COMBINED OPERATIONS COMMAND
*    UNITED WE CONQUER    *

Home Page

Membership

Memorial

Roll of Honour

Books

FAQs

All Pages Index

Notice Boards

Donate

Search

Contact Us

About Us

 Combined Operations - 170 webpages, 2,000 photos, 250,000 visits and 7 million hits each year. The definitive Combined Ops website.

Thank you for your support, interest and friendship in 2014. Best wishes for the festive season and the New Year. Please 'like' the Combined Operations Command memorial on Facebook in appreciation of  Allied veterans of WW2.  News and Information at the bottom of this and every webpage.

~ HMLBK 6 ~

A NORMANDY VETERAN BOWS OUT

     

His Majesty's Landing Barge Kitchen 6 (HMLBK 6) is seen departing Portsmouth Naval Base at 13.30 hours on May 10th 2007 under the tow of a marine tug out of Itchen. Her destination believed to be Babcocks at Southampton for disposal. Read on to find out what really happened. [Photos courtesy of John Wardale.]

 

WW2 Service A Brief History Post WW2 Recollections Photo Gallery
Remembrance Further Reading Acknowledgments    

WW2 Service

Following her arrival off Normandy HMLBK 6 stood off Sword beach as part of the 35th Supply and Repair Flotilla of 'U' Landing Barge Squadron. With her, also part of the 35th Flotilla, were other converted Thames barges of assorted designations, namely, LBE or Landing Barge (Engineering), LBO Landing Barge (Oiler) and LBW Landing Barge (Water). 

The 35 Supply & Repair Flotilla was, in turn, part of Force 'S'. The Flotilla consisted of the trawler DAMITO which had been converted to a fuel carrier, the minesweeping trawler EMPYREAN and VINDELICIA, a trawler which had been converted to carry fuel but was acting as a tug. The rest of the Flotilla was the emergency repair craft LCE 13, emergency repair barges LBEs 1, 7, 35, 40, 42 & 43; LBK 6; oiler barges LBOs 5, 12, 15, 25, 31, 42, 50, 51, 52, 85 and water barges LBWs 12 & 13. A further nine LBS & R Flotillas, similarly composed, were also engaged in support of the Normandy Invasion. 

At some point LBK 6 was moved westwards and stood off Gold beach. On July 24th 1944 Admiral Ramsay went aboard and was photographed with her crew. In 1997 Tony Chapman of the LST and Landing Craft Association reminded crew member Les Hinchliffe, of the occasion. Les was most surprised having completely forgotten that he had been in the presence of the great man!

A Brief History

LBK 6 is the last of a class of landing vessels used as a floating kitchen to serve groups of landing craft at the Normandy beachheads in 1944. The vessel was built as a steel swim barge in 1944 with an overall length of 79 feet, a beam of 21ft and draught of 3.5ft; deadweight capacity was about 150 tons, the hold dimensions being approximately 50ft long by 16ft wide. The kitchen conversion was carried out to a total of ten vessels, while similar barges were converted to oil, water and engineering barges to cater for the varied requirements of the invasion fleet.

The kitchen conversion involved the installation in the barge's hold of four ovens aft of a kitchen space with stores for bulk and perishable goods forward; a 10 ton fresh water tank was fitted in the hold with additional fresh and seawater and diesel tanks on the accommodation roof. The vessel had the capacity for storage and issuing space to provide enough provisions to feed 900 men for one week. In the after section of the hull two Chrysler petrol engines were fitted, separated by a diesel tank . The two Chrysler engines developed a total of 130bhp and gave a speed of 6 knots; the estimated endurance was 300 miles at 5 knots on 600 gallons of petrol carried in tanks fitted in the after peak, while in the forepeak a toilet and coal storage were provided. At deck level aft was the steering shelter which, along with the various fuel tanks, was provided with 2.5" plastic armour. The middle section of the deckhouse, over the galley below, was the servery area with accommodation for the one officer aft, over the engines, and accommodation for the 24 man crew forward, over the storage areas.

Post WW2 Service

In September 1946 LBK 6 was at Chatham were she continued to act as a floating galley for ships in the dockyard. By 1948 LBK 6 was classed as a Servicing Craft (Civilian) operating under control of the Captain of the Dockyard's Department. In July 1951 the hull was surveyed and given an expected life of 13 years; at the same time it was reported that the engines had been removed. Two years later LBK 6 was listed under the Captain of the Dockyard's Department, Chatham and continued to be so until December 1957 when the barge was absorbed into the newly formed Port Auxiliary Service.

LBK 6 was modernised in 1957 and continued to act as a galley for ships under refit. In September/October 1961 the vessel was docked and essential repairs and tank clean carried out followed by emergency repairs the next month. During 1963 LBK 6 was declared for disposal and approval to give up was given on 24 April that year. Details of the craft were forwarded to Portsmouth in September 1963 when it was found that LBK 6 would be suitable to replace YC 3029 or YC 3030, formerly LBK 1 and LBK 3 respectively.

Approval to transfer to Portsmouth was given on 14 October 1963 and LBK 6 was ready for tow by 5 November. The tug BUSTLER left Sheerness with LBK 6 in tow on 13 November 1963, arriving at Portsmouth the following day. It was decided that a refit was required following which LBK 6 would replace YC 3030. In late 1964 a refit and quadrennial survey was carried out at Portsmouth. The following year it was agreed to increase the complement by one stoker. During 1965 facilities were further improved as LBK 6 continued to provide food for ships in refit. [Photo; sister craft LBK1 courtesy of the Jack Smale/Philip Simons Collection].

LBK 6 underwent various refits at Portsmouth throughout the 60's & 70's and was actually declared for disposal on 20 November 1977. However, the barge was used during the refit of INTREPID between June 1977 and November 1978 and continues to have an active role in what is now the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service. [© DA Sowdon, BSc (Hons), 1994. World Ship Society RMAS Central Record.]

LBK 6 found a new role as the clubhouse of  the Harwich and Dovercourt Sailing Club. These photos show her arrival at Harwich on April 2nd 2008 - the first opposite the harbour master's pontoon and the second on her new mooring quay at the club by the HHA workboat Hornbill. Whilst serving as their clubhouse the sailing club hope to incorporate some of her history thus making her a public attraction as well.

Conversion Completed

Five years after the Harwich & Dovercourt Sailing Club took delivery of LBK 6, their planned conversion was completed. Rear Commodore Shirley Constable explained, "It has been a long hard road, but as well as being our Clubhouse LBK 6 will also serve as a memorial to all the landing barges, and the men who sailed on them, that took part in Operation Overlord which started with the D Day landings on June 6 1944."
 
A Remembrance Service was held on the 69th anniversary of D-Day on June 6th 2013. Representatives from the service organisations, veterans their families and friends assembled on the lower deck (function room) which was very ably opened by D Day veteran Ron Smith (photo opposite), a member of the LST & Landing Craft Association. The lower deck is now officially known as "The Normandy Room" as a a tribute to those ships and men whose destiny it was to sail to Normandy that fateful day, amongst which was, of course, LBK6.

This 70th Anniversary year we are again holding a Commemoration event and hope to welcome all service veterans from whatever field who cannot make it to Normandy, plus their family and friends. The programme starts around 11.00 am with coffee and biscuits followed by a gentle short parade with pipe band at around 11.30 am. Lunch and a few "goodies", provided by the club, will draw the proceedings to an end.

To help with the organisation of the event, anyone wishing to attend should please e-mail the Harwich and Dovercourt Sailing Club in the first instance.

The Club is located at: Gas House Creek, Harwich, Essex.

Following the conversion the exterior is unchanged with the same deck furniture and LBK 6 on her superstructure. However, the interior has witnessed an amazing transformation as the photos above illustrate.

As far as is known LBK 6 was, until May 10th 2007, the last surviving Thames barge converted for service during WW2.

Recollections of a Crew Member

Prior to joining HMLBK 6, myself and others were billeted on Hayling Island at Havant, Hampshire, England. HMLBK 6 was brought to us from London as confirmed by a veteran who had ferried numerous Thames barges to Hampshire. He himself served aboard HMLBK 10.

Our Normandy crew were the first to board her but the precise date escapes me. Our commanding officer was Sub Lt Smillie, a Londoner. On June 4th he told us that we were to be part of an invasion force to be landed on the 5th June, later to become June 6 because of a delay due to bad weather.

We departed Hayling Island early in the morning to join up with the main invasion force. The hundreds of ships and boats of all shapes and sizes was an unforgettable sight as they made their way towards the Normandy beaches of  France. Our crossing was far from pleasant. The sea was so rough that LBK 6 pitched up and down like a bucking bronco!

We were assigned to Sword beach at Ouistreham on the extreme eastern flank of the invasion beaches. By my recall when we arrived we were the only craft there apart from a merchant ship or ammunition ship. This vessel was later hit by incoming shell fire or by striking a mine and went up in flames. I vividly recall her crew and other personnel jumping into the sea to escape the inferno. [I have been unable to confirm either the actual or planned departure or arrival time for LBK 6. The convoy records show that she possibly set out with Convoy SM 4 which had with it two LBKs. That particular convoy was due off the Normandy beaches on D+1. (Tony Chapman)].

We did not stay long in the vicinity of Sword beach and soon moved westwards to take up position off Gold beach at Arromanche, where we remained.

HMLBK 6 was about 79 feet long by 21 feet wide at her bows. She had four ovens aft of her kitchen space, storage for bulk and perishable goods forward, a ten ton fresh water storage tank housed in the hold with additional fresh and sea water tanks on the accommodation roof. She could hold sufficient provisions to feed 900 men for a week. In the after section of the hull two Chrysler petrol engines gave her a speed of six knots. At her forepeak were two toilets or ‘heads’ which were emptied by her crew.

Our crew complement was 24 men including our commanding officer. His quarters were aft above the engine room and the crew quarters were forward above the storage areas.

I can recall the names of some crew members but others are now only faces remembered. For the record, those I can recall are;

AB ‘Haircut Sir’ Gutteridge, a barber in civilian life from Hayling Island, Hampshire,
AB L Higgins a native of Norwich,
Cook Bailey from Northampton,
Cook Wicks from London,

AB Isley from Peterborough,
AB Dawson from Hull,
Stoker Gibbons from the Staffordshire area,
Storeman or ‘Jack Dusty’ as they were known also from Staffordshire, from Brownhills I believe,
AB ‘Scouse’ Hughes from Liverpool,
AB Gibson from Boness in Scotland,
Cook Tyson from Staffordshire,
Cook Barton from Tunbridge Wells,
AB Harold Armitage from Huddersfield in Yorkshire (my best mate ),
AB Douglas Mackrell from Bradford, Yorkshire,
Stoker Carey,
Cook Ward from London,
AB Leslie ‘Tubby’ Morris from Bolton, Lancashire also known affectionately as ‘Little Eva,'
AB Les Hinchliffe, a native of Sheffield,
Odder who came from South Africa,
Our Coxswain whose name escapes me. He came from London and in civilian life he was a "lighter-man" working on the Thames barges... the very same craft he found himself serving with in Normandy... and myself of course.

As I sit writing this in November of 1995 I am aware that HMLBK 6 is still going strong and still feeding Royal Navy personnel in Portsmouth.

Photo Gallery

The photos below were provided courtesy of Peter Booth son of ‘Jack Dusty’ Fred Booth off HMLBK 6. They are of crew members taken in Sas van Gent a small coastal town in Zeeland, Holland in May/June 1945. Where names are given they read from back row to front row and left to right.

"Liberty Men!" - - - VE Day May 5
1945. Splice
Mainbrace!
- Stand Easy Dusty, Stokes,
Chef, Tubby &
Mac.
-
Curly, Skipper,
Killer, Dusty,
Taffy & Chef
Spike and Dusty Curly, Killer,
Ginger & Taffy
Lofty & Spike - P.E. Taffy VE Day May 5
1945. Splice
Mainbrace!
Chef

Remembrance

Given her presence in Normandy in 1944 the Harwich and Dovercourt Sailing Club held a remembrance service on D-Day the 6th of June 2009 with HMLBK 6 as the focal point flying the White Ensign.

Members of the local area Royal Navy and Merchant Navy Associations were present as well as members of the Royal British Legion and veterans from the LST and Landing Craft Association.

Further Reading

There are over 200 books listed on our 'Combined Operations Books' page which can be purchased on-line from the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) whose search banner checks the shelves of thousands of book shops world-wide. Type in or copy and paste the title of your choice or use the 'keyword' box for book suggestions. There's no obligation to buy, no registration and no passwords. Click 'Books' for more information.

Acknowledgments

Able Seaman Les Hinchliffe's recollections were transcribed by Tony Chapman, Archivist/Historian of the LST and Landing Craft Association (Royal Navy). Thanks to John Wardale for sending in the photos of His Majesty's Landing Barge Kitchen 6 (HMLBK 6) leaving Southampton.

News & Information

 

Please 'like' the Combined Operations Command memorial  Facebook page in appreciation of our WW2 veterans. See the 'slide shows' of the dedication ceremony and the construction of the memorial plus the 'On this day in 194?' feature where major Combined Ops events are highlighted on their anniversary dates with links to additional information. Also posts and questions from visitors.

The Salvage and Restoration of LCT 7074. This important part of the UK's naval history is to be saved for the nation. It has been raised from the docks at Birkenhead and transported to Portsmouth where restoration work will be undertaken with the aim of revealing it to the public during the 75th anniversary year of D-Day. Google 'LCT 7074' or visit the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-29655649 for more information.

Legion d’Honneur Applications. In conjunction with events to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy landings, the Government of France has advised the Ministry of Defence that it wishes to award the Legion d’Honneur to all surviving veterans; not only of the landings, but also the wider Battle for Normandy; the Invasion of Provence (Operation Dragoon); the Liberation of Paris and the Liberation of France.

Any veterans, not only troops that landed, but also Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel who operated in support of the landings may apply. Click here for application form and further information from the MOD.

 

 

 

Find Books of Interest.  Search for Books direct from our Books page. Don't have the name of a book in mind? Just type in a keyword to get a list of possibilities... and if you want to purchase you can do so on line through the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). 5% commission goes into the memorial fund.



 

Free WW1 Teaching Resource. Newspaper cuttings in the form of a 13 page booklet (26 sides) with published accounts of aspects of the war during 1914 to 1919. Available to schools, universities, libraries and accredited education establishments.  Pdf version or
www.historic-newspapers.co.uk/ for printed version.

WW2 Combined Operations Handbook. This handbook was prepared for Combined Operations in the Far East. It illustrates the depth and complexity of the planning process necessary to ensure that the 3 services worked together as a unified force.

 

 

 

Thames River Cruiser FARMAR. Do you know what this craft did in WW2? If so you may have information to help a restoration project. More information on our Notice Board.

 

The Gazelle Helicopter Squadron Display Team. The Gazelle Squadron is a unique team of ex-British Military Gazelle helicopters in their original military colours and with their original military registrations. The core team includes four Gazelles, one from each service; The Royal Navy, The Royal Marines, The Army Air Corps and The Royal Air Force. A fifth Gazelle in Royal Marines colours will provide intimate support for the team. Their crest includes the Combined Operations badge. The last, and possibly, only time the badge was seen on an aircraft was in the early mid 40s. A photo of the Hurricane concerned is included in the 516 Squadron webpage.

Newsletter. The latest occasional newsletter can now be read here.

Legasee Film Archive. As part of an exciting social history project, the film company Legasee is looking for veterans from any conflict who would like to have their stories filmed for posterity. Films are now available on line.

New to Combined Ops? Visit Combined Operations Explained for an easy introduction to the subject.

 

 

 

Print too small or large? Easy solution when browsing. I) PC. To increase hold down Ctrl and shift and press +. To decrease hold down Ctrl and press -. 2) MAC. To increase Command + and to decrease Command -.

 

Remember a Veteran. Add names to our Roll of Honour and They Also Served pages and read the Combined Operations prayer.

Copyright © 2000 to 2014 inclusive [www.combinedops.com]. All rights reserved.