Tuesday, July 31, 2007

D Day.First Light.

D Day. First light revealed, an LCT nestled up against the S.S.Pickett on the port side,amidships,next to the No.2 hatch. No.2 is the largest hatch on a Liberty ship and contained the heaviest units. The booms on No.2 are rated for 50 tonnes, so the order was to place our tank cargo aboard the LCT along side. The Landing Craft Tank, can deliver its freight by dropping its ramp like bow, right on the beach and tanks are driven off, each with its own driver,one after the other.During the loading process we were taking fire from shore and the bridge of the LCT was hit by an 88 shell from a German gun.We found out later that a Naval Lt.on the bridge was decapitated. The crew was replaced and the LCT cast off,beach bound.The empty spot was taken immediately by another vessel.The action on the starboard side was used for offloading, fuel, ammo and Infantry into LCVPs.(Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel). The SS Morgan went down by the stern, 200 yards off our port side,as the daylight increased and it got lighter. My outfit went ashore via an LCVP coxswain who was out in the open at all times. He brought us safely to the beach without incident, then he dropped the ramp, and we debarked in waist deep water.As soon as we were ashore he backed off the beach to get another load.We landed on Utah beach. 10 hours later I returned to the Pickett to help finish unloading the ship and get our gear. The Naval bombardment destroyed almost every fortification on shore.The Atlantic Wall where we landed, was a myth. Fortunately for my outfit, we were put ashore 1000 yards northwest of our initially assigned area, and it was very lightly defended.
There is a Film called "A Walk in the Sun", with Dana Andrews and John Ireland to name a few of the stars,that comes to mind. John Ireland writes letters to his sister about his well being, after the invasion of an island off Italy. All through the movie, he writes or narrates letters to her, optimistically not knowing, if they will ever be read .
Their mission is to take a well fortified farm house which is serving as an observation post. Completing their assignment, after a huge loss of life, John Ireland's character under a shade tree, paper and pencil in hand,he grimly muses about the contents of a letter to his sister at the close of the film .
"Dear Sis,
Today we took a farm house. It was so easy."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Classification: Limited Service !

Classification: Limited Service: 4A
I was drafted on February 1943.
On a very cold morning in New York, I left home, alone, with 4 handkerchiefs in the breast pocket of my overcoat. A subway ride later, I arrived at the Selective Service staging area for our departure to Camp Upton.
After two days of being outfitted with gear, I was introduced to the Kitchen Patrol, that is,K.P., and became a repetitive practitioner at the sink, washing pots and pans.
After a week, it was off to Fort Dix and Orientation, in becoming a soldier in the U.S.Army.
Ten cold mornings later, sleeping in tents, I was shipped out to Indiantown Gap, Penn.
My assignment was to a Port Company.
What's a Port Company, you ask ?
Every one in our camp asked the same question.
A Port Company is, a Special Service unit, that is responsible for delivering supplies to servicemen, to support their physical needs for well being, the necessary equipment, to do battle, feed and clothe them properly and to keep their moral at the highest level.
So what are we doing in Indiantown Gap, Penn.?
Except for the four Port Battalions, Indiantown Gap, is a virtual deserted area, some 20 miles east of Harrisburg, Penn.. There are 4 Port Companies in a Battalion and each company has roughly 220 men, a Major  in charge of each Battalion and a  Full Colonel is in charge of the base.
Our job was to unload Ships.
Who are the men picked for this duty, you ask?

They were the dregs of the draftees.
Many Officers were from OCS, (Officers Candidate School )
without the basic knowledge and the training,
for teaching the complicated logistics of, supply and demand .
We all learned all about these, at the same time.
The hard way.

Really, I can only speak for myself.And maybe a few others.
Lots of military personal are going to be offended when they read this section of my Blog.
When I was drafted, my Classification was 4A.
I was listed as Limited Service!
My eyesight was 20/400 and with corrective lenses they were 20/30. Without glasses the Big E on the top of the eye chart was blurred . Legally blind without spectacles.
My right knee was injured in High School and had lost 30% of its motion. I walked with a limp and could not pedal a bicycle because of the knee restriction.
Limited Service !
So, I assume, I was in a company of peers !
Officers and Enlisted men !
"Limited Service" .

You tell me!
How in your greatest fantasy, did we wind up, on the
Beaches of Normandy on H Hour on D Day ?
Talk about provocative?
Read on, as I try to unveil this conundrum.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Meanwhile, Back on The Beach,

We returned to the Beach after unloading the S.S.Pickett and were assigned to an area of our Battalion's jurisdiction, told to dig foxholes
in the soft sand and chow down because rampant rumours of
German paratroopers had been dropped behind our advancing
Infantry and were heading for the Beach.
Dug our foxholes,skipped chow and found ourselves facing inland
till daybreak, Carbines at the ready, with our backs to the Channel.
Come morning,we were glad to board DUKWs and head out to bring in supplies from another ship in very rough waters.
When we returned to the shore, my foxhole became a haven away from all the tumult. I went right to sleep.
The paratroopers never materialized
probably because of all the Armor that came ashore that day.
That night we were shelled or bombed by aircraft-I never found out.
What I did find out was that we lost 17 members of our Battalion
because they had dug their foxholes too deep and the sand caved in,
smothering them.Many had narrow escapes and had to be dug out.
We went out in the morning to work a shift, unloading gasoline
and found out about the casualties when the crew, who came to relieve
us, gave us the bad news.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our Mess on the Beach

I use this tongue in cheek title, because there was no building or housing
for the troop to eat their meals on the beach, for at least 3 weeks.
We ate near the chow line where we could empty our food waste into a barrel, wash our mess kit and canteen cup in another barrel, refresh our canteen with water, and go about our duties.
When we dressed for duty, we had some necessary apparel besides clothing.
We wore our leggings, our garrison belt, our inflatable
life saver belt, our carbine and our mess kit.
Leggings were worn around the calf and ankle to protect
against injury from sharp object or bramble in the field.
We had Orders, to wear leggings, when we went out to unload
cargo from vessels. We followed these Orders until we became aware
that many men drowned when their DUKWs capsized in rough seas and were pulled down by their leggings, which were made of heavy canvas, laced on, and impossible to remove in the water unless
you could cut them off.
Our Garrison belts on the other hand had a multitude of steel eyelets
capable of supporting various items.
A small canvas pouch with a supply
of a wound treating antibiotic called Sulfanilamide.
An extra pouched clip of ammunition for the Carbine
One could attach a 45 side arm holster and a 45 automatic as some
Officers were issued.
A canteen and canteen cup combo in a canvas carrier, was always suspended from our garrison belt full of water.
In the first few hours on the secured beach, large water containers were available to everyone and instructed to keep their canteens full. These containers were treated with iodine to prevent contamination.
The Garrison Belt had a quick release gizmo, so there was no problem, to get rid of it, if one was in trouble.
The Carbine, (rifle) had a sling and was always slung over the shoulder
with its stock at shoulder height, barrel pointing down.
Finally our Mess Kit.
I don't know if it is one word or two words but here is the physical appearance of this essential piece of General Issue (G.I.)Equipment.
The utensils,comprised of a fork and spoon, a 10"X 5"oval pan about an inch and a half deep ,hinged at one end, with an 180 degree handle, one inch wide, 10 inches long with the ability to support the pan, like a pan handle at one end, and fold over the pan to take up less room.
This Mess Kit Handle, slipped through and over our Garrison Belt,
folded in half but unable to lock closed, clanged against the pan with every motion that the wearer made.
You could hear us walking down to the DUKWs on the beach, through
the soft sands a half mile away.
We carried spoons in our breast pockets, tucked between our cigarette pack and the cellophane wrapper the pack came with.
No one went anywhere without their spoon, until we got a mess hall.
When we ate on the beach,we lined up,mess kit in one hand,canteen cup in the other,we had removed our leggings,but carried a slung carbine ,still wearing our garrison belt, with the canteen, open, with it's screw cap cover hanging by a tiny chain, ready to receive fresh water.
We ate on the beach in this manner for almost 3 weeks.
No shelter except the one we could devise out of any flotsam or jettison
we could find to make our foxhole more habitable
For 8 days the weather got more and more furious. We worked 16 hour shifts every day and spent very few hours ashore.
We carried K Ration aboard ship and found various ways to prepare them. Traded chocolate bars with the Merchant Mariners for fresh fruit
and cooked soups on the steam winches.
Then disaster.
4 days of squalls and the inability to go out and get supplies.
Many drowning deaths because of attempts to navigate out, to unload precious cargo's of gasoline, and 75 mm shells for tank ammunition, and stuff like, Sealed Orders.
Finally, orders came to shut down all off loading activity.
We existed on the beach on K Rations to conserve food,
dug our foxholes deeper, used shelter halves to cover them, lashed down with timber drift wood.
I found a U shaped piece, of a downed Mosquito Bomber,that was part of a door, to hold down my nylon shelter half over my foxhole.
Fortunately,the sand absorbed all the rain and there was very little flooding for us. My heart went out to the GIs stuck inland.
On the fifth day we were ordered out in very heavy seas with 12 foot
That day,against orders,I decided not to wear legging any longer.
When we got to the side of the Liberty, she had cargo nets hung over
the side. We jumped one at a time, from the DUKW,at the top of the wave toward the nets and quickly climbing as fast as we could to avoid the
rising DUKW on top of the next cresting wave.
The Liberty Ship was not anchored.
She was underway,against the tide the entire time we were boarding.
She was loaded to the Plimsoll Mark (a maximum load line on a ships hull to indicate her capacity) and her screws were below the waterline, but we knew,they were spinning.
It took hours to get 28 of us aboard.
14 men from each DUKW.
The two drivers and their crew men were the best example
of unsung heroes in a war, where heroes are determined
by the enemy deaths.
They unloaded one at a time.
The empty one waiting in case one of our company
fell into the water or was crushed by the rising vehicle they had just left.
When the second DUKW was empty ,they both left together to return
to the beach.
The Beach was now, out of sight.
The best wishes for God Speed and safety from every man in our company, Liberty Ship sailors and Officers, all were leaning over the railing, shouting down to them, good luck and thank you for an heroic job.
They waved back.
Smiling and joyful.
As if the way back, was a walk in the park.
They turned and headed into the fog on their compass heading.
We were at least 5 or 6 miles out in the channel.
The fog had settled in and we knew they would have a very rough, blind voyage home by compass, in 12 foot seas .....
I never knew the name of the Liberty Ship or it's commendable Master.
I never found out if the 4 soldiers,in their little amphibious vehicle, ever
got back to the beach alive.
I did find out that heroes,are not always connected to an enemy body count they amassed.
These 4 men, are some of the real unsung heroes you never hear about.
I can still see their smiling faces before they turned and hunkered
down to the arduous trip back,with water sloshing into the empty
Ironically, we were aboard the Liberty Ship for 2 days without a having a single Amphibious Vessel come out to us to unload her, because the weather had become more severe.
In hindsight, the heroic efforts of the DUKW crews that delivered us to their objective was fruitless.
The negative feasibility, of attempting to unload supplies could have been the turning point of the success of the D Day landings.
After the 2nd day aboard, the skies cleared a bit, and our supply ship proceeded to the beach, anchored, and we were able to deliver her precious cargo.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Memory is Good but------

I am encouraged by the many responses that have been coming in
so I have started showing my e-mail address on this site..
A contribution from you, along memory lane, would jog my memory further, to introduce some new subjects, long forgotten by most, about
stuff that is important to us.
Don't miss my post below Titled, DUKWs and Barrage Balloons

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wikapedia on DUKWs

There can never be too much description on an unseen object.
Therefore I am entering this information on DUKWs from
Wikapedia that does the job more accurately than I could ever imagine.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search Click on this Link to see a DUKW.

6.5 t (14,320 lb)
31 ft
8 ft 2 in
8 ft 10 in w/o ring mount
Primary armament
provision for an MG mount
GMC 6-cylinder 269 cid91.5 hp
14 hp/tonne
wheels, 6x6
Operational range
354 km (road), 80 km (water)
50 mph, water 6 mph


DUKW for the Boston Duck Tour
The DUKW (popularly pronounced DUCK) is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was originally designed inside General Motors Corporation during World War II for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks.
Service history
Post-War use
7 External links
The DUKW was designed by Rod Stephens Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens Inc. yacht designers, Dennis Puleston, a British deep water sailor, and Frank W. Speir, an ROTC Lieutenant out of MIT. Developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development, it was initially rejected by the armed services. When a United States Coast Guard patrol craft ran aground on a sandbar near Provincetown, Massachusetts, an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area for a demonstration scheduled to take place a few days later. Winds up to 60 knots (110 km/h), rain, and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the seven stranded Coast Guardsmen, but the DUKW had no trouble, and the military opposition melted. The DUKW would later prove its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.
The DUKW prototype was built around the cab over engine six-wheel-drive military truck GMC ACKWX (a COE version of the GMC CCKW), with the addition of a watertight hull and a propeller. The final production design was based on the CCKW. The vehicle was built by the GMC division of General Motors (called Yellow Truck and Coach at the beginning of the war). It was powered by a GMC Straight-6 engine of 270 in³ (4.416 L). The DUKW weighed 7.5 tons and operated at 6.4 mph (10 km/h) on water and 50-55 mph (80 km/h) on land. It was 31 feet (9.3 m) long, 8.25 feet (2.4 m) wide, and 8.8 feet (2.6 m) high with the folding-canvas top up. More than 21,000 were manufactured. It was not an armored vehicle, being plated with sheet steel between 1/16" and 1/8" thick to minimize weight. A high capacity bilge pump system kept the DUKW afloat if the thin hull was breached by holes up to a couple inches in diameter.
The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tire pressure from inside the cab, an accomplishment of Speir's device. The tires could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surfaces—especially beach sand. This added to the DUKW's great versatility as an amphibious vehicle. This feature is now standard on many military vehicles.
The designation as a DUKW is not a military pun - the name comes from the terminology used for military vehicles in World War II; the D indicates a vehicle designed in 1942, the U meant "utility (amphibious)", the K indicated all-wheel drive and the W indicated two powered rear axles. Although technically a misnomer, DUKWs are often referred to as duck boats. Another popular nickname was old magoo or simply magoo. Though the origin of this term remains unknown, it probably refers to the odd shape of the vehicle.
The DUKW was used in landings in the Pacific, in North Africa, and on the D-Day beaches of Normandy. With the enemy holding all available ports, DUKWs carried 18 million tons of supplies ashore in the 90 days following the landing.
"Original Wisconsin Duck" in Wisconsin Dells
In the latter '40s and throughout the '50s, while Speir, now Project Engineer for the Army's Amphibious Warfare Program, worked on 'bigger and better' Amphibious vehicles such as the 'Super Duck,' the 'Drake' and the mammoth BARC (Barge, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo), a good many DUKWs were surplussed and put to good use as amphibious rescue vehicles by fire departments and even, coming full circle, by various Coast Guard stations.
Several were used by abalone fisherman of San Luis Obispo County California to take their catch right off the boats and directly to market, neatly combining the two steps of off-loading onto smaller craft, and then transferring to trucks once they reached the beach.
Many DUKWs are still in use, as well as modern, purpose-built, amphibious tour buses, primarily as tourist transport in harbor and river cities, such as Washington, Memphis, Boston, London, and Singapore - see article Ride the ducks. Duck tours, whether using actual DUKWs or modern amphibious tour buses, are generally very liberally spiced with humor, with drivers frequently wearing outlandish hats and/or costumes, and onboard PA systems frequently outfitted with humorous sound effects.
The Boston Red Sox celebrated their 2004 World Series victory with a parade of 17 DUKWs carrying members of the team over land and across the Charles River. The Seafair Pirates in Seattle use a DUKW modified to look like a Spanish Galleon as their primary means of amphibious transport.
Whenever a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs, DUKW's are well equipped for the land and water rescue efforts. One particular duck built in 1945 was loaned to a fire department during the Great Flood of 1993 and in 2005, the vehicle spent 10 days rescuing survivors from Hurricane Katrina. The DUKW maneuvered through flood waters, transporting victims from their rooftops to helicopter pads setup throughout New Orleans.

Thanks for all the inquiries.
I hope this will be the last of "Yeah, but what is a DUKW?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

DuKWs and Barrage Balloons

The Amphibious Truck. (DUKW)
The DUKW was used in landings on the D-Day beaches of Normandy.American crews in DUKWs,carried 18 million tons of supplies ashore in the first 90 days after the initial assault.This is more tonnage than all the combined British Services brought ashore for the remainder of the year.This is an important statistic because the British spent more than 2 years building The Mullbury Harbors, most of them destroyed by the weather or lost by shameful handling with a dear cost of lives. Some of the DUKWs  specifications were;
Weight 6 Ton (12,000 lbs) Length about 30 feet. Width 8 ft Height 8 ft with a crew of 2.
Built by GMC it has a range of 350 km (road), 70 km (water) Speed 50 mph on land...and 7 to 9 Knots in the water.
When a United States Coast Guard patrol craft ran aground on a sandbar a few years before the war, it stranded seven Coast guardsmen near Provincetown, Massachusetts.
A new experimental DUKW happened to be in the area.
Winds up to 60 knots (110 km/h), rain, and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the Coast Guardsmen, but the DUKW had no trouble. The DUKW would later prove its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.
The DUKW prototype was built around the GMC,six-wheel-drive military truck, with the addition of a watertight hull and a propeller. The vehicle was built by the GMC division of General Motors at the beginning of the war. It was powered by a Straight-6 engine.
More than 21,000 were manufactured. It was not an armored vehicle, being plated with sheet steel between 1/16" and 1/8" thick to minimize weight. A high capacity bilge pump system kept the DUKW afloat if the thin hull was breached by holes up to a couple inches in diameter.
The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tire pressure from inside the cab. The tires could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surfaces—especially beach sand. This added to the DUKW's great versatility as an amphibious vehicle. This feature is now standard on many military vehicles.
During the initial landings, most Liberty Ships and almost every large vessel, had a barrage balloon, overhead, suspended by a steel cable some 3 to 4 hundred feet in the air above it.
These huge balloons were about 40 feet long and were supposed to deter low flying enemy aircraft.
Fortunately, the absence of enemy aircraft can be attributed to the excellent results of the U.S and the Royal Air Forces.
These balloons were overhead for the few days before and at the beginning of the storms but they quickly disappeared after the first
3 weeks. They were winched in and discarded.
New vessels coming to the beach after then, no longer sported Barrage Balloons