31 August 2013
Routine this AM -- with plenty to keep one busy. Knocked off about 1400 and caught a weapon carrier from the mole (breakwater), drove through town and out to the beach at Mondello. Wide expanses of pure white sand -- clear but rather too warm water -- and thousands of Italians. The Navy officers’ club is an old villa right down on the shore. Changed there and went down the line to the Red Cross Beach. Spent the afternoon swimming, bathing in the heat of the sun, sailing and exploring the native beaches with the Padre. Returned to the club for a few drinks, a steak dinner (other choice - lobster) served out in the gardens beneath the palms -- with the strains of an eight piece orchestra as accompliment. A young Italian lady (aged nine) spent the evening trying to teach us Italian -- and on her invitation we visited her family about 2100. (After sending some cigarettes for Pappa ahead of us.) The family were very gracious -- and we spent a pleasant -- if not conversant -- hour in their garden drinking vino -- and, truth to tell, dancing with Mamma, sister (age 15) and our hostess, Elda. Returned to the ship about 2230 and spent the rest of the evening until 2400 taking care of drunks, one case of total amnesia, and the injured. (What a life!)
Posted by E. Belanger at 08:48
27 August 2013
1000:- Moored at Palermo along the mole at 0800 this morning. Country is exceedingly hilly and rather barren. City itself is a mass of rubble from our bombing attacks before it was taken. More details later after we have a chance to visit the countryside. Planning to do a hemorrhoidectomy this PM -- and will finish the circumcision on Thompson in the near future.
2400:- Routine day. Served as Medical Guard tonight. Expected considerable activity but was pleasantly surprised. Whole sock full of drunks -- but no one requiring much medical attention. Post-operative hemorrhoidectomy having considerable pain -- to be expected. Removed three hemorrhoids.
Posted by E. Belanger at 16:10
24 August 2013
23 August 2013
22 August 2013
Routine duties this AM. Both P.O. patients doing well. Off again at 1630 for the officers’ beach and a swim. Repetition of the joys of the 13th without quite so much sun. Quite a gang from the Tusky over today -- raising hell as usual. One would know this gang anywhere by the amount of commotion it makes.
Posted by E. Belanger at 09:27
21 August 2013
20 August 2013
I pick up the thread of this little quasi-narrative after an absence of six days -- in another port of call, -- Palermo, Sicily. Before coming to that, and for the sake of completeness, it is best to return to Oran, on 7/13/44. After completing the routine duties of the day on that date the Chaplain and I pushed off for the beach. It is indeed unfortunate that my pen is not more gifted, for such days as this are worthy of the best, even in a sketchy narrative such as this. Once again we picked up a taxi at the VULCAN and drove in the open air M.E.K. (Mer el Kairn) taxi up by the old French fort (right out of Beau Geste) via hairpin curves up the sides of the cliffs -- then winding around the periphery with the Mediterranean far below to Ain el Turek, stopping at the Junior Officers’ club. Here we stopped a moment for an American beer, and then down through the patios to a pavilion on the beach (where beer and sandwiches were served), changed into our suits, and forthwith into the water. (Delicious stuff!) Spent most of the afternoon beneath the brine, stopping only for an occasional beer and sandwich and a walk up the beach. The beach is divided into sections -- native, French, Italian (the P.W.’s also serve as life guards) and American. A panorama of nations is ample reward for the walking done. Rode back to the ship in an army truck filled with giggling jeune filles, and so to bed -- rather on the red side.
19 August 2013
D + 36
Busy as fury all morning. Had a circumcision scheduled for 1100 -- postponed because of a pressing demand to treat a multitude of minor ills. Again scheduled the operation at 1400, only to have the captain desire my presence. He was concerned about the effects of this ZCL smoke on the assembled lungs of the task force. So off I trudged -- to the VULCAN and Dr. Leary -- to the senior port M.O. (via telephone), to the AUGUSTA, and the QUINCY. Returned at 1500 and finally finished the circumcision. My good boss was on shore so I didn’t get a hoped for swim today. Shall spend the evening catching up on personal correspondence.
Posted by E. Belanger at 07:41
18 August 2013
Busy as all get out this AM culminating in a dorsal slit on a poor unfortunate with a large indurated ulcer on the penis. (Inner prepucial surface). Left at 1300 for Oran -- being driven there by a Navy “taxi” (a truck with seats). We walked around for about an hour -- interesting to see the natives in t heir fantastic garb, but the overall impression was one of filth and squalor. The place had an unhealthy smell -- you felt that if you took a deep breath the resulting impression on the hippocampus gyrus would be most unpleasant. Returned in due course to the officers’ beach -- very beautiful -- water was wonderful, and the sun the same. Met Dr. McNamara (FITCH) in Oran -- and we ran into Ralph Myerson (Tufts Med, ’42) at the beach. After two or three dips we went up to the officers club -- Murphy’s, no less -- where we met about 14 officers from the CA-37. Had a couple of triple secs, and then returned to the ship for late chow and the movie - (“Cover Girl” -- rugged duty for a lonesome sailor.) The ship’s company got rather fouled up on liberty yesterday -- what with too much sun and too much beer, and we had plenty of business during the evening. Beginning at 2230 and ending at 0500 we had four calls to G.Q. -- the defense forces were igniting Z CL powder to form a smoke screen over us, and the HCL fumes plus the heat plus the lack of sleep made for a rather rugged night of it.
Posted by E. Belanger at 10:28
17 August 2013
D + 34
Passed through the Straits of Gibraltar this morning at 0300 into the Mediterranean. Just come below from topsides. Not a cloud in the sky -- far away on the starboard side nearly hidden in the mist is the coast of North Africa -- on the port side the coast of southern Spain. The water appears to be no bluer than we have been experiencing throughout the past few days. The temperature (at sea) is delightful -- reminiscent of a hot summer’s day on the Cape.
Spent the morning completing the typhus innoculations [sic], inspecting the living compartments, and holding sick call. Department is working with a good degree of efficiency and excellent spirit. We will lose one of our chiefs today (Kirk) when we anchor in Oran, Algeria, North Africa at or about 1830 tonight. Days like this are indeed some compensation for being away from home and medicine.
Posted by E. Belanger at 19:44
16 August 2013
D + 33
Busy most of the day with typhus shots (2nd in a series of three) -- rather heavy sick call, and a couple of minor surgical procedures. Knocked off at 1600 and repaired to the Com deck for some sun (and wind -- mostly the latter). Everybody is beginning to take on a glow of health, the morale has improved -- and each of us feels a hell of a lot better “all over”. Turned in at 2230 for what is to be hoped will be a good night’s sleep.
Posted by E. Belanger at 18:38
15 August 2013
D + 32
Some talk of renaming the U.S.S. TUSCALOOSA. After 1600 today around 1/3 of the officers were out on the Com deck basking in the sun, throwing around the medicine ball and boxing. I threw the medicine ball sufficiently to give myself a sore shoulder and took on the first blush of health. It is grand to get some sun after such a long time without it. Otherwise it was a fairly busy day. We found a hot-bed of scabies in the Charlie Div. Living compartment and spent most of the morning and 1800 sick call cleaning it out. The rest of the morning was devoted to catching hell for running a sloppy ship and afternoon in emergency drills etc. The weather is indescribably beautiful and the ship is as steady as a country lane beneath your feet. We turned due east at 1915 this evening and are due to pass the “rock” at about 0500 tomorrow night. From there up to Oran for a few days, perhaps, and then to Palermo, Sicily. Quite a cruise for a landlubber -- what with the invasion, Cherbourg, and all.
Posted by E. Belanger at 08:00
14 August 2013
13 August 2013
D + 30
2030:- Routine day. Progressing south at a sure course of 180°. Shipping with us now are the AUGUSTA and two other transports. We picked them up at about 1530. The ships are running a wet course today, rolling from side to side in a pretty hard sea. Wonder of wonders I have gained my sealegs -- early this time -- the second day of weather. The sea is a deep purple today, the sky more or less overcast. I have not seen any kind of marine life of note, although people all about me on the weather decks are alway seeing flying fish and things. We are off the Bay of Biscay at the present writing. Message from the ELLISON reports a case of acute appendicitis -- hope the doc can quiet him down with sulfa. It would be hell to transfer him in this kind of weather.
Posted by E. Belanger at 20:24
12 August 2013
11 August 2013
D + 28
Fourth of July! Called up to the Exec.’s office about 2200 last night -- one of our men was reported as drowned in Belfast. Left the ship in the company of the Exec.’s orderly (Mr. Bond) and proceeded to Bangor where we were picked up in a command car and driven to Belfast. Reported there to Victoria Barracks where four seamen from the CA-37 were being interrogated by the M.P. It appears that Thornton in the more or less inebriated company of these four men went swimming in a small river just outside of Belfast, sank beneath the surface and could not be recovered because of the muddiness of the bottom and the approaching dusk. All efforts to recover the body by grappling were of no avail. Rode out to the scene of the accident in a jeep -- recovery operations suspended because of darkness and inadequate facilities (e.g. river boat needed to pull hooks). Returned to Victoria Barracks, finished interrogation, and finally turned in at the A.R.C. about 0200. Up at 0700 and down to turn the case over to the Port Officer for Belfast. Learned that Elliot Emerson was in the vicinity but didn’t get to see him. Had a wild ride back to Bangor -- got lost on the way -- and just made the last boat out to the ship. Sailed at 1130 for the Azores, Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean. (ARKANSAS, NEVADA, TUSCALOOSA, QUINCY and twelve cans including our old friends: FITCH, BARTON, GERARDI, HOBSON, MURPHY, ELLISON, and PLUNKETT. The O’BRIEN has returned to the States for repairs -- a little yard time for Harvey Crockett -- well earned, certainly. We are escorting nine transports which do not appear to be loaded with troops.) It is rumored that we will rendezvous with the AUGUSTA on the Nitro and perhaps one or two limey cruisers tomorrow or the next day. This gives every indication of being a good sized evolution, whatever it may be.
Posted by E. Belanger at 13:16
10 August 2013
09 August 2013
D + 26
Routine sick call in AM. Had planned a trip with the Padre -- cycling through the Irish countryside. Torrential rains dampened our plans but not our spirits. Repaired instead to the A.R.C. in Bangor and spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening with the directors there in the further company of a bottle of scotch. Returned to the ship at 2400.
Posted by E. Belanger at 07:54
07 August 2013
04 August 2013
D + 21
1030:- Cherbourg has officially fallen -- otherwise a very quiet day with sufficient medical administrative work to keep me busy. “Johnny Come Lately” in the wardroom -- excellent picture. Must get busy with some letters now that time affords. Reading LeGrand Cannon’s “Look to the Mountain.” Very well done.
Posted by E. Belanger at 11:10
03 August 2013
D + 20
2300:- Routine AM sick call. No further casualties or complications of action. Visited this morning by Dr. Wildermuth from the GERARDI, now alongside, who brought over a patient for consultation. Rather a busy day with three minor surgical procedures, routine medical work, entertaining visiting officers, etc. We are now a peacetime ship with blues on our backs, fried chicken at the pylorus, and a movie in the wardroom. What a life! Enemy still being engaged in Cherbourg. Not much news today. Turning in now at 2310.
Posted by E. Belanger at 11:57
02 August 2013
D + 19
0815:- Up at 0630. Final preparations made and pts distributed after breakfast. Just set up in G.Q. We will fire about 1030 if they need us, and if not, throw all we have at them at 1200. There are some 30,000 troops defending the fortress of Cherbourg, and this promises to be a tough battle.
1050:- Just topside. We are at anchor about 10 miles off the beach from which can be heard the almost continuous rumble of guns. Our task force appears to be made up of from 23 to 25 ships: one battle wagon, four cruisers, and the remainder destroyers. It is a beautiful day -- the sea is like a mill pond, quite hazy on the horizon. No word as to future developments.
1215:- NEVADA, ENTERPRISE, and GLASGOW forming a front line behind destroyer-laid smoke-screens. NEVADA has opened fire. We are 8-10 miles out from the beach. In Yoke- Easy having coffee.
1220:- Set Zebra.
1222:- Other cruisers have opened fire -- we have as yet not received a target.
1225:- NEVADA pouring it on with 14” and 5” salvo after salvo. Almost completely hidden with smoke -- her own and the smoke-screen.
1230:- We are now in the middle of the smoke screen -- no target as yet.
1238:- We have opened fire. ELLISON reports a ship coming out of the harbor and has been directed to go after it. (A fine way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon.)
1305:- We are attempting to pick up bearing on a shore battery by flash; under forced draft; main deck aft has been cleared as they may fire turret 3 directly aft. When they do, all hell breaks loose down here in the Chief’s quarters.
1330:- Just reported a near miss 60 yards off the bow. From time to time we can hear -- and feel -- shrapnel striking the ship. Just had a shrapnel hit on the starboard side just outside of the next compartment. It is beginning to get warm down here -- in more ways than one.
1355:- Destroyer O’BRIEN reported hit. She is with the ARKANSAS and TEXAS, somewhat separated from our task force. Extent and severity of damage not known. Harvy Crockett is in for a bit of hell -- all luck to him. We are proceeding under forced draft -- whirling, twisting, firing, and being fired upon.
1442:- Five gun salvo -- near miss -- concussion wave hitting the hull sounds like rocks being thrown through a barrel. We are hauling out of here.
1530:- Continue to maneuver -- firing intermittently. Metallic and highly provocative near misses sounding at the rate of every five minutes.
1615:- Secure from G.Q.
2200:- Went up on deck to find us forming a column with the TUSCALOOSA in the lead. Returning to Portland. Disappearing shore line wreathed in smoke. Distant view of splashes dropping astern of the struggling destroyers. Quick survey assures that we have no enemy- inflicted casualties. Returned to sick bay to find one casualty -- man jammed his leg between 5” projectile and hoist -- saved from serious injury by a quick thinking shipmate who pulled him out of danger. Sustained a puncture wound of the lateral calf -- sutured, tetanus booster administered, sent to light duty.
For considerable while there was much scuttlebutt concerning the actual outcome of the engagement. Finally learned the text of the Admiral’s message to ComNavEu. Reported successful completion of mission -- all shore trained enemy artillery silenced -- Army orders us to cease fire as they would takeover. Accounts from topside men and officers substantiate the impression of a hot battle. Quite a spectacular engagement, with smoke, fire, flashes, whistling shells, geysers of waater and sufficient excellent shooting by the enemy to sustain interest. Our old lady did not have many targets -- but there were those who did. Reported damage to our forces: (not duly confirmed) TEXAS: 2 dead, 7 wounded; GLASGOW: 8-10 wounded; ENTERPRISE: 2 slightly wounded (Captain and Exec. by shrapnel); O’BRIEN: 13 killed, 9 wounded; BARTON: hit by a dud, no casualties; LAFAYETTE: hit by a dud, no casualties; ARKANSAS: reported hit, nor further details known. This could have been damned expensive -- the old TUSKY sure is riding her luck. THANK GOD!
01 August 2013
D + 18
1030:- We started across last night for Cherbourg -- but turned back. It is reported that our sweepers ran into mines or gun fire and were destroyed. Col. Campbell returned las night after a tour of the Cherbourg front with General Omar Bradley. Had a very interesting chat with him -- situation very tight over there -- they will need our help before Cherbourg can be secured. More consulation work this morning. Dr. McNamara (Tufts Med. 1942) brought over two patients from the FITCH (see note on 6/6/44) They had a hot time of it picking up the CORRY survivors -- whole ship reported as Unit Citation. Didn’t have much time to talk with Mac as Dr. Knapp from the PLUNKETT was also over with a couple of cases for X-ray, and the ELLISON M.O. with a fractured ankle case (D.U.) Slipped over to the BARTON this AM to see Dr. Whitehouse -- he put in a miserable night, temperature 101° -- vomiting from sulfa drug. Started him on penicillin - he may have to be transferred ashore.
2330:- Transferred Dr. Whitehouse ashore this PM. Left the BARTON about 1900. He was one mad M.O. -- swore a blue streak when I told him the news. They will have to pick someone up off the beach. Poor guy, bet he doesn’t sleep very well tonight.
Turned in about 1600 for a little sleep to make up for the sleep lost last night. We will be sailing for France late tonight. The crew and nonessential officers have not been briefed -- but I had an off-the-record story from one of the radar boys during chow tonight. The defense of Cherbourg resembles a pair of jaws with large radar-controlled 11” guns on the extremities, and smaller stuff within the jaws. The harbor is mined heavily and the artillery formidable. Compared with this evolution, D-Day was fun for the kiddies. I was impressed today by the M.O. off the destroyers. Theirs is a rugged duty -- and they have good and sufficient reason for apprehension. However, on this evolution, the “old ladies” (as Time calls us) will be a bit more behind the eight-ball -- for after neutralizing the large gun emplacements, with the aid of radar-jamming, we will sweep in close after the smaller stuff.
Tonight we were a peacetime ship -- dressed in blues, served on spotless linen (well, more or less), entertained (mildly) by a movie, and finished off the day with a glass of fruit punch. Tomorrow we will be a fighting ship -- stripped for action -- back in our work clothes and ready to go. Had a short meeting with the boys tonight -- reviewing again the lessons of our past experience.
The words of that old hymn were in my mind last night during my nocturnal boat trip, and I sang against the drowning roar of the engines: “We all do extol thee, thou leader in battle, and pray that thou still our defender shallt be.” And MAY GOD BE WITH US TOMORROW.
Posted by E. Belanger at 08:46