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~ HMLST 427 AT WAR ~


HMLST 427 at War. This page is essentially a photographic record of WW2 Landing Ship Tank (HMLST) 427 (referred to here as 427). The photographs were taken by Temporary Acting Lieutenant Commander W.G.E. Rawlinson R.N.V.R. who commanded 427 during the period 1943/45.  

Background Mediterranean Normandy Further Reading Acknowledgments


There were many kinds of landing craft, large and small, and each served a particular purpose. 427 and similar craft were the forerunners of today's roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ferries in that they carried tanks, lorries, other vehicles and heavy equipment and the men to operate them. The main differences were that 427's doors were only at the bow and it was flat bottomed to allow it to discharge its cargo directly onto the beaches in the absence of useable harbours. This rare photographic record allows us to see 427, and similar vessels, in action as part of invading forces.

427 was built by the Bethlehem Fairfield Company, Maryland, US, launched on 19/12/42 and commissioned in the Royal Navy on 16/2/43. She departed New York for the Mediterranean on 28/4/43, ultimately taking part in the landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy and Malaya.


She served in the Mediterranean from June 1943 to early 1944 as part of the 3rd LST(2) Flotilla under the command of Flotilla Officer Acting Commander D. S. Hore-Lacey R.N. Her sister ships of the 3rd at that time were 322, 324, 367, 410, 412, 417, 419, 420, 423, 426, 428 and 430. Acting Commander Hore-Lacey, took passage aboard the LST 322 making her 'Leader' of the flotilla. (Click on photos to enlarge and then 'back' at the top left of your screen to return to this view).

  1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Sicily 1943. Elements of the British 8th Army aboard 427 at Sousse.
2 Sicily 9/10 July 1943 (D-Day).  427 and other landing craft 'stand in' to Bark South beach.
3 Sicily 1943.  427 discharging mechanised transports. Portside is HMLST 304 of the 1st Flotilla.

Sicily 9/10 July 1943. (D-Day). British LST's on the beach... identity of the craft is uncertain. The numbers 325 and 326 on the bows would appear to be army serial numbers, or loading numbers, brought into play at the point of embarkation. It is also the number by which the craft would have been called to the beach to deliver her payload. Given the photos were taken by LST 427's commanding officer it may be reasonable to assume that one of the craft is actually LST 427, it is believed that it is likely the craft displaying the number 325.

5 Sicily 10/11 July 1943. (D-Day+1). Bark South beach, view from the bows of  427.
6 Sicily 10/11 July 1943. (D-Day+1). 427 on Bark South beach.
  7 8 9 10 11 12
7 Salerno 9th Sept 1943. (D-Day). 427 disembarking mechanised transports.
8 Salerno 1943. 'Roger Amber' beach viewed from the bows of 427.
9 Salerno 1943. LST unloading mechanised transports.
10 Salerno 1943. LSTs beached. Centre of the view is a Martello Tower.
11 Salerno 1943. LSTs beached. Pennant numbers unknown.
12 Bizerta, 1944. North Africa. LSTs loading in readiness for the landings on Anzio.
  13 14 15 16 17 18
13 Anzio 22nd January 1944 (D-Day)
14 Anzio 24th January (D-Day+2). LSTs at anchor coming under air attack.
15 Anzio 1944. LST under attack from the skies, a bomb exploding astern.
16 Anzio Harbour 1944.


On her return to England to begin 'working-up' for the D-Day landings in Normandy, the 427 remained part of the 3rd LST Flotilla, still commanded by Acting Commander Hore-Lacey who once more took passage aboard the LST 322.

On D-Day 427 was accompanied by sister ships 322, 367, 408, 419, 420, 423 and 428 forming part of Assault Group S1. Also part of Group S1 was the 'Reserve' 9th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd British Infantry Division. They would assault Sword beach between La Breche and Lion sur Mer, which was the extreme eastern flank of the D-Day assault. The landing beaches were given the code names Queen Red and Queen White. Prior to the arrival of the 9th Brigade the 8th Brigade led the way as 'First Assault' but suffering grievously in the process. They were followed up by the men of the 185th Brigade.

  19 20 21 22 23 24
19 6/6/44 (D-Day) 427 off Ouistreham.
20 6/6/44 (D-Day). The landing craft 'stand in' smoke rises from a crashed plane.
21 6/6/44 (D-Day). The approach to Ouistreham as bombs explode in the distance.
22 6/6/44 (D-Day). LSTs stood off Sword beach.
23 6/6/44 (D-Day). Landing craft 'standing in' to Sword beach.
24 6/6/44 (D-Day). LCI(L) 388 of 266 Flotilla passing to starboard of 427.
  25 26 27 28 29 30
25 6/6/44 (D-Day). Landing craft and ships off Sword beach.
26 6/6/44 (D-Day). 427 discharging her cargo on to a Rhino Ferry -  a ship to shore barge.
27 7/6/44 (D-Day+1. 427 stood off Sword beach waiting her turn to unload.
28 7/6/44 D-Day+1. Ammunition dump exploding on Sword beach.
29 Normandy. D-Day+1). British troops of the 3rd Infantry Division.
30 7/6/44 (D-Day+1). Rhino ferry departs for Sword beach having taken the final load off 427.
  31 32 33 34 35 36
31 7/6/44 (D-Day+1). 427 off loading transports on to a Rhino ferry.
32 7/6/44 (D-Day+1). A British LST off-loading her cargo onto a Rhino ferry... the craft is believed to be the 3rd Flotilla's LST 408 of Temporary Acting Lieutenant Commander R. Cook RNR.
33 7/6/44 (D-Day+1). Work commences to form the 'Goosesberry' Breakwater off Sword beach - see Mulberry Harbours.
34 8/6/44 (D-Day+2). 427 mid-channel and homeward bound as German prisoners of war are being fed.
35 11/6/44 (D-Day+5). 427 off Asnelles, Gold beach area, waiting for the tide to fall.
36 11/6/44 (D-Day+5). Landing craft and ships at Asnelles, Gold beach area.
  37 38 39 40 41 42
37 11/6/44 (D-Day+5). 427 at Asnelles.
38 11/6/44 (D-Day+5). 427 at Asnelles.
39 16/6/44 (D-Day+10). 427 arrives at Mulberry pier-heads to unload her cargo onto Omaha beach.
40 16/6/44 ( D-Day+10). 427 off-loading transport onto the Mulberry Harbour at Saint Laurent sur Mer, Omaha beach.
41 16/6/44 (D-Day +10). - as above -
42 16/6/44 (D-Day +10). - as above -
  43 44 45 46 47 48
43 19/6/44 (D-Day+13). Sunken block-ships off Juno beach - to act as a breakwater.
44 21/6/44 (D-Day+15). 427 embarking casualties from Juno beach
45 21/6/44 (D-Day+15). 427 on Juno beach. embarking casualties just as the 'Great Storm' of June 19th-21st., which caused havoc amongst the shipping, was blowing itself out. A north by north east gale was blowing when this photograph was taken.
46 21/6/44 (D-Day+15). A DUKW on Juno beach. The nearest craft sitting at the waters edge in the middle background is an American built British manned Mk5 LCT. ( Landing Craft, Tank)
47 Normandy. Mike sector of Juno beach..Courseulles sur Mer area. Number 7 Beach Group Visitors Board recording the names of the VIPs who went ashore there...King George VI, Field Marshal Smuts,  Montgomery,  Churchill, Crerar and General Charles de Gaulle. 
48 427. Casualties in the tank space on passage home.


 and finally (49) another view of the previous photograph.

The work of landing craft was very hazardous and many men lost their lives on or near the beaches and at sea. A well documented example of the hazards is the story of LCT 2191 (See 'Sword Beach' on the LCT page). Another example referred to on this page is HMLST 420 with the 3rd Flotilla. A high price was paid with the loss of fifty members of her crew when she was sunk on November 7th 1944.

Ron Hite recalls;

It was the same hum drum stuff while at sea...  on watch, off watch, bit of dhobing (washing), playing cribbage, chess, perhaps starting a letter home or something to pass the time. If just finished an evening watch I'd usually shower and go straight into the flea bag, hoping action stations wouldn't sound, so I'd get a few hours kip.

When close to a landing it was a hive of activity in the engine room, especially the auxiliary engine room. It was essential to know what engines would be required after the 427 beached. The cooling systems for those engines were transferred from direct sea intake to on board tank cooling system as 427 would soon be high and dry. All generators were started and on line to provide enough power to open the bow doors, lower the ramp ready for discharge, and operate the elevator to transfer vehicles from the top tank deck to the lower deck for discharging.

There was of course a risk of enemy action against the craft while she was beached so we made sure that fire hydrants on the upper deck were clear of obstructions. When all was done it was a case of keeping our heads down hoping the enemy were otherwise preoccupied. We were vulnerable to attack while 427 waited for the next tide to take her off the beach.

[Photo; Reunion of ship's crew. Date unknown but possibly late 40s. The CO is 4th from the right in the second row from the front, and Ron Hite is in the front row first from right.]

Further Reading

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On this website


HMLST 427 at War. The foreword and historical notes on the craft are by Tony Chapman, official Archivist/Historian of the LST and Landing Craft Association. Photographs provided courtesy of 427 veteran, Ron Hite.

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