The Sea Cadet, No. 6, Vol. 2, February 1945

Landing Cruft b y “R.M .”Troops going ashore in L.C .As. (Landing Craft, Assault) Not many year sago landing craft, and all their associations with combined operations, were regarded as the Ugly Ducklings of the Royal Navy, despised as barges that no doubt had their use, but certainly had nothing else. All that is now a thing of the past. They finally came into their own when the Allies started to take the inoffensive Europe. Although a craft similar in idea to the landing craft (mechanized) was in being about the end of the last war, it was never used, and nothing more was done about such things until 1938, when the Munich crisis came and peace was really in the balance for the first time. Then an inter-Services establish­ment was setup to produce specimen types of craft and equipment. They began with three types: the landing craft, assault (L.C.A. for short), a small craft to carry men and capable of taking an infantry platoon fully equipped the landing craft, mechan­ized (or L.C.M.), for vehicles and the landing craft, support, which really 162 was not a landing craft at all, since it did not beach and carry troops or equipment, but was a sort of miniature gunboat, powerfully armed for its size and carrying smoke apparatus. Its purpose was speedy inshore support wherever needed. The first of these to run trials was the L.C.A. they took place in the Clyde only one month be­fore the war started. As a result of these trials a limited number of the three types of craft were ordered by the Government but their first jobs were not in attack they were in retreat, and they proved their worth in this as well, notably at Narvik and Dunkirk. They were to be used for their right purpose very soon after­ wards, and they have never looked back. Their real chance came with the fall of France. So long as Britain had France for her ally, she had at her dis­posal all of France’ sports at which to land men and stores for a war in Europe. When France fell and Britain was back heron own soil, knowing that she must somehow start afresh by landing on enemy-occupied coasts, it was soon obvious that the answer was landing craft, and thousands of them. Not only that, but more types, because various weather and geographic condi­tions required different designs, and some types of craft needed more armour than others, or more deck space, according to their role in the operation. That this is so is shown by the fact that before the invasion of Europe took place there were more than fifty different types of landing craft. They had plenty of work to do, even in 1940, when raids began to be made on Europe, the sneak raids that paved the way to St. Nazaire and Dieppe, and enabled us to learn a good deal about the enemy and at the same time dis­cover weaknesses in our own equip­ment. These weaknesses were a headache to the designers, and unless they were serious disadvantages the best was very often made of them, for several
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