The War Illustrated, No. 238, Vol. 10, August 2nd 1946

Great Stories of the War Retold The two to the west were American and came under the commando f R ear-A dm iral Alan G. Kirk, U.S.N. The first problem was to get these forces safely, and at the same time, into the assault area. Considering the vessels in three classes alone, the warships had two o r three times the speed o f the big transports, and the transports had a similar advantage over the L.S.T.s. Broadly, the major problem in co-ordination was overcome in this way :five channels were swept from a point 13 miles out to sea from the Isle o f Wight and then, half-way to France, each channel was divided into two. This permitted the faster ship? that had started later to overtake the slower units and fit into their appointed positions. Minesweepers headed the whole procession, and with them went the dan- buoy laying craft which marked the channels like so many streets. Five British regiments and three American units handled these strange fighting monsters on D-D ay. The British regiments were the 4/7th Dragoon Guards, the 13 18th Hussars, the Nottingham shire Yeomanry, the 1st Canadian Hussars and the Fort Garry Horse. The Germans were dumbfounded by the D.D.s (Duplex Drive) and readily surrendered*to them. Novelties in the Great Build-Up Their discarded*' skirls ”were to be seen in the squares and streets o f such beach towns as Courseulles and Bernieres, and days after the assault I heard French villagers arguing as to what they were. The general view was that they were some kind o f col­lapsible boat, and a diligent search went on for the “bottoms "that would have filled the large holes which were, in fact, the size and shape of the tank hulls. O f four hundred fire from the .CL .T.s that brought them in- While the minesweepers went rapidly to workout in the wide anchorage, demolition teams operated onshore. Their task was one o f the most unpleasant in the whole invasion. inGoing with .the first wave, they had to work against time to clear the beaches for the strong support forces coming just behind. While the initial battle still raged, they had to deal with mined stakes and dispose o f the live French shells. This meant that, far from taking cover, they had to climb onto the exposed stakes and even onto each others’ shoulders. Charges had to be fixed to explode the German mines. In this they were greatly hampered by the choppy sea conditions. There were many brilliant novelties in the great build-up which went on throughout D-Day and the anxious days that followed. Among these were the rhino ferries, which proved invaluable. Huge, self-propelling landing stages, the rhinos carried stores o r became landing jetties. They could be loaded with immense quantities, and it was quite comm onto seethe “skip­per ”of one o f these craft, perched high on amass Of cases, passing his in­structions by hand signal to the two coxswains handling the outboard motors in the stern. (See illus. on left.) Ducks (D.U .K.W .s) swarmed about the in­vasion fleet, often handled by American coloured troops. They provided an endless belt on which supplies flowed unfailingly from ship to shore. Loaded at the side o f a ship per­haps a mile or more out, they made their way in under their own power, grounded and then dragged themselves up onto the metal webbing putdown on the sands. outWith­ stopping, they checked through a control point and trundled down the narrow French roads to ammunition and store dumps. Empty, they went back by another route to the sea, plunged into the water and headed out for another load. They were successful beyond all expectations, and the tonnages put ashore by them in the early stages were triumphantly chalked upon beach headquarters noticeboards as a source of inspiration to any who might doubt our ability to sustain the thousands flocking ashore. (See illus. in page '301, Vol. 7.) Tater ,the Gooseberries were formed by sinking a number o fold ships stem to stern close in-shore. Inside these artificial shelters many small craft assembled. There were converted barges with fully equipped work- shop-lorries secured in their depths, water carriers, floating cookhouses (L .C.K .s)and vessels that answered other problems of the great invasion. T o move among them was to be in a busy, floating township and it was almost impossible to believe that, not so many hours before, the Germans had looked out over its site onto a deserted seascape. The Mulberries (see pages 430-434, Vol. 8), were built up even later, and although one of these amazing pre-fabricaled ports was not destined to survive the unexpected frenzy of the storm that descended on the anchorage a fortnight later, they remained, perhaps, the most remarkable monument to the ingenuity o f men who were determined to land armies from the sea in away never known before^ GOING ASHORE ON THE NORMANDY BEACH-HEAD, after the Allied landings on June 6,!944, is a self-propelleu, heavily laden Rhino Ferry, specially designed for “Operation Overlord.” These craft were adapted as pontoons between landing ships and beach, or as wharf or dry dock, or (as above) for conveying trucks and ambulances. See also illus. in page 102, Vol. 8. Photo, British Newspaper Pool Before the invasion armada sailed, it was “swimming ”tanks used by the Allies on recognized that the congestion o f vessels in D-D ay only one was sunk, it has since been the assault area would be very great. One stated. (See illus in pages 400-401, Vol. 9.) secret weapon which had been tested and Both tank bridges and ramp tanks were used found successful was ruled out because o f successfully by the Royal Arm oured Corps this. It was known as the L.C.G .(T). and anc| the Royal Engineers on the Normandy was a heavily arm oured gun-tow er mounted beaches and farther inland. Sea-front walls on twin pontoons driven by Diesel power. ancj specially built anti-tank walls were The L.C.G.(T)s were to head the invasion mounted by these vehicles which were and carryout a close-up bombardment with designed to overcome deep ditches and howitzers. When they were a thousand cratered roads. Developed by a team of yards lessor from the shore these bombard- A rm y officers, civilian scientists and technical mcnt towers were to "scuttle themselves, experts, they included a scissors type bridge Sitting firmly on the sea bottom with only carried folded on top o f a Valentine tank the arm oured casements showing above which was automatically unfolded by a water, it was intended that they should keep mechanism operated from inside the tank up a constant fire on the enemy during the a Churchill bridge-layer, which consisted assault. When they had fulfilled their 0 f a 30-foot span steel trackway mounted function, powerful compressors were to Gn top o f the tank hull which was raised by a blow the water out of the pontoons in pivot armand carried forward and lowered preparation for the return trip to England. across the gap :two trackways made up of hornbeam sections o f the small box-girder A NOTHt-R secret weapon that was used— the bridge, fixed together to form abridge “D.D .”—had the advantage o f mobility which was projected in front o f the tank and over the L.C.G .(T).It was a floating tank a Churchill tank with the 'turret removed and which the War Office gave Mr. Nicholas track-ways on the top. In the last type, Straussler encouragement to experiment on as additional track-ways projected in front earky as 1941. A collapsible screen was fitted and behind the tank. The tank was driven to the hullo f the tank, and this, when erectcd, directly into the gap and the ramps lowered enabled the tank to float. Power came from to enable vehicles to pass right over it. (See propellers at the rear operated by the main illus. in page 237, Vol. 9.) In the assault, many driving shaft. Within a few seconds o f o f the tanks became amphibious in another getting ashore the D.D.s could shake off sense. Their guns provided concentrated their canvas “skirts ”and fight as land craft. #page 228
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