South African Military History Society



If ever the expression "Spunky" had been fully earned, it was by our speakerPaddy Creighton who gave us a hilarious account of his RNVR service in landing craft during WW 2.
Having joined the Royal Navy, he yielded to the temptation of volunteering for a special job, but this turned out. to be a 3-months hard training course in the dead of winter in Scotland. As a temporary Sub-Lieutenant he was transferred to landing craft LCG, which he described as very long biscuit boxes with two engines giving 7 knots. But they had almost no draught, making them very clumsy to maneuver in rough seas, and it was even suggested they should be run like sailing boats for good effect.
The LCG had been simply welded together, given small armament and practically no comforts for the sailors who had to make do with oil lamps, (if they were good enough for Nelson, they are good enough for you!). Via Gibraltar they sailed to the Med. and dropped anchor in Bizerta, where they were neither expected nor welcome, and had to forage for themselves.

Paddy took part in the invasion of Sicily where the LCG flotilla landed on the wrong beach in total darkness, but then found the right one. According to him they were not doing much after that, except an episode when a rude US destroyer captain insisted they follow and support him with their fire power. That was asking much, when they snailed behind the destroyer with his 30 knots. At one stage his LCG was short of water and a US vessel obliged; however it was discovered afterwards that they had been supplied with fresh aviation fuel, and so were forced to return to North Africa to have the tanks cleaned.

Paddy went back to England and Scotland to join a LCT squadron commanded by a no-nonsense Captain RN. During a squadron exercise the captain insisted on his LCTs sailing in a two-by-two formation then break into line and run up to the beach at full power. Paddy's crusty old captain refused to follow orders despite the captain threatening dire consequences, and so the squadron minus one rushed the beach which as it turned out did not exist because it was high tide, and one of the unfortunates even rammed its bow up a solid sea wall.

Next D-day approached, and Paddy, promoted to captain of his LCT, studied a series of photographs of the coast of France supplied by a daring Spitfire-special pilot, to mark his beaching place, then loaded tanks, half-tracks and soldiers, plus rolls of coconut matting for the tanks to reach dry land safely. He left his harbour, followed the tiny blue pilot light of the ship ahead, and beached on time, in the right spot and unloaded his cargo. More delivery trips followed, and then it was back to England, where the LCT went into dock, and Paddy was sent to Salerno to take command of a "luxurious" US landing craft, and in the company of another 11 boats sailed to the Far East.
He experienced the full horror and hardship of the Burma campaign with Japanese snipers, extensive mangrove swamps full of snakes, mud, poisonous bugs and other assorted perils, serving the 14th Army, and was eventually withdrawn to Calcutta.
July 1945 came, the war in Europe was over, the war against the Japanese almost won, discipline declined, sailors and soldiers just wanted to go home. In August Paddy and his brother officers were asked to return to England, and so they just abandoned their craft in the river and left. He arrived in Durban and managed to talk his way out of the Navy and to Cape Town where, we sincerely hope, he lived happily ever after.

Paddy, thank you from all of us who were privileged to listen to your heartwarming sailor's yarn and for an entertaining evening.


10 August 2000

Speakers will present short talks on a variety of subjects.

14 September 2000

Talk by Bob Buser on espionage and counter-espionage in Switzerland

12 October 2000

Talk by Maj Helmoed-Roemer Heitman

9 November 2000

Sq Ldr Patrick Wells DSO will continue his talks about his personal experiences in WW 2

December 2000

In recess

18 January 2001

Please note that the first Society Evening will be on the THIRD THURSDAY OF JANUARY.

Members please note that security to the Complex has been tightened. Therefore the entrance gate will not remain open all the time. Members are requested to push the bell-button at the right side of the gate to alert the lady on duty who will open it by remote control.

Posters for advertising our Society are again available. We would like to attract new members, especially young people, members please assist. Ask John Mahncke for copies.

The CAFDA Bookshop in Werdmueller Centre, Claremont, also sells second-hand books on military subjects and history. The Friends of the National Library hold a used book-sale on the 1st Saturday of every month, 9.30 to 12.00, at Centre for the Book, Queen Victoria Street. Military history books, prints and documents etc. are available.

Meetings are normally held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 20h00 in the Recreation Hall of the SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, (off Alma Road), opposite Rosebank Railway Station, below the line. Visitors are welcome, donations R 3.00, students and scholars free. Tea and biscuits will be served.

John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167

South African Military History Society /