The fate of individual
service personnel in D-Day Assault Convoy G6 was sadly sometimes ambiguous. However, as this
story shows, even after the passage of the best part of 60 years, careful
detective work can reveal an unexpected truth. This page illustrates the painstaking and
detailed work that the LST and Landing Craft Association undertook when
dealing with one particular enquiry from a visitor to this website.
The enquiry that started
this search concerned
Able Seaman Norman Kenwood, recorded 'lost at sea' on June 6th 1944 from
Landing Craft Assault 591 (LCA 591).
My initial conclusion about LCA 591,
and her disposition on the morning of D-Day, gave way to
doubts... something appeared
to be amiss. The LCA 591 on June 6th 1944 was part
of 539 Assault Flotilla. Their
LCAs were lowered from the infantry landing ship
Empire Halberd. The problem was that the craft of
539 LCA were manned by men of the
Royal Marines and not by
those of the Royal Navy.
A critical task on D-Day
was to clear the landing beaches of mines and obstructions
in advance of the assault troops. In the vanguard of the D-Day
landings were numerous assault regiments of Royal
Engineers working in concert with Landing Craft Obstacle Clearance
these men, fell the unenviable and dangerous task of clearing a path
through mines and all manner of obstructions often within
sight of enemy gun emplacements.
On the British
and Canadian beaches especially adapted
LCAs, known as Landing Craft Assault (Hedgerow)
LCA(HR), equipped to fire a maximum of 24
spigot mortars on to the beach as each craft made its approach
in the hope that concealed mines and other obstructions would be
destroyed. On completion of their
task the role of the LCA(HR) was at an end and
they would veer off and withdraw from the immediate area.
carried in the davits of large landing ships
(not unlike modern day mechanisms for lowering lifeboats) the
'Hedgerows' completed their journey across the Channel
under the tow of larger craft such as Landing Craft, Tank
were towed by Landing Craft, Flak (LCF).
In some cases these 'towing'
craft would be the same ones
the LCA(HR)s cleared the beaches
for on the morning of D-Day by
firing their mortars in advance of the
LCTs disembarking their Royal Engineers
onto the beaches to clear obstacles.
Gold beach were the men and craft of the 591st LCA(HR) Flotilla of Lieutenant
Commander Wallace. For the
assault itself one half of the
flotilla was assigned to the JIG, or western
sectors of Gold at Le Hamel, and the remainder to
the eastern, or KING sectors close to La Riviere.
Flotilla Officer Wallace commanded G1 Group at Le
Hamel while G2 Group was under the command of Lieutenant H. Michael Irwin
who was aboard 'Leader' LCA(HR) 1110.
D-Day, for 591 Assault Flotilla, began on
Saturday June 3rd when the craft departed their shore base,
HMS Cricket at Warsash on the River Hamble to rendezvous with the LCTs and LCFs that would tow them to Normandy. On June 4th the weather conditions were
far from good and several craft took refuge at the buoys opposite the shore
base HMS Mastodon (Exbury Hall on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire) remaining
there throughout the afternoon and night of June 4th.
On the morning of June 5th, all 'Hedgerow'
craft of G2 Group were present when the journey to Normandy began
while the LCAs were
taken in tow by Mk4 LCTs of the 34th Flotilla of
'L' LCT Squadron. Irwin's
craft, the 1110, was taken in tow by Landing Craft
Flak 38 (LCF 38)... and so began, to
quote Michael Irwin " a most uncomfortable passage across the channel."
Passage to Normandy
In addition to
the craft of G2 Group of 591Flotilla, Assault Convoy G6, comprised the
American built, British manned,
MK5 LCT(A)(HE)s of the 109th Flotilla, the craft being LCT(A)s 2121, 2291,
2039 and 2236 with LCT(HE)s 2048, 2345, 2225 and 2453. In addition, as
mentioned above, six (6) MK4 LCTs of the 34th Flotilla, they being, 727, 763,
896, 899, 929 and 930 accompanied by Landing Craft Flak (LCF) 25, 26, 36 and
38 of the 332nd Support Flotilla to give
anti-aircraft cover in the event of a sudden attack. At the head of the convoy
went HQ craft LCH 187, the whole, escorted by the Anti-Submarine Trawler
of Lieutenant R. C. Lees RNR.
On passage to
Normandy the craft of Assault Convoy G6 sailed in two
columns - the left or port column
was destined for KING RED sector of Gold beach in advance of the 5th
Battalion The East Yorkshire Regiment, and the right
or starboard column destined for KING GREEN sector of Gold beach in advance of
the 6th and 7th Battalions The Green Howards, all of the 69th Infantry Brigade
of the British 50th Infantry Division (Northumbrian).
And so they
made their way across the choppy waters of the English Channel - Lieutenant
Irwin in LCA(HR) 1110, Sub Lieutenant Jessop in 968, Sub Lieutenant Roberts in 969,
Sub Lieutenant Bruce Valentine Ashton in 1106, Sub Lieutenant Fiddes in 1103,
Lieutenant Dodwell in 970, Sub Lieutenant Manders in 1109, Sub Lieutenant Peck
in 1104 and finally Sub Lieutenant Caldicott in 1105.
As the records show the journey across was not
At 0200 hours on the morning of June 6th
Irwin's craft, the 1110,
lost her tow when the port engine of LCF 38 failed. Irwin continued his journey and
at H-Hour released his spigot mortars in advance of the LCT 930.
LCA(HR) 968's tow also proved troublesome.
It parted at 1430 hours on the afternoon of June 5th.
It was rearranged but parted again some three hours later
and thereafter the craft made her own way to the beach where she
released her mortars. After doing excellent work disposing of
her mines the 968 foundered on her way back to the
carrier Empire Mace.
A similar fate befell LCA(HR)
969. Her tow parted at
1300 hours on the afternoon of June 5th, the craft making it's own way to
the beach where she released her mortars close to LCT 930. After assisting
in the clearing of obstacles the craft foundered on her way back to Empire
LCA(HR) 1103's tow parted at 1015 hours on
the morning of the 5th, but, by effecting a 'make do and mend repair' the
craft arrived off the beach and discharged her mortars.
The craft later sustained considerable damage
whilst being hoisted in the Empire Mace.
Lieutenant Dodwell's LCA(HR) 970 also parted
company with her tow on passage, this also, was rearranged with the craft
arriving safely off the beach to discharge her mortars.
The craft is thought to have fouled beach
obstacles but was later hoisted satisfactorily.
The tow for
LCA(HR) 1109 held for the entire passage, being finally released at 0615
hours on June 6th, she then proceeded to the beach in advance of LCT 763.
Owing to water entering the firing batteries the mortars failed to fire,
four unsuccessful runs were made to the beach, after which, the craft
Sub Lieutenant Peck in LCA(HR) 1104 was in
the tow of LCT 929, the tow parted three times on passage, the final time at
1800 hours on the evening of the 5th. Owing to LCT 929 having no more wire
available, the craft, like others, made her own way to the beach and fired
her mortars sustaining damage from light machine gun fire in the process.
The LCA(HR) 1105 of Lieutenant Caldicott did
not make it to Normandy. At
1000 hours on the morning of the 5th her tow parted and her starboard
propeller was fouled, she was forced to return
arriving back at her starting point, HMS Cricket, at 0800 hours on
June 6th an extraordinary achievement given that
she only had one functioning engine.
For twenty three year
old Bruce Valentine Ashton
and three others of his crew, the morning of June 6th 1944 would
end in disaster. Having attained the firing
position, but before releasing
their spigot mortars, 1106 was rammed by the incoming LCT 899 of the 34th
Flotilla, presumably the very craft that 1106 was supporting.
All four perished when 1106 capsized...
or so it was thought until Dec 2013 when the
existence of a Distinguished Service Medal awarded to Kenneth George Leggott,
Stoker 1st Class, P/KX146964, became known. The official recommendation for
the bravery medal, written by Naval officers at the time, records that
Stoker Leggott was serving on LCA(HR) 1106 and survived its sinking. [See
image left.] Leggott's other medals are
the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star with bar for France and Germany, the
Africa and Italy Stars. If anyone has further information on this incident
please would you let us know using
right; Edward Archer, one of those lost].
There were of course many other craft
in Assault Convoy G6 and here we
provide some details of the 109th, intended to beach in support of the
LCTs of the 34th Flotilla. The craft of the 109th
were due on the flanks of KING RED/KING GREEN
sectors, the (A)s beaching on the easternmost (left) flanks of each
sector...the (HE)s due on the westernmost (right) flanks.....for the 109th,
the day, could have been better.
2039 was lost in
passage after being swamped by heavy seas, the force of which caused her to
2048 was seen broken down
in mid-channel on the 5th. Its presently not
clear if she made it in although likely she
2453 broke down and returned, going again
and finally arriving on KING GREEN on D+1.
As Michael Irwin's LCA(HR) 1110 made for KING
RED beach the LCT(A) 2121 passed on the starboard side, Irwin watched the
LCT beach and the tanks roll off...two were seen to be hit.
LCT 2345 was driven down to the eastwards
almost to JUNO sector...coming to rest at Graye sur Mer.
The men of the 1st Royal Marine Armoured Support Group were likely
late getting back to their commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Victor
Peskett who went ashore from an LCT on JIG sector, with, he once told me, a
bottle of whiskey strapped to the bumper of his jeep!
War Graves Commission were approached about the loss
of Able Seaman Norman Kenwood C/JX 351294 and 23 year old Leading Stoker
Edward George Archer C/KX 145589. There was a
conflict between their records and those held by the LST and Landing Craft
Association. Their records showed both men
were lost from LCA 591 as opposed to 591 LCA.
This may appear to be a small difference, possibly
caused by a typing error, but it makes all
the difference to the history of each man lost. The
CWGC are in the process of amending their records.
Sub Lieutenant Bruce Ashton, AB Norman Norman
Kenwood, Leading Stoker Edward Archer and AB James Harper made the journey
across the channel but were, sadly, lost, before they had time to engage the
enemy. Bruce Ashton and James Harper are buried within the Normandy cemetery
at Bayeux. Norman Kenwood, has no known grave but the sea. Edward Archer was
carried many miles to the eastwards before his body was recovered. Precisely
when and where that was and by whom is unknown. He rests in the
village cemetery of St Aubin sur Mer (Seine-Martime) ten miles west of Dieppe,
some 90 miles away from where he went into the water on the morning of June
6th. (Photo opposite). They
were not alone that morning. Men
died in their landing craft, as they left
their landing craft and in the sea by enemy
fire or drowning. Yet others, having struggled out
of the sea, laden down with equipment, exhausted
from the physical effort and sea-sickness, were cut
down on the beach. On Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno beaches many men made
the supreme sacrifice.
below are those of Convoy G6 who were lost that day
except for Wireman Russell
A Groombridge D/MX 103071 who was lost from HMLCT(A) 2121 on June 28th 1944
and who rests in Bayeux, close to Bruce Ashton.
beach..could tell a story
This beach..it would not lie
Could we...but only listen
This beach...would make us cry..!
Roll of Honour
Sub-Lieutenant Bruce Valentine Ashton HMLCA(HR) 1106 (Kingsford, New South Wales. Australia)
Able Seaman Norman Kenwood HMLCA(HR) 1106
Leading Stoker Edward George Archer HMLCA(HR) 1106 (Photo;
war memorial Horndon on the Hill, Essex. England)
Wireman Russell Alexander Groombridge
HMLCT(A) 2121 (Leytonstone, East London)
Able Seaman Jack Illingworth HMLCT(A) 2039
(Bramley, Leeds, England)
HMLCT(A) 2039 ( Liverpool, England)
James Harper LCA(HR) 1106...
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On this website visit LCT
D-Day from a Landing Craft.
D-Day Assault Convoy G6 was
written by Tony Chapman, Official Archivist/Historian
of the LST and Landing Craft Association (Royal Navy) and adapted by
Geoff Slee for
presentation on the Combined Ops website. If you have any
information about LCT(A) 2121 including photographs please