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WW2 landing craft restored

Article about: Hi, this old craft is at Utah Beach museum Normandy, up close to it you can see that it is made of Plywood and metal. the body is of ply, I dont think they had much cover from the rounds tha

  1. #1

    Default WW2 landing craft restored

    Hi Guys, I found this story online and thought it worth sharing here:



    World War II Navy Veteran Earl Norwood remembers transporting troops to Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 – known as D-Day.

    It was one of the bloodiest conflicts of World War II and the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with more than 130,000 troops landing and 1,600 men killed in the first hour.

    “When the transport door dropped I watched two men get cut in half by machine guns firing from the beach,” said Mr. Norwood.

    Troops were transported onto the beaches using a Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP), or “Higgins Boat.”

    Although more than 23,000 were manufactured during World War II, only 12 are left in the country. One of those has been housed at the N.C. Maritime Museum’s Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center in Beaufort for the past seven months, where volunteers have carefully restored the vessel to its former glory.

    On Friday, Mr. Norwood, who worked on the restoration project, along with other military veterans, witnessed the return of the vessel to its owner, the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Ill.

    Nearly 100 people, including D-Day veterans, listened as officials from the N.C. Maritime Museum and First Division Museum talked about the project. They were joined by Sgt. Maj. Taylor Poindexter of the 1st Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kan., who accepted the Higgins Boat on behalf of the 1st Division.

    Standing in the landing craft, which is about 10˝ feet wide and 36 feet long, Sgt. Maj. Poindexter said he was humbled to not only be accepting the boat for the division, but to be standing in the presence of World War II veterans.

    “To hear their stories and to be a part of the legacy that comes from those who did it the hard way – all I can say is thank you for your service,” he said.

    Dr. Paul H. Herbert, curator of the First Division Museum, said he was not only grateful to the veterans, but to the museum and volunteers who worked on the boat’s restoration. He said because of their efforts an important piece of history would be preserved for future generations.

    “You have preserved this so 100 years from now it will be a living witness for future generations to understand the sacrifices made,” he said. “When we asked the U.S. Navy who to use for this restoration, they said you all were the best in the world.”

    Dr. Herbert said the boat would be transported back to Illinois by truck.

    “It will be transported in a big truck, and we will do it very early in the morning to avoid traffic,” he said.

    To thank the N.C. Maritime Museum, Dr. Herbert presented a poster that will officially be unveiled at the First Infantry Museum on June 6, when the museum will commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

    The poster features World War II soldiers and a Higgins Boat, with the words: “Let’s Go. Where’s That Landing Boat.” The poster was fittingly unveiled in the belly of the restored Higgins Boat.

    He also presented special gifts to all those who worked on the restoration project.

    Paul Fontenoy, curator with the N.C. Maritime Museum, said volunteers were inspired to work on the project by many veterans who continuously came by the watercraft center and shared their memories of what the Higgins Boat meant to them.

    “I was amazed at the number of vets who came out constantly and told us how important this was to them,” Mr. Fontenoy said. He added that several of the vets ended up helping on the project.

    One of those was Mr. Norwood.

    “I drove those things and came in on the third wave (of the invasion). So much of me is tied up in this. During the invasion I made so many trips in and out. Then once I was done putting them off on the beach I patrolled the waters to pick up dead bodies. As a 17-year-old kid, it’s etched in my memory.”

    The boat is also etched in the memory of Joseph Dickerson, who came from Murfreesboro to witness the event.

    “I was with the 29th Infantry Division and was transported on to Omaha Beach in one of these,” he said. “When we got to the beach and the gate dropped there were so many people being killed in front of me that I decided to go over the side to get up to the beach. The water was deeper than I thought and I almost drowned.

    “So many people were killed coming out of these,” he continued. “It brings back a lot of memories – a lot of memories.”

    D-Day veteran Dr. Richard Borden of Morehead City was so moved by the ceremony that at one point he held up old photographs and with tears in his eyes said, “I owe my life to the Big Red One (Higgins Boat).”

    Members of the U.S. Army Reserve in Morehead City, as well as members of many other military branches, came to get their last glimpse of the historic craft on Friday.

    Sgt. Leslie Voorhies with the 824th Transportation Division with the U.S. Army Reserve, said, “We have something like this now. But it’s a newer version.”

    The landing craft could carry up to 36 men shoulder to shoulder and eight tons of cargo, according to Sgt. Maj. Poindexter. It could also carry vehicles.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture doc49b2d5794ab43872247069.jpg  

  2. #2
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    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    That`s neat, I wouldn`t want to have been in it on D-Day though.
    JEDEM DAS SEINE

  3. #3

    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    Dose anyone have an idea of what material the boat was made of? It appears to be wood which gave no protection what so ever during landings. Of course wood be the appropriate for the amount of weight and size of the craft had to carry but was the door itself re-enforced with any kind of steel since it was facing the enemy?

  4. #4

    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    As far as I recall, Higgins boats were made of wood. Plywood if I am right.

    And yes.....not much protection really.....I couldn't imagine what it must have been like on those things. No keel so the damn thing would pitch, roll and yaw all over the place. Aparently it even made the navy pilots seasick !

    6 miles to the beaches on D-Day. Jeez.

    Steve T

  5. #5
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    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    Quote by Steve T View Post
    ..I couldn't imagine what it must have been like on those things. No keel so the damn thing would pitch, roll and yaw all over the place. Aparently it even made the navy pilots seasick !

    6 miles to the beaches on D-Day. Jeez.

    Steve T

    Yes and i believe the weather turned into a real storm that day also, they were spewing all over the place !!

  6. #6

    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    Quote by kungfuty View Post
    Dose anyone have an idea of what material the boat was made of? It appears to be wood which gave no protection what so ever during landings. Of course wood be the appropriate for the amount of weight and size of the craft had to carry but was the door itself re-enforced with any kind of steel since it was facing the enemy?
    i belive the door was covered in aluminum but they were never reinforced, ive seen many pictures of these things returning for a second load with the door looking like cheese.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    Hein Severloh killed almost 2000 allied soldiers from Stronghold point WN62. He used 12000 belted rounds for Mg42 and 400 rounds for 98k when the allied soldiers where already on the beach and taking cover.

    He has written a book so check it out its more than interesting.

    He wrote that the soldiers of the first wave very marching from the landing boats one after another like on a parade. He could not believe what was going on on the beach. After he opend fire with his Mg42 the situation was changing rapidly. He mentioned after the war when he knew that this boats where made out from wood he would have fired on them long before the where on the beach

    In September i will visit Omaha beach and WN62 cant wait to see
    the Normandie

  8. #8

    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    Thanks Ostmark, this is a very good story. It is not as common to hear the story from the axis side.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    You can do a search in the internet with his name, you will have a lot of hits. Order the book when you can find it, thats worth every cent. Must say, that when i would have been on the beach, i would have also expected that this landing boats would have been armoured. This guy got very famous long after the war, because he didnt tell anyone what he did a long time. He had meetings with US vets in the Normandie, which where landing on Omaha, and got hit by his bullets ... its a very fascinating book

    But i guess its now Off topic and Ade will kick me

  10. #10

    Default Re: WW2 landing craft restored

    I remember seeing a couple of surplus Higgins boats being used to transport Shrimp and Fish from the docks to the market in St. Augustine, FL in the early 1960's.
    The boats were made of 3/4" marine Plywood with 4x4 vertical ribs and a double thickness hull. The ramp was similar to the sides except double 3/4" plywood on both sides with aluminum or sheet metal on the exterior. The ones in use in the harbor in St. Augustine had 5/16ths inch steel plate retrofitted on the ramp exterior.
    Several vets have told me of field modifications where steel plate was "liberated" and applied to the ramp exterior and the wheel area by the crew
    (obviously veterans of at least 1 amphib landing) in an attempt to achieve a higher lavel of survivability.
    BTW The typical PT boat was built of same 3/4" Marine Plywood with twin Packard V12 Marine engines as propulsion.
    Speed and "cojones" were the only protection you had in a PT.

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