US NAVY LANDING CRAFT TANK
These personal recollections of Lt Commander Carr concentrate on
US Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) operations in Normandy and Southern France in the
summer of 1944. His story starts with a fascinating account of his vessel's
unique role on the day Japan attacked the US Navy in Pearl Harbour in 1941. We'd
welcome any photos of USLCT(R)s to add to this page.
On December 7th 1941 I was a Storekeeper 3rd Class on
the USS Antares, a stores issue ship returning from a mission south to Canton
Island. We passed through the submarine nets at the entrance to Pearl Harbour at
approximately 0625 and saw the conning tower of what we believed to be a
Japanese midget submarine. The Antares was unarmed so we sent a signal to the
destroyer USS Ward which was close by. The Ward depth charged the
submarine and thereby struck the first blow in the war with Japan.
This action took place one and a half hours before the planes attacked at
0755 that morning. We proceeded into the harbour and became the last ship in and
the first ship out that day! We reversed and cleared the harbour entrance
on realising that the Japanese intended to sink us in the harbour mouth to
entrap the ships anchored inside.
In August 1942 we arrived in New Caledonia, it was there that I received
orders to report to Columbia University in New York City for midshipman
training. I completed the course on March 31st 1943 and was
commissioned an ensign and ordered to the Amphibious Base in Little Creek,
Virginia, for Landing Craft Tank (LCT) training.
Organisation and Training
In September 1943 a ‘Special Support Group’ was organised at Little Creek
with a nucleus of three officers, Lieutenant Commander Louis E. Hart, Lieutenant
D P G Cameron and myself, Lieutenant (jg) Larry W. Carr. (jg = Junior Grade). Our purpose was to
receive and train crews for what became designated ‘Gunfire Support Craft’. I
became Group Commander of the 14 LCTRs that became part of that group with Lt.
D P G Cameron as my executive officer.
Our LCTRs were all British Mk3 LCT conversions and, as such, they were twice
the size of the equivalent US Navy vessels. In addition to these craft we took
supplied the crews for, 9 Landing Craft (Flak) and 5 Landing Craft Gun (Large).
Our mission was to provide close inshore gunfire support for amphibious landing
operations. As a point of interest the flak and gun ships were retired after the
D-Day landings in Normandy.
During October 1943 we moved to Camp Bradford, Virginia where our
organisation developed and 144 officers and
1537 men were recruited from all branches of the US Navy, small boat crews,
midshipman schools, armed guard and boot camps. Eventually all personnel were
present and our task began. Training was provided in gunnery, fire-fighting,
recognition, gas warfare and communications. In addition many officers and men
practised ship handling onboard LCTs. We were gaining knowledge and skills but
in reality the group was still at an embryonic stage. Much detailed planning was
still required to organise crews
and appoint commanding officers; it was a slow process.
During late October 1943 the group began moving
to Boston, Massachusetts. By November we had settled into our base in Fargo
Building, Boston, Massachusetts. Here the task of organisation and
administration increased and both officers and men were sent to Price’s Neck, an
anti-aircraft training centre on Rhode Island, for for training in the use of
20mm and 40mm guns. Recognition of German aircraft. continued while we waited
for sailing orders for overseas.
Finally, preparations began for our overseas posting. The men were organised into groups
of twenty five and frequent musters were held to facilitate landing. Essential equipment
arrived including rifles, packs and foul weather gear and by November 20th
1943 preparations were completed. We sailed for New York and on November 22nd
we departed the city aboard the Queen
Elizabeth - our destination, Scotland.
We arrived at Roseneath on the 28th at US Navy European ‘Base
II’. Our craft were to be delivered in a few weeks meantime a base for temporary operations was set up
maintenance and engineering units, and our outfit generally made ready
for sea. Training programmes were set up with the emphasis on the technical
aspects of unfamiliar British equipment. Training in gunnery, communications and
engineering with the Paxman-Ricardo diesel engine receiving priority. Crews were
given further training in seamanship and the use of small arms.
The LCTR group was organised on December 15th 1943 as part of the
‘Special Support Group’, with myself, Lt. (jg) L.W. Carr appointed as group
commander. The task of organising a new group of craft never before used in the
US Navy was begun, officers in charge were appointed and crews assigned.
The staff consisted of:- Ensign (Assistant Group Commander) D.G.Swallow, Ensign (Gunnery Officer) F.D.Michael, Ensign (Radar Officer) R.W. Bennison, Ensign (Engineering officer) W.E.Howard Ensign (Communications Officer) E.Bernstein.
The original complement of an LCTR was seventeen men with two officers,
fourteen craft were assigned to the group. Commanding officers and assistant
officers were appointed as follows; LCTR 464-Ensign H.H. Boltin with Ensign A.J Onofrio,
LCTR 425-Ensign R.W. Ellicker with Ensign E.J.Michalik, LCTR 447 - Lieutenant(jg) W.L.Kessler with Ensign A.G.Rud,
LCTR 452 - Lieutenant(jg) W.B. McCorn with Ensign R.L.Payne, LCTR 473
- Ensign G.M.Taylor with Ensign P.H.Prible, LCTR 423 - Lieutenant-(jg) W.S.Caldwell with Ensign T.J.Hurley,
LCTR 448 - Ensign B.Y.Hess with Ensign B.P.McDonald, LCTR 439 - Lieutenant(jg) E.H.Mahlin with Ensign G.F.Fortune,
LCTR 366 - Lieutenant(jg) J.C.Ogren with Ensign C.M. Podrygalski, LCTR 483 - Ensign R.H.Tucker with Ensign E.J.Mack,
LCTR 481 - Ensign A. P.Dowling with Ensign A.G.Hunter,
LCTR 368 - Lieutenant(jg) G.A.Karlsen with Ensign F.A.Smith, LCTR 482 - Lieutenant(jg) H.M.Leete with Ensign C.A.Pink
and LCTR 450 - Ensign P.R.Smith with Ensign T.A.Cassidy.
In Portsmouth nn December 20th 1943 Mk3 LCTR 368 became the
first craft to be assigned to our group. It was in poor condition having come directly from the
shipyard where she had been converted from a hull which had seen extensive service
in the Mediterranean theatre.
LCTR 366 was assigned a short time later under similar circumstances
and by January, after
much cleaning and repairing the 366 and 368 began training operations with the
British as part of the US Navy LCTR Group. Both were sent to an Assault Gunnery School
at HMS Turtle at Poole
in Dorset, England for live firing practice and the theory of LCTRs. Other
officers in charge and assistant officers and key ratings, while
awaiting arrival of their own craft were completed similar training aboard the
366 and 368.
Officers and men were also sent to HMS Northney for radar training on British 970 and QH sets.
Other officers undertook training on the Brown Gyro compass while those remaining at
Base II continued training ashore.
The slow rate of delivery of the craft
was frustrating. I made numerous trips to see the Officer in Charge of Major Landing Craft at Troon,
in Ayrshire and in Glasgow in an effort to expedite delivery.
By the end of December 1943 the ‘Special Support Group’ became
known as ‘Gunfire Support Group 11th Amphibious Force’ under the
overall command of Captain L.S.Sabin USN, with me as executive officer or
second in command. On February 6th 1944 additional officers and men
arrived from the United States and the organisation now comprised over 2000
officers and men manning LCTR, LCG (Landing Craft Gun) LCF (Landing Craft Flak)
and LCPL (Landing Craft Personnel (Large)) which would be deployed as
smoke-layers at the assault phase.
The entire group was, effectively, an experiment in a new type of naval
warfare. The need for close inshore fire support for landing operations had been
identified in past amphibious invasions. Heavy naval gunfire from cruisers, destroyers etc.,
while effective at direct and indirect targets, had to be lifted from the
beaches once the infantry had landed whereas converted landing craft, aided by
their shallow draught, could go close into beaches to fire on enemy positions.
This close quarter support for landing troops was vitally important.
Each type of craft performed a specific function. LCTRs were designed to lay down an intensive barrage just
prior to the initial assault waves landing, Flak craft were designed to cover
the flanks and to give air protection, as well as giving fire support against
machine gun nests on the beach while Gunboats would fire on specific targets on
the beaches prior to H-Hour. After H-Hour they were designed to close with the
beach to give close fire support against pill-boxes.
A later addition to the group was the US Navy Mk5 LCT(A)’s or Landing Craft Tank (Armoured).
Tony Chapman of the LST and Landing craft Association adds;
The Mk5 LCT were American built tank landing
craft. They began arriving in England during 1942 and later many were carried in whole or
part by USLSTs and dropped off in England to be assembled or crewed. Prior to D-Day close
to 160 had served with the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease and were dispersed amongst numerous LCT
flotillas. To separate them from their American sister Mk5 LCT the British craft
had a 2 added in front of their original US Navy pennant number, thus, British
Mk5 LCTs carried pennant numbers in the 2000 series.
At various times 48 craft had been converted to the designations LCT(A)
(Armoured), LCT(HE) (High Explosive) and LCT(CB) (Concrete Buster) the craft
having been fitted with a firing platform to the fore of the tank deck, the
tanks carried in as part of the first assault waves were able to fire over the
bows as the LCT made their approach. In addition to the firing platform or ramp
the LCT(A)s carried increased armour plate to the bows, bridge and wheelhouse
sections. Having landed, the tanks continued to give close fire support on the
Prior to D-Day some 26 conversions were lent back to the US Navy to serve
under ‘Lend-Lease in Reverse’ it was these craft that became part of the Gunfire
Support Group 11th Amphibious Force. On the morning of D-Day divided
across Omaha and Utah beach, the craft assigned to Omaha beach delivering the
tanks of the 743rd Tank Battalion, The craft assigned to Utah beach
delivering the men of the 70th Tank Battalion. All the tanks carried
in by the two groups having the capacity to fire afloat.
The LCT(A)(HE) assigned to the groups were as follows: Utah beach Tare
Green sector - 2310, 2402, 2454, 2478; Uncle Red sector:- 2488, 2282,
2301, 2309. Omaha beach: Dog Green sector:- 2227,
2273; Dog White
sector:- 2050, 2276; Dog Red sector:- 2124, 2229; Easy Green sector:- 2075,
2307; Easy Red sector:-
2049, 2287, 2425, 2339 and Fox Green sector:- 2008, 2037, 2228, 2043.
Craft shown in blue are listed as War Losses in the assault area.
LCTRs were very effective in the early phases of an
assault. The barrage of rockets had the capacity to saturate an area some 700
yards wide by 300 yards deep with 5" rocket propelled projectiles. The aim
was to disable enemy beach defences or to sufficiently diminish there capability
to assist the passage of the first waves of Allied troops going
ashore. However, they required great skill in handling, navigation and timing.
It was essential to
be in the right place at the right time.
The two craft that fired during ‘Duck II’ created a great impression,
although one had released her rockets far too early. Nonetheless, they proved to
American observers that the rocket was a weapon which could pulverise a sector
of beach in the final few seconds before troops went ashore. The proximity of
our own troops approaching the beaches elevated the timing of a rocket barrage
to the highest importance. Experience proved that rockets could
be safely fired when the leading assault wave was some 700 yards from the beach
or the point of impact of the rocket pattern. There were differences between the
British and American use of the LCTRs off Normandy. The British fired at H-Hour minus 10 minutes
while the American LCTRs
fired at H-Hour minus 2 minutes at targets slightly inland.
The LCTRs were converted British Mk3 LCTs with a maximum length of 192 feet
and 31 feet across the beam. The standard power unit comprised two Paxman
Ricardo diesel engines giving a maximum speed of 9
knots, with both screws turning to starboard (right). An extra deck was
constructed over the tank space and on it were mounted either 972 or 1044 5"
rocket projectiles. The original design anticipated re-conversion of the craft
so the crews quarters, officers quarters and magazines were separated
by canvas bulkheads. In order to make the US craft more comfortable and secure the canvas was
replaced by steel or wood by their own crews. Home comforts included bunks and
hot water heaters.
The craft were equipped with 970 Radar, a British set which swept 360 degrees
in azimuth once a second. The maximum range of the set was 25 miles. Three and a
half and seven mile range scales were also provided. The primary use of the radar was ranging in
the firing of the rockets but it proved to be a valuable
navigation aid. Each craft was also equipped with QH, a navigational aid and a
Brown gyro compass.
The 5" rockets were fired electronically by a series of switches in the
wheelhouse. Each switch would fire either 39 or 42 rockets per salvo, depending
on the total number mounted. One group of 36 rockets was wired so that twelve
salvos of three rockets could be fired for ranging.
All projectors were mounted at a 45 degree angle to the waterline and all
pointed forward. The target area was covered by pointing the craft’s head at the
target, determining the range by radar and/or ranging salvos. The firing of salvos
with a pre-determined time integral between them gained the desired depth of
pattern. The width of the pattern was 700 yards and could not be adjusted. The
depth of a complete broadside of 24 salvos could be achieved within the range of 300 to a
1000 yards or even more if required.
A round consisted of three partitions, the fuse, projectile and propelling
unit. A complete assembled high explosive round was three feet in length and
weighed 59 pounds, 7 pounds of which was poured high explosive (TNT and Emitol).
The range of a high explosive round was 3580 yards. Incendiary rockets with a
range of 3900 yards were provided for ranging. Smoke rockets were also
The craft had several deficiencies. Extreme accuracy in navigation and a very
steady course was essential during a firing run. Rudders were very small and the
rocket racks increased the free board and made the craft more subject to the
wind. ‘Aiming the ship’ was the only way to aim the rockets and more
manoeuvrability would have been desirable. The LCTRs nevertheless, proved to be an
effective and efficient weapon.
On March 20th 1944, at Base II, two more rocket ships, Mk3 LCTRs
447 and 448, were assigned to the US Navy. In brief ceremonies the British flag
came down to be replaced by the American Ensign. On April 2nd 1944 LCTR
425 joined the group and the following day the craft formed a convoy south to their
permanent base at Dartmouth, England. I was in command of the convoy which
consisted of three LCTRs, two LCFs and three LCGs. The route took us from Roseneath
by Stranraer, Douglas on the Isle of Man, then, down the Irish Sea
to Appledore in Devon. Once around Land’s End we were on the home straight
to Falmouth and Dartmouth. The 500 mile trip took five days and many difficulties were
encountered including engine trouble, chronic sea-sickness and radio and radar problems.
It was clear that maintenance was the most difficult problem to hand but
without major overhauls there would be no improvement in the position. The craft were British LCTs and were fitted with British equipment and parts.
Obtaining spares under the elaborate system of Reverse Lend-Lease was difficult
to obtain and slow in arriving. The maintenance staff worked day and night as
and when material became available. The technical equipment such as radios and
radar continued to be problematical.
Staff offices were set up in the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth around
April 3rd 1944. My LCTR group at that time comprised five craft, the
remainder were still to arrive although their crews were ready at Base II. After
447 and 448 sailed to Poole for the Assault
Gunnery School course.
Preparations for D-Day
On April 15th 1944 the LCTR office was moved from Dartmouth Naval
College to Hunter’s Lodge on the River Dart. Moorings for our craft were assigned close by.
During April the 366 and 368 took part in ‘Exercise
Tiger’. Unfortunately they were not allowed to fire on the beaches because
isolated units of the first wave landed an hour before H-Hour due to a
communications failure. Later that month, 366, 368,
425, 447 and 448 took part in exercise ‘ Fabius 1.’ The first
wave consisted of LCT(A)s and LCTs carrying DD tanks (Sherman Duplex Drive tanks
(swimming tanks). The original plan was
that the LCTRs were to open fire
when this wave was 300 yards from the shore but this was later deemed to be too
close for safety. Some difficulty was experienced in navigating through the
transport area to the correct firing position. LCTR 425 became
lost in the transport area and did not open fire at all and 447 failed to reach the
transport area. However, the three remaining craft successfully fired off their
volleys and demonstrated once again the effectiveness of the rocket fire which
completely obliterated their theoretical targets.
On May 6th 1944 LCTRs 423, 450, 452 and 464 arrived in Dartmouth.
These craft were much newer and required
much less maintenance although radar and radios were in need of repair. They
immediately embarked upon a number of exercises to bring the crew and craft up
to operational standard with a series of firing exercises on the Slapton Sands assault area.
The British gunnery school at Poole was by then closed but the training
exercises we undertook on our own initiative proved beneficial. Emphasis was placed on timing and accurate ranging using test
salvos and radar.
On May 17th 1944 LCTRs 439, 473 and 482 arrived in Dartmouth. We
were still missing 481 and 483. Training continued throughout May and every craft
was given a complete operational check. There was a noticeable increase in
activity and intuitively we had a
feeling that D-Day was at hand. Our skills were fine tuned with daily firing runs
into mock enemy beaches. Two sets of rockets were loaded onto each craft - one
for the racks and in the other for the magazine. Other materials were taken
aboard and detailed logistics and intelligence plans were received. All sorts of
publications about our mission were distributed.
It was now glaringly obvious that the invasion date was near. Our craft were
assigned to two forces, 366, 423, 483, 447, 450, 452, 464, 473 and 482 were
assigned to ‘Force Oboe’ under Rear Admiral Hall and 368, 425, 439, 448 and 481 were assigned to ‘Force Uncle’ under Rear
Late in May ‘Third’ officers were assigned to each of the craft. Those
officers who had served with gunfire support craft in other capacities were sent
to radar school and joined the LCTRs primarily as radar officers. However, most
of their duties were on deck but they all proved to be a valuable addition to
the efficiency of the group. The allocation of the ‘Third’ officers to their
craft was as follows; Ensign F D Michael to 439, Ensign R E Worthen to 366, Lt.(jg) R
to 368, Ensign R L Palmer to 423, Ensign R M Costello to 425, Ensign G D Soule
to 447, Ensign G L Hershman to 448, Ensign D G Swallow to 450, Ensign J C Cavness
to 452 (photo opposite), Ensign C H Easley to 464, Ensign G P Sherman to 473, Ensign P T Wilson
to 481, Ensign J J Lassiter to 482 and Ensign S S Rough to 483. Ensign Michael and Lt.(jg) Bennison went aboard the 439 and 368 for temporary
During the last week of May all craft in Force Oboe were ordered to Poole and
the craft of Force Uncle to Salcombe to prepare for the invasion. LCTRs 481 and
483 arrived loaded and ready to go at their respective ports of embarkation on
June 1st. The crews of both craft had passed through gunnery school
on other craft but they did not fire a rocket from their own craft until the
On June 3rd all LCTR personnel were briefed on the part they would
play in the coming invasion. Targets were designated, intelligence reports given
and a general understanding of the task ahead was derived. It was especially important that
the LCTR officers would recognise the terrain, landscape and landmarks of the beach.
To aid them a PPI Prediction was added to the radar devices. This was a picture
of how the beach should appear on the PPI Scope. When the picture obtained in
the scope matched that which appeared in the prediction there was no doubt that
the craft were ‘on target’.
Briefings and study went on unabated. At 0300 hours on the morning of June 4th
1944, following a final briefing to my men, the craft of Force Oboe sailed in
convoy for France. The craft of Force Uncle had sailed at 1600 hours on the
afternoon of June 3rd. By noon on June 4th the weather had
become so bad that all craft were ordered back to their starting points. The
LCTRs of ‘Oboe’ had LCMs in tow carrying demolition units and these greatly
hampered ship handling. The ‘Uncle’ LCTRs had LCP(L)s in tow. The craft of ‘Oboe’ convoy returned to Poole
and the craft of ‘Uncle’ convoy put
Although the weather was almost as bad as the day before, the convoys again
got underway on June 5th and headed for France. The high seas and the
tows made the manoeuvring of the unwieldy gunfire support craft very difficult.
At approximately 0500 hours on the morning of June 6th
1944 the convoys arrived at their respective transport areas where the tows
were detached. 425 had fouled her screws in convoy and was led down the mine
swept lanes in convoy towards the line of departure from where the craft began
moving towards the beaches. Approximately 10,000 yards offshore the LCTRs of the respective
forces formed up line abreast and began their run for the beach. H-Hour was set
at 0630 hours.
All craft fired. LCTRs 450 and 447 fired when the LCT(A)s were 500 yards from
the beach at H-Hour+2 minutes. The first craft to engage was the 366 at H-Hour-7
minutes, the other craft fired at intervals between those times. From reports by
the officers in charge the following summary described the action;
- Time of firing:- H-7 minutes to H+2 minutes, estimated position of the
first assault waves varying between 2000 yards and 200 yards from the beach.
- Officers believe they fired on target in all instances.
- Time for reloading varied from between 9 to 19 hours. This factor was
extremely variable because of the difficulties experienced by individual craft
such as losing anchors, rockets stuck in boxes and large numbers of misfires
- The 970 Radar and the PPI Predictions furnished were used with
success by all craft. Ranging salvos were also fired by all craft but the low
and varying degree of visibility on most of the beaches made accurate
calculation of their point of impact almost impossible. With the exception of LCTR 366, ranging
salvos were used only to ‘check’ the accuracy of the radar. The extremely
shallow water in the vicinity of the several beaches also added to the
inaccuracy of the ranging salvos because they exploded in the water. All craft,
with the exception of the 366 fired by radar at the pre-determined range. The
majority of the craft could not see their targets. Firing position was taken
with reference to landmarks and fixes, obtained in some instances by QH and in
others by 970.
- There were no casualties to either the craft or the personnel. No craft
fired a second load of rockets. On June 9th ‘Oboe’ LCTRs returned to
Poole, on June 12th, ‘Uncle’ LCTRs returned to Portland. The US Navy
LCTR Group had fired 12,605 rounds of high explosive ammunition and 326 rounds
of incendiary on to the beaches of Normandy. The mission was considered
After a week in the return convoy ports the LTCR group were returned to
Dartmouth. There were no orders at that time so routine maintenance repairs were
On June 29th 1944 orders came to make nine craft ready for operations in the Mediterranean area. Work began immediately
and all nine craft were painted American Battleship Grey. The engine tops were
overhauled, new American TCS radios were installed and radars were checked and
repaired as required. Provisions were taken on board and fire fighting equipment
was greatly improved. We took on board more than the usual spare parts because the craft were of British construction and spares would not be
available at US bases.
After working on the nine craft for a week we were to be make ready. Time was short
and work had to be carried out at a pace. Close co-operation and coordination between the base
and the craft was essential to have them ready on time. Many of the craft had
sustained hull damage and were put into dry dock for repairs. Ensigns C.H. Lockwood and B.T.Geckler joined the group as ‘Third’ officers on 439 and
368. The entire staff moved aboard.
On July 7th 1944 our group sailed to Plymouth to join
ten British manned LCTRs for the trip to the Mediterranean and on July 11th
and the commanding officers were briefed for the
convoy. The convoy comprised the combined British and US Navy LCTRs, two
destroyers and five tugs. After the briefing Admiral J L Hall addressed the US
LCTR officers in charge. He expressed gratitude for a job well done off the Normandy
beaches. He was aware of the many
handicaps and problems and requested the officers in charge to convey to the
officers and men his appreciation.
On July 12th the convoy got underway. Orders were given only as
far as Gibraltar and the trip was comparatively uneventful. There were
submarine alerts but the convoy was not hampered by aircraft. Gibraltar was
sighted on July 20th and new orders were received for the USLCTRs to
continue to Oran while the British elements remained in Gibraltar. The US
Navy LCTRs arrived in Oran on July 21st completing the longest
non-stop trip ever attempted by such craft.
The craft held up surprisingly well although air locks in the engines' fuel
on two of the craft. They were taken under tow until such time as repairs could
be made. Of the 24 craft only four required a tow at any time. The sea was
relatively calm throughout the entire trip which contributed to its
successful completion. The trip took ten days at an average speed of
seven and a half knots.
On July 23rd we set off for Bizerte. No tugs or escorts were provided. LCTRs
450 and 366 broke down one day out and the convoy returned them, under tow, back
to Oran. The convoy turned back for Bizerte with 473 having only one engine
and under tow of another craft. A heavy sea was encountered on the night of July
25th and the convoy resorted to tacking for some twelve hours. All
twelve craft eventually arrived in Bizerte Road at 2300 hours on July 28th
1944 and entered Bizerte Harbour on July 29th in need of
Insufficient time was available for major overhauls and the craft were
sailed to Naples between the 1st and 5th August in small
groups as they became operational. LCTRs 366 and 450 arrived in Bizerte on
August 3rd. By that time the 366 needed two new engines and the 450’s
ballast tanks were leaking into her fuel tanks.
In Naples the briefings for the new campaign began with little time for thorough
studies. However, the officers' previous experience made the dissemination of
information easier. The craft had sailed without their complement of rockets for
damage control reasons but supplies, thought to have been in Naples, fell short
LCTRs 366, 450, 481 and 423 sailed to the Pozzuoli staging area on August 9th
unloaded. The 366 meanwhile had two new engines installed and the 450 had filled
her ballast tanks with fuel oil to make the trip. All craft arrived at the Pozzuoli staging area in operational condition. En
route to Ajaccio 366, 423, 450 and 481 left the convoy and proceeded to Maddalena to load. Fuses needed by other craft were flown to Ajaccio and all the
craft left Ajaccio loaded and in operational order.
of Southern France
At 1930 hours on the evening of August 13th 1944 the first assault
convoy got underway for France. The weather for the entire trip was favourable
and the movement plan was accomplished although the convoy speed of 4-5 knots
was too slow for such flat bottomed craft to keep
LCTRs 366 and 425 were assigned to Blue Beach and on Green Beach 368, 423,
447, 452, 482 and 483 were assigned to the original assault in the Camel area. LCTRs 439, 448, 450, 464, 473 and 481 were assigned to Red Beach for the Z hour
assault. They were joined by the reloaded LCTR 425 and a number of British
The craft on Blue Beach reported that they had encountered
no opposition. Lieutenant J C Cohen USNR commanding the 366 fired at H-5 minutes
to cover a ‘rather slow first wave’. Lieutenant (jg) R E Ellicker commanding
the 425 fired at approximately the same time. Both craft believed themselves on
target although haze and dust on the beaches made a positive statement impossible.
Superficial damage and fires were caused aboard both craft by the intense heat
of the propelling charge.
The six craft on Green Beach fired approximately as scheduled. Reports
indicated that 447 of Lt. W L Quest fired at H-9
minutes, 452 of Lt. W B McCown fired at H-6 minutes, 423 of Lt. (jg) W S
Caldwell fired at H-5 minutes, 483 of Lt. (jg) R H Tucker fired at H-5 minutes
and finally Lt. G A Karlsen commanding the 368 fired at H-Hour. The 368
was on the flank but did not fire over the troops. Sporadic enemy gunfire was
observed but all fell short of the craft.
The radar on 447 was out of action for unknown reasons by H-1 hour and she was forced to rely on
ranging salvos which were difficult to observe on a hazy beach. The 482 reported
the presence of strips of light metal resembling tinfoil which fogged the PPI
picture but the problem cleared up before firing. The remainder of the craft
recorded no problems. The beaches were again obscured by the pre-H-Hour
bombardment and the fall of rockets count could not be adequately observed from
the firing range. Craft in the boat lanes experienced difficulty in standing
clear of the second wave.
The craft assigned to Red Beach formed up and proceeded to the line of
departure in order to carry out the Z Hour assault at 1400 hours. Once there
they stood by for approximately one hour between 1345-1445 awaiting the
completion of an unsuccessful attempt to destroy obstacles on the beach by Apex
boats. During this time they were subjected to sporadic gunfire which came
extremely close. The projectiles all fell short making it appear that the shore
batteries concerned were firing at their extreme range. Shrapnel fell on the
decks of all the craft involved and Seaman Richard Charles Syers, serving with
LCTR 439, was killed by shrapnel from a near burst at about 1430 hours. He
was the only casualty in the group. Upon receipt of the order to proceed to
Green Beach the LCTRs returned to the transport area and stood by.
At about 1430 hours on D+1 all LCTRs were ordered to report to LCH 240 (Landing Craft Headquarters 240) for
onward routing. At about 1630 the craft sailed in a nine knot convoy for Ajaccio
but after 7 hours they were all instructed to return to Red Beach because an
escorting vessel had become detached during he night. By the time the craft set
off for a second time both 448 and 452 had problems with one of their engines
and were taken under tow. All craft arrived safely in Ajaccio on August 19th.
The LCTRs remained for a day and then sailed for Bizerte arriving there on
September 1st. At Bizerte many repairs were undertaken and all craft were
repainted. They were not sailed back to England as expected for
transfer back to the Royal Navy instead they were transferred to the British base at Messina and all US Navy
personnel repatriated. On October 4th 1944 all the LCTRs were
returned to the Royal Navy.
Following the return of our craft back to the Royal Navy my officers and men
returned to America by ship. I flew back to Washington for a new assignment. The
Bureau of Naval Personnel assigned me to initiate training of crews for the new
LSMR rocket ships being built for the US Navy. For that operation all of my
former officers and crews were ordered back to Little Creek for training.
I was later assigned as Flag Lieutenant to Admiral Lowrey in San Diego who
was to command the amphibious forces for the invasion of Japan. The end of the
war in 1945 resulted in my being returned to inactive duty on September 14th
The use of British rocket craft proved of great value to
the US Navy. In no small measure they made a significant contribution furnishing support
for our troops landing both in Normandy and in Southern France.
The job of recruiting and training personnel in the use of rocket ships and
the development of the associated administrative organisation was challenging as
inexperienced personnel worked in unfamiliar craft with the minimum of time. It required
close co-operation between the groups and their
British counterparts. With the successful completion of its missions the LCTR group, the first of its type in the US Navy, considered it
task well done.
Key points in the author's naval service
Pearl Harbour. 1941. He was on the first US Navy vessel that witnessed
a Japanese midget submarine in Pearl Harbour and later the attack on December 7th
D-Day-Normandy. June 6th. 1944.
Group Commander of all US Navy Rocket Ships (LCTR’s) to fire on to the
beaches just 300 yards ahead of the first assault wave.
D-Day Southern France. August 1944.
Still Group Commander of all LCTRs to fire ahead of the first assault wave.
First US Naval Officer attached to a new programme to
train men in the use of a new generation of rocket ships built for the invasion of Japan.
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These personal recollections of Lt Commander Carr concentrate on
US Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) were transcribed by Tony Chapman, Official Archivist/Historian of the LST and Landing Craft
Association (Royal Navy).
Redrafted by Geoff Slee for publication on the Combined Operations website.