30 October 2013

Message from the Admin: Hiatus


The last post is the last one I have typed up. Since I am in Los Angeles and the Diary is in Michigan, this has caused a delay in postings. When I go back East for Thanksgiving, I hope to type up some more pages and resume posting regularly.


The Granddaughter.

07 October 2013

15 August 1944 - The Invasion of Southern France

D-Day • H-Hour: 0800

0340:- Up at 0215 -- breakfast -- sick call in Sick Bay, seven patients retained. Phillips brought down from the wardroom to take charge. Mostly gastro-enteritis with two cases of early pneumonia thrown in for good measure. Then down at the chiefs’ quarters to secure for G.Q. Unbearably hot down here during sunset G.Q. last night. Cooler this morning, but it won’t be when the sun rises and heats the ship. Casualties or no, we will keep busy with medical cases: dysentery, heat prostration, acute bronchitis, and early pneumonia, all of which have shown activity prior to this.

We are now secure, waiting for activity. The general plan is much the same as Normandy. We serve a dual role:-- a subsidiary one of acting convoy protection for transports, and a primary function as a fire support vessel for the amphibious landing activity. As such we will commence firing on known targets about H070, knocking out all known targets that threaten the beachhead. Then we will shift to secondary targets somewhat inland which would serve as secondary threats for the landing operations. Our fire call employs main and secondary batteries rapid fire -- both vessel and plane spotted at first, with later control from the Shore Fire Control Party (SFCP). Mr. Earl from the Tusky is a member of our SFCP, -- a mighty hot job. We will leave the assault area every night, going out about 50 miles, and returning early the next morning until all beachheads are secure and the invasion has proceeded far enough inland to need fire support no longer. Good news from northern France -- allied advance moving rapidly. With any luck at all the end should be in sight -- but we will retain our attitude of healthy pessimism. Awaiting developments.

0415:- The sweat pouring in large drops -- and the sun isn’t in sight yet.

0645:- Our target is in sight and we will open fire with our secondary battery in a very few minutes.

0700:- Have opened fire with our secondary battery. Moderately rapid fire. No report of return fire as yet.

0745:- H-15. Both main and secondary batteries firing moderately rapidly. No report of return fire as yet. Scattered comments on the progress of the firing over the short wave. “Delta two calling Yellow dog: Target 280 - fire when ready - over.” “Yellow dog to Delta two: Roger - Salvo - Wilco - Out.” “Delta two and Yellow dog on target rapid fire - out.” -- and so it goes. The results of our firing are not known to us below decks, and probably won’t be until we secure from G.Q.

0800:- There has been the usual pre-invasion softening of the beachhead by “hundreds” of heavy bombers. We have now completed our pre-invasion bombardment and will pick up some secondary target under SFCP direction if we can establish contact. The American assault forces will take over now -- and their progress will be noted as it is known. (Incidentally, this is the longest period of sustained rest I have had in over a week -- and welcome, too.)

0820:- First Army assault wave has gone in -- as of 0800 with no resistance as yet.

0908:- Six waves reported as landed on Green Beach without casualties. Also reported that Blue Beach has been taken. (Blue and Green Beaches lie on each side of Yellow Beach -- a small harbor strongly fortified and filled with mines. We should be able to take this harbor from the sea now.)

1045:- Topside for about 30 minutes. We have not fired since our pre-invasion bombardment. We have contacted our SFCP but there are no targets to shoot at. Latest information discloses that we have taken Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue Beaches. No reported casualties -- almost unbelievable! (And rightly so -- we never did take Red Beach on D-Day.) Great numbers of LST’s and LCVP’s shuttling back and forth between the transports and the beach. Eight mine sweeps just passed our stern bound for the beach. Air coverage is good, as usual, and there is no sign as yet of enemy aircraft. We just moved in an eastern direction and are in a position to fire at point blank range -- but have not fired as yet. This whole operation thus far has an aura of unreality, (Especially after our previous experience.) Knowing nothing, I retain the attitude of expecting anything. We -- in the words of the prophets -- shall see.

1300:- About 1230 approximately 40 B-24 bombers made their runs on the Red Beach dropping strings upon strings of bombs. Went topside directly thereafter and saw the destruction done -- almost continuous rumble from the beach with some dive bombing activity and a good deal of shelling. Our main battery opened up just prior to 1300 and continues to send salvos toward the beach - caught without cotton and beat a hasty retreat through the hatch before my tympanic membranes were completely ruined.

1600:- Straight dope on Red Beach -- landing craft stood off while the above bombing and shelling was going on. It was decided not to land. This beach is actually a good sized town, St. Raphael, and the enemy resistance was too severe at this time, considering that unopposed landings can be made on the Green, Yellow, and Blue Beaches. We will get the bastards tomorrow. The invasion is already being broadcast over the radio. They describe it as being even larger than Normandy. Parachutist and glider troops were particularly successful in establishing salients behind the beachheads with little or no casualties -- compared to the 66% at Normandy.

1800:- Secure from G.Q. Time for Sick Call, a quick shower and shave with a change of clothes before chow.

2030:- Went topside after chow for a little air. Standing on the port side of the gun deck watching ship movements. The greater part of the task force was withdrawing behind overlapping smoke screen which blocked all vision from the beach. There was a good ground haze, what with the smoke of battle etc., and many small low-lying clouds between us and the beach. We had just completed our formation for withdrawal when one of the Cans off the port side opened up on a plane overhead. I caught a glimpse of a single plane for the briefest part of a second before it went into a cloud. After that all hell broke loose with 18 to 20 ships opening up with 40 mm and 5” fire. Tracers were dancing all over the sky and the smoke and noise were something to hear. I ducked under cover in the hangar and then went below for my helmet. By the time I returned, the show was over, and we soon secured and turned in for a little sleep.

06 October 2013

14 August 1944

1030. Tomorrow at 0215 we go in against the Southern coast of France. We are proceeding north-west at the moment in the company of a good sized task force -- consisting of three battle wagons -- the now famous “old ladies” (NEVADA, ARKANSAS, TEXAS), four American heavy cruisers, three British light cruisers, two French light cruisers, and sixteen destroyers. H-Hour is at 0800 but we are prepared to begin firing any time after 0300. We will be employing both main and secondary batteries with anti-aircraft fire ad lib. We will work both with air-spots and with our shore fire control party. Our main objective is the GREEN BEACH in which we will support American assault forces. The enemy has considerable amount of shore-based artillery bearing upon us -- and eight known radar stations. Her air-power is of an unknown quantity -- although there are a reported 145 JU 88’s and Dourniers in the area. All preparations have been made for gas attack.

Had an organization meeting with the boys this morning and at 1200 today we will be ready. Medical cases will present a considerable problem -- especially this dysentery. Total of 12 patients in Sick Bay at the moment. More later from C.P.O. Quarters.

12 September 2013

13 August 1944

1600. Here we are again -- briefed and sealed for another invasion. This time we will hit the coast of Southern France in the vicinity of Cannes -- just west of the French Riviera. Another large-scale operation for which we will supply the firepower. The TUSCALOOSA will find itself in a hot spot again -- promises to be a bit like Cherbourg (and that is none to our liking). D-Day apparently is Tuesday, 15 August. More dope as it is received. Have been working all day on directives for casualties, fatalities, decontamination, etc. Will have a meeting with the boys tonight. Have had one hemorrhoidal thrombactomy every day for the last four days -- quite an epidemic.

07 September 2013

13 August 1944

Another hiatus in our narrative -- this time of considerable proportions. For one thing the medical department has been really busy these past few days -- although I must confess to a few liberties. (Swimming at Mondello). Hitting the high spots, we have:

8/9 - All hell broke loose in the sick bay this evening. Two enteritis cases with high temperatures, one boy with a red-hot belly and a low WBC (Brooking), two drunks, one with a lacerated wrist (belligerent) and the other with a rum-belly (hysterical). Finally turned in about 0100.

8/10 - Attended a medical conference today (1000-1200) aboard the BROOKLYN -- about 30 M.O.’s present, including Mike Dean (Tufts Med ’43, who is on the KENDRICK). I discoursed for a few moments on dysentery -- with that exception it was an excellent meeting. Met Mike at 1400 this afternoon -- went out to Mondello for a terrific game of touch football from which some crawled away -- a good swim, and an evening of rather sustained drinking. First time I had let down the bars since 3 July in Bangor. Had a hell of a good time all around.

8/11 - Routine day -- busy all day long (which makes the day somewhat more than routine.) Mike came over for dinner and the movie tonight. Turned in by 2400.

8/12 Another busy day -- with a nightmare in the Sick Bay to finish off with. The usual two enteritis cases (most of which are Shigella dysentery, I think -- but as I have no cultures I can’t prove it.) with high temperatures requiring IV’s. About 2100 one of the marines returning from liberty fell off the prow onto the mole -- doing a one and a half -- landing squarely on his head. Rather a frisky evening patching him up -- X-rays, B.P., etc. A damn lucky and a damn tough marine. No fracture, rapid recovery. In bed by 0100.

06 September 2013

5 August 1944

1100. Routine AM with a large sick call. Voting instructions given this AM. Will be aboard today -- hope to write some letters this PM.

05 September 2013

2 August 1944

1110. Battle problem this morning. Abandon ship drill planned for this PM. Will arrive in Palermo about 1600. Heard more talk ashore yesterday concerning invasion. Promises to be even more extensive than Normandy. No straight dope as yet -- but it will be reported as it comes in.