D Day Landing Craft Markings

Discussion in 'War at Sea' started by Noel Burgess, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. How frustrating. I was at the museum 3 weeks ago on my way to Normandy!
    I will find out how to access the collection.
     
  2. Arty,

    I'm afraid you're right. I did not cross check as I should :blush:. Thanks for correcting my hasty conclusion!

    So we're indeed back to 5 out of 26, but now have one more unjustified claim to the photo opposite Exit 11. :rolleyes:

    Michel
     
  3. Arty

    Arty Member

    Michel,

    It seems I was tweaking (ie. editing) my last post as you were typing! No change in the conclusion though.

    Regards
    Arty
     
  4. Arty

    Arty Member

    Chaps,

    I may have identified another of the LCI(L)’s that landed with LCI(L) 375 on Queen White at 1200 hrs, and subsequently became stuck on the beach. However this identification is somewhat tenuous.

    What follows is an extract from an account by Petty Officer Charles F Gray – apparently onboard LCI(L) 391. The account is via “We Remember D-Day”…

    “I REMEMBER D-DAY 6 June 1944, as a petty officer engineer aged nineteen years serving on board one of the many landing craft (LCI 391) taking part in the invasion of Normandy…. we beached OK, the two landing ramps went out and troops started to move off. Hardly had this started when another landing ship came alongside and collided with our port side, which in turn carried our ramps away. This was the moment our troubles started. By the time our troops had disembarked the tide had receded and we were high and dry with no hopes of refloating until the tide returned…. our captain Lieutenant Jack Haughton decided to abandon the ship….”

    It is pretty much always the case that an ex crew member of an LCI(L) refers to his craft’s pennant number – in this case apparently LCI(L) 391. However back in post #151 of this thread it was revealed (by MS).. “To find the ninth and last craft in Group 16, we'll refer to the Report by Allied Naval CiC Expeditionary Force on Op Neptune,all the craft of 266 Flotilla, except LCI(L) 391, were attached to 265 Flotilla for the initial landing…”

    Curiously, in this case, it would make more sense if PO Gray was referring to his craft’s LTIN (aka serial). That is, the three LTIN’s of the LCI(L)’s that landed 2nd Bn RUR were 391, 392 & 393.

    Now, referring back to the various photographs that show LCI(L)’s stuck on the Queen Red & Queen White beach on the afternoon of 06June….At 1630 hrs 5 LCI(L) were stuck on beach:

    LCI(L) in front of exit 25 appears to be an early model (ie. pennant number below 351) – it has probably lost both of it’s ramps (this craft arrived after 1110 hrs – it must be from either group 14 or 16)

    LCI(L) in front of exit 17 – I cannot positively identify the model – however it appears to still have it’s port ramp (this craft is possibly from group 14 or 16).

    LCI(L) between exit 11 & 12 is a mid-production model – we know it is LCI(L) 375 (it arrived at 1200 hrs with group 16).

    The two LCI(L)’s in front of exit 11 are both mid-production models (ie. pennant numbers above 350). Both of these craft probably arrived on the beach at the same time as LCI(L)375. Of note, the LCI(L) on the right (west) has apparently lost it’s ramps – this is just possibly PO Gray’s “LCI 391”.

    Close up - LCI(L) 375 & which craft...jpg

    It would be useful to confirm if the skipper of LCI(L) 391 was Lt Jack Haughton, however I do not have the “Green list” ie. covering 265 & 266 LCI(L) Flotilla….

    Regards
    Arty


    Michel S - PM coming your way!
     
  5. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi,

    S/Lt J.B. Houghton, RNVR was the Commanding Officer of LCI(L) 391.

    Regards

    Danny
     
  6. Arty

    Arty Member

    Thanks Danny.

    Regards
    Arty
     
  7. Arty,

    You may be on to something here. If PO Charles Gray's account is correct, it looks like LCI(L) 391 might have been part of Group 16.

    However, this would mean that she replaced one of the three other craft of 266 Flotilla which, although listed in the Report by ANCXF as part of / attached to 265 Flotilla, are not clearly identifiable on the film clip showing Group 16, i.e. LCI(L) 241, 387 & 388.

    I am not sure who the likely candidate could be, because each of these three craft seems to stand a good chance of being part of Group 16 as well:

    LCI(L) 241 is supposed to have been stuck on the beach (see Hi, new member interested in LCI).
    If indeed part of Group 16 and assuming she did become stranded, she would then possibly be LCI(L) #5 on the 51988AC oblique aerial, as the only craft of the first series.

    LCI(L) 387 is supposed to have carried troops from the KOSB. Additionally, an account by the same PO Robin Fowler mentions that their engine room was damaged and that they got stranded on the beach by the ebbing tide:

    There were no qualms about high seas for Petty Officer Robin Fowler and the crew of LCI(L) 387. They regarded themselves as hardened seafarers long before D-Day when, through the hostile Atlantic seas of the previous winter they had sailed the 153ft-long, flat-bottomed craft from Norfolk, Virginia to Falmouth. The character-forming voyage had taken four weeks.
    Now as LCI(L) 387 headed for the beach the scene which greeted Fowler convinced him they were heading into chaos. He could feel and hear the craft hitting the underwater obstacles, one of which punched a hole in the engine room but her momentum carried her on to land her troops.
    That done she used her kedge anchor to haul herself off, but the engine room began to take in so much water that return to the beach was the only option.
    Hitting yet more obstructions, her engine room took further damage before 387 beached again on an ebbing tide.
    Under the enemy guns, marine mechanic Fowler and his shipmates were in for a long struggle to make emergency repairs in time for the next tide ...
    (...)
    Meanwhile, the crew of LCI(L) 387 were labouring to repair their vessel. As they dug into the sand below the damaged engine room they were approached by a Royal Engineer who, it seemed to PO Fowler, was taking an inordinate interest in what they were doing.
    Eventually, the soldier casually broke the news that the RE, having had to secure that part of the beach themselves, were a bit behind with the clearance of the heavily mined area. Just be careful, he warned. They were to beware of tripwires.
    With that the work came to a sudden halt and the crew retired on board to consider their next move. Just as well, thought Fowler, as he heard the sound of renewed sniping from buildings ashore. Then a German battery opened up again ...
    After their sojourn aboard it seemed to the crew of LCI(L) 387 that their priority was to get off the beach. With some trepidation it was decided to recontinue the repair operation - and they watched very carefully for tripwires.
    By now the tide had gone out completely and Fowler could see that the shore between high and low water marks was festooned with tank traps and jagged steel hedgehogs designed to rip out the bottom of landing craft.
    Heavy timbers were embedded in the sand and these were surmounted with Teller mines and iron spikes. And then there were the hidden mines ... With scratch repairs complete, it was a long, lonely wait until the tide came in.
    When it did 387 was obligingly towed off by an LCA which in the process was hit several times by automatic fire. Then the German artillery started up again, and Fowler was not sorry to see the back of Sword Beach that day.
    Steered by ropes in the tiller flat, the craft limped on an erratic course back to England. Showing no lights to avoid attack by E-boats, she was in constant danger of collision with Allied shipping in the narrow, swept channel. With her jury-rigged steering Fowler knew she would be in no condition to defend herself or take avoiding action.
    To add to their troubles the temporary repairs were not up to the crossing and the engine room began slowly to flood again. The electrical bilge pump gave up on them and the fire pumps which they had pressed into service were only partially effective.
    At dawn they were relieved to see the Isle of Wight, but if they expected to receive a warm welcome in Porstmouth they were disappointed. Because they were damaged they were refused entry.
    Inquiring of the Signal Tower as to their next move, they were told tersely: "Work out your own salvation". Fowler suddenly felt that they were a very small cog in a very large machine.
    With the water in the engine room reaching danger level, the commanding officer decided in desperation to beach the craft at Southsea. This he did successfully, and Fowler and his shipmates were encouraged to find the natives friendly.


    Source: Navy News D Day 50 Supplement to the June 1994 Issue), page 5 column 6

    LCI(L) 388 appears on a D Day photo shot from LST 427. She looks like she is returning after having unloaded her troops, and the timing makes it unlikely that she was part of a later wave than Group 16.
    LCI(L) 388 from LST 427 off Ouistreham, 6 Jun 44 - Number 39.jpg
    She was also probably not part of any of Groups 11, 13 or 14, whose craft have more or less all been identified, but she might have been one of the three LCI(L) in Group 8 (LTIN 228-230)? Or was she a spare craft?

    LCI(L) 391 would thus be the most westerly craft as per your pic (LCI(L) #1 on the 51988AC oblique aerial with craft count), because the other ones still have at least one ramp left.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
  8. Michel

    I have just returned from the Imperial War Museum research rooms, where I viewed the original film. Unfortunately the numbers are still not visible, though the one on 384 is so close to being visible, I thought that I could make out a 9 in the middle a few times, but I am not sure if my mind was playing tricks and convincing me of what I wanted to see!

    I also viewed an HD version but still couldn’t see it.

    I have ordered the HD version and will now see if I can blow it up, or get some software to enhance it. I think we will get something, even if only one number.

    One thing I noticed, which may be relevant - whilst the craft in the foreground have two LTIN boards, the three in the background have only one (except LCI(L)-376, which doesn’t have any visible LTIN board). I am not sure this tells us anything other than that they were likely placed by the same crew.

    Brian.
     

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