Exercise “JANTZEN” – July/August 1943

Exercise Jantzen was an important exercise that took place in South Wales in the summer of 1943. D-Day for the exercise was 22nd July 1943 and it finished two weeks later, on 5th August.

The object of the exercise was to practise Beach Maintenance and in particular: Beach Group Organisation, development of a Force Maintenance Area, various methods of loading and unloading coasters and the construction of an Advanced Landing Ground. It was also an opportunity to practise the movement of troops from Concentration Areas through Assembly and Transit Areas to Embarkation Points.

The loading took place at Port Talbot, Swansea and Tenby, and the landings took place on beaches north of Tenby, at Saundersfoot.

Due to a shortage of Landing Ships and Craft (this was in the period between the invasion of Sicily and the landings in mainland Italy), many of the units involved were fed in “dryshod”, i.e. transported by road to the beach area instead of actually landing from the sea. The vessels that were used in the exercise were: one flotilla of twelve Landing Craft Personnel, three flotillas of twelve Landing Barges, thirty-six large and small coasters, plus folding boats and sixteen Alligator amphibians.[1]

The beach groups that took part in Exercise Jantzen were No. 5 Beach Group and No. 6 Beach Group with No. 70 R.A.F. Beach Unit and No. 71 R.A.F. Beach Unit attached, respectively. They were part of No. 101 Beach Sub Area, in which formation Wing Commander L.S.N.B. Faulkner was the Commander, Royal Air Force (C.R.A.F.)

A detailed account of the involvement of No. 70 R.A.F. Beach Unit is given in that Unit’s Operations Record Book and can be read here.

No. 3207 R.A.F. Servicing Commando Unit was also involved in Exercise Jantzen. This Unit was embarked on a coaster at Port Talbot and, after being landed on the beach, took up duties at the Advanced Landing Ground constructed by the Army.[2]

Wing Commander B. Armiger, C.R.A.F. of No. 102 Beach Sub Area and in command of Nos. 76 and 77 R.A.F. Beach Units, attended Exercise Jantzen as an observer and submitted a report on the exercise to the Air Ministry (Director of Movements)

[1] A half-hour film was made about Exercise Jantzen at the time.
This can be viewed (in four parts) on the IWM Collections website or (in one part) on the Australian War Memorial website.

[2] Recollections of George Revell in
“Spectacles, Testicles, Fags and Matches: The Untold Story of R.A.F. Servicing Commandos in World War Two”
by Tom Atkinson, Luath Press Ltd, 2004, p109