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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 Royal Navy 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 Units (LCOCU).....to 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.

Unlike LCAs 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 (LCT). Others 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.

Assigned to 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 HMS Sapper 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 without incident;

  •  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 Mace.
     

  •  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 withdrew.
     

  •  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 contact us.. [Photo 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 turn turtle.
     

  •  2048 was seen broken down in mid-channel on the 5th. Its presently not clear if she made it in although likely she did not. 
     

  •  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!

The Commonwealth 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.

The names 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.

This 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)
Ordinary Telegraphist James Donnelly HMLCT(A) 2039 ( Liverpool, England)
Able Seaman James Harper LCA(HR) 1106... D/JX 362866

Further Reading

There are around 300 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.

On this website visit LCT D-Day from a Landing Craft.

 Acknowledgments

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 contact us.

News & Information

 

Memorial Maintenance

We have a small band of volunteers who take turns to visit the memorial each month, particularly during the growing season, to undertake routine maintenance such as weeding keeping the stones and slabs clear of bird dropping, lichen etc. and reporting on any issues. If you live near the National Memorial Arboretum and would like to find out more, please contact us.

Remember a Veteran

You can pay a personal tribute to veterans who served in, or alongside, the Combined Operations Command in WW2 by adding their details and optional photo to our Roll of Honour and They Also Served pages on this website.

Read the Combined Operations prayer.

Forthcoming Events

To organisers: Reach the people who will be interested to know about your Combined Operations or war related event by adding it to our forthcoming events page free of charge.

To everyone else; Visit our forthcoming events page for things to see and places to visit. If you know of an event of possible interest, that is not listed, please let us know.

To notify an event click here.

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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.

You are welcome to add information, photos and comment or reply to messages posted by others.

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.

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.

Restoration of Geoffrey Appleyard's  Memorial 

Click on the image if you'd like to contribute to the improvement of the memorial to Geoffrey Appleyard, DSO, MC and Bar, through the purchase of a limited edition print of a book about him. Geoffrey achieved so much in service with No 7 Commando, No 62 Commando, the Small Scale Raiding Force and the Second SAS Regiment. He was posted Missing in Action in July 1943, aged 26.

www.bramleywarmemorial.com/major-geoffrey-appleyard-book-now-available-for-purchase/

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.

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. www.legasee.org.uk

New to Combined Ops?

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

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