LST 368 - A Sailor's Tale

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Alanlweeks, Dec 19, 2012.


Would you like to see my father's memoirs of his time on LST 368?

  1. Please post his memoirs in full

    5 vote(s)
  2. Please post an edited version

    12 vote(s)
  3. Just post info on the ship's movements

    0 vote(s)
  4. Don't bother posting his memoirs

    0 vote(s)
  1. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    You are right Alan, sorry mate.
    Great story and nicely written.
  2. Alanlweeks

    Alanlweeks Member


    I omitted to mention that on that morning of “VE” day we had loaded up with troops and vehicles once more and early on the following morning sailed for Rangoon where we arrived two days later and proceeded some way up the Irrawaddy River before dropping anchor. This was a very desolate looking area, with thick jungle on both banks largely obscuring daylight. It was hot, humid and sticky and the size of some of the flying insects which infested the place was nobody’s business; something of the nature of a three or four inch sized cockroach would suddenly land with a “clonk” on the deck (almost like a small flying tank!) and one had to be grateful when they didn't crash land on one.

    A little later, we pulled alongside in Rangoon and offloaded our troops etc. I did manage a stroll ashore in the town and first impressions were of a badly war damaged city, dusty, smelly and swarming with flies. At that point there was little to do ashore but at least it gave an opportunity to stretch our legs after being cooped up on board for so long - and one could readily sympathise with the soldiers of the 14th Army (the Forgotten Army as they became known - the European theatre of war being much more in the public eye) who had had to fight the Japanese in the humid, stinking jungles of the area. During this little run shore I note, apparently with some glee, that I purchased a parasol!

    I recall also that whilst strolling along one of the main streets in the city my colleagues and I spotted an army motor-cycle parked outside a seemingly unoccupied building. We gazed at this for a while and came to the conclusion that it had been abandoned - so I promptly started it up and drove off up the street - only immediately to hear some very raucous shouting and English expletives from a window high above where it appeared the army authorities had established an office! So the motorcycle was returned to its resting place very smartly - and we continued on our stroll around Rangoon. The next few days turned out to be some of the most boring days of my service life; no mail was coming through (in retrospect not really surprising), there was virtually nothing to go ashore for even if the opportunity arose - and it remained hot, humid and dank.

    At this stage, with the European War over, I suppose it could be said we were waiting to hear what next lay in store for us, so off duty hours seemed to be spent mainly in writing to various folk back home in the hope that, in the course of time, incoming mail would arrive. Opportunity was taken during this slack period to repaint our mess-deck with quite pleasing results and which I suppose went a way towards improving morale. But at last some mail did arrive - on 4th June 1945 - and it was then on receipt of a letter from brother Arthur that I learned I had become an Uncle for the first time.

    And at last, on 6th June we sailed once more back to Kyaukypa on Ramree Island where we went straight on to the beach, loaded up and sailed away again, this time heading for Akyab a little further north in Burma. Although we only beached in Akyab at 17:00 hours on 9th June and sailed away again at 22:00 hours, in between whiles we managed to play an inter-ship football match in which the side for which I was playing won 9-0 and I proudly record that I scored a goal! (As my normal playing position was that of a defender - in those days the right back position - this was something of an achievement, although it is possible I could have been playing in an attacking position in this friendly (?) match)

    On leaving Akyab we sailed westward and on 12th June 1945 we beached bows on in Vizagapatam, a port lying roughly midway up the east coast of India. “Vizag” we found to be quite a pleasant little port and we enjoyed some swimming in the surf off the coast and also a short run ashore to buy a few souvenirs. We did not stay here long, however, before proceeding to Coconada a little further south. We stayed in Coconada ten days, amusing ourselves with a number of football matches (four to be exact) and also a hockey match against an Indian Navy team where we lost by only 7 goals to 1 and where I scored our “1” (I was playing on the wing on this occasion but my goal was scored more by luck than judgement if my memory serves me right). Then off we sailed again back to Vizagapatam where we once more loaded up to take part in an “invasion exercise”. I assume this must have been a successful exercise because we did no more!

    We stayed in “Vizag” this time (apart from our exercise) for fourteen days in all, managing a number of runs ashore, purchasing a number of souvenirs for the folks back home and playing ever more football. During this period I (and many of my shipmates) went down with dengue fever - not to be recommended; very feverish and a much upset tummy - but we all survived! And from “Vizag” where did we go? Back to Coconada! And when we sailed from Coconada? Back to “Vizag”! And again back to Coconada, and this time more exercising. there must be something in the offing! But at long last we left Coconada for the last time on 17th July, proceeding northwards until we docked in Calcutta on Saturday 21st July 1945.

    It was on arrival in Calcutta that we learned we were to undergo a refit which was to take several weeks. We were also to learn that we were to be granted “R & R” (Rest and Recreational) leave up in the hills - to give us a break from the heat and humidity we had been experiencing in and around the Indian and Burmese war theatres. Initially, few of us were thrilled at the prospect - we had stepped ashore in Calcutta and although a lot of the facilities available there were well outside our pay range, at least there were facilities available - cinemas, Fleet Club, football pitches etc. - and we tended to prefer the known to the unknown particularly as we thought the “R & R”, being officially arranged, would be somewhat stereotyped and restrictive. However, “R & R” it was to be, and five days after arrival in Calcutta the watch of which I was a member was despatched on leave. We went to Calcutta rail station where we boarded the 18:00 train (and where we were surprised to find the carriage seats were wooden slatted - even less comfortable than travelling 3rd class on Southern Rail!) and off we went northwards across India to a village called Shiliguri at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Here we changed trains and boarded the mountain railway which was to take us up the mountain to Darjeeling just outside of which our rest camp was sited.

    The ride up on the mountain railway was an event in itself; construction must have been a tremendous engineering feat. The train would climb so far - then come to a dead end. just before the end there would be a set of points which, once the whole train had cleared them, would be changed and the train would reverse and climb a further few hundred feet up the mountain in the opposite direction - a sort of zigzag effect - before the whole process was repeated time and again. At a number of these positions, little Nepalese youngsters would greet the train and seek orders for cups of tea. They would then scuttle off up the mountain side to the next “station” where they would have the tea prepared and waiting for us when the train arrived having performed its zigzag procedure. We arrived in our rest camp at about 16:00 the following day, having enjoyed some of the most spectacular mountain scenery many of us would ever see. I and my shore-going colleagues spent the evening in Darjeeling in an ideal temperature away from high heat and humidity and enjoying “big-eats” in one of the numerous cafes available there.

    As I stated earlier, many of our crew (myself included) were not over enthusiastic at the thought of this “enforced” rest and recreation period; never were we so wrong. The accommodation was of good standard and one could come and go more or less as one pleased with very few, if any, restrictions. There was a British serviceman's club in Darjeeling of which we were permitted to become temporary members, films were shown within the camp, there were football pitches (two matches were played during our stay). We made good use of the Darjeeling club and we managed to purchase a few souvenirs to send home. There was, perhaps, one snag about the rest camp; it was sited about two miles above the town of Darjeeling itself, with the only access via a fairly narrow mountain road. There were two means of getting from the camp to the town - on foot or by horse! Local natives waited, with horses, at the camp gate and for a modest sum one could clamber on to the back of a horse and the native would lead it (and you) down the track to the town.

    On one of our early visits to town, I and my colleagues decided to risk the horses. I doubt if any of us had ever sat on a horse before - I know I hadn't - and I must say I felt very high in the air (I was more used to riding motor-cycles from the saddle of which one could touch the ground). To start off the horses proceeded very steadily down the track in a group but it wasn't long before the horse I was riding decided it wanted to get in an inside position within the group and pushed its way into that position, right up against the small fence that lined the edge of the track. I suddenly found myself peering from the horse's back over a sheer drop of several hundred feet, with nothing but that little guard rail between me and oblivion! Never was I so glad to reach my destination in one piece. That was my first (and last) horse riding experience. At least I didn't suffer the indignity of one of my colleagues who ended up in Darjeeling with his arms clasped around the neck of the horse clinging on for dear life as his horse trotted to its “stop” point. It often happened that as the horses neared the end of their journey they would spot other horses waiting at the “stop” point and would break into a trot for the last few hundred yards; fine - if one was used to horse riding - but we were not!

    So we made the most of our time at our rest camp. Evenings at the club where on one occasion they had a good band playing and on another when they had a “Bingo” evening and where I managed to win one of the top prizes. Film shows within the camp itself and also in town of which we took full advantage - and even the walk back to the camp itself at night didn't seem too bad after a day of relaxation, jovial company and plenty to eat and drink. One just had to ignore the native pimps who stopped one every few hundred yards of the walk back trying to persuade one to be “entertained” by one of their “cud-side enthusiasts” as they were locally known.

    But soon our period of rest and recreation came to an end and we had to make our way back to the ship to allow the other watch to have their spell. Back we went down the mountain railway in all its scenic splendour, caught the midnight train to Calcutta from Siliguri and arrived back on board at about 14:00 on Monday 6th Aug. 1945. At least our return was cheered by finding mail had reached the ship during our absence and I personally received another nine letters. I don't think I have directly mentioned this before, but I need hardly state how much the receipt of mail from home boosted one's morale when far from old England's shores.

    The next few days turned out to be somewhat monotonous with little happening other than the daily routines of cleaning the radio room, correcting communication books etc., evening runs ashore and perhaps writing letters home whilst wondering what the future had in store. But big events were in the offing! Firstly, however, on Sunday 12th August 1945 news came through on official channels of the medals awarded by a grateful Government to those of us who had served on board the ship from its commissioning in Jan. 1943 in Boston, Massachusetts to current date and I think most of us were astonished to find we had all been awarded the 1939/45 Star, (which all personnel who were in the forces during the war received) plus the Africa, Italy, France & Germany and Burma Stars; five Star “Generals” each! It was a generally accepted joke that the Americans awarded their servicemen a medal of some sort if they crossed a road in uniform and one got the impression that the British were trying to follow suit. We subsequently learned that to qualify for an award one had to be serving in a particular theatre of war for a given period of time so there is little doubt that we qualified although the award of the Burma Star seemed a little incongruous in that we had not really played any active role during our period in the theatre; but again ours was not to reason why!

    The big news that was to break three days later on August 15th 1945 was that the Japanese had unconditionally surrendered as from the previous day. I do not think we were aware at that time of the dropping of the two atom bombs on Japan and which without doubt was the ultimate reason for surrender, but I do not suppose for one moment we cared what had brought it about - only that it marked the end of a long drawn out war which had lasted almost six years. Thursday 16th August 1945 was officially declared “VJ” day, once again the Lords of the Admiralty authorised the “splicing of the mainbrace” and for the first time since joining the ship I note in my diary that I was officially given a drink by our officers. I can't recall whether that applied to all the crew, or whether I was just a lucky recipient who happened to be at the right place at the right time (we “Sparkers” had to pass close to the Wardroom in order to reach the Radio Room so I may just have been lucky).

    And so, with the war now officially over, most servicemen’s thoughts turned immediately to the subject of “What happens next? When will I get demobbed”? And for those serving overseas –“How long will it be before I get home?” We all appreciated that it couldn't all happen at once, that we couldn't all be demobbed together and that there was an awful lot of tidying up to be done but only naturally most folks thoughts hinged around their own particular problems. But for the time being, life had to be lived as normal - ship's routines had to be followed and customary duties carried out, but at least with the full knowledge that no hostile pilot or ship's gunnery or torpedo officer would be lining his sights up on us. Then on Saturday 18th Aug 1945 the other half our ship's company returned from their break “up in the hills”. I don't think we ever learned how they reacted to the news of the Japanese surrender up in the rest camp but I can well imagine the excitement and rejoicing.
    © Frank Weeks
  3. Alanlweeks

    Alanlweeks Member


    The next few days were something of an anti-climax, although I note that (for a change!) much of the off duty time was spent playing football against other ships and shore organisations and receiving and responding to letters from home - the mail at this time arriving fairly regularly. Then on Tuesday 28th Aug. we sailed from Calcutta, heading south in a reasonably calm Indian Ocean before beaching, bows on, in Madras three days later where we immediately started loading up once more, received another consignment of mail and sailed again at noon the following day.

    Two days later, we caught up with, and joined a convoy, heading unfortunately I know not where as my diary does not record anything more about this trip other than that it was a fairly rough ride during which we managed some quite heavy rolling and we eventually came to anchor amongst quite a large assembly of ships on Sunday 9th September off some port or other. I think the possible reason for non-recording of our whereabouts may well have been something to do with the subsequent diary entries which show that I was virtually confined to my bunk for two or three days with a temperature of 103° and terrific back and stomach pains.

    However, it appears that on Thursday 13th Sept. 1945 we sailed from wherever for Madras at which port we eventually docked one week later; again after a fairly rough trip which I record as “not improving my condition at all” although I do note that on the Sunday “I started crawling about again” - so perhaps the sea air and the shaking about did me good. We were pleased to receive another consignment of mail on arrival in Madras and evidently I must have felt better as the following day I and my shore-going colleagues went ashore for “big eats and beer etc.” (what comprised the “etc.” I cannot recollect)! We were not to remain in Madras long, as on 23rd Sept. we once again loaded up, moved out to anchor the following morning and sailed the same evening. One small recollection - on 23rd Sept. (my brother Arthur's birthday) I received a letter from him enclosing a photograph of his recently born son and heir - my first nephew!

    The trip on this occasion was quite smooth and relatively uneventful and we eventually arrived and anchored in the Rangoon River on the Burmese coast. Two days later a run ashore became possible of which I and my erstwhile shore-going colleagues took advantage and had a somewhat merry evening - to the extent that we managed to miss the lorry scheduled to return us to the ship. However, military vehicles being scattered around all over the place between us we managed to “borrow” another one which one of our party was able to drive and we found our way back to the ship albeit some 40 minutes after the hour at which permitted leave expired. so the following morning our little group was hauled up before the Skipper as “Defaulters” and I suddenly found myself, because I happened to be the senior rating of the group, nominated to plead our case on behalf of them all! I must say I found this rather nerve racking - possibly because it was unexpected and I had little time in which to gather my thoughts - but my explanation was obviously satisfactory as we were all let off with a caution.

    A further week then passed with, according to my diary, nothing of any event happening other than one football match and a note that the weather was “bloody hot”. Then on 2nd October once again we were on the move and this time to a new venue - the port of Bangkok in, as it was then called, Siam. On this occasion the trip was very calm with the sea like a veritable mill pond as we sailed past the Andaman Islands which had been the scene of some very heavy fighting between the Americans and Japanese earlier on. After Singapore the sea turned a little choppy once again and we began our inevitable roll, and subsequently we managed to break down for about three hours before finally dropping anchor off Bangkok on 18th Oct.

    Two days later we moved up river to a little port called Paknam; here a few hours shore leave was granted but unfortunately I was duty watch and unable to go ashore although I managed to persuade some of my colleagues to collect one or two souvenirs for me. I see from my diary that I obtained a table cloth, some silk material and some handkerchiefs for the princely sum of five shillings (25p). We sailed a couple of days later and eventually dropped anchor off Singapore on 28th October 1945

    We stayed in the Singapore area then until Wednesday 12th December, passing the time away with as many football matches as possible (my diary records at least five) trips to the pictures (there was an “accommodation ship” berthed in Singapore which had a cinema facility on board) and various runs ashore. Singapore by this time was beginning to get back to normal and I can recall going to “Happy World” to see some boxing matches which were quite enjoyable. (“Happy World” I think one could describe as being something akin to a modern day Leisure Centre). One or two other significant happenings occurred during our stay in Singapore. Firstly, my old pal “Lofty” Broomfield who had joined the ship with me in Boston in 1943 and been drafted elsewhere when we returned to England in early 1944, also chanced to be serving in Singapore at this time and we managed to get together for a few hours. Secondly, the first few draft chits resulting from the cessation of hostilities began to arrive - my own being one of the first reaching the ship on Saturday 10th December but, as my diary records, “To where I know not”. This was followed a few days later by a draft for “Taffy” Evans one of our Signalmen.

    Seven days after receipt of my draft chit, my relief turned up but our Skipper decided I should be kept on board until we left Singapore. Needless to say, this news was quite well received and gave several opportunities for our little shore-going gang to celebrate - whether the celebrations were intended to cheer me on my way or simply that they were glad to see the back of me I know not - and generally speaking I didn't care a lot anyway! Several other draft chits were also to be received before we were to leave Singapore.

    So on 12th Dec. at approximately 11:00 hours we sailed westwards bound for Trincomalee in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). This turned out to be a quiet trip and the only event of any significance was when we staged a concert on board during our last evening at sea before reaching Trincomalee. I do not record any details of this concert although I am fairly sure that I must have been involved to some extent and my diary records it as “Pretty good, ha, ha”'. Then at 22:00 hours on the night of Weds. 19th Dec. 1945 I left LST 368 for the last time on my way to the Naval Barracks in Trincomalee to await my fate.

    [FONT=&quot] I was to remain in the barracks for eight days only - but this included Xmas week and I reckon this period to have been probably the most miserable period of my Naval life. I was in a shore base away from colleagues with whom I had spent the past two or three years and knowing nobody. Xmas Day itself I found to be a great bore and if I recollect correctly I turned in quite early there seeming to be little else to do. Then fortunately, only two days later on the 27th Dec. I was drafted to HMS Cumberland, a “County” class cruiser on which I was to take passage back to the UK. This was the first and only time that I had sailed on a capital ship of the Royal Navy and I found it a little different from the “small ship” Navy in which I had spent the past three or so years. Apart from seeming somewhat crowded I found it quite interesting and seeing that I was on my way home and (hopefully) shortly to be demobilised, I was quite happy to accept any discomfort or anything else that might arise. So ended 1945 with me en route to Merry England and eventual return to Civvy Street.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]© Frank Weeks [/FONT]
  4. JackW

    JackW Member

    Thanks you Alan for submitting this interesting account of life onboard an LST. In later years I was onboard an Ton class minesweeper for 26 months and I can relate to similar conditions, albeit, without the threat of enemy action.

  5. Alanlweeks

    Alanlweeks Member


    During this period of the run down from war to peace and the repatriation of service personnel from overseas stations to the UK, there was some unofficial competition between ships to see which could make the swiftest voyage. I was pleased to discover that HMS Cumberland was competing in this “race”. We actually sailed from Trincomalee at 12:00 hours on 28th Dec 1945 and although anchoring for short spells at Aden, Port Said, Malta and Plymouth finally came to rest in Portsmouth at 08:00 on Sunday 13th January 1946 - sixteen days in all which was not bad going. I note that I was ashore and in the RN Barracks, Portsmouth by 13:30 and shortly afterwards was on my way to brother Arthur's in-law’s house in Fratton.

    I can still recall the journey from the Portsmouth barracks to their house. There was a bus which ran from almost outside the barracks to a point within about five minutes’ walk from the house, but on this occasion there being no bus in sight I decided to walk the whole way (no more than thirty minutes all told). I suppose I had walked the first half mile or so and reached Arundel Street in the centre of Portsmouth, striding along manfully, when suddenly I heard a shout (or perhaps more exactly a gasp) from behind me - and I turned to see my Dad rushing up the road towards me very out of breath from running. It appeared that as censorship of ship's movements had been removed following the cessation of hostilities (and I had no doubt informed them I was coming home in HMS Cumberland), Mum and Dad had heard on the radio the ship was due in Portsmouth on Sunday 13th and they had journeyed to the town in order to greet me. Dad apparently had been making his way by bus to the harbour to find out if the ship had arrived and chanced to see me as I walked along the road. By the time he had managed to stop the bus and alight I had proceeded some distance and he had had to chase after me - and it was almost with a final gasp that he managed to shout and attract my attention.

    It was, of course, wonderful to be back in the UK and to meet up with family and friends again. brother Arthur and his wife Kit were also there (I'm not sure whether Arthur had himself been demobbed at that time) and a very pleasant two or three hours were spent together before Mum and Dad had to make their way back and I my way back to barracks. The following day I left RN Barracks for HMS Collingwood in Fareham - the shore establishment at which I had done my initial training when I joined the Navy in 1941. At this stage, Collingwood was being used as a “holding” establishment for communication ratings (as we were generically called) pending redeployment, demobilisation or what have you. I arrived at the base around 11:00 hours, feeling not too happy with myself wondering what lay ahead, but then at 16:30 I was off home on thirteen days leave so, living solely for the day, I was happy again! I arrived back home at approximately 20:30 hours.

    My first day of leave was spent indoors - primarily because as my diary succinctly records “It was too bloody cold” (the previous twelve months or so having been spent in tropical climes). However, the following day I did venture to one of the Croydon cinemas and I was also introduced to brother Stan's then fiancée Jessie, shortly to become my sister-in-law. A couple of days later, my good friend George came home on a weekend leave and the usual round of visits to mutual friends to cadge “tea and cakes” followed by visits to various hostelries for merry evenings became the order of the day until it was time for George to go back to barracks.

    At this point in time, my cousin Doreen was living with us and she had obtained a job with the then Southern Railway at Selsdon Station. One morning during this period of my leave I ran Doreen to work on the back of my motorcycle - and it was then that I was introduced to another of the railway employees, a girl named Pat. Pat had at one time during the war served in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service as it was then - now the Woman's Auxiliary Army Service) on an Ack Ack site but had been invalided out and taken a job with the railway. Little did I know it at that time, but Pat was later to become the wife of my best pal, George. At that time of my life I was still completely unattached just happy to consort with any young ladies who were prepared and willing to be consorted with - and it was only two days later that Pat and I had our first “date” involving a trip to a cinema followed by a couple of drinks at a local hostelry.

    I was still “playing the field” at this stage and as I note my diary records regret that the following day I made a call on Sheila (my other messenger pal's sister) only to find she was ill with the flu. So the next day it was out with Pat again (after all, one had to make the most of one's leave!).

    So then it was back to HMS Collingwood once more where, for the sake of something to occupy us, we were given some instructional classes. In retrospect one really had to sympathise with the powers that be who found themselves with literally hundreds of war-time only servicemen just waiting to be demobilised but who obviously could not all be demobbed at the same time and who just as obviously had no further interest in the activities of whatever service they chanced to be in. They had to be kept occupied in some way until such time as their demobilisation group materialised. So, having returned to Collingwood on Monday 28th January, Saturday 2nd Feb. found me once more home on a short weekend leave. Apart from the fact that at least I was at home, this weekend was somewhat disappointing as my diary records it rained all day and there was “No George and no Pat” and all was quiet.

    The next week passed reasonably quietly with runs to local cinemas, various meet-ups with chaps that had been under training with me in 1941 and who like me had survived the war and had been drafted to Collingwood awaiting their demobilisation. Then a trip to Fratton Park on the Saturday with brother Arthur and his father-in-law to watch Portsmouth play Wolverhampton Wanderers at football. Also during this week, I gave my name in to the powers that be for demobilisation (I don't recall why we had to do that but I suppose it was a necessary formality in case any of us wished to stay in the Service). One week later, on Friday 15th Jan 1946 to be exact I was back home again on a long weekend leave and I note with a great deal of satisfaction that on the Saturday I went to “Godfreys”, a motor-cycle dealer in Croydon at that time, to collect my new bike - a 350 cc Triumph twin - which I was buying from my war gratuity and for which brother Stan had placed the order some while previously. In my recorded words of the day “It was bloody lovely”.

    On the Sunday, I took the bike for a ride during the day before it was time for me to make my way back to Portsmouth later that evening. The following day being the birthday of Kit, my brother Arthur's wife, the evening was spent with them - this being enlivened by the fact that my pal George was also stationed in Portsmouth at the time and was able to join in the celebrations. The next day called for even further celebrations as a “Demobilisation List” was pinned up on the notice board and I was delighted to find my name imprinted thereon with a “leave Collingwood date” of March 1st and an eventual demobilisation date of March 4th 1946. Only two more weeks of Naval discipline to suffer and then I'd be a free man! You can no doubt guess that that two weeks passed exceedingly slowly, but at least I was fortunate in having relatives close by and I could get away from Naval routines by spending evenings with Arthur and Kit. It was during the second of my two final weeks at Collingwood that I notched up my 24th birthday celebrated in true Naval fashion in some local hostelry or other and on the 28th I went through the Collingwood drafting routine for the final time before leaving there for the demobilisation centre at Stamshaw (a small suburb of Portsmouth) on Friday 1st March.

    Here I went through a final medical check (presumably to satisfy the authorities that I was fit on discharge) before once again proceeding home on a weekend leave - spent mainly with friend George who by this time had himself been demobbed. Sunday evening, March 3rd 1946 I returned to Stamshaw for the night and the following morning went through the routine of being issued with a demob kit – i.e. - suit, hat, raincoat etc. - signed for my outfit and then walked out of the establishment once more a civilian, still in Naval uniform but with a parcel under my arm containing the issued civilian clothes. I arrived back home at about 15:30 that same day. It was patently clear that it was going to take some time to settle down to civilian life again after some four and a half years in the services - but then I was one of the lucky ones in that I knew I had a job waiting for me in the Post Office when my demobilisation leave was over - but for the moment I had something like a month's leave to enjoy before I needed to think about work and the moment was to be enjoyed.

    © Frank Weeks
  6. Alanlweeks

    Alanlweeks Member

    So here ends the tale of my father's service in WW2 and his time on LST 368. We hope you have enjoyed it. My father has been delighted with the interest shown in his memoirs and has been following these updates daily.

    According to the US Naval History website, which also lists US ships provided to the Royal Navy, LST 368 was decommissioned only a couple of months after he left it (on 16 March 1946) and scrapped a couple of years later (June 1948); a short life for a ship.

    My father, I'm glad to say is still enjoying a long life. He returned to his job in the Post Office but sought to further his career by moving to the Ministry of Defence (Naval) a couple of years later. This gave him the opportunity to visit again some places mentioned in this tale, such as Gibraltar and Singapore.

  7. Rattler

    Rattler Junior Member

    Alan and Frank

    I have read the whole account that you kindly and patiently transcribed onto this forum and I am pleased to say it is absolutely first class. All credit to Frank for taking the time and effort during his matelot days to write of his experiences, observations and feelings. Though keeping such a wartime diary in time of conflict may not have been 'above board' in terms of naval regulations, its base for your subsequent narrative was so worthwhile in documenting for posterity the life - trials, tribulations and exciting moments, of the sailor in WWII.
    Frank actually takes you there - better than some of the impersonal and somewhat sterile accounts written by some 3rd parties.

    Thank you both for providing such a great read.


  8. CommanderChuff

    CommanderChuff Senior Member

    Frank and Alan,

    It has been a pleasure to read your account of life at sea in the grey Navy. I am astounded on how close your exploits have matched my own during my time in the Fleet Air Arm in the 1970's. My love for motorcycles started with a Triumph Tiger Cub 200cc (always seizing the big end), 350 Bathtub, 650 Trophy, 750 Trident, and 955 Sprint. Although I had a spell with a Honda 600, BMW ST1000, and Harley Davidson, I have always been a Triumph man at heart. I got the Harley from Nigeria, brand new, for 300 pounds. The 'small ship navy' was close to my heart as the helicopter crew of which I was member was operating off frigates. And the duty free cigs, I have never smoked but was caught taking several packets home to my Mum. The day of release was the best day of my life, but the Navy life did provide a trade which has been useful for later career choices.

    All the best and thanks again,

  9. Noreen

    Noreen Member

    What a most interesting story Alan and Frank. I just read it quickly from beginning to end and really enjoyed it and have bookmarked it so I can read it again more carefully later. Thanks very much for posting it.
    Cathy aka noreen
  10. red devil

    red devil Senior Member

    Alan (& Frank) thank you so much, will email you when ready ;)
  11. red devil

    red devil Senior Member

    Alan Weeks, thanks a million. your 91 year old fathers' tale is now also on my site, in honour of this I have also added the logo and link for this esteemed forum.

    I think, as an amateur hobbyistic historian, the personal stories of those who served are far more important that 'official' versions written in the main by people who were not even there. Not that I belittle their sterling efforts but those versions can be tainted by belief and heresay.

    Happy birthday Frank Weeks, may you have many many more. :D
    Our bill likes this.
  12. ropey

    ropey Member

    Very interesting read. Thank you.
  13. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing it has made great reading and a brilliant history lesson
  14. POPEYE22

    POPEYE22 New Member

    Hi Alan and Frank, i have a lot of photo's that you may find very interesting? these were left by my late grandad who never spoke about his time during and after the war in the navy but with a bit of investigation, i'm slowly getting there.the photo's seem to follow your story very closely and looking at the pic's i think his nickname was junior? i have pics of lofty,the moose,taffy and frank as mentioned in your diary.

    please be patient while i try and work out how to load these pics up.
    ps my grandads name was james (jim) richardson.
    Owen and 4jonboy like this.
  15. For D Day LST 368 was initially the spare ship in Group 333 (code word "SALAMANDER"), which comprised the other seven ships of the 2nd LST Flotilla plus three of the 9th LST Flotilla, towing three Rhino Ferries and fifteen Rhino Tugs and escorted by five A/S trawlers:

    Group......Ship.......LTIN....Flotilla..........Assault Group
    333 (a)....LST 425....1153....2 LST Flotilla....GJ1 - towing Rhino Ferry
    ....(b)....LST 404....1154....2 LST Flotilla....GJ1
    ....(c)....LST 410....1556....2 LST Flotilla....GJ2
    ....(d)....LST 409....1557....2 LST Flotilla....GJ2 - towing Rhino Ferry
    (e)....LST 405....1558....2 LST Flotilla....GJ3
    ....(f)....LST 323....1560....2 LST Flotilla....GJ3
    ....(g)....LST 413....1561....2 LST Flotilla....GJ3
    ...........LST 368....spare...2 LST Flotilla
    ....(h)....LST 401....1743....9 LST Flotilla....GJ3 - towing Rhino Ferry
    ....(j)....LST..80....1744....9 LST Flotilla....GJ3
    ....(k)....LST 402....1748....9 LST Flotilla....GJ3
    ....(l)....NORTHERN SUN
    ....(m)....NORTHERN SPRAY
    ....(n)....NORTHERN PRIDE
    ....(p)....LORD AUSTIN

    When embarkation time came however, LST 401 was still under repairs and was replaced by LST 368 as LTIN 1743, whose loading was to start at 0430 (Zone-2) D-2 (3 June) at S Two Hard (East) in Southampton (located East of Royal Pier). When loading was completed, the LST of Group 333 were then to berth in Area 22.
    Note: LST 368 was initially planned to berth in Area 18, Berth 6, but since she replaced LST 401 it is probable that she used the berth alloted to LST 401, i.e. Area 22, Line B, Berth 7.

    Berthing Plan - Solent - 5 May 44

    Landing table dated 13 Apr 44 for LTIN 1743:
    LTIN 1743 - 1.jpg LTIN 1743 - 2.jpg LTIN 1743 - 3.jpg

    Group 333 was to sail at H-10h00m at approximate speed 6 knots, passing Spithead Gate at H-8h30m, "F" Buoy at H-6h25m, Splitting Position "BB" at H-1h10m, Position "DD" (entrance of No.7 Channel) at H+1h05m and Lowering Position "QQ" at H+7h0m.

    Although disembarkation was variously planned to start around H+7 or H+16, depending on the document, it was also (rather vaguely) stated that

    L.S.T. on arrival will receive orders as to their movements. This will depend on the situation. They will probably be ordered in to the L.S.T. anchorage to discharge. Rhinos will beach in accordance with orders from the P.F.C.O." [Principal Ferry Control Officer]

    On completion of discharging LST are to weigh and proceed to the sailing anchorage, when they will be sailed for the U.K. in accordance with Appendix "M", and J.O.I 39.

    2 L.S.T. may be held back for the embarkation of casualties.

    After the assault, the first three trawlers of the escort were to form an A/S Patrol, whereas VELETA and LORD AUSTIN were to return to Portsmouth.

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  16. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    You are aware of my interest in this topic from our previous communications both on and off Forum.

    Your post contains some fascinating information. I'm now wondering if there is any way the Berth, LTIN and LST numbers can be linked so we know which LTIN corresponded to which LST.

    Your post suggests this is possible.

  17. Hello Steve,

    The level of detail in my post above is only possible because some of the orders for landing ships and craft fo JUNO are much more detailed than for the other Assault Areas. It seems that on GOLD and SWORD the allocation of LTIN, as well as of Berths etc., to individual craft was left to the Flotilla or Assault Group commanders, whereas it was decided beforehand for JUNO (with some last minute changes owing to craft unavailaibility etc.).

    One example for Group 18 on GOLD:

    ONEAST/G. TWO - Appendix "C" PRE-SAILING BERTHS 20th. May, 1944.
    A B C D


    18 (a) WEST SOLENT In G.A.B.O. berths.
    LA SURPRISE Area 1 A.2.

    (a) Composition of groups and sub groups referred to is given
    in Appendix "B" to ONEAST/G THREE

    (b) Assault Group Commanders are to allocate the berths given
    above to individual craft co-ordinating their requirements
    when necessary (e.g. allocation of buoys in Area 8) and

    keeping all those concerned informed as to their intentions
    (vide G.A.B.O. 7 para. f.)

    (c ) Assault Group Commanders are also responsible that
    positions of berths sare promulgated to all Commanding
    Officers not in possession of berthing charts (G.A.B.O. 7
    para c. refers.)

    ONEAST/G. THREE - Appendix "B" COMPOSITION AND TIMETABLE OF GROUPS dated 20th. May, 1944 only provides the list of LTINS and no hull numbers.

    As a matter of fact, a document with Craft No. in one column and LTIN in another does exist in the Naval Orders for GOLD, but only the LTIN column in filled! Hopefully someone did fill it in during embarkation and archived it somewhere it will be found by some lucky researcher one day...

    Other means of matching Hull No. with LTIN are however possible, depending on how lucky one gets in finding valuable snippets. One example is in my post here, which you already know:

    Yet another source would be if we knew the exact loading hard (including whether it's "inside" or "outside") of one given LST, because (in most cases) this is stipulated per LTIN in the Naval Orders.

  18. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Thanks Michel. I guess I/we simply need to be that lucky researcher. To paraphrase Hannibal Barca "we will either find the way or make one".
  19. Tracy Harris

    Tracy Harris Member

    Hi Alan, I’m enjoying reading this, although I’m somewhat late to the party! I’m working on a similar project, it looks like my focus is very similar to yours, also leaving America in May 1943 to ferry an LST (159) bound to serve in Italy and on D-Day
    Alanlweeks likes this.
  20. Jrmfh

    Jrmfh New Member

    Hi Alan, hope you are well. ive been doing some research whilst stuck in these turbulent times and have some photos and memories from LST368 as my grandad served as a signamlan on this vessle. please get in touch and i would love to share them with you, along with obtaining any further pictures you have of LST368.

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