Operation Zipper and use of LVT

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Ewen Scott, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Recently while searching for something else I dug out my old copy of "From Trombay to Changi... The Story of Arakan Coastal Forces". In there was an extract from the Operation Zipper Assault Plan in relation to Peggy Force, responsible for landing 2 batt. of the 51st Indian Inf Bde.

    What caught my eye was the reference to the use of lend lease Landing Vehicle Tracked. 55 plus a recovery version were to be launched from LSTs to land the troops.

    Does anyone know what units these might have come from?

    Until now the only unit I've been aware of with LVTs was the 34 Royal Marine Amphibian Support Regt which had gun rocket and flame thrower versions.
  2. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    Hi Ewen,

    James Ladd's "The Royal Marines", describes the landing by 'Peggy Force' on 9th September 1945:

    "Those in 'Peggy Force' followed an LC Navigation [craft] from the LSI 'Glenroy', the two LCS(M) Mark 3s probing creeks beside the Langat River, as more than 30 LVCTs churned behind the leading craft to land two Indian battalions 2 miles (3.2km) up the river on its north bank near Port Swettenham. (The Force was under an RN commander, and two Fairmile Motor Launches provided escorts, with three LCTs carrying the artillery."

    He doesn't name the unit operating the 30 LVTs and it might have been the 34th Amphibian Support Regiment, Royal Marines. However, according to Wikipedia and your note above, the unit was equipped with fire support types of the LVT-4. In an appendix, Ladd says that 'the only operations carried out by this regiment [the 34th] were in South East Asia where it was employed on internal security operations for a short time in 1945, and was equipped as infantry.'

    One further line of research might be to identify the units within 'Peggy Force' and see if their histories/war diaries turn up anything on the LVTs.

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
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  3. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    Hi again

    The IWM has a piece of film footage of the 23rd Indian Division landing at Port Dickson which includes footage of at least one LVT. See: OPERATION ZIPPER: AMPHIBIOUS LANDINGS ON THE MALAYAN COAST BY 23RD INDIAN DIVISION AT AND AROUND PORT DICKSON [Allocated Title]
    Unfortunately the film is not online however the description includes the following: "A man's head poking out through a hatch on a tracked amphibious vehicle, probably a Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) Buffalo. The Buffalo drives past camera and off the beach. Another amphibious vehicle, possibly an American M29 Water Weasel, drives along the beach past camera; it has an image of a horned devil on its nose. Men walk past a parked DUKW amphibian."

    According to the history of the 23rd Indian Division ("Fighting Cock"), the 37th Indian Brigade employed LVTs to reach Sepang by travelling up the Langat River: "As had happened in the Arakan on a falling tide, the waters swept up the chaung leading to Sepang in apparently the wrong direction and the LVTs made fast time; by 14:00hrs the Gurkhas had reached the village."

    Unfortunately, the reference to "the Gurkhas" could be to one or more of three Gurkha battalions then in the 37th Indian Brigade - 3/3rd, 3/5th and 3/10th - but it may have been the 3/5th?

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
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  4. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    The British Official History mentions that 'an LVT assault company, R.A.S.C.' would have been a requirement for the assault to capture Singapore.

  5. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Thanks Rothy. All my research indicates that 34 RMASR was a support unit only. The RASC seems much more likely. So more digging into a little known event. The problem is that there were big changes to the plans in light of the Japanese surrender so the plans don't always match what happened on the ground.
  6. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    There were 6 General Transport Companies, RASC, that manned the LVT/DUKW in SEAC.

    Unfortunately I do not have the unit numbers for them.

    If you can get to Kew these two files might provide you with this information and you can look for the War Diaries in the WO 172 series of files.

    WO 203/2779 - Operation Zipper - Amphibious vehicles: requirements.

    WO 203/2752 - Operation Zipper - Amphibious training.


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  7. RobG64

    RobG64 Well-Known Member

    Hi, a couple of things to note:
    2nd British Division reorganised as a "tropical assault division" from May to October 1943 under command Indian Expeditionary Force
    Its 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment was also reorganised, with "B" Squadron becoming a liaison (Phantom) unit and "A" & "C" Squadrons issued with 50 LVT-1 Alligators in October and November 1943. These two squadrons were allocated to 36th Indian Division in January and February 1944, respectively, for proposed amphibious operations. When these operations were cancelled, the squadrons left their vehicles behind and rejoined the regiment in March 1944. (Source: War Diary 2nd Regiment)
    In September and October 1943 DUKWs started arriving in India. 387th Company RASC, originally with 2nd Division, was selected to become amphibian. It moved to the I.E.F. and trained at Juhu beach in No.1 Combined Operations Training Centre at Madh Island, north of Bombay. The Company deployed to Calcutta and one platoon of the Company was under command 36th Indian Division in early 1944, but because of the Japanese threat to India, the rest of the Company was rushed up to the Manipur Road without its vehicles and given an infantry role! The Company was reunited with its DUKWs later in the year and use to support 11th (East Africa) Division
    (Source: http://btckstorage.blob.core.windows.net/site1634/the waggoner/ww11 dukw 3.pdf)

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  8. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    AS014a Training India 42-XL.jpg AS014a Training India 42-XL.jpg AS014b Training India 42-L.jpg
    Apologies for placing two identical images here but these might help with above. They come from a collection of photos which were assembled by a soldier who served with 9th Royal Sussex who went out to India in October 1942 and eventually underwent training with Combined Ops at Juhu Beach when it was thought there was to be a waterbourne invasion to take back Burma. These are the only photos I have seen of this Battalion training there. Although they are shown as being taken in 1942, I suspect they date from the following year as Royal Sussex were sent out to India as an RAC Unit but returned to Infantry Role in 1943. The soldier's name was Harold Squires and his son has provided the images via a friend.
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