NOSTALGIA: D-Day floating kitchen leaves Portsmouth

LBK6 leaves Portsmouth  on May 10, 2007.  Picture: Mike Nolan.
LBK6 leaves Portsmouth on May 10, 2007. Picture: Mike Nolan.
Part of a wider picture of clippies at North End tram depot In Gladys Avenue, Portsmouth. I have counted 175 members of staff of which just 21 are men. Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: Hundreds of clippies replaced men who were called up

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Here’s a question. How were the troops fed when the invasion of Normandy was taking place?

I’m sure many of the men who were in the first wave of D-Day landings had their own ways of feeding themselves, but for others another way had to be found and it came in the form of floating kitchens.

A Landing Craft Kitchen seen off the Normandy beachhead on D-Day 1944.

A Landing Craft Kitchen seen off the Normandy beachhead on D-Day 1944.

I kid you not.

They were called Landing Barge-Kitchens (LBKs) and were used all along the beachhead.

Thanks to Mike Nolan, of Paulsgrove, for telling me about these vessels.

Each barge had a storage and serving space with enough provisions to feed 900 men for a week. They could supply 1,600 hot meals and 800 cold meals each day. It was not rubbish food either as the menu consisted of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, roast pork and cottage pie, along with boiled and roasted potatoes. Vacuum flasks of soup, tea and coffee could also be supplied.

Clubhouse LBK6 refurbished and now in use for the Dovercourt Sailing Club.

Clubhouse LBK6 refurbished and now in use for the Dovercourt Sailing Club.

In all, 10 craft were fitted as kitchen barges. They had an endurance of 300 miles at 5mph and they were all manned by Royal Navy personnel.

The crew comprised 13 cooks, nine seamen and three stokers. The commander was usually a sub-lieutenant.

One of the barges, LBK6, stood off Sword beach on D-Day as part of the 35th Supply and Repair Flotilla.

At the end of the war she ended up in Chatham Dockyard where she was used as a floating galley for ships in that ’yard.

The navy on a 'stone frigate'.''Sailors on the quarterdeck of  HMS Daedalus III, Bedhampton, at the sunset ceremony. These land establishments were always nicknamed 'stone frigates'.

The navy on a 'stone frigate'.''Sailors on the quarterdeck of HMS Daedalus III, Bedhampton, at the sunset ceremony. These land establishments were always nicknamed 'stone frigates'.

In 1963 she was on the disposal list and moved to Portsmouth Dockyard. She was used to feed the men on ships in refit.

In the 1960s and ’70s she underwent several refits but was seen as fit for disposal in November 1977.

She left Portsmouth Harbour on May 10, 2007, for Babcocks, Southampton, for disposal but was purchased by the Dovercourt Sailing Club.

It took five years to convert the last surviving vessel of her type and Clubhouse LBK6 is now the pride of Dovercourt SC at Harwich, Essex.

•Most people around the area will remember HMS Daedalus at Lee-on-the-Solent, but how many of you know that there was a Daedalus III at Bedhampton during the Second World War?

After the war the Nissen-hutted camp was used by displaced persons from eastern Europe and then by civilians, mostly Portsmouth people who had nowhere to live until the Leigh Park estate was built.

The part of the camp which was brick-built and used for admin purposes, plus a galley, were converted to create Stockheath Junior and Infant School in the 1950s.