Builder: New Jersey Shipbuilding Corp., Barber, New Jersey, United States
Light, 209.2 t.
Landing, 257.5 t.
Loaded, 385 t.
Length: 60 ft 4 in
Beam: 23 ft 3 in
Light, 3' ft 1½ in mean
Landing, 2 ft' 8 in forward, 4 ft 10 in aft
Loaded, 5 ft 4 in forward, 5 ft 11 in aft
Propulsion: Two General Motors Quad units (4 General Motors 6051 series 71 Diesel engines per unit), driving twin variable pitch propellers, 2,320shp, 1 Quad unit per shaft.
Speed: 16 Knots
Cargo Capacity: LCI(L) 9 officers and 200 troops or 75 tons cargo
LCQ - unknown
Armament: Five single 20mm Oerlikon guns, mounted in tubs, one bow mounted, one each port and starboard forward of wheelhouse, one each port and starboard aft of superstructure.
(LCI) 3 officers, 17 ratings
(LCQ) 32 officer, 23 ratings
Landing Craft Administration 491, LCI(L)-33 moored alongside, location and date unknown.
Ordered and delivered as a Landing Craft Infantry (Large) for the US Navy she was built by New Jersey Shipbuilding Corp., Barber, New Jersey. She was laid down September 24th 1943, launched October 27th 1943. She was an ‘LCI 351 class’ vessel, built to a revised design; the superstructure was enlarged and now occupied the full width of the ship, removing the main deck walkway access fore and aft. The original bridge, which formed the front of the superstructure, was replaced by a raised circular tower structure located roughly amidships on the superstructure which gave superior visibility both fore and aft. The defensive armament was reconfigured to reflect this new layout; and was increased to five 20mm guns, four were mounted on top of the superstructure in tubs at each corner, and one mounted on the bow; the new bridge was located just aft of the forward pair of tubs.
She commissioned as the USS LCI(L) 491 on November 3rd 1943 at Barber, New Jersey. She was assigned to Flotilla Ten, Group Twenty-eight. Division Fifty-five. of the Atlantic Fleet. She was fitted out while moored to Pier 42, North River, New York, New York. She sailed to begin her shakedown operations on November 19th and was in the area of Chesapeake Bay with other units of Group 28. She arrived at Pier Sugar, Lambert Point, Norfolk, Virginia, on December 14th and preparations began for crossing the Atlantic.
she sailed from Norfolk, Virginia for the UK On December 24th, 1943 with US LCI(L)s 487, 488, 489, 490, and 492, initially joining convoy UGS-28 before the LCI(L)s detached for Horta, Fayal, Azores on January 3rd 1944. After refuelling and making repairs they sailed again on January 6th arriving at Falmouth, Cornwall on the 14th.
Group 28 remained at Falmouth for the next week making voyage repairs and preparing their vessels for active service. The group relocated to Dartmouth on the 20th and moored in the River Dart, upstream from the town of Dartmouth. Beach landing exercises began on January 31st with the Group making use of Blackpool Sands outside Dartmouth.
In February Group 28 formed part of the Northern Transport Group of Task Force 125, Eleventh Amphibious Force, of the Twelfth Fleet for Operation DUCK II; beaching’s were made on White beach, Slapton Sands, 14-16th February. This was followed by Exercise FOX, again held at Slapton Sands on 9-10th March 1944; this was seen as a rehearsal for D-Day, the assault pattern was similar to the NEPTUNE plan for the Omaha Beach assault. On completion of this major exercise Group 28 proceeded to Brixham, Devon for a week of maintenance. Sailing on March 21st Division 55 carried out various exercises along the South Coast as far east as the Isle of Wight and calling at Southampton, Portland And Weymouth before returning to Dartmouth. From April 1st Division 55 vessels began a period of self-maintenance prior to relocating to Weymouth.
Group 28 arrived at Weymouth harbour on May 1st and prepared to take part in Exercise FABIOUS; this was broken into six parts, four British and two American, which together constituted the greatest amphibious exercise in history. Group 28 took part in FABIUS I, the rehearsal for Assault Force "O," which was to assault Omaha Beach under the command of V Corps. This force embarked troops from the Portland-Weymouth area on May 2nd, and landed at Slapton Sands on May 4th. The LCI(L) s made two beachings each embarking a second load from a Landing Ship off the cgast; on completion of the exercise they returned to Weymouth.
On the 28th the LCI(L)s of Group 28 sailed for Plymouth on a round trip voyage to collect Rhino Barges for delivery to Portland harbour. They arrived back at Weymouth on the 31st. /p>
USS LCI(L) 491 and other vessels of Group 28 were part of Assault Group O-3 [11 US LCI(L)s #93, 487, 488, 489, 490, 491, 494, 495, 496, 497, 498] assembled in Weymouth Harbour in early June 1944 from where they sailed to participate in the Normandy landings, 6th to 25th June, for Omaha Beach landings on sector “EASY Red”.
LCI(L) 491 sailed for Normandy carrying 18 officers and 142 enlisted men of the 1st US Infantry Division HQ. and HQ, Company. At 0947 while in the holding pattern, 12 miles off the coast, LCM 125 came alongside with one officer and 30 soldier survivors from an LCVP which had been swamped during the first landing wave. At 1320 she anchored 250 yards off the beach and discharged her passengers and the survivors onto LCVP and LCMs to be ferried ashore. This transfer between boats was necessary because of unexpected submerged obstacles and it delayed their landing time by 2 ½ hours. During this transfer she came under fire from 88mm batteries but sustained no damage.
On June 7th (D+1) she embarked 22 officers and 350 soldiers of the Second Division from the transport ship SS FURNIFOLD M. SIMMONS beginning at 1450. She cast off at 1555 and attempted a beaching at 1720; again, her passengers had to be transhipped in five LCVPs beginning at 1735. She spent the next 5 days employed towing barges with other LCI(L)s of her flotilla. She operated as a pilot vessel from June 14th to June 26th.
At 1400, on June 20th during a gale she successfully effected the rescue of four survivors from the British LCT 730 which had broken in half. These survivors were: her Commanding Officer Sub-Lt. G.E. Flin, RNVR, Executive Officer Sub-Lt. G.F. Guy, RNVR, Petty officer E.T. Cook and Stoker J. Lingard.
LCI(L) 491 had to go alongside in rough seas and the broken edges of the LCT punctured her in the steering room slightly below the water line. This puncture was successfully stopped by wedges and stuffing. Another survivor of LCT 730 had been removed beforehand by a Destroyer.
Beginning in October 1944 the US Navy began transferring a total of 50 LCI(L)s still on station in the UK to the Royal Navy under the lend-lease agreement. US LCI(L) 491 was decommissioned in the UK on November 18th 1944 and commissioned into the Royal Navy as HM LCI(L) 491 on the same date.
Shortly after entering RN service LCI(L) 491 was one of six vessels that were selected for conversion to Landing Craft Administration vessels; all were ‘LCI 351 class’ vessels. The designation LCA already existed, so the suffix Q was chosen for the new classification. The conversion was carried out at a dockyard in Grimsby on the South Bank of the Humber Estuary, North East Lincolnshire and involved the creation of extra office spaces and the installation of additional telephones, together with additional single cabins to accommodate staff officers.
On completion of her conversion LCQ 491 was one of a large number of landing craft that were reallocated for service with the East Indies Fleet. After the D-Day landings plans were made to relocate large numbers of Major Landing Craft from the UK to the Eastern theatre under the code name ‘APPIAN’. Convoys of craft, referred to as ‘Flights’, sailed for India and Ceylon calling at Gibraltar, Oran, Malta, Port Said, Aden, and Bombay; the first Flight, ‘A’ sailed on November 15th 1944. It is not clear which flight LCQ 491 sailed with or when she arrived in India.
On reaching India she was most likely based at Bombay. She joined "A" LCI(L) Squadron which comprised of the 270th, 271st and 272nd flotillas. The First 16 vessels, mostly from 270 flotilla arrived in India during March 1945, the other 20 vessels had not completed their refitting and tropicalization work in time for the whole squadron to sail and these followed in a later flight.
No information is available about LCQ 491s activities until she was allocated to participate in operation ZIPPER in September 1945. For this operation she moved to Mandapam to join the assault force convoys assembling there.
In its original form ZIPPER was an operation to mount an amphibious landing in the Port Swettenham and/or Port Dickson area of the Malayan coast planned for October 1945. After the Japanese surrender in August all operations were on hold as plans to accept the surrender of Japanese forces in Malaya and Singapore were put into action; however political constraints meant that no landing could take place until after the signing of surrender in Tokyo on September 2nd, 1945.
The delay meant that all plans were now to change; thus, the reoccupation of Malaya would take place in three phases. Phase one would be the recapture of Penang Island (Operation JURIST). Phase two would be the recapture of Singapore by the 5th Indian Division (Operation TIDERACE). Phase three would be the sea borne assault of North West Malaya in the Port Dickson, Port Swettenham area with landings near Morib with the 25th Indian Division and the 37th brigade of the 23rd Indian Division; this was a modified ZIPPER, carried out as planned and rehearsed, but the covering air and sea bombardment had been cancelled.
The forces participating in these three operations were escorted by the Battleships NELSON, flying the flag of Admiral Walker, and RICHELIEU; the cruisers NIGERIA, CLEOPATRA, and CEYLON, with air cover from the 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, comprising of the cruiser ROYALIST (flag of Commodore Oliver) and the escort carriers AMEER, EMPEROR, HUNTER, KHEDIVE, PURSUER and STALKER with fifteen destroyers.
Operation JURIST: At 1200 on August 28th HM Ships NELSON, CEYLON, ATTACKER, HUNTER, TARTAR, PETARD, VOLAGE, PRINCESS BEATRIX and QUEEN EMMA arrived off Penang Island. On September 1st the C-in-C East Indies Fleet, Admiral Sir Arthur Power transferred from CLEOPATRA to NELSON at George Town, and the official surrender of Japanese forces on Penang Island was signed on the 2nd. At 0800 the following day 400 Royal Marines under the command of Lt. Colonel G B Grant were landed from the LSIs PRINCESS BEATRIX and QUEEN EMMA. This was Force Roma, formed in July from the Marine Detachments aboard NELSON, CEYLON, NIGERIA and PHOEBE.
Operation ZIPPER: At 0500 on the 8th NELSON in company with the light cruisers CEYLON and NIGERIA, escorted by destroyers NUBIAN, PALADIN and RELENTLESS sailed from George Town to cover the ZIPPER assault convoys on route to their assembly point off Port Swettenham: they were to be joined by the escort carriers EMPEROR, HUNTER, KHEDIVE, and STALKER to provide air cover for the landings.
On August 29th LCQ 389 sailed from Bombay with assault convoy JM A2A while LCQs 381, 391 and 491 sailed from Mandapam with convoy JMD 1B for Operation ZIPPER. LCHs 101, 168 & 248 in company with eleven LCI(L)s [115, 121, 127, 136, 183, 217, 256, 266, 277, 305, & 311[ sailed from Mandapam on August 31st in assault convoy JMD 1C. Other convoys had sailed from Cochin, Madras, Vizagapatam, Calcutta, Chittagong and Rangoon. The ZIPPER assault convoys converged on the Malayan coast off Port Swettenham. Once assembled at first light on September 9th the ships of the assault convoys formed into two assault groups’ code named W 1 & W 2. As for operation DRACULA Senior Officer Assault Group W1 was aboard the LSI HMS NITH and that of W2 aboard the LSI HMS WAVENEY. On reaching the lowering point off Morib the Assault Group Senior Officers transferred to the LCHs, it is not clear which Landing Craft Headquarters were used by which assault group. The landings were not a success, numerous factors and mistakes made by the need to revise the plans several times resulted in stranded vehicles and ships; the beach survey was wrong, the sand was not suitable for heavy machinery which bogged down and blocked the beaches. The assault was actually an hour late in its execution, Force W was operating on Ceylon time, not Burma time so the expected high tide had in fact ebbed. On September 12th a new beach was opened farther south, at Cape Rachado, where the 23rd Division landed without any of the difficulties met at Morib. By the time the beaches were closed, Morib on 25th and Cape Rachado on 28th September, 63,838 troops, 7,337 vehicles and 25,671 tons of stores had been landed over them.
HMS NELSON and much of the covering forces sailed for Singapore later on the 9th once the beachhead had been established, arriving there at 0830 hours on the 10th. .
Operation TIDERACE forces had arrived in Singapore on September 4th 1945, meeting no opposition. By 1800, the Japanese had surrendered their forces on the island to Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Christison aboard HMS SUSSEX. The formal surrender was finalised on September 12th at Singapore City Hall. Over 90 vessels were present in Keppel Harbour and Singapore Roads at the time of the surrender.
On release from ZIPPER operations. LCQ 491 and "A" LCI(L) Squadron were reassigned to Singapore. LCQ 391 was returned to U.S. custody on May 4th 1946 and struck from the U.S. Naval Register later that year. She was sold by the State Department, on February 13th 1948, fate unknown
It was noted by the US Naval party receiving her at Manila that a plaque hung in the wardroom with the legend: "A" Squadron LCI(L) 251, 252, 253, Flotillas" and underneath is a list of their operational areas - "Tunisia, Panterreria, Lampedusa, Linosa, Sicily, Calabria, Salerno, Anzio, Dalmatia, Normandy." This reflected the operations of the squadron from its formation in 1943 and operations in the Mediterranean and D-Day before her flotillas were renumbered. The landings at Kyaukpyu and Rangoon were made after the plaque was completed.
Last modified: 16 June 2020
VIDEO: March 24th 1944, US troops board LCIs (Landing Crafts, Infantry) at Plymouth in England includes LCI(L) 491
VIDEO: June 5th 1944, US LCI(L)s 491, 493, and 495, part of Flotilla 10, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, and LCVPs in Weymouth harbour, England, prior to D-Day in World War II
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HM Ships COLOSSUS, GLORY, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE. GLORY did not arrive in Sydney until August 16th.
At the end of June 1945, the Admiralty implemented a new system of classification for carrier air wings, adopting the American practice one carrier would embark a single Carrier Air Group (CAG) which would encompass all the ships squadrons.
Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.
Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .
In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.