The Tank Landing Craft (TLC) Mk1 were prototype vessels, constructed in the latter half of 1940 by the British military for combined operations. Churchill was keen to avoid another disaster like Dunkirk, when the retreating British armies had to leave behind all equipment on the sea shore.
The new TLC were the largest vessels of the landing craft types at that time. They were to operate under their own power across long distances and carry up to six tanks or other heavy equipment. Built like a floating dock with sides and two engines, the craft were virtually unsinkable but were also very difficult to manoeuvre in the slightest of seas.
Of the thirty original TLC, the Mk1, a total of twenty were shipped in sections from the shipyards in the UK to Egypt, where they arrived in groups and were reassembled throughout the first half of 1941.
The Tank Landing Craft, the TLC Mk1 (“A” lighter), at the time of its development, was a new type of craft. Their real, and often unexpected, battle capabilities had yet to be tested. A Sub-Lieutenant from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), or perhaps only a Royal Navy (RN) Boatswain, skippered these ‘experimental’ vessels into the struggle in the Middle East.
Without the TLCs’ participation, a great number of Allied operations of World War Two would not have proved as successful. One such operation was Demon, the evacuation of British and ANZAC troops from mainland Greece in 1941.
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