LCT Mk IV D-Day Conversions

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Spitfires of the Sea, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Hi all,

    I have a bit of an unusual query about LCT Mk IVs at Normandy and what might be a pair of additions made to the vessels in the run up to the 6th June.

    The commander of the 28th LCT Flotilla (who carried AVREs to Gold beach) refers to the fitting of what he calls "Forward Sweep Extensions" to LCT 886 at the embarkation hard when the tanks were embarked. He states that the "work of the boatswain, fitting the Extension, is commended, as he worked continuously, waist high in the water, to avoid any delay." This suggests to me that the extensions were probably fitted at the bow area where the water was shallow. For this reason, I'm inclined to think they may have been Mulock ramp extensions (useful explanation here: LCT(6) ramp extensions for launching DD Shermans?), although the name doesn't really make sense.

    But, somewhere at the back of my mind, I have a nagging memory of once reading about some form of minesweeping attachment for LCTs. I can't find it now of course, but I wondered if anyone had heard of such a thing that might also be the attachment made to LCT 886. She was the leading vessel of the right hand flank sailing to Gold Jig beach on D-Day, so sweeps do, in a way, make sense.

    Secondly, there is another visible attachment to 886 in the attached crop of IWM B5136. I've circled the two short towers, that appear to be near the bow on either side of the tank deck. The same features are also visible in the picture of LCT 952 here: LANDING CRAFT TANK SQUADRON, LCT SQUADRON,.

    Does anyone have any idea what these are? Are they in some way related to the sweeps perhaps?

    Thanks in advance,

    LCT 886.JPG
  2. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi Steve,
    The only minesweeping gear that I can think of that was fitted to LCT Mk IV/V was fitted to the stern.

    There was an eyelet plate welded one foot above the waterline on the transom so maybe this is why the boatswain was in the water.

    The large square boxes near the bow might be fresh water tanks.


  3. Hello Steve,

    This is maybe what you have read about minesweeping gear fitted to LCT:
    Paravane rigging for LCTs?

    The only other reference to minesweeping by LCT I could find is in the Report by ANCXF on Operation NEPTUNE for the Western (U.S.) Task Force:
    "Shallow-water minesweeping was expected to be of utmost importance and preparations were made for sweeping snag line mines by means of sisal line sweeps streamed by means of modified diverter (twin) floats from L.C.T.s. About 30 L.C.T.s equipped with this gear were assigned by both assault forces."

    The position for the large rectangular boxes was either on each side in the tank deck just aft of the fo'c'sle, or atop the fo'c'sle, either lengthwise or perpendicular to the axis of the craft. They look like large lockers – see the hinges and locking handle(s) on the following photos:
    979 (214) Loading 1.jpg
    LCT 532 landing at Westkapelle, 1 Nov 44 - A_026268.jpg
    LCT 975.jpg
    LCT 960 Ostend.jpg
    For lack of more specific information, I assume that they were general purpose lockers, to keep whatever gear that had to be out of the way but still readily accessible.

  4. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Thanks both for your thoughts. That certainly explains the white boxes and gives me some thoughts for the sweeps.

    Whatever it is that these Forward Sweep Extensions are, the context of the boatswain being in the water is definitely in relation to fitting them, and Q2 hard would definitely be too deep at the vessel's stern to stand waist deep in water.

    The only other reference I can see in the fleet orders is:

    D. Type Sweeps.
    All craft fitted and supplied with "D" type sweeps are to run them when inshore of the lowering position.

    Not sure if it helps much!
  5. Another reference to minesweeping by LCT can be found here:
    Operation Neptune Normandy D Day Minesweeping Halcyon class first minesweeping flotilla

    "62. Inshore areas, especially the boat lanes between the transport areas and the beach, and the areas of the artificial harbours were to be swept as soon after the assault as possible. For this purpose, each assault force was allocated one flotilla of YMS or BYMS, one flotilla of British Motor Minesweepers, and a group of 6 minesweeping LCT's. All three types of vessels were equipped with light sweeping gear especially designed for sweeping moored ground mines in shallow waters.14 Inshore waters were searched shortly after the first assault. But no mines were found until after the enemy began laying them from the air."

    "14 See ANCXF Report,Vol.III,p.63. It was originally planned to use also LCV(P)s equipped with very light gear for work very close to shore, but in trials it was found that the gear broke up before the craft could reach the shallow water."

    The reference to ANCFX Report in note 14 is the same as the one I quoted in my post #3 above, and still does not say whether the sweeps were supposed to be streamed from fore or from aft of the LCT though. This however tallies with the total number of 30 LCT so fitted, 6 for each Assault Force.

    The only such reference found so far is by the skipper of LCT(A) 2124 who wrote:
    "We also streamed some makeshift minesweeping gear-paravanes tethered to our stern with manila lines-to clear a mine free path for the landing crafts that would follow."

  6. Yet another, rather detailed reference is to be found in ONEAST/S.7B - THE ASSAULT dated 21.5.44:


    24. The following craft, fitted with 'Snag-Line' Sweeps are to stream them at about 8,000 yards from the beaches, unless 'Snag-line' mines have been observed further to seaward. This, however, is unlikely, owing to the nature of the mines and the depth of water. Final deployment must be completed before streaming sweeps.

    (a) Group 2 - L.C.T.(AVRE) Fleet Nos. 109 to 116.
    (b) Group 2 - L.C.T.(A) and (CB) Fleet Nos. 532 to 540.[sic: 532-535 and 544-548]

    (c) Group 3 - L.C.T.(R) Fleet Nos. 526 to 528.
    (d) Groups 4

    4a, 4b - L.C.T. (SP) Fleet Nos. 272 to 274, 278 to 280,
    331 to 333.

    25. For L.C.T.(4) with sweeps out the following speeds should be maintained:-




    (a) 5¾ Knots = 750 RPM
    (b) 7 Knots = 850 RPM
    (c) 8+ Knots = 1000 RPM

    26. The safe distance for craft in the wake of craft using these sweeps is 250 yards.

    27. Sweeps are to be hauled in as late as practicable before beaching and, if it can be avoided, are not to be cut or slipped owing the the danger of fouling the screws of succeeding craft.

    However, the whole text above has been crossed out by handwriting, presumably because of a later amendment which cancelled the whole 'Snag-Line' Sweeps plan for Force S, as per the prerogative afforded its Commander by ON 6.–Instructions for Minesweeping:
    " 71. L.C.T. taking part in the early stages of the assault are to stream shallow snag line sweeps as ordered by Assault Force Commanders."

    The abandoned plan therefore amounted to much more (29 or 31 LCT) than the 6 LCT planned for each Assault Force as reported in 'Operation NEPTUNE' (see quote in my previous post), which suggests that this document misinterpreted its source (the ANCFX Report). The source says "About 30 L.C.T.s equipped with this gear were assigned by both assault forces.", meaning "by both U.S. Assault Forces" or even "by each of the two U.S. Assault Forces", and not "in total over both Task Forces".
    A number of around 30 "Sweeping LCT " for each Assault Force is evidently more logical if any significant result was to be expected.

    I could not find (yet?) any similar orders for the other two Assault Forces in Eastern Task Force.

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
  7. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Good find Michel. I've looked and the copy of Force S orders I've seen at The National Archives in London also has this section crossed out. In the Force J orders (ONEAST/J.2) I've found the following entry:

    Off Shore Lines
    64. LCT of the Assault Groups may be equipped with snag line sweeps for dealing with off shore mines. Details are contained in J.O.I. 35.

    The underlining of 'may' is in the document (it's not my emphasis). However, as in Force S orders, this entire paragraph has been struckthrough with the note "(Amend No. 2)".

    There does seem to be a general pattern emerging of these sweeps being stern mounted though. I'm wondering if there'd have been any room on the bow for the equipment...

  8. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    “Snag Line Type D” and “Dm” were fitted to the stern of LCT Mk IV/V. The capstan was used to recover the sweeps.

    Development of "Assault Sweeping” equipment started in 1943.


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  9. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    An interesting development in this mystery, from the report of Commander, G1 (of which LCT 886 was a part).


    I'm wondering now if these are the same fittings made to the LCTs of Force L (see here), but the use of the word 'projections' seems odd in this regard. It also doesn't explain why the boatswain was in the water. The fitting of vertical poles at the bow of the LCT (A) would also impact on the Centaur's ability to fire a little.

    I wondered if they could have been related to this modification made to US LCT:


    Unfortunately good shots of 886's bow are hard to come by. In the first pic here we can see the curious white boxes and forward of those the Fast Aerial Mine launchers, but I don't see anything else that might be these projections. In the second, there's a blurry shot of what I think must be 886's bow behind 7074, but again, no clear evidence of what the scaffold might be...

    886 1.JPG 886 2.JPG
  10. Very strange indeed! Off the top of my head I would suspect that these strange "tubular scaffolding projections" might be some contraption to assist in the loading of the infamous Roly Poly aboard LCT AVRE) and LCT(A). If so, they were most probably removed once the Roly Poly had been loaded, which would explain why we don't see them on photos.

    These "projections" are unrelated to the projecting arms added to all US LCT(6) carrying DD tanks as shown in the photo of US LCT 603 in the previous post. These held an additional cable connected to the end of the ramp to help withstand the extra weight of the DD tanks during their launch at sea. The three triangular gussets welded to the outer side of the front part of the bows, together with the strip welded to their inner side, served the same purpose of helping to cope with the extra stress during launch, this time by strengthening the connection between the front part supporting the ramp chains and the hull of the craft.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
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  11. On second thoughts, the convergence in the reports by the commanders of 28th Flotilla and Group G.1 probably means that Sweep Lines were still planned for GOLD as of D-2, and were to be streamed from the bows instead of from the stern, perhaps to reduce the risk of the lines getting caught in the screws or in the kedge anchor wire.

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  12. The only photo I could find with something which might remotely resemble a "tubular scaffolding projection" at the bows of a LCT(4) or a LCT(A) is this pic of LCT(A) 2005 as she was about to be towed back to the UK by ML 518 on 8th June, after drifting helplessly for over two days:

    2005 LCT(A) mid channel 07June! - Oliver Perk.jpg

    Source: Oliver Perks' Wartime Blog - D-Day 6 June 1944

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  13. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Thanks Michel, I too have been trawling images and largely come up blank. Here's LCT (A) 2233, also part of G1, but showing no real evidence of any projections:

    LCTA 2233.JPG

    Your picture is more interesting, although I can't really determine exactly what the pole is doing. The bit that doesn't make any sense is the reference to the projections being attached to the ramps. If they were sweeps, I wouldn't expect them to interface with the ramp/door area in any way. The pole on 2005 doesn't appear to be interfacing with the ramp either (but there may of course be unseen elements out of sight).

    Was there a specific tool designed to help load Roly Polys? I hadn't heard about that, although it certainly wouldn't surprise me given how cumbersome they look!

    I have a feeling the answer is in a random document somewhere, waiting for one of us to come across it...
  14. In the single instance I found of a doc mentioning how the Roly Poly was loaded aboard LCT, it was via "a crane", without further detail:

    "On 3 June the guns and tanks moved to Southampton Water and loaded on to L.C.Ts. Skippers and crews and gunners were all familiar with each other and the craft, and the loading went through without a hitch. A detachment of R.Es came aboard and a huge “roly-poly” was lowered into the bows by crane."

    Source: Battery diary, 341 Battery, 86th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 1944 to 1946; compiled by Lt Sidney Beck
    via Roly Poly.

    I suspect the crane might have been installed on some sort of vessel together with a stock of Roly Polys and a RE detachment tasked with loading up each designated LCT in turn.

    This would make much more sense than rigging each LCT with a flimsy loading jig, as I initially suggested :unsure:

    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
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  15. After browsing once again through my pics of LCT(A) and (AVRE) for GOLD and finding absolutely nothing which could hint to scaffolding pipes being fitted to the fore end of any of them (or any other place for that matter), my conclusion was that "tubular scaffolding projections" might refer to the Roly Poly itself, which were made (in part but very plainly), of "tubular scaffolding" (as opposed to the "roller blind" or "steel shuttering" used on Bobbin AVsRE on GOLD), intended to "project" afore the craft on landing, and one end of which was indeed attached to the ramp.

    I then looked up the rest of the Report by Captain, Group G.1, to see whether the Roly Poly was mentioned by name, which would somewhat ruin my theory, and found nothing, but instead came up with yet another mention of the bizarre "tubular scaffolding projections":

    Group V. (L.C.T.(A)'s and L.C.T. AVRE)
    ADM 179_505 - Report by GG1.png

    I am therefore now convinced that these "projections" were in fact the Roly Polys themselves.

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  16. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    (Posted before seeing your post above Michel!)

    Ahhhh, it's all becoming much clearer. To start with, I was inexcusably thinking of Bobbins at first, not Roly Polys. But anyway, fitting a Roly Poly in the bow of the LCT explains men up to their waist in water (from the Roly Poly thread there's quite a few accounts of men in the same situation when they unloaded them) and fitting attachments to the ramps.I imagine there will have need to be some fittings in the bow to secure the things, especially to the ramp to prevent it sliding off when deployed.

    Looking at both of the names/descriptions given to them in the RN reports (forward sweep extensions and tubular scaffolding projections) I can't help but think this may be the best names they could think of to describe the entire Roly Poly, a device that they may not have been familiar with and probably had no desire to carry.

    I suspect the crane mentioned will have been a vehicle based at the hards (86th Regiment appear to have embarked at Southampton's LCT hards) which loaded the Roly Poly once all of the other vehicles were embarked. Men could then have worked on fitting it to the ramp (as per Lieutenant-Commander Nyburg's statement in the first post) and we know that Breaching team 1 (LCT 886) had a Roly Poly:

    LCT 886.JPG
  17. Steve,

    Nice to see us reach the same conclusions at the same time !

    As we say in French in all modesty, "les grands esprits se rencontrent" :D

    As for finding (or condescending to use) a short and easy-to-remember, colloquial name for such an exotic contraption as the Roly Poly, I guess a (Royal) engineer with hands-on experience is better equipped than a high ranking Officer of the Senior Service :-P


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