War Diary of Captain Alan W. Willis (Lieut.Cmdr. R.D. R.N.R. Ret’d )

extensive use of the ‘Mulberry Harbour ‘ constructed in the JUNO section.” The Mulberry Harbour he referred to was a remarkable British invention of steel tank sections that were towed across channel and sunk off the beach at Arramanches to form a harbour large enough to service the immediate needs of the Invasion. What is particularly striking when reading Alan’s notes is the remarkable work-load demanded of his ship. For 2 months, they were constantly crossing the Channel, loading and off-loading and navigating in waters where there must have been a perpetual traffic-jam of shipping, and requiring the most alert seamanship to keep them from collision at the same time making the variety of landfalls required of them-all without the benefit of radar. The scene now changes to Cardiff strangely enough. It is 5th.December 1944. Alan has at last been promoted to Lt.Commander, and already assumed his first command, that of another Tank Landing Ship - No. 11 ( why didn’t they have names ?) which had been refitting in Cardiff Docks and is now under orders to sail to Plymouth preparatory to leaving for the Far East .Here they loaded a Landing Craft (tank) on the Upper Deck and 22 D.U.K.W.s on the Main Deck.They proceeded to Milford Haven, where they linked up with a convoy departing on 19th December on passage to India, passing through the Mediterranean to Port Said, the Suez Canal and Aden, arriving after a lengthy and slow passage in Calcutta on 31st.January 1945. Here they offloaded their deck-cargo -the Landing Craft - launching it over the side by listing their ship to the required angle, and sliding the vessel off using steel runners - an interesting manoeuvre provided that you stood well clear! Immediately L.S.T. 11 was pressed into service recording 37 missions from the date of his arrival in India to V.E.Day (8th.May 1945) when they were to beach near Rangoon five days after the port had been re-taken. Again Alan writes with such a clear memory spanning all the years (dictated to Sheila of course): “After reloading we left Calcutta on 10th February for Chittagong arriving the next day where we embarked further personnel. We left on the 12th. arriving at Kyaukpyu on the Burma coast which was already in British hands .Here we beached successfully and discharged all vehicles .On Feb 14th LST.11. left Kyauk Pyu for the short journey north to Akyab (Burma) where we beached .All this while Allied troops were driving the Japs south -out of Burma. All LST’s were now acting independently, taking supplies and troops to back up our advance. For three months our ship was similarly occupied. There was the occasional air raid, but no Japanese naval craft were encountered.” Page 9
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