U5S LCT(6) 594

 

Ens Donald Eidemiller (268161) (D) USNR

 

The following is an attempt to recall the events that occurred while on duty as second officer on board USS LCT(6i 594 during and after "D-day - June 6.. 1944—invasion of Normandy - Utah Beach.

After departing the transport area,, which was located approximately eleven miles from the shore, LCT(6) 594 proceeded as the number three LCT in the starboard column heading for the Tare Green Sector of Utah Beach. The starboard column consisted of LCT's 592., 593., 594, and 595. A port column included LCT's 596, 597, 531, and 510 was headed for the Red sector of Utah Beach. Each of the above LCT's carried four duplex drive 'DD1 tanks, winch'. were to be launched originally 5000 yards from the beach and were scheduled to be on the beach prior to any other vehicle or bust.

At first daylight the Isle St. Marcouf was observed on our starboard hand, while overhead aerial combat was observed between a German and allied airplane. The German plane was seen to go down north of the island. Enemy shell fire commenced shortly afterward with projectiles exploding in the water nearby. P.C. 1261., a control vessel off our port beam, took a direct hit and started to sink as we proceeded toward the beach

Approximately one hour after leaving the transport area the LCTs' broke from the columnar formation to form a line abreast of each other. LCT (6) 594 veered to the starboard to take a position abeam the formation guide LCT 592. Before the manoeuvre was completed, LCT 593 which was about 150 yards on our port beam struck a mine The mine seemed to explode

near the bow of the LCT. The ramp, two "DD" tanks and the entire front

section of the craft was lifted clear of the water end then settled and sank shortly afterwards

No personnel or the other two tanks were seen in the aft section after the smoke had cleared.

 

As we continued toward the shore, the air bombardment of the beach by b26’s began. One bomber on the wlng formation was seen to explode and fall directly in front of our formation. The beach was obscured by smoke and dust caused by the bombardment. Upon arrival at the Line of Departure, approximately 4,000 yards from the beach, the port column of LCT's closed in off our port quarter to take station abeam of us. All eight LCT's then formed a line abreast, and prepared to launch tanks at the execution of the Preparatory Flag flown on board the control vessel PC 1176. However, Landing Craft Control (LCC) vessel *80 or *60 came along side and ordered our entire formation to move in close to the beach. During this time shells from the naval bombardment commenced, going overhead toward the fortification on the beach. At this time shell fire from the beach -was minimal. Approaching 900 - 1000 yards from the beach, we reformed our sine abreast formation, lowered the ramp and commenced launching our four "DD" tanks - ail tanks grounded properly and proceeded on their way to the beach.

As the tanks were being launched, the first wave of LCVP's came astern of us. LCTR's and LCG's on our starboard quarter began firing rockets toward the beach. As the LCVP's passed us, shell fire from the beach was again heavy but due to the poor visibility and the good Lord looking after us the LCT(6)594 came out undamaged. Upon completion of launching we

maneuverer out of the way of the oncoming waves (LCT 2310. 2402, etc.) which were the next group of LCT's heeding for the beach which by now was completely hidden from view by smoke and dust.

As we proceeded beck to the transport, area we carne upon LCT 597 which had struck a mine after it had launched its "DD" tanks. Survivors were being picked up by LCVP's. LCT(6? 594 moved to the transport area where we dropped the anchor and waited for an assignment to transport other units to the beach. Shortly after noon we off loaded trucks from LST 282 and took them to the beach. During the period of discharging the trucks onto the beach the LCT dried out.

While high and dry on the beach, two German ME109's strafed the beach immediately in front of us. Shrapnel struck the bow which superficially Bounded one crewmen Both of these aircraft were downed before reaching the southern end of Utah Beach. Late in the evening we retracted from the beach toward deeper water, where we dropped the anchor and watched an elaborate display of anti-aircraft fire attempting to down a German intruder. Early the next morning (D+1) we were awakened by the sound of a C47 ditching a short distance from our anchorage.

From D+1 to 0+12 we worked 12 to 18 hour days off loading a great variety of cargo ranging from troops., ammunition, rations, gasoline, vehicle, etc. On many trips from the beach to offshore ships we carried wounded Gl's. ROW'S civilians etc. During the late afternoon of D+12 (June 18, 1944) the weather changed to rain and the wind velocity increased. This type of weather prevailed for the next three days. Off loading of ships end movement to and

from the beach was terminated. Protected anchorage provided by sunken block ships was at a minimum. Many LCT's and other craft were forced onto the beach during the storm and suffered considerable damage. For a day and a

half LCT(b) 594 rode anchor until the cable parted. Rather than going onto

i

the beech and risk damage, we chose to be underway. After sometime of going around in circles, we tied to the stern of a small coastal steamer 'British) who was securely anchored. We remained moored to the stern of this vessel for over a day. The storm appeared to be weakening when the line to the vessel parted. LCT (6)  594 got under way and rode out the rest of the storm at sea.

LCT(6) 594 and all personnel continued working Utah Beach until Aug. 16. 1944 Returned to Plymouth. England for ten days of R and R. Ens. Keith Dixon USNR- Officer in Charge received orders to other duty. Ens D.I. Eiderniller took over command. LCT(6) 594 returned to Utah Beach on September 3. 1944 and remained there until Oct. 4, 1944; crossed Channel to Plymouth to be loaded on LSI 524 for return to the United States. December 27, 1944.

During the one hundred plus days we operated off Utah Beech, the personnel o'"! board the LCT(6) 594 in order to survive became self sufficient. We begged, borrowed and claimed anything that was not properly secured food--canned goods, fresh meat, etc. were obtained from Liberty ships. AKA's any any other vessels we were off loading. Fuel and water were acquired from fuel barges, Liberty ships, and from the beach an occasional 55 gal fuel drum was taken from supplies. A warm water shower was available on most Liberty ships. For several weeks clothes were not washed but replaced by new outfits taken from army supplies en route to the beaches. The LCT(6)

594 crew became well-seasoned cumshaw artists, supreme operators of midnight requisitions. I personally cannot remember any direction or assistance given to us by our flotilla commander or his assistants. On approximately the 50th day of operation. the Beach master and crew were in the process of cleaning up the beach and while on the beach, I too.

was included in the clean-up when ordered by a commander, USN to shave of our beards

In the latter part of July and early August 1944, two trips were made, one to Cherbourg to sample the wine, champagne and Calvados; the other to St. Lo, where the key battle for Normandy occurred.

 

 

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