June 6, 1944 - Off Topic


TPF Noob!
Mar 15, 2010
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I've never seen an off topic thread here, so I apologize in advance if this is not allowed. Its a day late, I didn't have time over the weekend to post this.

A few months ago, my grandfather's diary was refound, in it were his accounts of his participation of the invasion at Normandy, AKA "D-Day". He was a Quartermaster on a Landing Craft Tank. The LCT was a large flat boat that was loaded with tanks that ran up on to the beach. His responsibilties were to issue orders from the Captain to the various ship operates, throttle man, skipper, engineer, navitagor etc.

Its a long read, but it is a great reminder of the lives that faught and died for America's freedom. Below are his accounts:

Mr. Wayne Beatty, Kelley’s Island, Ohio

Arrived in Boot Camp from induction center at Toledo, Ohio on April 13, 1943. Took boots for 8 weeks in Camp Porter at Great Lakes, Illinois. Had 9 days leave and return to O.G.U. at G. L Entered Quartermaster School at G. L. on June 1, 1943. Graduated from school on October 22, 1943 as a QM 3/c. Transferred to Solomons Md. on Pullman Sleepers. Johnston, Red Gosson and myself in the same camp – artmerit. Laid around in the Solomon’s for 4 weeks and was then assigned to crew 5100 on an L.C.T. of which I am still attached.

2/1/44 – Heard the news that we are to receive a new ship the L.E.T. 569. Haven’t seen it as yet but know it will be the real thing. At the present we are living in barracks in Lido Beach after being transferred from the Lido Hotel

3/7/44 Still living in the barracks of which I am _______ and just laying around. Don’t know if we will ever get to sea but our hopes are high because it shouldn’t be long now.

3/24/44 Still living in the barracks and I am the MAA of the lower deck. Met a swell girl (Florence Garlin) in the past week and it has developed into something pretty serious. An in a half of a mess and don’t know what to do.

5/1/44 Sighted straights off Ireland aboard L.S.T. after a very unexciting trip across the Atlantic (LST 139) It carried our LCT 569 on the top deck. Stood watches on the LST all the way over and liked it pretty well. Lift Boston on Easter Sunday. Laid over on Halifax for four days and it took 15 days to cross the ocean. Landed at Milford Haven, Wales and moved to Plymouth where the “ship” was launched. Stayed up the river at Setlash for two weeks and them went to Portland where we stayed for about a week and a half.
Liberty in all these towns was rotten and the booze was not worth the money paid for it. Being paid off in English money and rent $75.00 home.
Received plenty of mail.
Received new Executive officer Mr. Montes in (base in Portland ?Altash?). A guy that tries his best but can’t do a hell of a lot.

6/1/44 Received load for invasion

6/4/44 Sailed from Portland for the invasion of France but it was a dry run and we came back.

6/5/44 Sailed again for the invasion and this time it’s the real thing. Ships in the convoy as far can be seen. One of the biggest in history.

6/6/44 Arrived off coast of France plenty jittery but in tact. Everyone feels pretty jolly but not too peppy. All wonder what it will be like. ‘Germs’ are dropping flares by the hundreds by the hundreds and it really lights up the Channel.

6/6/44 6:30 AM. We are headed for the beach with everyone still pretty joyous but getting more scared with every rev of the engines.
P.C. gave us the word to go in after a little difficulty finding the beach because our compasses were bad.
700 We are about 500 yards from the beach with battleships firing 16 inch guns just above our heads. We each hear the bullets whistle over our heads and see them smash into the beach. We are passing plenty of dead and wounded in the sea by now and all the fellows are plenty scared. The big shells and smoke around the beach sounds like hell broke looses and shrapnel is flying all around us. The army boys (from around Cleveland) are taking cover under their vehicles. The smoke and powder is horrific and the noise is increasing. Small boats CCUP’s and assault boats are passing nearby. Some are half sunk and some already having injured men aboard. We are now about 100 yards from the beach and it’s living in hell already. We can see the men get off assault boats already on the beach in water up to their waists and necks, their packs pulling some down and most of them cutting the packs loose. Some of the boys help others when the packs get away because they get pretty heavy when they get full of water.
Our beach is just off the town of St. Laurent and is located between two big hills, which are full of Germans. The one crippled 16 inch Germ seems to be firing at the men on the beach and is blowing plenty of them around. Snipers and machine guns are firing at a defining pace. Men are dropping by the hundreds but some still keep on going up the beach. How the hell can they even get up and walk in all the fire is amazing. The beach is littered with dying and dead and the noise and smoke is horrific. On the way in I was a very brave guy who loaded two spring field rifles jokingly saying, “I think I’ll get a couple of them myself”. By now I’m so scared I can hardly swallow or talk and when I give and order I have to holler like hell to be heard. We are about 50 yards from the beach by now and we all know what hell must be like. The obstacles the Germans have on the beach are about the size of telephone poles set in on angles so that if we hit them we will get stuck. I’m steering to the left and right trying to find a place to hit the beach. Obstacles are everywhere and the sea is busting all the boats, soldiers and all, all to hell. The ______________ and shells are deafening and you can hardly hear, and you can hardly see for smoke. I had trained my eyes on the beach for a half an hour now and could have seen it through a stonewall. Germ flashes are coming out of the hills and seem to be aimed directly at us but no shells are hitting very close. More dead and helpless pass both sides of the ship. I may even be running over some but I can’t see a thing but the beach through the smoke and noise. Machine guns can be heard and the bullets are whistling off the ships. The skipper gave the order to drop the anchor but I persuaded him to wait awhile longer and then we let her go. Men are yelling and bullets all around flying in every direction. We bumped the beach a few times but still are going in a little closer. Most of the anchor cable is out and we still are creeping closer to shore. The ramp is dropped now but the water is still plenty deep in front of the ship. The soldiers are starting their engines and are ready to go. An L.C.T. on our starboard is on fire and we are waiting for something to blow us out of the water. Two bulldozers run down the ramp and make way towards the shore. Shrapnel from the battleship can’t be a foot or two above my head as they go over my head and plow into the beach right in front of us. The skipper is yelling down the half-track driver telling him to get the hell off but they can’t get their engines started. We are wallowing against the poles and each one has a mine on top but none has gone off as of yet. The tide is coming in a foot every ten minutes so we are floating at the end of our anchor cable.
Barden, who was on the throttles, put all of his 200 pounds on them and now we only have two engines running and must back off the beach while the half-tracks are being started. Anchor wench is stubborn as hell and won’t go in gear. Finally it catches on and we go back, why the Germans don’t blow us up is a miracle. We have been on the beach for 45 minutes and not a big shell hits us. An LCI was just blown to bits, men and all, on our starboard and another was hit on our left. They all moved in after they hit the beach. Know one has been hit yet and the gunners are down in the gun tubs as there isn’t a thing to shoot at. This seems funny but when you’re being shot at as we were you don’t have energy enough to shoot. It was too dangerous to stand in the tubs because of the shrapnel flying. There is more wood, sand, gravel, rocks and steel above us than air. Why they don’t blow us out of the water and end it all is more than I can figure out. The anchor is up now and we are headed out to sea but we decided to go back once more and unload the rest of the vehicles. The steering wheel had been turning hard but none will ever turn as hard as this one did now to head us back to that inferno of a beach again. The motors were all giving out and the tide was swinging us all around. The ship was practically out of control but the strong tailwind took us in pretty straight. The beach is covered with dead and wounded and more running around crazy with fear and pain. Another LCI with men coming down the ramps is hit right smack in the bow and the explosion blew men, ramp and bow in every direction. The men looked more like bird and ruins going up. I could not hit the beach in the same spot as the first landing because the ship just went where the surf carried it. The poles sticking out of the water now about six feet were the biggest worry and the mines were right with them. We hit the poles and by nothing short of a miracle the mines just dropped off and did not explode. The ramp went down with a sickening splash and the half-tracks again went down into the water. Three sailors from an LCM just climbed aboard our stern, they were blown overboard and their officer told them to make for our ship and pulled out and left them to the best they could. On the way out he backed over one of the men and the screws got him in the legs and back so the other two helped him to the ship. Cochran, one of our seamen, helped those soaked, scared and hurt boys aboard and covered them with blankets down on the deck. How they ever stayed there the 15 minutes we were on that terrible bloody beach. Shrapnel and machine gun bullets are like rain on the sides of our ship and we are listing to port pretty bad. The first half-track off the ship on the second landing went off sideways and slid under the waves. I never saw the driver or the gunner again. The second went off straight and made the beach. The ramp was hoisted up and the anchor was being pulled in. I took one last shuddering look at the beach before the ship began to swing away and I saw the same night all over again. Wounded, dead, dying, drowned and drowning covered the whole area in front of us and in one spot in my right I noticed about a dozen solders huddled up the beach on their knees adjusting their pack and getting their guns in working order when all of a sudden one of the shells that the battleships were showering the beach with hit in the middle of them. The soldiers just evaporated and all that was left was a large gaping hold. By this time the ship was headed out to sea just creeping along since we had only one engine and it wasn’t running right. Those damn big shells and mortar shells and machine gun bullets were whistling so close they almost interfered with my prayers. That, above everything else was the main topic our whole one hour on the beach. When I say one hour up there in that inferno or hell, or hell, or anything other name it would be called. I mean one whole sixty-minute hour. They pass twenty-four after twenty four, day after day but none will ever be as long an hour as that one was. It lasted about fifty-nine minutes and 59 seconds too long for any of us there. God only knows what those poor yanks on the beach felt like. Maybe after you stay there long enough you get used to it. I don’t know and won’t ever care to find out.
When we were about a half-mile off shore we were hailed by a small British assault boat with thirty-two men in it. We stopped to see what the trouble was and found out they were sinking. They all climbed aboard safely and we put their one half drowned man in a sack and tried to fix him up the best we could. Two more boats (Rockets Boats) came alongside and gave us the men that were left from two DD tanks and each one had a dead one. We put the dead on some blankets and gave the rest of the men dry ones to wrap around them. They were all wet and damn near froze. They began lighting cigarettes and eating what they could find in the old ration boxes the men we had taken in left behind. Our engines began coming back in so we made better time. We unloaded the survivors and tow dead on a transport and then dropped anchor. We did more damage to the ship tied to the transport that we had done to us on the beach. Our whole bridge was bent and loosened and the Head was banged up.
When we finally anchored waiting for further orders the stern was shining and the shells could just be heard on the beach. Everyone of the crew drank plenty of water and laid down on the deck and went to sleep. You never saw such a bunch of worn out boys in your life. We never fired one shot!! Those in my crew in the invasion with me are as follows: “me”, Bruce, Barden, Blackford, Rabbit O’Neill, Cookie Hitchcock, Cochran, Curlie Coulbourne, Herr, Dilger, Barth, Johnson, Prahl, Mr. Callahan-Skipper, Mr. Moutes – Exec., Woodlee, Glenn.

May 28, 1944 – Our First Air Raid – Portland – General quarters was sounded by Woodlee and everyone came stumbling topside grabbing helmets and lifejackets. When we got straightened out the Ack-Ack was flying plenty heavy and most of the sky was lit up like a Christmas tree. Germs were firing all around us and we couldn’t see a thing so we didn’t shoot. All of a sudden from nowhere, a bomb fell off our stern and shook hell out of us. Then two more fell alongside of us. They made a hell of a noise and we were all plenty scared. Our plane was caught in the lights and every Germ in the harbor let loose at him but he kept right on going. How in hell he ever got thru all that lead and steel is more than I can figure out. It just didn’t seem possible. After it was over every one hit the sack but none of us slept the rest of the night. The next morning delayed action mines began going off and some were only a few yards off. They shook the hell out of us and we didn’t know all of them had landed so close to us thru the raid.

July 4, 1944 – Celebrated the day working hard and shot some flares’ as did the rest of the Charlie Tares around us to make it look like old times.

July 7, 1944 – Same old routine – Jerrys coming over every night trying to scare us I guess, but we all stay in the sack during a raid. Still unloading transports. Cleaned up the ship and I aired my bedding.

July 30, 1944 – Still unloading transports and tonight we are going to unload all night. Air raids are dropping off. Only slight action thru the nites. Went to church in Courrelles today and it makes the fifth times since in France. Also made a few liberties but nothing to do. Would much rather be heading out to see Flo every night. Haven’t been getting too many letters from Love but when they do get here – Oh! I’m satisfied.

August 2, 1944 – Heard today that we are all on our way to the U.S.A. any one of these fine days. This my dear, is the best news I have heard in my whole life.

August 12, 1944 – Took a six hour liberty into Caen today and am very tired from the journey. The town is almost complete ruins. Along the road are many Jerry war ruins like Tiger Tanks and 88’s. Rode on about twenty-five different trucks to get there and back and the dust was terrific.
Have been getting quiet a few packages from home and more letters from Love, which are all very much appreciated.

August 16, 1944 – Took a hell of shelling night before last when had the twelve to four. Some came very close and really scared me. Still unloading MT’s and working fairly hard.

Aug. 18, 1944 – Got news this morning that we (three of us) Bruce, Blackford and I are on our way to the states. We are to be packed by 1500 – Whoopie!

Aug. 19, 1944 – Got on the L.C.I #3 at 1400 and took off for U.K. Rode in the forward compartment and took quite a beating. Had a can of pineapple out of a locker plus K rations. Was a hell of a trip.

Aug. 20, 1944 – Landed in Baltash UK, and went to capital Vicarage Road barracks. Gear got all wet coming off France so we are all drying it out today.

Aug. 21, 1944 – took liberty at 120 after mass and went down to the Hoc all day. Didn’t have a very good time and got back in at 2000 – all secure.

Aug. 22, 1944 – Got paid today $347.01 in English money so went to Q.A.B. and got a money order.

Aug. 22, 1944 – Recieved a ten day leave and together with Horkie, Bob, Blackie, Bruce went to Backpool. Met lots of girls abut didn’t enjoy their company. Florence has it all and I thought of her too much. Stayed at the Ellum house and were the only five sailors in the town so we really rated. All in all we had a pretty good time.

Sept. 2, 1944 - Arrived in Saltash yesterday and after sleeping in a hut last night moved into Nadler House, a private English home.

Sept 3, 1944 – Received word that I am in charge of al L.C.T. boys in the house. Don’t like the deal but it will keep me out of work.

Sept. 5, 1944 – Are in the process of getting underway to the States. Are leaving Nadler House for Vicarage and from there and when is yet to be solved. Wish me luck!

Sept. 8, 1944 – Transferred from Saltash to Vicarage Rd to be transferred to Scotland. Left at 1200 and arrived in Helensburg, Scotland at 0600 Sept. 9, 1944.

Sept. 9, 1944 – Geven barracks at sub base in Scotland and got poisoned by the food. Pretty sick, but feeling better tonight.

Sept. 10, 1944 – Boarded the Queen Elizabeth at 1100 this morning after starting out with revellic at 0430. On board the “Queen” we have a nice stateroom with sacks minus the mattresses. Watched prisoners being loaded from our rooms.

Sept. 11, 1944 – Laid around all day today waiting to leave Glasglow Harbor. AT 2030 we hoisted anchor and left the anchorage. All manned the rail for a last look at England. Saw it disappear over the horizon and was not the least bit sorry to see it fade away.

Sept. 12 ,1944 Escorted by a corvette and a destroyer and running at 24 knots The morning was a bit rolly but its very cam tonight. Was chosen with Herk to be head of a prominade sweeping detail. Had a hell of a time rounding the boys to work up. Alls well and the sack is calling.

Sept. 13, 1944 – Wed. More trouble with our detail (sweeping), but will iron it out eventually. Bought a carton of Luckies for .60 today. Had plumbs, roast beef, carrots, cheese, butter, break, turnips, potatoes, Jam and coffee for chow tonight. Reports indicate we are now making 30 – 35 knots unescorted.

Sept. 14-16, 1944 - The weather has been perfect the last two days so there was nothing new to write about. Saw picture shows both nights and swept up after they were over. Just want this tub to hurry up and get home.

Sept. 18, 1944 – Arrived in New York and was transferred to Sids Beach where after one day went home on a 21 day leave.

Oct. 9 – Back at Norfolk, VA, receiving station for reassignment. Liberty every nie and its much better than before.

Oct. 20 – rode the APA-88 up to Solomons MD once again.

Oct. 23 – Transferred to school here and an learning!

Nov. 8 – Was assigned to another L.C.T. crew no. 5905 and an training on L.C.T 419 What a raw deal!

Nov. 25 – Sailed aboard LCT 464 which is my crew ship for Norfolk, VA
well there is an off topic sub-forum near the bottom; but nonetheless good find.

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