Training on Crafts in Inveraray, and More
[Photo: H9078. A Matilda tank leaving a landing craft during combined
operations training at Inverary in Scotland, 22 April 1941.
Photo - Capt. D’Eynecourt Tennyson, War Office Photog.
Imperial War Museum (IWM).]
The first draft of Canadian members of RCNVR - who also volunteered for Combined Operations - arrived in the U.K. in late January, 1942. After a training session on Hayling Island (HMS Northney), where they learned for the first time they would be handling landing crafts of various types, they were sent to HMS Quebec (Combined Operations No. 1 Training centre) for many demanding activities in preparation for an upcoming summer raid (at Dieppe) and invasion (N. Africa) in the fall.
One photograph below is of a practice exercise taking place under PM Winston Churchill's watchful eye. Another - of men training aboard landing crafts in Inveraray, dated Nov. 17, 1942 - was taken while the Canadians in C.O. were returning from the successful Allied landings in North Africa.
Besides revealing Canadian sailors training at HMS Quebec, photos appear that also reveal that Canadian army troops had to familiarize themselves with getting on and off landing crafts as well.
All photos and their informative captions are attributed to the Imperial War Museum. Explore their rich stock of photographs (11 million and rising) at Search Our Collection.
H11177. A landing craft containing a Valentine tank being launched down the
slipway of a landing ship during combined operations training on Loch Fyne
in Scotland, 27 June 1941. Photo - Major W.G. Horton, War Office, IWM.
The 'landing ship' above may very well be the Princess Iris or Daffodil, train ferries adapted for use with various landing crafts. PM Churchill is visible on the left side of the chute. Churchill and other dignitaries (e.g., Commanders Keyes and Mountbatten, King George VI) visited the C.O. camps throughout the U.K. on various occasions.
C.O. Comm. Keyes and PM W. Churchill. (Same location, same day?)
Photo as found in The Watery Maze, Page 97.
Photo as found in St. Nazaire to Singapore: Canadian Amphibious War
Soon after, my group was sent up the Loch to Irvine and I shall always remember that town.
We practiced running our ALC up the stern of the Iris and Daffodil, i.e., train ferries in peace time that carried whole trains across the channel between England and France. They were later to be used as ALC transports. Their sterns were nearly completely open, but with waves and a stiff wind blowing it was difficult to hit the opening.
We practiced and practiced, and once in, winches were used and helped get barges onto tracks. One day I just could not make it. I had a Seaman named Jake Jacobs and he said, “Let me see her. I’ll put her in there.” He pulled the ALC back, poured the coal to her and crashed right into the stern of the Iris. There was Hell to pay. Pages 15 - 16, "Dad, Well Done".
H11185. Troops rushing ashore from a landing craft during combined operations
training by 29th Infantry Brigade Group at Loch Fyne, Argyllshire.
War Office Official Photographer Major W.G. Horton. IWM.
H13625. Watched by an audience of local children, Canadian troops practice rowing
in ships boats at Inveraray in Scotland, prior to the raid on the Norwegian island
of Spitzbergen, 18 August 1941. Photo - Capt. D’Eynecourt Tennyson, IWM.
When the first draft of Canadians in Combined Operations returned to Canada in December, 1943 they were soon involved in other wartime activities. My father and close mates volunteered for 'General Service' with Combined Operations and were posted to a Combined Ops training camp on Vancouver Island where they remained until discharge in September, 1945. I am reminded of one of my father's duties there by the photograph of Canadian troops on navy cutters, above.
About some of his activities at Givenchy III, the Canadian Navy base at Comox, he writes the following:
In (January) 1944 I was stationed in barracks on a piece of land called “The Spit” at Comox on Vancouver Island, B.C. About a half mile of water separated the spit from Comox and to get ashore we had to be inspected and travel to Comox on a real Liberty boat....
I acted as Coxswain on large navy cutters as soldiers worked the oars. The cutters were 27 feet long and wide enough (except at the bows) to seat four men, two men to an oar. This was fun, getting the proper stroke amongst 18 green oarsmen.
If the rhythm was wrong and an oar caught a crab (got stuck in the water), the effect was that nearly every thwart was cleared of oarsmen and bedlam prevailed. “Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” I hollered, bursting from laughter.
The oars are about 12 feet long and are they ever heavy. To give the soldiers a well-earned rest I would give the order “Rest oars.” Then the oars would be pulled in, rested on each side of the cutter, and the soldiers could rest their weary arms on the looms for awhile.
“I enjoyed giving the order to toss oars” at The Spit, Comox BC
Photo Credit - As found in Sailor Remember by W.H. Pugsley
There were several cutters with soldiers and with experience we began to have races. The competition was a good thing and a real esprit de corp developed within the teams. The races were close, the blisters were soon forgotten and the training became enjoyable as some fun was injected into it. Page 126, "Dad, Well Done"
H14572. Troops charge ashore from landing craft during combined operations
training in the presence of the King at Inverary in Scotland, 9 October 1941.
Photo - Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, Imperial War Museum (IWM)
H14592. Valentine tanks being offloaded from a landing craft during combined
operations training at Inveraray in Scotland, 9 October 1941.
Photo - War Office Photogr. Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, IWM.
H14596. Troops exit landing craft and scale a wall on the shore of Loch Fyne
during combined operations training in the presence of the King at Inverary
in Scotland, 9 October 1941. Photo - Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, IWM.
The next photo is one much-used. Though it reveals a training exercise near Inveraray (circa 1941 or 1942), it was used (as just one example) by a London (Ontario, Canada) newspaper in a news article about the WW2 experiences of two Norwich boys (one was my father), published in The Free Press on February 5, 1944.
The lengthy article begins as follows:
NORWICH BOYS IN THICK OF TWO INVASIONS BY ALLIES
LS. BURYL MCINTYRE AND LS. DOUGLAS HARRISON
WITH “BIGGEST ARMADA OF ALL TIME”
“I saw my lieutenant, the flotilla officer, ‘get it’ because he did not know the meaning of fear. I saw ship’s gunners being strafed and standing to their guns. I can remember a Bren gunner standing in plain view of wicked cross fire, pouring all he had into the Jerries to cover his mates’ landing.” LS. Buryl McIntyre (right, in photo), home on leave in Norwich with his friend LS. Douglas Harrison (left) told what he remembered of Dieppe where he was mentioned in dispatches for his work as coxswain of a landing barge.
“It was a dark night in August when we crossed the Channel toward Dieppe. Just at dawn we could discern the coast of France. Out of the dark sky and into the light outlining the coast came a plane diving on gun positions on shore, the guns in his wings and cannon in the nose twinkling much like a ‘Hallowe’en sparkler’. Then as he was just below treetop height, so it seemed, he pulled out and let his bombs go. He zoomed up and set off for home, ‘a job well done’...”
Please link to the full story at Articles re Combined Ops, "Norwich Boys in Two Invasions"
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.
H20202. Troops wade ashore from a tank landing craft during a combined
operations exercise at Thorness Bay on the Isle of Wight, 27 May 1942.
Photo Credit - Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, Imperial War Museum
H21363. Canadian troops in an assault landing craft (LCA) during a
combined operations exercise, July 1942. Photo Credit - Lts. Tanner
and Lockeyear, War Office Official Photographers, IWM.
H25389. Men of the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
wade ashore from landing craft during combined operations training in
Scotland, 17 November 1942. Photo - Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, IWM.
Though the sailor at the front of the landing craft (below) reminds me of my father, he would be on his way back to the U.K. from the successful Allied landings in North Africa on the date provided with the photo.
H25391. Men of 6th Battalion, the Black Watch crouch down in a landing craft
as it approaches the shore, during combined operations training in Scotland,
17 November 1942. Photo Credit - Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, IWM.
H25395. A 40mm Bofors gun of 91st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment is hauled
into a landing craft during combined operations training in Scotland,
17 November 1942. Photo - Capt. W.T. Lockeyear, IWM.
High in the hills behind HMS Quebec, and about two miles south of Inveraray, another type of training was taking place during the war years. If we returned to the hills today, would we find bamboo and palm plants that were planted there in the early 1940s to simulate SE Asian conditions?
A30144. A trainee taking part in fighting through marshland at the naval training
establishment HMS QUEBEC, Inverary, Scotland. Here Marine landing parties are
being trained in jungle-craft by Royal Marine staff under the guidance of the Royal
Marines Eastern Warfare School, Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Thickly wooded hills,
with some live palms and bamboos, gave a good imitation jungle in which tropical
bridging work, bivouacking, patrolling, sniping and booby-trap lessons could be learnt.
Photo Credit - Royal Navy Official Photographer LT. E.A. Zimmerman, IWM.
A30145. Tropical hygiene lessons are put into practice in the selection of the bivouac
area, one man is always on the alert, anti-malarial precautions have to be taken and
cooking and washing arrangements made to cover a period of three nights. Men are
seen here building a "basha" shelter at the naval training establishment HMS QUEBEC,
Inverary, Scotland. Here Marine landing parties are being trained in jungle-craft by
Royal Marine staff under the guidance of the Royal Marines Eastern Warfare School,
Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Photo - LT. E.A. Zimmerman, IWM.
More photographs related to landing crafts and training camps will follow.
Please link to Photographs: Training on Landing Crafts (13).
Unattributed Photos GH