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Operation LCA - Restoration project report  XML
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Macdonald
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A few years ago, I had noticed an unusual feature beside the road leading to Achnacarry House. This turned out to be a dry landing craft LCA, originally used for training troop movements on and off craft before embarking on the real thing.

It appeared in a sorry state, largely overgrown and not very noticeable though it was only a very short distance beside the main road. Our living history group is always keen to see new life in wartime equipment and so we embarked upon Operation LCA in order to revive what may be the only remaining piece of training equipment remaining at Achnacarry CBTC.

Heading towards Achnacarry, the structure is located beside the road (right hand side) approximately 500ft before the gates on the left turn-off that lead to the House and Museum.

We first secured permission from Cameron of Lochiel to carry out restoration work and three members of the Commando D Living History Group (Mike, Stephen and myself) and one 4 Para recruit arrived on Saturday 21st May to start work.



Before. With overgrowth and a foreshortened view from the road, shape or function was not so clear.




Detail of a rear section of craft. It's in there somewhere!




"Aye, our work's cut out lads"




Setting about our very own Highland Clearance! Working to clear deck, sides, side channels and post holes.




Starting to take shape.




Working on the bow and ramp section. Here we found evidence of the original lowering door hinges and a large number of rocks to simulate a beach landing.




Rocks unearthed and replaced.




Day 1, job done.




Returning on Sunday to repair some broken guttering sections.




As she now appears.




The craft structure is now very noticeable from the roadside and we can only imagine that surprised locals will now wonder "Who built that there?!"

Two long rows of now broken brick bases on the main deck area were originally built to simulate long benches for seating troops (12 to each bench) A third bench of twelve would also have been on board. With no evidence of this remaining or visible we can assume this may have been mobile such as a PT bench.

Troops seated in LCA.




The concrete base is mounted on a brick foundation and was originally built up with wooden walls, top sections and lowering ramp to simulate the confines of the real thing. We discovered evidence of the original grey paint used for the outer walls, which appeared to have been painted after construction. It is also possible that a water filled ditch was situated directly in front of the exit ramp along with the rocks to simulate a more realistic beach landing.

An original dry LCA in action.




The next stages for this project are to have a short walkway constructed from the road to the craft and the CVA have generously offered to fund a descriptive plaque that should detail the original function and history of this rare piece of Commando history.

Plan is to have all in place by November :D

Our group is indebted to Cameron of Lochiel for allowing us to work on this historic monument, Brian at the Alexandra in Fort William, DF Wishart & Co of Edinburgh for sponsoring tools for the job and of course the CVA for supporting our efforts and furthering commemoration of the Achnacarry LCA. Thankyou All!




This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/05/2011 12:07:26


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NIC
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Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
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And thank you Paul and all the people who worked with you.
A great piece of work and a great effort.
Well done.

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Jack Bakker
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Well done Paul, Mike and Stephen and the 4 Para recruit! I am looking forward to seeing it November.
John M
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Joined: 18/04/2007 16:22:37
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Great piece of work Paul.

Well done to you and your team..........you've uncovered a real piece of history.

Fantastic.!!!

Best regards

John M



Do not speak.....unless it improves on Silence.

A good teacher opens the door.....you must enter yourself.


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Stephen Donnison
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yes Very Impressive work ,well done lads .Anyone know who the commandos are in the LCA? .... trying to make out the badge on the 2nd commando up

SE Donnison
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Peter Cooper
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Congratulations to all those involved in the operation. A few more years and it would probably have been lost forever. Another piece of the jig-saw in place.

Son of Dennis Cooper, 1 troop 4 Commando.
Pete
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Joined: 23/09/2008 00:08:02
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Hi Paul

I must add my name to the list of those saying what a great job you have all done. I will add the photos to the gallery in due course and post a link to them here.

Stephen this photo has been in the public domain for some time. A larger version is in our Gallery and is listed as follows:
Royal Navy Beach Commandos aboard a Landing Craft Assault of the 529th Flotilla, Royal Navy, during a training exercise off the coast of England, 9 May 1944

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/rn+cdos/RN+Cdos.jpg.html

Pete

Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
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When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


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Jack Bakker
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Just to inform you all that the exploits of Paul and his mates have been put on the site of the Dutch Commando Association. See the link below. It is of course in Dutch but I suppose everyone will understand what it is all about.

http://www.korpscommandotroepen.nl/index.php?l=nl&p=11&id=433
geoffmurray1
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Fabulous work Paul and team; this gives additional historical evidence to the area of the Commando presence rather than just Achnacarry House. It's great that it is by the road for passers by to see. We need more of the same.

The CVA are delighted to fund an appropriate (and weatherproof) plaque to the site giving details of why it is there and what it was used for etc. I will arrange a visit on the Saturday morning before Remembrance when we can do a small unveiling of the plaque. I will of course request the presence of the Lochiel and possibly the trustees of the Highland Museum who may be interested.

Regards

Geoff

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 01/06/2011 22:16:01


Geoff Murray


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Pete
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I have created an album for the LCA Restoration Project and it can be viewed, and any future pictures included, here:

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/events/events/

Pete R.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 06/07/2011 13:05:02


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


**** nb. I no longer monitor the pm facility ****
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geoffmurray1
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The Lochiel has agreed to a path and signage/plaque in the area and will also unveil the plaque on the morning of Saturday 12 November approx 1100hrs - all welcome to attend. Confirmed details will be displayed in the Alexandra Hotel prior to the weekend.

Regards

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 16/08/2011 14:04:00


Geoff Murray


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Belly
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Found an interesting link to an online copy of the Combined Operations - Pamphlet No. 42 - Training at Home Stations, which tells you how to build and use you mock up landing craft, including some great plans!!

http://www.movcon.org.uk/History/Documents/DID/D-MCHS%200020/D-MCHS%200020.htm


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Macdonald
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Excellent find and many thanks for sharing!

We recently observed from a high quality image of LCA training that the side walls were canvas nailed over the wooden post supports. The Achnacarry LCA is undoubtedly constructed according to these very issued plans. Great research!

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Julie W
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Today, I finally got round to reading an article I took a copy of at the Spean Bridge Hotel last November. It is from 'The Globe & Laurel' of December 1962 and is a description of a trip made to Achnacarry. One paragraph in particular caught my eye:

"On the walk back we decided to look for the site of the famous exercise of the course - the Opposed Landing. Time has conquered the efforts of the many landings on the beach, and here again very little remains to mark a heartbreaking assault, but not far from there we discovered the concrete remains of three mock-up landing craft - or so we surmised."

A new project for Paul & his team perhaps?!!

Cousin of Capt. Larry Stephens, No. 5 Commando 1943-1946
His biography is available from all good bookshops from April 2020 https://www.waterstones.com/book/its-all-in-the-mind/julie-warren/9781783528622
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Macdonald
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Wonderful news Julie, and well spotted! At the unveiling, we were informed by one of the veterans (Harry Nethersole, 6 Cdo) of the nearby location of concrete bases marking Bren firing points as well as the original rifle range butts.

We are already planning another Achnacarry visit soon to explore these areas and confirm sites of further training equipment remains.

News shall be posted as soon as we hopefully discover more. Looks to be an exciting start to 2012!

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