Landing Craft Headquarters Ship

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Battle Honours /Campaigns

Normandy 1944
Burma 1945
Malaya 1945

 

Specifications

Builder: Bethlehem Steel. Hingham Massachusetts,  United States

Displacement:
216 t. (light)
234 t. (landing)
 389 t. (loaded)

Length: 156 ft 5.5 in

Beam: 23 ft 3 in

Draught:
Light, 3' ft 1½ in mean
Landing,  2 ft' 8 in forward, 4 ft 10 in aft
Loaded, 5 ft 4 in forward, 5 ft 11 in aft

Armament:
Four single 20mm Oerlikon guns, mounted in tubs, one bow mounted, one mounted centrally on top of the superstructure aft of wheelhouse, one each port and starboard aft of superstructure.

Propulsion:

Two General Motors Quad units (4 General Motors 6051 series 71 Diesel engines per unit), driving twin variable pitch propellers, 2,320shp, 1 Quad unit per shaft.

Speed: 16 Knots

Cargo Capacity:
9 officers and 200 troops or 75 tons cargo - reduced by 50 troops after conversion.

Crew complement:
(LCI) 3 officers, 17 ratings
(LCH) 3 officers, 23 ratings

Commanding Officers:
Lt. Basil Charles Matthiae RNVR 2.09.1944 - 10.01.1946


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H.M.L.C.H. 101

 

 

Early history

Ordered and delivered as a Landing Craft Infantry (Large) for the US Navy she was built by Bethlehem Steel, Hingham, Massachusetts.  She was laid down on August 31st 1942, completed as a Flotilla Flagship and launched on October 22nd 1942. She was delivered and transferred to the Royal Navy under the lend-lease agreement on November 17th 1942, and commissioned as HMS LCI(L)-101 on the same day. 

From Hingham, she sailed south to Staten Island, New York for a short shakedown and workup in the New York area. On completion she sailed for Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, arriving at pier #3 on December 15th 1942 for repairs and alterations. Over the next two months she underwent the installation of plastic armour, sounding equipment, sponsons and flareplates, repairs to her hull, electrical system and main engines; she also received a replacement winch and pinace. Before leaving Norfolk she was degaussed and calibrated at the Sewalls Point Magnetic Range, and visited the US Naval Ammunition Depot, St. Juliens Creek, Virginia, to embark small arms and gun ammunition.

On March 3rd 1943 she sailed in company with LCI(L)s 103,104, 105, 106, 108, 109, 110,111, 113, 116, 119, 170, 182, 183, 184, 186, 240, 248, 249, 251, 252, 254, & 256 for 256 for Algiers via Bermuda and Gibraltar in the fifth delivery flight of these new craft; The flight was under ths command of Cdr. Sherwood RN. Those that survived the crossing sailed from Gibraltar April 2nd, and preceded to Algiers, here they were allocated to operational flotillas.

Nothing is known about her activities for the next 12 months; she next appears in records as being present in Pozzuoli harbour, Naples on March 7th 1944. On March 8th she put to sea with HMS LCI (L) 251, 273, 303, USS LCI (L) 17, 38 and 48. This small force arrived at Anzio anchorage 05:36 the following morning. At 07:19, the ships were underway and proceeded into Anzio harbour. Beginning at 07:46 180 British Officers and men, with their gear, were unloaded. At 0853 the ships moved to new moorings to embark 200 refugees for passage to Naples.


Conversion to a Headquarters Ship

On release from operations in the Mediterranean in the spring of 1944 she returned to the UK for conversion into an LCH, Landing Craft Headquarters. She underwent a period of modification which involved turning part of the troop decks into operations rooms and wireless offices, the installation of additional British command and control and communications equipment; 6 x Army No. 22 Radio sets; 6 X CDG, B28 receivers; 1 X CDF, B29 receiver. Echo Sounding type 763; 8 type visual signals (lanterns and torches); Type 970 Radar for navigation and control of assault craft; Outfit QH (Gee Hyperbolic Radio Navaid) 1 x TCS Transmitter. A tripod foremast was added to mount the additional aerials. In addition, single cabins were installed to accommodate assault force staff officers when embarked. When completed her troop carrying capacity was reduced by 50.

 

Operation NEPTUNE

 In June 1944 she was allocated, with LCH 100 & 245 to participate in the Normandy invasision forces part of the follow-up force, Force ‘L’. This force included the vessels of ‘V’ & ‘H’ LCT Squadrons, ‘A’ Squadron LCI(L)s 103, 104,105, 106, 109, 110, 122, 123, 127, 129, 172, 176, 178, 182, 242, 243, 256, 268, & 309 from the 252nd & 253rd LCI(L) flotillas. Force ‘L’ did not take part in the initial landing on the Beaches. They were to act as the follow-up force which would back up the British and Commonwealth Forces which had already landed on the Beaches (Sword, Juno and Gold) and secured them. The force was assembled at Southend, at the mouth of the Thames.
 

Allocated to the East Indies Fleet

In the Autumn of 1944 she was allocated to the East Indies Fleet and sailed for India. Lt. Basil Charles Matthiae RNVR joined LCH 101 as her commanding officer on September 22nd at Chatham were she was preparing for overseas service.

After the D-Day landings plans were made to relocate large numbers of Major Landing Craft from the UK to the Eastern theatre under the code name ‘APPIAN’. Convoys of craft, referred to as ‘Flights’, sailed for India calling at Gibraltar, Oran, Malta, Port Said, Aden, and Bombay; the first Flight, ‘A’ sailed on November 15th 1944. It is not clear which flight LCH 101 sailed with. On reaching India she was initially based at the Cochin Landing Craft Base, HMS CHINKARA.

Operation DRACULA

In early March 1945 she was allocated to participate in Operation DRACULA, the amphibious assault on Rangoon. Vessels for the operation were moved from their bases in Ceylon and India in late April to gather off the Islands of Akyab and Kyaukpyu, off the coast of Burma. The main assault force sailed in four convoys from Kyaukpyu, the slowest, 'Dog' of 4½ knots, on April 27th followed by 'Easy' on the 28th and `Charlie' and 'Baker' at roughly twenty-four hour intervals thereafter. LCH 101, in company with LCH 267 & 317 sailed from Kyaukpyu on April 29th in assault convoy Charlie; LCH 317 broke down on May 1st and was taken in tow by one of their escorts, the Indian sloop CAUVERY.
Once assembled the ships of the four convoys formed into two assault groups’ code named W 1 & W 2.

Assault Group W 1, commanded by Captain E. Tyndale Cooper, consisted of the Landing Ships (Infantry) PERSIMMON and BARPETA, Landing Craft (Headquarters)  317, 4 Landing Craft (Infantry), 9 Landing Craft (Tank), 3 Landing Craft (Gun), 2 Motor Launches and 4 Harbour Defence Motor Launches. Assault Group W 2, commanded by Captain T. I. S. Bell DSC, consisted of the Landing Ships (Infantry) SILVIO, GLENROY and PRINCE ALBERT, Landing Craft (Headquarters) 101, 10 Landing Craft (Infantry), 8 Landing Craft (Tank), 2 Landing Craft (Gun), and an unstated number of Motor Launches and Harbour Defence Motor Launches.

The assault convoys arrived at the lowering positions 30 miles off the Yangon River during the night 1st/2nd May; Captain Tyndale Cooper, Senior Officer Assault Group WI, with Brigadier L. V. Hutcheson commanding the 71st Indian Infantry Brigade, transferred from HMS NITH to LCH 317. Captain Bell with Brigadier I. Lauder, commanding the 36th Indian Infantry Brigade, transferred from HMS WAVENEY to LCH 101. At 0230 on May 2nd the assault group were formed up on the LCHs, once the manoeuvre was completed the two groups set off for the beaches. The Landing craft touched down shortly after 7 o'clock, Assault Group WI at Kyauktan Creek on the Eastern bank of the Yangon River, Assault Group W2 at Sadinghmut on the Western bank. There was no opposition; the Japanese had left Rangoon. The first troops landed in Rangoon Town at 1700 on 3rd May. All assault vessels were released for return to India on May 8th.

 

Operation ZIPPER

After the Japanese surrender plans to accept the surrender of Singapore were put into action, originally this was part of Operation ZIPPER but political constraints meant that no landing could take place until after the signing of surrender in Tokyo on September 2nd, 1945. The delays meant that all plans were now to change; thus, the reoccupation of Malaya would take place in three phases. Phase one would be the recapture of Penang Island (Operation JURIST). Phase two would be the recapture of Singapore by the 5th Indian Division (Operation TIDERACE). Phase three would be the sea borne assault of North West Malaya in the Port Dickson, Port Swettenham area with landings near Morib with the 25th Indian Division and the 37th brigade of the 23rd Indian Division; this was a modified ZIPPER, carried out as planned and rehearsed, but the covering air and sea bombardment had been cancelled. The forces participating in these three operations were escorted by the Battleships NELSON, flying the flag of Admiral Walker, and RICHELIEU, the cruisers NIGERIA, CLEOPATRA, and CEYLON, with air cover from the 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, comprising of ROYALIST (Commodore Oliver) and the escort carriers HUNTER, STALKER, ARCHER, KHEDIVE, EMPEROR and PURSUER, and fifteen destroyers,.

At 1200 hours on August 28th HM Ships NELSON, CEYLON, ATTACKER, HUNTER, TARTAR, PETARD, VOLAGE, PRINCESS BEATRIX and QUEEN EMMA arrived off Penang Island for Operation JURIST. On September 1st the C-in-C East Indies Fleet, Admiral Sir Arthur Power transferred from CLEOPATRA to NELSON at George Town, the official surrender of Japanese forces on Penang Island was signed on the 2nd. At 08:00 the following day 400 Royal Marines under the command of Lt. Colonel G B Grant were landed from the LSIs PRINCESS BEATRIX and QUEEN EMMA. This was Force Roma, formed in July from the Marine Detachments aboard NELSON, CEYLON, NIGERIA and PHOEBE,

At 0500 hours on the 8th NELSON in company with the light cruisers CEYLON and NIGERIA, escorted by destroyers NUBIAN, PALADIN and RELENTLESS sailed from George Town to cover the ZIPPER assault convoys on route to their assembly point off Port Swettenham: they were to be joined by the escort carriers EMPEROR, HUNTER, KHEDIVE, and STALKER to provide air cover for the landings.

LCH 101, 168 & 248 in company with LCI(L)s 115, 121, 127, 136, 183, 217, 256, 266, 277, 305, 311, sailed from Mandapam, India on August 31st in assault convoy JMD1C for Operation ZIPPER. Other convoys had sailed from Bombay and from Cochin, from Madras and Vizagapatam, from Calcutta and Chittagong and Rangoon. The ZIPPER assault convoys converged on the Malayan coast off Port Swettenham. Once assembled at first light on September 9th the ships of the assault convoys formed into two assault groups’ code named W 1 & W 2. As for DRACULA Senior Officer' Assault Group W1 was aboard HMS NITH and that of W2 aboard HMS WAVENEY. On reaching the lowering point off Morib the Assault Group Senior Officers transferred to the LCHs, It is not clear which Landing Craft Headquarters were used by which assault group. The landings were not a success, numerous factors and mistakes made by the need to revise the plans several times resulted in stranded vehicles and ships; the beach survey was wrong, the sand was not suitable for heavy machinery which bogged down and blocked the beaches. The assault was actual an hour late in its execution, Force W was operating on Ceylon time, not Burma time so the expected high tide had in fact ebbed. On September 12th a new beach was opened farther south, at Cape Rachado, where the 23rd Division landed without any of the difficulties met at Morib. By the time the beaches were closed, Morib on 25th and Cape Rachado on 28th September, 63,838 troops, 7,337 vehicles and 25,671 tons of stores had been landed over them.

HMS NELSON and much of the covering forces sailed for Singapore later on the 9th once the beach head had been establish, arriving there at 0830 hours on the 10th. Operation TIDERACE forces had arrived in Singapore on September 4th 1945, meeting no opposition. By 1800, the Japanese had surrendered their forces on the island to Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Christison aboard HMS SUSSEX. The formal surrender was finalised on September 12th at Singapore City Hall. Over 90 vessels were present in Keppel Harbour and Singapore Roads at the time of the surrender. It is unclear where LCH 101 went after her release from ZIPPER operations.


Post War

Since LCHs could accommodate individual personnel they were employed transporting officers and medical teams up and down the coasts of India and Burma. In December some of the LCI(L) flotillas sailed to Cochin, others top Singapore, where many of the ships were decommissioned and the crews paid off.

LCH 101 was returned to US custody on March 17th 1946 (possibly in the Philippines), and struck from the U.S. Naval Register. She was sold on February 13th 1948, fate unknown.

Primary information sources


Additional sources
NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive LCH-101 entry
www.uboat.net index of British and American LCI(L)
navypedia.org RN AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS AND CRAFT
D-Day : The assault Allied Landing Craft and Ships  LCH specifications
Combined Operations Staff Notebook (1945)  Accessed July 2015
War Diaries: Found on www.fold3.com
US Naval Ammunition Depot, St. Juliens Creek, Virginia,
U.S. Naval operating Base, Norfolk.
U.S. Naval operating Base, Bermuda.
U.S. Navy Yard, New York.
Admiralty War Diaries - various dates

 

Last modified: 21 May 2017