The Story of the LST 282
Little "Wonder Ship"
The Story of the Birth, Life and Tragic End
"Ship that Passed in the Night"
By Mr. & Mrs. Joseph C. York - Boise ID - 1946
As we sit down to begin this account we are filled with great emotions -- a strange mixture -- grief for the loss of our dear son, Duane, and for his loss of life just as manhood was budding, with love and happiness awaiting him here at home; hatred for the war -- making social system under which he lived his short life and which drove him out and slaughtered him; bitterness toward that section of society which lives off the toil, sweat, blood and tears of others and whose greed for worldly gain motivates its every activity toward the acquisition of wealth and power over fellow human beings and whose plottings lead inevitably to WAR; compassion for others victimized by WAR whose hearts, like ours, have been wrung dry by grief and torture; pity and love for those other victims managing to survive the terrible holocaust but only at the cost of horribly mangled bodies and warped minds; the feeling and hope that, rendering this account, we may be of help to others who have not been so fortunate as we in obtaining the information so frantically sought concerning their loved sons, husbands and sweethearts who suffered death in agony -- who "passed in the night" with our dear boy -- who vanished with their loved little "Wonder Ship".
Since that terrible afternoon of August 31, 1944, when we read the Navy Department's telegram apprising us of the official report that our son, Duane, was "missing following action of 15 August, 1944" all those emotions, like pent-up explosive power, have driven us to exercise what talent and ability we possess in efforts to not only learn all, but to pass on to our fellow-sufferers all the knowledge we might gain concerning the awful tragedy of LST No. 282 and thus carry on where our son left off In one of his letters to us during his training at "boot camp" he wrote: "I do not want to be just a deckhand. I want to DO SOMETHINGFOR THESHIPANDFORTHE MEN. " With his death passed any further chance to fulfill that noble desire himself He can no longer, in life, serve the ship and the shipmates he loved. But his noble spirit lives here in our memories and hearts; and, in the only way we know, we have tried (and may God grant successfully) to take up where he left off and serve the men and boys who survived him, and also the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, children and sweethearts of his shipmates who died horribly with him. We feel that all will appreciate this transcription of the over-all mental picture we have gained from the numerous statements made to us by survivors of the 282, by men from other sister ships, and from other sources.
The first information we receive in the case of LST 282 came, like a terrific thunderbolt from a clear sky, from the Personnel Bureau, Navy Department, in the late afternoon of August 31, 1944. The message reads as follows:Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. York,This blow left us completely overwhelmed -- stunned; and it was a matter of several days before we were able to collect our thoughts sufficiently to enable us to concentrate upon some line of action. Then we sent a message to our older son, Leo Wayne York, Chief Musician USN, then attached to the Advanced US Naval Training Station, Bizerte, Tunisia, Mediterranean coast of North Africa, informing him of our receipt of the message from the Navy Department. In the course of two weeks we received a letter from him in which he stated that he had seen, on the bulletin board at headquarters, an official posting to the effect that, in the action invasion of Southern France, LST No. 282 had been destroyed; that in the list of names of missing appeared that of his brother, Duane; that he had no further information, but that he would immediately begin investigation to determine what had happened. The next day we received another letter from him in which he stated that he had contacted five survivors of the 282 who had been landed at Bizerte pending their return to the states. These men all told him what had happened to the ship and that Duane was killed. Other letters from Wayne followed, but without further information except to give such names as he had of those he had contacted. Then several months passed during which time we continued our inquiries to the Navy Department and other sources, all to no avail. We then had copies made of Duane's little photos he had sent us, and began advertising and sending out pictures for identification.
2010 No. 16th St. , Boise, Idaho.
The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son, Thurlow Duane York, Baker Second Class USNR is missing following action 15 August, 1944 while in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country. The Department appreciates your great anxiety, but details not now available and delays in receipt thereof must necessarily be expected. To prevent possible aid to our enemies please do not divulge the name of his ship or station.
Vice Admiral Randal Jacobs,
The Chief of Naval Personnel.
Advertisements in magazines, including Our Navy magazine, finally (early in April, 1945) brought a response from Lt. (JG) Franklin Lynch USNR, Medical Officer of the 282, severely wounded in the action and, at this date (August 15, 1946), still being hospitalized. Lt. Lynch gave us a detailed account of the action as he saw it and gleaned from other survivors. He also gave us a number of names and addresses of other surviving officers and enlisted men; and he has since continued to give us such information as he obtained. Our search really began then. But for Lt. Lynch and his great heart we may never have been able to obtain the great volume of information we have accumulated.
We immediately began circularizing the survivors whose names Lt. Lynch had given us Some whose locations enabled them to reply early did so with their versions of the tragedy. Some who had been transferred to other ships or stations did not receive our circulars for weeks or months, and we did not hear from them for a long time Most of them gave us their "stories" about the action; and some gave us more names and addresses of survivors. As each letter came with names we mailed out circulars to the new names. Nearly all recipients in turn gave their statements and further names. Eventually we received the name Edward Yungck, Motor Machinist's Mate Second Class, of the 282. Eddie gave us more than fifty names and addresses. Many times, as the case unfolded, we found it necessary to clear up items, and then new circulars were sent out to the entire mailing list. Item by item, as to events, locations of certain persons on the ship, etc. , were entirely cleared up. Among names we received were were those of men on other ships and army personnel. These men were also circularized, and statements from all were received. Missionaries wrote us offering their assistance. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives an sweethearts of deceased men, and also of survivors, wrote us. Pictures of the 282 arrived from different sources. A young lady who signed herself simply "Kathy" sent us five different views of the ship and combat crew. A picture of the 282 (starboard side) came to us from Lt. Lynch. This one was taken the next morning after the action, showing the ship still burning. Another (port side), showing the damage done by the bomb, came to us from a lady in the south Many of the survivors also sent us their pictures. Many of the boys and their parents continued to write us for months. A list of the names of those killed came to us, from a mother down in the south, which had been obtained from her son Unfortunately, in this list, only the full name of our son was listed, the rest containing mostly an initial and last name, and no addresses were given because the lady was unable to learn them. Later we were able to obtain the home addresses of five and wrote the parents or wives. Four responded. We have never been able to contact the others. This list contains the names of fifteen enlisted men. The names of two officers killed were received from others. A complete list, as given us, of those killed in the action is given at the end of this account, as also a list of the survivors.
After many months of search, having succeeded in securing an over-all reflection of minute details of the tragedy of the 282 we turned to the study of several books, published by Naval officers, military and other magazines, from which we obtained articles covering preparation and action in the invasion of Europe. We have been able to obtain only a minute, almost negligible, bit of information published in books and periodicals concerning the invasion of Southern France. Whether the sparsely-covered subject was one of military secrecy, or whether it was considered only a minor action unworthy of detailed account, we do not know; however, it develops that the invasion of Southern France was really a difficult action and cost many lives. In all, to obtain the information we received, a period of fourteen months dogged, determined persistence and work on our part and efforts were spent. Now that we have it, we find that this history must be brief, for we are not financially able, and do not possess the health, to go at length and have the work published in a bound book form. It will be necessary for us to restrain our ambition and eagerness to give a full and complete biography of the little ship whose number has so deeply and indelibly burnt itself into our memories It is as though the terrible conflagration following the bombing actually enveloped us and seared our very hearts. However, we shall include in this brief history such important information as will be necessary to insure continuity of narration and supply the highlights of the story of the short life of LST 282.
This account is not written for profit or compensation. It is not for sale It is written in blood and terror, in misery, in agony of mind and body, in death -- horrible death. Our sole recompense will be in that it be accepted as a memorial, a monument, to the memory of those precious boys who gave their young lives on the Little "Wonder Ship" that "passed in the night" there at St. Raphael on the southern coast of France, on August 15, 1944.Mr. & Mrs. J. C. York
In acknowledgement of the true authorship -- the boys who died in the tragedy and survivors and others who supplied the information.
BIRTH OF THE LITTLE "WONDER SHIP"
We do not think it necessary, for the purposes of this account, to go at length in describing the conduct of the war or the preparation necessary for carrying out the invasion of Europe. You who read this will have been acquainted with the history of the war, including the invasion of Europe, long ago through the medium of magazines, newspapers and the radio. In this account we are concerned only with operations affecting LST 282. So we will confine ourselves to a brief outline of facts pertaining to preparation and operation with which the 282 was directly connected.
First, let us explain why the LST was called "Wonder Ship". It was simply this: Her form, size and general construction, together with her appointments and equipment adapted her to a very wide range of uses. She was a battleship, a cruiser, a transport, a tanker and a hospital ship. She was small, with shallow draft, yet large enough to carry a surprisingly large cargo of men and equipment in addition to her crew and supplies; and she could move right in to beach landings with that cargo in very shallow water and unload it right on the beachhead.
On March 14, 1942, Rear Admiral Noland M. Brainard USN was appointed to organize and command the Amphibious Force; that is, the landing force of which the 282 was to become a part. It was on that date that Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, came into being. At that time, and on paper only, the Amphibious Force received by transfer from the Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, three principal divisions: The Transport Group, the Landing Craft Group, and the Landing Force Group. The above date might, then, be accepted as approximately that of the conception of the LST, although she was really the perfected offspring of the shallow-draft Lake Maracaibo tanker already in use. As we are concerned only with the Landing Craft Group we will consider only the types of craft belonging to that group.
The Landing Craft Group comprised the following types.
These craft were developed in co-operation with the British admiralty who began planning the invasion of Europe while their troops were being evacuated from Dunkerque. The LCTs were an outgrowth of the Continental river barges. The LST. product of joint British-American planning and study, evolved from the shallow-draft Lake Maracaibo tankers. The six types of landing craft described here composed the original landing craft group of the amphibious force, and represent all the main types used in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Amphibious Operations; and this group constituted the force that symbolized the Navy man's version of "THE FATE WORSE THAN DEATH". And to that "fate" was born our Little "Wonder Ship", LST No. 282
TYPES CAPACITY LENGTH BEAM CREW LCP
36 men, 7500 lbs. ,
Cargo, One Jeep,
or one 105mm Gun
36' 8" 10' 10" 3 men, 1 Officer
per 3 craft
36 men, 7500 lbs. ,
Cargo, One Jeep,
or one 105mm Gun
36' 8" 10' 10" 3 men, 1 Officer
per 3 craft
36 men, 7500 lbs. ,
Cargo, One Jeep,
or one 105mm Gun
36' 8" 10' 10" 3 men, 1 Officer
per 3 craft
1 30-ton tank, or
60,000 lbs. cargo
50' 14' 1" 4 men, 1 Officer
per 3 craft
Crew and Ammunition 36' 8" 10' 10" 6 men, 1 Officer The above craft were designed to be slung in davits. The LCVP has superceded the other personnel carriers. The LCMs are carried on deck and handled with cargo booms. LCT Mark V
LCT Mark VI
5 30-ton, 4 (V)
40-ton or 3 50-ton
tanks or 9 trucks
or 150 tons cargo (VI)
Infantry, Type 1
Army personnel, 182
men, 6 Officers, 75
158' 6" 23' 3" 24 men,
LCI Type 2 Army personnel, 196
men, 9 Officers, 32
158' 6" 23' 3" 28 men,
4 or 6 LCVPs on davits
1 LCT on main deck, 27
25-ton tanks, or 15
40-ton tanks, or
equivalent, on tank
deck; 168 troops
345' 10" 54' 204-220 men,
When Rear Admiral Brainard and his staff were assigned to the Amphibious Force it was too cramped quarters at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia. Early in June, 1942, drafts of Amphibious Trainees were coming to that base by the thousands-a thousand men every two weeks. These men could not all be quartered aboard transports; so they had to be quartered and schooled ashore until the LCIs, LCTs and LSTs were built. Amphibious Training bases had also to be constructed and quickly. The first one was built at Solomons Island, Potomac River, Maryland (near Washington, D. C. ). This was followed in a few months by the one at Little-Creek, Virginia. Both bases were over-crowded, In this they were alike. The only difference between them was: At Solomons it rained all the time, and standard equipment of every barrack was a SHOVEL TO SCOOP OUT THE MUD; while at Little Creek, where it also rained all the time, they had in every barrack a BROOM TO SWEEP OUT THE SAND. Those were the conditions that welcomed all the boys coming into the Amphibious Force during the summer of 1942.
Construction of landing craft was getting under way at different points. One assignment was made at Ambridge, Pennsylvania, eighteen miles down the Ohio river from Pittsburgh. This was made to the American Bridge Company. During the fall of 1945 we had the most amazing and wonderful experience in meeting here in Boise, one of the shipfitters who helped to fit some 147 LSTs (the 282 among them) built in the Ambridge yard. His work was installing galley (kitchen) and other equipment, water and sewage disposal, etc. , systems on the LSTs. He very distinctly remembered his work on the 282, and pleasantly and painstakingly explained to us the arrangement of equipment, especially in the galley. He did this in consideration of our great interest in the environment in which our son, Duane, worked later on as ship's baker.
While all this feverish and intensive preparation for the coming invasion of Europe was going on during 1942 we fathers, mothers, wives and sweethearts of boys and young men destined to participate in the invasion lived out the months in dread and fear of the coming ordeal. We had no knowledge of the details of preparation, where or when our boys would be called or to what service they would be taken and would leave us. While our days, hours and minutes passed all too quickly approaching that painful moment when we would stand and look into the eyes of our darlings (for many of us the last time) our hearts in anguish feeling the "goodbye' our dumb lips could not utter, keels were laid, hulls were built, masts raised, month after month--ships by the thousands--the 282 was taking physical form. Here may we digress and beg your forgiveness while we dwell a little on our own personal experience and that of our boy.
On November 12, 1942, Duane's eighteenth birthday anniversary arrived. On that day he entered the draftable category. He and we spent most of our time discussing the matter of which branch of the military service he should enter. He did not want to be drafted --- preferred to volunteer. As his older brother was a regular US Navy man, Duane had formed a rather fraternal feeling for the Navy. So he said, on his birthday, "I want to go down to the Navy office and enlist. " As parents, watching their offspring grow, instinctively and constantly shielding the youth from danger and harm, we "put off" the day of enlistment until December 3, 1942. On that day we accompanied Duane down to the Navy office of signed his papers giving our consent to his enlistment. On December 5th he was officially "sworn in" the United States Naval Reserve and assigned to Radio School here in Boise. His ambition was to be a radio technician, and his high school course had been based upon that subject. But he hadn't had enough basic schooling, and the Navy school term was for only eight weeks At the end of the eight weeks he was sent to "boot camp", Farragut Naval Training Station on Lake Pend Oreille situated in the beautiful Coeur d'Alene mountains in northern Idaho.
He left Boise on February 4, 1943, and mustered in at Farragut, February 6th. He spent eight more weeks in "boot" training at Farragut. He felt that he would be unable to pass successfully the radio examination; and, having had practical experience as a baker, he selected that work as his professional job in the Navy. Early in May he graduated from Farragut and was assigned to Bakers' School at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
While in Minneapolis he became acquainted with a very sweet little girl, Miss Peggy Smestad, to whom he became engaged. "Peggy" came down to Boise to live with us and await Duane's return from the war at which time they were to be married here in Duane's home.
On August 29, 1943, he wrote us that he had graduated from the school in Minneapolis and was being transferred and assigned to another station which proved to be Solomons Island, before-mentioned. He never had been granted a leave to come home; but, in every letter to us, he spoke of being promised a leave soon. One day we received a letter from him written at Solomons Island, in which he told us that after a two-weeks training cruise down the Potomac he would be given a home-coming leave of about two weeks. Our next communication from him was from Richmond, Virginia, state in that he was taking a train for "somewhere". He had been given a seven and one-half day leave--not long enough to make the round trip to Boise and back, not to say anything about time to spend here at home. He had been sent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He spent the short leave with Peggy. On October 23, 1943, he wrote us, enroute, saying that he was leaving Minneapolis to report at Ambridge, Pa. , and that he expected to receive a fifteen day leave and would come home. The leave never materialized.
The finishing touches had now been made to LST 282-the birth of the little "Wonder Ship". On October 25th, Duane wrote that he had been assigned to the 282. That day she left dock in Ambridge and the cruise down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans began. On her way to "Operation Overlord" and her fate.
The trip from Ambridge, Pa. , to New Orleans consumed 14 days continual sailing. On reaching New Orleans, Duane wrote that he had been unable to get his leave--that he had no idea then when, if ever, he would get home. We never saw him again after February 4th. Some time was spent cruising about the Gulf of Mexico, touching at different points along the coast before reaching the Atlantic coast. Personnel mail address had been established as USS LST No. 282, Fleet Post Office, New York, N. Y. , and we knew he was bound across,
DESCRIPTION OF THE 282
We think that now a brief description of LST 282 is in order, and that it will be appreciated by the reader. We are unable to give a minute description of the ship owing to the fact that censorship forbade disclosure of that information and we had no access to the official records had the rigid rules not prevented. However we do have some information along that line coming to us from personnel and other sources after the censorship was lifted. Those of you who have received large photographs of the ship from us are acquainted with the general appearance and shape. From the ship fitter we mentioned earlier in this account we learned considerable, and also a visiting survivor described the ship to the best of his memory.
On page six hereof the capacity, length, width and normal crew complement is given. However the cargo changed from time to time, and the ship did not have a full complement of personnel. For instance, on her voyage across the Atlantic she carried a cargo of creosoted logs to be used for ballast and for pilings in England where there was great need of material in building docks, etc.
The ship was constructed of steel and covered with steel plate. With, perhaps, the exception of portions of the superstructure in the stern she was built wholly of steel. She was fitted with Diesel motors, twin propellers, and was fully electrified through-out. The bow was raised above the general level of the main deck, and the front of the ship opened up with two huge doors hinging outward to right and left respectively. Within the doors a large ramp was arranged to swing downward, like an ancient castle drawbridge. The purpose of the ramp was to facilitate the loading and unloading of the ship at dock or on the beach. The interior of the ship constituted one long room extending from the front end of the ship back perhaps three-fourths the entire length of the vessel. This was the cargo space, and the floor was called the "tank-deck". The rest of the interior was taken up with supply space, engine room, electric power plant, various other machinery for operation and control of the ship, and the crew's sleeping quarters.
The main deck was armed with 20MM and 40MM guns, fore and aft, placed in turrets which were called "gun tubs" and built like steel water tanks, without cover. In the bow were located three 40MM guns--one in the peak, and one on either side. In the stern ("fantail") were three 40MM guns-one at the stern or back end of the ship, and one on either side, the tubs extending out from the boat deck, which the top or roof of the superstructure was called, and supported on steel legs to the main deck. Life rafts were arranged along either side of the ship. On each side were three pairs of davits-one pair near the bow, and two pairs in the after part of the ship. These were used for loading and lowering LCVPs or other equipment, and from which the boats were slung when not in use. The galley (kitchen), mess and officers quarters occupied the deckhouse in the after part of the ship. These were nicely equipped. In the galley all cooking equipment was electric, -range, dishwasher, ovens, etc. , -all in white enamel. There were two ovens, hot and cold water. Over the front end of the deckhouse was erected a steel tub, (with the exception of, the radio mast) the highest point of the ship. This was the conning tower, occupied by the officers when the ship was in action. Doors, or hatches, opened out from either side of the deckhouse. The galley was located in the extreme back part of the deckhouse. A hallway, or gangway, connected the galley with the rest of the deckhouse. Immediately in front of the deckhouse was located a large cargo hatch leading to the interior of the ship. Another such hatch was located in the forward part of the ship. The radio, or antenna, mast was raised from the boat deck above the deckhouse. The maximum speed of the ship under way we do not know. The rudder was electrically controlled.
The above description is exactly as described to us.
We have no definite dates as to the time the 282 left the Gulf waters for the trip up the Atlantic coast to the point of embarkation for the trip across or the time she left the home waters with the convoy. Extreme care and caution was necessary in the matter of controlling information as the Atlantic was infested with German submarines preying on our convoys, and no one was allowed to give dates of entering or leaving ports or names of ports. However, we received V-Mail letters from Duane, dated February 22, 1944,stating that he was in England. This was the first time he had indicated his location since leaving the Gulf of Mexico; so we conclude that the convoy arrived in the British Isles at approximately that date. By deduction we also conclude that the convoy left the United States some time during the first or second week of February, 1944. A visiting survivor did tell us the name of the port from which the convoy sailed, but we have been unable to locate the information in our files. It was, we think, on the coast of Maine.
We are reasonably certain that the convoy took the northern or shortest route across. No account of the progress or the events of the crossing are available to us. Sailing around north of Ireland the convoy entered British waters in the North Channel, between Ireland and Scotland, up the Firth of Clyde to the mouth of the Clyde river and anchored at Rosneath, Scotland, not far from the city of Glasgow.
Leaving Roeneath, the 282 sailed south, along the west coast of Scotland and England, through the Irish Sea, around Lands End, the extreme southwestern point of England, to Fowey.
On the trip across the Atlantic she carried, on the tank deck, creosoted logs as before stated, and an LCT on the Main deck. The logs were unloaded to be used for dock pilings. The LCT was launched, from the 282, at Plymouth, England. This was done by tipping the 282 by shifting water ballast, and the LCT was slipped over the side of the 282 on greased timbers.
PREPARING FOR "OPERATION OVERLORD"
The 282 had now become a part of the great armada which was to cross the English Channel in the invasion of Europe. The term, "Operation Overlord", was the code name of that action. At Fowey, Lt. Franklin Lynch and another doctor and about forty medical corpsmen joined the 282. The ship anchored at Fowey and became a mother ship for Scout Boats which were undergoing training. Later on the 282 sailed around to Plymouth, England, and one doctor and twenty corpsmen left the 282. Some time was spent at Plymouth. Later she went to Dartmouth. From Dartmouth she towed a "Rhinoferry" (Pontoon Barge) to Portland. Space and time allotted to this account is far too limited to encompass a detailed narration of all the activities of the 282 in the preparation for the invasion on D-Day; but her time was filled in conjunction with that of the hundreds of her sister ships.
Two weeks before D-Day she took part in a practice maneuver off Slapton Sands, England. In this maneuver she carried troops and vehicles and unloaded them on to LCTs off the flat beaches. The time was now close to D-Day. All hands were kept busy-no "sweating it out". At last the word got around--"This is it!"
For weeks all roads in England led south. Before that, for months, ships had crowded British ports, pouring men and tanks and machines ashore. From Falmouth to the Thames estuary Britain's coast bore a stubble of steel, a fringe of ships and boats of every kind that floats--even ancient excursion steamers from Norfolk, Virginia. Even little yachting excursion steamers, and harbors were jammed with invasion craft. Men who had cursed for months at being chained to office desks found themselves suddenly pressed into duty as combination stevedores, freight agents and traffic cops. Soldiers stacked arms to load trucks. Sailors left bake ovens, guns and engines to lend a hand.
At the big United States Naval Supply Depot at Exeter a hurried call was received for extra quantities of equipment on the night of June 4. Barbers, yeomen, cooks and photographers became truck drivers, hauling tons of equipment over unlighted roads to waiting ships. LSTs lined the docks, bows open, ramps down. Gangplanks became thoroughfares of seemingly unending streams of equipment-laden men and boys headed for the baptism of fire. For the last twenty-four hours before the Armada sailed there was little sleep for anybody except the involuntary slumber of sheer exhaustion. Every machine shop and repair depot worked until the last vessel pushed off, making last-minute repairs and alterations. In those last final hours blackout rules went by the board as welding arcs burned electric-blue.
At last the ships ,were ready-four thousand of them, from the dreadnoughts and aircraft carriers, down through lesser battle wagons, cruisers, transports, tugs, minesweepers, LSTs, LCVPs, LCTs, LCSs, LCIs, LCMs, Scoutboats, etc. 'All auxiliary equipment, such as Pontoon, Barges, huge concrete and steel Piers in sections, etc. , were ready to be towed across. The men were ready. "This is it!"
Aboard the ships that were to do the job there was last minute preparation. Officers attended briefings, drew charts, drew stores from the Supply Office, ammunition from the Ordnance Office, code books from the Communications Office. Crews were checked, rechecked and checked again, men and gear.
Did anybody doubt that this was the "real thing"? There were the transports; the arrivals of the doctors, the disappearance of small craft from the western harbors (LCVPs having gone to the transports, LCMs having moved nearer the beaches across).
Then the troops came aboard. The ships were sealed. The last "goodbye" mail went ashore; and with that went the last lingering doubt the historic day was "here". A sailor at the rail of a craft anchored in the narrow Dart river looked at the pleasant wooded shore twenty feet away and said to his buddy: "Brother, that's an awful long ways away':' Normandy was closer, and Normandy was far away.
LST No. 282 had returned, from Plymouth, to Dartmouth to load her assignment for the invasion, which consisted mostly of radio trucks and a headquarters outfit.
D-DAY MINUS 3
Saturday, June 3, was a clear, mild day with a fresh breeze blowing in the Channel from the west. Aboard the U. S. Force Headquarters Ship there were intense preparations for directing the battle ahead. AA and machinegun crews were briefed. In the afternoon general-quarters drill took place. Every half hour or so LSTs and LCIs would appear around the headland and glide toward the Headquarters Ship. The boats joined a swarm of similar craft. Each boat fitted closely against the next, so that in the mass they lost individual identity and became a floating island of men and steel. Late in the afternoon the mass "began to break up. The boats moved in single file to anchor --- hundreds of them. "Not long now. " In all the ports boats were moving, gathering, along the coast, one convoy of a thousand big and little ships was already on its way. It was in this convoy that the 282 headed across the Channel toward Normandy, from Dartmouth. At midnight General Eisenhower and staff were studying the weather reports. It was known that a low-pressure area was moving eastward across the Atlantic; but it was thought, by weather experts, that it would turn north before reaching the Channel. However, the gale came, head-on, into the Channel. The storm was terrific, buffeting the convoy and forcing a change in procedure. At 5:45 a. m. Headquarters ship's radio buzzed: "Stand by for important message", Just before 6 it came: "Invasion postponed for a minimum of 24 Hours. " The landing boats scurried back. A brace of Destroyers went barking after the thousand-ship convoy that was bearing toward Normandy with its radios sealed. Here permit us to Interpolate a quotation from Duane's letter to us later describing this episode:All around the coast of England ships, big and little, had to slow up or turn around. The greatest armada in history broke up before it was assembled."We sailed from Dartmouth on June 3, supposedly 36 hours before H-hour (landing time); but, as you know now, because of the weather, H-hour was postponed 24 hours. We were about one-third of the way across to France when we got the message to turn around. We went only a little way back, and killed time by cruising about the Channel against the tide until we got the word to start for France again. The weather was very bad and the water rough, choppy and big waves slamming the ship around. I didn't get seasick, but I sure shook in my pants all the way across. "
D-DAY MINUS 2
Sunday, June 4, was a day of difficult decisions. The 5th had been picked for D-day because at 6 o'clock AM the tide would have been a little more than half way between ebb and flow---that is, high enough to land fairly well up on the beaches and on sand instead of on mud, and low enough to land before the first series of beach obstacles were reached. And so, on this Sunday, the decision to be made was whether to invade on Tuesday or Wednesday, or whether to postpone the invasion for two weeks at which time the tide would again be favorable. By evening the new plan had been worked out. The gale continued to churn up the Channel. By evening it was pouring rain, and the wind whipped spray over the open boats into the faces of the men.
D-DAY MINUS 1
Monday morning, at 6 o'clock, the final confirmation came: "Proceed with the invasion. " By later afternoon the command ship was gone. The small boats were gone. The destroyers had gone. At 10 o'clock, when the clouds broke and the low sun shone across the water, the Headquarters Ship, gathering about her small flock of destroyers and small boats, the last ship to leave the harbor, put out under full steam for Normandy.
From whence came the code name of the greatest invasion in history? From the Germans themselves. D is for "Dammerung"-- THE TWILIGHT OF THE NAZI GODS.
Here let us quote again from Duane's letter:Tuesday, June 6, the invasion began almost exactly on schedule at 30 minutes past midnight. From the sea most of the larger warships were moving toward the beach where support was needed. Dense smoke rose where the B-17s had taken care of the enemy battery, firing straight down the western beach. But off the eastern beach there was steady thunder of heavy naval guns firing. At two places where landing parties had found exits from the beaches, destroyers standing close inshore poured fire into the valleys themselves. On either side of the valley heavier ships crashed broadsides deep into the interior. Their guns spat orange flame. The air trembled from the concussion."We arrived off the French coast about 1 AM of D-day (June 6th). We dropped anchor in the "Transport Area" opposite the French town of Carentan, off "Utah" beach (a code name) which was the right flank of the invading forces. The battle was terrific---guns from our big ships firing at the beach. After about three hours of it I got calmed down and wasn't so nervous. I was too busy to notice or see much. We've got them on the run. Dad, keep your ears glued to the radio. Send me pictures and newspaper reports of this that you get. We didn't go right in to the beach because the beach was so shallow that an LST would have to wait until the tide went out so it could unload. We towed one large and one small "rhinoferry" across with us and unloaded the LST on them as well as on LCTS. These "Rhinos" have a shallow draft and large outboard motors which propel them in to the beach where unable to unload without waiting for a drop in the tide. Then, too, they are not as valuable as LSTS. Where a beach is steep an LST can put her bow on the shore while the stern is still afloat and unload the vehicles without having to send them off in deep water. "
On into the night the destroyers kept firing intermittently, At 11:30 that night enemy raiders came and the night was lit with bomb bursts. One ship was hit, flared brilliantly for five minutes, then suddenly went out --- sunk.
Again we quote, this time from Lt. Lynch's letter:quoting from Duane's Letter:"On D-day plus 2 we arrived back in South Hampton, England, and unloaded casualties. Then we loaded up again with tanks, and arrived on "Omaha" beach (north of "Utah" beach) in the late afternoon. We went right in to the beach and waited an hour or two for the tide to drop enough so that we could unload the tanks. We were just off Vierville-surmere this time. We put a hole in the bottom of the 282 by running onto one of the spikes the Germans had placed along the beach under water. This prevented the use of one of our engines. So, after being towed to Portsmouth, England, we spent a week waiting to get into dry dock for repairs, a week In dry dock. "Again from Lt. Lynchts letter:"While we were waiting in drydock in Portsmouth I went in to London and had these little pictures made I am sending you---three of them for you Dad, 'three for you Mom, and three for you Peggy. I spent the Fourth of July in London too, celebrating and watching the "Buzzbombs" come over from Germany. Several fell in the city; but they are nothing to worry about. ""We made our third and last trip (June 23rd) across the Channel, this time landing on the British beach -- Arrowmanches, France, which is on the left flank of the invasion. We took over British troops this time. We loaded British casualties and returned to Southhampton, England. On this trip we damaged a propeller and went into dry dock for repairs at Portsmouth.
"About a week later, in July, we received orders to go to Plymouth, England, to be made ready to go to the Mediterranean. After processing at Plymouth, and about a week later, we left Plymouth bound for the Mediterranean, We went direct to Bizerte, North Africa (July 29th). We stopped for about five days in Bizerte. Then we went on to Naples, Italy. We had a maneuver with troops just before loading up again in Naples. From England to Naples we carried an LCC (Landing Craft Control) on our main deck, and British Churchill" tanks and a few trucks on our tank deck. In Naples we loaded artillery, jeeps and a few trucks and ammunition and some infantry troops. This included four big 155MM (Long Toms) and 40MM anti-aircraft guns. We then went to the invasion of Southern France. "
E V E N I N G
Newspaper correspondents have called the invasion of southern France "the worst kept secret of the war". It was. It is inconceivable that the enemy himself did not know just where and when it had been planned to strike, The secret was almost an impossible one to keep. The fleet of LSTs and other ships, coming down to the Mediterranean after the invasion of Normandy, had to pass right in full sight of the coast of Spain, an enemy (though not officially at war), in sailing through the Straight of Gibraltar. Italy, only a partly conquered enemy, full of Germans and irate Italians, had full access to the knowledge of movements of our ships along its western coast. It was plain that the action had to come within striking distance of the great ports of Toulon and Marseilles. As in the invasion of Normandy, the first great problem was that of "timing". Fire support ships had to arrive off the beaches through the same swept channels at the same time as the LCTs from Corsica. LSTs had to thread their way from Naples, Italy, through the narrow Straight of Bonifacio to meet and join smoothly with the speedier LCIs coming out of Ajaccio. Inevitably the whole armada of 900 ships had to be compressed into narrower waters as it neared the assault beaches. The beaches of southern France, some sandy and some rocky and difficult, rise steeply from the blue water's edge to low cliffs back to which rise high, pine-clad hills.
The landings were scheduled to take place sharply at 9 o'clock on the morning of August 15, 1944. For some time the hills back of the beaches, and the beaches themselves, at the selected points of landing, had been thoroughly bombed by the Army and Navy Air Forces. All during the night of August 14th fragmentation bombs were falling; and it was thought that the Germans had been entirely driven out of the area --- subdued.
Daybreak finds all in readiness for the attack: The big transports are anchored, LSTs, LCTs and LCIs moving up astern of them, the small boats loaded with troops and their equipment and on their way to the beaches. Over on "Red" beach, around a little cape to the westward of "Green" beach, near the little town of St. Raphael, in the fire support area a hundred big ships are waiting the word to open fire. It becomes apparent to the command that the Germans are not going to make any serious stand. The moment for firing has arrived. The first naval power goes in smashing at the beaches. The big guns of the fire-support area ships open up a thunderous barrage at the hills ahead of the beaches. The first assault craft have made it unopposed, and the men are leaping onto the beaches. Then the second wave of assault; still no fire from the enemy, A machine gun, here and there, stutters in the hills, and only a sporadic shooting from small arms, but nothing serious. No fire. -- even the machine-gunning is slacking off as the troops of the first two waves wipe out the nests,
All has gone well so far; but now--now the scene changes. There is a hitch in the orderly shoreward parade. One of the assault teams scheduled to go ashore at two in the afternoon are meeting sudden intense fire. It is terrible---an actual wall of flare --- so often described; so seldom seen. The first wave of assault is being turned back with heavy losses.
Men and boys are dying. Now the big guns of the support area are opening up with blasts at the beach and hills. Now another assault wave is going in. Again the wall of fire meets them and they are turning back. More men and boys are dying. It is apparent that the landing here cannot be made except with too great a cost in lives. Now comes the order for an "end-run" to be made. The assault of "Red"beach has failed for the time being. The troops slated to hit "Red" beach are being sent around the little cape to the eastward, to "Green" beach, Where earlier landings have been made without serious opposition.
We are now approaching the terrible climax in the short life of our little "Wonder Ship" LST 282. Let us return to her.
Proudly she sailed out of dock at Ambridge, into the sun of her infancy; and proudly and gallantly she wore the robes of glory as her sun rose to the zenith on the shores of Normandy. She braved the danger-infested waters of the North Atlantic and the storm-lashed currents of the English Channel, never faltering in her course as she bore down on the beaches of Normandy. The sons, husbands and fathers she carried loved her next to home---that home they all longed to see and hoped to return to after they and their little ship had "done the job"laid out for them. The stage is now set. The curtain is now about to rise on the last act of the drama. Together with her noble spirit we go now as she retraces her steps to the stage.
As she calmly sails from the harbor of Naples, faithfully responding to the hands that guide her through the blue waters of the Mediterranean, her precious cargo of men and boys, unmindful of the fate in store for them, having once again dispatched their messages of love and cheer to the loved ones waiting for them at home -- the last tidings from many --- she noses out into the sea which is to become her grave, her last resting place. Westward she plows through the placid waters on a course taking her through the Straight of Bonifaccio, between the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, thence northwest toward the southern coast of France. On her decks she carries some five hundred Army personnel who are to go ashore and help take the beaches, jeeps, trucks and artillery they will take with them at the landings. Guiding and ministering to her needs she carries a crew of eleven officers and about one hundred and forty boys and men in bell-bottom trousers. Conscious of the dangers of mines and terrible destructive-powers embodied in the cargo of explosives she carries, these men and boys carry themselves with confidence and dignity -- carefree and happy -- just as good fighting sailors should be. Each in his place of duty, individuals molded into one mass -- a happy lot -- feeling that the coming action is to be the last before they shall be rewarded with the much longed-for visit at home with loved ones. All have fathers and mothers, many with wives and children, sisters and brothers, some with sweethearts -- all waiting with longing, arms outstretched to embrace them in the happy homecoming, This is the mental picture each carries with him. This is to be the recompense for the sacrifices they are making -- for the job they are doing so well.
On sails Little "Wonder Ship", through the day and the night, steadily approaching the scene of action. At 4:30 in the morning of August 15, 1944, an officer on watch goes to the galley for a cup of coffee. In the galley-way he meets a boy--a blond baker 2nd class. "Sir, how far are we from France?" the sailor asks. "just a few hours," replies the officer. The blond baker returns to his work, for his is a night shift --- a hot one. What are his thoughts? No doubt they are on Mom and Dad, sister, the brother he met, for the first time in three years, at Bizerte, the house at home, the lawn and flowers, the sweetheart waiting at home for him. Perhaps he has a feeling of dread for the morrow. A man is brave, not because he may be foolhardy, not because he fears not; but because he knows danger, fears it, yet steels himself and faces danger. The blond baker and his mates of the galley proceed with their baking and cooking, for a good breakfast must be ready for the men in the morning. Lying in their bunks, off shift, the blond baker and his "buddy" have talked long and often of their homes and loved ones, compared their boyhood experiences, looked at each other's pictures from home, etc. Multiply those experiences by a hundred and forty' and you have a composite picture of the lives of the men and boys of the 282 as dawn of the new day breaks on the morning of August 15, 1944.
Now the sun rises and bathes Little "Wonder Ship" in its beautiful rays. The blue waters of the Mediterranean sparkle and dance in the fresh morning breeze. Mess call sounds. The ship comes to life as khaki and blue tumble up and mingle once more. Breakfast and coffee. A constant alert is the order, for the 282 has arrived just off "Green" beach, and the coast of France. The men and boys gaze at the shore -- the men and boys who are about to again meet the test of fire and steel. A sailor nods toward the beach. "Buddy, that's awful close. This is it. "
The 282 now rides at anchor a quarter of a mile from the beach. One hundred and fifty assault troops aboard are now leaving in the LCVPs for the dash to the beach. They are being met by a hail of fire from the hills ahead of the beach. They are now plunging up the beach, some dropping. Troops and equipment are landing from three other LSTs not far from the 282. The men are rushing up the beach ind into the hills, silencing the machine guns. The LCVPs are now returning to their ships. One crewman only, from the 282, has been hit during the landing. His wound is not serious -- only a wood splinter torn from his boat by a bullet. The LCVPs have all returned safely.
All through the forenoon the 282 rides the placid water at anchor, waiting the order to beach. The rest of the troops, one group of 40mm antiaircraft and another of 155MM Long Tom artillery-men, are to be landed directly when she beaches. All hands are on the "qui vive". Tasks are performed with regularity and order as the day shift takes over. Those who worked through the night have gone to their quarters for much needed rest and sleep.
Twelve o'clock has come and gone. Midafternoon has arrived. The men watch the shore. The afternoon wears on.
'The sun is now sinking, low down in the west, over the hills and Mountains of Southern France and Northern Spain.
S U N D 0 W N
"Green" beach has been taken. The troops, plunging ashore from the landing craft, surge across the beach, up into the hills, and turn westward in a flanking movement to support the landing at "Red" beach. The flanking movement has proven successful, forcing the Germans to retreat from the area and the hills beyond. Bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force have effectively isolated the area from reinforcements and supplies. Bad news from northern France has undermined German morale; and the Luftwaffe has changed from a force of fighting pilots to a crew of "buzzbomb" launchers. A beautiful but frightful day is now coming to a close. The 282 watchfully rides at anchor. The sun is now sinking over the horizon of hills and mountains -- the last bright rays from its upper rim play brilliantly on the faces of the men and boys on the 282. Long shadows stretch across the deck. The masthead flashes in the last glimmering rays, and the sun has gone down --- never to rise again for the "Little Wonder Ship" and many of the men and boys aboard.
T W I L I G H T
Twilight falls, and the tension increases with the minutes. Where smiles and, perhaps, laughter now and then broke the spell of waiting, now prevails a grimness and quiet as the dying light gives way to the dusky shadows of approaching night. "General quarters'' sounds. "Man your battle stations. " Quickly and orderly each goes to his appointed post. Gun masks are removed. Ammunition is broken out and passed to position, Motormen man their throttles. Gun captains, pointers and ammunition passers stand by their guns. In the conning tower, awaiting orders to beach, stand Lt. Lawrence E. Gilbert, Skipper, Lt. William Mace, Executive Officer, Lt. Jerome Dobin, Communications Officer, Lt. Franklin Lynch, Medical Officer, Ensign Peter T. Hughes, Gunnery Officer, Lt. Edward Durkee, Engineering Officer, and one enlisted man. Time passes. In the gathering gloom the men look at their watches. Eight o'clock. Time drags. Eight thirty. In the conning tower there is a stir. I Mike:
"LST 282 move in to the beach"
The motors turn over. The ship trembles. The motors hum. The ship vibrates with the accelerated speed of the motors. The men in the gun tubs load, and scan the skies. Slowly the ship gains headway toward the beach. The 282 is under way. Not a sound from the beach. No firing from the hills. The 282 has reached a point perhaps two hundred yards from the beach -----
Suddenly Lt. Mace is pointing to the darkening sky: "There's a plane coming out over the hills ahead of the beach, from the starboard quarter. " The men watch the plane as, flying high, it speedily approaches. It is a JU88, but it is now too dark for the men to recognize it as an enemy plane. As the officers watch, It turns, coming straight over the LSTs. A red flash is seen under the belly of the plane; and a large object, glowing, is zooming downward. "It's as big as a plane!" Spellbound, the men watch, their feet glued to the deck. No time for fright. No time for warnings. No time to seek shelter. Only seconds pass. "It's going to strike the water ahead of us!" "No! It's changed its course! It's going to hit us! A spasmodic, gasping breath as the monster missile on wings, radio-controlled by the launching plane, strikes the deck of the 282 directly in front of the deckhouse, at the foot of the conning tower. It penetrates the main deck, through the after cargo hatch, proceeds aft and to port, explodes just under the main deck, above the engine room and directly beneath the port 40MM gun tub.
Ten thousand thunderbolts, enveloped in a hundred tornadoes, rend the air and mangle the port side of the after part of the ship. The port 4OMM gun tub is wrenched and torn. The gun tub higher up, and the tub in the stern, are twisted and tilted, the decks forced upward. Part of the deckhouse is blown away. The galley is wrecked and that part of the boat deck over the galley collapses. Davits are wrenched and twisted. A jeep, standing on the after cargo hatch, when the bomb strikes, is now dangling from the top of a davit over the boat deck. It has caught fire and setting fire to the smokepots piled on the boat deck between the gun tubs on either side. Officers are blown from the conning tower. Men and boys in the gun tubs in the "fantail" are horribly wounded, some blown into the air and fall back to the deck like hail. Some are blown into the water and are being picked up later by rescue boats. Others drown. Some vanish and are seen no more. Some are trapped in the galley and galleyway, some in the sleeping quarters and engine room.
The explosion of the bomb has ignited the artillery and other high power explosives and gasoline stores in the after part of the ship, below the deck. The terrific explosions are rending the ship, wracking it from stem to stern, and jerking it about crazily in the water. Motors and machinery are wrecked, the rudder jammed hard to port and the steering engine useless. The electric power units are useless, and no light other than the flashers from the explosions and fire.
Fire is now breaking out throughout the ship and raging. The forward part of the ship is entirely isolated from the rest by the fire and smoke. Everywhere the cries and screams of the wounded and trapped boys are heard above the roar. Everywhere men and boys are jumping off the ship into the water.
"The men on the tank deck are trapped. Who will volunteer to come with me and go down there?" yells a little blond kid with blood on his chest and his GI uniform half burned off. Fifteen join him. The elevators between the tankdeck and main deck are useless; so they are sliding down the hatch to the tank deck. The tank deck is full of badly wounded men in their vehicles. The explosions of ammunition are terrible, and the fire is gaining rapidly forward. Two sailors are setting up temporary aid stations-plasma, bandages and litters. Some wounded are being brought up to them. Other sailors and soldiers are trying to get the bow doors open. The explosions are growing worse. A terrific explosion has blown the rescuers and wounded across the deck. The screams are horrible. Men are trying to administer blood transfusions to wounded. As they string up the plasma container and hose, explosions knock them down. The boys at the bow doors are unable to get them open. They realize that this is the end. They gather together, at one side of the deck, a large number of wounded, but are unable to remove them up to the main deck. Realizing their inability to get the wounded out, they start climbing up the elevator shaft. A few of the rescuers reach the top and clamber onto the main deck, the rest falling back into the inferno below and die with the wounded they tried to rescue, The rescuers reach the main deck just as a terrific explosion comes nearby, blowing some of them into the water. They swim ashore, amid groans and screams, in the water about them.
With the exception of the starboard side of the after part of the ship, the awful conflagration is raging from the bow to the stern now. On the main deck the wounded and dazed are lying everywhere, mingled with the dead and dying. Those unhurt, or able, are braving the explosions and fire, searching out wounded and removing them to life rafts, Many, so dazed by the explosions that they are helpless to save themselves by climbing down the Jacob ladders, are pushed off the ship into the water rather than leave them to die in the fire. Some manage to swim ashore or float until picked up by rescue tugs and other boats. Firefighter boats are trying to extinguish the flames; but are being driven back by the explosions.
Only minutes have passed since the bomb struck the ship. Lt. Lynch and Ensign Hughes have been blown from the conning tower, down two decks, by the bomb explosion. Ensign Hughes is lying where he fell, instantly killed. Lt. Lynch, lying not far away, has sustained a compound fracture of one leg, several head wounds, and multiple bruises. He is now regaining consciousness, watches others searching for wounded and dead, but, is helpless. Now he is being picked up and removed to a life raft. Ensign Hughes is being examined by others who pronounce him dead. His body is not removed from the ship by the survivors. Lt. Dobin has also been blown from the "con", and sustains minor wounds. Lt. Gilbert has not been blown from the "con", but sustains a compound fracture of one arm and head wounds. In spite of his wounded arm, he manages to carry the enlisted man, also badly wounded, from the "con" down to the deck and hands him to others who place him on a raft. Lt. Gilbert then aids in removing another seriously wounded officer from the ship. Lt. Mace has not been blown from the "con" and escapes serious wounds --- only a chipped ankle. In spite of his ankle wound, he goes about in search of dead and wounded. Lt. Durkee also has been blown from the "Con" sustaining a compound fracture of one leg, and is being removed from the ship.
In the port 40MM gun tub when the bomb strikes are: Duane York, baker 2/C, Jack Capps, SK 1/C, John Deel, C 2/C, and Walter Keen, MoMM. Only one has survived --- Jack Capps. Jack has suffered a very severe wound in the left arm -- almost a complete severance. Someway, not clear, he finds himself outside the gun tub, dazed. He is found by Paul Pearson, EM 3/C, who carries him out through the smoke of the smokepots piled on the boat deck between the port and starboard gun tubs, and hands him down to others who place him in a life raft. John Deel is mortally wounded, with a terribly-torn throat. How he has gotten out of the tub and into the water is not known, unless he was blown there by the force of the bomb explosion. He is found, still conscious, taken from the water and placed on another ship. When he is being rescued he tells the men that "York" is still in the tub. John lives but an hour or so, dying in the arms of Ray Keen to whom he is trying to give a message to his wife, little daughter and mother. His words now are unintelligible. Ben Brown climbs up to the boat deck, on the starboard side, and tries to turn on the sprinkling system, but fails. The smokepots are now burning highly and the passage through to the port gun tub is now impossible. Cries are heard coming through from the vicinity of the port gun tub. Some of the boys say they can see Duane in the tub by the light of the fire rushing down on them. Walter is not seen again.
Many of the men and boys are wounded, some slightly and some seriously. All the wounded that it has been possible to reach are removed from the ship. The order to abandon ship comes. What must be the mental state of those compelled to leave behind mates they cannot reach but whose piteous cries reach their ears as they leave the ship. Fifteen enlisted men and two officers of the crew in the bloom of health and the flower of young manhood but a short span of moments ago, are now dead -- sacrificed on the altar of greed.
The entire ship is now enveloped in raging flames; and the explosions of ammunition and roar of the conflagration continue -- the requiem of death.
With thanks to the Almighty for salvation, and pity in their hearts,-- tears in their eyes -- for their unfortunate buddies and their Little "Wonder Ship", the survivors are quickly borne from the dying 282. Many others have gotten to the shore where they spend the night around camp fires, awaiting the morrow.
All night long the little ship burns, and smolders for several days after. The main deck and tank deck are littered with the burned bodies of men and boys in khaki and blue. The heavy explosions jerk the ship from side to side, causing it to take an erratic course beachward. Not a living soul is aboard now. Finally a tremendous explosion literally "knocks" the ship up on the rocks of the beach where she sinks almost to the rail and lies -- her journey ended, Little "Wonder Ship" USS LST 282 and many of the brave men and boys she carried now belong to the ages. And, as the darkness of night closes around her mangled form, broken only by the licking tongues of fire, we leave her, our heads bowed, our hearts broken.
From: Pburrcal<at>aol.comAnd now may the peace and love of God, which passeth all understanding, rest and remain with them forever and ever. Amen.
From Sheldon: If anyone has a diary, story, or remembrance of any of the shipmates of the 282 that they would like to share I would love to make a spot here for them. Please contact us
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 16:57:14 EDT
Subject: LST 282, Southern France, August 15, 1944
Just happened to run across your LST 282 Page on the internet and felt compelled to just contact you. I was in St Raphael on the evening that LST 282 was hit and sunk by the German smart bomb. I was a seaman first class, assigned to the Second Platoon, Company A, Eighth Beach Battalion. Though my platoon was not assigned to Green Beach, we had landed there at D+60 on the morning of August 15 and has slowly moved to the East, with the intentions of opening up Yellow Beach before the day was over. Our delay was caused by the Infantry Brigade was having trouble clearing the road leading to Yellow Beach. As late afternoon approached we were given orders to hole up until morning giving the Army and Naval gunfire time to clear the German nest out from their position overlooking Yellow Beach to the East.
We dug our fox holes on a bluff overlooking Yellow Beach from the West in the yard of a large two story home. As we made preparations to secure for the night we heard this single plane come over moving from East to West. As it approached the bay leading to Yellow Beach, we noticed that it launched some sort of weapon that had fire coming out of its tail. It was gone in a flash and as we later found out it had struck LST 282 and sunk it just off of Green Beach, to the West I believe.
I am now retired Navy, living in Florida, having left active duty in February 1946, joined the active reserve, and when my reserve unit was called up in 1950, joined the Regular Navy and finally retired in 1975.
Your web site is very interesting and reading it brought back memories of years gone by.
PETER B. CALHOUN, USN (Ret. )
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