The Boat that Won the War, An illustrated History of the Higgins LCVP

The title may be an over-statement but this is a fine book about an important class of vessel. WWII saw amphibious warfare come of age. Dunkirk saw the creative use of large numbers of very small boats to evacuate hundreds of thousands of soldiers off the beaches under heavy air attack and this was followed by the need for large numbers of vessels to land troops back on heavily defended beaches – Highly Recommended.


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NAME: The Boat that Won the War, An illustrated History of the 
Higgins LCVP
FILE: R2581
AUTHOR: Charles C Roberts Jr
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES:  124
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, World War 2, Second World War, war 
at sea, amphibious warfare, beach landings, island hopping, troop 
carriers, landing craft

ISBN: 978-1-5267-0691-1

IMAGE: B2581.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/y7yoztr5
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: The title may be an over-statement but this is a fine 
book about an important class of vessel.  WWII saw amphibious warfare 
come of age. Dunkirk saw the creative use of large numbers of very 
small boats to evacuate hundreds of thousands of soldiers off the 
beaches under heavy air attack and this was followed by the need for 
large numbers of vessels to land troops back on heavily defended 
beaches – Highly Recommended.

The landing of troops on an enemy beach was not a new concept created 
in WWII. In ancient times warships were troop carriers that either 
fought other troop carriers or landed troops in invasion or to 
support an existing force. In the days of sail, Britain made great 
use of troops landed in small and large numbers to assault enemy 
positions and to seize territory, often carrying the troops thousands 
of miles to their target. WWI notably saw beach landings during the 
Gallipoli campaign, but these followed the well-proven method of 
using ships' boats to carry the troops ashore. WWII was very 
different because of the scale of amphibious warfare and the need 
for a whole series of specialist boats and vehicles.

Dunkirk was extraordinary because it was dependent on the very 
creative use of vessels that were designed for very different 
purposes. Anything that floated, and could be sailed across the 
Channel, was employed. Sailing wherries and barges, rowing boats, 
inland cruising boats, lighters, coastal forces craft, paddle 
steamers, destroyers, RNLI lifeboats, the list was endless and many 
were crewed by civilians. Had specialist craft been available, the 
total number of soldiers evacuated might have been higher and it 
might have been practical to recover much of the heavy equipment, 
but the courage and determination of crews was such that they 
largely overcame any shortcomings their craft might have had.

After Dunkirk, attention very quickly turned to the construction of 
craft that could deliver the numbers of troops necessary to take 
heavily defended beaches. By the time that the US entered the war 
some two years later, British landing craft designs were advanced 
and battle proven. On that basis it is stretching things to claim 
the Higgins LCVP as THE boat that won the war. Never-the-less, the 
Higgins LCVP was built in great numbers, was critical to the island 
hopping campaign in the Pacific, and was used also in Europe. It 
performed well and was liked by those who used in. The author has 
done a great job in describing the vessel in detail with some first 
class illustration through the book. He has a particular love of this 
vessel, having restored and operated a 1943 Higgins LCVP.

The Higgins design is a classic landing craft. It does have to be 
seaworthy but is intended for short repeat passages between troop 
carrying ships standing offshore and the beaches.  Of primary 
importance is the ability to load and unload very quickly. This led 
to an ability to scale the craft. Even the smallest infantry landing 
craft were equipped with a wide ramp that closed the bow and dropped 
to provide a firm and easy to use path to the beach. Craft, such as 
the Higgins LCVP, were therefore able to carry infantry and also 
carry smaller vehicles such as motor bikes and jeeps. Basically the 
same design in larger size could be used to deliver trucks and tanks 
directly to the beaches. The format was so successful that it is 
still in use today, but with some refinements.

The British did not depend exclusively on drop-ramp landing craft. A 
range of specialist vehicles were developed, notably swimming tanks, 
to increase the firepower arriving on a heavily defended beach with 
the first attack wave. Even that was not adequate for the Normandy 
landings. One development was to take a tank landing craft and equip 
it with a large number of rockets that could be rippled-fired close 
inshore at enemy defences. The other significant development was the 
design of pre-fabricated ports which were towed across the Chanel and 
assembled to connect to the Normandy beaches, complete with an 
undersea pipeline for fuel. Necessary and practical for the cross 
Channel operation, the US in the Pacific had to depend on what could 
be carried across blue water to the target beaches. In this situation, 
amphibious warfare demanded large numbers of landing craft with 
special attention to infantry landing craft, augmented by specialist 
tracked amphibious vehicles for the USMC and also amphibious trucks 
for the more sheltered waters.

At the end of WWII, many assumed that the need for amphibious warfare 
had ended, but there have been campaigns around the world where 
amphibious warfare and craft similar to the Higgins LCVP have been 
essential. The most extreme example is where Great Britain pulled a 
task force together in a matter of weeks and sent it 8,000 miles to 
eject Argentine invaders from the British Falkland Islands, operating 
far from the nearest friendly port and having to take everything 
needed with the Task Force. Critical to the outstanding success were 
landing craft and landing ships.