Lightships played a key role during both world wars. We are collecting stories about them here.
Read here the gripping story of the loss of the crew of the East Dowsing Lightship (LV63). Bombed and machine gunned in the winter of 1940, she was abandoned by her crew who all died of exposure apart from one lucky individual.
LV50 and the D-Day Landings
During the early stages of WW2 LV50 was on the Warner Station. A strategically important stations, just south of the major naval base of Portsmouth and where the Solent (the straits between the Isle of Wight and the UK mainland) meets the English Channel.
In 1943 she was moved to the Calshot Spit Station at the junction of Southampton Water and The Solent. Again strategically very important as Southampton was one of the major invasion ports for the D-Day Landings.
Lightships no longer carried the station name on their side and perhaps following the bombing of the East Dudgeon lightship (see below) lightships were not illuminated at all times.
Film exists of the invasion fleet sailing past LV50 on their way to France, see below for a short clip. More original film is available on the excellent YouTube site Southampton on D-Day. The film clip below is an extract of one of their posts.
Another lightship, LV72 JUNO, was used to guide the fleet through the minefields to the invasion beaches (see the facebook site of Lyndon Pritchard).
LV50, luckily, was never damaged by enemy action. However, in 1943 and 1944 she was repeatedly in collision with local allied craft, presumably because she was not displaying any lights.
1943 Damaged by Solent Patrol Vessel 14 and Invasion Craft (on 3 occasions.
1944 Damaged by the Landing Ship, Infantry the Duke of Wellington and the tug Danube II.