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Action South of Ploca Point

by Vernon Copeland

Contributed by 
Vernon Copeland
Location of story: 
Dalmatian Islands
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
A2992854
Contributed on: 
11 September 2004

September 27th/28th 1944

HMLCG(L) 14 & HMLCF(L) 14

HMLCG 14 and HMLCF 14, both towing LCP’s sailed from Komiza (Isle of Vis), at about 14.30 hours on September 27th for the purpose of patrolling the area south of Ploca Point and westward of Arkandjel Island.

We arrived in the patrol area at about 20.00 hours and took up position as close as possible to the land. In the meantime, a small party had been landed from LCF 14 on Arkandjel Island by LCP. The object of this party was to establish at W/T position on the summit of the Island, and thereafter keep the main party informed of the movements of any enemy craft.

At about 21.30 hours, two enemy craft, probably ‘E’ Boats or slightly larger craft, were sighted to westward. They were proceeding in an East South Easterly direction. We endeavoured to intercept and engage the enemy by steering a South South Easterly course between Arkandjel Island and Muljica Velika Rock and proceeding at full speed. However by reason of his superior speed we were unable to manoeuvre into position south of Arkandjel Island in time to bring our guns to bear, before we lost contact with the enemy against the dark background of Drvenik Mali Island. It was quite possible we were seen by the two craft in question.

Thereafter we returned to the waiting area eastward of Ploca Point and rejoined LCF 14.

It was a very dark night, intermittent rain showers were experience, and visibility was poor and estimated to be not more than 300/400 yards.

Just before 01.45 hours on September 28th reports were received from the Observation Position to the effect, that several enemy craft had proceeded through the channel between Arkandjel Island and the mainland in a westerly direction. Accordingly we proceeded in a westerly direction keeping a good lookout for them.

At about 01.45 hours we fired Star Shells to the southwards in which direction it had been reported by lookouts that craft could be dimly seen. Of the twenty Star Shells fired only two opened and illuminated targets consisting of three small craft proceeding on a westerly course. The landing craft was later identified by crewmembers as a schooner or caique, the other two were ‘I’ Boats.

We at once opened fire with our 4.7-inch guns using HE shells and the Pom-Poms on our port side, the range was estimated to be about 2000 yards.

LCF 14 fired at the rear ship of the line, which they had seen illuminated by our Star Shells.

No counter fire was observed. The result of our shooting was uncertain in the darkness. However, of the HE shells fired, one was seen by the guns crew to hit the stern of the leading ship and the resultant flash afterwards enabled the guns crew to identify the silhouette as that of the schooner or caique. It was possible that the other two craft were hit by Pom-Pom fire, but no evidence of this was available.

Owing to the failure of the Star Shells we ceased firing when the targets could no longer be seen, and steered a southwesterly course to intercept and close the target if possible.

Shortly afterwards at about 02.00 hours, about five small craft, definitely identified from silhouettes as ‘I’ Boats were observed bearing Green 20 degrees and distance less than 200 yards.

It was still very dark. The ‘I’ Boats were proceeding to the westward in a close group. The order to open fire was given and both 4.7-inch guns and the starboard Pom-Pom commenced firing and hitting the targets at once. The action lasted little more than minutes.

A Star Shell was fired to illuminate the targets, hit by the HE Shells and Pom-Poms was continuous hitting and two possibly three of the enemy craft appeared to disintegrate and sink. No counter fire was seen from the ‘I’ Boats. Although the others were hit and no doubt badly damaged, they were not definitely seen to sink, but seemed to disappear in the darkness.

No survivors were picked up. In the darkness it was most difficult to ascertain whether any of the craft had troops aboard. However members of the forward guns crew are confident that at least one of the ‘I’ Boats had certainly more men on board than would be required as a crew.

At the time reports were coming through from the Observation Position that ‘E’ Boats were in the vicinity and it was considered inadvisable to stop and search for survivors or wreckage in the circumstance.

Thereafter we rejoined LCF 14 in the waiting area. The plight of the Observation Party was causing concern at the time because they had seen two small enemy craft to land on Arkandjel Island. The possibility of attacking the enemy craft was considered, but it was proved that the enemy were apparently unaware of their presence and had evidently only sought refuge on the Island from our attacks. The enemy craft departed after about an hour.

At about 04.00 hours, in company with LCF 14 each with a LCP in tow, we made a wide detour of the area and closed Arkandjel Island at dawn in order to take off the Observation Party.

After cruising round the Island to make sure that no enemy was there, LCF 14 embarked the party by means of an LCP at about 06.00 hours.

Later we cruised round the area with a view to ascertaining whether there were any bodies or wreckage. At the time a wind force 6 and rain prevailed. No wreckage or bodies were seen.

At about 07.00 hours we secured alongside LCF 14 in Sicenica Bay after LCP reconnoitred. From that time until about 16.10 hours all was quiet. However at about 16.10 hours, the enemy commenced shelling with guns thought to be 88mm. About twenty shells were fired, all fell within the Bay, and several being near misses. It appeared to be an indirect shoot as no flashes could be seen. Shelling ceased when both craft had cleared the Bay to seaward, steering a southerly course.

The LCP’s were taken in tow again at about 18.00 hours when we were well clear of Sicenica Bay.

No damage or casualties were sustained in action. However, the LCP secured alongside our port side, when getting underway to evade the shelling, carried away the pipe containing the DG to which she had attached one mooring rope.

In the absence of Radar, the establishing of a Observation Party with wireless on Arkandjel Island proved a good substitute, and kept us well informed regarding enemy movements.

The result of the patrol was that the enemy lad lost two probably three of his craft, and damage to several others, in an area where the enemy is known to be already short of shipping.

On orders from the SNO on the Isle of Vis, we returned to our base at Komiza to prepare for another operation to commence on October 1st.

Harry Turley (M28) In writing this article I am indebted to our late ‘Skipper’ Lt Sam Armstrong DSC RNVR.

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