Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Tracy Harris, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    Hi, I’m a newbie looking for info in the Landing Ship, Tank that my father-in law served on in Italy and Normandy. I have his memoirs but I’m looking to fill in gaps. If anyone has any ideas to point me in the right direction I would be very grateful! It was LST159, it came over in Convoy UGS 9 in late May 1943. I have a couple of photographs - at the dock in Anzio and in Southampton, being loaded for D-Day. I know he was coxswain of a landing craft (assault) and landed RM commandoes in Sicily, Salerno and Anzio, and landed on Juno beach on D-Day. Tracy Harris
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron


    The image is from 'The D-Day Ships' by John de S Winser. Your basic information is correct as you can see the LST 159 sailed as part of Force J and the apostrophe means it was HM rather than US crewed.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  3. I suppose that the photos of LST 159 you have are among those below:

    At Anzio:
    LST 159, 35, Anzio [George Silk] - 1.jpg
    LST 159, 35, Anzio [George Silk] - 2.jpg
    LST 159, 35, Anzio [George Silk] - 3.jpg

    For Operation NEPTUNE, LST 159 was in 4 LST(2) Flotilla under Assault Group " J " 3.

    Following is the load (Landing Table Index Number 1741) that she was planned to carry on D Day as part of (Sailing) Group 332, (Assault) Group " J " 1 (G.J.1), Naval Force " J " (numbers within parentheses are the Mobilisation Serial Number of the Unit):
    [Edit: the same data may be viewed with the abbreviations expanded in my post #33 below]

    Ship Ready to Beach H + 4 hrs, NAN Sector - Offloaded by Rhino Ferry in Tow


    27 Cdn Armd Rgt (1044/1) - 20 men with 3x Sherman Tk.Mk.III, 1x 3 Ton Lorry Stores
    HQ 2 Cdn Armd Bde (940/1) - 10 men with 2x Sherman Tk.Mk.III
    2 Cdn Armd Bde Sigs Sqn (965/1) - 8 men with 1x M.14
    105 A/Tk Bty (SP) 3 Cdn A/Tk Rgt (708/1) - 50 men with 8x M.10 & 8 M/C loaded, 2x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    HQ RCA 3 Cdn Inf Div (704/1) - 33 men with 1x 3 Ton Office, 1x 3 Ton Lorry GS & 3 M/C loaded, 1x 15cwt FFW, 3x Car 5cwt
    Nth.N.S. Highrs (732/1) - 2 men with 1x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    S.D.& G. Highrs (752/1) - 4 men with 1x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    H.L.I. of C. (754/1) - 5 men with 1x 3 Ton GS
    C Coy C.H. of O (733/1) - 4 men with 1x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    "H" Sec Sigs (726/1) - 8 men with 1x M.14, 1x 15cwt Armd
    Det 11 Multi Channel Sec (38346) - 3 men with 1x 15cwt GS or W/T, 2 M/C loose
    102 Corp Pro Coy (2179) - 17 men with 1x 15cwt GS, 1x Car 5cwt, 12 M/C loose
    CBO 1 Corps Det (36638) - 4 men with 1x Car 4 Str Humber
    966 IWT Coy - 15 marching parties, 1 man with 1x Tractor Class II
    Det 267 Pnr Coy - 9 marching parties
    D Sec 4 Cdn Pro Coy (773/1) - 1 man with 1x Car 5cwt & 1 M/C loaded
    Inns of Court Rgt (29963) - 2 men with 1x Car 5cwt
    HQ 9 Cdn Inf Bde (750/1) - 1 man - Padre for H.L.I. rides in General Service Lorry
    3 Cdn Inf Div Sigs (726/1) - 3 men with 1x Car 5cwt & 1 Airborne Trailer
    Contact Det (1102/1) - 1 man with 1x Car 5cwt


    105 A/Tk Bty (SP) 3 Cdn A/Tk Rgt (Unit nominated to detail OC Craft) - 12 men with 2x 15cwt Bty Charger, 2x Carrier Univ
    Nth.N.S. Highrs (732/1) - 8 men with 3x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    102 Sub Area Beach (36660) - 2 marching parties, 3 men with 1x Car 5cwt
    CRE GHQ Tps - 4 men with 1x Car 5cwt & 1 M/C loaded
    102 Sub Area Sigs Sec (39097) - 18 men with 3x Car 5cwt, 1x 15cwt GS & 3 M/C loaded
    A Sqn Phantom (3814) - 7 men with 1x White Scout Car, 1x Car 5cwt, 1x Trailer 10cwt
    S.D.& G.Highrs (752/1) - 12 men with 3x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    1 Corps Sigs - 3 marching parties, 15 men with 2x M.14 & 1 H/Cart loaded, 1x Car 5cwt, 1x Trailer 10cwt
    H.L.I. of C (754/1) - 12 men with 3x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    27 Cdn Armd Rgt (1044/1) - 12 men with 4x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    777 Corp HQ Car Coy (38844) - 22 men with 5x Cars 5cwt, 1x 3 Ton Lorry GS
    Cdn P.R. Services (2351/1) - 4 men with 1x Car 5cwt
    HQ 3 Cdn Inf Div (700/1) - 6 men with 2x Car 5cwt
    Tcl ASSU for 1 Corps - 2 men with 1x Car 5cwt
    RCASC for 3 Cdn Inf Div (760/1) - 4 Trailers 5cwt (To be towed ashore by Vehs detailed by OC Craft)
    51 RAF Ballon Unit - 2 marching parties & 1 Balloon


    633 DUKW Pl Med (35863) - 3 men with 1x DUKW
    199 G.T. Coy (33210) - 3 men with 1x DUKW


    199 G.T. Coy (33210) - 9 men with 3x DUKW

    Source: Landing Table dated 2 May 44 with Amendt No.1 of 11 May 44.

    Note: "105 A/Tk Bty (SP) 3 Cdn A/Tk Rgt" should really read "105 (Composite) A/Tk Bty (SP)...", because for the assault all, and only, sixteen 3" M10 Guns of 3 Cdn A/Tk Rgt were grouped under 105 Bty command (four each from C Tp 4 Bty, F Tp 52 Bty, I Tp 94 Bty & L Tp 105 Bty), while the 6 pr A/Tk guns were regrouped into other Composite Batteries.

    On next photo, a still from a film by by Canadian cameraman McDougall, we can see LST 159 (1741) loading at Southampton S One Hard (Outside), with LST 8 (1740) alongside its port beam, at S One Hard (Inside). The Naval Orders spitulate that she was supposed to be loaded in the evening of D minus 3 (2 Jun 44), but the clipboard, presumably valid for this sequence, says "June 3, Roll 10":
    LST 159 (1741), LST 8 (1740) loading, 2 or 3 Jun 44 - McDougall - 1.jpg

    A close-up of one of the vehicles embarking aboard LST 159. This is an M10 3" anti-tank gun (Self Propelled) belonging to 'I' Troop, 94th Battery, 3rd Canadian Anti Tank Regiment. Its Registration Number is S216012 and it is named (with some misspelling!) INDEFAGITABLE. Notice the chalked boarding number '17 ' in a circle:
    M10 INDEFAGITABLE embarking LST 159 (1741), 2 or 3 Jun 44 - McDougall - 1.jpg
    M10 INDEFAGITABLE embarking LST 159 (1741), 2 or 3 Jun 44 - McDougall - 2.jpg

    Next are two photos shot on D Day by Canadian photographer Ken Bell showing vehicles carried by LST 159 (1741) after they were unloaded onto a Rhino Ferry, as specified in the Landing Table, presumably somewhere off JUNO Area.

    Here we recognise our dyslexic friend 'INDEFAGITABLE' with its crew on the same Rhino Ferry. (L-R): Gunner B. Long, Bombardier M.B. Farrell, Gunner C. Henderson, Sergeant G.A. Chappel, Lieutenant W.E. Lee and Gunner M. Dowhaniuk:
    PA-137523 - M10 S216012 'INDEFAGITABLE' 94 A Tk Regt RCA - Ken Bell.jpg

    The next photo is shot from a wider angle. The M10s on the left are from 105 (Comp) A/Tk Bty (SP), the second one being 'INDEFAGITABLE' again (with Long, Farrell, Lee & Dowhaniuk on it), while the two M14 halftracks are from H Sec Sigs and 2 Cdn Armd Bde Sigs Sqn respectively:
    LST 159 (1741 NAN) loading, RHF.jpg

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018
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  4. I've edited my previous post above which contained an error regarding the location/date of the photo with the M10s and M14s, and added a couple of frames from a clip shot during loading.

  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I am putting together some snippets relating to D Day and the subsequent Cross Channel Shuttle Service. In the meantime I found this on Fold3.

    14 July 1943. LST 159 routed from Algeria to Malta carrying 500 tons of US salvage gear.

    Presumably this gear was for clearing Valetta harbour.

  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    [QUOTE="Michel Sabarly, post: 795760, member: 18331"
    At Anzio:
    View attachment 226797

    That is some trailer!

    Doesn't look like the the usual Dragon Wagon trailer but the rear wheels look like a similar arrangement. Might be confusing me with a foreshortened view.

    Anyone have any more info on it?


    Just noticed the Diamond T coming off the LST behind it. It's the M9 trailer for the Diamond T.
    Great picture.
  7. Dave,

    Here's one photo showing a trailer carrying the gun mount being pushed by the "tractor":
    Gun mount off LST, Anzio [George Silk].jpg

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  8. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    Thanks Michel, I had one of the Anzio pics and one Southampton so you have added to my collection!
  9. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    Thanks Mike
  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    LST 159 returned from the Mediterranean with convoy MKS 45, leaving Gibraltar on April 10th 1944. This convoy had, apart from other shipping, 22 LSTs. 159 was carrying 63 vehicles, 16 tanks and 178 passengers. Landed at Plymouth. She then took part in exercises and preparations for D Day.

    After D day the next sailing I have found is June 15th when 159 sailed from the Solent with Convoy FWL 9 for Normandy.

    An aside.
    You mention that your father in law was a coxswain of an LCA. LSTs normally carried four US LCVP. On D Day 159 carried 2 DUKWs and 2 LCP(L) or LCP(R).

    4jonboy likes this.
  11. Another view of LST 159 [Erratum: not so, my mistake! This is actually LST 199 - her number is painted much higher up on the hull than 159] with a few pals at Anzio. Note the portable landing strip / flight deck fitted to LST 16 to her starboard:
    Source: VIDEO SBARCO DI ANZIO - I T A L I A 1943

    From the same source, another photo of LST 16's flight deck:
    LST 16 Aircraft Carrier - ARTIGLIERIA-OSSERVAZIONE-aereo-in-decollo-da-vettore-LST.jpg

    More photos of LST 16 here: Tank Landing Ship LST

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  12. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Is that Sherman towing the 5.5?
  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Yes. Other 5.5" are being towed by Quads. I deduce that this is a load of replacement equipment on its way to an Ordnance depot. Also the replacement gun barrels on the Rogers trailer.

    Plus lack of unit markings.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  14. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    The following is an extract from his memoirs, it would have been early June 1943, soon after LST-159 arrived from the USA

    'Once again there had been a glorious cock-up as the cargo on board proved to be for Malta, our previous port of call, so the process was reversed and a convoy was formed to go back to Valletta. By this time, I had been advised that the LCA (Landing Craft, Assault) that we carried on the port davits was to be used as an initial assault craft and I had been detailed to ‘volunteer’ to drive (coxswain) the boat.'

    As I understand it from his notes, LST-159 was pretty non-standard: the crew was a makeshift crew put together for a ferry trip to UK but they were diverted to the Med. They expected to go back to USA to finish their training (Jim was supposed to be a Telegraphist Air Gunner in Fleet Air Arm) but ended up staying once the full-scale invasion of Italy was decided upon.
  15. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    Another discrepancy I see here - Jim recalls being one of 3 LSTs arriving in Swansea on the first Sunday of May 1944 - there are some quite specific details to support this. He left from Casablanca. He doesn't mention Plymouth at all which makes me wonder if he changed ships after Anzio, or travelled back to UK on a different ship. He talks of going from Swansea to Portsmouth to make ready for D-Day, All the earlier dates and ports fit with LST-159, but the later ones don't seem to - although I'm concentrating on Italy and the Med for now - maybe he wasn't even on LST-159 for D-Day!

    After D-Day there is a lot of personal stuff, then he next recalls sailing from Sheerness on Christmas Eve 1944 for the Rhine

    I know he transferred to LST-3512 but everything seems to point to this being after D-Day, maybe even much later, after the end of the war in Europe when he was expecting to go to the Far East. In fact, I don't think it was commissioned until 1944/45

    Something I have had to consider is that much of his memoir was not written contemporaneously, so some things may be mis-remembered, but his service record clearly states only LST-159 and 3512.

    I thought the research for this might be easier than my usual time period - medieval - but maybe not!
  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Fascinating. That is real life and very different from the text book operation. Official plans, orders, reports etc. do not usually have this sort of detail.

    Source for the snippets I am posting is the Admiralty War Diaries. Accurate but short on detail and difficult to search.

    Compared with medieval research the problem is the sheer volume of paperwork which exists, although the very one you need is often missing.

    Two more brief entries.
    25 May 1943. LST 159 carries a ten ton capacity crane to Valetta, Malta.

    13 July 1943. LST 165 replaces 159 to carry a crane from Oran to Valetta.

    14 July 1943. Signal from a Naval Officer in Charge in Italy saying he has LST 159 which should be at Valetta. What should he do with it.

    Obtaining details of a soldiers war service is easy but I know nothing of the Admiralty. Someone here will know.


    If LST 159 left Gibraltar on 10th April it would have had plenty of time to go to Plymouth and then on to to Swansea by early May.
  17. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    LST 3512 was a Mark 3. These were intended for the Pacific but few were completed before the end of the war. 3512 certainly was not commissioned before the end of the war in Europe, May 1945, and so outside my area of expertise.

  18. Oops! In my eagerness to find photos of LST 159, I blundered badly: the photo in my Post #11 above does not show LST 159 with others, including LST 16, but LST 199, also of 4 LST Flotilla on D Day. I have edited said post accordingly.

    Sorry for any disappointment I may have caused :blush:

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  19. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I think we might forgive the occasional lapse. 'Even Homer nods'.

  20. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Attached is a list with a few more dates and places for LST 159 and LST 3512.



    Attached Files:

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