12 June 2012

12 June 1944

D + 6

1030:- Good night’s rest last night -- no G.Q. Beautiful June day. QUINCY only ship firing in this sector -- about 6 to 8 salvos an hour. Flag has returned aboard. Just visited the signal bridge and scanned the horizon with a large glass. To our port side in the “0” sector there is a large concentration of ships -- sweeping along the coast. The shipping is so concentrated that one cannot see the beach between hulls. Saw four sunken ships near the beach. Bow of the CORRY sticking straight up to the heavens. Several landing craft also beached. The beach itself is studded with obstacles and looks like a virgin forest after fire and flood. No landing activity at this time.

11 June 2012

11 June 1944

D + 5

1110:- Routine. Sick call and administrative work. Letter from Mother and three from Jane written on or about the last of May. Both good and bad for the morale, -- but morale is good enough to absorb even major nostalgic setbacks at this time. The U.S.S. TUSCALOOSA is a good fighting ship -- she has done well in the past -- and will do well in the future.

Underway at 0930 -- returning to the French coast. Personnel rested and ready for what may be ahead. May God go with us.

2300:- Made anchorage at approximately 1730. All is quiet on the western eastern front. NEVADA firing a few salvos. No sign of enemy activity. Turning in now -- with clothes on, awaiting call for G.Q.

10 June 2012

10 June 1944

D + 4

1045:- Finished directives on casualty and fatality handling. All survivors transferred to beach at 0300 this morning. Arrived in Plymouth, England, at 0230 -- here to reload and return to France.
2400:- Quiet day -- department preparing for return to battle front. Received 100 units (500 cc) plasma aboard. (Making an equivalent of 300 cc (250 cc) units. Feel much better now about this problem. Had a meeting with the boys at 2000 discussing our strength and weakness as brought out by the activity of the past few days. On the whole the boys did extremely well -- and at the moment we are better organized than before, both as to medical and administrative handling of cases. Received two V-mail letters from Jane -- very welcome -- written 2 June -- four days before the invasion. Scuttlebutt has it that we have been twice reported sunk -- and that the report has been published in the U.S. Hope this isn’t true -- but it may be as we were allowed to unseal the ship and send letters ashore late tonight.

09 June 2012

9 June 1944

D + 3

0930:- At work on administrative chores in re MEREDITH casualties. Mass of red tape -- job finally completed at 2430. Rest of the day spent treating injured survivors and holding sick calls for our own personnel. On the way to Plymouth.

08 June 2012

8 June 1944

6/8/44          D + 2

0300:- Survivors arrived on board from U.S.S. MEREDITH (DD726). Ship probably struck a mine -- initial explosion in after fire room -- secondary explosion of the 20 mm magazine. Nine men injured brought aboard and 127 non-injured. Three severe burns (Mycue, Hastings, Harsar), 1st and 2nd degree involving face, arms, back, chest and legs. Massive doses of plasma administered to all burned patients -- sulfathiazole gauze dressings reinforced. Mycue in severe shock on arrival. Despite vigorous therapy, patient expired at 0550. Hastings, Ensign -- uninjured at the time of initial explosion, went below to rescue his men -- was able to get Mycue out of fire room, sustaining severe burns in the process. Carey sustained a large hematoma over the lower thoracic and upper lumbar vertebrae. No indication of nerve damage. Dibble, who was thrown from the torpedo mount, sustained compound fractures lower third and upper third right tibia with posterior disintegration of knee joint. Simple fracture upper third of right femur and midshaft right humerus. Compound fracture with posterior deformity left knee joint. Given three units of plasma, M.S., 500 cc of fresh blood, and prepared for surgery. Losing blood freely from undisclosed source. (Impossible to move patient adequately because of degree of injury.) With a systolic BP of 90 and under local anesthetic the right leg was removed at the upper third of the femur (guillotine method.). Three more units of plasma given during surgery. Operation without hemorrhage -- but soon after the removal of the tourniquet the patient expired. (1200)

2400:- Rest of the day devoted to treatment of rest of casualties and the administration of plasma to Hastings and Harsar. Went to transport BAYVILLE and picked up 12 units (500 cc) of plasma from Dr Branne. They had 46 casualties earlier in the day but had since transferred them. Returned after dark with ships firing all about us -- and bombers blasting over the beach -- glad to get back to the old CA-37. G.Q. from 2430 to 0300 -- enemy aircraft contact.

Wreck of the USS Meredith (DD 726)

Image courtesy National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors

07 June 2012

7 June 1944

6/7/44          D + 1

0100:- On a sack at last and to sleep until 0400 when one of our own group of ammunition handlers turned in with a temperature of 102°. No localizing symptoms. Tonsils hypertrophied -- given sulfadiazine and ASA. Slept again until 0530 when we secured from G.Q. Quiet night.

0900:- Returned to Ward Room for coffee. Word passed that we were receiving casualties aboard. Fifteen in all brought in by P.T.’s. Twelve man ambulatory -- two wounded and one dead. Received two wounded in Sick Bay -- pilot and navigator of C-47. Got a brief story from the pilot before moving on. His plane was part of a large flight of glider-bombers. Delivered his glider and turned in formation to return for more. Ran into ack-ack and caught a high explosive amidships. Port engine on fire -- knocked from formation. He tried to pull his ship back but the starboard engine started to fail and after dropping cargo he went down for a crash landing. To his knowledge there were two other members of the crew still alive. The navigator and the copilot, all of them removed their anti-flash clothes prior to landing. The pilot dropped the plane flat in the sea but it was thrown by a wave and nosed over. He remembers plunging downward with the nose of the plane, holding his breath and then everything blacked out. His next memory is of catapulting through the escape hatch and hanging onto the starboard casset. The other two living members of the crew were secured and they all waited for a P.T. Boat which was seen approaching to pick them up. Meanwhile the ship was sinking -- the starboard wing went under and the pilot swam over to hang onto the fusillage. Looking inside he could see the shattered remains of his crew. Only the pilot and navigator came on board. We don’t know what happened to the co-pilot. Both officers chilled when they arrived on board and covered with minor lacerations and abrasions. Both given M.S. grs. 1/4 -- stripped, warmed, and put to bed. Two lacerations on dorsal aspect of the right wrist of the navigator sutured and all abrasions dressed on both. Meanwhile -- or rather simultaneously -- two more P.T.’s came alongside -- one containing the entire crew of a C-47 all ambulatory and uninjured. (Crash dive after motors cancelled out.) The second P.T. brought a body which was taken to the dispensary and stripped for identification. Just getting around to take care of him when G.Q. sounded again. At the moment we are at Chiefs’ Quarters talking things over with the survivors. They and the two bodies will soon be removed. At the moment we are progressing toward the beach to neutralize a 14” battery -- shore spotted.

1045:- Secure from G.Q. Set 3 Mike, Watch 3.

1525:- Return to G.Q. All secure. Above evolution (neutralization of 14” battery) not carried out. At the moment we are preparing to replace the QUINCY in shore bombardment -- exact target not yet disclosed. QUINCY leaving for England to reload -- as we will do after completely expending our ammunition. In the interval had time to shave, clean up the sick bay, hold sick call, eat, and get 1:45 sleep. (Still a little punchy -- but better off than some.)

1700:- Main battery 23 hits out of 23 salvos -- two targets eliminated -- infantry concentration -- Watch set -- rest secure.

 C-47 aircraft - pulled gliders and carried paratroopers.

Image credit Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum

06 June 2012

6 June 1944

D-Day H-Hour - 0640.

0540:- Quincy has opened fire on shore batteries. Dog fight taking place directly overhead. All personnel ready to commence firing.

0550:- Main batteries have commenced firing. Shore bombardment said to have hit one of our destroyers.

0560:- All hands handling 40 mm ammunition.

0600:- Waiting now, no specific word at present.

0615:- Firing slowly what sounds like three gun salvos from the 8” with spasmodic 5” fire. Air coverage apparently good. Planes have laid a smoke screen on our starboard quarter between us and the beach. Sun rising -- clouds clearing. Ceiling will be practically unlimited. Perfect day for an invasion.

0633:- Confirmation -- one destroyer hit on fan-tail. Our troops are supposed to land at 0640 (H-    Hour) being preceded by seven minutes by an onslaught of 5000 rocket bombs. No word concerning this at yet. Our firing has momentarily ceased.

0720:- Destroyer “CORRY” sinking stern first. Survivers [sic] in rafts, picked up by FITCH.

0939:- Main battery has been concentrating on beach based artillery -- recently shifted to target 14, presumably inland.

0945:- Target 14 apparently neutralized. Have shifted target. During all this time our troops have been landing in tremendous numbers of LST’s, LCVP’s, LCI’s, etc. Operation thus far is apparently successful.

Continue to move about, especially when the shore battery begins to get our range. At about 1100 we sustained a near miss -- three gun salvo off the fan-tail -- concussion blast rather stimulating to all concerned. Hot after that battery, as they are also on the QUINCY. Being roundly defeated in a game of Casino.

1208:- Plane spotting shore battery not on target as yet. Possibly a mobile unit or one sufficiently protected to make it difficult to eliminate. Report of establishment of beachhead by American Force. Waiting establishment of British beachhead before advancing in full force. The British will establish a holding action to the east while we sweep forward to clear the peninsula and take Cherbourg.

1222:- Still waiting for spotting data. Sitting below decks and waiting has very little virtue as a method of making war. Complete lack of thought projection is the only psychological protection available. The Medical Department rather has a double worry -- we think of our own good epidermis, of course, but - in addition - every casualty aboard is our baby also. Never in a long life of lethargy and slothfulness have I had such a pronounced desire to do absolutely nothing in a medical line until the last shot of this engagement has been fired. (That bastard got us on again and we’re off for what is hoped is a more secure spot).

1420:- Eureka! That damn battery behind the hill has evidently been silenced and we have at the moment shifted targets -- although all is very quiet at present. Just finished chow. Ration 1 and 2 supplemented by apples and chocolate. One casualty reported thus far from Sick Bay -- sprained ankle incurred by falling in a turret.

1525:- That same shore battery has been popping off at us again. Scuttlebutt has it that this battery is a mobile one -- established on a railroad -- scooting out from behind the hill, firing, and returning to some fortified base. We are after them again, for this battery must be silenced. After this it is rumored that we will go in closer and storm some reconnaissance stations with our five-inch battery. Evidently the British ship MONITOR blasted through the hill with her two fifteen-inch guns and partially neutralized the above described battery.

Message from General Eisenhower over radio. Speaks of landing on the northern coast of France. Speaks to men and women in conquered countries. Warns that they must be patient and prepare. It is strange indeed to hear this invasion broadcast almost as fast and as soon as it happens. The important thing here has been adequate and quite superior air coverage. As yet no enemy aircraft have engaged our forces. With a day as clear as this “E” boat surface attack is impossible against such a force and while submarines still remain a danger, neither one will be effective until tonight. By then we hope to be well screened by a tremendous picket line of Liberty ships and destroyers.

1745:- Have been in a lull for past two hours. At about 1600 two or three gun salvos from number three turret blasted down everything on the overhead -- including three battle lights. All repaired and secured by 1615. Since then we have been out of enemy range, but will probably go in soon after chow which will be served soon.

2037:- Report only five men lost in the CORRY sinking, 231 saved. The FITCH wheeled in close to the sinking destroyer and, all guns blazing, calmly sat there and removed all the personnel.
Unconfirmed report indicated that the shore battery which was giving us so much trouble this P.M. has been silenced by Army action. We have been firing very intermittently for the past few hours. It is rumored that our next target will be German tanks proceeding against our troops on the beach.

2053:- Just saw about forty C-47’s towing gliders crossing our bow and proceeding against the beach. About eight miles from the coastline the gliders were released -- probably carry mechanized material -- tanks, jeeps, etc., and more troops. A reported 100,00 troops (U.S.) have been landed today.

2030:- (About) Dead French aviator picked up, not completely identified. Removed to after icebox. Multiple fractures. D.O.A. Secured from G.Q.

2400:- Return to G.Q. All secure. Prior to this our was out on the fan-tail watching ack-ack and bombing on beach and point. Two aircraft seen shot down. This is a horrible business -- but there is no turning back until the end has come. In this business one gets used to death in the bulk, so to speak -- but 8 to 10 deaths a week from the large reserves of old crocks at the W.C.H.* is only partial preparation for the casualties of war.

*Hospital in Connecticut where he worked before the war

Image courtesy of Boston.com

05 June 2012

5 June 1944

C.P.O Battle Station.

2230:- To G.Q. Heading for French Invasion Coast!

2300:- All secure. Report from the bridge -- All secure.

2400:- Flashes of anti-aircraft fire seen on horizon. Star shells 280° (true bearing)

0100:- Large concentrations of aircraft passing over above cloud ceiling. Landing craft as far as the eye can see both fore and aft. Anti-aircraft flashes much more definite on the horizon. Eight miles from anchorage. Ration one delivered and consumed at 0045.

0107:- C-47 transport over stern. Landing craft close on port bow.

0125:- Topside for a few minutes. Short burst of ack-ack off the port bow. Trajectory appears to be almost parallel to horizon. Mine-swept channel marked with flares -- red to starboard, white to port. Not much activity at present. Landing craft not easily visible. Sky remains overcast with moon lighting up the clouds to the left of the sky aft. Fifteen minutes to anchor.

0135:- Large numbers of C-47 transports overheard returning to England after depositing paratroopers at the bast of the Cherbourg peninsula. Otherwise quiet.

0235:- Anchor.

0330:- Activity reported along beach. Went topside to observe.

0345:- Far off starboard quarter activity cited. Constant drone of engine noise, constant rumble of drums with staccato concussions superimposed. Occasional flash of ack-ack exploding. More constant explosions sighted on beach as the strings of bombs are laid down. Wind sharp and gusty -- moon hidden beneath thin layer of clouds.

0400:- C-47 transports still passing over -- must have deposited a tremendous number of paratroopers. These C-47 just zoomed over fan-tail. Hell of a demanding noise -- stomach settles when their zoom is not followed by an explosion. Under weigh.

0515:- Proceeding toward final position for attack. Word just passed that we have anchored again in our firing position. Due to commence firing at 0550. Bridge dispatcher describes the loss of several of our planes -- falling to earth like small comets -- exploding in a geyser of flame when they land. Hope none of the CA37 boys are up there as yet. In condition Yoke Easy -- have just had coffee, a “Dagwood” sandwich and a chocolate bar. Ready to prepare for firing.

Image courtesy OmahaBeach.org

04 June 2012

4 June 1944

Left Belfast for the invasion coast off northern France!