Crossing the Rhine.

Discussion in 'Home' started by Trux, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Sheldrake,

    I know when I am outranked and cannot argue with your view. Thank you for your comments and additional information.

    100 AA Brigade is dealt with tomorrow. A fascinating organisation on this occassion.

    Mike
     
  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    100 Anti Aircraft Brigade Group.
    Commander 100 Anti Aircraft Brigade was responsible for the coordination of the anti aircraft layout on XII Corps front and for the close defence of the bridges and ferry points in all respects. For this purpose the brigade was considerably augmented by units from other formations, some not normally under AA command.

    Anti Aircraft Defence.
    113 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment
    123 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment
    112 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment (less one battery) (plus one SP troop 15 LAA Regiment)
    One Battery 93 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment with triple 20mm SP guns.

    Light Anti Aircraft units were located at vulnerable points on the near bank and as soon as crossing points, bridge or ferry, were established further units moved to cover these also. As soon as possible, and on the highest priority, LAA units were to cross the river by Class 9 FBE ferry and/or Class 9FBE bridge for the anti aircraft defence of the far bank. When established each bridge of ferry point should be defended by a troop of six 40mm guns arranged in a triangular pattern on either side of the river. A single gun was positioned close to the bridge or ferry site with the remaining two positioned further away and on the approaches. Since aircraft attacking bridges tend to fly more or less in line with the bridge this formation allows anti aircraft guns to engage them on approaching and departing.

    Triple 20mm guns mounted on Crusader tank chassis were positioned close to bridges where they could put up sufficient rapid close range fire to spoil an enemy pilots aim.
    399/121 Light Anti Aircraft Battery
    One Troop 474 Searchlight Battery
    Searchlights were available to assist the anti aircraft units. They normally worked with LAA units since the lights were radar controlled and could track an enemy aircraft and then illuminate it for the benefit of LAA guns who did not have radar.
    90 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment
    108 Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment
    The Heavy Anti Aircraft regiments were under the command of artillery groups for the bombardment programmes but reverted to the anti aircraft role under the command of 100 AA Brigade on the completion of the pre planned fire tasks. Their role was then the defence of the assembly areas. AA Troops with radar control were positioned to give an all round defence. Heavy Anti Aircraft guns were also positioned with a view to engaging enemy armour and was provided with amour piercing ammunition for the purpose.

    151 Anti Aircraft Operations Room.
    This controlled all anti aircraft defence in XII Corps area.


    Ground defence.
    Unusually 100 AA Brigade was given the responsibility not only for anti aircraft defence but also for ground defence and for defence against water borne attacks. For ground defence the anti aircraft guns, anti tank guns and three infantry companies from 52 Division were assigned. For defence against water borne attack CDL lights and self propelled anti tank guns were to identify and counter attack by mines or swimmers. The ground defences were not tested but a considerable number of mines were spotted and destroyed before they reached the bridges. Six mines reached the booms placed by engineers. The mines were all dropped by aircraft at night and floated down the river.

    86 Anti Tank Regiment (XII Corp)
    The anti tank regiment was equipped with four batteries of 17pdr anti tank guns. Half were towed and half were self propelled. The towed guns were positioned to defend the bridge and ferry points. One self propelled battery was deployed to work with the CDL lights in the defence of bridges and ferries against water borne attacks. The other self propelled battery was to form part of the mobile striking force.

    A Corp Anti Tank Battery at this date had three troops of four 17pdr guns. The two self propelled batteries had M10 17pdr Achilles while the two towed batteries had exchanged their previous Crusader tractors for Morris 4 X 4 Anti Tank Tractors to tow their guns.
    67 Medium Regiment
    72 Medium Regiment
    50 Heavy Regiment
    A Flight 658 Air Observation Post Squadron


    2 Independent Searchlight Battery.
    For convenience this battery was placed under 100 AA Brigade. Formed in early 1945 It was equipped and trained to provide movement light or ‘artificial moonlight’ to assist bridging and ferry operations at night.

    Artificial moonlight was introduced particularly for the Rhine Crossing. By shining searchlights onto low cloud sufficient light was provided for assault troops to board craft and navigate across the river. The reflected light was as good as bright moonlight and since the illumination was indirect it did not give away the troops positions. Referred to as movement light in official documents, as opposed to fighting lights.

    A Major commanded. There was a headquarters to provide administrative services and technical maintenance, and four troops each of six detachments. Each detachment had one 150cm searchlight and was commanded by a serjeant, assisted by a bombardier. There was a six man detachment to operate the light, a telephonist/WT operator, a driver mechanic, a driver IC and a cook ACC. The detachment had two 3ton 4 X 4 GS lorries, one towing the searchlight and one towing a 22 KW generator trailer. For this role the searchlights were not fitted with ‘Elsie’ (Light Control) radar.



    ‘B’ Squadron, 49 Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment.
    1 Tank Brigade and its three regiments of CDL tanks went to France and served with 21 Army Group but they did not see action and were disbanded in late 1944. A squadron was reformed as ‘B’ Squadron, 49 Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment and was used in support of the Rhine Crossings.

    The squadron was organised as a headquarters and six troops of four CDL tanks. It was commanded by a Major and had 191 personnel and twenty four CDL tanks. Headquarters had, apart from administrative vehicles, a scout car for the Major and four Carrier Universal with No19 sets for communication with the Troops.

    There were six troops each commanded by a Captain or Subaltern in a Carrier Universal with a No19 set. Each troop had four Grant CDL tanks with five man crews.

    The heart of the CDL concept was the Thoren light, a particularly bright yet compact searchlight. It was intended that the CDL would be a night fighting light which would at the same time be able to illuminate the battlefield, illuminate specific targets for armoured units, and dazzle the defenders. The light was mounted in an armoured turret with a 180 degree traverse and a 10 degree elevation or depression.

    These were controlled by an operator in the turret. The light shone through a two inch wide aperture and an armoured shutter could be opened and closed by power to produce a flicker which it was hoped would be dazzling. The searchlight turret was mounted on the Grant tank in place of the small 37mm gun turret. The Grant was ideal since it could retain its main hull mounted 75mm gun, there was plenty of room in the hull for a generator and the crew and there were a lot available since they had been replaced in front line service by the Sherman.

    For the Rhine Crossing half a squadron provided illumination for the amphibious Buffalos while the other half created a diversion. They also used the lights to spot and destroy debris, mines, enemy small craft etc. threatening the crossings and bridges.

    PLunder Grant light.jpg

    CDL.

    Plunder smoke.jpg

    806 Pioneer Smoke Company
    Smoke generators were positioned to provide a smoke screen over bridging sites if required. They were not in fact used.

    Mike
     
  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    I don't quite understand... there definitely was a smokescreen.
     
  4. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Xanten smokesceen.JPG
    A smoke generator in action in front of Xanten's St. Viktor church in March 1945
     
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  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Alberk,

    I refer specifically to the use of smoke to mask the bridge sites. This was not needed. There was certainly a lot of smoke used elsewhere but not by 806 Pioneer Smoke Company attached to 100 AA Brigade Group.
     
  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The Guns.

    Super Heavy Artillery.

    The 240mm howitzer.
    These large howitzers were well thought of but were relatively little used. This was partly because there was little opportunity to deploy siege artillery and partly because tactical air power did the job better, in good weather anyway.

    It fired a 360lb shell to a maximum range of 25,225 yards. A reduced charge was available which gave a maximum range of 8,450 yards. Maximum elevation was 65 degrees
    Traverse was 20 degrees either side

    The 8” gun.
    Very few of the big 8” guns were made and issued. They were not very accurate and the wear on the barrel was excessive. It fired a 240lb shell to a maximum range of 30,315 yards using Normal Charge or 35,635 yards using Super Charge. Super Charge caused very heavy barrel wear. Maximum elevation was 50 degrees. Traverse was 20 degrees either side

    The 8” gun and the 240mm howitzer used the same carriage. Both guns were so heavy that they had to be broken into two loads, each with its own transporter. The barrel and recoil system were carried on one carriage and the trail on the second. Each was towed by a M6 38ton fully tracked tractor. Fully loaded each carriage weighed some 50,000 lbs.

    A Crane, Truck Mounted, M2 (Lorraine 6 X 6) was needed to emplace the gun. It towed a trailer carrying the clamshell excavator. As a crane it lifted the carriage and barrel loads from the transporter and emplaced them. As a clamshell excavator it dug the pit which was needed to allow the breech to recoil at high elevation, and to accommodate the recoil spades. Guns could be emplaced without the crane by using the winches on the various tractors plus a lot of manpower. This required at least eight hours hard work against two hours with the crane.

    3 Super Heavy Regiment. RA.
    The regiment contained three batteries. Each battery had two sections and there was only one gun per section. Therefor the regiment had six guns. One battery had two 8” Howitzers and the other two each had two 240mm howitzers. Each section had 46 personnel. There were two Tractor Heavy High Speed M6 each towing a transport trailer, one with the gun barrel and one with the carriage. Each carried ten round of ammunition. Three Heavy Artillery Tractors each carried 15 rounds of ammunition.

    240mm.jpg

    Heavy Artillery.
    A Heavy Regiment had four batteries, each of four guns. In 21 Army Group two batteries were equipped with 7.2” howitzers and two were equipped with 155mm guns. All battery headquarters were identical.

    The US 155 mm carriage was used for both the 155mm gun and the 7.2” howitzer. The gun could be elevated to 63 degrees and be traversed 30 degrees either side.The 155mm M1 gun fired a 95lb shell to a range of 25,395 yards. The propellant charge came in two parts, a base charge and a super charge.

    The British 7.2” Mk6 gun was a new design fitted to the same carriage as the US 155mm. It fired a 200lb shell to a range of 19,600 yards. The propellant charge came in two forms. There was a four part charge which could be used in increments and there was a Super Charge which was a single bag charge.

    Gun crews were 13 men in each case.

    155mm.jpg

    A heavy battery with 155mm guns and Mack NO tractors moving into position.

    Survey Regiment personnel have already carried out a survey. The Heavy Regiment will have carried out its survey and the gun positions have been marked so that all is ready when the guns themselves arrive. The tractors will position the guns and then unload ammunition and gun equipment before withdrawing to the wagon park. Traverse on these guns is limited so accurate positioning is important.

    Here the gun has just arrived and the limber is still attached to the gun, although no longer attached to the tractor. The limber will be removed, the trail legs spread and the front wheels lifted so that the gun rest on the ground. Ammunition will then be dumped near the guns.




    Medium Artillery.

    5.5” and 4.5” guns.

    The 4.5” and the 5.5” were mounted on the same carriage and were identical except for the barrel length and calibre. The barrel from one could be fitted to the carriage of another with only small adjustments to the recoil system. Elevation was 45 degrees and traverse was 30 degrees either side.

    The 4.5” had a range of 20,500 yards with a 55lb shell

    The 5.5” had a range of 16,200 yards with the standard 100lb shell but when an 80lb shell was introduced in conjunction with a super charge the range was 18,100 yards.

    In action the 4.5” weighed 12,880 lb and the 5.5” weighed 13,646 lb. This made them difficult to manhandle into position. Fortunately they were not usually called on to move position frequently and their traverse was sufficient for most tasks. The gun crew was 10 men.

    The propelling charges for the 5.5” were bagged. There were four separate charges which could be used in combination to give the required range. The Super Charge for the 80lb shell came as on piece and could not be divided or used in conjunction with other charges. The propelling charge for the 4.5” gun was similar and came in three parts.

    A Medium Regiment consisted of two batteries, each of two troops. Each troop had four guns giving a regimental total of sixteen. XII Corp deployed ten regiments of 5.5” guns and a single regiment of 4.5” guns.

    5.5 inch.jpg

    5.5” guns of a Medium Regiment are lined almost wheel to wheel.




    3.7” Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun
    Heavy Anti Aircraft Artillery Regiments were increasingly used in a field artillery role. The high velocity and flat trajectory of the Heavy Anti Aircraft gun was the opposite of the heavy guns of the Army Group Royal Artillery, and the shells used fixed charges so that shells could not be lobbed. This made accurate ranging against ground targets difficult and the zone in which shell landed would be long and narrow. At first there were no sights suitable for ground fire but these were issued in late 1944 and with suitable tables gunners could engage ground targets with reasonable success. The guns were heavy and difficult to emplace but once they were emplaced they could engage targets rapidly using their all round traverse and electronic fire control. One great advantage was the high rate of fire, twenty rounds a minute with power loading.

    The 3.7” AA gun proved very useful in the counter battery role. The shells were rather light but their considerable range and high rate of fire, coupled with air burst time fuses made them ideal for suppressing enemy fire. They might not destroy the enemy guns but they could clear the gun site of personnel and spoil their concentration. The 3.7” air bursts were also very effective against personnel and vehicles in the open. An added advantage was that the high velocity meant that the shells arrive without warning.

    The AA 3.7” gun had a horizontal range of 20,600 yards but because of the flat trajectory this had to be in line of sight, with no obstacles between the gun and the target. It had a 360 degree traverse. The shell weighed 28lb. The standard charge was 8lb 8oz in a brass case fixed to the shell. A reduced charge was available for firing against ground targets.

    3.7 AA.jpg

    Field Artillery.
    25pdr guns.
    The 25pdr field gun was possibly the best all round field gun of its era. It was introduced in 1940 and remained virtually unchanged throughout its long service.

    The 25pdr was more correctly a gun/howitzer since it could be fired at low elevation as a gun and at high elevation, 40 degrees, as a howitzer. This allowed it to drop shells behind hills or other obstacles. The use of variable charges made it even more versatile. Traverse was limited to 4 degrees either side but the gun was usually fired from its turntable. This could be carried on the tractor or under the gun itself. When the centre of the turntable was fixed to the pivot on the gun, and the gun wheels sited on the outer rim of the turntable, a traverse of 360 degrees could be achieved with minimum effort. The maximum range was 13,400 yards. The crew was six men.

    The ammunition.
    The 25pdr used separate charges. The shell was loaded into the gun breech and was followed by the propelling charge in a brass case. This allowed a variety of charges to be used. This was useful at higher elevations. The standard brass case contained three bags of propellant and the charge was varied by removing bags.

    25pdr.jpg

    25 pdr guns of a Field Regiment move to a crossing point. These will have taken part in the bombardment and are now being moved forward to cross the river. The route has been marked with posts and the surface reinforced with mesh trackway. Pioneers are standing by to repair damage to the surface.



    3.7” Howitzer.
    The 3.7” howitzer was mounted on a carriage with a split trail. It had an elevation of 42 degrees and a traverse of 20 degrees either side. It was designed for carriage on pack animals but was adapted for towing behind vehicles. In 21 Army Group it was fitted with pneumatic tyres and towed by a jeep. The crew was six in the towed role, commander, breech operator, layer, loader and two ammunition numbers.

    Being a howitzer it used separate ammunition. Range could be determined by varying the charge as well as elevation. Normal maximum range was 6,000 yards but this could be increased to 6,800 using a super charge.


    Land Mattress Rocket Projector.
    This was a useful short range weapon for use in neutralising an area in advance of an assault. Thirty rocket launching barrels were fitted to a simple two wheeled trailer. Each barrel launched a 5” rocket projectile with a 20 lb warhead. These were fired in four seconds. Range was 7,880.

    There was only one battery of 12 projectors but this could neutralise an area of about 70,000 square yards in four seconds. To achieve the same result four and a half medium regiments would be required. Total battery personnel was 68.

    Land mattress..jpg

    Mike.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2021
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  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    There will now be a break while Mike reads and digests a considerable amount of material which has recently been sent to him by generous forum members.

    Mike
     
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  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Not heard of the land mattress before

    Mattress (rocket) - Wikipedia
    Nevertheless, they did see useful service as artillery support during the crossings of the Rhine and the Scheldt rivers.

    The Land Mattress was based on the 3-inch-diameter (76 mm) tube of the RP-3 or "60lb" rocket used as an air-to-ground weapon with naval 5-inch shells as warheads, and consisted of a 16- or 30-tube launching system mounted on a towed carriage.

    Certainly saves on normal artillery

    Great work again Mike

    TD
     
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you Mike,

    For smoke operations in First Canadian Army in NW Europe 1944/45 see: View attachment The Fog of War- Large-Scale Smoke Screening Operations of First C.pdf

    Smoke screen along the Rhine during Op Veritable: VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

    The land mattresses in Op Plunder at a certain point were deployed on the far bank of the Rhine and used in the capture of the Dutch village of Dinxperlo, see: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2021
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  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    THE AIR PLAN.

    The Air Plan can be divided into five phases, although the early operations were not directly linked to Operation Plunder.

    Phase 1.
    From 9th February an interdiction programme was implemented. This was to isolate the Ruhr by attacking key transport and communication targets such as bridges and rail junctions. This was not strictly part of planning for Plunder but was a programme produced by Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) to support the Rhine Crossings in general. Eighteen railway bridges on the major routes from central Germany were selected for attacks by medium bombers based on the Continent and heavy bombers based in the UK. Bridges are notoriously difficult targets but by D Day all but four had been destroyed. Destroying bridges is always a two edged weapon and the allies would need the railways later.


    Phase 2.
    On 10th March an interdiction programme was commenced to isolate the actual battlefield. Headquarters 2 Tactical Air Force, Headquarters 21 Army Group and Headquarters 2 Army made a plan based on a list of the minimum number of road and rail communication bottlenecks to cover all the main approaches. Good weather allowed more than the minimum number of targets to be attacked and movement was brought almost to a standstill. Outside of this plan the heavy UK based bombers attacked major towns and made movement by road difficult, while 2 TAF aircraft attacked any railway trains that moved.


    Phase 3.
    On D -3 a programme of harassment bombing was started to hinder the enemy defences and destroy communications. It was apparent that the interdiction programme had almost brought movement to a standstill and the air effort could be switched to other targets. It was also apparent that the enemy now knew pretty well where the attack would come and so there was no security requirement to make attacks on a wide front. Tactical targets were now attacked by medium bombers based on the Continent and by the heavy UK based bombers on 29 targets which included known enemy billeting areas, work being undertaken on defensive positions and the communication systems in the battle area.


    Phase 4.
    The main air plan for Operation Plunder included a pre arranged programme of major air operations intended to:
    1) establish and maintain air superiority over the assault area and dropping/landing zones.
    2) neutralise flak
    3) provide fighter protection for the airborne force
    4) provide close support for the assault force and airborne force
    5) prevent enemy movement into and within the battle area

    There was a great deal of air activity concerned with the transport and escort of the airborne forces. Here we deal only with operations connected directly with Operation Plunder.

    2 TAF commanded not only the fighters and fighter bombers of 83 and 84 Groups but also those of 29 US Tactical Air Command which would be largely concerned with the support of US 9 Army. These units were allocated the following tasks:
    - Fighter protection for the assaulting troops of 2 Army and US 9 Army, including airborne troops on the ground.
    - Fighter protection for the airborne forces aircraft while in the air to the east of the Rhine.
    - Anti flak fighter patrols for the period of the airborne drop.
    - Close support for 2 Army and US 9 Army.
    - Armed reconnaissance.

    Apart from 2 TAF the following air force units were involved:
    - Bomber Command was to attack road and rail communication centres and the defence positions at Wesel.
    - Fighter Command was to provide escorts for the troop arrying operations of RAF 38 and 46 Groups.
    - Coastal Command as to provide Air Sea rescue facilities along the routes of the airborne transports.
    - VIII USAAF was to carry out bomber attacks on selected airfields, carry out fighter sweeps over selected enemy airfields and carry out armed reconnaissance.
    - IX USAAF fighters were to provide escorts for the airborne forces up to the Rhine and the medium bombers were to carry out attacks on flak positions and road and rail communication centres.


    Maintenance of Air Superiority.

    Apart from the considerable numbers of 2 Tactical Air Force fighter aircraft which were available to provide air cover and carry out offensive patrols the strategic US 8th Air Force was also employed. It was feared that German jet aircraft might be used against the assault units. To counter this threat the heavy bombers of 8th Air Force carried out a series of attacks on German airfields on D-3 and again in the early hours of D Day. On each occasion some 1,400 bombers were used. In addition 2 Tactical Air Force and fighters from US 8th Air Force carried out sweeps over enemy airfields from first light to 1400 hours on D Day. These missions were successful to the extent that there was very little enemy air activity throughout D day.


    Heavy Bombers in Close Support.

    In order to give direct support to 1 Commando Brigade RAF Bomber Command used heavy bombers to attack the town of Wesel. Twenty seven aircraft bombed just before last light and two hundred bombed during the hours of darkness. All bombing was complete by 2245 hours. Wesel was entered by Commandos soon afterwards.


    Tactical Interdiction.

    Tactical targets, mainly communication centres through which enemy reinforcements would have to pass, were attacked on D-1 and D Day. These had not been attacked earlier since this would have revealed the location of crossing points to the enemy.
    - US 9th Air Force attacked targets in the 9th US Army assault area.
    - 2 Group of 2 Tactical Air Force RAF attacked reserve units of the formations opposite the British crossings. These were concentrated on Brunen and Raesfeld. The attacks were mounted by medium bombers as turn round targets. That is they bombed them and then returned to their airfields to collect more bombs and then kept up a steady flow until ordered to stop.
    - 2 Group Mosquitoes attacked the villages of Isselberg and Anholt at night under radar control from Mobile Radar Control Posts.
    - Heavy Bombers of 8th US Air Force and Bomber Command attacked the rail and road centres of Gladbeck and Sterkrade in the Ruhr.
    - US 9th Air Force medium bombers completed the interdiction programme by attacking rail and road centres at Bocholt, Borken and Dorsten.

    Phase 5.
    The day to day support of ground forces from D Day onwards.

    The main contribution by the air forces from D Day onwards consisted of fighter bombers controlled by Forward Control Posts. An extensive programme of heavy and medium bomber attacks was arranged in direct support of the advance.


    Air Support Signals.

    It was an essential part of the Air Support Signals Unit role that it was independent of the formations to which they were attached. The vehicles, wireless sets and personnel could not be re assigned by local commanders or Signal Officers. Thus they were always available for their primary task.

    In order to provide tentacles to support the assault brigades and the airborne formations three special outstations were provided. These would operate until normal tentacles arrived. These were Jeep Assault Tentacles, Jeep Contact Cars and DD tank Contact cars.


    Assault Tentacle.

    This consisted of a jeep fitted with the normal tentacle equipment the main item being a Canadian No 9 set. This Jeep would be ferried across the river in a LVT and so could not tow a trailer with additional equipment. An Assault Tentacle was allotted to 227 Brigade, to the Commando Brigade and to the Armoured Mobile Column.

    Normal tentacles were allocated to HQ 12 Corps, HQ 52 Division and HQ 53 Division. These were 15cwt Wireless House at headquarters of major formations such as Corps but otherwise were 15cwt 4 X 4 White Scout Cars or halftracks. They carried a Canadian No 9 set as a main set. Tentacles also manned a VHF receiver so that they could receive reports from tactical reconnaissance reports from aircraft still in the air. These reports could be re broadcast on the corps net so that all units could share the information. The crew consisted of three operators and a driver mechanic.

    Tentacles were the out stations of the Air Support Signals Unit. Their role was to handle requests for air support from the unit to which they were attached. Such requests were transmitted to the Army/RAF Control Centre.

    Since all the tentacles in a corps had their wireless tuned to the same net it was possible for a request transmitted by a brigade to be intercepted by division or corps headquarters so that they were fully informed of the requests being made, and could veto them if necessary. Similarly requests from divisions were monitored by corps. This system simplified and speeded up the system in that requests were not passed upwards through division and corps but still allowed them to have an input.

    Neighbouring corps usually listened in so that they also shared the information without waiting for it to be passed through normal, slower, channels.


    Contact Cars.

    A DD Contact Tank was allotted to 46 Brigade. A Contact Jeep was provided as a reserve. In the event the Contact Tank assigned to 15 Division was delayed and the Jeep was used until replaced by a normal Contact half track. The DD Contact Tank was an amphibious DD tank fitted with normal contact tank equipment. This was a Canadian No 9 set, two AM TR 1143 sets and a No 19 set.

    Contact Jeep. This consisted of a jeep with normal contact car equipment but on a reduced scale. A Jeep carried a Canadian No 9 set and an AM TR 1143 set. This would also be ferried across the river in a LVT. A second jeep was needed to carry an Air Liaison Officer and RAF Controller.

    Contact Cars carried an RAF officer who could speak directly to aircraft and could empathise with the pilots since he was a pilot himself. If a strike had been requested then the Contact Car officer would be a fighter bomber pilot, resting from operations. He could give the strike aircraft details of the target with reference to ground features, plus any other information that he would know to be useful. He would also be well placed to decide if the target had been destroyed or if further strikes were required. Contact Cars could be given control of a mission by either the Forward Control Post or the Control Centre.

    One Air Support Signals Unit network was provided for each Corps. More could not be provided because of the limited number of tentacles available, the limited number of frequencies available and the number of different nets which a Forward Control Post could reasonably intercept. Air to ground communication was provided to the headquarters of the assault divisions and of armoured divisions by contact car. Initially these were for reconnaissance only, in which role they would receive reports from Tactical Reconnaissance aircraft. They would also keep themselves acquainted with the ground situation and be ready to take over from the special assault outstations.

    In this operation the Forward Control Post would handle the air support for three corps. This was a heavier load than was normal but it was not practical to have more than one such post. An advanced section of 83 Group Control Centre was established alongside the Forward Control Post and this enlarged post/centre was located as far forward as possible. The Advanced Group Control Centre provided sufficient extra VHF communications to control all aircraft and provided land line communication to all wings, Army Headquarters and to both assaulting Corps Headquarters.

    Whereas in normal operation the tentacle submitted requests for air support to Control at Army Headquarters and the Forward Control Post listened in and could handle the urgent requests itself. In this operation all tentacles had the option of speaking directly to the Army Air Liaison Officer at the Forward Control Post. Many targets were thus handled entirely by the Forward Control Post without Control at Army Headquarters or Tactical Headquarters 83 Group RAF being involved.

    When a call for support came from a Contact Car the Forward Control Post could hand over the attack to the Contact Car which would call down the next section in the cab rank and control the attack.

    Forward troops used smoke to indicate their positions and aircraft were given a free hand to attack targets beyond that line. In poor visibility a Mobile Radar Control Post was used to monitor attacks.

    Early targets each day were dealt with by aircraft scrambled from runway readiness. As demands for support increased a cab rank was established and was maintained until demand decreased. Squadrons then remained at runway readiness.



    Forward Control Centre.

    This was formed by attaching additional resources to a Forward Direction Post. A number of staff officers and army liaison officers were sent forward to join the Forward Direction Post so that they could take over the duties of the Group Control Centre until that could be brought forward.


    When operating as a Forward Control Centre the Forward Direction Post would have small units attached to it. These would include:-

    Mobile Signals Unit. These used 15cwt wireless vehicles to provide direct R/T speech links to the Group Control Centre.

    Y Service section. This provided a radio intercept service which could listen into German transmissions to give early warning of raids. It could also use Radio Direction finders to locate the source of transmissions.

    RAF Regiment Armoured Car Section. This used Morris or Humber Light Reconnaissance Cars to give local protection in a fluid situation where the army might not be available, or be aware of RAF presence.


    Forward Direction Post.

    Air Ministry Experimental Station Type 15000.

    Each of the Forward Direction Posts was responsible for the surveillance of an area forward of the front line. Normally information was sent back to the GCC Operations Room but the Operations Room could delegate control of aircraft and formations to the Forward Direction Post (hence its title).

    Forward Direction Posts used the following radars.

    Type 15 was the main search radar. This had a range of 120 miles at altitude but its usefulness in tactical situations was limited by a poor performance at lower altitudes. It was also susceptible to jamming since it used a long wave length.

    The Type 11 radar was used both to give a better cover at lower altitudes and as a stand by set in case the Type 15 was jammed.

    Type 13 radar was a height finding set with an excellent low level performance but was unsuitable for surveillance. Although it had a range of 75 miles at low altitude it could not be rapidly rotated being designed to ‘nod’ up and down to scan a narrow vertical section of the sky.

    In practise a Forward Direction Post used all three radar types to give a complete coverage. Type 15 remained the main search radar with Type 11 and Type 13 giving low altitude cover. Type 13 was a height finding radar and was also used on targets already identified by other means.

    A problem arose when selecting sites for the FDP radars. Since they were intended to cover the area forward of the front line the Type 15 radars should have been sited well back. However the short range, low level coverage of Type 11 radar required sets to be sited well forward. If too far forward they became vulnerable to enemy artillery fire or even a ground attack. Additionally radar giving low altitude cover needed to be sited where they could have an unobstructed view. As this meant an open space, probably on a hilltop, they were very visible.

    The nerve centre of the FDP was the Crossley Q 4 X 4 3ton Receiver/Operations Room. This had a house type body containing the radar displays. There was a rear entrance and a large side opening with a canvas awning. The displays were in the middle of the nearside. The controller sat in front of the Plan Position Indicator display. As the Type 15 radar array rotated a line representing its beam swept round the screen. Any aircraft within its range appeared as a blip which allowed range and bearing to be read.

    An operator on the controllers left sat in front of the height display which received information from the Type 13 height finding radar. The controller marked with a chinagraph pencil an aircraft in which he was interested and indicated it to the height finder operator. The operator turned his array in the correct direction and then nodded it up and down to read off the height.

    An operator seated behind the controller read off the data and recorded it before passing it to a plotter. The plotter sat at a plotting table in the front nearside corner and plotted the aircraft data, thus obtaining a course and speed. The information was then passed to the Group Control Centre. More than one aircraft or formation could be plotted by the controller numbering the blips so that the recorder and plotter could identify them correctly.

    When the Type 11 radar was also in use the Type 11 Receiver/Operations Room was backed up to the main operations room vehicle with its door against the opening in the side. Information could then be passed from the Type 11 operator to the controller and plotter.

    Direct communication with aircraft required VHF radio sets. These were carried in two House Body Type F on Austin K6 chassis. RVT 100 carried two AM T1131 transmitters and RVT 105 carried two AM R1392 receivers and a TR 1143 transmitter/receiver. Two telescopic aerial masts could be mounted on the rear corners of the transmitter vehicle but two tripod aerial masts were also carried. These could be set up some distance away from the vehicles. Operators normally manned the receiver vehicle, which had more available space, and operated the transmitter by remote control. The receiver vehicle could be parked near the operations vehicles with the transmitter vehicle some distance away, and the aerial mast even further away. This prevented interference with radar equipment. The controller could speak directly to aircraft using a remote link to the sets.

    The FDP had three controllers, a squadron leader who was also commanding officer, and two flight lieutenants. NCOs were trained as assistant controllers. Three shifts were normally operated but FDP did not operate at night, this being the role of 85 Group. There was also a Technical Officer and an Adjutant. Signals and Transport were in the hands of NCOs.

    Communication to GCC was normally by line, laid by Air Formation Signals, but the FDP also had high frequency wireless telegraphy sets for this purpose. These were carried in House Body Type F on Austin K6 or Fordson WOT1A chassis. A pair of vehicles was used, this being normal RAF practice. One was a transmitter vehicle (RVT 393) with two wireless sets and the other was a receiver (RVT 394) with four reception sets. Again the normal RAF practice was for the operator or operators to be in the receiver vehicle and operate all the sets from there. Morse was used for communication to GCC and this was in cipher. A 15cwt cipher vehicle was manned by a serjeant and team who enciphered all outgoing messages and deciphered all incoming messages making the passing of information rather slow.

    It was common to have a Mobile Signals Unit attached and this provided direct voice communication between GCC and FDP. Two Bedford MW 15cwts with Type E body were used to carry low power, high frequency, twin channel sets. RVT 314 carried two transmitters and RVT 315 carried two receivers. Telescopic aerial masts could be fitted to any corner of the receiver vehicles body and the body could be braced using two telescopic tubular braces.

    Mike.
     
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  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    THE ROYAL ENGINEER PLAN.

    The task of establishing and maintaining routes across the river in the initial stage was delegated to 15 Division which then had the following units under command.
    7 Armoured Divisional Engineers.
    11 Army Group Royal Engineers.
    Six additional Headquarters Royal Engineers (Division, Corps, Army or GHQ Troops Engineers).
    Twenty three field companies or equivalent.
    One Bridge Company RASC.
    Detachments of RASC for transport.
    Detachments of Royal Pioneer Corp for labour.

    The following units were in support
    One Headquarters Assault Regiment Royal Engineers
    Three Assault Squadrons Royal Engineers
    Royal Navy Support Parties.

    It was planned that when Headquarters 15 Division crossed the river most of the above units would revert to XII Corps control.

    11 Army Group Royal Engineers was ordered to maintain the following ferries and bridges
    Two LVT Ferries. Preparing the sites only. The ferries were operated by RAC personnel.
    Two Stormboat Ferries.
    Four Class 9 Raft Ferries.
    Two Class 50/60 Raft Ferries.
    One DUKW Ferry. Preparing the site only. The ferries were operated by RASC personnel.
    One Class 9 FBE Bridge.
    One Class 12 Bailey Pontoon Bridge.
    One Class 40 Bailey Pontoon Bridge (Tactical).

    In addition 11 Army Group Royal Engineers were to
    Develop a class 40 route on the general line of the Corps axis.
    Establish two routes forward from the Class 9 and Class 12 bridges.
    Establish one Class 9 lateral route on the far side of the river.
    Establish one Class 40 lateral route on the main road Wesel to Haldern.
    Prepare to start construction of a Class 40 all weather Bailey Pontoon Bridge.

    The crossings were protected in several ways;
    - A system of booms was installed both upstream and downstream to protect the crossings against mines, swimmers and floating debris. One field company and a Royal Navy boom party were responsible.
    - A constant watch was kept for craft which were out of control or adrift to prevent damage to bridges.

    Military defence of the engineer works was undertaken by 100 Anti Aircraft Brigade.




    Allotment of Royal Engineer Troops.
    Right hand assault crossing (44 Infantry Brigade)
    Commander Royal Engineers 15 GHQ Troops.
    Five Field Companies

    Left hand assault crossing (227 Infantry Brigade)
    Commander Royal Engineers 4 GHQ Troops
    Five Field Companies

    Class 9 FBE Bridge
    Commander Royal Engineers 8 Corps Troops
    Three Field Companies

    Class 12 Bailey Pontoon Bridge
    Commander Royal Engineers 12 Corps Troops
    Four Field Companies
    Royal Navy Tug Party

    Class 40 Bailey Pontoon Bridge
    Commander Royal Engineers 7 Army Troops
    Three Field Companies
    Royal Navy Tug Party

    Class 50/60 Raft Ferries
    Commander Royal Engineers
    Three Assault Squadrons 42 Assault Regiment

    Booms
    One Field Company
    Royal Navy Boom Party

    Route Maintenance, Near Side
    Commander Royal Engineers 52 Division
    One Field Company
    Two Field Squadrons

    Route Maintenance, Far Side
    Commander Royal Engineers 15 Division
    Three Field Companies (includes one company from each of the assault crossings when they complete the assault task.

    Reserve
    One Field Company

    Stores
    Two Field Park Companies

    Note: In order to provide the large number of engineer units some of those engaged on essential road and bridge work further to the rear had to be replaced by seven battalions of US Combat Engineers or Belgian civilian labour.


    Royal Engineer Stores.
    The Rhine Bridges would require a large amount of bridging equipment. The main XII Corps engineer dump was established at Kevelaer and contained some 5,000 tons of engineer stores on wheels. This dump had good road access and contained all the engineer equipment and stores estimated to be required for the assault in XII Corps sector. XXX Corps had a similar dump and both were fed from the Second Army dump near Goch which held some 25,000 tons of material. This had been carried in by road between 4th and 23rd March, but the dump was served by rail from 21st March.

    Class 9 rafts and assault boats, which were required early in the assault, were moved forward into hides. These were carefully concealed and camouflaged with the assistance of a US camouflage unit. Class 50/60 rafts were held further back on wheels or sledges since their size made them difficult to conceal.

    Bridging material other than that required for the assault was called forward from the Corps dump as required. It was then held in a special Bridge Vehicle Marshalling Area from which they were fed forward to the bridge and ferry sites. Bridging vehicles were allotted special routes as far as was possible.

    Stormboats were employed as ferries for men of the reserve battalions of assault brigades and the follow up brigade. Forty eight boats per assault brigade were allotted which gave 100% spares since only twenty four boats were in operation at each ferry site at any one time. These boats were in addition to those to be used in the assault. Some spare boats were also allotted for rescue and other tasks.

    Mike
     
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  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    15 DIVISION LAYOUT MARCH 24th

    Plunder control.jpg

    Now that the higher formations have made their plans, the artillery and engineers have made their plans and staked claims to sites, 15 Division can proceed with its plans and allocate areas for the remaining roles. As well as the artillery and engineer areas 52 Division is still in the area, holding the front line along the near bank of the river. However it was laid down that 52 Division should alter its dispositions if requested to do so.

    CONTROL.
    Assault formations moved direct by night into Marshalling Areas but build up forces were held east of the River Maas from where they could be called forward as the situation allowed or as they were required. The Maas crossings were a controlling factor since there were only four Class 40 bridges in Second Army area. Limited use was also arranged of a bridge in 1 Canadian Army area and one in 9 US Army area. Between 17th March and 24th March operational moves totalled 32,022 wheeled vehicles, 662 tanks and 4,049 transporters. There was also the usual administrative traffic.

    Bank Control.
    Bank Control was based on the Beach Group organisation that was developed to control the beaches in the Normandy landings. In the case of 15 Division the Bank Control Unit was formed round 5 Berkshire Regiment which had formed a Beach Group on Juno Beach. In XXX Corps the task was undertaken by an Armoured Car Regiment, which had good communications training.

    The Headquarters of 5 Berkshire Regiment was augmented by additional ‘Q’ (Movement) Staff who were trained in the organisation and control of the movement of personnel and vehicles. They worked with the Divisional Staff in laying down priorities and arranging time tables. On the day of course there were always delays and modifications to the plan and it required considerable skill to maintain the flow of traffic and avoid congestion on the roads and at crossing points on the river.

    The flow of traffic depended very much on the work of the engineers in providing amphibious craft, rafts and bridges, plus the work of constructing and maintaining crossing points, approach roads and essential infrastructure. The Bank Control Unit Headquarters was therefor established alongside the Tactical Divisional Headquarters together with the Divisional Commander Royal Engineers and his staff and the Representative from 79 Armoured Division who was the advisor on special engineer equipment including LVTs and Class 50/60 rafts.

    Bank Controls specific role was to assist the commander of the assault division in the movement, policing, assembly and dispersal of personnel and vehicles through the Transit Area. This was defined as the river itself plus a strip of country on either bank. With the assistance of additional Military Police and signals personnel the Bank Unit provided
    - Bank Control on the Near Bank
    - A Near Bank Crossing Control for each assault brigade
    - A Far Bank Dispersal Control for each assault brigade
    - Forward Control on the Far Bank.

    A Crossing Control per assaulting brigade was established with the Tactical Brigade Headquarters of the assault brigade and consisted of the Commander of the Bank Company together with Commander Royal Engineers (Assault) and the LVT Regimental Commander. Its function was to ensure that crossings were made in accordance with the priorities laid down and to prevent any undue congestion near the river or in the neighbourhood of the ferries and bridges. Crossing Control Headquarters received priorities from Bank Control Headquarters and called forward units or serials in accordance with those priorities. Situation reports were forwarded from Crossing Control to Bank Control Headquarters every ten to fifteen minutes. Bank Control kept a record of all material crossing the river.

    Marshalling Areas.
    Large areas with good cover and metalled road access. They should be far enough back to be out of enemy observation and defensive fire. All troops and vehicles due to cross in the first twelve hours should be assembled here. Vehicles were parked in the Marshalling Areas in the order in which they should be called forward. All troops and vehicles due to cross subsequently will pass through this area and it is the link between Staging Areas to the rear and Waiting Area near the river.

    Vehicle Waiting Area.
    An area just clear of the approach road and handy to the class 9 and LVT ferry sites into which vehicles are fed from the Marshalling Area. Its purpose is to provide a cushion so that no ferry ever has to wait for a load while enabling the maximum number of vehicles to be held out of the congested forward zone in the comparative security of the Marshalling Area. Vehicle Waiting Areas hold up to six serials at a time. From here vehicles were directed to one of six Traffic Control Points on the banks of the river to be loaded onto rafts or ferries.

    Tanks and self propelled guns were called forward from the concentration areas either direct to a Traffic Control Point or to an Armour Waiting Area. They were then loaded onto Class 50/60 ferries until the Class 40 bridge opened.

    On the Far Bank a Forward Control Headquarters was established to direct serials to Forward Assembly Areas to be passed to formations as required. Forward Control was the counterpart of the Bank Control on the far bank from which all transit arrangements of the assaulting division on the far bank are controlled. One Dispersal Control per assaulting brigade works directly under it. It is established on the far side of the river and it contains the Commanding Officer or Second in Command of the Bank Unit and the Commander Royal Engineers responsible for all Royal Engineer work on the far bank.

    A Forward Assembly Area is an area on the far bank where all vehicles are collected, reorganised and sent forward. Ideally it will be a park clear of the road but it may have to be a road junction or some other convenient point. All vehicles except those that are carried in LVTs of the Assault Wave to objectives inland will report to the Forward Assembly Area where representatives from each formation or unit concerned will be present to organise them into small formed bodies and send them forward to concentration areas under an officer or NCO.

    Initially each battalion will have a Forward Assembly Area. Later one of these will close down and the other will become the Brigade Forward Assembly Area. As soon as the Bank Unit can take control the permanent Forward Assembly Area will be established based on the Brigade Assembly Area.

    Dispersal Control is the counterpart of the Crossing Control on the far bank of the river. It is established by a company commander of the Bank Unit and controls all transit arrangements within its brigade boundary on the far bank. It works directly under Forward Control which is the counterpart of Bank Control on the far bank. At Crossing Control there will be a representative from the Commander Royal Engineers responsible for all Royal Engineer work on the far bank.

    Communications were by wireless and on the Near Bank by buried cable. The whereabouts of any serial could be ascertained at any moment and changes to priorities could be made up to the last moment.

    Bank Control was in place and ready to operate at 0830 hours but did not take over control until 1000 hours. Until that time control remained in the hands of units and only the assault units were committed. Bank Control ceased to operate on D+4 when the bridges were open, the ferries closed and normal movement control took over.

    Mike.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
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  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT).

    Known as Buffalo in British service in NW Europe.

    The Buffalo had specially designed tracks which propelled it in the water as well as on land. Within limits it could be used on water, sand, swamp and on dry land. It could climb over sand bars, beaches and river banks. However its tracks soon suffered damage on hard surfaces and this affected its propulsion in water.

    The British Army used both LVT MkII and LVT IV.

    100 LVT MkII were received. These had a Continental radial engine at the rear and a crew compartment at the front. This left a well in the centre for personnel or cargo. However there was a drive shaft running down the centre which prevented large items being carried. There were armoured and un-armoured versions. Armour was however only effective against small arms fire and was applied only to the cab, hull front and engine cover. The British added applique armour to many their un-armoured versions. The LVT MkII was limited to carrying 30 fully equipped troops or four tons of cargo. Because of the lack of a ramp the LVT MkII was used mainly for ferrying infantry. To enable troops to embark and disembark rapidly quick exit rails were added to the exterior side plates, to the track guards and to the sides of the hold.

    Most LVT were fitted with a Wireless set No 19 at the co drivers position. This was on the right hand side. Being US built vehicles the driver was on the left. LVTs used as command/control vehicles had a second Wireless set No 19 fitted on the bulkhead behind the co driver.

    The LVT MkIV was much more numerous with some five hundred eventually being in service. It had the engine immediately behind the driving compartment which allowed a hinged ramp to be fitted at the rear. This greatly assisted loading and unloading and allowed small vehicles and guns to be carried. Earlier models were unarmoured and later ones had light armour to the cab and front. REME workshops fitted armour to most unarmoured ones.

    Typical loads for the LVT MkIV were:
    - 30 fully equipped troops
    - a Universal Carrier
    - a 6pdr anti tank gun
    - 25 pdr field gun
    - an airborne bulldozer
    - 4tons of cargo

    All LVT were armed. As delivered the LVT MkII had rails for mounting two .3” machine guns and a pintle mount for a .5” machine gun on the cab roof. LVT MkIV had a fixed machine gun mounting in the front of the driving compartment and two pintle mounts at the sides. The British progressively improved the armament by replacing the rails with pintle mounts, replacing the .5” machine gun with 20mm Polsten cannon and adding armoured shields to the machine gun mounts. By the time of the Rhine Crossing one in three LVT IV had the Polsten. A smoke generator was also mounted on the right hand side of the cab roof.

    Originally LVT were operated by the Assault Squadrons RE but for the Rhine Crossing these squadrons were deployed to operate Class 50/60 rafts or reverted to operating AVRE. Only 77 Assault Squadron remained equipped with LVT. For the Rhine crossing standard armoured regiments were temporarily converted to the amphibious role. There was no separate War Establishment.


    Operation Plunder.
    Prestowed LVTs (Assault).


    The organisation for Operation Plunder differed from the official suggested 79 Division organisation. There were six troops each of six LVT rather than the normal five troops. This was achieved by issuing six LVT II to each squadron. Initially these would form a sixth troop but in the event two troops each received three LVT II giving them three LVT IV and three LVT II each.

    There were also two LVT II equipped as Command vehicles at squadron headquarters. These each carried two No 19 wireless sets, probably one low power for communicating within the squadron and one high power for communicating with higher headquarters.

    Squadron Headquarters consisted of:
    Two Command LVTs
    Two scout cars.
    One Jeep.
    One Universal Carrier.
    One half track with two No 19 wireless sets. For use as an alternative command vehicle.
    One Weasel. For use as an alternative reconnaissance vehicle.
    One LVT recovery. For use as fitters vehicle and recovery tug.

    There was also an administrative troop with:
    Thirteen wheeled vehicles.
    One halftrack.
    One Weasel.

    The planned load for each LVT was carefully worked out and listed (see below). This gave a lift for a battalion group, including:

    Tactical Headquarters.
    Four infantry companies.
    MMG sections.
    Engineer troops.
    Far Bank Unit personnel.
    Casualty Evacuation Party from Field Ambulance.

    No1 Troop
    carrying ‘A’ Company of an infantry battalion.

    LVT No 1.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 2.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two stretcher bearers.
    Total 28 men

    LVT No 3.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Company Serjeant Major.
    Orderly.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 4.
    3” mortar detachment.
    Four crew.
    Two ammunition numbers.
    Six ammunition numbers.
    Support Company Commander
    Wireless operator and No 46 wireless set.
    Two regimental police.
    Six men from Brigade Provost Section.
    RAC reconnaissance officer.
    Total 23 men.

    LVT No 5.
    Company Headquarters.
    Officer Commanding
    Two signallers with wireless set No 46.
    Two orderlies.
    Two PIAT numbers.
    Two 2” mortar numbers.
    Two stretcher bearers.
    MFO with wireless set No 38.
    NCO and four men from Assault Pioneer Section.
    Unit Landing Officer and two men.
    Total 20 men.

    LVT No 6.
    Nine riflemen carrying a total of 27 3” mortar bombs.
    Sixteen RE personnel.
    Total 25 men.


    No 2 Troop.
    Carrying ‘B’ Company of an infantry battalion.

    LVT No 1.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 2.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two stretcher bearers.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 3.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Company Serjeant Major.
    Orderly.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 4.
    6 pounder AT gun and five man crew.
    Four men OM CP with No 22 wireless set.
    Commander AT platoon and wireless operator with No 46 wireless set.
    Two snipers.
    Forward Observation Officer and five men.
    Total 19 men.

    LVT No 5.
    Company Headquarters.
    Company Commande
    Two signallers with Wireless set No 46.
    Three orderlies.
    Three riflemen.
    Two PIAT men.
    Two 2” mortar men.
    Two stretcher bearers.
    MFO(?) with wireless set No 38.
    NCO and four men from Assault Pioneer Section.
    Total 27 men.

    LVT No 6.
    Anti Tank tower with four man crew and 36 rounds of 6 pdr ammunition.
    One man RAC reconnaissance.
    Total 5 men.


    No3 Troop
    Carrying ‘C’ Company of an infantry battalion.

    LVT No 1.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Total 28 men

    LVT No 2.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two stretcher bearers.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 3.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Company Serjeant Major.
    Orderly.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 4.
    Seven men from Royal Engineers.
    3” mortar with four man detachment and two ammunition numbers.
    3” mortar with four man detachment and two ammunition numbers.
    Commander mortar platoon.
    Wireless operator and No 46 wireless set.
    One man RAC reconnaissance.
    Total 22.

    LVT No 5.
    Three men from Bank Unit advanced party.
    Three men from Unit Landing Officers party.
    Company Headquarters.
    Officer Commanding.
    Two signallers with wireless set No 46.
    Two orderlies.
    Two PIAT numbers.
    Two 2” mortar numbers.
    Two stretcher bearers.
    MFO(?) and wireless set No 38.
    NCO and four men from assault pioneer section.
    Three riflemen.
    Total 26.

    LVT No 6.
    Nine riflemen carrying a total of 27 3” mortar bombs.
    Sixteen men from RE.
    Total 25.


    No 4 Troop.

    LVT No 1.
    3” mortar with four man detachment and two ammunition numbers.
    3” mortar with four man detachment and two ammunition numbers.
    Seven men Casualty Evacuation Party from Field Ambulance.
    Total 19.

    LVT No 2.
    6 pounder AT gun and five man crew.
    Six riflemen.
    Sniper.
    Total 12.

    LVT No 3.
    Anti Tank tower with four man crew and 36 rounds of 6 pdr ammunition.
    Total 4.

    LVT No 4.
    Carrier from Carrier Platoon with reserve ammunition for A and C Companies, driver and gunner.
    Ten men from Carrier Platoon.

    LVT No 5.
    6 pounder AT gun and five man crew.
    Six riflemen.
    Serjeant from MMG Platoon.
    Two snipers.
    Four men from Bank Unit Advanced Party.
    Total 18.

    LVT No 6.
    Anti Tank tower with four man crew and 36 rounds of 6 pdr ammunition.
    Three men from Bank Unit Advanced Party.
    Total 7.


    No 5 Troop.
    Carrying ‘D’ Company of an infantry battalion.

    LVT No 1.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 2.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two PIAT numbers with PIAT.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 3.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Infantry Section
    NCO and six men.
    Platoon Headquarters.
    Subaltern.
    Serjeant.
    Runner with No 38 wireless set.
    Two 2” mortar numbers with 2” mortar.
    Company Serjeant Major.
    Orderly.
    Total 28 men.

    LVT No 4.
    6 pounder AT gun and five man crew.
    MMG with four men from MMG Company.
    MMG with four men from MMG Company.
    MMG section commander.
    MMG Rangetaker.
    Sniper.
    Total 16 men.

    LVT No 5.
    Company Headquarters.
    Officer Commanding.
    Three signallers.
    Three orderlies.
    Two PIAT numbers.
    Two 2” mortar numbers.
    Forward Observation Officer.
    Five Command Post numbers.
    Nine riflemen.
    Total 26.

    LVT No 6.
    Anti Tank tower with four man crew and 36 rounds of 6 pdr ammunition.
    MMG with four men from MMG Company.
    MMG with four men from MMG Company.
    MMG section commander.
    MMG Rangetaker.
    Total 14.


    No 6 Troop.

    LVT No 1.
    Commanding Officer.
    Wireless operator with No 46 set.
    Intelligence Officer.
    Jeep with driver.
    Rear Link wireless operator.
    Two protection other ranks.
    MMG Company commander.
    Orderly.
    Total 9.

    LVT No 2.
    Battery Commander.
    Carrier with Nos 22, 68 and 18 sets.
    Three operators.
    Driver.
    Total 5.

    LVT No 3.
    Carrier from Carrier Platoon.
    Ten personnel.
    Regimental Signals Officer.
    Two signallers.
    Two snipers.
    Total 14.

    LVT No 4.
    Medical Officers Jeep with driver.
    Medical Officers orderly.
    Four stretcher bearers,
    Seven Casualty Evacuation personnel from Field Ambulance.
    Total 13.

    LVT No 5.
    Royal Engineers Jeep with driver.
    NCO and two sappers.
    Three men Bank Unit Advanced Party.
    Total 7.

    LVT No 6.
    Carrier from Carrier Platoon with reserve ammunition for B and D companies.
    Driver.
    Gunner.
    Four men from Bank Unit Advanced Party.
    Six riflemen.
    Total 12.

    Mike
     
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  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    LVT Operation.

    The Marshalling Area.
    The LVT Marshalling Area should be large, have good cover, close to a good metalled road and be far enough from the river bank to be out of sight of enemy on the far bank.

    LVTs are brought to the Marshalling Area on tank transporters, hence the need for a good metalled road. They should not be brought forward too early but should have forty eight hours for maintenance and repair work to be carried out. The thin metal of the LVT hull is prone to damage from overhanging branches and other roadside obstacles when being transported. While in the Marshalling Area personnel should receive a final briefing. If possible the troops to be carried should bivouac alongside their supporting LVTs.

    Although the transporters need a good metalled road the LVTs should avoid metalled roads. The hard road surface damages the vital but fragile propulsion blades on the LVT tracks, and the tracks cause damage to the road surface. All routes used by LVTs should also avoid sharp turns which damage the tracks, and wire, either barbed or signal wire, since this gets tangled in the tracks.

    Once the LVTs have moved out the Marshalling Area will not be required again and may be used for other purposes.


    The Move Forward.
    The LVTs are loaded with the planned troops and vehicles and then set off to the river bank. If possible each squadron should have a separate route. At the Deployment Point the squadrons deploy with the LVTs carrying the assault companies up front. The LVT troops carrying the assault companies will advance to the Start Line and then halt. They will then change formation so that the troops are in line abreast, although with each troops LVTs in line astern. There should then be a straight run of 75 to 100 yards where the LVTs can check their gyro against a known bearing.

    The Crossing.
    From the Start Line the assault troops move forward in line ahead. Before reaching the river bank each troop will fan out into an echelon formation with the troop leader leading. They should remain in this formation as they enter and cross the river.

    The assaulting craft should touch down on the far bank without completely emerging from the water. This will give some protection from enemy mines and anti tank guns but means that the infantry will have to exit over the bows of the LVT.

    Having disembarked the assault infantry the LVT troops will return to the near bank and be guided by lights to the Squadron Collecting Area.

    In the meantime the remainder of the squadron remain at the Deployment Point, under cover if possible. The squadron commander and the Commanding Officer of the infantry battalion will park their LVT side by side until the battalion commander goes across. The infantry commander will tell the squadron commander when he wishes the remainder of the battalion to make the crossing. The planned time for the second wave would normally be H+25 minutes but the actual time will depend on the tactical situation as relayed to the battalion commander by the assault companies.

    The battalion commander might decide to cross with the second wave in which case he will be accompanied by a liaison officer from the LVT squadron. Subsequent requests for LVTs to be sent across will be sent by radio.

    If the follow up LVTs have to carry their loads inland, and they probably will be asked to do so, the route must be cleared of mines and marked with tapes. This is the responsibility of the infantry battalion and will be organised by the Unit Landing Officer. Such a route will be needed later anyway when the Ferry Service begins.


    The LVT Ferry Service.

    A LVT Ferry Service is established in each LVT squadron area. The assault crossing loading catered for very few of the infantry battalions vehicles. The Ferry Service will carry the remaining battalion vehicles which are capable of being carried in LVTs, mainly Jeeps and Carriers. After this similar vehicles for the reserve battalion and brigade will be carried across. Both squadrons serving a brigade will maintain this Ferry Service until the assault battalions have completed their crossing. After this there will be less demand so one ferry can be closed.

    The infantry battalion commander will request that the Ferry Service should start. This will be when the tactical situation in the bridgehead allows him to receive the remaining vehicles. This will usually be between H+90 minutes and H+120 minutes.

    The Collecting Area.
    The Collecting Area is where returning LVTs are collected, maintained and re organised for their next trip. It must be far enough from the river, and have enough cover to make maintenance and re organisation possible without being observed by the enemy. At the same time it should be close enough to the river to make rapid turn arounds possible.

    In the early stages of the assault LVTs are used to bring back casualties and prisoners of war. These must be kept clear of the Collecting Area and therefor be disembarked in a separate area where the infantry will deal with them.

    The LVTs move into the Collecting Area and stop in the Maintenance Sub Area where they will be inspected by their crews, crew maintenance tasks will be carried out and refuelling take place. If the LVT is fit it moves to the Waiting Sub Area and waits to be called forward for loading. If the LVT requires attention beyond the resources of the crew then it will go the Fitters Sub Area where it will receive attention from the unit fitters and LAD. When fit it will join the spare craft until called forward to the Waiting Sub Area.

    In order to maintain efficiency crews should be given a few hours rest and a hot meal from time to time. When this is due they will be directed to the Rest Sub Area and later rejoin the ferry circuit by moving to the Waiting Sub Area.

    Loading Area.
    From the Collection Area LVTs are called forward to the Loading Area. Vehicles to be loaded onto the LVTs are also called forward from the Vehicle Waiting Area. The Loading Area should be as close to the Collection Area as practicable and should be served by a good metalled road or track for the use of the vehicles to be loaded. It should not be under direct observation from the enemy side of the river but as close to the point where LVTs enter the water as possible to shorten turn round times.

    When loaded the LVTs move individually along the marked track to the point of entry to the river. This track will normally be one of those used in the initial crossing. In any case it should be clearly marked.

    The Unloading Area.
    The Unloading Area is on the far bank and should be as near to the river and to a good exit road or track as possible. Wheeled vehicles will need a good route by which they can move from the Unloading Area to the Battalion Forward Assembly Area. Here they will be held and then sent forward under unit officers or NCOs to join their battalion or company.

    When they have disembarked their loads the LVTs will follow a marked route to the river bank, swim across the river to the near bank and then follow a marked route to the Assembly Area and start the cycle all over again.

    Command and Control.
    In general the infantry commander is responsible for saying when and in what order the LVT loads are required on the far bank. The LVT commander must give the order and select the route. He must not risk damage or casualties. The infantry are passengers. This division of responsibility must be made clear. It is too late to debate the point when under fire on the far bank.

    Bank Control.
    Bank Control was provided by an infantry battalion with additional specialist personnel, or by an armoured car regiment. Both were provided with good wireless communications. The Bank Control unit was responsible for providing the machinery and communications for the assembly, marshalling, movement and policing of all vehicles and personnel crossing the river.

    All vehicles crossing the river by one of the LVT ferries was given a serial number inn their order of priority for crossing. This order can not normally be changed. Vehicles are marshalled in the order of their serial numbers in the Marshalling Area shortly before the assault. From the Marshalling Area they are called forward to a Vehicle Waiting Area using the Bank Unit wireless net. The Vehicle Waiting Area is located under cover, near the river and must be served by a good road or track leading up to the Marshalling Area. They will then be called forward when required to the Marshalling Area. The Vehicle Waiting Area forms a cushion of vehicles to ensure that the ferry never has to wait for a load while keeping unnecessary vehicles out of the crowded forward area. As vehicles are called forward by Bank Unit officers to the ferry other vehicles are called up from the Marshalling Area to take their place in the
    Vehicle Waiting Area.

    At the LVT Loading Area there are a representative of the Bank Control Organisation, the LVT Loading Area Officer and the second in command of the infantry battalion. These officers work closely together and have good communications with their own units.

    When the request for the Ferry Service to start comes from the infantry battalion commander to the infantry representative he informs the LVT Loading Area Officer and the Bank Group representative. The LVT Loading Area Officer calls forward LVTs from the Collecting Area while the Bank Group officer calls vehicles from the Vehicle Waiting Area. The LVT Loading Area officer must inform the Squadron Command Post of the despatch of LVTs, their serial numbers and the serial numbers of the loads carried.

    The Squadron Command Post.
    The Squadron Command Post must keep detailed records of each LVT including number of troops, time in and out, fit, unfit or resting and the serial numbers of the loads carried. Each LVT has a serial number and the crew commander must report the state of his craft at the completion of each trip. This enables the Command Post, manned by the squadron second in command to estimate availability of craft and to plan for maintenance and rest.

    L VT Unloading Area.
    As soon as the tactical situation permits one LVT Unloading Area per squadron should be established on the far bank. It should be close to the nearest road or track which wheeled vehicles can use to immediately leave the Unloading Area and move to the Battalion Forward Assembly Area. The Ferry Service cannot start until this area has been established.

    The infantry must provide a Unit Landing Officer and arrange for mine clearance, taping safe routes and provide guides if necessary. The LVT Squadron must provide an officer with a scout car to land about the same time as the infantry tactical headquarters. His duties are to indicate suitable landing places and routes to the Unit Landing Officer, to supervise unloading and to liaise and provide alternative means of communication with the infantry.


    Mike

    Photos follow.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
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  15. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    LVT Photos. There are many more on the IWM website.

    LVT1.jpg

    Moving LVTs on Tnk transporters.

    LVT2.jpg

    LVTs under cover near Xanten.

    LVT3.jpg

    Infantry boarding LVT.

    LVT4.jpg

    Setting off.

    Mike
     
  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I am glad to see that Aixman and Stolpi are still with us. I was feeling uncomfortable about continuing this thread at the moment given the disatrous flooding in Germany and the Low Countries.

    Mike
     
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  17. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    I am back on board been in for surgery. My thoughts are with those affected by the floods
     
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  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you Mike - I live behind the dykes of the Lower Rhine & Waal/Rhine. These dykes and the broad rivers with their large flood plains are more than capable to handle the sudden influx of water. We normally have these floods several times during the winter, especially in February when the thaw sets in in the Alps. That this one is in Summer time makes it exceptional - though with our planet's defective airco (melting pole caps) this more and more might become the rule.

    At the moment the problem in Holland is in the south with the Meuse and its smaller tributaries of the Geul and Rur rivers. The river bed of the Meuse, a rain fed river which normally has more stable water levels, is narrower and has less sturdy dykes .... though I guess the latter soon will change .

    At the moment the situation in Belgium (Ardennes) and especially Germany (Eifel) is worse.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2021
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  19. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    Thank you Mike.
    We are fine, but only 1.5 miles from here is unbelievable damage (solid road bridge folded away, all gas pipes broken, of course no electricity, resulting in no cell phone reception and even no government wireless, concerning police, fire brigades, civil engineers and disaster control organizations). Due to missing electricity, even many water level gauges didn't send any more data.
    A friend of ours owns a sawmill in a village 5 miles further. While the "normal" damage there for nearly every resident is already bad enough, he has had many, many tons of wood completely jumbled up by 5 feet of water all over the terrain, resulting from an (unavoidable) overflowing dam. There, the quality of drinking-water is doubtful at the moment, so that authorities advise to boil the water for at least three minutes - with no electricty.
    While we were helping there for the last two days, we met an overwhelming wave of helpfulness in many shapes.
     
  20. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I see Alberk is with us so all is well. My house has an Ordnance Survey benchmark showing that it is 640 foot above sea level. If this floods the world is in trouble.

    Mike.
     
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