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Embarking 47 Cdo at Southampton

Combined Ops Signals Officer Charles Armstrong:


I was combined operations signals officer aboard HMS Princess Josephine Charlotte, which is classed as a landing ship infantry assault, working mainly with Commandos.


The landing craft are carried on davits, port and starboard sides, we carried eight such craft, the SS Victoria was to go in with us on D-Day, she carried six LCA, this made up a flotilla of fourteen landing craft, I was boat officer in No. 4 boat.

47 RM Commando embarking the SS Victoria 2 June 1944. 47 Commando embarked on two of the larger 'mother ships'. They were to cross on two ships, SS Victoria and transfer to the six LCAs of 508 Assault Flotilla and HMS Princess Josephine Charlotte's eight LCAs of 502 Assault Flotilla.

The classes I had been instructing over the past year were aware we were training hard for a special mission, when we will be put to the test, most of us guessed what it would be. The question was where? The training had been arduous and realistic, there were a few unavoidable casualties.


The boat crews consisted of quite a few veterans, from operations such as Dieppe, North Africa, Anzio etc., it certainly felt good to have men like this around you, quite often I would visit their mess deck with a pipe full of baccy and spend an entertaining hour with them listening to humorous banter and amusing songs. The oldest among them was a character ‘Seaweed Sam’, a strange but fascinating person who fitted his nickname. There was a good camaraderie among officers and men without any lack of discipline or respect.



We loaded No. 47 Royal Marine Commando at Berth 59 in Southampton Docks, on Friday 2nd June 1944.


They were an impressive body of men intensely proud of their historical background and keen to get on with the task before them. I felt honoured to be associated with them. I went ashore that evening to HMS Squid to see Sub Lt Glastonbury to try and collect some radio details for our navigator, but was told the ship was sealed. We then cast off and steamed down Southampton Water and anchored in the Solent to await further orders. We had been waiting a long time for this and now we were ready to go at last. Saturday morning came and went, Sunday morning came and went, when was it to be?


I went with boat LCA 442 to refuel at HMS Tormentor, little did I know the next trip I took in her would be her last. We were to sail that evening, but as the world knows D-Day was postponed. In my diary for Monday a short note ‘rested and got ready for tomorrow’.


That night we steamed slowly down the Solent and out into the channel with a multitude of others. We were on our way to France at last. [1]


D Day was the largest single commitment of Royal Marines in history, with over 17,500 RM taking part.



As well as providing 2,500 Marines forming 5 out of the 8 Commando units involved in Operation Overlord Royal Marines took part in many other roles including manning the guns of the battleships providing bombardment, crewing landing craft, crewing tanks, as pilots and in specialist units such as 30 Assault Unit and Landing Craft Obstacle Clearance Units, there was a Royal Marine presence on all 5 landing beaches.


Related Royal Marines 'Dits'






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