Omaha, Normandy, France
Commander USLCGL 687
After special training in the United States, I
was assigned to a Special Support Group for Naval Operations. My
fellow officers and I were happy because we thought that this meant
that we would be providing special support to our invasion forces...perhaps
carry bread and other food from England to the invasion forces where
ever they might be. We soon learned that "special support"
meant gunfire support and that we would be up front rather than
behind. So much for being a Support Ship!
We sailed to Scotland on the transport Queen Elizabeth,
along with 15,000 other passengers. The Queen went so fast that
we sailed alone rather than in convoy. No enemy submarines or raiders
showed up. I had my own cabin in what had been first class, but
there were fifteen other officers in the same cabin stacked three
deep. Upon arrival in Scotland, our crews were formed and we were
assigned to our ships. The ships were built on the River Clyde famous
British shipping building area. They were built specifically fo
the invasion and were turned over to the U.S. Navy to be manned
by U.S. sailors.
It was not anticipated that these ships would
have a long life expectancy, but we fervently hoped that the crease
would. [These ships we known as the Landing Craft Gun (Large) which
was a British landing craft which had been modified as a Gun Ship
for the U.S. Navy. please see s short history of the USLCGLs in
Mr. Arthur Willey's story on this webpage]
We had Flak ships for defense against hostile aircraft; Rocket ships
for mass firing of rockets to saturate the beaches with five inch
rockets; and LCGLs for firing at specific targets on the beaches.
After sailing to the south of England, we trained in the English
channel and along the south coast.
Some of us participated in the fateful training
exercise "Operation Tiger" at Slapton Sands, near Salcombe,
which ended in disaster when enemy E boats infiltrated and sunk
several of our ships loaded with troops who were embarked in LST's
for the training. The operation was so large, and so secret, that
we did not know of the tragedy until several months later. The public
was not aware of it until years later. I was the commander of USLCGL
687. At times, when our commander left base, I was placed in command
of the entire LCGL Flotilla. We set off in convoy with other assault
ships under the cover of darkness on June 4th, 1944, and at daybreak
we received a signal to return to base. The whole operation Neptune
had been postponed. After the emotional buildup and acceptance that
we were finally on our way, to be ordered to return to England was
Early in the morning of June 5th, we reformed
and proceeded in rough but not impossible weather toward France
and our targets. We knew this was "it!" We arrived at
the rendezvous area some 10,000 yards off the coast at 4:00 AM on
D-Day, June 6th, and then proceeded independently toward the beach.
Our first targets were at Fox Green sector, in support of the 1st
infantry division. We were hit with shrapnel, but we had no casualties.
We opened fire with our 4.7 inch guns promptly at 6:00 AM at about
1000 yards and ceased fire at 6:27 less than 200 yards off shore!
During this time the Rocket ships were directly
astern of us firing banks of two hundred rockets at a time over
our heads toward the beach. I was worried that if we went up on
a high wave and the rocket ship went down that we would be hit!
At promptly 6:30 the first assault small boats with our troops and
some small artillery moved toward the shore in heavy seas. By this
time, ships of every size and description were massing: Battleships,
cruisers, destroyers, gunships, large and small landing craft and
support craft. At 12:05 we received a message by radio from LCH
520 to move to the right flank of Omaha beach and engage enemy machine
gun emplacements which were holding the exit to Dog Green beach
[29th division sector]. The LCGL 687 commenced firing at designated
target at 12:27. The estimated range was 1500 yards.
We expended many rounds. At one point we were
ordered to prepare to land on the beach in support of the landing
infantry there. We had m1 carbines on board and we prepared to go
in as infantry. However, the order never came and our troops began
to make progress toward the bluffs. On June 7th, we received a visual
message from DD 472 suggesting the LCGL 687 investigate a small
German craft inside the breakwater at Port En Bessin. We proceeded,
along with USLCG(L) 426, to the Port. We observed the German craft
through the gap in the sea wall and opened fire with A gun and Oerlikons
4 and 6 at 1259. We ceased firing at 1309.
The target was neutralized. We expended 30 rounds
S.A.F., 6 rounds H.E. and 36 cordite, also expended 720 rounds from
the Oerlikons. We had no casualties. On June 9th, we had an encounter
with a German plane. we believe it was an ME 210, or possibly a
JU 88. The plane approached the ship from port bow at an estimated
height of 1,000 yards. Oerlikons 2,3,5,6, and 7 fired a total of
300 rounds and it is believed that the plane was hit by our fire.
The plane was fired on by an unidentified LST anchored off our starboard
quarter and was seen to break in half and fall into the sea. It
is believed that our ship's fired contributed to the destruction
of the plane.
We continued to patrol the land areas until the
12th of June. We were ordered to convoy assembly area near H.M.S.
GERES. We dropped anchor in company with the USLCG(L)'s and LCT(R)'s
from assault Force Utah. At 0732, 13th of June, we proceeded on
convoy course for Portland harbor in England. We dropped anchor
in Portand Roadstead at 0230, 14th of June, 1944. My father immigrated
from England. I was very proud to serve on a ship that came from
the British Navy. As the captain of my ship I can report that my
men performed bravely and well, but when all is said and done, it
was the American, British, and Canadian soldier who faced murderous
enemy counter fire with almost unbelievable determination.
As I watched this terrible drama unfold standing
on the bridge of my ship, I coudn't help but realize that when the
war moved beyond the beaches, my ship and crew would be going back
to England for further assignment.However, each soldier would be
going forward until the enemy was totally and completely defeated
and brought to surrender or until injury and death resulted. As
terrible as the war was in those fateful days of 1944, there probably
never was a time in our nation's history when the American people
were more united in a common purpose and goal.
People accept responsibility in many ways, doing
jobs they had never done before, making sacrifices, shouldering
grief at the loss of friends and relatives and working together.
What a shame that it takes a war to bring us together. Why can't
we do this in times of Peace?
God Bless You All,
as told by Micheal Spivey of the LCGL Research Group
please contact Michael if you have any info click here
A picture of the USLCG(L) 687..
The entire crew of the USLCGL 687
The officers of the USLCGL 687:
(Left) Ensign D. A. Glover
(Right) Ensign E. B. Murray
(Center) Lieutenant Bob Coop