D-Day Landing Craft

D-Day Landing Craft

Fact file: The Landing Craft Assault (LCA)

Landing Craft

Landing Craft

The Landing Craft Assault (LCA) in its various types is synonymous with the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944 and the work horse of the British Army during the Normandy Invasion. Also used by the Canadian and American forces.

Type: Landing craft

Crew 4: 1 x Sternsheetsman 1 x Bowmangunner 1 x Coxswain 1 x Stoker
Capacity: 36 troops 400 kilo cargo
Length: 41.5 ft (12.6 m)
Beam: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Draught: Unloaded 1 ft 1 in forward (0.335 m) 1 ft 9 in aft (0.579 m)
Loaded 1 ft 9 in forward (0.579 m) 2 ft 3 in aft (0.701 m)
Displacement: 9 long tons (9,144 kg)
Tons burthen: 4 long tons (4,064 kg)
Weight: 15,000 kg
Engines: 2 x 65 hp Ford V-8 petrol
Speed: 10 kt (18.52 km/h) unloaded 6 kt (11.11 km/h) loaded
Armour: 7.8 lb DIHT (¼ in) covering decks above troop well and engines
10 lb. DIHT (¾ in) covering sides and bulkheads
Armament: 2 x .303 Lewis machineguns 1 x Bren light machinegun 2 x 2 in mortar (aft-later versions)
Range: 50-80 miles

The landing craft’s main purpose is an amphibious assault vehicle to transport vehicles and infantry from the sea to shore. Some landing craft were capable of making the journey across the channel by their own power, but others had to be towed by larger ships or carried until the rendezvous point was reached.

U.S.  landing barge

U.S. landing barge

The prototype was designed in 1939 by, John I. Thornycroft Ltd. Woolston, Hampshire, England to act as a troop transporter. The hull was made from Canadian Rock Elm because of the shortage of steel. This was over-laid with armoured steel plates to give strength and protection. The flat bottom allowed for the landing craft to get as close to the shore as possible, but this, combined with the flat bow, made the ride in rough seas difficult. Troops often suffered with seasickness.

The two Ford V8 engines were designed to be quiet and not to be heard at 25 yards or more and together with its low profile on the water, made it stealthy. This is why the LCA was also used as a commando craft.

Landing

Landing

Various landing craft were designed for specific tasks leading up to the Normandy landings.

Tank Landing Craft (TLC)

In 1940, Robert Baker of the British Royal Navy developed the Tank Landing Craft (TLC) the Americans called, ‘Landing Craft Tank’ (LCT) of which nine versions were produced – MKI – MK9. Although the MK9 never made it into production, it was the MK4 that was most widely used in the assault. The TLC was one of the largest landing craft and capable of carrying 136 tons of cargo or three to six medium sized tanks. (Something Winston Churchill insisted on). Overall Length 187 ft 3 in (57.07 m) and a beam of over 38 ft 9 in ft (11.81 m). Powered by three 675 hp diesel Grey-Marine engines giving 8 knots when loaded. It had a crew of 13, one officer and 12 crewmen. Two 20 mm Oerlikon guns provided cover.

The tanks on board were raised on a platform enabling them to fire at the beachhead as the landing craft approached over the ramp at the front of the TLC.

Landing Craft Rocket (LTC(R)

This is a refashioned TLC mounted with sets of British RP-3 65 lb rockets. The 1000 rockets gave the equivalent fire power of 200 destroyers. Having devastating effect on the defenses of the Germans. The wise crew took shelter below deck when the rockets were fired, only the commanding officer remained above deck to command operations. The LTC(R) anchored off the beach and launched its rockets by electronic means.

Landing Craft Flak (LCF)

Another adaptation of the TLC to provide anti-aircraft cover during the landings. Either 4 x QF 2 pdr ‘pom pom’ anti-aircraft guns or 8 x 20 mm Oerlikons were fitted on a deck above the tank deck. The crew were 60 Royal Marines.

Landing Craft Gun (LCG)

Designed to assist the disembarking troops from their various landing craft by sustaining covering fire. In addition to the normal Oerlikon guns, 2 x British Army 25 pounder howitzer guns were fitted. The LCG(L)3 and LCG(L)4 replaced the howitzers with 4.7 inch naval guns.

Landing Craft Support (LCS)

Two versions were in operation during the invasion. The Landing Craft Support medium (LCS(M)) and the Landing Craft Support large (LCS(L)). Armament for the medium support craft consisted of 2 x Vickers machine guns and 4 inch mortar firing smoke shells. The large support craft MKI had anti-tank guns plus a Daimler armoured tank turret fitted with QF 2-pdr (40 mm) gun mounted on the front of the vessel. The MK II had a QF 6-pdr (57 mm) anti-tank gun fitted.

Landing Craft Assault (Hedgehog) LCA(HR)

This modified LCA had the job of clearing the beaches from obstructions and mines. This was achieved by assembling a battery of 24 spigot mortars (the Hedgehog anti-submarine weapon) which fired onto the beaches hopefully clearing the way for the advancing infantry.

Landing Craft Control (LLC)

A large U.S. Vessel 56 ft (17 m) long made with a steel hull. It’s main purpose was to aide navigation for other ships/craft through safe routes previously cleared of mines and obstacles. Eight were used in Normandy. Once they had successfully guided the first wave they turned round to lead the second wave.

Landing Craft Vehicle/Personnel (LCVP)

Another US boat known as the Higgins Boat. Designed by Andrew Higgins of Louisiana US. Constructed from plywood it carried a platoon of 36 men. It had a speed of 9 knots (17 km/h).

Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) or large (LCI(L)

These large seagoing vessels were 158 ft (48.16 m) long and 23 ft (7.01 m) wide and carried 200 infantry. LCIs made the journey across the channel on their own power and participated in the Operation Torch landings.

In addition to the naval crews serving on the LCAs, supplied by the Royal Naval Patrol Service and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, the Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment manned the Centaur tanks being carried by the landing craft. Their duty – to fire the 95 mm howitzer guns mounted on the Centaur tanks as the landing craft approached the beaches and give artillery support thereafter. In 1944 12,000 Marines and 500 Royal Marine officers had joined the invasion fleet prior to the Normandy invasion in the capacity to crew the vast numbers of landing craft.

LCTs

LCTs

By Andrew copyright 2013

D-Day – The Normandy Invasion

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12 Responses to D-Day Landing Craft

  1. Paul Cheall says:

    Many thanks for this great coverage on landing craft. It certainly helped me visualise what my Dad went through.
    My Dad, Bill Cheall, was a batman, despatch rider, No 1 on Bren and mortar at various times and fought in bloody episodes at Dunkirk, North Africa (Wadi Akarit), Sicily and was in the first wave landing on Gold Beach on D-Day, ending his war in devastated Hamburg in the regimental police. Anyone interested in D-Day might like to read an extract from my Dad’s first hand account below.
    “It seemed to be a hell of a long way to the beach, then I saw a landing craft next to ours slow down. A bullet must have hit the helmsman. Swiftly, somebody took over control but the boat was now a little out of line with the other assault craft and in the blinking of an eye, the front of the boat had been hit by a shell or a mortar, or probably a mine. The explosion lifted bodies and parts of bodies into the air and the stern of the craft just ploughed into the sea. All those boys, laden with kit as they were, didn’t stand a chance of survival.
    There was so much happening now and so swiftly. Every second was vital; let’s get out of this coffin! We were getting so near now and felt so helpless, just waiting for our fate one way or another and at that time we were keeping our heads down. Enemy shells were now landing on the shoreline and machine gun bullets were raking the sand. Then, at the top of his voice, the helmsman shouted: ‘Hundred to go, seventy-five to go, all ready, fifty to go!’ He was now fighting hard to control the craft, avoiding mined obstacles showing above the water, as well as the ones just beneath the surface. One boat had already met disaster on the approach. ‘Twenty five yards’, and suddenly, ‘Ramp going down – now!’ And the craft stopped almost dead in three feet of water and our own platoon commander shouted, ‘Come on, lads,’ and we got cracking. That was no place to be messing about. Get the hell out of it. Jumping off the ramp we went into waist-deep water, struggling to keep our feet. We waded through the water looking for mined obstacles, holding rifles above our heads. I was trying to keep a very cumbersome two-inch mortar and bombs dry as well as making certain I didn’t drop it.
    Some of the lads were shot as they jumped. Two of them were a bit unfortunate because as they jumped into the boiling water the craft surged forward on a wave and they fell into the sea. I dare say they would fight like hell and recover but we were not hanging about, that had been our instructions from the start; we must not linger.”
    Anyone interested to read more might like to read my Dad’s memoir at the link below. It starts with Dad meeting American troops for the first time.
    http://www.fightingthrough.co.uk/#/d-day-planning-1/4551405616
    Thanks
    Paul

  2. Pam Mills says:

    Hi my father was RNVR & served in WW2 , but I believe during D Day he crewed an LCV as part of 470th ancillary flotilla.. I know he was part of COPRA , & for most part in the lead up was based at HMS Cricket & Warsash . If anyone can tell me what the role of 470 flotilla was I would be grateful as there is very little information. I know Force J worked with the Canadians to land on Juno beach , & his record show a ferry service to the assault area in the weeks after DDay.(FOBAA). Thank you for the coverage on landing craft it really helps unfold what my dad did.

  3. Danny says:

    Hi,
    470 Flotilla was only part of Force “J” up until the first week of May 1944. It then came under Portsmouth Command, Minor Landing Craft, Southampton.

    It was allocated to HMS Squid, Southampton.

    I imagine this Flotilla would have been used to move troops/equipment/stores around as and when needed in the built up for the invasion.

    Sometime in the second half of June 1944 the Flotilla was split with six of the LCV staying in 470 Flotilla in the Southampton area and the other six leaving the flotilla to go to Calshot to come under Portsmouth Command, Minor Landing Craft, Training Pooled Reserve.

    Around the end of June beginning of July the Flotilla were in Normandy in Gold Area. At some stage they moved to Juno Area and were operating there in August/September.

    They would have been doing the same sort of job as they were when at Southampton, moving troops/equipment/stores from ship to shore.

    It looks like they returned to the UK around the end of September.

    Regards

    Danny

  4. Pam Mills says:

    Thank you so much, however here is another question , would naval frogmen be attached to 470 flotilla as part of the LCOCU? As my father was trained as a frogmen but posted to 470 flotilla ….strange . Unless he was a landing craft signalman up until September Then from October did frogman duties ? Trying to get a timeline of events is difficult & frustrating. But I do know he was part of LCOCU 17 that went to the Far East in 1945.

  5. Danny says:

    Hi,
    I doubt if the LCOCU had anything to do with 470 Flotilla.

    The Flotilla was disbanded around mid-October 1944 so maybe he went from 470 to 17 LCOCU as it was forming.

    The LCOCU teams had their own landing craft so maybe he was drafted in to crew one of these.

    You could get a copy of your father’s ‘personnel file’ from the MOD, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records
    . These might have the date he did the divers course and what course he did on them. It may have been an additional qualification to his LC Signallers job.

    Regards

    Danny

  6. Pam Mills says:

    Hi My fathers record is short , HMS Ganges , HMS Pembroke , HMS Quebec , HMS Copra….. It does however give date of achievement & rated LC signals 28.5.43. So I’m positive he was a signalman on the landing craft. His badge on the sleeve if his uniform shows signals, so that ties in.
    I also know as part of LCOCU he was a frogman , there are these abbreviations under training:- NRIC DBID 2/5a
    Any ideas what it means?
    Thanks for all the help.

  7. Pam mills says:

    Hi Danny can you share with me where you found the information about the 470 flotilla please yo thanks Pam

  8. Danny says:

    Hi
    The information mainly came from documents held in the National Archives, Kew.

    I have put a couple of images on the World Naval Ships forum that might be of use.

    Regards

    Danny

    • Pam mills says:

      Hi Danny I’m so sorry I can’t find the images , would it be possible to email direct pjstmills@aol.com I am so grateful for any help unraveling my fathers war history. Do you know what the 470 flotilla did during the battle of Normandy? I understand some were a ferry service to FOBAA some craft were used others not ….so what did the crews of the craft left at Southampton do

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