02 August 2013

25 June 1944

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!

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