The World War II Photo of the Week
for 24 April 2000

LST 493 (24 K)

Death of An LST

In this vibrant example of WW II color, LST 493 is depicted grounded on the outer breakwater of Plymouth Harbor, England, on April 12, 1945. The 493 had gotten into this predicament while attempting to enter Plymouth Harbor during blackout conditions! For 16 hours many tugs attempted to pull the 493 off the rocks, but their efforts were not successful. She lay on the breakwater until she was finally salvaged in 1946 for scrap, still hard aground where she met her fate, which was tragic in light of her previous service. On Saturday, April 22, 1944 LST 493 became the Group 28 LST Flotilla flagship per Secret letter Serial No. 50-125-44 dated 21 April and Confidential Sailing Order 50E435 from C-in-C Plymouth, England. Accompanied by U.S.S. LSTs 17, 30, 47, 264, and 503, the ship joined Task Unit 123.1.1 with L. F. Teuscher, Commander, USN, aboard as C.T.U. At the rendezvous, LSTs 73, 75, 25, 229, and 279 formed into two columns in route to Weymouth. At 2218 the anchor was dropped with other ships in Weymouth Road, Weymouth, England. No bearings or landmarks were available due to total blackout conditions. Several days passed as many other U.S. and British ships dropped anchor near the convoy. Secret Letter 28/A4-3 was received from Commander Group 28 dated 27 April 1944, Serial No. 009. Per orders, the convoy proceeded to The Solent, Isle of Wight, England. LSTs 279, 229, 44, 52, 345, 344, 370, 308, 312, 21, 72, 17, 264, 73, 30, 503, 287, 280, and 25 got underway on various courses and speeds conforming to the channel under Material Condition X-ray, cruising condition III. The 493 passed through the nets to the Solent off the Isle of Wight and let go anchor at 2150. Two days later, 493 got underway and moored at Sugar Two Dock, Southampton, England to take on board 5 officers, 68 enlisted personnel and 32 vehicles of various Royal British Army groups. Included were the 346 Co. RASC Infantry Brigade, 522 Co. RASC Infantry Brigade, 186 Field Ambulance, 8 Durham Lt. Infantry, 9 Durham Lt. Infantry, 25 Lt. A.A.R. Artillery, 120 Lt. A.A.R. Artillery, 102 Anti-tank Battery R. Artillery, 233 Field Co. Royal Engineers, 35 Field Dressing Station, and 980 Squadron 54 B. Flight Balloon Unit. On May 4, the convoy got underway per Top Secret Orders Operation Plan One Letter LST Group 28/A2-11/A4-3 dated May 1, to Hayling Island, England. The 493 was Task Unit Commander for five other LSTs, 344, 308, 287, 30, and 279. All ships were streaming Barrage Balloons on 100 feet of wire rope and were bound for amphibious maneuvers. During May, LST 493 made numerous trips to Southampton to pick up additional equipment, personnel, and provisions. On June 2, while loading more troops and vehicles, LST 52 rammed one anchor fluke into the hull of the 493 while trying to anchor on the starboard side. Fortunately, the 493 crew was able to weld a plate over the one foot hole. The final personnel loaded aboard included 195 officers and enlisted men with 39 vehicles from many groups including the 50th [N] Div Postal Unit 6, HQ 69th Infantry Brigade 2, 8th Battalion DLT 1 & 36, HQ 50th N Div. 1 & 3, 50th Div. Pro Co., 522 Co. RASC 1 & 52, 346 Co. RASC 10, 151 Brig. Signal Section 3, 54 RAF Balloon Unit 2, 4/7 DG 4, RHQW Dgns. 4, 233 Field Co. RE 10, 7 Green Hirounds (?), 6 DLI 15, and 151 Brig. LAD 11. With the personnel and equipment previously loaded in late April, the 493 was now carrying 268 men and 71 vehicles in addition to the approximate 90 crew members. Over the next three days 493 moved between Southampton and the Solent off the Isle of Wight to receive final food and supplies, check out all ship systems, and calibrate navigation gear in preparation for the invasion. On June 5, 1944, at 1921hours the 493 deck logs record "Anchor aweigh 1923 Underway at various courses and speeds conforming to channel for the Farshore, operation 'NEPTUNE.'" The final countdown to D-Day had begun! According to "Operation Neptune: Landings in Normandy, June 1944," each flotilla was assigned a channel leading to the holding area for the five invasion beaches, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. A review of the plan reveals the English Channel was laid out like an intricate highway system. It was an elaborate plan timed to the minute for each participant of Operation Neptune. The 493's path would lead to Gold Beach, the easternmost beach assigned for British troop landings, for their first landing on the Far Shore. She was underway in accordance with Top Secret Orders No. 1, Serial No. 0005, dated 3 June 1944. On June 6, D-Day, at 1648 the ship anchored finally off the center of Gold Beach, King Sector, Baie de la Seine, France. While the first assault wave hit the beach, the 493 awaited notification to proceed to the shore. Over the next hours many ships were moved from anchorage to anchorage gradually moving closer to shore. While a raging war ensued on the sea, in the air, and certainly on the beaches, wave after wave of landings were executed. Finally, the 493 was directed to the shore and she beached at 1431, June 7, on Gold beach, King Red Sector to offload troops and equipment. By 2130, the ship retracted from the beach and anchored one mile from the H.M.S. Bulolo, British command ship for the 493's battle group. Over the next nine months, the ship and crew made at least 35 landings on the shores of France. Perilous trips between England and France would eventually take its toll. It is hard to believe that with all the victories won in battle, having survived mines, submarines, shore artillery fire, enemy aircraft, buzz bombs, beach obstacles, a 5 foot by 3 inch hole next to the keel, flooded engine compartments, and fires on board, the 493 would finally meet her match one rough night while attempting to enter her old home, Plymouth Harbor. Photo from the Webmaster's collection.

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