Landing Craft Headquarters Ship

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Battle Honours /Campaigns


SICILY 1943

NORMANDY 1944

BURMA 1945
 

 

Specifications

Builder: New Jersey Shipbuilding Corp., Barber, New Jersey, 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:
Unknown

Lt. S. Henry D.S.C.  Autumn 1944 - March 1946


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H.M.L.C.H. 317

 

No images exist of LCH 317, this is her Sister ship LCH 101. Photo cutesy of Mr. Tony Bull
 

Early history

Ordered and delivered as a Landing Craft Infantry (Large) for the US Navy she was built by the New Jersey Shipbuilding Corp.,  Barber, New Jersey. She was laid down on November 21st 1942 and was to be completed as a U.S. Navy Flotilla Flagship and was launched on December 12th. She was transferred to the Royal Navy under the lend-lease agreement on February 16th 1943 and commissioned as LCI(L)-317.

From Barber, New Jersey, she sailed 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, for repairs and alterations. Here the installation of plastic armour, sounding equipment, sponsons and flareplates was completed, 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 27th she sailed in company with LCI(L)s 114, 117, 185, 187, 249, 250, 253, 260, 263, 269, 273, 275, 296, 297, 298, 299, 314, for Gibraltar in the sixth delivery flight of these new craft; from Gibraltar the flight preceded to Algiers, here they were allocated to operational flotillas.

LCI(L)-317 was in action during Operation ‘HUSKY’ the allied Invasion of Sicily, July 10th 1943 putting ashore men from the 51st Highland Division before sailing for Malta later that day. She next participated in Operation ‘BAYTOWN’ on September 3rd 19 43 landing troops of the Northants Regiment at Reggio, Italy.

Conversion to a Headquarters Ship

Having arrived in the UK in early 19 44 she underwent a period of modification to covert her into a Landing Ship (Headquarters). This involved turning 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. Additional single cabins were installed to accommodate assault force staff officers when embarked.

Operation NEPTUNE

On June 1 1944 she was at Southampton as part of the massing assault forces of Operation NEPTUNE, the seaborne invasion of Normandy. LCH 317 was one of four Landing Craft Headquarters ships in assault force G, group G1 operating with LCH-100, 187, and 275, the LSI(L)s EMPIRE ARQUEBUS,, EMPIRE CROSSBOW, EMPIRE SPEARHEAD, and GLENEARN.
LCH 317 and 187 were part of the Ferry Craft Unit for the landings on Gold Beach, between Le Hamel and La Rivière, in the sectors code-named Jig and King. They were tasked with co-ordinating the rapid and almost continuous discharge of coasters, M.T. Ships, and personnel ships over the. LCH 317 was under the charge of Cdr. E. Heywood-Lonsdale R N., Senior Officer Ferry Craft, responsible for Motor Transport & personnel; LCH 187 under Cdr. H. Nicholas R.N.R., Senior Officer Ferry Craft, responsible for Stores; LCH 100 was carrying Cdr. R. Alexander R.N., Deputy Senior Officer Assault Group, sector “JIG”; and LCH 275 was carrying Cdr. E.N. Haines R.N., Deputy Senior Officer, Assault Group, sector “KING”.

The landing at Gold was set for 07:25 on the morning of June 6th 1945, By the end of D-Day, 24,970 men had been landed at Gold Beach, along with 2,100 vehicles and 1,000 tons of supplies. During an air raid the night of 7-8th June, Ensign D. R. Gardiner, D-V(G) USINR, and. Jack R. Spittle, EM2c, both attached to the Staff of Commander LST Flotilla 17, were wounded while aboard LCH 317 both men were part of the ferry craft administration staff , and received bullet and shrapnel wounds which necessitated their evacuation to England. On June 9th LCH 317 was further damaged by a German bomb but remained on station for a further two weeks before she withdrew and sailed to Southend, anchoring there on June 25th to await repairs.

 

Allocated to the East Indies Fleet

On completion of her repairs LCH 317 was moved to Collingwood Dock, Liverpool where LLt. S. Henry DSC, RNVR Lt. Sidney Henry DSC, MiD, RNVR.
Formerly in command of LCI(L) 131 which struck an underwater obstacle on Sword Beach during the Normandy landings. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in rescuing the injured soldiers who survived when a mine attached to the obstacle exploded below no.2 troop deck; after extracting his seriously damaged ship from the beach he delivered them to the casualty clearing station aboard the cruiser HMS Arethusa before limping back to Newhaven where she was beached.
was appointed as her new commanding officer. After some crew changes she sailed for Birkenhead Dock for a compass swing before proceeding to Troon in Scotland to work-up. At Troon the crew participated in exercises designed to bring the ship up to operational readiness before being reassigned to operate with the East Indies fleet and the upcoming invasion of Singapore.

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. LCH 317 sailed as part of Flight ‘E’ which comprised of 36Landing Craft from several Flotillas, some were vessels that failed to sail with earlier Flights; these included 70th Flotilla LCT 1329; 334th Flotilla LCG(L) 18, 424, 426; 72nd Flotilla, LCTs 738, 741, 742, 913, 1147, 1149; 9th Flotilla LCTs 441, 451, 462, 466, 489, 7022, 7023. She embarked Lt. Cdr. Miller, R.N. Senior Officer ‘K’ LCT Squadron and his staff at Falmouth for passage to to Cochin, S. India; Lt. Cdr. Miller was in command of Flight ‘E’ during passage to Gibraltar. LCH 317s ultimate destination was Kyaukphyu on the Arakan coast of Burma.

 APPIAN Flight ‘E’ was due to sail from Falmouth on January 19th 1945 but sailing was delayed until the start of February due to bad weather in the Atlantic and Biscay areas. LCH 317 and the LCT squadron staff detatched from Flight ‘E’ at Gibraltar and preceded for Port Said to transit the Suez Canal, the LCTs follow on in their own time. On reaching Cochin Lt. Cdr. Miller and his staff were disembarked. Orders were received to make all speed to Kyaukphyu, Ramree Island as she had been allocated to participate in Operation DRACULA, the amphibious assault on Rangoon.

Operation DRACULA

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 4i knots, on 27th followed by 'Easy' on 28th and `Charlie' and 'Baker' at roughly twenty-four hour intervals thereafter.. LCH 317, in company with LCH 101 & 267 sailed from Kyaukpyu on May 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) LCH 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) LCH 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 W1, 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 assualt 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 W1 at Kyauktan Creek on the Eastern bank of the Yangon River, Assault Group W2 at Sadinghmut on the Western bank.

After encountering no opposition to the landings, the Japanese had already left Rangoon; Captain Tyndale Cooper ordered LCH 317 and several LCTs to proceed up the Yangon River towards Rangoon Town. LCT 1238 LCT 1238
7 members of the 13 man crew were report as Missing, Presumed Killed:

Ty/Act/Lieutenant Commander (E), Edward W KENNARD
Ty/Lieutenant, RNVR, William V JEFFREYS
Ty/Act/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, Leslie S MCKNIGHT
Act/Leading Seaman, P/SSX 15067, Jared HARBIN
Able Seaman, P/JX 425946, James H CRAIG
Able Seaman, D/JX 365952, Reginald HAILE
Stoker 1c, P/KX 526333, John A NEIGHBOUR
ran over a magnetic mine soon after entering the river killing three officers and 4 ratings. LCH 317 pressed ahead and secured alongside the quay in Rangoon Town at 1700 on May 3rd. The first troops were landed to discover the last Japanese had fled only hours before. The task of recovering the bodies from the wreck of LCT 1238 fell to the crew of LCH 317; Lt. Henry oversaw the burial of those men who could be found in graves ashore. All assault vessels were released for return to India on May 8th, LCH 317 departed for Mandapam after Captain Tyndale Cooper and his staff took up residence ashore.
 

Mandapam

On arrival at the RN Base at Mandapam LCH 317 joined the LCI(L) flotilla that was already stationed there under the overall command of Cdr. A.J. Villiers RNVR. The next few months were spent doing various ferry runs, including regular round trips to Colombo to carry WRNS personnel to attend weekly dances. In July she moved to Trincomalee with other assault forces in preparation for the next Operation –ZIPPER, the sea borne assault of North West Malaya in the Port Dickson, Port Swettenham area. Due to be executed in September 1945 ZIPPER was put on holdin AUgust when the Japanese surrender was announced after the dropping of the Atomic bombs. A modified plan for ‘ZIPPER’ was organised but could not be put into action until after the formal surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd. Although this still called for an amphibious assault in the Port Dickson, Port Swettenham area LCH 317 was not required for this.

 

Post War

It is not clear what duties were performed by LCH 317 after the war ended, she was almost certainly employed ferrying stores and equipment for humanitarian relief efforts as the allies liberated occupied territories. Lt. Henry left the ship in March 1946 to return to the UK, and LCH 317 was returned to US naval custody on April 13th 1946. She was struck from the Naval Register on June 5th 1946. The vessel was transferred to the State Department for disposal and sold February 13th 1948.
 



Primary information sources


Additional sources:

Gomm.,K. (Ed) (2013) 'Memories of a Matelot - Lt. Sid Henry DSC, RNVR'  Digger press http://www.diggerpress.com/


shipbuildinghistory.com New Jersey Shipbuilding, Barber NJ
shipbuildinghistory.com Landing Craft, Infantry (Large) - LCI(L)
NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive LCH-317 entry
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

 

Last modified: 21 May 2017