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We're pleased to announce a new series of articles written by our historian Dave Bronson. The theme of the series is "That's the Way It Was ... 60 Years Ago" (with apologies to Walter Cronkite). These articles will describe LST-325's activities 60 years ago as she and her crew were preparing for, and then participating in, the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. We hope you'll enjoy them, and learn a bit more about LST-325's illustrious history.
Dave hopes to have a book on the LST-325 completed by the 60th anniversary of D-Day. It will be entitled Mosier's Raiders. We owe him a debt of gratitude for all he's done for the 325 and this website. Thanks, Dave!
LST-325's Crew in 1944
EARLY JUNE 1944
On the morning of June 2, the LST-325 moored to the Turnware hard and began loading aboard their combat load for the Normandy invasion. A total of 59 vehicles were loaded onto the main and tank decks, after which 31 officers and 408 enlisted men of the 30th Chemical Decontamination Company (5th Special Engineer Brigade) under the command of a Captain Moore, US Army, embarked onto the ship and began stowing away their gear and getting acquainted to their surroundings. Afterward, the LST-325 left the hard and moored out in Falmouth harbor, where that afternoon a pontoon causeway and a Rhino tug were brought alongside; the ship would tow these two craft to Normandy.
The following day a few last minute fire and general quarters drills were held for the crew, and additional medical supplies were received from the base. That evening a church service was held on the forecastle of the ship for all soldiers and sailors; attendance was much higher than usual.
At 0430 on June 4, the escort ships for the convoy of LSTs leaving from Falmouth stood out of the harbor and formed a screen to seaward. The LST-325 followed the LST-331, the flagship of the LST section, out past the boom gates at the entrance of the harbor and moved into her assigned position. However, at 0630 the order came from Falmouth to return to the harbor; due to the adverse weather conditions along the French coast the Allied Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, had made the decision to postpone the operation for 24 hours. By midnight the weather began to clear and the invasion was on.
At 0535, the LST-325 weighed anchor once more and moved out of the harbor and into her assigned position, directly behind the LST-331 in the center column of a three-column formation. At 0700 the LSTs and their escorts anchored to wait for a large group of ships, the bombardment group of the convoy, to clear out of the eastbound coastal channel that they were assigned to follow. The formation was soon joined by three more LSTs from Helford, and later by nine LSTs from Foway. The command ship for the invasion, the U.S.S. Augusta, departed from Plymouth and passed ahead of the convoy, now designated ECL-1, and signaled to the LSTs, "You look good."
All through June 6th the convoy moved slowly closer to the French coast, advancing at a speed of five knots. Throughout the morning large flights of Allied transport aircraft passed overhead ion both directions, and once daylight came the men aboard LST-325 could finally see the immense fleet that they were now part of. Echoes from the distant naval bombardment of the beachhead could be seen along the southern skyline, and flashes of artillery could be seen. Finally, at 1835, the convoy was ordered to re-form into a two column formation, and begin advancing through the narrow channel cleared of German mines to the invasion beaches. After midnight several star shells and flares could be seen off in the distance, at ships ahead of the convoy cme under attack by the German air force, but none approached the convoy.
At 0735 the French coastline came into view and soon the LSTs with orders to the Omaha Beach sector continued on while the ships bound for Utah broke away from the convoy. At 0943 the LST-325 dropped anchor off the Fox Red sector and three of the DUKW's onboard drove off the ship's open bow ramp and began making their way into shore. At the same time the Rhino Tug took the pontoon causeway under tow and also began heading towards the beach. The ship then moved closer in to the beach and disembarked the remaining DUKW's while the soldiers onboard began to load themselves into LCM's, DUKW's and LCVP's. This continued throughout the day, while casualties were brought out to the ship and treated by the medical teams onboard. Meanwhile the crew was kept busy supplying hot food and coffee to the exhausted crews of the landing craft that were moving back and forth between the ships anchored offshore and the beach.
After daybreak on June 8 the unloading continued until finally the last vehicles and men who disembarked at 1040. Additional casualties were evacuated to the ship, bringing the total on board to 38. Of those evacuated to the LST-325, three of them would die from their wounds. Two of the soldiers, Private Raymond Prince of the 116th Infantry, and Tech Sgt. J. McMurray of the 37th Engineers, would be taken back to Omaha Beach for burial; the third, Pfc. Thomas Legacy, 299th Engineers, would pass away before the ship reached Weymouth on June 9th.
The ship's trip to France would be repeated forty-three more times before the war came to an end, and they would make landings at each of the invasion beaches, Cherbourg, Le Havre, and up the Seine River. Two trips were made to the eastern side of the Cotentin peninsula carrying ammunition to the armies besieging Brest.
~ Dave Bronson
images for enlargements
Truck emerging from the tank
155mm "Long Tom" gun,
|This concludes Dave's mini-series of LST-325's preparations
for, and the invasion of Normandy during the year 1944.
Dave Bronson is the son of James Bronson, MoMM1, LST-325, 1943-1945.
Long before LST-325 was chosen as the LST Memorial Ship, Dave had begun
compiling research materials on the ship's and crew's histories.
A few years back, he assembled together several of his Dad's shipmates.
At that time, he conceived the idea of compiling his work into a book
Dave has been involved with the ship since its arrival. He has not only provided this series, but he has also served on our Steering Committee, wrote the ship's history for the website, and most recently he has published a definite and interesting history of the ship, "Mosier's Raider's: The History of LST-325." That book is now available on board the ship and through mail order via the book's website. The website itself contains many terrific pictures.
The story continues. Dave now literally walks in his father's
footsteps aboard LST-325. And he does so with the same honor
and sense of dedication. Many thanks, Dave!
PLEASE NOTE: These pictures are copyrighted by their respective photographers, most notably Stan Barish and Ted Duning. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without prior permission. To obtain permission, you can contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LST-325 loaded, 2 June 1944
Pre-invasion church service, 4 June 1944
Anchored off Omaha Beach,
and Lloyd Kurz examining
On May 1, the LST-325 sailed from Weymouth to Falmouth, where during the next few days the ship's crew received tetanus shots and the ship received over 200 cases of 40mm ammo from the LST-56. On the 7th the ship anchored in Falmouth Bay and conducted docking exercises with rhino ferries and small arms training was conducted for the crew. The intense training continued to gear up as the day for the invasion rapidly approached; on the 8th Lt.JG Stan Barish and a 32-man detail from the ship underwent fire-fighting training at the Falmouth Navy Base.
The ship moored alongside LST-338 up the Fal River at King Harry's Ferry on May 11, where the next day 22 replacements crew members reported for duty. At morning muster the next morning Lt. Mosier welcomed aboard the new shipmates.
On May 16th the ship returned downriver to the Falmouth harbor and moored to the hard at Turnware Point for loading exercise with the 336th Engineers and their DUKWs, or "Ducks", the Army's amphibious truck. While the exercise was underway the crew was issued the Army style gasmask in place of their Navy issue. Also drills in handling casualties, chemical warfare and 20 mm and 40mm gunnery instruction were held for sections of the crew not involved in the loading exercise.
On the 17th and 18th instructional films were shown to all hands on aircraft identification, operating the 20mm and 40mm guns, fire fighting, first aid, and damage control. More drills followed on the 19th as the crew went through GQ exercises for gas attack, fire, and abandoning ship.
The LST-325 left Falmouth on the 20th, accompanied by the LST-511, LST-391, LST-393, and LST-337, to the anti-aircraft gun range. The ship's exercised with their AA guns that afternoon, firing at target sleeves towed by Royal Air Force "Hurricane" fighter planes. They had been scheduled for more AA drills on the 22nd, but as the ships got underway that morning they received orders to stand down; the exercise had been cancelled.
On the 23rd the LST-325 returned to the Turnware hard, where a jeep and a truck were loaded onto the tank deck to have measurements taken in order to come up with the most efficient loading procedure for the ship's first load of vehicles for D-Day. Two days later the first Army vehicles that would make up the ship's initial Normandy load were brought onboard.
On the 27th the ship went into drydock to have the ship's bottom repainted and to have some modifications made to the bow doors. It had been found that sometimes when an LST was beached the outer bottom corner of the bow doors would get stuck in the sand and so a quick solution to that problem was to cut off the interfering corner.
During the night of May 30 German bombers attacked the harbor of Falmouth. All the ships anchored in the harbor went to battle stations as the guns ashore opened fire on the raiders, but were under strict orders to not open fire so that the Germans wouldn't be able to estimate the number of ships. During the raid, the Germans bombed the fuel depot near the town of Swanvale, setting it ablaze, and they also dropped parachute mines into the bay, which had to be cleared out by minesweepers the next day.
~ Dave Bronson
On April 2 the LST-325 arrived in Roseneath, Scotland, and unloaded the gear designated for the Navy base that had been brought from Londonderry, Ireland. The ship left early the next morning and,after sailing through dense fog, joined a southbound convoy for Falmouth, arriving there on April 5.
The LST-325 remained in Falmouth until April 15, completing the preparation and painting of the new magazines installed the month before in Ireland, and overhauling the generators and compressors.
On April 17 the LST-325, accompanied by the LST-332, the LST-315 and several merchantmen and escorts, arrived in Penarth, Wales, for further work on the main engines. On the 19th a team of 20 US Navy medical personnel and a Navy surgeon reported aboard the LST-325 for temporary duty during the invasion.
On the 24th the ship sailed to Swansea, Wales, via Penarth, Wales. After having their first practice drill with the newly added 20mm and 40mm guns, they moored to the hard at the Queen's Dock and began taking aboard Army vehicles of the 336th and 348th Engineers. They returned to Falmouth on the 28th and unloaded their cargo the next day.
It was during the early morning hours of the 28th that a group of LSTs taking part in the Operation TIGER training exercise was attacked off the coast of Devon by nine German torpedo boats. Fast and maneuverable, the German boats evaded Allied patrols that night and attacked the LSTs without warning. The LST-507 was torpedoed and the crew abandoned ship; LST-531 was torpedoed and sank within minutes. The LST-289 was able to open fire on the attackers but was also torpedoed, though they were able to get their crippled ship back to port. Casualties from the attack were high; a total of 198 sailors and 551 soldiers were killed or listed as missing.
~ Dave Bronson
LST-289 was heavily damaged
The LST-325 remained at Brixham until March 6, continuing with the loading exercises with the U.S. Army on the hard and out in Tor Bay offloading onto rhino ferries. On the morning of the 6th the LST-325, in convoy with the LST-388 and LST-392 and two British minelayer escorts, steamed to Plymouth. There they moored alongside the amphibious repair ship USS Adonis for an overhaul of the No.2 generator and to have work done on the air blowers and air clutches.
The repair work was completed by March 13, and the next day the LST-325 moved to the Turnchapel Hard and continued loading exercises with the U.S. Army until the 19th. On the 22nd they began unloading the ammunition for the 3-inch gun to the base Ordnance Department, in preparation for sailing to Londonderry, Ireland, for modifications to the ship's air defense weaponry.
On the 23rd the LST-325 got underway in company with the LST-337, joining a convoy of nine merchantmen and six escorts. When the convoy reached the entrance of Bristol Channel early the next evening, the two LSTs detached from the convoy. The following day the LST-325 parted ways from the LST-337 and continued independently on to Londonderry.
Upon mooring to the Lisahally wharf in Londonderry on the morning of March 25, the crew began transferring all the ammunition and pyrotechnics off the ship as the workmen from the base began removing the 3-inch gun from the stern gun tub. By March 31, an additional six 40mm gun, six 20mm and two ammunition magazines had been installed.
~ Dave Bronson
The LST-325 remained in Devonport until February 11th. On the 8th Commodore F. H. Newton held a conference aboard the LST-325 with the captains of LST-335, 371, 336 and 388, the LSTs that would be taking part in the exercises at Slapton Sands later in the month.
On the 11th the LSTs and the other landing craft and escort ships got underway for Dartmouth. On the 12th the LST-325 moored to the Brixham Hard, further up the Dart River, and began loading aboard soldiers of A Company, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division. These men would later be in the initial assault waves at Omaha Beach, suffering a terrible number of casualties. One of the platoon leaders who reported aboard this day was a young 2nd Lieutenant named Edward Tidrick. His fate was recorded by Stephen Ambrose in his book D-Day: The Climatic Battle of WWII. "On his boat, Lt. Edward Tidrick was first off. As he jumped from the ramp into the water he took a bullet in his throat. He staggered to the sand, flopped down near Pvt. Leo Nash, and raised himself up to gasp, "Advance with the wire cutters!" At that instant, machine gun bullets ripped Tidrick from crown to pelvis."
Also reporting aboard the LST-325 that day for temporary duty during the practice invasion was a naval medical officer, Lt. (jg) John F. Kincaid, a member of the 6th Navy Beach Battalion. Dr. Kincaid also went ashore at Omaha early on June 6th, but he survived the carnage that day. The LCI he was on was hit 25 times by German artillery, and he tended to the many casualties onboard the doomed craft even before he stepped foot on the beach. Dr. Kincaid was killed less than a year later, on the other side of the world, aboard a destroyer during the invasion of Okinawa.
On Valentine's Day the LST-325 took part in exercises at Slapton Sands, code named DUCK II. The soldiers onboard were loaded into LCVPs off the open bow ramp, and LCTs moored to the ramp to take their trucks and jeeps in to the beach. The LST-325 then returned to Dartmouth, where they remained through the end of the month, conducting loading exercises with various Army units on the hards at Brixham.
~ Dave Bronson
Photo taken by LST-325's
Engineering Officer Stan Barish
On January 2, the LST-325 set sail from Falmouth for Start Bay, off the Slapton Sands training center, along with LST's 373, 372, 400, 309, 157, 308, and several other landing craft that would take part in the maneuvers.
They dropped anchor off Slapton Sands before dawn on January 3rd; waiting there until all LSTs in the exercise received orders to proceed to the line of departure at 1300. From the LOD they beached on the White Beach sector, and the Army began unloading their trucks and jeeps. However, the fourth truck down the ramp stuck fast, despite the matting that had been placed over the soft sands in the unloading areas to keep the wheeled vehicles from sinking down. By the time the truck was clear and the rest of the vehicles on board were unloaded, the ship had been left almost high and dry on the beach and couldn't retract, despite making several attempts to do so. They had to wait until the tide returned that evening before the ship was able to retract from the beach and anchor offshore.
The next morning the LST-325 set sail with the rest of the flotilla for Plymouth, remaining there for the next couple of weeks preparing for the next practice invasion at Slapton Sands. On the 17th, Commander Newton (commanding officer of LST Flotilla 12, Group 35) and his staff came aboard the LST-325; the ship he would use for his flagship throughout the exercise.
On the 18th the LST-325 and the rest of the flotilla left Plymouth for Start Bay. Once again they were carrying soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division, as well as officers and men of the 2nd Naval Beach Battalion. During the two-day maneuver the troops were off-loaded into LCVP's and LCT's and taken ashore. Using simulated casualties from the 2nd Beach Battalion, the 325's sailors were exercised in various methods of bringing the wounded aboard ship.
During the afternoon of the 21st a couple of German aircraft paid a visit to the training area. General Quarters was sounded, but the Germans were just there to observe on this day and stayed well out of range. Following this intrusion, each ship was ordered to keep half of its guns manned from sunrise to sunset until the exercise was complete.
The exercise was scheduled to continue over the next several days, however a storm that hit the English coast on the 22nd eventually forced the cancellation of the rest of the maneuver. The ship then returned to Devonport on the 26th, remaining there for the rest of the month.
~ Dave Bronson
Conducting loading and unloading
At the beginning of December 1943, the LST-325 was in Falmouth, England, after arriving in Plymouth on November 25 (Thanksgiving Day). They had sailed with a large convoy of over 50 merchant and Navy ships from Oran, Algeria, battling submarines and German bombers that were using the new remote-controlled glider bombs along the way.
On December 3, the ship was moved into dry-dock, with the LST-356 moored astern of them. That afternoon they began a major overhaul of the ship's main engines and cleaning the ship's hull.
December 4th was one of the darkest days in the ship's history. Early in the pre-dawn hours one of the ship's crew, Gunners Mate 2nd Class David Lloyd George, was returning to the ship when he slipped on the edge of the dock, falling 40 feet to his death. George was the only sailor to lose his life while serving aboard the 325. He had been part of the ship's commissioning crew, and had served through the actions at Sicily and Salerno.
Deeply saddened by the loss of their shipmate, the crew continued their work. During this time, sections of the crew were granted 5-day leave periods, and most took advantage to see the sights of London.
The LST-325 came out of dry-dock on December 10, mooring in Falmouth Harbor until the 13th, when they sailed to make a test run of the engines. The ship traveled east along the English coast to Salcombe, returning to Falmouth on the 17th.
On the 22nd the ship moored to the hard in Helford, where soldiers and 47 vehicles of the 29th Infantry Division were loaded aboard. Once secured, the ship withdrew from the hard, proceeded out of the harbor before returning to the hard and unloading. They practiced loading and unloading the following day as well, before mooring out in the harbor until the 27th.
On the 27th the commanding officer of LST Group 5, Lt. Cmdr. Bailliere and his communications officer came aboard the 325 to observe loading and unloading maneuvers. The 325 anchored in the river while the LST's 309, 157, 372 and 382 each completed the maneuver in turn.
On New Years Eve the LST-325 again moored to the Helford hard, alongside the LST-400 (see photograph below). Once again they began loading aboard soldiers and vehicles of the 29th Division, this time under the command of Lt. Kennedy. Once all 306 soldiers and their 82 vehicles were safely secured aboard the heavily loaded ship, they withdrew from the hard and anchored in Falmouth Bay. These soldiers were aboard for the first of the series of exercises that were to take place off the shores of Slapton Sands, beginning in January 1944 and continuing up to the Normandy invasion.
~ Dave Bronson
LST-325 and LST-400, December