Jack Joseph Berliner

Leading Aircraftman, 1 B.R.S.U.
Service number 1717184
Died 7 Nov 1944
Buried Oostende New Communal Cemetery
Age 21

Jack was born in 1923 in Mile End, London, the son of Russian born parents Marks and Lena nee Cohen and he had four sisters. Their father was a ladies tailor and a fur machinist in Poplar, London. Jack enlisted in 1941.

Jack was killed on board LST-420 which was an American tank landing ship that was transferred to the Royal Navy during WW2. She was lost on 7 Nov 1944, after hitting a mine in heavy seas off Ostend, Belgium, sinking with great loss of life including RAF passengers. The plan was for the “No. 1 Base Signals and Radar Unit” (B.S.R.U.), which had completed eighteen months training at “Signals Battle Training School”, to land in France once the Normandy bridgehead was sufficiently stable and movement orders were given and the 303 men in the unit began boarding including 19 officers and 250 enlisted personnel of No. 1 BSRU with their 50 vehicles, equipment and supplies.  

At approximately 15:00, within sight of Ostend the bow section of LST-420 struck a powerful German mine which tore a large hole in the ship’s hull causing it to break into two parts. The ship’s galley fires were lit at the time due to the evening meal being prepared and gallons of petrol from the damaged fuel tanks of the vehicles caught fire enveloping the stern section of the ship in flame. The boat sank very rapidly and due to the heavy seas only larger vessels were able to attempt to rescue survivors in the water. Of the ill-fated “BSRU” only 31 or 32 men were saved from life rafts.

Research René Hoekbeke

Also killed on board LST-420 were Alec Weinberg and Morris Kaminsky who have a page on the website.