NAVAL FORCE ‘L’. (and Preloaded Coasters and Motor Transport Ships.) This thread will attempt to describe Force 'L' and its loading timetable at London, Tilbury and East Coast ports. It will also describe the loading of the large number of pre loaded coasters at ports from the Solent to Grimsby. Force ‘L’ differed from the other three Naval Forces, G, J and S, in that it had no function on the Far Side. It also differed in that it embarked on the Thames and the East Coast rather than the South Coast. There were no bombardment ships, no minesweepers, no headquarters ships, no ferry craft and no LSIs. Transporting the Follow Up divisions, 7 Armoured Division and 51 Division, was the main task of Force L, although it also carried a variety of personnel and vehicles for corps units of both I Corps and XXX Corps. Further personnel and vehicles for 7 Armoured Division were carried on ships and craft of the ETM (Motor Transport) convoys from the Thames and the single Personnel Convoy, ETP1. Force ‘L’ Order of Battle. LSTs. LST(1)s Bachaquero carrying a LCP(R), Misoa and Tasajera. 7 LST Flotilla. LSTs 214, 237, 301, 319, 321, 366 and 406. These carry three LCP(L) and four LCP(R). 8 LST Flotilla. LSTs 63, 165, 198, 200 and 403. These carry four LCP(R). 21 US LST Division. LSTs 327, 384, 385, 386, 540, 360 and 383. 98 US LST Division. LSTs 60, 295, 517, 535, 137 and 534. 99 US LST Division. LSTs 138, 139, 524, 527, 536 and 537. 100 US LST Division. LSTs 521, 528, 541, 542, 522, and 529. 102 US LST Division. LSTs 175, 176, 208, 209, 261 and 530. 103 US LST Division. LSTs 543, 682, 980, 981, 982 and 983. LCT(3). All LCT(3) in Force L were petrol driven. ‘V’ LCT Squadron. 16 LCT Flotilla. 11 X LCT(3). 18 LCT Flotilla. 11 X LCT(3). 19 LCT Flotilla. 10 X LCT(3). ‘H’ LCT Squadron. 6 LCT Flotilla. 11 X LCT(3). 17 LCT Flotilla. 10 X LCT(3). LCI(L). ‘A’ LCI(L) Squadron. 252 LCI(L) Flotilla. 10 X LCI(L). 253 LCI(L) Flotilla. 9 X LCI(L). Orders concerning all Force L Groups. All Groups sailed in single line ahead until they reached Sandhead Buoy off Dover. They then formed the formations shown in their orders. These usually showed two parallel lines for the larger craft with LCI(L) forming lines outside them. This formation was then kept until they were in the swept channel at 50 degrees north when they once more formed single line ahead. The Northern ends of the swept channels were marked by lit buoys and by HDMLs flying the numeral flag of the channel. Each side of the channel was marked by Dan Buoys but it was to be expected that some of these would be missing. Groups could reform in columns on leaving the mine belt at the discretion of the Senior Officer. Each group then remained in formation until reaching the Lowering Position at the southern end of each channel. When the leading vessel was eight miles from the Lowering Position an escort proceeded ahead to receive orders from one of the authorities listed below. On reaching the Lowering Position the group split into sections destined for each sector. They were led by an escort and awaited orders for anchoring and discharging. In the Assault Area by the time Force L arrived there would be various authorities distinguished by lights or flags. Captain Southbound Sailings. HMS Nith. Flag ‘4’. Captain Northbound Sailings. HMS Goathland. Flag ‘9’. Deputy SOAG. In LCH. Flags ‘PT 3 FL S’. Three all round red lights in the form of a triangle. SOFC. Flags ‘PT 3 FL F’. Three all round white lights in the form of a triangle. Some positions off the beaches were marked by craft flying a black ball and a large tin alphabetical flag with the letters of the position marked. These were not all in place when Force L arrived. It was expected that the beaches would be unsuitable for the unloading of LSTs and LCT(3) in the normal manner and that they would use methods shown below. However these ships and craft might be called in to unload in the normal manner if conditions were found to be suitable. LCT(3) were to beach on the falling tide and dry out. They would probably ground aft with 6 foot of water at the ramp. In a cross tide they would obviously tend to pivot on their sterns when grounded aft. This had to be minimised by grounding firmly. Kedge anchors were to be let go to enable craft to haul off on the rising tide. Anchors should have been let go when soundings show about 5 foot more than the draught. This should have allow some 75 fathoms of wire to run out before grounding. Some craft were reluctant to do this. LST1 and LST2s were to anchor by the stern and discharge their vehicles onto Rhino Ferries. DUKWs were to be swum off at any time when within 3 miles of the shore if there is opportunity without delaying the arrival of LSTs at the anchoring position. DUKWs and LCVP carried at davits were lowered on anchoring. The DUKWs were to swim ashore where they were directed to exits, dumps and transport parks. LCVP were to report to Senior Officer Ferry Service or any SOAG or DSOAG. 80 LCVP were to be lowered by the US LSTs on first arrival. These were all for Force ‘J’ (Juno). Those lowered in Gold area were to go to Juno and report to HMS Waveney. 20 LCVP came from Group 4 and the remainder from Groups 1 and 3. LST1 were not required for the Build Up but remained off the beaches as Rhino Depot Ships. Tasajera to Juno. Bachaquero to Sword. Misoa to Gold. Certain LCI(L) carried handcarts and lightweight motor cycles. Handcarts were waterproofed and could be floated ashore. The landing of motorcycles presented greater difficulties and were accepted on the understanding that they must not be allowed to delay the craft. If a Commanding Officer considered that his craft was in danger of being stranded on a falling tide or otherwise delayed he was to unbeach without waiting to unload motorcycles. 7 Armoured Division. XXX Corps. 7 Armoured Division was allocated concentration areas in Norfolk. 131 (Queens) Brigade was quartered around Kings Lynn. 22 Armoured Brigade were in a more remote area around Brandon. For embarkation 22 Armoured Brigade moved to Ipswich and then on to Felixstowe. 131 Brigade moved to Brentwood for the Tilbury Docks and West Ham for the London Docks. 22 Armoured Brigade was scheduled to land late on D day or early on D+1. Since it was being carried in LCTs they avoided the delays experienced by the LSTs and landed early D+1. It was planned that 22 Armoured Brigade would advance on D+1 and seize a forward route as far as Villers Bocage. This was not possible at the time and they did not reach their objective for some days. 51 (Highland) Division. I Corps It was planned that Divisional Headquarters and 153 Brigade, plus one battalion from 152 Brigade, would land on D+1. The remainder of the division plus 4 Armoured Brigade would land over the next three days. The Divisional Headquarters was delayed in landing from LSTs but 153 Brigade arrived and landed from LCI(L) on Mike between 2000 and 2100 hours on D day. Mike.