~ LANDING CRAFT TANK MARK 4 821
- LCT (4) 821 ~
LCT (4) 821from the Normandy
beaches to Bordeaux on the River Garonne as a timber barge
In common with most landing craft, His Majesty's LCT (4)
821 was destined to land on the Normandy beaches on
numerous occasions as she transported
the Allied armies with weapons, equipment and supplies across the English
Channel... but the experiences and impressions of their crews were very
individual. On D-Day, Signalman Eric J Loseby served
on HMLCT 821 of the 42nd
Flotilla of ‘I’ Squadron Landing Craft bound for
Sword beach. This is his story.
version by pod-caster, Paul
[Photo; LCT(4) 828, identical to 821, unladen at sea.
© IWM (FL 7101).]
The 4th of June, 1944, was a day of intense activity amongst
the flotillas of landing craft at Portslade Harbour in Sussex. The streams of military
vehicles that had been pouring into town were finally chocked and chained to their
allocated deck-space on their allocated landing craft
and, in the case of the Mk4 Landing Craft
Tank 821 (LCT 821) of the 42nd Flotilla on which I served,
our passengers were making themselves as comfortable
as possible aboard. Quite a challenge on these flat bottomed
craft, that might otherwise be described as floating
pontoons with a couple of powerful engines at one end and a heavy ramp door at
The previous day, flotilla
crews were briefed by the "top brass" on the forthcoming landings on the French coast. Such was the
secrecy that the briefing took place in a well guarded cinema in Brighton,
Sussex. This was not just another exercise, of
which there had been many in the previous weeks and months,
and after returning to LCT 821, we were confined
to the boat. For the first time whilst keeping harbour watch, we carried service revolvers
with live rounds.
My preparations for war began with 10 weeks of gunnery and seamanship
training at HMS Ganges, a naval shore base at Shotley,
Ipswich, Suffolk , followed by many
months of Combined Operations exercises at HMS Dundonald on the Ayrshire coast
in south west Scotland. We trained in small arms weaponry
and physical fitness through endless rounds of
assault courses. At nearby Troon
Harbour, we were introduced to landing craft, which
later included day long
trips to Brodick Bay on the Isle of Arran, where we learned the
many skills required to operate a landing craft tank.
The flat bottomed landing craft were designed to
land directly onto unimproved beaches
just ahead of high tide, speedily disembark their cargoes and
make their way back to England before the tide went out. If there was any delay,
the landing craft would be beached high and dry for about 12 hours until the
next tide. The quick turnaround was
aided by partly lowering the ramp and, with sufficient speed, forcing
the bows of the craft on to the beach to secure a good hold.
On the approach,
the heavy kedge anchor would be
slipped from the bed on the stern of the craft and the cable freely paid out. On
beaching, the slack on the kedge anchor would then be winched in and, with help from an occasional turn of
the propellers, the craft would be held at right angles to the beach. Once in
this position, the ramp would be fully lowered, giving added hold on the
beach. 'Un-beaching' was achieved by winching in the kedge anchor after raising the
ramp from the beach.
[Photo; the author,
Signalman Eric J Loseby.]
On completion of this phase of the training, we were issued with the now
familiar Combined Operations badge and given the option of a
specialist course for any trade applicable to landing craft crews.
Having learnt Morse Code at school, I opted for the signals branch, believing
that my little knowledge might give me a head's start.
After a short period of leave, I reported to HMS Pasco, a Combined Operations
signals school at Strachur, eighteen miles north of Dunoon
at the head of Loch Eck. During the 10 week course, we studied Morse
code by Aldis lamp, semaphore,
two-way radio procedures and
formation marching on the sports field to represent the manoeuvres of
landing craft flotillas as indicated by hoisted flags. The one light relief from
all this intensive learning was the occasional period of physical training (PT).
The ageing chief petty officer PT instructor had been brought out of
mothballs as a war time stop-gap measure. With a lively sprint he passed by the guardroom with
us bringing up the rear. To any onlooker the Chief appeared to be taking us on a
cross-country run but, after rounding the first bend in the road, we ‘left
wheeled’ through a gateway into a plantation! For the next hour or so, we lazed
around under the trees. Strange how matelots always seemed able to produce
cigarettes and a light, even when only dressed in their gym outfits.
HMS Pasco was completely surrounded by mountains and forests, so there was
little to distract us from our training. On completion of the course, we all
displayed the signalmans' crossed flags badge on our sleeves.
return to HMS Dundonald, I was assigned to the almost completed Mk4 LCT 821 at
a Glasgow shipyard. I ruefully hoped that I would now lead a more settled life.
The average crew of such a craft comprised two officers and ten lower deck
ratings. Of the crew members I can recall; our commanding officer Sub
Lieutenant Rae from Croydon, Midshipman Hockings as ‘Number One’ from South
Wales, Motor Mechanic Charles Bratt, two stokers, one being named Moore, Wireman
(Electrician) ‘Jock’ Reaper from Glasgow, Gunners McQuade and Pitchford, the
latter from Liverpool, who manned two 20mm Oerlikon guns. Leading Seaman
Albert Chapple as Coxswain, two seamen whose names I can’t recall, one of whom
acted as cook, and myself, Signalman Eric Loseby.
[Photo; the author right and
Coxswain of LCT 821 Albert Chapple taken in 1994 on the occasion of the 50th
anniversary of D-Day. This was the only occasion the two shipmates met after the
LCT 821 was a drab battleship grey but she soon acquired
a refreshing coat of white paint with accompanying Mediterranean Blue
camouflage stripes. The painting job was undertaken by Dennys in Dunbarton,
15 miles down the north side of
the River Clyde from
Glasgow. We then proceeded to Largs, where our Oerlikon guns were tested and
then to Troon to take our place amongst our sister craft of the 42nd
Midshipman Hockings was the only other member of our crew with a working
knowledge of Morse and semaphore. When he was not on watch, I usually occupied the bridge with our
commanding officer and was also often called to the bridge, even when off duty, to
deal with the odd signal. As a consequence of my watches on the bridge with the officers, I was
constantly quizzed by other crew members for news. They were desperate for
information, since planned movements and destinations
of craft were, as a general rule, never made known beforehand
Following modifications at Irvine, brief periods at Lamlash on the Isle
of Arran and the quay at Castle Toward (HMS Brontosaurus), the 42nd Flotilla
sailed out of the Clyde estuary northwards to Oban, where a series of night time
exercises took place. On leaving Oban, we once more steamed northwards through
the Sound of Mull, the Sound of Sleat and the picturesque Kyle of Lochalsh to
Loch Broom. It was there that a Flower Class corvette took over escort duties
around the wild Cape Wrath at the north west tip of the Scottish mainland. En route,
we were diverted into Loch Eriboll for a few days
during rough weather, when a drifting mine was spotted. LCTs were difficult to
steer at the best of times but in rough seas and high winds they were very
difficult to control, so avoiding
a mine was by no means certain.
Joint Training Exercises
We made our way along the north coast of the
Scottish mainland to Thurso, where
fresh supplies were taken aboard. We normally had adequate supplies of good
food - tea and coffee were always on hand with egg and bacon for breakfast most
mornings and roast beef for dinner several times a week, all, of course, washed
down with the customary neat tot of rum. On leaving Thurso, we took a southerly
route down the north east coast of Scotland to the Beauly Firth near Inverness.
This became our home for
the latter half of the winter of 1943.
[Map; courtesy of Google. 2019.]
high landscape around us was completely snow covered throughout the whole of
the time we were there. These cold conditions made life on board unpleasant. The condensation on the mess-deck
was so bad that we slept with our oilskin
coats draped over our hammocks to avoid being saturated come the
morning. When at sea, the open bridge afforded little protection from the elements...
it consisted of four armour plated sides but no roof. Those who occupied the bridge
during exercises at sea spent many miserable hours thoroughly soaked and frozen.
was in these inhospitable winter waters, 600 miles north of the English
south coast, that we endlessly practiced beach
landings with army passengers destined for the Normandy beaches, as well as other manoeuvres in convoy, until our reactions to events became second nature and we
thoroughly understood the unusual characteristics of our flat bottomed craft.
In the heat of battle every second would count.
As the early summer of 1944 approached, the 42nd Flotilla proceeded
to the south coast of England, calling at Leith, Immingham and Harwich. We
passed through the Dover Straits under cover of darkness to
arrive at Portslade. The contrast between the weather on
the south coast of England in summer and that of
the north of Scotland in
winter was truly amazing. With most of our training
completed, we spent a good deal of our time in harbour
with shore leave in Brighton and Hove.
One of our crew, known affectionately as Jock from Scotland, arrived back on board
after shore leave carrying a large wicker chair, not unlike those typically seen on the
plush hotels along the Brighton sea front. He had
acquired a lift from a motor cyclist and we were left to imagine the sight of
Jock and his wicker chair on the pillion seat of a motor cycle! The chair
found a good home….on the quarter deck of LCT 821! Briefing
sessions were held when we learned our destination.
The day arrived when there was unusual activity in the harbour.
It was clear that the time had come to put the many months of training to the
test. Late in the evening, puffs of smoke issued from funnels, as main engines
were fired up. One by one the vessels in our flotilla slipped their moorings and proceeded out of
to an assembly area off Newhaven, where we dropped
anchor. The change in the atmosphere amongst our crew and our army passengers
was palpable as animated conversation gave way to our own private thoughts about what lay ahead.
Rumours began to circulate that, due to unfavourable weather, there was to be a postponement
and, with the arrival of dawn, LCT 821 still
stood at anchor, although now joined by many other craft and ships of various
types. During the day of June 5th, 1944,
the military personnel were ferried ashore to Newhaven and exercised around
the docks area, while we rode at anchor from the
stern capstan. This afforded little comfort in all but a calm sea, as the flat
stern of the craft reacted to each wave with a shudder throughout the length
and breadth of the craft... and always present was the seemingly incurable
ingress of water through the propeller shaft glands. This was made worse by
exposure to an oncoming sea and, after a while, about a foot of bilge-water
would be swilling around the mess-deck directly above.
With improving weather conditions in the evening of June 5th,
the vast assembly of craft and ships began to move, setting course to the
south under heavy and darkening skies. We all received a copy of the now
familiar message of good luck from General Eisenhower. Our passengers were a
mixture of Royal Marines, Infantrymen and
members of an RAF Signal Corps. Many suffered gravely from sea sickness - the luckier ones
were offered our hammocks, since none of our crew would find time to sleep that
For the greater part, the outward journey was monotonous. There was little
room and nothing to see other than the dim blue stern light of the craft ahead.
tedium was broken only by the occasional increase or decrease in engine revs to
maintain a safe distance. By the first light of dawn on the morning of D-Day, we arrived at the
lowering position some few miles short of the Normandy beaches, the French
coast being just discernible on the horizon.
At this point,
various groups of vessels began to break away to
their assigned sectors, giving us a feeling of isolation and exposure. Before LCT 821 began her advance, Sub Lieutenant Rae produced an
enormous White Battle Ensign to replace the usual one that flew from our mast.
During our dash for the beach, I tried to ignore a couple of water spouts on
our portside. Obviously intended for us, they were
the first visible sign that the natives were not at all friendly!
The heavily laden and
exceptionally low cloud absorbed
the orange glow
from the fires caused by Allied shells and rockets, which
were fired in advance of the initial assault troops
landing. As we drew closer
to the beach, we saw a typical seaside residential area with a promenade and a roadway at the top. The houses were
closely grouped on the far side, most of which were burning freely,
while others were already just
smouldering ruins. By the time we reached the shoreline, the beach was cluttered with stranded vehicles, tanks
landing craft, not to mention the
enemy's beach obstacles.
Despite the difficulties,
we successfully beached and our ramp was eventually lowered and unloading
commenced. We soon attracted the attention of snipers installed in the
upper windows of one the few houses left standing. I heard the hiss of a
bullet when it passed between myself and Sub Lieutenant Rae as we stood on the
open bridge. After that we kept our heads down,
despite wanting to monitor mortar
bombs landing further along the beach, which had been fired from gardens at the rear of the
gruesome sights around us, including a number of tin
and enamel tea mugs floating a few yards from the water’s edge along
the shoreline. When the tide went out, we could see they were
attached to the knapsacks of earlier casualties floating face down in the
water and now being deposited on the sand.
It usually took twenty
minutes to unload our cargo but we hoped to break
all records, as the Germans were expected to
disrupt the landings with their heavy artillery.
However, fate conspired to detain us,
when we discovered that our kedge anchor cable had parted
having fouled one of the beach obstructions. It was this anchor cable that
would normally winch the craft off the beach. LCT 821 settled on the bottom as the water
were stuck for the rest of the day. With no
sea water to cool the engines they were shut down, which also shut down the lighting.
821 became a dark,
silent hulk except for the occasional rattle of flying debris against the
hull. We were grateful to have an old
fashioned coal burning stove on board, since we could
still have hot food and
drink. We were in an exposed and helpless position,
so I also had a
shave to take my mind of things! Later in the day, a lone enemy fighter
bomber flew under the low cloud ceiling along the coast. As it passed directly above us,
we saw the pilot bale out, while his plane flew away into
the distance. It only took a few seconds to realise
the pilot was still in his plane and a bomb was coming our way! It exploded a few hundred
feet away along the beach.
[An extract from
the Admiralty's 'Green List' showing the disposition of LCT 821 just prior to
By this time Sub Lieutenant Rae had contacted
a Beach Control Party. We soon discovered that Midshipman Hockings, Coxswain Albert Chapple and I had volunteered to salvage the lost kedge anchor with the aid of a
giant recovery truck. As the beach was not yet clear of mines, we walked in the vehicle’s tracks as it towed the spare cable out for
attachment to the kedge. We looked in awe at the many beach obstructions now revealed by the low
tide, all of which, thankfully, LCT 821 had missed as she made her approach.
These consisted of logs, with the bark still attached, forming enormous tripods
at the top of which were lashed large calibre shells with impact fuses
pointing seawards. There were also lengths of steel girder welded together in
criss-cross fashion with pointed ends presenting a hazard in all directions.
After securing the anchor cable, we hastily returned aboard to await the
incoming tide. A party of Germans appeared at the top of the beach. It was a
worrisome sight for us, in their unmistakeable
helmets and jackboots and seemingly without guards or escorts. They split into groups of four
and strolled down to collect the fallen ‘Tommies’, laying them in neat rows
above the water line. One German in particular was calmly smoking his pipe as
though he was pottering around in his
Never had an incoming tide been more welcome than on this occasion. As the
water lapped under the stern, Motor Mechanic Charles Bratt anxiously peered
over the side at the cooling water intakes. Once these were submerged,
he fired up the main engines.
We were informed that 130
German POWs and a few wounded Royal Marines would be embarked for the return
trip and that no guards would be provided. We could spare only 2 crew members
for guard duty, which left us grossly outnumbered and vulnerable to attack, even
by unarmed men. We placed a row of tank chocks across the well-deck
as a boundary marker, confining the prisoners to the forward part of the ship.
Another crew member and I were armed with Lanchester rifles, under strict
instructions to shoot any prisoners
who crossed over the line. Our two officers also carried their revolvers.
It was a pleasure to feel the movement of the ship as the incoming
tide lifted us clear. As we prepared to leave, other craft were arriving on the high
water and a couple of LCI(L)s [Landing Craft Infantry (Large)] beached
alongside us. There was still occasional sniping from nearby houses and fire
was returned from the LCI(L)'s 20mm Oerlikons straight
into the open windows. Loaded with the usual assortment of tracer,
incendiary, armour piercing and high explosive rounds, the effect on the houses
at that range was devastating. The resulting blazing inferno was a fitting end to
our day at the seaside!
We cleared the beach area without further ado but, on gaining open water, it
became clear that LCT 821 had broken her back on the uneven and churned up beach.
However, since LCTs for the most part are constructed of separate watertight ballast tanks,
there was not much to concern us, just so long as the plates held the two halves
Our prisoners soon settled down into their allotted space.
After a while,
one of them came towards us holding up a kettle, indicating that water was
needed for brewing up. Watching over them for so many hours, we came to realise that they were little different to ourselves.
Some were dressed in civilian clothes and others in uniform. One spent
a great deal of time scraping his uniform with a penknife in an attempt to
remove what appeared to be the dried flesh and blood of a less fortunate
After steaming for a few hours, darkness fell,
making it difficult to see what the prisoners were doing. All forms of lighting were
prohibited at sea, so we were thankful that it never really got dark. We were
particularly warned to be on the look-out for E-boats, as the enemy were now
desperate to cut off supply lines to our forces established in Normandy. As it
turned out the crossing was uneventful.
It was sometime after dawn that the Sussex coast appeared as a
thin line on the horizon. When this was spotted by our reluctant passengers,
they began pointing and chattering amongst themselves. Then, about half the total number,
who were still wearing their helmets, took them off and with great gusto, threw
them as far as possible across the water, pausing to watch them sink.
When LCT 821 was some four miles off Newhaven, I sent one of my more
memorable signals to the harbour authorities informing them of our unusual
cargo. We were met by an assortment of army
officers, armed guards, policemen and pressmen. A crane was on hand to
lift off the wounded.
unloaded, we set course for Portslade,
while attempting to restore LCT 821 to her former glory on the way. While hosing her
down, we discovered that our passengers had rid themselves of their personal
effects, such as pay-books, photos and letters etc., tucking them behind various
ship's fittings. We also cleared up an abandoned army bicycle with
a buckled wheel, which had generated great interest amongst the Germans. We
found a neatly wrapped package in green waterproof material strapped to the
carrier, which contained a dozen fully primed Mills hand grenades. There was
much speculation as to the outcome had the Germans been more inquisitive.
A few hours after arriving in Portslade, 821 was hauled out of the water
onto a slipway, especially constructed for landing craft casualties. It was operated on by
shipwrights brought down from Northern shipyards. In contrast to previous
occasions, leave was granted to the crew, my watch being the first to depart.
By a strange twist of fate, the following evening I was sitting in the cinema
of my home town watching the D-Day landings on newsreel, thinking that I was
the only one watching, who
had been in the thick of it!
I reported back aboard to free the other watch for their leave. It was
during this time I saw a strange flying object coming in quite low overhead
from a seaward direction. It was trailing
a ragged flame and emitting a distinctive chugging sound. As we gazed upwards in amazement, we were witnessing one of the first
"buzz bomb" attacks (also known as the V1).
With leave for both watches at an end,
821 was declared seaworthy, having
been re-plated and strengthened. We proceeded along Southampton town quay for another load to ferry to Normandy. This soon developed into a
routine with nightly crossings in small convoys, usually without escorts.
a scale model of HMLCT 821.]
On our second arrival off Normandy, we were forced to lie at anchor for several days
due to bad weather and sea conditions. The front line was now several miles
inland and during the hours of darkness the distant horizon was illuminated by
shell-explosions and fires. Closer by, from seaward, a continuous stream of tracer shells
indicated where enemy coastal forces, possibly E-boats, were attempting to
penetrate the protected anchorages. Our first visit had been to an
area just West of Ouistreham but this time the coast was mostly sand dunes and
rural farm land.
When we attempted to beach, strong winds took us broadside on and
heavy seas threw 821 against one of the enemies steel obstructions, resulting in a
badly holed diesel tank. We dried out on the sand but this time in more
peaceful surroundings. A naval repair party was close and they welded up the
holes with an acetylene torch - a tricky job considering the proximity of
We were re-floated
with the aid of a bulldozer and remained at anchor for a few more days to
await better weather conditions, during
which time I
celebrated my birthday on June 24. There was a poignant
reminder of the fortunes of war, when the body of a seaman, supported by his
lifebelt, floated along the side of the ship. He had been in the water for many days, drifting on
the tides. Perhaps my rum ration on this day, supplemented by that of my
shipmates, dulled my senses, since I don't recall feeling any sense of sadness.
Later in the summer,
as the better weather returned
and the front line receded, our ferrying trips became quite
pleasant, with football on the fine sandy beaches and strolls along the sand
dunes. On one peaceful sunny day, we were at anchor quite close to the shore,
with the mighty Battleship HMS Rodney at anchor in deeper water on the seaward
side. Without warning, the peace was shattered when an enemy shell came from
behind hills, which formed the skyline, and scored a direct hit on a church close to the
waters edge. Seconds later, Morse signals were being passed between Rodney and
a water tower protruding from the trees on the distant hills. Slowly, one of
Rodney’s 16 inch guns elevated and, with a mighty roar and searing flame,
replied in full, followed shortly by a second round. This was probably
one of the last actions involving the large guns of the Royal Navy, such as
those fitted to HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson. I felt privileged to have had a
ringside view of that brief encounter and thankful that HMS Rodney was at
As we notched up more and more channel crossings, the engines of 821 began to
feel the strain. We increasingly had to accept tows, especially in the latter
part of each trip, if the sea was choppy. On return journeys we
often carried damaged fighter aircraft, spitfires and hurricanes.
It was usual to sail from Southampton with a kite balloon (smaller than a
barrage balloon) moored to the guardrail by
the RAF and collected by them on the other side for further use. These
balloons provided an additional safeguard for us from overhead attacks during transit.
However, Sub Lieutenant Rae took a different view and, once out of sight of the
Isle of Wight, I would release the balloon and watch it disappear into the
clouds. Sometimes these balloons could be seen dropping into the sea as a
tangled mess having burst in the upper atmosphere. The CO believed that the
balloons would be spotted over a distance of some 30 miles, pinpointing our
position and more or less inviting the enemy to attack.
While casting off from a loading jetty near Gilkicker
Point, we lost one of our original crew members. Having loaded troops and their
vehicles, 821 was moving slowly astern with engines idling. One of the crew was
paying out a large manila rope with a loose turn around the bollard. The rope
caught around his ankle and he stumbled. As we moved slowly away from the jetty, he was pulled against the bollard, where his leg took the
full momentum of the ship. From my position on the bridge, I clearly heard his
leg snap as soldiers rushed forward to cut through the rope, an impossibility,
given that it was still paying out. Our shipmate was eventually taken ashore
in an unconscious state.
Several trips later on a return journey, and within sight of Spithead, one of
the main engines disintegrated when a connecting rod penetrated the sump
casing. We were directed to Cowes and moored some distance up
the River Medina. That proved to be my last voyage on LCT 821. A few days
later, I was on draft to HMS Scotia, a signal school on the Ayrshire coast, to
begin a course, hopefully, to become a Landing Craft Signalman II.
The accommodation at HMS Scotia was
luxurious after my cramped life aboard LCT 821. To shower, instead of
washing out of a bucket of water heated on a galley stove, was a treat, as was stretching
out on a bed instead of coping with the restrictions of a hammock.
However, the greatest pleasure of all was undisturbed sleep instead of the
watch-keeping around the clock, whether at sea or in harbour.
The course was, for me, very much a refresher but with more
Morse by buzzer
and the use of much bigger signalling lamps. With a star above my crossed flags, I returned to Southampton but, this
time, I was based ashore at the flotilla offices in the new docks, standing in
as relief on various craft as and when required.
It was on one of these postings that the craft
I served on arrived at the Mulberry Harbour, where unloading was carried out at all stages of the tide. We
were away from the UK for several weeks. We received orders to proceed to a Liberty ship
riding at anchor in an isolated area away from all other shipping. There was
good reason for this as we soon discovered... there were faulty batches of shells and bombs amongst its
cargo! Alarmingly, we were to tie up alongside and take on the useable lots, the
rejects to be lowered onto a pontoon for dumping at sea. There was great
relief when, loading completed, we proceeded along the coast to Le Havre and tied up at the dockside.
We were able to do a spot of sightseeing in
what remained of the city and I especially remember an occasion when several
open-backed trucks passed along the street carrying German prisoners. The
looks and waves exchanged between the prisoners and old ladies watching from
the pavements gave
the impression of mother and son relationships
between many of them.
The Mulberry Harbour was now an area of
concentrated activity around the clock. Landing craft and ships of every size
continuously disgorged all types of vehicles and endless stores onto the
Bailey Bridge type piers. DUKW amphibians loaded up with supplies, proceeded
ashore, and onwards to the dumps
inland. Such was the volume of traffic running in endless columns that, from a
distance, it gave the
appearance of a giant ant colony on the move.
As the larger ports along the French coast became available for shipping, the
activity at the original beaches eased off. Eventually, we spent most of our
time at the Mulberry Harbour awaiting sailing orders. It was there we learned that the war in
Europe was over. Immediate shore leave was granted and
a DUKW came alongside
offering lifts to Bayeux. The amphibious DUKWs allowed us to travel
from the anchorage to a point several miles inland without having to change
transport. From Bayeux we hitched a lift in an army truck as far as Caen. We
returned to the Mulberry Harbour the following day in a similar manner. Shortly
after, our craft returned to England, where we moored on a
mudflat alongside Hythe Pier.
the author with models of Royal Navy craft from the
There was a feeling
of anti-climax now, as one by one the crew was gradually drafted ashore. A
few, like myself, went to Portland Terrace, a large building in the centre
of Southampton. As my home was not too far away, I volunteered for guard duties, which enabled me to make
use of all my free time.
With more and more crews being brought ashore,
a large draft of us was moved to Westcliff on Sea in Essex,
where several streets of semi-detached houses had been cordoned off to form a
temporary naval barracks. There, we undertook a familiarization course on
mines, torpedoes and depth charges and, occasionally, games of cricket on a
neighbouring sports ground. For us the war had well and truly ended.
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Gunner Pat McQuade who served on LCT
821 adds; "when LCT 821 was decommissioned we were ordered to sail to
Bordeaux and hand her over to the French authorities to be used to transport
timber up and down the river. When we left her for the last time we felt
glad within ourselves that our craft would be doing good for the town rather
away somewhere in a scrap-yard, which to us,
would have been a sad end to a craft that had served us well. To this day
(29th May 2010) I still wonder how long it kept sailing on the river..."
[Photos; Pat in full colour and a
wonderful tongue in cheek family tribute to the man!]
Tony Chapman of the LST and Landing Craft
Association was advised of Pat's contact with this website. He informed Eric
Loseby who provided the information for this page and within a few days the
two RN veterans who served together on the same craft off D-Day's Normandy
beaches, were talking to each other for the first time in 66 years. They
intend to keep in touch.
This account of HMLCT 821 is based on the notes
of Signalman Eric
J. Loseby. They were transcribed by Tony Chapman, Archivist/Historian for the LST
and Landing Craft Association. It was further edited by Geoff Slee for presentation on
the website, including the addition of maps and photos.