Motor Transport Vessels in Operation NEPTUNE

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Richard Anderson, May 5, 2024.

  1. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    I recently went down an interesting rabbit hole and have come to a partial dead end. I was trying to find what were the numbers assigned to the Liberty ships converted to "Motor Transport Vessels" - usually designated MT or MTV - in Operation NEPTUNE, specifically the Western Naval Task Forces, I have put together most of them, but I'm drawing a blank on MT 202, MT 203, MT 205, and MT 250. The first three were probably in Convoys EBM-2 or EBM-3. Two likely candidates are SS Charles Willson Peale in EBM-2 and SS John Hay in EBM-3, but I am at a loss for what other vessels they may be. The only other possibilities were designated as accommodation ships, SS George W. Woodward, accommodation ship for JUNO, and SS Thomas B. Robertson, accommodation ship for UTAH , in EBM-3, and SS Bernard Carter, reserve accommodation ship for OMAHA and SS Eleazer Wheelock, accommodation ship OMAHA are the only other possibilities.

    Has anyone else run across a list of the MTV numbers assigned to ships? Here is what I have so far:

    EBM-2 Clyde/Bristol Channel-Seine Bay 2-7 June 1944
    SS Charles Willson Peale
    SS Bernard Carter – reserve accommodation ship OMAHA
    SS Eleazer Wheelock – accommodation ship OMAHA
    SS Charles Sumner (MT 206)
    SS John Steele (MT 207)
    SS Henry W. Grady (MT 208)
    SS Oliver Wolcott (MT 214)
    SS Ezra Weston (MT 215)
    SS Robert E. Peary (MT 216)
    SS John S. Mosby (MT 217)
    SS Benjamin Hawkins (MT 218)
    SS Edwin Abbey (MT 225)
    SS Frank R. Stockton (MT 226)
    SS George E. Pickett (MT 227)
    SS Jedidiah S. Smith (MT 228)
    SS Josiah Nelson Cushing (MT 229)
    SS Edward W. Scripps (MT 230)
    SS Ephraim Brevard (MT 231)
    SS Robert L. Vann (MT 232)
    SS Francis Harrington (MT 233)
    SS Charles M. Hall (MT 234)
    SS Walter Hines Page (MT 235)
    SS Horace Gray (MT 236)
    SS Stephen B. Elkins (MT 237)

    EBM-3 Clyde/Bristol Channel 3-7 June 1944
    SS George W. Woodward LCT accommodation ship for JUNO
    SS John Hay
    SS Thomas B. Robertson – accommodation ship UTAH
    SS Clinton Kelly (MT 201)
    SS Louis Kossuth (MT 204)
    SS Charles C. Jones (MT 209) 345th FA
    SS Charles D. Poston (MT 210) 345th FA
    SS Collis P. Huntington (MT 211)
    SS Eugene E. O’Donnell (MT 212)
    SS Webb Miller (MT 213)
    SS Abiel Foster (MT 219)
    SS Enoch Train (MT 220)
    SS Joshua Lippincott (MT 221)
    SS Amos G. Throop (MT 222)
    SS Charles Morgan (MT 223)
    SS Clara Barton (MT 224)
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  2. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    The ships are :

    MT 202 - Helias
    MT 203 - John Hay
    MT 205 - Charles W. Peale
    MT 250 - John Henry


  3. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    Awesome, thank you Danny. You scratched an itch.
  4. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    So, a follow-up. What the heck was the "Helias"? :huh: She wasn't a Liberty ship, I can find no such name associated with them.
  5. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    What a minute. Is "Helias" actually the "Nea Hellas" AKA the SS Tuscania?
  6. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    I think you are right Richard, Nea Helias was a troop ship which had been bought back from the Greeks AKA Nearer Hell. My father was one of the many unfortunates who were shipped to Egypt in this boat
  7. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    Thanks for confirming that Roy. The curious thing is why they selected her to use, when all the others were bog-standard Liberties modified for the purpose.
  8. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    I don't think NEA HELLAS is correct.

    Richard, you specifically mention Operation Neptune ships and NEA HELLAS wasn't part of that. She was quite a large troopship and not a cargo transport and was nowhere near the UK in June/1944.
    Possibly the 1943 built Greek ship HELLAS which did take part in those convoys.

  9. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    Okay Hugh, that's what I wondered. Thanks.
  10. The Admiralty War Diary for 6.6.1944 lists the ships in EBM3 including HELLAS (possibly a typo for HELIAS):
    Admiralty War Diaries - 6.6.1944 - Convoy EBM3.jpg

    Note the typos CHARLES G. JONES (sic: CHARLES C. JONES), CHARLES I. POSTON (sic: CHARLES D. POSTON) and JOSIAH P. LIPPINSCOTT) (sic:JOSHUA B. LIPPINCOTT), and also that GEORGE W. WOODWARD was bound for Gold, not Juno.

    I found only one mention of HELIAS:
    "The John S. Mosby and the Helias each had five casualties from the anti-aircraft fire at the beaches on June 9."
    Source: Naval History and Heritage Command - Normandy Invasion

    A search for Helias produces a few hits on fold3, but my subscription there is long expired. Although the NARA website must hold the same docs, its search engine is not quite as good and lead to the whole document and not the individual page.

  11. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    The typo is actually HELIAS. The correct name for the ship is HELLAS. The Greek HELLAS 7,176 tons was a liberty ship built in 1943 and took part in the Normandy convoys. The photo is courtesy of the Greek Shipping Miracle referenced below

    Decimation of the Fleet (1940-1945)
    HELLAS 1943.png

  12. Excellent as always Hugh!

    Another photo of HELLAS from the same great website:
    Built in September 1943 by New England Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Maine (yard no. 245). Launched as WILLIAM DE WITT HYDE. Completed as HELLAS and placed under Greek management during the War. Delivered to Christos Lemos Sons on 13 December 1946 and registered in Chios. Broken up at Hirao, Japan in 1968. (Eric W. Johnson collection)

    Last edited: May 21, 2024
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  13. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    Yep, I suspected it must be Hellas. Pretty common typo with old typewriters. ll was often seen as li.
  14. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    Well, I have identified most of the primary suspects I was interested in, the troop and motor transport vessels engaged in moving the Main Body of the 90th Infantry Division (AKA Detachment 2) as well as the the Division Advance detachment and Detachment B, 359th Infantry from the Bristol Channel ports to UTAH. This is what I have so far:

    In Convoy EBP-1 Barry-Seine Bay 5-7 June 1944:
    USN AP-72 Susan B. Anthony
    Advance Detachment, HQ 90th Infantry Division
    Advance Detachment, HQ 90th Infantry Division Artillery
    Group B, 359th Infantry
    Personnel Detachment, 321st and 907th Glider FA Bn (101st A/B Div)

    In Convoy EBP-2 Barry-Seine Bay 6-8 June 1944:
    SS Bienville – 1/2 Div HQ Co, Division Trps, 3d Bn, 357th Inf, and 3d Bn, 358th Inf - Detachment 2
    USAT Excelsior – 1/2 Div HQ Co and 358th Inf (- 3d Bn) - Detachment 2
    SS Explorer – 357th Inf (-3d Bn) - Detachment 2

    In Convoy EBM-2 Bristol Channel-Seine Bay 2-7 June 1944:
    SS Frank R. Stockton (MT 226) HQ, A, B, and Sv Btry, 915th FA – Group B
    SS George E. Pickett (MT 227) – Cn Co, 359th Inf – Group B
    SS Jedediah S. Smith (MT 228) – Sv Co, 359th Inf and Btry C, 915th FA ??? - Group B
    SS Josiah Nelson Cushing (MT 229) – AT Co, 359th Inf – Group B

    In Convoy EBM-3 Clyde/Bristol Channel 3-7 June 1944:
    SS Charles C. Jones (MT 209) Hq, A, B, and Sv Btry, 345th FA - Detachment 2
    SS Charles D. Poston (MT 210) C Btry, 345th FA - Detachment 2
    SS Charles Morgan (MT 223) Cn, AT, Sv Co, 357th Inf – Detachment 2
    SS Clara Barton (MT 224) Cn, AT, Sv Co, 357th Infantry

    As you can see, the MT transporting the 343d and 344th FA Battalion remain unidentified (the QM and Ordnance companies were residuals and scheduled to arrive D+9 and D+10). Confusingly, it is unclear if the division transport included nine or thirteen MV, but I suspect it was the latter (nine for Detachment 2 and four for Group B).

    Any additional information or insights are welcomed.
  15. EKB

    EKB Well-Known Member

    Looks like part of the 359th Infantry Regiment made the channel crossing by LCI, unless I misunderstand the transfers at sea from other ships. A message in another forum said that the #9 marked on their helmets was meant to speed assembly in the staging areas.

    I found many pictures of LCI-326; some with troops of 359 IR aboard and others recorded long before or after the 90th Division landed in France.

    359IR - A.jpg 359IR - B.jpg 359IR - C.jpg 359IR - D.jpg 359IR - E.jpg 359IR - F.jpg 359IR - G.jpg 359IR - H.jpg 359IR - I.jpg 359IR - J.jpg 359IR - L.jpg 359IR - M.jpg 359IR - K.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2024 at 7:06 AM
  16. Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson Active Member

    Yes, thanks. The 1st and 3d Battalion, 359th Infantry, and parts of Regimental HQ Company, were loaded on LCI. They were attached to the 4th Infantry Division for the assault.
  17. EKB

    EKB Well-Known Member

    OK, until now I didn't notice your message in a different thread where you've already explained what I wanted to know about this.

    Utah Beach. D Day.
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