LST 420

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Chris Raymond Antcliffe, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. John Marshall

    John Marshall Junior Member

    I found a picture in google images which purports to be the LST 420. There is also a picture on there showing three LSTs with doors open. The last one could be the 420 - you can see the last two numbers on the picture. If you can't find them, I will post them once I have found out how to do it! Ally

    Would be interested to see that or quote the reference in case I can find it anyway. LST420 seems to have been camera shy.
  2. John Marshall

    John Marshall Junior Member

    Just found this post I have been trying compile a list of all who perished on board this vessel as my late father in law was one of the 30 who survived , all my wife said was he was torpedoed, but since his death in 1985 I have found that it was a mine.
    He was serving in the RAF BSRU never said anything what he did or what happened I even went to Runnymede with him but not a mention on that visit, when I was going for my R.A.E. he give me a booklet of his Learn Morse in Seven Days I was puzzled how it came it his possesion, now I know.
    He talked about a life long friendship made with a Belgium family whom he was billeted with but not about that fateful day

    I have what I think is a complete list of the losses taken from a longhand search of the CWGC site.
  3. John Marshall

    John Marshall Junior Member

    I have what I think is a complete list of the losses taken from a lomghnad search of the CWGC site.
  4. John Marshall

    John Marshall Junior Member

    Thanks, Phil.

    Do you know if LAC John Leech, RAFVR was listed as one of the RAFVR passengers lost off Oostende with LST 420 by any chance please?

    The CWGC list LAC Leech's death as 07/11/1944. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    I have him in my list of probable LST 420 losses , he is on the CWGC site record and the Runnymede memorial Panel 243. I have more information on the loss if it helps. Let me know
  5. John Marshall

    John Marshall Junior Member

    John Leech was my my Mothers brother. Do you know whether he is buried in Belgium?

    No as he is listed on the Runnymede memorial it would appear that the body was not found. My lists include notes on the Ostend and Blankenberg burials.
  6. John Marshall

    John Marshall Junior Member

    Hello everybody,
    I'm searching for alle the names who lost their lives when the LST420 was sunk by a mine near Ostend on the 7th of November 1944. I think that almost 300 men were killed or missed. Can anyone help me or give me a way to search (I found already the site naval casualty lists ).
    Thank you.
    I need this information for a project (searching the casualties in the Battle of the Scheldt) during 4 sept. untill 28 nov. 1944.
    René Hoebeke, Holland

    René Hoebeke (Holland)

    I believe I have a full list of all losses. Please get in touch.
  7. amandajop

    amandajop New Member

    I THINK MY GRANDFATHER WAS ON THE LST420 when it sank. His name was Warrant Officer 356672 William Redding BSRU .He is buried in Oostende. Does anyone have a list of casualties?

  8. tracey138

    tracey138 New Member

    Thank you all for such wonderful information and help you seem to have given. I joined this site yesterday- how wonderful the Internet is!
    I am trying to find out more about my mother's and Aunt's cousin who died on 7.11.1944- although we have some photos of him, my mother and Aunt are at the younger end of a large family and more information from family is now not available. As he was in the RAF and is remembered at Runnymede I had presumed he was on a plane that crashed over the channel.
    However being curious re BSRU Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve has led me to this site and two 'threads'. Someone has already kindly forwarded a photo of his name at Runnymede.
    I now believe he died on LST-420 on 7.11.1944 as it hit the mine outside Ostend.
    Leading Aircraftman STANLEY PERCY REES
    1397999, BSRU, Royal Air Force Reserve
    died aged 22 on 7th November 1944, sone of Percy William and Daisy Flora Rees; husband of Constance Lilian Rees, of Southgate, Middlesex.
    Remembered with honour Runnymede Memorial.

    I have looked at Ally Ings lovely photo- he is not there, but I have a photo of him in that same uniform.
    Can Englandphil or others, confirm if he was on the LST-420 or give me other info/tips?

    Thank you.
  9. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    Morning Tracey, as you probably know by now, BSRU stands for Base Signals and Radar Unit.

    Having checked the overseas Death register I can 100% confirm that Stanley was on LST 420

    Name: REES, Stanley P
    Unit:Lst. 420
    Rank:Leading Aircraftman
    Year: 1944
    Volume : 12
    Page: 119
    Record source: GRO War Death R.A.F. All Ranks (1939 to 1948)
  10. tracey138

    tracey138 New Member

    Thank you very much for your help.
    My Aunt and my mother were pleased to know more.
  11. Newark Gill

    Newark Gill New Member

    At 1530 this afternoon, LS420 broke in two and sank with a tragic loss of life. To my father, William Percy Gill and all the other personel who lost their lives, we will not forget them this day.
  12. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    Having been to Oostende many times and seen the many unknown graves from LST 420 on the Belgian coast it has always been an event I have thought about on November 7th
  13. Hello everybody,

    I'm not sure whether we're all aware that there is an account of the sinking of LST 420 on the navsource website (linked from the main LST 420 page as posted by ramacal):

    Sorry if everyone has seen that before :) !

  14. Here's the only photo I could find of LST(2) 420. Although it's poor and quite small, it shows she was of the two davit type.
    LST 420.jpg

  15. Attached are two pages from the Admiralty War Diaries, 10/1/44 to 11/30/44; 11/1/44 to 12/31/44, reporting the loss of LST 420.

    Admiralty War Diaries, 10.1.44 to 11.30.44; 11.1.44 to 12.31.44 - Page 16.jpg Admiralty War Diaries, 10.1.44 to 11.30.44; 11.1.44 to 12.31.44 - Page 17.jpg

    ramacal likes this.
  16. AndyP538

    AndyP538 New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I am currently trying to do some research about the loss of LST 420 and No1 BSRU on behalf of my father in law. His Dad, LAC Jack McGrath, Service Number 1158790, was on board LST420 and is buried in Blankenberge Cemetery. My father in law was only about 6 months old at the time so never knew him.

    I can't seem to find many details on 1BSRU such as their role, was it a Mobile Radar Unit or were they responsible for maintenance only? I know they came under command of 60 Signals Group and I believe they may have been based at Chigwell.

    I have picked up some good info from this forum already and anything else would be very much appreciated.

  17. AndyP538

    AndyP538 New Member

    I have found out some information about the role of No1 BSRU which you may find interesting. Apologies if this is common knowledge to anyone already.

    Radar Servicing during the Winter 1944-1945
    During November 1944, under severe winter conditions, there was a relative stability of the war situation
    in north-west Europe. This did not mean any respite in the raid reporting work of the radar units,
    deployed in the main in exposed and remote localities in Holland arid Belgium. Opportunity was taken of
    the comparative lull in air operations to overhaul the radar equipment and carry out minor modifications
    which were detailed by Command Headquarters.3 This was achieved by taking one complete set of
    G.C.I. equipment off the air at a time, the unit continuing to operate on the remaining types at their
    disposal. The Mobile Signals Servicing Units (M.S.S.U.) carried out these servicing tasks, which were
    beyond the capacity of unit mechanics, during their quarterly overhauls. The M.S.S.U.s were able to cope
    successfully with the work, even changing unserviceable turntables of the rotating aerial systems of some
    two tons in weight, by hand.
    It had originally been planned before Operation "Neptune" that the Base Signals and Radar Unit
    B.S.R.U.) would be phased in as soon as the Normandy bridgehead had expanded sufficiently for the
    base area to be regarded as safe for such large units. However, the speed of the advance across France
    had been so great and the M.S.S.U.s were functioning so well that the B.S.R.U. was held in the United
    Kingdom until a suitable site could be selected in Belgium. Meetings were held both at Air Ministry and
    at Headquarters, Second Tactical Air Force, during October 1944, when consideration was given to the
    question of whether the B.S.R.U. was really necessary. A decision was taken that the unit was required in
    the base area on the Continent but its establishment was revised and decreased from 450 to 303
    personnel.After considerable delays, occasioned in the first place by weather and later by the Walcheren Island
    operations to clear the approaches to Antwerp, the main body of No. 1 B.S.R.U. and the greater part of
    its vehicles and equipment were embarked in a Landing Ship, Tank (L.S.T.) for Ostend. Heavy seas were running on 7 November
    when the unit sailed and, within sight of Ostend, the vessel struck a mine at 1500 hours and sank quickly.
    Of the B.S.R.U. complement on board, 14 officers, 224 other ranks and 50 vehicles loaded with
    equipment were lost -- only five officers and 26 other ranks were saved.1 This heavy loss was rendered
    more tragic when considered in relation to the very large number of signals personnel and the enormous
    quantities of radar and signals equipment which had been transported to the Continent during the five
    months since D-day without loss. When it is recalled that the total revised establishment of the unit was
    303 personnel the magnitude of the loss can be appreciated. In effect it meant that the unit had to be
    reformed completely in the shortest possible time.
    It was agreed that the unit should be reformed on the Continent and not in the United Kingdom. The
    work was started immediately, the personnel rendered surplus by the earlier reduction in the B.S.R.U.
    establishment were recalled, so that the unit began again with a good nucleus of experienced personnel.
    A site was selected at Ghent in Belgium and the task of setting up static workshops and moving in
    quantities of equipment and spares proceeded steadily. It was obvious that the unit, No. 1 B.S.R.U., could
    not function fully as an integral part of the radar and signals organisation of 2nd Tactical Air Force
    before the early part of 1945, so the Mobile Signals Servicing Units in each of the Groups continued to
    do all major servicing of the deployed radar units throughout the winter months -- a task not rendered any
    the easier by the heavy snowfalls and ice-bound roads.

  18. alide

    alide New Member


    A few days ago I started searching for details regarding the death of my uncle who died on 7th November 1944. He is recorded on panel 241 at Runnymede:

    LAC William George Dodds 1118015 and was with the RAF Volunteer Reserve. I also found a memorial by his family which says he drowned while on active service.

    I now believe he was with the BSRU and died on board LST420 but have been unable to find any death certificate or casualty listing for him. Can anyone help by looking at any listings you have and tell me if he is there.

  19. Hello Alison,

    One good way to start is always Geoff's ([truly!] wonderful) Search Engine here:

    which will lead you to the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) record for your uncle here:

    I suggest you also send a Private Message to englandphil as he might be able to help you with the missing persons record. See his various posts in this thread, for example here:

  20. alide

    alide New Member

    Hi Michel

    Thank you for such a quick response.

    I already have the info from Runnymede thanks.

    I hadn't thought to pm englandphil so will try that now - thanks for the suggestion.


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