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

1 comment:

  1. Emory Kimbrough01 March, 2014 17:46

    Ms. Belanger,

    Greetings from Tuscaloosa (the city, not the heavy cruiser...)

    Many thanks for making your grandfather's diary available. His entry for D-Day includes a clue to the fate of of three Free French aviators who were shot down while laying a smoke screen to protect the U.S. fleet at Utah Beach. The deceased French aviator that he records taken aboard the Tuscaloosa at about 2030 hours must be one of these three men. They were from Royal Air Force Squadron 342, a Free French unit operating within the RAF.

    One of the men, the gunner/radio operator, washed ashore six months after the crash. Thus, the man your grandfather recorded must be either the pilot or the navigator. The diary entry says that the French casualty was "not completely identified," suggesting that he had no dog-tags or other ID.

    French sources say that the gunner/radio operator was the only crewman who was ever found. This leads to a sad conclusion - The man taken onto the USS Tuscaloosa was apparently never identified. He was likely buried as an unknown French aviator, with his family still believing to this day that he remains lost at sea.

    The components of this story have been linked only very recently. Several people are working to uncover more information. There is some hope that we can trace where the man in your grandfather's diary was buried. He could then be identified by DNA as either the pilot or the navigator, and his remains returned to his family.

    Please contact me and I will provide much more information, and again thank you for making it possible for an internet search to reveal the clue in your grandfather's dairy.

    Emory Kimbrough