Saturday, January 22, 2022

Photographs: Canadians in "Combined Operations" (Pt 3)

 Canadians Knew Landing Crafts Inside-out and Backwards

The Training Took Them to Dieppe, North Africa and More

A wartime photograph of a drawing of a landing craft, personnel (large) or LCPL,
three views mounted on card, and a landing craft, mechanised or LCM, two views
mounted on card. One of a series of photographic reproductions of D. Moira
Cruickshank's landing craft: Photo Credit - The D-Day Story


In the unique text by Clayton Marks (RCNVR, Combined Ops) his Table of Contents reveals he covers a wide variety of events and operations in which Canadians were involved, particularly as their actions related to the use of various landing crafts.

The contents continue on a 2nd page, and conclude with
In Memoriam - "We Will Remember", Page 218

The first group of photos shared below relate to one of the landing crafts put to use during the Dieppe Raid, August 19, 1942 - and a few months later during the invasion of North Africa - so the two sections of text that follow from Infantry Landing Ships (see Table of Contents above), beginning on Page 15, provide a bit of background information:

DIEPPE - Operation Jubilee

The Dieppe raid, which took place on the 19th of August, 1942, had originally been planned to be staged six weeks earlier but, while waiting off the Isle of Wight for weather conditions to improve, "Prinses Josephine Charlotte" and "Prinses Astrid" were both hit by bombs during a sudden air attack on the 7th of July. The former vessel was so badly damaged in her engine room that she was unable to take part in the postponed operation. However, two new LSI(H)'s - the railway steamers "Duke of York", renamed "Duke of Wellington", and "Invicta" - had been commissioned on May 30th and June 3rd respectively and were now able to join "Prinses Astrid" and her sisters "Prince Leopold" and "Prince Charles" in this controversial enterprise. The "Glengyle", the only one of the three "Glen" ships not undergoing repair at that time, also took part in the raid, in which she was accompanied by "Prins Albert""Queen Emma" and "Princess Beatrix". The latter ship had some of her davits wrecked and her side and structure damaged in a collision with "Invicta" but, nevertheless, all the LSI's returned to base immediately after lowering their craft ten miles off the French coast.

NORTH AFRICA - Operation Torch

One of the few areas where a major Anglo-American amphibious operation could successfully be mounted in 1942 was Vichy-French north-west Africa. Accordingly, late on the evening of October 26th, the LSI(H) "Ulster Monarch" weighed anchor in the Clyde as part of a convoy of fifty ships which, next day, formed into ten columns for the voyage out into the Atlantic, destined for the Straits of Gibraltar, on a wide semi-circular course about 1,000 miles west of Spain. Approaching the Mediterranean, the convoy divided into two parts with sixteen LSI's routed to Oran and the remaining eleven to Algiers. Both sections were scheduled to reach their assault positions early on the morning of November 8th, simultaneously with the arrival off the Atlantic coast of Morocco of ninety-four units of an American task force, which had sailed direct from the U.S.A. (Combined Operations, pages 16 - 17)

Two pages of photos follow the above text (all but one previously shared) in order to, in part, introduce readers to infantry landing ships, LCAs and LCMs. The photo not shared from C. Marks' book connects us to The Dieppe Raid. It follows along with Marks' offering of a map re the raid:

LCP885 as found on page 24

"The Raid on Dieppe" as found on page 25

Related photos of LCPs from other sources follow:

Landing Craft, Personnel (Large) (LCPL) prior to the Dieppe Raid
St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War, page 53

LCPs and LCI(L) crossing the English Channel on the way to Dieppe.
At 0347, August 19, Canada's first losses were recorded. Details, page 60
St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War, page 54

A training exercise involving several LCPs at HMS Quebec; smoke screens
hide the familiar landscape surrounding Loch Fyne. Imperial War Museum

A11230 A naval motor-launch seen with four of the landing craft personnel
(large) used during the Combined Operations daylight raid on Dieppe. The
landing craft are numbered (left - right) LCP (L) 85, LCP (L) 41, number
not visible and R 145. Lt. L. Pelman, Royal Navy official photographer,
Admiralty Official Collection, Imperial War Museum (IWM)

H14597 Troops coming ashore from a landing craft under a smoke screen
during Combined Operations training at Inveraray, Scotland. "Mad Jack"
Churchill can be seen holding a sword. Capt. W.T. Lockeyear (IWM)

Drawings by D. Moira Cruickshank (WNRS) were used as instructional aids for new members of Combined Operations (e.g., Canadians in February - March, 1942) in training camps like HMS Northney (1 - 4) on Hayling Island:

The following notes accompanied the drawings:

A wartime photograph of a drawing of a landing craft, personnel (large) or LCPL, three views mounted on card, and a landing craft, mechanised or LCM, two views mounted on card. One of a series of photographic reproductions of D. Moira Cruickshank's landing craft, which were circulated for Royal Navy training during the Second World War. It is part of the papers of D. Moira Cruickshank relating to her service in the WNRS (Women's Royal Naval Service or Wrens) during the Second World War. From 1942 to 1944 she was based at H.M.S. Northney, Hayling Island, on drawing duties. She made drawings of different landing craft types, which were the photographed and widely circulated throughout the Royal Navy for training purposes. H.M.S. Northney was a shore base at a pre-war holiday camp, at which sailors received initial training on landing craft. Later in the war she served at Lyneham, where she painted murals in the officers's mess, and did posters about educational and vocational training.

Enlargement of the above LCPL:

A wartime photograph of a drawing of a landing craft, personnel (ramped)
or LCPR, three views mounted on card. One of a series of photographic
reproductions of Moira Cruickshank's landing craft. The D-Day Story

Immediately following the map entitled "The Raid on Dieppe" on page 25 of Combined Operations, presented earlier, Clayton provides a succinct three-page account of the August 19, 1942 raid along with many of the names of the reportedly 70 sailors and officers. I have added a few photographs - most of which Mr. Marks would not have had access to in the early 1990s:


August, 19, 1942

It was deemed a failure right from the original plan of operation. The original code word for this landing was "Rutter". It was accepted by Combined Operations and the Home Forces Staffs on April 25, 1942 and the landing was to commence by the 8th of July, 1942. On July 7th the German Air Force flew over Yarmouth Roads and sank landing ships. This, and the bad weather, convinced Mountbatten to cancel the complete operation.

Mountbatten and Churchill had a plan to remount "Rutter" on August 19, 1942 under the code word "Jubilee" with all the same participating forces. The Chiefs-of-Staff were on the wane and Dieppe was desperately needed to restore Combined Operations quickly growing ambitions. Bomber Command could not and would not supply heavy, accurate air bombardment, but could guarantee only limited indiscriminate bombing. The Naval Sea Lord could not supply sea power in the form of battleships due to the recent loss of the battleships "Prince of Wales" and the "Revenge" at Singapore in December of 1941. This left only destroyer sea power of 4-inch guns that could not damage the wall of defense along the French coast. At 2130 on the night of August 18th the landing ships slipped their moorings and headed out to sea on a cloudless and warm evening. The fleet consisted of 237 ships of all sizes from large Infantry landing ships to the 74 LCP's unarmed and unarmoured carrying 6,100 of all ranks.

A11233 Light naval craft covering the landing during the Combined Operations
daylight raid on Dieppe. MGB 321 is in the foreground whilst submarine chaser
Q 014 can be seen in the middle distance. Lt. L. Pelman, Royal Navy official
photographer, Admiralty Official Collection, Imperial War Museum (IWM)

H22612 The Dieppe shoreline viewed from a landing craft as it approached;
fires are burning visibly in the hinterland as a result of the naval and aerial
bombardment. Captain W.T. Lockeyear, War Office official photographer,
War Office Second World War OFFICIAL COLLECTION (IWM)

The story continues:

Many stories and acts of heroism have been told and will be retold over and over again. Officers and men of the British Army, Commandos, Royal Marines, American Rangers, Canadian Essex Scottish, Canadian Engineers, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, Hamilton Light Infantry, Fusiliers Mont Royal and the Royal Regiment of Canada, Black Watch, were all involved in this raid.

The perilous honour of the raid fell mainly to the Canadian Army and the Royal Navy, but members of the Naval team from Canada had a share. Training was not sufficiently advanced for the Canadians to operate as separate Flotillas when the Dieppe expedition sailed from Portsmouth, Shoreham and Newhaven on the night of August 18th; but among the British Landing Craft fifteen Canadian Officers and fifty-five Ratings were distributed.

Sub-Lieutenant C.D. Wallace was the first Canadian casualty. He was killed in the dark hours of the morning, when the Flotillas on the extreme left flank of the assault made the fatal encounter with a German convoy.

Photo and details as found in St. Nazaire to Singapore:
The Canadian Amphibious War, Volume 1, Page 60

The story continues:

Lt. J. E. Koyl, a Canadian who was to figure in many happier landings, was boat Officer of a Flotilla which included thirty-three Canadians. It left its parent ship, "Duke of Wellington", at 0334. As the craft neared the beach shortly after five, they came under heavy fire from shore.
They managed to land their three platoons of the Canadian Black Watch near Puys; but as they were withdrawing the British Flotilla Officer was seriously wounded and Lt. Koyl took charge. Continuing seaward, he transferred the wounded Officer to a British destroyer, and about 1200 when the evacuation of the beach was ordered, led his craft in again through heavy fire from shore and attack from the air. Before he could beach, however, he was ordered to turn back. German batteries were laying down a curtain of steel that made evacuation an impossibility.

[Editor's Note: Don Westbrook, a friend of my father, operated a landing craft during the raid under Koyl's command. Mr. Westbrook's son Gary (he and I met when we were children and later in life as adults) said the following in a phone conversation a few years ago: My father drove the landing craft back to a larger ship and yelled, "Don't send anymore men in; you're sending them to their death."]

Meanwhile, Sub-Lieutenants A. A. Wedd and J. E. Boak, each in command of one of the landing craft (Personnel) which had sailed directly from England, came into shore with their Flotilla a little east of Dieppe harbour. Passing through smoke and into the fire from the German weapons of all calibres, they landed their troops and withdrew. They were sent in an hour or so later to Dieppe harbour itself; but were recalled almost immediately and re-routed to one of the beaches near Puys.

Photo: Wikipedia2 A German MG34 medium machine gun emplacement
Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-291-1213-34 / Müller, Karl / CC-BY-SA 3.0

As they reached the inner fringe of the smoke shrouding the beach, they came upon a group of Canadian soldiers crouching on a capsized landing craft just off shore, and pinned down by fire. Although the soldiers waved and shouted at them to steer away, the craft ran close alongside, heaved ropes across and managed to rescue three of the men. Then, as the fire from shore blazed up to new intensity, the Flotilla was ordered to turn back from the beach. It was not to go in again. Like all of the other Flotillas, it was to have the memory, most poignant for the Canadians, of having left behind many of the soldiers it had brought ashore.

Unhappy as the immediate results of Dieppe were, the performance of the Canadians in the landing craft had been worthy of their brothers in the Army; and some of them remained with the soldiers as prisoners.

Lt. R.F. McRae stated:

"On August 19, 1942, at dawn, in our R-Boat, with Lloyd Campbell, Richard Cavanaugh, Robert Brown and a unit the Fusiliers Mont Royal, we were off the French coast which was invisible behind a heavy smoke screen and from which there came the awful noises of war. About 0730 the Flotilla got orders to go in and land the troops. We quickly formed up in line abreast, went through the smoke screen and saw that we were headed toward a beach under high cliffs with the heads of the enemy looking down over the top and pouring machine-gun fire into our boats. Campbell, who was at the wheel, took a line of bullets across his thighs (and later, as a P.O.W., lost his legs in successive amputations and died before Christmas from gangrene). Cavanaugh, who was standing next to him, got it in the chest and died an hour later when his lungs had filled up. Brown, though hit in the stomach, took over the wheel from Campbell. I was the lucky one and received only a piece of shrapnel in the ankle."

Robert (Bob) McRae writes, "the drawing of my experiences as a POW pianist."
Provenance Bob McRae: Found in St. Nazaire to Singapore, Vol. 1, Page 64

McRae's story continues:

"In the meantime, the engine had been blown up and was on fire and the plywood hull of the boat was well perforated, but we had enough weight on to make it to the beach. The troops scrambled ashore except for their Captain who had been standing up forward with us and was badly wounded, and I believe, dying. Some of the troops never made it across the beach which was strewn with their bodies, and those who did were easy targets for grenades lobbed down from above. There was no life in the boats on either side of us, and it was, I think, because they could see that I was busy with the wounded and that we were unarmed so that the Germans on the top of the cliffs gave up trying to finish us off.

"Some hours later, it was evident that a surrender had taken place when I saw a few German soldiers walking along the beach with a medical orderly. I jumped out of the boat to fetch the orderly for the wounded but our discussion was rudely interrupted by a Corporal with a machine-gun directing me, in no uncertain terms to a crevice in the cliff face, down which a rope had been lowered. A few surviving troops and myself were ordered to hoist ourselves up the rope, hand over hand. I did not see my crew again.

"I spent the first year as a P.O.W. in handcuffs in a British Army Officers camp and then was shifted to a British Naval Officers camp for the remainder of the war. The last two weeks were spent with a long straggling column of P.O.W.s being marched up to the Baltic and regularly being strafed by our own fighter aircraft.

The loss of Campbell and Cavanaugh and later Brown*, as you can see, was a complete waste and unnecessary."

R. Cavanaugh. Perhaps taken in the fall 1941, during initial training in Ottawa,
and before being transferred to HMCS Stadacona for further training.
Photo from the collection of Lloyd Evans, RCNVR, Combined Ops

R. Cavanaugh, Ottawa. Perhaps going back to HMCS Stadacona, January,
1942, after 9 days leave, having volunteered for Combined Operations.
Photo from the collection of Lloyd Evans, RCNVR, Combined Ops

Lloyd George Campbell, of London Ontario
Provenance - Kathryn Rollins

Lloyd's sister was Madeline Rollins who was married to John
Rollins. Provenance - Kathryn Rollins, John's grand-daughter

[*Editor: Robert Brown survived the war, returned to Canada, participated in navy reunions with mates - including Lt. R. F. McRae of Toronto - and is buried at the Six Nations Reserve, Brantford, Ontario.]

WWII veterans of RCNVR and Combined Operations reconnect at
the Woodstock Navy Club in August 1988. Photo from D. Harrison
L - R: Al Kirby, Robert Brown, Norm Bowen, Doug Harrison

Clayton's account continues:

Though there are still some who dispute the value of what was learned at Dieppe, they are not to be found among informed persons or among any who bore high responsibility in the later stages of the war, except for General Montgomery. There are others besides him who have criticized details of the raid, or the retention of Dieppe as the target after the original postponement. Mistakes were certainly made, and the Germans themselves were among their severest critics. They found fault with the rigidity of the plan, the frontal attack, the absence of parachutists, the failure to use bombers, the failure to land tanks at Quiberville. Fortunately they were confirmed in their belief that in our next landing we would go for a large port in the initial stages; and this erroneous conviction colored all their planning. They convinced themselves also that it was on the beaches that we would be most easily defeated, and they made their dispositions accordingly.

In fact we had learned that a frontal attack on a defended port was impracticable, and we never tried it again. A British General is on record as saying, not long afterwards, "Well, if we can't capture a port, we will have to take one with us". The Prime Minister had already and separately had the same idea.

In order that this grim experience should not be for nothing, a full and detailed report, with the lessons learned clearly deduced and codified, was compiled in C.O.H.Q.; printed, and given a wide circulation. No time was wasted in chewing the cud; it saw the light and was being closely studied in a very short space of time.

Combined Operations by C. Marks, pages 26 - 29

After Clayton concluded his account he listed the Combined Ops personnel who came from Canada. My father is not listed; he was on leave and writes, "I missed Dieppe by one day." 

As found in St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1, page 80

More photographs from Combined Operations by Clayton Marks of London, Ontario - and related photos and details - will soon follow.

Please click here to to view Photographs: Canadians in "Combined Operations", Part 2

Unattributed Photos GH

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