01 August 2013

24 June 1944

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.

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