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

Vehicles and tanks coining ashore from an L.C .T. (Landing Craft, Tanks) reasons. First of all, the designs had to abe compromise of all the require­ments. Shallow draught was a first essential, but strong armour was another. Speed was needed, abut reasonable load must be carried, which affected both speed and draught. Armour, too, meant increased weight and draught. The assault craft could not voyage long distances from ashore base, for lack of size and fuel accom­modation. They must be carried in .troopships and lowered when the point of attack was reached. This, too, im­posed a limit on size and weight, for they had to be carried at davits in place of ships’ boats. In any case, the davits, and often the hoisting gear, had to be strengthened to take them. No, it was no easy task, and there were other things to think of before modifications were made. The princi­pal one was the need for keeping the same design, so that production could goon as quickly as possible without any hold-up while changes were made, for by this time we were very conscious of the need for larger and larger num­bers of all types of craft. By 1941 they were being inbuilt every creek and yacht yard, on all the slips in the British Isles, and not only there but on the rivers and at factories and workshops far inland. America was sending us large numbers of engines under the Lease-Lend scheme, and everything was going forward rapidly. Still production was not great enough, and a mission went to America. Its reception was not enthu­siastic at first, but after Pearl Harbour in December, 1941, the U.S.A. got down to the job of mass-producing landing craft of all types with a will. By this time many more types were in production, notably the landing craft (tank), ships 200 feet long, broad of beam, but of shallow draught, Diesel- driven sea-going craft carrying a num­ber of tanks or large vehicles in a roomy well deck. Like the assault types, they are blunt-nosed craft with a ramp door forward, which is lowered when the craft beaches, so that the cargo maybe driven off. They are unhandy ships, with quarters more cramped and ex­posed than the average trawler crew would like, and in heavy weather they are the last word in discomfort. But they do their job, and have done soever since some of them took part in the Dieppe raid. Several were con­verted into flak ships, and these too did good work there. As the plans for invasion advanced, the need for numbers became more and more obvious, not merely for putting troops ashore but, more important still, keeping them supplied. It takes 30,000 tons of stores to keep 100,000 men in the fighting line for a week. That is three tons for every ten men: and all of those stores would have to be landed by sea, perhaps for months after the initial landing had been made. Then came another problem. The Navy was not only building thousands of landing craft. Ships were needed, too, patrol craft of all kinds as well as big ships, and these had to be manned. The Navy’ s manpower was not un­limited. So, in 1943, it was decided that the Royal Marines should be trained to man the minor craft, leaving the L.C.Ts. and larger craft to the Navy. This helped considerably, and large numbers of the craft which opened the Second Front were manned by the Marines, some of whom put ashore their shore-going brothers of the Royal Marine Commandos. As both units had been formed from the former Royal Marine Infantry Division, most of the crews of the craft had done the same work in training which their pals were 163 A tank noses its way tip the beach from an L.C .M .(Landing Craft, Mechanized)
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