D Day Landing Craft Markings

Discussion in 'The 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.
     
  9. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    For clarity, the contents of 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in WW2 contains:
    • initially a full word for word reproduction of "History of The 2nd Bn The Royal Ulster Rifles In North-West Europe 1944-45" which forms the bulk of the blog by dated section
    • this was then supplemented with photos from my father's (Captain M.P. Scanlon of 2RUR, Battalion Headquarters and at some point 9th Brigade Headquarters) own collection of photos and extracts from copies of other official Battalion publications
    • photos and personal accounts donated by other members of 2RUR (and assumed to be accurate)
    • (incomplete) copies of the War Diary (which I will one day get around to finishing) which are assumed to be accurate
    • a copy of 1 RUR official battalion publication for Summer 1944 that I stumbled across
    • photos/videos from IWM which either relate specifically to 2 RUR (where referenced) and assumed to be correct or more general photos/videos of 3rd Infantry Division/9th Brigade from the same areas at the same time as 2 RUR were there

    "Rifleman McNaul from County Antrim" caption was indeed taken as confirmation of identity from "The Rifles Are There" and is assumed to be correct as hard to believe Orr would be so specific about the individual, Company and Battalion without knowing for certain.

    I think you will find that the likes of Graves, Orr etc legitimately sourced a substantial amount of their own content from the War Diary and/or the Battalion's own "History of The 2nd Bn The Royal Ulster Rifles In North-West Europe 1944-45" as a significant number of sections are quoted word for word from this original text.

    In summary, rather than content on the website being "debatable" and/or "pinched" from various other books the core content was re-produced online from the original source for posterity as at the time no information at all was available about 2RUR and since then additional content that has been added has not been made up, pinched and/or (intentionally) mis-identified (quite the reverse infact).

    That said, if any content is believed to be incorrect/inaccurate then I am more than happy to update as appropriate on recent of evidence to the contrary.

    Similarly, if anyone has any additional information relating to 2 RUR's advance from Sword (Queen Red/White?) to Bremen then I would be more than happy to include within the website (including their confirmed LCI(L) numbers and landing time(s) as at least one account places at 10am whereas War Diary states as being 12 Noon?) .

    Best regards.

    Quis Separabit
     
  10. Quis,

    Thank you for these explanations. Perhaps posting them on your blog would help the reader understand how it was written?

    I suppose that my choice of words (e.g. "pinched") was not quite adequate, because I did not mean any ill-intention or plagiarism on your part, but merely the absence of indications about how the text had been elaborated, thus making any assessment of its accuracy difficult, hence the term "more debatable".
    I agree that the mention of a specific individual in the caption by Orr is a strong indication of this caption being correct, but it is just that. Short of finding a separate source of confirmation, or knowing what allows Orr to say that, I still consider this information as very probable, but not reasonably certain. This is really a matter of personal appreciation, and I fully understand that, for their own purpose, others may be content with this identification.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  11. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    There appears to be quite a bit of confusion as to when 2 RUR actually landed on Sword Queen Red/White and was wondering if anyone has a more definitive view?

    The following accounts include details of damage to craft, depth of water and times may or may not help with who was on which LCI and when they landed but similarly could confuse the matter further.....

    2nd Battalion Official History States 1000 Hours Landing
    At 1000 hours on D Day, the 6th June, 1944, the Landing Crafts Infantry containing the Battalion touched down on the beach of Normandy at a spot slightly west of Ouistreham, a pleasant French summer resort with a wide sandy beach fringed with sand dunes.

    By this time the sea had developed a considerable swell. The Battalion was well used to wet landings when carrying out exercises, but this was without any doubt the wettest on record, most people landing in at least four feet of water and many in as much as five and a half feet.

    ....Many of the Riflemen being small in size were finding it difficult to get ashore, particularly in view of the fact that over and above their normal kit - heavy enough --, they were carrying a bicycle! CSM Walsh of A Company, and Rfn Ryan, MM, of B Company did great work by getting a life line ashore from the Landing Crafts Infantry, and holding them in such a manner that others were able to beach themselves with greater ease.

    .......The Battalion then quickly made its way from the beach to Lion-sur-Mer, a small village about half a mile inland which was the Assembly Area. Here they were met by OC HQ Company, Captain M. D. G. C. Ryan and his party of guides who had landed an hour previously with one of the assault brigades to make a reconnaissance of the Assembly Area


    War Diary States 1200 Hours Landing
    upload_2019-1-4_20-21-12.png


    Stanley Burrows, 2nd Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles (Ninth Platoon, A Company)
    As Stanley’s ship approached Sword Beach he remembers being absolutely amazed at the blackness of the sea and air - covered with ships and planes. The Germans began to attack almost immediately and Stanley’s landing craft was hit by a shell, which passed through the hull and luckily failed to explode.
    Grounding the ship in eight foot of water, two members of the division went ashore first, taking with them a lifeline (a rope), which the others were to use to guide them to the beach. Looking over the side of the ship into the water below Stanley knew that he’d never make the shore if he had to carry his bicycle, his Brem gun (Betsey) and 56 pounds of equipment, so he made a quick decision and ditched his bicycle.

    Lieutenant Cyril Rand, 2nd Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles (Platoon Commander, C Company)
    We reached Normandy the following morning, and landed on Sword beach at 10am.
    The shore was already secured, but the shelling and the mortar bombing was still going on. There were underwater obstacles with mines tied to them. The beach was strewn with anti-tank defences..........

    .....One of the ramps of our craft was hit, so we had to jump from all sides. The water was about four foot deep, five when a wave came in.

    ........We took off very quickly across the beach and rallied to our assembly area, a field behind the church of Lion-sur-Mer.


    Richard Keegan, 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles (D Company)
    We were on the big landing craft that held more than a company, and it had two ramps down the side. We also had to carry bicycles which would carry 60lbs of equipment. When we landed there was a high swell on the tide, and I remember when I was getting ready to come off the boat, I put a pair of socks into my mess tin so that my feet would be dry whenever we first got the chance to change. Any landings we did in training we only got our feet wet but in this landing we were soaked from head to foot. The swell was so bad it was almost over the top of us. My head was soaking at the time.

    We got up the beach which had already been opened by the engineers and the commandos that went in in front of us. This meant that the mines were cleared. We went through that area and up a wee side street onto our bikes and we went to a place that they named the Orchard. There we had the rollcall to see that all was correct.

    We then moved on from there to a farm area and we dug in for the night. We were about 4 or 5 miles in then.


    John Shanahan - Attached to 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles
    In 1943, he transferred to the Royal Ulster Rifles and trained for what would become Operation Overlord.

    As D-Day approached the Royal Ulster Rifles were moved to the south coast of England. The Regiment was separated into three Brigades, each taking part in consecutive landings. and John boarded one of the Liberty Ships in Southampton that was to land in France in the second wave on D-Day 6th June.

    "We were transferred from the Liberty Ship onto small landing crafts; this was about 4 miles offshore. We hit Sword beach just after 0900; actually we landed in about 4 feet of water. I remember my big concern was not to get my rifle wet! The landing area was heavily defended and we met mortar and heavy gun fire... of course there were some soldiers who didn't manage to get as far as the beach.


    1st Lieutenant Harry Willis who crewed LCI (L) 375 which landed part of 2RUR at Sword Beach (Queen Sector)
    "We were due to land our troops I think, about 10.00am which was some 4 hours after the initial assault, or H Hour....."

    "Before reaching the shoreline we hit an underwater obstruction and stuck there in some 5 feet of water. This meant that though the troops managed to wade ashore with water up to their necks they had to leave their bicycles behind until, after four or five hours at low water they were able to come back for them."

    A W (Paddy) White - Crew Aboard Landing Craft Infantry (Large) 375
    These brave soldiers had to wade and partly swim ashore with their equipment with one hand above their heads holding a rifle; some also had collapsible cycles on their shoulders. .....A special mention must be made of the two crew members who, whilst German sniping was continuing, swam ashore with guide lines tied to their waist and stood on the beach holding the ropes taught so that the soldiers could hold onto and be guided through the rough sea to shore.

    ....Suggesting LCI(L) 375 was carrying either A and/or B Company??.

    Any suggestions welcome.......
     
  12. Arty

    Arty Member

    Quis,

    How about the war diaries of other units of 9 Infantry Brigade? The main bodies of the three battalions of the Brigade were due to land from the same group of LCI’s, at the same time, that is H +270 ie. 11.55 AM….

    Also due on Queen White – carried in the LCI’s of the same group…2nd Bn KOSB: “Bn assault scales landed between 1145 and 1445hrs” [Nb. the latter arrivals were onboard LCT’s]

    Due on Queen Red at H+270, onboard LCI’s of the same group…2nd Bn Lincolnshire Regt: “1200 Main body Bn landed”

    And, another unit which had men onboard the very same LCI’s carrying the RUR… 9 Fd Ambulance: “L.C.I. craft loads landed at 12.00 hrs on Queen White beach”

    The plan was that the infantrymen of 2 RUR land on Queen White at H+270 ie. 11.55 AM. They were pretty much on time!

    Regards
    Arty
     
  13. Quis,

    Thank you for you nice summary. This is a perfect illustration of the potential problems inherent to veteran accounts, especially when they are collected many decades after the event.

    I totally agree with Arty in his approach. The War Diaries of the various battalions in 9 Br Inf Bde leave no uncertainty as to the time frame when they landed.

    As for the various discrepancies you listed, they can be grouped into two main groups:

    In documents such as the 2 RUR Official History : typographical or transcription errors.

    In veteran accounts: the usual effect on memories of the passing of time (most accounts are told several decades after the event) and of reading erroneous material (such as the Official History) in the meantime, which changes one's recollection of what occurred.

    Veteran accounts are a precious resource to grasp the atmosphere and human side of events, but must always be taken with lots of salt when it comes to hard facts. They may nonetheless contain interesting anecdotes which can provide new information, as long as it can be reasonably confirmed by other, independent evidence.

    Back to the time of landing, the main (marching) body of 9 Br Inf Bde, carried in the nine LCI(L) of Group 16 (LTIN 388 to 396) was initially planned to touch down at H+330 minutes, as per the Landing Table of 19 March 1944, after Group 18 (LTIN 365-376), carrying most of the Brigade's vehicles, which was planned at H+285.

    However, at some point before 21 May, Group 16's planned time was brought forward to H+270 minutes, as can be seen in ONEAST/S7B - App I - "Deployment at the Lowering Position", while Group 18 was given Group 16's former landing time at H+330:

    ....................................(LTIN) ....19 Mar 44 ..21 May 44
    Group 18 : 12 LCT ...(365-376) ....H+285 ......H+330
    Group 17 : ..5 LST ...(381-385) ....H+330 ......H+330
    Group 16 : ..9 LCI(L) (388-396) ....H+330 ......H+270
    Group 19 : 12 LCT ...(399-410) ....H+360 ......H+360

    Basically, Group 16 and 18 exchanged their touch down times, the first of which was brought forward 15 minutes.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  14. This account is a typical example of contradictory information. Several parts are incompatible with each other.

    The mention of a transfer from a "Liberty Ship" to small landing "crafts" probably means from LSI to LCA, which would match a landing time with one of the first waves, around 0900, as stated.

    However, no personnel of 2 RUR was planned to land on any LCA, the first personnel to land being on board LCT(4) LTIN 353 planned for landing at H+250 (1135 hrs). The Landing Table shows that 2 RUR used only two types of craft, LCT(4) and LCI(L), exclusively.

    LCI(L) of 2 RUR did not embark their personnel from LSI off Normandy on D Day, but at South Parade Pier, Southsea on 5 June 1944. Similarly, LCT of 2 RUR embarked their vehicles and personnel at Stokes Bay Hard on 3 June.

    The only probable truth in this account is the carrying of folding bicycles (not part of the extract above) and landing in some depth of water. The rest is not just useless, but plain wrong.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  15. Arty

    Arty Member

    Just adding a bit more info – ‘pinched’ from another War Diary ;)

    253 Field Company RE. This unit had 40 of its men distributed amongst the LCI(L)’s carrying the marching parties of 9 Inf Bde. This included 13 men onboard LTIN 392 - which was carrying 143 men of 2 RUR (according to the 19Mar44 landing tables).

    So, from the War Diary of 253 Fd Coy RE: “No. 3 Pl. land on Queen White Beach with 2 RUR at 1300 hrs mounted on bicycles…”

    So pick an actual arrival time chaps! Anytime other than 1000hrs that is (the beach was a 'tad' busy what with 185 Inf Bde arriving at the time...).

    Though I’m going to stick with about 1200hrs for the arrival of 2 RUR. 1300hrs seems too late. Aside from the other War Diaries, my conclusion is based on what mother nature was doing after 1200hrs - the tide was beginning to ebb. As a result of which, a number of LCI’(L)s of Group 16 were stranded (discussed at length, above…). However the two LCI(L)’s stranded adjacent exit 11 are very high up the beach – they apparently beached with the tide at full flood.

    Regards
    Arty
     

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