The first twenty Tank Landing Craft arrived in Egypt on convoys in early 1941 and immediately after reassembly took part in operations. The first 5 TLCs to be completed (TLC A1, A5, A6, A16 and A19) were sent from Alexandria on a supply run to the besieged town of Tobruk in early April. Upon arrival, they were redirected to Suda Bay on Crete, where they were joined by two more TLCs (A15 and A20) sent from Alexandria. The TLCs were to assist in the evacuation of Greece.
Only weeks earlier, Commonwealth troops had been sent into Greece to deter Italian and German forces from invading. However, the German assault proved too strong, and when the Greek military crumbled, there was no option for the British but evacuation. Since the main harbour of Greece, Piraeus near Athens, had been destroyed by the Germans, troops had to be picked up from various beaches. This necessitated the use of small landing barges as well as large TLCs to ferry troops from beaches to the ships waiting further offshore. Greek fishermen also assisted in the dangerous task of ferrying the exhausted troops.
In total, six TLCs were involved in this operation, codenamed Demon, yet only one of them (A6) made it back to Crete.
One month later, the Germans began their invasion of Crete with the deployment of huge numbers of paratroopers. This airborne assault proved costly in terms of soldiers lost, yet was ultimately successful. Again, the British had to evacuate.
By then, only two TLCs (A6 and A20) remained fully operational in Suda Bay and were ordered to make their way from the north coast down to the southern coast of Crete to assist in the evacuation or to go all the way back to Alexandria. Neither of them was to reach their destination, as both were sunk off the coast at the north-western end of Crete. A third TLC, A16, was scuttled in Suda Bay as engine problems would not allow her to travel far.
The rest of the TLC Mk1s remained stationed on the North African coast after being reassembled. They were assigned to the Spud Run, the supply run to Tobruk, and were later incorporated into the WDLF (which probably stands for Western Desert Lighter Flotilla). Since the slow, unwieldy and poorly armed TLCs were often subjected to enemy attacks and sustained continual losses, the men assigned to them resolved the acronym in a slightly more grim fashion: "We Die Like Flies".
Towards the end of the war, there seem to have been only three TLC Mk1 still in action, namely A4, A9 and A17. Although as yet unconfirmed, they may have been sent to Italy towards the end of the war.
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