by Jack W. Mills
On June 3, l944 we were loaded in trucks and headed for our ship to load for the invasion. (I am not certain about these times and can't say for sure). It took us about 30 hours to travel less that 20 miles. That was a miserable trip. The trucks would move about 20 feet and stop for awhile and then move another few feet, this went on for around 30 hours and they said the reason for the slow going was that the Germans were coming over at night and taking pictures of the coastline and by the trucks moving so slow it was made to look like that there was a convoy going to the harbor but it wasn't moving much if any but we finally got loaded on the LST "Landing Ship Tank". This is a ship that carries tanks and trucks, the front of it opened in the middle and each half swung outward like doors on hinges and then a ramp come down for the vehicles to go down on.
All our vehicles were waterproofed and could run under water, with only the exhaust and air hose sticking up. This wasn't a very successful undertakeing though because some of them drowned out anyway. The ship carried a large number of vehicles including tanks, trucks and personnel and was built to go in shallow water. It only needed about 3 feet of water to go in. It was stable enough in calm waters but rolled quite a bit in rough waters and that channel is rough.
We got under way about midnight of June 4th, 1944 and hadn't gone very far out and a bad storm turned us back. We left again the next night, I don't remember what time it was, on June 5, 1944 and this time we went on to rendezvous with others off the coast of France and laid up until daylight when we told that we would be loading on the LCP's to go in but for some reason we didn't go in until late in the afternoon The action of boats heading for the land was to have started about 06:30 AM.
During the night as we were anchored at our staging area, we had an air raid by the Germans and the ship we was on was shooting those Bofors ( a 4 barrel gun) and it was really spitting out those shells and the LST we were on got credit for knocking one plane down and it lay about 50 yards from us and burned. Our ship really done some backing away to get out of the light of that fire as it lay there and burned. We didn't see a pilot and I guess he was killed instantly when it hit or when his plane was hit. Our ship got credit for knocking it down. Those bofors were really spitting out the brass.
The first thing that we seen that morning when it got light was a dead sailor floating in his life jacket, he was heading out to sea and no one stopped to pick him up, I don't know what happened to him. He was standing upright in his lifejacket.
I was laying on top of a truck loaded with ammo with one of my buddies and he said we better get off this truck because it might get a hit. I ask him where we would go because if the truck went the entire ship would go because it was loaded with ammo and if it went the whole ship would go and there was no place to go so we just laid there on the truck.
We laid there in the water until the afternoon before we off loaded on the LCP boats and we went in and in the meantime before we off loaded, we watched a duel with a U.S.Cruiser or some such ship and German gun emplacement on land.
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Document Last Modified: Saturday, 01-Nov-1997 18:27:49 UTC