The new Fourth Edition with 44-page Index
Darby's Rangers Trapped
Anzio costly; HMS Penelope Sunk. U.S. destroyers Woolsey, Trippe, Edison sink U-73
Copyright 2012 Franklyn E. Dailey Jr.
Before this discourse gets deeply into the Anzio invasion, some leftover points on Salerno are covered. This reprise will take the reader almost halfway into this page. The material presented is not a repeat but simply more information on Salerno and the months from September 1943 into December 1943 in the Mediterranean.These were the turning point months when the Allies wrested control of the Mediterranean from the Germans. We introduce the Rangers.
We will also clear up the nickname, 'HMS Pepperpot.' for HMS Penelope. She was beloved by the crews of both USS Edison (DD439) and USS Ludlow (DD438).
Salerno Reprise Begins Here: (refer to seawar8.htm
I should have made one addition in the Tiger Tank (at Salerno) writeup to add to the story of the sinking of the USS Buck DD-420 in September 1943. Her Executive Officer, LCDR G.S. "Beppo" Lambert, who took on the assignment of mentoring newly arrived Ensign Franklyn E. Dailey Jr. on the USS Edison DD-439 in July 1942, was lost in the heavy loss of life on the USS Buck DD-420. His patience and wisdom, greatly appreciated by his shipmates, made an important contribution to history and to this story.
Reproduced below are three dispatches . The first applies to the invasion of Sicily.The second and third refer to the landings at Salerno.
The first two of the three were enclosed in a mailing from Ed Meier, who as Lt. (Jg) was my shipmate on the Edison. Ed was a Chicago attorney .(Ed Meier is now deceased.) I will be making more extracts from Ed's log, first introduced in Chapter Four of the printed book.
The third dispatch is provided by Ken Williams, who was a torpedoman on the USS Ludlow. We will hear more from Ken near the end of this chapter. Ken's graphic suffers from repeated reproduction and he kindly provided a transcript of the contents, so if it is not readable in the graphic, just skip to Ken Williams' all caps, typed, version which follows the graphic. I thank Ken for his thoughtfulness in passing the copy of the dispatch along to me, along with a recollection or two.(Ken Williams is now deceased.)
The dispatch above is partly unreadable from the copy available to reproduce, so below, its contents are typed:
To D438, D439, D459
FOLLOWING RECEIVED FROM ARMY AAA THANK GOD FOR THE FIRE OF THE BLUE BELLY NAVY SHIPS AAA PROBABLY COULD NOT HAVE STUCK OUT BLUE AND YELLOW BEACHES AAA BRAVE FELLOW THESE TELL THEM SO--------SIGNED GENERAL LANGE AAA WELL DONE BT
FROM CTG 81.5
TO EDISON, LUDLOW, BRISTOL, CRUISERS UNDER MY COM.
Liberty and Recreation:
I thought at first to title this subject as "leave and recreation." But then, I remembered that in World War II, leave meant just one thing, emergency leave. Too often this meant that a father or mother was sick, possibly dying, and the sailor could get home briefly to pay his respects and return to his ship. So, leave is not the right thought. Liberty is the better term for this story.
There were a number of gradations of "liberty." Sometime in 1943, Ensign John L. Sullivan USNR came aboard the Edison to help us keep fit. He was part of a multi-fleet effort led by Commander Gene Tunney, the famous U.S. heavyweight boxing champion who dethroned Jack Dempsey. In one of their two fights, Tunney, a boxer and not a slugger, was slugged by Dempsey and was down not just for the count, but for what ringsiders said was a "long count". Tunney got up and boxed his way to a decision over Dempsey. Some of us received early wind of Tunney's program to make us fit. His fitness emissaries were often called "tunneyfish". I listened to CDR Tunney one day in cold Thompson Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy, as he "explained" (promoted would be the current term) his fitness program. All midshipmen were required to be present. After three or four years of marching to every meal, fitness, in a cold stadium, was a subject that the midshipmen could have done without, though they gave Tunney the benefit of a polite listen. (A later "all hands" affair at USNA featured Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten of the Royal Navy as an inspiring speaker during lunch in the Mess Hall. This went over much better.) Ensign Sullivan had the proportions to be a direct descendant of his namesake, the heavyweight champion of the U.S. before Dempsey. Our Ensign "John L." , though not related to the Sullivan of boxing fame, was a big man, and likeable. Again, though, what he had to offer sailors were calisthenics on the focs'le, or on the dock. So, a limited form of liberty was to get on the dock at Mers-el-Kebir and stretch the muscles. The muscles needed stretching but there was little spirit for this among the troops. The messenger was fine-the message was not too well received.
If liberty meant getting off the ship, the object was recreation. Not, as I have noted, compulsory calisthenics, which involved neither liberty nor recreation. One step better would be a baseball game. The Tunney program provided balls, bats and mitts. Frankie Williams and Leonard Williams were two, young, educated and very talented black men whose WW II role meant being stewards in the officer's country. While shipboard amenities observed the seniority of officers by rank and enlisted men by rating, ashore, in a baseball game, all could participate based on skill. Frankie Williams was a premier softball pitcher. I need to provide a frame of reference for "premier." In my civilian life before the Navy, I worked at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY. Kodak Park, in Greece, NY, was a huge manufacturing facility for film. One of the house methods for keeping the name Kodak before the public was to sponsor a softball team. Kodak Park were world champions and they had the world's premier pitcher, Harold "Shifty" Gears. Shifty had the most wins, the most no hit games; he held all the records. Frankie Williams of the U.S.S. Edison was in that class. Edison won all the games against the other ships. The unmistakable acknowledgment of Frankie's prowess was that the Edison center fielder sat on a chair in the outfield most of the time.
While swimming at a Mediterranean beach, in season, was perhaps the next echelon up in liberty and recreation, I will have to reserve my final general remarks on liberty and recreation to the occasions which got us to a bar, and to alcohol. I was an example of what some deprived sailors (I use the term "sailors" to mean all who sailed on Navy ships.) did when they got to a bar. I often drank too much. Not all of the officers and men drank, but since I did, I can recall mostly those who drank with me. It was a way of "blotting out" what we had experienced, and what we conjectured was coming next. I write this today, not as a matter of pride in any way, (I have been completely dry, at the "suggestion" of my wife, for over 25 years) but as a matter of fact.
The next excerpt from Ed Meier's journal gives me a way to be more "objective" on the liberty subject.
A Sea Transit Journal, Continued:
(This picks up Ed Meier's journal after Anzio and before Salerno. The year is 1943. In the next sequence, the Edison has escorted the USS Philadelphia from Palermo, to Algiers, and thence to Oran and a berth for Edison at Mers-el-Kebir.)
August 24. The neglect of the diary was due to a little bug which made me violently ill with food poisoning. Apparently I had consumed too much free wine and fruit at Luigi Lufo Raymondi's place in Palermo, as I was a very sick man for a day or so. (Edison men were constantly reminded not eat raw fruits or vegetables in Sicily because of the practice of fertilizing with "night soil". Ed"s indisposition may not have come from the wine.)
Something is cooking by way of another Allied blow, but where and when we don't know. Perhaps Sardinia or Corsica.
August 25. Went out with the Boise, Savannah, Mayo and Benson (Mayo and Benson were destroyers at the head of the Benson/Livermore class) and had practice shore bombardment on a beach east of Arzeu. Returned to Mers-El-Kebir at sunset.
For reasons of security I cannot as yet discuss the matter (of another Allied blow) but it is sufficient to say that it will be a daring step and we'll probably see plenty of opposition. (Readers of Chapter Eight will already know it would be Salerno.) The attitude among the officers and the men is a very restless one with mingled feelings about getting back to the States or getting another offensive started. My feeling is that I'd like to see a foothold established on the continent before shoving off, but it would seem that that would be only the beginning and that once a foothold is established we could not be released. (Ed Meier seemed like a contemporary to me in 1943, though he was six years older. As I read his 1943 remarks now, I marvel at his consciousness of the major thread of events and recall that at that time I rarely speculated much about what was in store for us. )
August 26. Shifted berths this noon and tied up alongside the Savannah. Ed Doyle is on the Savannah and we had a nice long chat swapping war yarns and discussing things back home. This afternoon I went out to Ain El Turk, a lovely beach resort some 8 or 10 miles west of Oran and went swimming with two French girls whom I met out there. The water was wonderful. The drive out to Ain El Turk is very pretty, winding through the mountainous country. The style of buildings and the type of landscape and plant life remind people of California. Several prisoner of war camps along the way.
(Ain El Turk was also the location of a quickly established club. Some Italian POWs did the cooking. We established a duty driver practice. If you have escorted an LST and the motor pool could not get you a jeep, that friendly LST had already commandeered one which they said was "left over" from the last assault operation. They would loan it to you. The duty driver did not quite abstain but he stayed soberer than the passengers. Favorite Edison songs at the "club" were "My Wild Irish Rose" for skipper Pearce, "McNamara's Band", often rendered on the focs'le by Edison's S 1/c of that name, and the all hands favorite, "Ve-eel Heil Heil Heil Right In Der Fuehrer's Face." )
August 27. Got underway at 8:00 this morning for a practice amphibious operation with many transports, cruisers and destroyers. It will be a simulated capture of a city from the sea and the city designated is Arzeu, a French town 50 miles east of Oran.
August 28. The simulated attack on Arzeu was carried out last night and I guess everything went off OK. The Edison was supposedly a fire support ship and since no firing was done, we were just along for the ride. Returned to port this evening and refueled. Tomorrow, the Nicholson and the Edison will go to Algiers for a 3-day availability alongside the Vulcan, a destroyer tender. (I am sure that this occurred as Ed Meier's journal records it. My own recollection is that the Vulcan was mostly tied up at Mers-el-Kebir, next to Oran harbor; all my photos show her there. Technically, the USS Vulcan (AR5) was a repair ship, but she doubled as a destroyer tender.)
Here are Edison's engineering officers, Kelly Hall and Joe Dwyer, posing in a rare moment topside, with the U.S.S. Vulcan (AR-5) as a backdrop. Edison was apparently airing bedding this day. A nuisance, but very necessary.
August 29. Shoved off for Algiers at 0700 this morning and on the way stopped off at Arzeu to replenish our ammunition supply from the USS Mt. Baker. Left Arzeu about noon and ran up to Algiers (further east) at 25 knots arriving about 8:00 in the evening. Jim Hughes and I got permission to leave the ship and went over to the Allied Officer's Club where we each downed a bottle of white wine. This of course put us in a jovial mood, but we were able to get back aboard ship before the 11:00 curfew.
(I made one visit to that club which has been mentioned in books like "Ike The Soldier" by Merle Miller - about Eisenhower- and it was also mentioned in Morison's Volume IX. I stood at the bar for a few minutes before it dawned on me that the officer standing next to me was Douglas Fairbanks Jr. We exchanged a few pleasantries. I find now that Fairbanks is mentioned in Morison's Volume IX, "The Invasion of France", for specific participation in the Southern France operation which began August 15, 1944.)
August 30. This afternoon I went ashore to line up some canteen supplies at the Army P.X. warehouse. After that I took a bus up to the top of the hill overlooking the city. It was a magnificent view, to gaze over the city's rooftops and out to the harbor and seaward. There is also a beautiful cathedral on the hill, the Cathedral de Notre Dame de Nord-Afrique.
September 6. I got ashore several times (since the previous log entry, but still in Algiers) and one day took an escorted tour of Algiers. In centuries gone by Algiers was an important center for pirates, corsairs and slave traders. We were taken through the lovely palaces built by the people, also their forts, meeting halls etc. Other points of interest that we saw were a mosque, cathedral and of course the Casbah - meaning, fortress, in Arabic.
Ran into Bill Love from Denison at the Red Cross Officer's Club a couple days ago. He is navigator of a Fortress bomber and had just completed 50 bombing missions and is being returned to the States on 20 days furlough. He certainly has had some exciting experiences on his missions over Germany, France, the Low Countries, Italy, Sicily, Pantelleria etc. I persuaded him to come along with us and after having had a glass or so of champagne we returned to the ship for dinner and then saw a French vaudeville show on the forecastle deck which Sullivan had arranged. It was quite good and after the show had a little party in the wardroom. It was a very nice evening and I'm sure Bill enjoyed it.
Right now we are escorting a large convoy of transports for the next operation which I am sure will make good reading for the people back home. I can now say that we are en route to Naples, Italy. Our force will strike south of Naples, near Salerno and Agropoli, while a British force will assail the beaches north of us. The two forces will converge on Naples after getting ashore. We expect considerable opposition, particularly from planes, although we might also see action with submarines, E-boats or even units of the Italian Navy which might try to interfere. It is going to be a large operation and we're looking forward to it with anticipation as well as with some apprehension. If all goes well, it will be a big step in finishing off the war.
September 7. This morning early, the fire control force consisting of the Philadelphia, Boise, Savannah, Plunkett, Ludlow and Edison left the convoy and went ahead to Bizerte at 25 knots. We arrived there at noon and in time for the Captain (Pearce) and Hofer (the Gunnery Officer) to attend a gunnery conference. The convoy came past Bizerte a few hours later down the Tunisian War Channel (a continuously mine-swept channel through the shallows of the Mediterranean) and we rejoined. The bay outside Bizerte was completely filled with ships of all types and I was able to count about 75 and I'm sure there were many more that I could not see. This evening we headed northward to pass to the west of Sicily.
Pictured below is a carbon copy provided by Ed Meier, of the Edison plan of the day for four days, Sept. 7,8,9 and 10.
September 8. Today is D-Day minus 1 and at time of writing it is about 1:00. We have passed between Sicily and the Island of Ustica and are still heading easterly. Soon, we will change course to the northwest in order to give the impression that we will strike at Sardinia. At 2230, we will rendezvous for the approach about 70 miles off Naples and in time for the assault at H hour or 3:30 tomorrow morning.
This morning about 10:30 we were called to General Quarters on an enemy plane contact. No attack materialized and it was undoubtedly a reconnaissance plane giving us the once over. While at General Quarters, a flight of 40 Flying Fortresses winged overhead bound for targets in Italy. They certainly are doing a grand job and we're all hoping that they succeed in tearing up all Italian airports and also give the shore batteries a going over.
The convoy is a large one consisting of some 70 ships for the assault. The Edison's duties are to screen the Savannah and provide fire support with her. The sea is calm and the day bright and clear. Moonset is about midnight and we're all hoping for a good dark night. We are told that Roosevelt has a speech planned for tonight at about 10:00 New York time. That will just about coincide with our zero hour as we are 6 hours ahead of New York and zero hour is 0330. Churchill is still in the U.S. presumably in case of an Italian capitulation following the assault on Naples.
(Please note the passage of about 24 hours in this narrative. The missing period, especially late morning until dusk on 9 September 1943, is covered in the heart of my narrative in Chapter Eight)
September 9. It is now 6:40 p.m. and I'm so dog tired that I can hardly stay awake, so this will be short and sweet. At about 5:00 last night while only about 50 miles from the Italian coast, we were told that an important radio announcement would be made at 6:15 by the Algiers and Rome radios. And at 6:15 the inspiring news poured in that the Italians had unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. We were all so dumb-founded that for several seconds we sat around starry-eyed with our mouths wide open. What effect would this have on our assault force-would we move right into Naples? No, we kept to our original plan and after an air attack which lasted for over an hour we moved into our assault positions. General Quarters sounded at sunset last night (7:30) and we didn't secure until about 6:30 this morning. Then this morning about 10:00 there was another German air attack and from noon we were at Battle Stations firing on beach targets constantly for over 5 hours. We used all except about 300 rounds of 5-inch ammunition. So when I say I'm tired, I mean just that.
The landings were all made successfully and I don't think our losses have been at all heavy. As far as I know, no ship has been sunk, although the Edison came within an ace of it this afternoon thanks to the extreme accuracy of a shore battery. Those shells whistled by so close to us that if we hadn't ducked they would have taken our heads off. There were splashes all around us.
The Army was very pleased with the close inshore fire support given them by the Edison and the shore fire control party continually complimented us. We fired on troops and tank columns, road junctions, artillery emplacements, trucks etc. and apparently our fire was excellent. In all we fired over 900 rounds of 5 inch ammunition. Boy - I'm tired - what a day. (In Chapter Eight, mention was made of the excess 5" ammunition Edison took aboard and stowed in the gun ready rooms. This accounts for some of the difference between my shell count and Ed Meier's.)
September 10. Regular as clockwork, the Germans were over again last night. A sharp attack on the landing beaches and supply dumps an hour after sunset and then their regular 4:00 milk run during which they attack ships in Salerno Bay. With all the hundreds of ships out here they couldn't neglect the Edison and after having duly lit us up with eerie flares, which never seem to come down, a glide bomber came in and whistled one in on our starboard quarter. It was too close for comfort and all of us on the after deckhouse hit the deck as if by instinct. The roar of an aircraft engine, the brilliant light of flares piercing the darkness and lighting you up as a singer on stage, the screeching whistle of the falling bombs are the most terrifying combination that I can imagine. The dull thud of the bomb hitting the water together with the shock against the ship itself are most surely a source of comfort. (This is what Ed wrote. Probably, the "miss" was the source of comfort.)
Since we have expended over 2/3 of our ammunition, the Edison has been relieved as fire support destroyer and is now patrolling outside the Bay of Salerno. Last night a dispatch came in saying that today we were to shove off with a convoy of British ships for Oran, but as yet we are still patrolling. I surely hope we leave before darkness as we are all allergic to this place after dark. By the way, in those air attacks, several planes have already been shot down, one this morning was ablaze from stem to stern as she plummeted into the sea.
September 11. The orders for our getting underway got fouled up and sure as shooting we got in on the regular air attack about 11:00 last night. Flares all over the place and the brightness of the moon led the German bombers in on their targets. One bomber apparently not being able to see us, however, got very close and being illuminated by his own flares, he would have been duck soup. But despite the fact that the director operator on the port 40's was right on the target and had his firing key closed, the pointer did not have his firing pedal down and consequently we didn't fire until he got well forward and out of range. Up forward, he released a torpedo, the wake of which was seen by people up forward, but it ran harmlessly away from us.
About 2:00 this morning the convoy began to form up and we were finally given orders to proceed with them. Thank the Good Lord. General Quarters again about 2:30 however, due to a few flares being dropped, but by this time we were far enough out that the bombers missed us. At the same time word was received that enemy E-boats were in the vicinity and that the Rowan in searching for them had been torpedoed and probably blew up. The Bristol is searching for survivors now and has reported that she has already picked up the captain.
We have lost quite a number of destroyers in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns. The USS Maddox and the USS Rowan have been sunk and the Roe, Swanson, Shubrick, Mayrant and Kendrick have been badly damaged.
September 12. We have gotten down in the neighborhood of Sicily. Friendly fighters are overhead which naturally adds to our contentment. Hitler spoke last night trying to explain to his people that the Italian surrender had no military significance. Fighting has already been reported between German and Italian troops and the Germans have already succeeded in occupying the large northern Italian cities.
September 13. (Ed Meier's journal is at odds here with my data and with the Edison's Navy Department-written War Diary. On this date, I had written earlier, we were already in Oran. Ed kept notes day by day, and the War Diary of the Edison has many mistakes, so I would defer to Ed's chronicle concerning the date of our arrival in Oran after D-Day at Salerno.) Passed by Bizerte last night and although we are traveling very slowly due to the large amount of traffic in the channel, we will be in Oran possibly day after tomorrow. Speculation is running high that we will return to the States with this outfit.
September 14. Arrived in Oran this morning and immediately fueled and took on ammunition. The transports which we brought in started to reload troops and since they are keeping us on a 1-hours notice, it looks as though they intend to shove us off again to Salerno. What a life. September 15. They have now permitted us to go on a 4-hours notice and from the looks of things, we have an excellent chance of going back to the States.
September 22. All hopes of going back to the States dissolved this morning when we were given sailing orders to escort the Brooklyn, who had just returned from a 4-week overhaul, to Bizerte. Oh well, c'est la vie, c'est la guerre. We had a nice stay in Oran and got rested up anyway. Got out to Ain El Turk for a swim a few days ago and we had a nice party out there, the feminine charm being lent to the occasion by nurses who are quartered out there. We had 4 quarts of Vermouth and had a nice time at the Club which is situated right on the beach.
(I do not ever recall getting vermouth or champagne in these places. The drink of the day was called "eau de vie", a poor tasting liquid which did contain alcohol, thank heavens, because the Army assay of it also showed other liquid materials too vile to recall now. Another drink was beer, from bottles packed in sawdust, which the merchant skippers brought over and sold for outrageous prices. One brand I remember was Fort Pitt. At Malta, for Christmas of 1943, we got some good stuff and I will tell how we got it in a later section.)
September 23. Got underway from Oran this morning en route to Bizerte and Palermo in company with the Brooklyn and USS Woolsey. We are making 25 knots and aren't sparing the horses, and are all wondering what kind of a deal they've got us in on now. The news broadcast this morning stated that the French, Italian and U.S. Ranger troops are in combat with the Germans on Corsica and a number of our officers seem to think that that is where we are going. At this rate of speed we should be off Bizerte early tomorrow morning.
September 24. Arrived in Bizerte about 11:00 this morning and immediately proceeded to fuel. Conflicting orders and reports of future operations come in all day, but we're still here this evening and at last the picture has been clarified although still subject to change. The Brooklyn shoved off with the Plunkett tonight and the latest dope is that the Ludlow and Edison will escort a convoy to Palermo tomorrow.
Here, I need to post an insight on special troops the Edison escorted and helped get ashore in assault landings. This recollection comes from a soldier who fought as a Ranger in the Mediterranean campaign. Carl Lehmann was one of "Darby's Rangers". For U.S. military service, Carl first presented himself at a Navy Recruiting office in 1939. His attempt to enlist was aborted because the form he filled in called for the applicant to PRINT in all the spaces. Carl complied in all spaces except one, where he forgot and wrote `white' instead of putting a W in the box for Race. When the Chief Petty Officer "threw my application papers back at me" for this oversight, Carl simply walked out. So, Carl characterizes his Navy enlistment attempt as that of a "surly" volunteer. Later, Carl became an Army Ranger. (A Ranger Battalion HomePage can be found at www.ranger.org/~ranger/wwii/htm)
Carl Lehmann joined the First Battalion, Rangers, in Ireland and participated in the landings in North Africa, the campaign in Tunisia, the landings at Sicily/Licata, Salerno and Anzio. For the Licata landings which were supported by the USS Edison, Carl went ashore from the Princess Charlotte. During the campaign which began at the Anzio beachhead, Carl was taken prisoner by the Germans at Cisterna. Carl is writing a book about the Rangers. The indented portions below are taken from Carl Lehmann's words in E-mails of 1/10/98 and 1/12/98.
"I joined the First Battalion of Darby's Rangers in Ireland and made the landing in N. Africa and participated in the subsequent Tunisian campaign with them. Afterwards, the Third and Fourth Ranger Battalions and the reconstituted First formed in Tunisia and trained for Sicily. I went to the Third, commanded by the late Col. Herman Dammer for the landing at Licata. The First and Fourth under Darby landed at Gela. After finishing up around Licata we moved around Agrigento and headed toward Porto Empodocle, having an easy time of it against poorly trained Italian troops. W e were far ahead of the Third Division and had lost touch with communication to the rear. Field radios were not much in those days.
"My squad was doing a `house to house' on the eastern edge of town, when, right before my eyes, a house nearer the beach dissolved in a cloud of dust. We then saw Philly's observation plane and the guys down on the docks spelled out `US' and `Yank' with barrels and boxes, causing the pilot to come down and land in the harbor. He flew the Colonel out to the ship, which supplied us with badly needed Navy chow. The Medic in our company, Bob Reed, had a brother on that ship and was allowed a visit.
"Philly also did great jobs at Gela and Salerno. Kraut tanks stood little chance against her guns. At Salerno, we also got great fire support from a British monitor, HMS Roberts-her sister ship, the Abercrombie hit a mine early and had to leave. I never saw the Roberts, but I can still hear the noisy travel of her 15-inch shells as they went through Chiunzi Pass above the coastal town of Maiori. She certainly, and the Navies generally, never received proper recognition of their importance at Salerno.
"One of the reasons for my writing the book about Darby's Rangers is to give credit where credit is due. One revisionist has gone into print bad-mouthing Darby and his men at Salerno. That person got it all wrong and I can prove he could not read a map or understand the terrain--doubt if he saw either. Moreover, memoirs of Generals and some of the historians seem to copy the same fallacies from one another. Scenes and sounds and smells and shocks of combat are best forgot by those there, and most are. That landing in Italy, the trek up the mountain, and much of the two weeks of furious activity remain indistinct blurs of excitement, terror and confusion, punctuated by a few vignettes clear and bright as yesterday's. The scream "Amerikaner" with startled Kraut faces bobbing up, then down, flattening under my burst as I spun and flew instantly on winged feet. The Lieutenant pissing in his handkerchief and clapping it to his face at an idiot's shout, "Gas!". Looking DOWN at the tops of P-38s strafing a road, that vista revealed from Monte San Angelo above the Bay of Naples. Vesuvio. The road in the valley curving gently through Pagani, Nocera Inferiori and Cava to Vietri. Salerno--with Longfellow's "sickle of white sand" around the Bay, laden with ships of war. Crawling slowly from foxhole to foxhole, a cheerful old Italian in ragged dress, greeting all with Mozzarella from a basketful of white balls, despite noisy 88s bursting about the Pass."
Sardinia and Corsica:
During September 1943, both Sardinia and Corsica came into Allied hands. Again, despite the 60 miles of open sea, the German High Command was able to plan and conduct an orderly evacuation first of Sardinia, and then of Corsica. The details are in some respect bizarre. French forces, both Navy and Army, were involved in retaking Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon. But the rather extensive German garrisons and virtually all armor, transport and other military supply made it back to Italy as intact units. One Italian paratroop division, bent on fighting it out on the Nazi side, made it too. At the very end, the Allies bombed Leghorn (Livorno), one of the ports to which the Germans debarked, and caused some damage. Despite their preoccupation with the intense fighting at Salerno, the Allies had resources otherwise unengaged which could have made those evacuations more costly for Kesselring, who was the beneficiary of the result. One resource was a still formidable Italian Navy. In retrospect, the loss of opportunity at the Straits of Messina and a short time later, Sardinia and Corsica, can be laid to leadership concentration on Salerno, and the prize it guarded, Naples. Also, France and Italy were being loosed from German occupation. Changes were occurring rapidly. The relationships needed for subsequent planning took time to develop in the all-new environment. Every high command structure should provide for a free thinking opportunity group, not wedded too strictly to the plan-at-hand.
Bombs, Mines, Submarine Torpedoes and This Time an Aerial Torpedo: A U.S. destroyer is sunk:
Naples had been the prize of the Salerno campaign, although the Allies continued to bring in supplies and troops from the States for their growing Italian build-up through Salerno. That brought Edison back to Salerno on more than one occasion. But, with the "scorched harbor" effort of Kesselring's retreating troops gradually giving way to Allied readiness for the use of port facilities in Naples, the really big convoys began to head for Naples. KMF-25A was a 23-transport "ship-train" escorted by Benson/Livermores from DesRons 15 and 16. Added to the protective force for this mixed British/American registry of troop and supply transports were three British destroyers and two Greek destroyers, plus the AA ship, HMS Colombo. The U.S. destroyer escorts Herbert C. Jones and Frederick C. Davis joined the transiting force after it entered the Mediterranean and headed east through the Tunisian War Channel. After passing Algiers and coming up on Phillipeville, at a base speed of advance of 12 knots, the Luftwaffe descended out of the early evening darkness on November 6, 1943. Using poor visibility and coming from the eastern darkness into the western twilight, the sight advantage lay with the German pilots. Theirs was a mixed force of 9 bombers using glider bombs and 16 torpedo planes. Allied air coverage had been withdrawn before dark.
The USS Beatty was on the starboard flank, in position to catch the first pass of the attacking aircraft. The torpedo warhead hit just after 1800 local time in her after engine-room on the starboard side, and broke the Beatty's keel. Below decks a valiant fight to save her was mounted while above decks, her guns boomed out in retaliation. The Germans had brought the right weapons and with unusual strength pressed home attack after attack, disabling the SS Santa Elena and the SS Aldegonde. Both later sank. Beatty's flooding finally broke her in two and she went down just five hours after being hit. Eleven sailors went down with her and one of the wounded died later. Beatty's gravesite is near that of the Bristol. Six planes were downed. For this engagement, the Nazis had far the better of the tradeoff.
Alongside The Jetty With Steam Up; Departing Merchantman Torpedoed. Quest for Perpetrator:
With her stateside dreams on hold, the Edison worked the Oran-Arzeu area during most of October 1943. A convoy of transports and merchant ships was convoyed safely from Oran to the Gulf of Pozzuoli, Italy from the 25th to the 28th of October. On the 29th, sailing alone, Edison stopped in Palermo for fuel and escorted the USS Brooklyn back to Naples. The 29th and 30th were spent in called fire from a shore fire control party on targets on beaches north of Naples. The Edison in company with the USS Wainwright and the cruiser Brooklyn went to Palermo on the 31st, where Edison fueled and took on ammunition. She then made passage with the Brooklyn to Bizerte. On November 5th, Edison screened Brooklyn on a trip to Malta arriving on the 6th. This was the Edison crew's first chance to see the damaged Savannah in drydock. It was a sobering sight. On the 9th, Edison and Brooklyn left for Palermo. After fueling, Edison left with a convoy for Oran. November 15, 1943 found Edison bound for Gibraltar and a rendezvous with other "Med" destroyers to take over the special escort duties of Atlantic destroyers. The mission was to continue the journey of the battleship USS Iowa on her important mission carrying President Roosevelt to Cairo. Iowa was under our protection during the western and central transit of the Mediterranean and our group turned the duty over to British ships for the eastern leg of the transit to Egypt. Edison was back in her "home" port of Mers-el-Kebir on November 22.
A German U-boat is sunk: After reading this account, the reader can learn more about Horst Deckert, skipper of U-73 when she was sunk by U.S. destroyers, by reading a 2001-2003 update on his career based on his letters ,and meetings with author Franklyn E. Dailey Jr., Gunnery Officer of one of those destroyers, in Greenfield Massachusetts.
A duty destroyer has more "conditions" than I can remember with precision. Ed Meier referred to "4-hours" notice, a situation where you could risk a working party on the beach getting supplies. One hours notice means all hands aboard, and "steam up" means you can cast off the lines and get underway. On December 16, for an original reason that I cannot recall, Edison, Trippe and Woolsey were all in this ready "condition" alongside the jetty at Mers-el-Kebir. At about noon, word was received that a recently departed small convoy had been attacked by a submarine off Cape Falcon, Algeria and one merchantman was in sinking condition.
U-73 sailed from Toulon and a month's overhaul on her 15th mission of December 3, 1943. Her earlier Atlantic career had been crowned when she sank the British carrier Eagle. She was a 750-tonner, with four forward tubes, one tube aft, two twin 20mms and one quad 20mm topside for AA. Her skipper, Horst Deckert was 25 years old and had put the boat in commission as a midshipman. The 45-man crew plus four officers and a doctor were in their twenties. Days, she was submerged and without a schnorkel she had to surface at night to recharge batteries. This would occur in the four hours before midnight and she would surface briefly again just before dawn for fresh air. Just past noon on sunny December 16, her captain discovered a slow convoy, westbound with minimum escort.
A spread was fired and the SS John S. Copley of U.S. registry was hit. The convoy escort group was so thin that none could be spared to run down a submarine contact, though they went to the aid of the Copley. But, other activities were about to take place. An important troop convoy was making up for departure from Oran and one of their screen destroyers. USS Niblack (DD424) was already out of the harbor. ComDesRon Seven, Captain Clay, in destroyer Plunkett which was about to join Niblack, was informed by Niblack of the sinking ship offshore. Niblack and destroyer Gleaves (DD423) were ordered by Clay to seek contact with the presumed submarine, since the merchant convoy escorts could not be spared. Captain Clay had a major protection challenge of his own with the sortie of the troop convoy under his command. Clay in turn got on the voice circuit to raise ComDesRon Thirteen, Captain Harry Sanders, and ask for his help. Sanders was using Woolsey, DD437, as his flagship because the USS Buck had been sunk at Salerno with heavy loss of life. Sanders ordered Woolsey, Edison and Trippe under his command to prepare to get underway. They were ready in 45 minutes. Soon out past the jetty and into the Mediterranean, the three destroyers went by the wounded merchantman which was floating with good freeboard despite a large hole forward.( She was towed in that night.) Captain Sanders directed the suppression destroyers which had not established any sonar contact to report back to their important convoy. The three "ready" destroyers from Mers-el-Kebir were then deployed to search for and hopefully obtain contact on the submarine. Edison on the left, Woolsey in the center and Trippe on the right, in a 90 degree line of bearing, were directed to pursue a retiring search at 14 knots along a retirement path of due north. Distance between search ships was 2400 yards.
The search began at 1730 local time and about 40 minutes later, base course was changed to east. At 1815, Woolsey, already a sub killer, obtained the first contact on her starboard quarter. Woolsey turned slowly through south, to west and then to northwest. Rudder and propeller noises needed to be minimized if the operator was to hold the contact on his pinging gear.
The sub skipper should know by now that he had been detected. Though confident that the contact was a sub, the Woolsey's sound operator then lost contact. Skipper Weir of Woolsey ordered a course reversal to the plotted position of the last contact, and the sonar man regained faint but definite echoes. Woolsey dropped a full pattern (all six K-guns, each with 300 pound charges, and a number of 600 pounders determined by the prescribed pattern, off the two stern roll-off racks). Edison and Trippe were directed to open up their range on Woolsey to 3500 yards.
With darkness upon the group, SG radar operators looked intensely at their screens. The group went north and then turned south southeast. A full three quarters of an hour of this, and suddenly the Woolsey radar operator's eyes bulged as the screen now showed four targets. The guest came from the deep. 1900 yards on Woolsey's port quarter, bearing about due north, was the newcomer. Woolsey's helmsman was given a full left rudder command, Woolsey's 5" guns that were bearing opened fire, and Woolsey illuminated with her 36 inch searchlight. Tracers immediately came at Woolsey's light and two men were wounded. Edison picked up the radar contact at the same time as Woolsey and opened fire with the Woolsey, shortly joined by Trippe. Captain Sanders could see that Woolsey was close to Trippe's line of fire and ordered Trippe to cease firing. Edison and Woolsey shells were hitting the sub and her deck personnel were jumping into the water. This was the U-73, which, mortally wounded, poked her bow high in the air and slid stern way back into the Mediterranean. The job took four hours.
Woolsey picked up four officers, including skipper Horst Deckert, and 15 enlisted men, while Edison and Trippe screened. After departure of Woolsey and Trippe for Oran, Edison searched for over two hours before she found 12 more men in the water. We saved 11, but the 12th, a warrant officer, could not be revived. Apparent cause was drowning.
I was in charge of the survivors rescued by the Edison. We took them to the crew's quarters and, standing over them with guns drawn, we made them disrobe. We had survivor kits and issued them immediately. These consisted of bathrobes and personal gear like combs, toothbrushes etc.. These survivors took to the combs immediately and crowded around a mirror to get their hair slicked down and presentable. I was flabbergasted at this and with their obvious good spirits. Also, it seemed they had little interest at the time in where their crewmates were. I feel now that they pretty well knew who had been saved and who was lost. We had enough German language ability among us to find out that the officers had abandoned ship in the only boat the sub carried and the crew that were saved came topside and jumped immediately into the water. A search of their clothing showed that "school" had been held on the U-73 regularly, and there were drawings in detail of every essential part of the sub. It was an old Type VIIB so probably we did not discover much but the torpedo drawings, I knew, would hold interest for the intelligence types ashore when we turned them over for analysis.
What It Was Like To Be in U-73 (the Perpetrator) That Night
Admiral Harry Sanders, who as Captain, USN and ComDesRon 13 in the previous paragraphs, published his 1943 interview with Horst Deckert, U-73's skipper, in 1969 in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.
Our exploding depth charges (from USS Woolsey) were the first warning that she (U-73) was being pursued.....from 1839 hours, when the Woolsey dropped her depth charges, until 1927, when the U-73 surfaced,--an elapsed time of 48 minutes---Captain Deckert, his officers, and crew were struggling frantically to save their stricken vessel. The depth charges.....had exploded below the submarine, causing considerable damage. Sea water had poured in between the bow torpedo tubes, and a salt water inlet valve for the diesel engine cooling system fractured, causing water to cascade into the engine room. The leaks could not be stopped nor could the incoming water be pumped out at a rate sufficient to maintain the trim. The U-73 had sunk to a depth between 525 and 755 feet. (I went out on a US Guppy sub in the 1950s. She was built for "deep" diving, a pressure test depth of just 400 feet!)
The U-73 was now in extremis. If she continued to sink, the tremendous ocean pressure would crush her hull like an egg shell. Captain Deckert exercised his last desperate option and, ordering all ballast tanks blown, he brought U-73 to the surface on one motor. Heavy machine guns were manned as fast as their crews could get up the hatch and the captain ordered full speed ahead on the main engines....Almost instantly, the U-73 found herself in the glare of powerful searchlights and in a rain of 5-inch shells. Her machine guns opened fire on the Woolsey's searchlight. In the eerie night duel, observers in the Edison counted three direct hits on the U-boat's hull. She was now filling with water and sinking fast by the stern. Captain Deckert ordered "abandon ship" just before the U-73 took her final dive, backwards, to her grave on the bottom of the Mediterranean.
.....After Captain Deckert had dried off and was given dry clothes, he was taken under guard to a stateroom. He was meticulously correct in his military bearing, rising and saluting smartly. "Why," I asked, "did you not fire your acoustic torpedoes at us?" "Because," he said, "the depth charge explosions warped the torpedo tube shutters and they could not be opened." Deckert naively expressed his surprise that we had been able to "see" his submarine as soon as she surfaced---in the black of night. His apparent honesty convinced us that German submarines were not getting timely intelligence on U.S. radar developments. We know from Hitler's own words that it took months for them to find out about our short wave aircraft radar. ("Short wave" in 1943 meant X-band, the wavelength used by SG radar technology. This was also built into our ASW patrol plane radar, first in the APS-15 system which I flew just after WW II in the Navy Privateer, PB4y-2. This was so precise that when shore radio aircraft-approach facilities were inoperative in the Aleutians, many of our squadron planes made approaches on socked in airfields with just the APS-15 operator guiding us to the runway.)
About midnight, the three destroyers tied up to the quay at Mers-el-Kebir. Admiral Davidson was there (now in USS Brooklyn), as was a strong Army guard. The Woolsey and the Edison debarked their prisoners. They were formed into two ranks and marched off. We, who were the victors, stared briefly at their departure, and then turned, somewhat wearily, to the matter of reports yet to be written and a war yet to be won. (Captain Sanders had been a submarine skipper himself. Captain Weir of the Woolsey, commanded a ship which, in the course of the war, sank three U-boats. The two men cooperated brilliantly to put down the U-73. Deckert ran into a skilled team. (I had lunch with Horst Deckert twice, about the year 2000, at a restaurant in Massachusetts. /author/)
Malta; Second Visit by the Edison
My second Christmas aboard Edison stands in sharp contrast to my first, which was in Port Arthur, Texas. On 21 December, Edison and the USS Niblack, another DD of our class, left Oran screening Brooklyn on a trip to Malta, where we were in port in the Gran Harbor until 29 December 1943. Everyone, including the engineering crew who often stayed below as a preference and had to be rousted out of their haven, got ashore more than once. The gondola's with their hanging lamps could get a little tipsy when we got a little boisterous coming back to the ship, because we were often a little tipsy too. We visited the Palace of the Marquis and the Marchesa by invitation. We understood better why this little island had been able to resist the Nazi air onslaught so effectively. The people, who spoke at least five languages and had their origins in Africa and the Middle East as well as Europe, were fiercely independent. (Malta was British in WW II and we were Britain's allies, and were welcomed in 1943 not just by the `colonial' rulers but by the people. Most of us could not see beneath the surface and realize that Britain itself would be pushed out so soon after the War.) While there was destruction, it was minimized because Malta's earth structure contains an enormous amount of a clay-like seams, which could be "carved" into building shapes, allowed to air out briefly, and put right back into new structures.
One of my few personal triumphs occurred during this visit in Malta. As noted earlier in this story, our senior officers had to bargain with merchant officers returning in ballasted ships to the States for fresh war cargo. The bargain was for "spirits". Often, we paid up front and quite often that ship or that merchant officer did not return to the Med, or at least did not return to a place we could catch up with them and demand our "goods". The British Navy was "wet", with the crew getting rations of grog, a form of rum, and the officers obtaining mostly gin, but in some instances Scotch whiskey. At Gibraltar, a "deal" was to visit the HMS Delhi or HMS Colombo for drinks, then have them over for dinner, when we were berthed alongside. So, one day in Malta in a rare moment of brilliance and initiative, I went around to a building which bore the entrance sign, NAAFI. It stood for Navy, Army and Air Forces Institute. (I liked that "institute" designation, bringing to the establishment the dignity that all the British Isle-anders bring to themselves. In a visit to Ireland in the 1980s, I found little shops in every town, with the nice small sign of the establishment denoting the entrepreneur as a "turf accountant.") NAAFI was a military victualing establishment. It was kind of a Supply Corps, but in a retail-like atmosphere rather than a warehouse. It reminded me of our now disappeared hardware stores with dark, somewhat oily looking, unpainted wood shelves and bins. And so in representing myself as being from the HMS Edison, the obviously well educated "clerk", knew full well from my uniform and accent that that could not be the case. I asked about a ration of spirits. I was asked the number of officers assigned to the Edison. The ration would be apportioned based on complement. Then I was asked about preferences, and after some discussion, we settled on one bottle of Scotch and two bottles of gin for each officer. I duly "signed" my name and received the appropriate British tax stamps which I still have somewhere. The man who waited on me shook my hand as I left, and said quietly, "Reverse Lend Lease!"
I came back to myship, 'heavy laden,' quite a catch for a junior officer who had negotiated for Edison far better than her senior officers had managed. I was, ever so briefly, a star.
Early January 1944 Busywork:
Niblack, Edison and Brooklyn left Malta for Palermo on 29 December, and at Palermo picked up a convoy to escort to Naples. Still in an escort role, Edison came back to Oran on 6 January. General Eisenhower began to disassemble his headquarters at Malta to concentrate on the cross channel invasion. British General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson was designated to take active command in the Mediterranean, with one key responsibility to push the German armies rapidly up the Italian peninsula. It was not to be. The U.S. Fifth Army bogged down at Monte Cassino north of Naples. On the Adriatic, the British Eighth Army met unpenetrable resistance at the Sangro River. No one likes a stalemate, but Allied strategists had complete freedom of air action from Italy's major Foggia airbase. Most of the Allied leadership were disposed to keep the soft underbelly tense, but to refrain from expensive surgery. Not so the Prime Minister. Churchill wanted a landing at Anzio to break Kesselring's hold on northern Italy. As usual, he got what he wanted, though as executed, Operation SHINGLE was the second of two plans to land at Anzio.
General Alexander, who commanded the land forces attempting to uproot the Germans from the Gustav line above Naples, now commanded soldiers from many nations. While the Fifth Army of General Clark and the British Eighth Army were still the anchors of the land position, and the Canadians had been involved from the beginning, the Italians and the colonials of many soon-to-emerge nations were right up on the firing line. French troops under General Juin fought with great courage in Italy. At sea it was almost as all-worldly. French, Dutch and Greek warships would now be fighting closely with the U.S. and British navies.
Amphibious Task Force 81, commanded by Rear Admiral F.J. Lowry, became the central unit of the American naval assault forces. Captain Harry Sanders, as ComDesRon 13 in the USS Woolsey, brought Wainwright, Trippe, Niblack, Gleaves, Edison, Ludlow and Mayo along for D-Day. The Plunkett, carrying the flag of Captain J.P. Clay, was another essential addition to this all destroyer force. U.S. Destroyer Escorts Herbert C. Jones and Frederick C. Davis were involved right from D-Day. The two Destroyer Escorts participated in a brilliantly conceived, technologically sophisticated, sea mission.
A level of command which existed for the large landing operations at North Africa, Sicily and Salerno, did not exist for the smaller Anzio operation. Rear Admiral Lowry had his flag in the USS Biscayne. There was no Admiral Hewitt at Anzio, with a responsibility to get the troops safely ashore, and then release fire support ships under senior commanders to help them stay there. Lowry exercised both of these prior distinct levels of command.
Destroyers Charles F. Hughes, Hilary P. Jones, Madison and Lansdale were scheduled to join the effort in February. This may misrepresent their role. They may have been called in to replace exhausted ships and sailors when this operation became a very dangerous stalemate. But, that gets ahead of the story.
Anzio: The Landing That Took 142 Days!
The historical marker that Anzio was fated to become had first been thrashed out in November and December 1943 and the answer was that there would be no Anzio in the context of Allied World War II Mediterranean history. It was originally conceived as a left hook to Kesselring's right flank, which faced Mark Clark's Fifth Army. It would be a fast, one division strength assault and penetration by the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division as part of Clark's forces. This force would effect a link up with Clark's main units advancing between MonteCassino and the Tyrrhenean Coast. Frosinone, well past Cassino, would already be in safe hands to the rear of a probable link point, when the assault would be made from the coast. It was predicated on Clark's Fifth Army's ability to advance, and would leave the Germans facing strong and fluid movement whether they looked south or west. The Rangers would lead the Anzio beach assault operation and it would begin December 20 when the Fifth Army expected to reach the vicinity of Frosinone.
In support of this strategy, Montgomery's Eighth Army on the Adriatic side began their push on the 28th of November and Clark's forces moved forward on December 1. The Cairo Conference adjourned on December 7, and did not deal with the Anzio proposition, treating it as a theater decision even though it called for some temporary re-allocation of landing craft.
Neither Montgomery nor Clark made the progress that the original SHINGLE plan required and after some agonizing, the Anzio beach assault operation scheduled for about December 24, 1943, was canceled by the theater military commanders on December 22, 1943. Clark's main forces could not get by Cassino, and weather and the Sangro river had bogged Montgomery down. The Germans were defending and not giving ground.
SHINGLE Off, Then On Again
Enter British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Tunis, Christmas Day 1943, on his way back from Cairo. With no CCS (Combined Chiefs of Staff) or JCS or Roosevelt to contend with, he called a conference and put a SHINGLE, not predicated on Clark's success in getting to Frosinone, back into planning. This would be an operation to get ashore and hold until General Clark's main forces arrived. There was little deliberation on this plan. The Prime Minister wanted it, and had long championed the basic strategy to make the spine of Italy an arrow aimed at the heart of Germany. General Alexander did not want to oppose his Prime Minister. Ike was turning over his duties to Sir Henry Maitland Wilson and one British Admiral Sir John Cunningham was relieving his similarly named predecessor. Churchill's global partners had dispersed and were trying to get back home and digest what Cairo had decided. Churchill added one British infantry division to SHINGLE and obtained some LSTs which were ticketed for England or Southeast Asia.
U.S. Major General Lucas would command the landed forces, consisting of the the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division under Major General Truscott and the 1st British Infantry Division under Major General Penney. There would be three battalions of U.S. Rangers, two of British Commandos and one regiment of paratroops. One regiment of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division and two regiments of the U.S. 1st Armored Division would be in Naples on reserve. Rear Admiral Lowry had enough seaborne capacity (bottoms, tonnage) committed to give the landed forces 12 days of supply. Lucas' VI Corps had instructions to secure the beachhead and advance on the Alban Hills. No specific link up with the main body of the Fifth Army was targeted.
In mid-January 1944, the Fifth Army above Naples made another try to breach Kesselring's defenses, made some early progress, but on the day of the Anzio landings on January 22nd, Clark's forces yielded back to the Germans the Fifth Army's dearly won bridgehead over the Rapido River. This was not a very good precursor for an Anzio operation that was launched with fuzzy objectives.
Preparations and Assignments
Amphibious exercises were conducted in the Salerno-Naples area to ready Task Force 81 for a SHINGLE assault at Anzio. The operation was scheduled for January 22, 1944. The landing beaches laid out in the plans ran from a point below the Tiber Estuary on the Tyrrhenean Sea, south to Nettuno, a resort town just over 30 miles south of Rome. The port of Anzio centered the targeted beaches. Success, it was hoped, would outflank the German forces at Cassino and open the way for the Allies to be over 50 miles behind the so-called "Gustav" line defined by Kesselring, and be but a few miles from Rome itself. Surely the Germans would have to fall back to a new line.
The British 1st Infantry Division would land to the north, supported by two British cruisers and a small destroyer force under Rear Admiral Mansfield, RN. Col. Darby's U.S. Rangers would land near Anzio, followed by the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, which would land on beaches to the south of Anzio. These forces were supported by the U.S. cruiser Brooklyn and the British cruiser Penelope, supplemented by a contingent of DesRon Thirteen destroyers, Woolsey with Captain Harry Sander's flag, Mayo, Trippe, Ludlow and Edison. The followup supply landing craft would receive AA and ASW support from Captain Clay's DesRon Seven, with Clay's flag on Plunkett, plus Gleaves, Niblack, two British destroyers, two U.S. destroyer escorts, and two U.S. minecraft. A stout force of U.S. sweepers, AM and YMS type, would start work before H-Hour.
I will mention here an important change of command on D+3 where British Rear Admiral Mansfield relieved Captain Cary on Brooklyn as CTG 81.6, taking operational command of the overall support group. The diversion of the British landing forces to the U.S. landing sector and beaches on D+2 and the change in support group command left some loose ends, just when the Germans began to put into play their strengths against SHINGLE.
The Assault Begins
The assault at Anzio began at 0200 on January 22, 1944. By this date, Allied war commerce was moving in every direction in the Mediterranean. Assuming that the Germans could distinguish an assault convoy from a supply convoy, the Allied sea train for Anzio took the usual misleading course from staging areas at Naples and Salerno (where a near disastrous rehearsal had taken place), toward Corsica, settling finally on the run to Cape D'Anzio. It began smoothly with little opposition. The rocket barrage in the British sector to the north began before their landing craft reached shallow water. U.S. Ranger assault troops went ashore at Cape D'Anzio's southern sector beaches. Before dawn the Allies had a solid beachhead. The probe troops were meeting little resistance. By early morning, sporadic defensive artillery fire began to "walk" toward our critical beach positions and the German Air Force made its appearance. Still, our troops were in Anzio not long after 8:00 a.m.
The Brits to the north faced mines, steep cliffs, surf and false beaches. By afternoon, it was decided to divert British sector follow up convoys and their troops and supplies through the U.S. sector to the south. With all forces now scheduled to go through the southern sector near Anzio, as an entry point, there developed two strains of thought regarding the warships supporting the assault. The first: With only one sector, was one of the support task groups superfluous? The second: With calls for fire so intermittent, should the cruisers stay in Naples until needed?
I believe now that the offensive consideration in these conjectures was based on gunfire support and the defensive consideration was undersea, particularly submarine, defense. In reading over the material available, AA defense does not appear prominent in planning. There were no high performance naval aircraft, such as carriers provide, for Anzio. Carrier aircraft pilots are proficient in landing and seaborne supply operations.
Our seaborne force strength was nothing like Salerno or Sicily. The on-station seaborne fire support contingent was relatively small. The cruiser concept practiced at Salerno was based on safely conducting assault forces, many in transports, to the beaches and then assigning the cruisers in teams with screening destroyers to help landed troops hold the beachhead and expand. For Anzio, an unending procession of landing craft to and from Naples and Salerno was the delivery scheme. As it evolved, only a kind of generalized cruiser force was made available. At times, cruisers went to Naples because they had nothing to do. At other times, cruisers tied up or anchored in close at Anzio, and one paid a dear price. Longer range seaborne guns were often needed at Anzio, and these were not available. What actually happened to the Anzio beachhead was never anticipated, so never planned for.
By the second day of the operation, the actual at-the-scene commanders of troop movements did some necessary improvising, against orders and to their credit. They determined to preload each truck to be embarked for Anzio so that these could be driven off the landing craft directly to their assignment. The Germans hit with force anyone waiting at dockside or in staging areas to be combat-loaded.
Early Destroyer Action
Although the frequency of German air attacks did not begin to pick up until the second day, the extended period in which the issue was in doubt was marked by a much higher frequency of pressed-home air attacks than had been experienced at Salerno and at Sicily.
Earliest mention of U.S. destroyer action at Anzio in the now-familiar role of fire-support goes to the USS Mayo, DD-422, commissioned right after the class namesake, Benson DD-421. Mayo was in action on the right flank of the beachhead on D-Day, the 22nd, and again on the 23rd and 24th of January. The following indented paragraphs were taken from an E-mail received from Orlando Angelini on 23 January 1998. (54 years had gone by)
The Germans had moved up heavy guns to lambaste the Anzio beaches, and under this cover a Nazi force was trying to fight its way across the Mussolini Canal. Thanks to the USS Mayo, the Nazis were stopped on the tow-path of this waterway. "The speed and accuracy of her (Mayo's) fire kept the Germans from counter-attacking across Canale Mussolini," Admiral Lowry noted. (This quote also appears in Theodore Roscoe's United States Destroyer Operations in World War II.)
Mayo had been lending fire support at selected targets from January 22, 1944 until January 24, and at 2001 hours on the 24th, there was an explosion at the starboard side in the after engine room. The extent of the damage caused the after fire-room bulkhead to tear and flood the after fire-room, but all personnel from the after fire-room escaped with minor injuries. All hands in the after engine room perished. We were under an air attack during this period. At the time of the explosion, the Mayo was in a mine swept area. Not sure if it was a circling torpedo or a mine which caused the explosion. The Mayo dropped anchor to prevent us from floating into a heavy-laid mine field. The Mayo held together due to a riveted joint that was installed, that attached the aft section and the forward section together. Otherwise she would have broken in two.
With six men killed, one missing and 25 wounded, the Mayo fought her battle-damage, and kept above water. At 2300 hours, the Mayo was taken in tow by a British tug, Prosperous, and towed to Naples in two days.
I served aboard the Mayo from September 18, 1940 to decommissioning on March 18, 1946. At the time of the battle at Anzio, I was a Machinist Mate 2/c.
s/s MMC Orlando A. Angelini, or "Big Ange".
After repairs, the Mayo made it to the Pacific for the Tokyo Bay surrender on September 2, 1945. Those who would like to keep up with information developed by Mayo's historian, Orlando's grandson Richard Angelini, can go to his HomePage. http://home1.gte.net/Angelini/mayo5.html
The U.S. destroyer Trippe was credited on January 23rd with helping Lucas' VI Corps stave off an attack by elements of crack German divisions seeking control of access roads to the Mussolini Canal. On the 25th Trippe provided counter fire for sweepers working in close to do cleanup work in the fire support areas and was relieved in that duty by Edison. YMS-30, working on the shallow shore side of the area, struck one of the mines she was sweeping and her crew disappeared along with their little ship. It was a sobering experience for Edison's crew. Minesweeping is a perilous business. Later that day Edison, Ludlow and Gleaves provided strong fire support and the USS Brooklyn was called in to get at some more distant targets. The next day, mines again took a toll and the close in sweepers were engaged in pulling people out of the water from a mined LST and an LCI. Under worsening weather only the LSTs that could get into port were able to unload. Pontoon causeways would not work in those seas. One of the first Liberty ships in the supply chain stood off, and was all but hit by a glider bomb. Her crew was ordered to Abandon Ship but later the Armed Guard reboarded and manned her AA guns against air attacks.
The Luftwaffe made life miserable for all ships at Anzio, especially warships. Although plans had been made on D-Day to divert forces scheduled for the British sector in the north down to the U.S. sector to the south, the forces already in motion toward the British sector landed there and were supported by British cruisers and destroyers. The Luftwaffe pressed home strong attacks in this sector, with aerial torpedoes and rocket powered glider bombs. In a strong attack in the twilight of D+1 (the 23rd) one British destroyer was hit and eventually sunk by a torpedo. Another was disabled by a glider bomb and had to be towed to Naples.
The next U.S. destroyer at Anzio to be mentioned in Theodore Roscoe's United States Destroyer Operations in World War II, is the USS Ludlow, DD-438, a squadron mate of the Edison. The Wehrmacht held a strong point at Littoria on the morning of the 26th. After 267 rounds from Ludlow's 5"38 guns, the feedback was "Nice going. No more Littoria." Later, on February 8, off Anzio, Ludlow was hit by a large German artillery shell, of a caliber likely more than five inches. Ken Williams, a torpedoman aboard Ludlow that day, speaks to us over the span of 54 years.
"My battle station was the torpedo director. As you well know (the "you" refers to the author to whom Ken addressed his E-mail) the torpedo director was mounted centerline on top of the pilothouse in the Benson-Gleaves class. Torpedomen are pretty useless when dueling with shore batteries. So, to earn our pay we would use the torpedo director to try and pick up muzzle flashes, give relative bearings of these flashes, and estimate their range. Coastal batteries were normally well concealed, using smokeless powder, and very difficult to spot. For `protection', we had a canvas screen, about knee high.
"The Ludlow was working its way in to deliver close range fire support when we were hit. The projectile must have come from extreme range for it went vertically through the pilothouse through several decks and ended up in the Scullery. Fortunately it did not explode."
On its way through Ludlow's pilothouse, a fragment of the shell's rotating band (softer metal which is scored by the gun barrel's grooves and lands to make the shell rotate like a one-axis gyro, and therefore be stabilized) slashed Commander Creighton's (the skipper of the Ludlow's) leg, leaving him with a severe wound. Theodore Roscoe's Naval Institute book credits Chief Gunner's Mate James D. Johnson with heaving the hot projectile, already spilling a portion of its high explosive charge, over the side.
With Lt. Cutler USNR now acting CO, the Ludlow went back to Naples. Let us pick up the thoughts of Ken Williams once more.
"An event that sticks out in my mind from this same time frame was when the USS Plunkett volunteered to re-ammo ship for us so we could get a night's rest. The Plunkett had taken a bomb hit on its after deckhouse and was in Naples for emergency repairs. They were going Stateside, we had to be back at the Anzio beachhead in time for the morning air raid. They gave us the opportunity to get some sleep.
"Was seventy-six as of yesterday (written in an E-mail in late 1997). Consequently, must have just turned twenty-one for Operation Torch. Joined the Navy Dec. 31, 1940 on a six year enlistment and put the Ludlow in commission March 5, 1941 as a lowly Apprentice Seaman. Captain Lyle Wiley Creighton was the best skipper that I had ever served under. He was tough but fair. He would advance competent people in rate, but refuse to transfer them. We had a high priced crew when the Capt. was wounded at Anzio. When we came back to the States, the crew was practically all cleared out to new construction. I went to the USS Zellars, DD-777."
Captain Creighton recovered and was back in action at Southern France in August of 1944, though not with Ludlow. E-mail will reach Ken Williams via: firstname.lastname@example.org
While naval losses were mounting, especially in the British sector, by the morning of the 25th, the Allies had a "beachhead" almost seven miles deep along a front of about 14 miles.
We return to Theodore Roscoe's account, which focuses on the destroyers. "In action at Anzio, she (the USS Edison, Commander H.A. Pearce) fired 1854 rounds of 5-inch 38 ammunition at 21 separate targets. With 101 rounds fired on January 29, she turned a parade of Nazi trucks and armored vehicles into a roadside junk pile. From exuberant shore fire-control parties, she received one congratulatory message after another. Here are some verbatim extracts.
FIRE EFFECTIVE VERY VERY GOOD BRASSED OFF A BUNCH OF KRAUTS
MANY ENEMY TROOPS KILLED BY YOUR FIRE GOOD WORK
PILOT SAID YOUR FIRE WAS VERY EFFECTIVE YOU WERE HITTING RIGHT ON THE ARTILLERY PIECES YOU WERE FIRING AT
EFFECT OF FIRE MACHINE-GUN EMPLACEMENT IN BUILDING TOTALLY DESTROYED
YOUR LAST TARGET WAS A TOWER BEING USED AS AN OBSERVATION POST YOU DEMOLISHED IT COMPLETELY
These are good words, and we will have more of them. But, the Anzio beachhead as a breakout wedge to Rome or wherever, soon became fully sealed off as Kesselring moved his German defenders rapidly and skillfully. In the beginning, however, our troops ashore made some good progress.
How Early Anzio Operations Were Supplied
The nearest analogy in more recent times would be the Berlin airlift. Captain Clay had 39 British LSTs, 20 LCI(L)s, and 6 LCTs. That is a lot of transport. But, by D+1 we had over 40,000 soldiers ashore. They needed weapons, ammunition, and food. On the evening of the 24th, with command changes in the immediate offing, this first major follow up convoy arrived off Anzio and was pummeled by 15 fighter bombers, then 40 more, then 50 after dark in a continuous raid. The U.S. destroyer Plunkett took a grievous hit by a 500 pound bomb, with heavy loss of life and disablement of one engine. She made it back to port. The action occurred just before the underwater explosion on the USS Mayo described earlier. In the same raid, while fully lighted in accordance with International Law, a British hospital ship was hit and sunk. By the first of February, more than 100 LST off loadings had been accomplished at the port alone, using the speed-up scheme of the pre-loaded trucks.
Command of Sea Forces
The naval gunfire support command became as "fluid" as the action on the ground ashore. The British thought it was foolhardy to keep cruisers on station without missions if they could be based in Naples and make it quickly back to Anzio when needed. Rear Admiral Mansfield RN, in HMS Orion, became gunfire support commander on the 23rd, and decided to send HMS Penelope back to Naples. But Penelope had been paired with the USS Brooklyn with fire support duties for the U.S. assault sector to the south. U.S. Rear Admiral Lowry, the overall naval commander for SHINGLE and counterpart to U.S. Major General Lucas as overall commander of the ground troops, immediately questioned whose authority was being invoked on sending one of the cruisers assigned to him, albeit a British cruiser, the Penelope, back to Naples.
There may have been a bit of "face" involved in the outcome. The actual "signal" to withdraw Penelope was rescinded. Nevertheless, HMS Penelope, HMS Orion with Rear Admiral Mansfield, and HMS Spartan, all left the area. On the beginning of the third day of the assault at Anzio, the heavy duty fire support ship remaining there was the USS Brooklyn, and her skipper, Captain R.W. Cary (yes, the skipper survivor on Savannah at Salerno) again became the gunfire support commander for Anzio. But, as it turned out, just for a day. The U.S. destroyers remained and two surviving British destroyers still in the northern support area remained available.
The following day, D+3, the 25th of January 1944, Rear Admiral Mansfield returned on HMS Orion and resumed duty as gunfire support commander. The weather on the the 24th had turned rough and windy. The British "Peter" force to the north completed its rerouting plan to the southern sector and came under Rear Admiral Lowry's command. Rear Admiral Troubridge RN who had commanded the Peter force landing operations to the north was now out of a job and returned to Naples. We are not finished yet with this naval command fluidity.
Not mentioned in the sources we have scoured for this story is the fact that while seaborne gunfire support at Anzio was never quite as pivotal as it was on that first day at Salerno, it was essential. To it, I can attest, was added the increasing mission of AA defense for ongoing supply operations for the beachhead. The German air force became a four month visitor, calling several times every day.
It was a term not used in World War II, but Rear Admiral Lowry experienced "mission creep". He faced an unremitting overhead challenge from the Luftwaffe. He needed longer range guns to support advancing troops. He asked for guns that could reach beyond his six inch cruiser gun barrel's range. He was told that no such firepower was available.
The VI Corps for the most part had outrun its naval artillery yet began experiencing incoming artillery of very large caliber. Units of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division reached the ridge before Cisterna on the 26th but the Germans now had portions of 10 divisions in the field heading for Anzio. By the 28th, the VI Corps positions were such that our naval gunfire support range could only help on the flanks. Edison provided gunfire to the right flank twice on the 28th. The whole effort was like a wind-up clock running down. Close in air support for our forces left much to be desired. The British 1st Infantry Division made it to, but could not take Campeleone. The U.S. 3rd Infantry got close to Cisterna. It is about here, about the 28th of January, that the Alban Hills as a goal, and the severance of road and railway between Campeleone and Cisterna, become grist for military debate. Recriminations about Generals Lucas, Clark and Alexander appear in analytical notes of the times. While all field personnel, including naval crews at sea, fought valiantly, it is my hindsight judgment that faulty objectives and the rapid turnover of command functions preordained Anzio for stalemate. Those two items were probably related.
The Allies committed two more U.S. divisions, the 45th Infantry Division and the 1st Armored, rather quickly, as it became apparent that we might have trouble defending what we had gained while abandoning the Alban Hills as an objective. German defense forces also contained General Clark's Fifth Army and Kesselring simply reshaped the Gustav line to wall off the Anzio assault forces, tying enough of them down so that he no longer had to worry about any Allied end runs. German long range artillery was brought in and Allied supply ships, and especially those my mind's eye can still see, the anchored Liberty ships, that replaced the endless landing ship supply train, occasionally had to abandon ship when the shelling of the harbor and roadstead became too heavy.
Loss of HMS Spartan and SS Samuel Huntington:
On the 29th of January, HMS Spartan, a beautiful British cruiser, went down right at the mole at Anzio, from a guided bomb hit which tore open vital compartments. Shortly after Spartan capsized, the Liberty ship Samuel Huntington was hit. These attacks took place just after sunset one evening as Edison crewmen looked on in horror. We were close to the Spartan when she was hit. Before I die, I would like to find out what mission required a naval warship like Spartan to be dead in the water, anchored or tied up or both, during a period when the Luftwaffe controlled the airspace. I can understand losing a ship underway which has had some chance to evade. I can understand a cargo ship being stationary while having to unload. The Huntington later was pulled out a short distance by a tug which gamely fought Huntington's fires. The Liberty was loaded with ammo and gasoline and had to be abandoned. She blew up and sank early the next morning.
Technology On Demand
Back on the U.S. homefront, the scientific resources of the United States, sometimes in cooperation with the British, turned out endless improvements in radar and in countermeasures. This went on in addition to complete weapon systems development, including aircraft and the A-bomb.
The National Defense Resources Council (NDRC) headed by Vannevar Bush provided an effective fast reaction capability. When the German or Japanese war machines seemed to score big with some new weapons, the NDRC could find and provide a countermeasure. Call it Applied Engineering. Their first task was to define the problem. The German acoustic torpedo was terrifying to any ship with rotating propellers. After a couple of ineffective tries, the scientists and engineers in NDRC came up with the very simple and effective FXR which when towed, emitted frequencies to decoy the torpedo. This was described earlier in this story. For their part, the British, whose gun stabilization was based on spirit levels (I could not believe this until I saw it) invested more effort in tactics development. They developed the "creeping attack", where two ASW vessels would conduct a joint operation to send a sub to the bottom..
At Anzio, the German radio-controlled ballistic bombs and the radio-controlled glider bombs were entering their prime period of use. German pilots practiced at Salerno and got in some telling blows. Admiral Lowry's action report stated that 70 "red" alerts occurred in the first ten days at Anzio and that 30 resulted in actual attacks. The most effective Luftwaffe tactic was the heavier type raid at evening twilight, when dive bombers, torpedo bombers and radio control "mother" plane bombers were used in combination. The Japanese had taught the Navy in the Pacific that a dive bomber pilot who intends to press his attack all the way home can only be stopped with a river of AA steel. The Luftwaffe pilots for the most part did not have that kind of dedication, but conventional bombing scored successes against us and helped to set our defending ships up for torpedo attacks and radio-controlled bomb attacks.
That radio frequency (RF) link is another area where U.S. countermeasures scientists and engineers decided to put their effort, and they did this on a very compressed time scale. I developed a fuller appreciation for this in an assignment after the war. In 1951, I was assigned as Project Officer for VX-2, an experimental squadron which flew F6F drone aircraft controlled from F8F fighter chase planes. The RF "carrier" frequency was the key to success or failure. When handing control over to ground control for landing the drone, we practiced a strict, "my carrier is off" so that ground control could then declare "my carrier is on". Having two carrier frequencies on at once would almost always cause the drone to go out of control. So, at Anzio, with our specially equipped destroyer escorts jamming the carrier link, the Luftwaffe mother plane would lose control and their missile would go astray. Another job performed with great effectiveness by the Herbert C. Jones or the Frederick C. Davis, whichever DE was on station at the time, (and one was always there through Anzio) was to listen in on the German pilot's voice radio frequencies. The voice intercepts enabled the "duty" DE to tell us when the German pilots were taxiing, when airborne, and when over the assault area, because they jabbered all the time. Very few "red alerts" at Anzio came by surprise. Anzio would have been much worse had we not had two specially equipped destroyer escorts on our side.
High Point, Low Point
By the 29th, between the beaches and the port, the Allies had landed almost 70,000 men from 200 LST-trips and seven Liberty ships. We had over 500 guns and over 200 tanks in the beachhead. The Rangers moved in the darkness of 29-30 January to Cisterna across an open plain. This was coordinated with advances by units of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division toward a vital highway and railroad track. The USS Edison participated in its last major Anzio shoot, getting off 336 rounds of 5" ammunition on the flanks, and earning the dispatch , "VERY EFFECTIVE. MANY ENEMY TROOPS KILLED BY YOUR FIRE. GOOD WORK." The British 1st Division moved toward the crossroad at Campeleone.
The Germans reacted in much greater force than our intelligence credited them with. At Cisterna, two Ranger battalions were surrounded and forced to surrender. The U.S. 3rd Division was forced back, the British 1st Division took heavy losses and an attempt by the newly arrived (in full strength) U.S. 1st Armored Division's tanks to swing around the front toward Rome became bogged down in soft, wet earth. Cisterna had been the high point, and it became the point where the Allies began to give up dearly won ground. The Germans would go on the offensive just a few days later.
Rear Admiral Lowry left in Biscayne of 1 February and on 2 February control of the SHINGLE ship area off Anzio passed to Rear Admiral Morse, RN. Lowry was left with his duties of preparing support convoys for Anzio. On 1 February, a milestone passed aboard Edison. Her Executive Officer, the upbeat and capable Lt. James Abner Boyd USN was relieved by Lt. Stanley Craw, USNR. I served many watches and during many Battle Stations with both of these great officers. I never saw "Jake" Boyd again and he has gone to his rest, but I will never forget his gracious treatment of every shipmate. Craw was the first of an increasing flood of distinguished reservists to attain the high post of XO of a DD in WW II. He continued his naval career as CO of several fine destroyers after WW II.
I am not sure if the Cisterna setback prompted it, but General Wilson, SACMED, declared 1 February as the end of the "first phase of the winter campaign." On 2 February, Rear Admiral Mansfield RN became more or less the permanent commander of escort, supply and naval gunfire support. A system of relieving naval gunfire ships with slightly rested ships from Naples set in. The Edison made many trips going and coming, with some very high speed trips to the beachhead when our troops ashore seemed threatened.
Many of these trips were made in company with the British cruiser, HMS Penelope, which became as much a friend to us as the USS Philadelphia had been earlier. This was never a milk run. Air attack was always just moments away, but again it was the deadly sub that hurt the most. We were not with Penelope when she was torpedoed and sunk on 18 February 1944 by a U-boat on the Naples-Anzio run between Ponza and Cape Circe. The Germans still owned this bit of shoreline and their lookouts could help their subs. We speculated later about whether Penelope had a destroyer or two escorting her (she did not), and also about whether our presence might have made a difference. U.S. commanders were religious about screening cruisers with good ASW tin cans, but sometimes the British would go off by themselves. As part of British force K in 1941 and 1942, consisting of two light cruisers and two destroyers, Penelope had an illustrious record in denying the Axis along the sea route between Italy and North Africa. Edison felt protective of all the ships she escorted, particularly Penelope.
For the way Penelope was revered by the crew of another U.S. destroyer, USS Ludlow, the quote below is from "Joining the War at Sea 1939-1945." It is in all editions. In the 4th Edition, Jan. 1, 2009, on pages 276-277, one finds the quote, from Ken Williams, torpedoman on the USS Ludlow, sent to author Franklyn E. Dailey Jr. in an e-mail 1/31/98: "Your speaking kindly of the HMS Penelope brought forth many kind thoughts of her. She was known as HMS 'Pepperpot' of Malta.Whenever I saw her, she invariably had holes from bomb or shell fragments in her stacks and guntubs.There was always a rivalry between us and the Brits; but there was admiration, too."
British Cruiser HMS Penelope
The Germans Counterattack
On the fifth of February, with a hundred tanks and nearly four hundred artillery pieces, about half of them over 105mm, General Eberhard von Mackensen started pounding the 3rd Infantry Division in their positions before Cisterna. The Germans used guns over 170mm to fire into the roadstead at Anzio. Another battle for Monte Cassino on the Fifth Army front was also heating up. After softening up Allied positions at Anzio on February 16, General Mackensen launched an all-out attack to drive the Allies back to the sea. With six Divisions, he drove back to within seven miles of Anzio. That was his high point. With the 1st Armored and the 45th Infantry Divisions leading the waves, General Lucas' VI Corps counterattacked. Naval gunfire was back within range. The flying weather cleared and Allied aircraft entered the fray in force.
By the 22nd of February 1944, General Lucas' VI Corps had repulsed the attacks, and the General then lost his job. He was replaced by Major General Truscott, his deputy. General Clark took this action in response to "pressure' from Alexander, and undoubtedly, Prime Minister Churchill, who had had some uncomplimentary things to say about Major General Lucas. On 29 February, the Germans tried one more attack, and failed, losing many soldiers killed and taken prisoner. The Anzio front stalemated until the May 1944 breaking of the Gustav line and the Germans began to retreat once again in Italy. The main European action scene shifted to Normandy and Western Europe.
During the long Anzio stalemate, the Edison finally made it back for overhaul at Bayonne, New Jersey. She needed a couple of side trips into the Brooklyn Navy Yard to replace her 5" guns and rebrick her boilers. The crew got some rest. Some of us got married.
Here are three last reminders of the days of the Italian campaign of World War II.
The first is an already faded AP photo printed in the Springfield (MA) Union of the 40th anniversary of the creation of a U.S. cemetery at Anzio.
The next photo is Ranger Carl Lehmann smoking in the foreground--Vesuvius smoking in the background. Note the Ranger flash on the left shoulder, the cut down leggings, and the light pack. Both facilitated speed-marching, at twice the infantry pace. The light pack also helped when you stepped off the landing craft when it was stuck on the second or third sandbar-you wouldn't go straight to the bottom. Another identifying feature is a Fairborne-Sykes fighting knife and scabbard tied to the right leg.
This next is a picture of Vesuvius taken from the USS Edison. Edison is in the Bay of Naples.
On waking one morning in 1944, the USS Edison crew discovered that Vesuvius had deposited a half inch of volcanic ash on the main deck.