WW2 land, sea and air forces of the Allied Nations planning, training and operating together as a unified force on amphibious raids and landings against the enemy.

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HMLST Thruster was a flat bottomed landing craft not unlike a modern roll on and roll off ferry. These rare photographs are of Thruster itself, Len Thacker and the men who served alongside him on Thruster, the actions Thruster was involved in and the ships Thruster encountered on her travels.
Background The Ship The Crew The Action Other Ships
Miscellaneous Further Reading Correspondence Acknowledgments  


In WW2 there were many kinds of landing craft, large and small and each type served a particular purpose. HMLST Thruster and similar craft were the forerunners of today's roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ferries - they carried tanks, lorries, other vehicles, heavy equipment and the men to operate them. The main differences were that Thruster only had bow doors and it was flat bottomed to allow it to discharge its cargo directly onto the beaches in the absence of useable harbours.

HMLST(1) Thruster was built by Harland and Wolf, Belfast, Northern Ireland and launched on September 24th 1942, being commissioned in the Royal Navy on January 28th 1943. She later took part in the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and those in Southern France.

The Ship

 HM LST Thruster  HM LST Thruster Freetown, S. Africa, from Y gun deck Loading at Naples  A view astern with an LST in the wake LCP being lowered away at Piraeus
Malta Piraeus Harbour Nov 1944        

The Crew

Class W8 HMS Royal Arthur Skegness, 8/41. Len Thacker 4th from left rear rank. The crew of HM LST Thruster 4th February 1945  (L-R) John Lodge, Len Thacker & Den Cruthley Jock Broom, Ken Hollings, Eric Taylor & Dick Beatley Freetown 1942.  Len Thacker, Jack Leathersich & Algy Hobber Ginger Birkenshaw with HM LST Thruster at Naples
Ginger Birkenshaw and Albert Taylor (L-R) Frank Moss, Harry Reeve, Len Hacker & Jack Pyle May 5th 1944 Eric Taylor  Eric Taylor  Dick Beatley, Ginger Birkenshaw, Albert Taylor & Dick Anderton  Dick Anderton.
 Len Thacker  Len Thacker, May 5th 1944 in Malta.  Norman Roberts at the 10 inch Aldis lamp Porto Vecchio Norm Roberts with Aldis Lamp. Naples  Signalman Norman Roberts keeping lookout Flag deck tea party Albert, Frank, Len Hacker & Coops
Awnings rigged at Bombay Under The White Ensign Hary Dunn and Harry Reid Len Hacker & Tich Meddings Durban 1942 December 31st 1943 Malta. Len Thacker On the beach at Porto Vecchio June 1944 At Rest Camp Dec 1944

The Action

 Naples Jan 1944 American troops  bound for Anzio Anzio Jan 1944 Anzio Jan 1944 Anzio Jan 1944 during a raid Anzio Jan 1944. Fires on the beach  Anzio Jan 1944 near misses on LST
Approaching Salonika HM LST Bruiser at Green Beach S France Aug 1944. Op Dragoon HM LST Bruiser beaching at St  Raphael 8/44. Operation Dragoon  D Day S. France 8/44. Operation Dragoon HM LST Bruiser at Malta HM LST  Bruiser off Corsica 
HM LST Bruiser at Malta French Creek Malta Operation Dragoon San Raphael S. France 8/44  Salonika  Salonika  

Other Ships

Town Class Cruiser HMS Birmingham Town Class Light Cruiser HMS Sheffield B Class Destroyer HMS Boreas King George V Class Battleship HMS Anson HMS Birmingham at Simonstown  USS Marblehead alongside HMS Glasgow At Simonstown
 F Class Destroyer HMS Faulknor -  escort to Anzio Leander Class Frigate Minerva at Porto Vecchio Town Class Cruiser HMS Newcastle  Omaha Class Light Cruiser USS Marblehead  Light Cruiser USS Marblehead at Simonstown Battle Cruiser HMS Renown 1942


Vesuvius in Eruption Entrance to Casbah Tunis July 1944        


I thought you might be interested to know that HMS Thruster was, at one time, earmarked for conversion to a Fighter Direction Ship. Fighter Direction Ships were designed to perform a similar role to the Fighter Direction Tenders but were based on different vessels. FDTs were converted Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs) while FDSs were conversions (1943) of HMS Ulster Queen and HMS Palomares. They were merchantmen originally classed as auxiliary AA Ships for convoy escort duties. They were later joined by HMS Stuart Prince

In mid 1944, as the focus of the amphibious aspects of WW2 moved from the west to the far east, the Admiralty decided that long range Fighter Direction Ships with a speed of 16 knots, and capable of operating with assault escort carriers, were required for assault operations in the Pacific. Three LSTs Mk1s, HMLSTs Boxer, Bruiser and Thruster, were identified as suitable for conversion but only H.M.S. Boxer was completed. However, she never saw action in the far east since Japan surrendered as the vessel entered the Suez Canal.

Phill Jones

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.

Visit our Index page where you'll find links to numerous pages on Landing Craft and major landings.


These rare photographs of HMS Thruster were kindly supplied by Matthew Harte, grandson of the photographer, the late Len Thacker, who served on the ship. They came our way through the good offices of Tony Chapman, Archivist/Historian of the LST and Landing Craft Association.

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.

Events and Places to Visit

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

To everyone else: Visit our webpage for information on events and places to visit. If you know of an event or place of interest, that is not listed, please let us know.

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Why not join the thousands who visit our Facebook page (click on icon above) about the Combined Operations Command 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.

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.


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.

New to Combined Ops?

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


About Us?

Background to the website and memorial project, and a look to the future; plus other small print stuff and website accounts etc. Click here for information.


Legasee Film Archive

As part of an exciting social history project, the film company Legasee has recorded interviews with veterans from any conflicts. These  films are now available on line. www.legasee.org.uk


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