LCS(L) gunboats

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Warlord, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    While surfing around the net, I stumbled upon this interesting class of Fairmile boats, based on "H" hulls and equipped for fire support tasks with, among other ordnance, a 6 pounder complete with Valentine tank turret.

    Here are the complete specifications of the type, plus a list of the launched boats indicating losses (courtesy of navypedia.org):

    LCS(L)2


    Displacement standard, t 84
    Displacement full, t 116
    Length, m 32.0
    Breadth, m 6.53
    Draught, m 1.08 deep load
    No of shafts 2
    Machinery Hall-Scott petrol engines
    Power, h. p. 1120 or 1500
    Max speed, kts 14.8
    Fuel, t petrol 18200 l
    Endurance, nm(kts)
    Armour deck, hull sides, guns, fwd bulkhead, bridge: 6 57mm gun: standard armoured Valentine-tank turret
    Armament 1 x 1 - 57/43 QF Mk V, 2 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon Mk II/IV, 1 x 2 - 12.7/62, 2 x 1 - 7.7/87, 1 x 1 - 107/17 SB mortar
    Complement 25


    Name No Builder Launched Completed Fate
    LCS(L)251 Austins, London 1943 1943
    LCS(L)252 Solent SYd, Sarisbury Green 1943 1943 sunk 1/11/1944
    LCS(L)253 Percival, Horning 1943 1943
    LCS(L)254 Dickie & Sons, Bangor 1943 1943
    LCS(L)255 Brook Marine, Oulton Broad 1943 1943
    LCS(L)256 John Sadd, Maldon 1943 1943 sunk 1/11/1944
    LCS(L)257 Austins, London 1943 1943
    LCS(L)258 Solent SYd, Sarisbury Green 1943 1943 sunk 1/11/1944
    LCS(L)259 Percival, Horning 1943 1943
    LCS(L)260 Austins, London 1943 1943

    Now, does anyone know about operational deployment of the type? Have not been able (so far) to find any information on how 252, 256 and 258 were sunk.
     
  2. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

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  3. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Thanks for the information, mate.

    Now, for some more information about operational deployment? Operations in the Aegean, perhaps?
     
  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    LCS(L) were used on D Day. Three were used on Sword and three on Juno. Presumably three were also used on Gold but I have not got that far yet. The primary role was to escort the DD tanks and give them close support on the final approach. They could also make smoke if requested.

    Mike
     
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  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Four LCS(L) were used on Gold.

    Mike
     
  6. Arty

    Arty Member

    Folks,

    I don't believe these LCS(L) served anywhere but North West Europe. I've certainly never seen anything about them operating in the Aegean.

    However for Operation Neptune...

    Sword area - the LCS(L)s were LTIN's 522, 523 & 524 - pennant no.s 253, 256 & 260 - though I‘m not sure which LTIN was allocated to each individual craft.

    Juno area - LCS(L)s pennant no.s were 254, 255 & 257.

    Gold area - LCS(L)s penannt no.s 251, 258 & 259. No. 252 was also allocated to Gold but according to the Naval commander Force G’s report was “not ready in time to take part”.

    Arty
     
  7. Arty

    Arty Member

    More on LCS(L) MkIIs in Op Neptune…Take note there are only a few references to this craft - understandable considering there was only ten of the them in the Allied Armada.

    From the Juno area, where there were reportedly four LCS(L) Mk Is, three LCS(L) Mk IIs, and, LCS(M)s in action, however I’ve found little info (indeed the four LCS(L) Mk1‘s were supposedly pennant no.s 202 - 205, however photographic evidence shows that 202 was in fact a LCS(M) Mk3!)

    From the Sword area a bit more….

    From the Fire Support Programme in the 3 British Infantry Division Operation Order the three LCS(L) off Queen Red and White were to “Give close support to the DD tanks during the final approach” from H-20 to H, then fire on the outer flanks of the beaches from H to H+30.

    From the after action report by the Naval Commander Force S in all 107 pages I’ve found just four passing references to the three LCS(L) in action in the Sword area. The only information of note is as follows...

    On D-Day…“The Support Craft, consisting of 3 LCG(L), 3 LCS(L) II [etc]…carried out their tasks as ordered and with good results…”

    After D-day…“Smoke screens were laid at dusk and dawn by LCP(L), LCS(L) and ML…”

    In the Gold area it was planned that LCS(L) 251 & 252 were to be in action off Jig Green and Jig Red respectively, where they were required to “proceed inshore to carry out close- support firing…” Whilst LCS(L) 258 & 259, off King Green and King Red respectively, were “to close the beach with group 4 and give close support.”

    The Fire orders for Force G states: “LCS(L)LCG and LCS(L) are to close the beach to within 2000 yards to carry out their fire tasks…LCS(L) may fire up to 75% of their outfit in order to implement the fire plan using SAP against pillboxes.” Of note the targets for the LCS(L) in the Gold area were very detailed in the fire plan, being specific pillboxes etc with six or eight figure grid references.

    The Naval Commander Force G’s after action report provides a little bit more - although take note, there were LCS(M) in action in the Gold area, so some of the comments likely apply to LCS(L) MKII and LCS(M)…

    “The local beach defences could only be neutralised by point blank fire from support craft. The LCS(L) and LCG(L) proved the most suitable craft for this purpose…”

    “Destroyers will seldom be able to get close enough inshore to deal adequately with concreted beach defence positions. This must be left to LCG and LCS.”

    “The work done by the LCG and LCS was highly commendable. They closed the beach to within small arms range, and fired with accuracy and effect.”

    “LCS(L) 251, 258 and 259 with their shallow draught and 6pdr guns did valuable work against concrete defences. It was unfortunate that LCS(L)252 which was administered by force J was not ready in time to take part.”

    And one final snippet from the report by the Naval Commander Op Neptune… “LCS(L)…Did better with their 6-pdr guns than expected. This was achieved by taking them in to point blank range.”

    Arty
     
     
     
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  8. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Good info Arty, interesting to read.
     
  9. As Hugh says, they were lost on 1 Nov 44 at Westkapelle during Op INFATUATE II. Following are some more details, most if not all courtesy Michael Gurnsey, who is THE expert on INFATUATE II, with any Error & Omission courtesy me :( :

    This Division (LCS(L) 252, 256 and 258) were in the Southern Group and accompanying LCG(M) 102 towards the shore when 252 was hit by a salvo from the Zoutelande Battery (W13), set on fire, blew up and sank. 256 was also hit and set on fire. 258 drew alongside to rescue survivors, was hit and set on fire too. The order to abandon ship was given and shortly afterwards both craft blew up and sank.

    The other Division (LCS(L) 254, 259 and 260), in the Northern Group, closed to within 600 yards and engaged a battery to the right of the Westkapelle Battery (W15) with 6 pdr and short range weapons. Hits were observed but most shots bounced off the concrete.

    As the three craft were withdrawing under concentrated fire from W15, LCS(L) 260 was hit in the petrol tanks, immobilising her and setting her on fire. 259 closed in to assist and took 260 in tow, still under heavy fire from shore. About 3,500 yards from the beach she went alongside 260 and helped control the fire (see awards to Lt Tiplady & LMM Cheney below). 260 was later towed back to Ostend by an ML.

    Meanwhile, LCS(L) 254 had attempted to tow LCG(L) 1 from the beach where she lied stranded after being hit, but was unable to shift the much heavier craft. She took the survivors on board and as she pulled away from the shore LCG(L) 1 erupted in flames. She was then ordered to support the Southern Group.

    Known casualties (killed or MPK only) are as follows:

    LCS(L) 252 - 30 killed (21 sailors and 9 Marines)
    LCS(L) 256 - 11 killed (7 sailors and 4 Marines)
    LCS(L) 258 - 25 killed (17 sailors and 8 Marines)

    I could not find any numbers for wounded, although there were probably many, nor any casualty for the other three craft in the flotilla.

    The gallant conduct of all the LCS(L) crews did not go unnoticed, and was rewarded by a number of citations for bravery:

    Temporary Lieutenant Sidney Nielson Orum, RNVR (MID) - LCS(L) 252
    Led his craft within 200 metres of the beach. All three were destroyed. First two blew up and third picked up survivors even though it was on fire. Reported Missing, Presumed Killed. Previously awarded the DSC following Normandy.

    Marine William Ernest Johns, Ply/X.111882 (MID) - LCS(L) 258
    When LCS (L) 258 exploded, he managed to get onto LCS (L) 256 with others. When this also set on fire, Johns and five others abandoned ship, climbing into a Carley float. For forty hours they drifted along the coast. Some died from their injuries, others were picked off by machine guns on the shore. Forty hours later Johns was rescued off Flushing harbour. Johns was the sole survivor of LCS (L) 258.

    Temporary Lieutenant Eric Anfield Tiplady, RNVR (Bar to DSC) - CO of LCS(L) 259
    When LCS (L) 260 was hit and set on fire, Tiplady manoeuvred his craft alongside to rescue the crew, knowing full well that the stricken craft could explode at any time. Previously awarded the DSC following Normandy.

    Leading Motor Mechanic William Herbert Cheeney, P/MX.124844 (CGM) - LCS(L) 260
    "On 1st November, 1944, during the assault on Westkapelle L.C.S.(L)260 received a direct shell hit in the wing petrol tank which penetrated to and caused a fire in the engine room. Leading Motor Mechanic Cheeney succeeded alone in getting the engine room fire under control with extinguishers, but could not get near the tank compartment hatch owing to the heat. When another craft came alongside to assist, Cheeney had a hose rigged from her, and sitting from outboard in the shell-hole in the ship's side, fought and put out the fire. Undeterred by the knowledge that petrol remained on board, he saved his ship by his very gallant action."
    http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/36854/supplements/5880

    Finally, the few photos I could gather of LCS(L) Mk.II:

    LCS(L) 253.jpg LCS(L) 256 - IWM FL_005827.jpg LCS(L) 257 - 1.jpg LCS(L) 257 - 2.jpg

    Michel
     
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  10. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Good stuff, mate.

    Thank you.
     
  11. Arty

    Arty Member

    And back to Op Neptune...

    From the IWM A23957 - taken from the deck of HMS Holmes LCS(L) Mk2s in the Sword area...

    Arty
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Great find Arty!

    That's a good incentive to check all D Day naval photos to see if we can find the other craft of this forgotten flotilla looming in corners...
     
  13. One source for a plan of LCS(L) Mark 2 by John Lambert:
    http://www.cornwallmodelboats.co.uk/acatalog/mar2256.html

    LCL(L) Mark 2 plan - mar2256.jpg

    Detailed shipyard plans also exist at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich (Historic Photographs and Ship Plans Section at the Brass Foundry, Royal Arsenal Woolwich).

    Michel
     
  14. Tippers

    Tippers New Member

    I've only just picked up on this thread. My late Father, EricTiplady as Sub Lt RNVR was CO of LCS(L) 259, on D Day as subsequently as part of the Inshore Support Squadron Eastern Flank), protecting the beachead anchorage and during Operation Infatuate on 1st November 1944. I have quite a lot of documentary information including operational orders and letters of proceedings and some photographs which I'd be happy to share. Attached - I hope is a photo of LCS(L) 259
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Welcome aboard, Tippers.

    As you can see, there are a fair few members interested in landing craft, operationally as well as physically. I believe a lot of the official logs etc. for the smaller craft were disposed of, so what you've got is almost certainly unique. Unsurprisingly, my vote is 'yes, please'. It may even be worthwhile starting a specific thread.
     
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    That's 256 , it says on the side. ;)
     

    Attached Files:

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  17. Welcome Tippers!

    We would definitely love to see what documents and photos you may have!

    Michel
     
  18. nemo120

    nemo120 Member

    Hi
    I really hope I'm not too late but upon research my great uncle - John Edward Thompson a royal marines commando was aboard LCS 256 when it sunk in walcheren.
    The list of casualties can be found for 256,252 and 258 here:
    http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1944-11NOV.htm
    Also, the location (not sure how precise) and details of LCS 256 can be found here:
    http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?1851
    The other ships are probably on the site and there are comments in Dutch that I can't make too much sense of with google translate.
    According to the co-ordinates posted on the page, the wreck of 256 lies here:
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B029'15.0%22N+3%C2%B027'32.0%22E/@51.4848969,3.452714,4776m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d51.4875!4d3.4588889
    I'm not exactly expecting too much information etc. but if anyone could point me in the right direction that would be much appreciated but I was wondering if I could find out whether he was on the boat for D-day or other operations (256) and it was initially thought according to family members that he had died at Dieppe however this is not true so I wonder if the boats were present at the Dieppe raid and if he was on the same boat in D-day or elsewhere or if he was on one of the landing craft etc. and what he did after the initial landing e.g. if he was sent back as reinforcement or anything. This may be too much to ask for so if so, I will have to apply for a service record or something.
    I also assume that the bodies of those who died were not recovered from the wreck as he is remembered at the Portsmouth naval memorial for those without a proper burial.
    Thanks in advance
     
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  19. nemo120

    nemo120 Member

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