- Contributed by
- Huddersfield Local Studies Library
- People in story:
- J Armitage
- Location of story:
- U.K and abroad
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 14 February 2004
This story has been submitted to the People's War website by Pam Riding of Kirklees Libraries on behalf of J. Armitage and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I received my call up papers and joined the Royal Navy in March 1943. After initial training at H.M.S."GANGES" at Shotley in Suffolk.Then, extra courses of balloon barrage handling, signalling and gunnery, I was drafted into Combined Operations.Most of my sea time service was on landing craft.
I was drafted on to a L.C.T (Landing Craft Tank) capable of carrying up to nine tanks or perhaps a dozen truck, top speed 10 knots. These landing craft were not designed for the crew (2 officers, 10 ratings) to live on board, but it so happened we did just that and our messdeck was very crowded and uncomfortable indeed. One ruling was that the last seaman on board was the cook and I dropped in for this and hated every minute of it. We were based at Portland in Dorset and trawled up and down the Dorset coast picking up troops, tanks and transport and then practising beaching on different parts of the coast. We operated mainly with Canadian or U.S. troops.
Just before D Day we relocated to Southampton, from where we joined the invasion armada. Back and forwards across the Channel we went, beaching our boats almost exclusively on OMAHA beach which was for U.S. troops. The most frightening incident was an attack by Stuka dive bombers.
It must have been around October 44 when our flotilla (34th L.C.T) was sent across to Arromanche. The Mulberry harbour was not now needed as the Channel ports were now in use. The metal causeways and floating supports (bugs) were dismantled and we transported them along the coast to Ouistraham in the Caen Canal and dumped them on the canal bank just above the Pegasus Bridge. There must have been hundreds of thousand tons of scrap metal there. Perhaps George Dawson bought it for his scrap business.
Most times when we had unloaded we would tie up to the canal bank overnight and return to Arromanche the next day. I do remember we had a very severe winter and our mooring ropes would freeze solid, we could not coil them in and had to hit them with a seven pound hammer and man handle them on board in six foot lengths and this is not a sailors tale. Christmas night 44 I had been ashore to the local village Ranville, most of the bars in the village were empty and returning on board I realised why, there was a huge air raid shelter in the canal bank and practically the whole village was having a celebration there, where the food and wine came from I don't know, but I was made very welcome. This would be the populations first free Christmas for a number of years, Boxing Day was also my 21st birthday. We returned to the U.K. about March 1945 to commission an L.C.I. (L) but that is another story.
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