 4?


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