< Ernest Thorneley (1924-1944) >
44/11/01 Landing craft flak (MkIV) LCF No.37, 38 (total 2, 500-510t each) lost in 'Operation Infatuate', Walcheren landings, Holland.
(1) Important German Coastal Batteries in relations to LCF 37
W 13 (English codename for it) - Marine Küste Batterie Zoutelande (Marine Coast Battery Zoutelande)
7th Marine Artillerie Abteilung 202; 1.565 shells in store (+ arrival of 190) calibre 15 cm.
This battery was situated halfway between Westkapelle and Zoutelande (south-east of Westkapelle). At 17-09-1944 this coastal batt. was the first on Walcheren that was bombed, in this case by 30 Lancasters with a total amount of 200 bombs (186,4 tons). Not much damage was sone though: 1 killed and destruction of the Radar named "Würzburg Riese", the search spotlight at the south and the Hagenukgerät; beach obstacles and [German] telephone-exchange totally destructed. Of the 22 blockhouses only the firecontrolstation had light damage and could be quickly restored. The 4 15.5 cm guns were still fully operational.
At 25-10-1944 the guns gave artillery support to the Germans West of Breskens. On the 29th, 30 an 31 the gun strongpoint was again attacked by Lancaster bombers.
From the start of the invasion at 01-11-1944 at Westkapelle W 13 (MKB Zoutelande) together with W 15 (MKB Westkapelle(see below) gave heavy gunfire on the firesupportfleet. At 07.43 hrs firing started and at 10.17 hrs 200 shells had been fired by each gun (800 shells). The battery reports total destructing of 6 landing crafts and 1 heavily damaged.
German radio reports say:
07.43 W 13 opens fire at the invasionfleet
09.37 1st LC destr.
10.31 W 13 reports allies go on shore
10.32 W 13 reports 11 LC-vessel embarked at Westkapelle
10.47 W 13 reports until now 8 LCV's empty and landed troops marching [fighting their way up] up direction Zoutelande
10.48 W 13 reports Huge Landings craft destroyed by gunfire
11.16 W 13 report heavy barrage at the invasion beach
11.32 W 13 reports 7 new landing vessel for Westkapelle W 13 gave the position of those ships to W 11 (Dishoek) which battery hits a landing vessel for Westkapelle.
During the rest of that day Germans asked for support from Oostkapelle (W19). Warspite fires at W 13 but an artillery-observer placed at the Royal Marine Commandoes was killed by that fire. Gunfire from the Breskenspocket and a Spitfire attack. The Germans destroyed their guns at the end of the afternoon. 70 German P.O.W.s were made during the fight for W 13 which ended during the late evening.
W 15; Marine Kïste Batterie Westkapelle
6th Marine Artillerie Abteilung: store 2628 shells cal. 9,4 cm.;4 guns of that cal.
That battery was situated north of Westkapelle in the dune-remains behind the seawall. By her position the battery was vulnerable to landing units with tanks. The battery was until the last days of October 1944 attacked by fighters with a minimum of damage, during the bombing of the seawall at 03-10-1944 was the damage and huge amount of dirt over it. At 28-10-1944 1 9,4 cm gun was destructed by Lancasters
On 01-11-1944 from the battery a King George-class battleship was observed 25 km out of the coast. The battery started fire on the invasion fleet at 08.09 hrs. At 09.37 battery W 15 received heavy gunfire [from the ships?]. Result of that gunfire: 11.42 hrs all guns out of use. At 12.00 hrs attack by R.M. commandos, who captured 120 P.O.W..
(2) Royal Navy; the attack on Walcheren . [ 01-11-1944 Operation Infatuate]
Support squadron, eastern flank (SSEF) Southern group
LCH 269 Leading no casualties recorded
LCG (L) 9 no casualties recorded
LCG (L) 10 Smith Donald, Sgt. Royal Marines killed
LCG (L) 11 Harding, John A. L. Lieut. Royal Marines killed
LCF 32 Rooke, Norman P.O. Motor Mech killed and missed
LCF 35 NO CASUALTIES RECORDED
The Landings Craft Flak 37 was leading LCF of the Southern Group. After driving off the ML working the shoal at the deploying position W15 switched to LCF 37 while she was still 3500 - 4000 yards from the shore, so well out of range from her own guns.
She was first hit on the port quarter on the water line at 09.20 hrs, but the hole was successfully blocked with hammocks. At 09.45 hrs, W15 having switched to fresh targets, she was engaged by W13 and smoke plumes started to rise. However she was hit astern. A near miss on the port beam filled the bridge and upper deck with water - two further hits were sustained blowing off the bows and forward magazine.
At 09.48 hrs a shell hit the main magazine blowing up about 100.000 rounds of 2-pr Oerlikon ammunition, causing a large number of casualties. Most of the crew were blown into the sea .
The total casualties were: 2 offrs, 39 ORs missing believed killed; 4 Ors seriously wounded; 2 Offrs and 3 ORs slightly wounded.
29 were unharmed. Survivors were picked up by a LCI (S)
41 RM's were killed. Butts, Ronald is buried at Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery. (Neth); Ingham, Norman J., Thomas, William J. and Lightfoot, Harold were buried at Ostende New. Comm Cememetery in Belgium.The others are missing.
All the other names are mentioned on memorial tablets at Chatham , Portsmouth and Plymouth
At Chatham you will find THORNELEY, Ernest, Mar. RM CH/X108813 on the memorial tablet:
(1) H.Sakkers/J.N.Houterman. Atlantikwall in Zeeland en Vlaanderen. ISBN 90-9003302-5; Middelburg 1990 shortened
(2) with the help of a local Royal Marines connoisseur Jaap van Winkelen
The Royal Marines Museum ; Southsea; Hampshire; PO4 9PX; Tel: (0705) 819385 ; Fax No: (0705) 838420
Commonwealth War Graves Commission; 2 Marlow Road ; Maidenhead, Berks. SL6 7DX
Request for information: any addtional informations regarding Mr. Thorneley would be appriciated:
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