In April 1943, a maritime tragedy took place in the waters off the bay of Freshwater West. The bodies of some of the 85 personnel who died were washed ashore here.
LCG 15 and LCG 16 were a pair of ‘Landing Craft, Gun’. They had been converted into this role from the standard LCT (Landing Craft, Tank) design at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast. En route to Falmouth, on the night of 25-26 April they ran into a severe storm. These were flat-bottomed vessels that were not designed to cope with rough seas. Both craft were not allowed to take shelter at Fishguard, but had to continue onwards towards Milford Haven. First LCG 15 was swamped by the seas and sank, and then LCG 16 did the same. Six men from the fisheries protection vessel HMS Rosemary also lost their lives as they tried to use the ship’s lifeboat to rescue LCG 16’s crew.
The wrecks of these two craft are now a war grave, and a memorial to the men who died is situated slightly uphill from Freshwater West Beach.
LCGs were designed for use on D-Day and in similar amphibious landings. They were converted from the LCT craft by installing a new deck over the normally open tank deck, converting the space that resulted into magazines and living quarters, and mounting two 4.7 inch guns on top of the new deck. The guns of the LCGs were used on D-Day to support Allied troops as they landed. The LCGs’ shallow draft meant that they could go much closer inshore than more conventional warships.
Preparing all the specialised landing craft for D-Day took many months due to the number involved. Although this incident took place over a year ahead of D-Day, it is quite possible that these two LCGs and their crews might have taken part in the Normandy Landings, had they not been lost. The design of LCGs was later modified to prevent the same thing happening again.
|Address||B4319, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire SA71 5AH, UK|
|Site Ownership and Access Information||Public access to memorial and beach. Today the beach is one of Wales’ best known surfing beaches. Another memorial to the tragedy is located at Thornton Cemetery, Milford Haven, where the graves of many of those who died are located.|
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