Narrative of Events
July 6th, 1943. D-4 Day. 1700 Monrovia (FF) weighed anchor. 1739 DIME Attack Force formed up. July 7th, 1943. D-3 Day. 1200 DIME Attack Force and Monrovia (FF) position Lat. 37° 10' 02" N., Long. 06° 23' 00"E. 1330 Second Section of DIME (NCF-1) sighted astern. 180 Britishv convoy KMF-18 sighted to Northward proceeding on converging course at slightly greater speed. The convoy drew ahead and entered Tunisian War Channel ahead. 2000 Position on Monrovia (FF) Lat. 37° 15' 40" N., Long. 07° 48' 45" E. July 8th, 1943. D-2 Day. 0800 Monrovia (FF) position Lat. 37° 11' 02" N., Long. 10° 42' 00" E. 0940 Monrovia (FF) passed Cape Bon. 1200 Monrovia (FF) position Lat. 36° 39' 05" N., Long. 11° 05' 07" E., course 210°, speed 12.7 knots. (Average speed for 264 miles -- 11 knots.) Zig-zag Plan No. 10. 2155 Murphy made SS contact and attacked. 2208 Explosion suggests probability of successful U-boat attack. July 9th, 1943. D-1 Day. 0800 Monrovia (FF) position Lat. 33° 52' N., Long. 13° 34' E., speed 14 knots, zig-zag Plan No. 10. Wind and sea changed to westward and increased to Force 3. 1100 Boise, Savannah, Brooklyn, and Birmingham joining formation. Wind and vsea making up. Wind recorded as Force 4/5. CTF 86 reported difficulties with LCT stragglers. 1600 Wind recorded as Force 6. 1630 Gozo (Malta) sighted by Monrovia. 1645 Wind is judged to be Force 6/7. Wind force has set LST and LCI(L)'s to Southward and Eastward. LCT's slowed considerably. 1932 CTF 86 authorizes expenditure of up to 80% of ammunition on railway batteries located on the mole at Licata. JOSS sweepers directed to cancel sweeping operations until daylight of D-Day. 1940 Birmingham & Brooklyn, with escorts, joined JOSS formation and were directed to steer directly for submarine reference vessel at 61/2 knots made good. 2220 JOSS sighted flares, gun and bomb flashes from beach on starboard bow. 2230 Wind lessened to approximately Force 4. 2235 CENT Force sighted flashes, fires and flares toward beaches. 225 CENT Attack Force turned off to approach transport area. 2300 AA fire, flares and fires on beach, as a result of bombing attack, sighted by all Attack Forces. Licata, Gela and Scoglitti afire, great amount of AA clearly visible. 2308 Samuel Chase (FF of DIME Attack Force) reports sighting light from beacon SS, HMS Shakespeare.
2316 Commander CENT Attack Force reports sighting SS beacon, HMS Seraph. Searchlights off beaches observed. Air beacon ashore sighted. 2325 JOSS reported sighting Queen reference light. 2337 JOSS reported sighting Charlie reference light. Speed decreased. 2359 CTF 86 released Gaffi and Molla Attack Groups and directed them to proceed to their assigned transport areas. July 10th, 1943. D Day. 0040 Western Task Force arrived at assigned areas. Searchlights from shore occasionally seek out our movements but Ancon (FF CENT Attack Force) anchored. 0044 Moonset.
DIME Force in position in transport and gunfire support areas. JOSS Force sighted Blue reference vessel light.
0050 All Attack Forces adjusting positions. JOSS Force sighted Yellow reference vessel light. 0100 Sea gone down, wind now recorded at Force 3/4. 0115 JOSS LST's began lowering landing craft. 0142 CTF 86, in Biscayne, anchored midway between Blue and Yellow reference vessels and about 21/2 miles off beach, Licata bearing 127°. 0155 Biscayne illuminated by 3 searchlights from shore. 0204 JOSS Attack Groups anchoring. Reported as being too far out, requiring longer run for LCVP's. First waves left rendezvous area for JOSS Blue Beach. 0215 First wave from DIME Attack Force (Ranger Battalion) leaves for the beach. JOSS LST's arriving late. 0239 CTF 85 reports his H-hour will be delayed one hour at request of Commander Transports. 0243 NCWTF orders CTF 85 to land as soon as possible. 0245 H-Hour. MG and medium artillery fired from beaches as first waves landed. Support craft fired rockets at batteries. DD's fired at searchlights. Enemy air force mobile beacon near Scoglitti still operated for their own returning aircraft. Coastal towns silhouetted by fires proved considerable aids to navigation. Ranger Battalion and first waves of First Inf. Div. landed by CTF 81. CTF 86 landed first waves. Surf reported as 3 ft. high. 0246 CTF 85 directed H-Hour postponed to 0345. Philadelphia ordered to shoot out air beacon at that time. 0250 CTF 86 reported 5 searchlights illuminating Biscayne and other vessels and beaches. No fire was noted from beaches however. 0255 Swanson & Roedamaged in collision in the JOSS Attack area, requested permission to proceed Malta. 0300 Savannah & Boise firing at shore batteries and searchlights. 0315 First waves of LCVP's landed on JOSS Blue Beach. 0330 CENT DD's bombarded beaches. Support boats opened rocket barrage. 0335 All TF 81's initial landing completed. 0343 Buck ordered to replace Swanson & Roe in JOSS Fire Support Area No. 1 and support troops landing at Red Beach. 0345 CENT Attack Force landings begun. 0354 First boat waves of CTF 85 landed at assigned beaches encountering no opposition. 0400 First light. Savannah & Boise opened fire on prearranged targets. CTF 85 ordered HMS Abercrombie to lie off transport area until dawn. CTF 86 reported continuous artillery and MG fire on JOSS Red Beaches and approaches. 0424 ME 109's, JU 88's and Italian Fighter-Bombers dropping flares and attacking CENT Attack Force Area. 11 enemy dive-bombers attacking Philadelphia & Jefferson. Cruisers launched spotting planes. Savannah & Shubrick engaged and silenced several enemy batteries.
0433 Air attack now over JOSS area as well as CENT. 0440 All Attack Forces report successful landings. Beaches and landing craft strafed by enemy fighter-bombers and JU 88's. Severe gunfire reported on JOSS Red Beach. 0448 Gen. Middleton (C.G. 45th Inf. Div.) reports "Elements from all assault battalions of CENT Force have landed. Everything appears to be going well". 0450 Sentinel damaged by bomb hit during dive-bombing attack in JOSS area. 0455 All initial CENT landings completed, generally unopposed due to effect of preliminary shore bombardment. 0458 Maddox hit and sunk by bomb in DIME area. 0501 Our fighters engaging enemy air units over CENT. 0510 DIME Force reports all initial landings successful against light opposition, with exception of Yellow Beach.
Sentinel received several near misses from repeated bombing attacks on JOSS area.
JOSS Red Beach Beachmaster cautioned CTF 86 not to. land LCT's due to severe shell fire in that sector.
0512 Swanson in southern part of JOSS area attacked by a ME 110 but destroyed the plane by her AA at 2000 yds.
JOSS shipping area bombed by enemy aircraft.
0515 Spitfire fighter cover arrived. 0520 Our fighters and cruiser spotting planes shot at by our own AA. Enemy air attack on JOSS beaches. JOSS Fire Support Group completed prearranged firing at selected targets. 0535 Shore batteries opened fire on Biscayne in JOSS area. Fire returned by Biscayne on town of Licata. LCT's enroute to Red Beach are held up by CTF 86 until reduction of enemy gunfire. 0600 Unloading shuttle service in CENT started. DIME's sweepers commenced sweeping inside the 10 fathom curve. 0630 C.G. 3rd Inf. Div. reports from JOSS area progress satisfactory on Blue Beach, more landings underway at Green Beach, two battalions already ashore on Red Beach. LCT's enroute from JOSS area delayed by weather, expected in CENT and DIME areas shortly.
Transdiv 7 moved in to new anchorage 5000 yards off CENT beaches.
0641 Buck ordered to execute rapid fire on specified target until further notice. USS Savannah & Shubrick ordered to destroy enemy shore battery in DIME area which has just opened fire.
Brooklyn & Boise in JOSS area, commenced firing in effort to neutralize Artillery fire on Red Beaches, mortar fire now falling in that sector.
0700 DIME situation report is that 16th RCT has reached its phase line and 1st Inf. Div. Command Post established. No opposition since 0400 except that met by the 26th RCT. No word from Ranger Battalion since landing and moving inland.
DIME Transports began moving in toward beach.
Landing craft going in on DIME Red 2 and Green 2 beaches. DUKW's being dispatched.
CTF 81 sweeping inshore preparatory to moving transports in closer to his relatively secure beaches.
Brooklyn & Boise, together with HMS LCG(4), firing on artillery near JOSS Red Beach, succeeded in silencing all enemy fire in that sector. LCT's directed to land regardless of cost.
0710 Enemy batteries shelling DIME beaches near Gela with accuracy; Blue Beach is mined and some causalities have occurred there. LST's in JOSS area moving inshore under cover of smoke screen.
Intermittent fire by cruisers and destroyers on shore defenses.
0732 HMS Abercrombiebegan firing on CENT inland targets. 0742 Trans div 5 moved in to 5000 yds. off CENT beaches. Woolsey & Nicholson laid smoke screen on JOSS Red Beach. 0800 Brooklyn ordered to fire on medium range targets in JOSS area for 10 minutes.
Boise's scouting plane reports enemy activity near their target. Fire is intensified. Buck assigned new enemy gun emplacement as target. Hopi (Salvage), and 4 satellite YT's report to CTF 81 for duty. JOSS Red Beach cleared of enemy fire. Opened for landings. 0826 C.G. 45th Inf. Div. goes ashore as all his landings in the CENT area are successful.
Boise & Jeffers took advancing German tanks under fire in DIME area. Shubrick takes another tank column in the same area under fire.
0840 Enemy shelling of town and pier at Licata makes JOSS landings there difficult. All other landings in that sector satisfactory, resistance being overcome and objectives taken. 0900 Enemy tanks are spotted in DIME area heading in general direction of Gela. 0919 DIME reports situation at Yellow and Blue beaches as very bad due to enemy land mines. Casualties being evacuated to transports by ship's boats. Traffic in this area to-be sent to Red 2 beach until others are cleared. 0940 Boise & Savannah ordered to seek out and silence enemy artillery which is accurately shelling DIME Red 2 Beach. 0945 NCWTF orders that disposition of cruiser spotting planes be reported in advance so that our fighters can give them protection against anticipated enemy air attacks. 1000 CENT Yellow Beach reported unsatisfactory. 1005 NCWTF orders Boiseto keep advancing enemy tanks under fire as they are presenting a threat to our Gela beachhead. CTF 86 is asked if he can spare a cruiser from JOSS area to reinforce Boise in DIME. 1010 Enemy artillery fire on DIME Red 2 Beach too accurate and craft are temporarily diverted from landing there. Stores piled on the beaches are being hit as well as craft. 1020 The transports Orizaba and Chateau Thierry, together with the craft of the KOOL Attack Force, are ordered closer in shore to anchorage near DIME transports. 1030 DIME'S Red 2 Beach again opened for landing craft. Blue Beach still being cleared of mines.
Eleven LCT's from CTF 86 report to CTF 81 for duty.
The number of enemy tanks (now believed to be part of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division) advancing in Gela area is believed to be 30.
ComTransDiv 7 directed to proceed to CENT beaches to accelerate salvage of beached boats.
1035 CTF 85 offered Abercrombie to CTF 81. 1050 The Sentinel, hit more than 5 hours ago, goes down. CinCMed advised all commands that 150 troop-carrying aircraft would be over JOSS area between 2200 & 2230. 1100 Gen. Truscott, C.G. 3rd. Inf. Div. (plus Rangers) in the JOSS area reports "30th infantry secured Poggio di Lango at 0636 and Gallodoro shortly after. The 15th Inf. hold the area NE of Licata. The 'Green Force' hold Castle Aqua while the 7th Inf. positions are uncertain. Unloading proceeding satisfactorily."
Shelling of DIME'S Gela and Red 2 Beach has started again while cruisers proceed to locate the source.
1125 All CENT beaches satisfactory except Yellow. 1150 Gen. Truscott adds to his report by stating that our forces established four beachheads and moved into the outskirts of Licata within 3 hours. The town is virtually taken and all operations are going "magnifiCENTly" despite delays due to the sea-storm on the approach last night. "Shooting honors", he says, "go to the Navy's cruiser which destroyed remaining enemy batteries." Air Cover was tops and causalities light. 1155 Gen. Bradley, C.G. of the II Corps in the CENT area, reports operations "proceeding according to plan" although he has received no further word regarding the Parachute troops or Rangers since initial landings. 1212 DIME's Blue and Yellow beaches now cleared of mines and reported ready to accept craft and vehicles. 1259 West gate of Licata harbor now open. 1320 JOSS Beaches being strafed by ME 109's. Little damage. Planes also strafed CENT & DIME beaches.
1325 CTF 86 urgently requests fighter cover as enemy bombers and fighter bombers are again over JOSS area. 1335 It is reported that three of our cruiser's SOC spotting planes have already been shot down. Enemy air attack on JOSS shipping and beaches. 1350 Army Intelligence reports large enemy MT convoy moving southeast from Piesi at 0730 this morning while 3 smaller columns moving south from Barra Franca. Unloading of transports is slowing down. 1415 Scoglitti, the CENTral target of the CENT assault, was occupied by our force. "Hit-and-run" raids by FW 190's and ME 109's continued sporadically on all beaches. Spitfire, coming in on a forced landing near CENT area, was accidentally shot down in flames by LST. 1430 The 1st Inf. Div. in DIME'S Gela area was still encountering difficulties and the KOOL Attack Force was ordered to land on DIME beaches and to remain as Army reserve force. NCWTF warned Flagships and cruisers that our fighter protection is primarily for shipping and beaches. If spotting planes wish to avail themselves of this protection, their flights must conform to fighter schedules, arranged through NCWTF Flagship. Reasonable protection can be afforded within 5 miles of our own area or coast line. Enemy dive-bombers raid DIME beaches. 1530 CinCMed arrives in area and exchanges signals with NCWTF. CinCMed advises of successful landings of British in the East and congratulates NCWTF on "competing so successfully with weather and other difficulties". NCWTF reports need for all practicable air support. 1535 CTF 85 reported situation as of 1450; Scoglitti taken. Our forces were 2 kilometers West of Vittori at 1215. There is heavy fighting where the railway and Comiso road come together. CG 45th Inf. Div. is taking energetic measures to determine situation and whereabouts of certain units not heard from since landing. Casualities have been generally light in personnel and equipment. 45th Inf. Div. expects to reach planned line by dark. Two spotting planes have been shot down. The bulk of his troops and equipment are unloaded. CG II Corps reports situation, and adds that quality of .enemy coastal defense troops is poor. 1547 High level bombing attack on CENT & DIME transport areas. 1605 Town of Licata, in JOSS area, is captured. Our tanks in that area are ashore and moving north. JOSS forces all proceeding well. CENT forces, encountering more difficulties, also doing well. 1632 HMS Prince Charles & Prince Leopold having unloaded all personnel, were detached and proceeded to Malta.
DIME Forces still having most trouble due to strong enemy tank, artillery, and air attacks.
1700 KOOL Force commenced to land on Gela beaches. 1753 CTF 85 ordered Transdiv 3 proceed toward assigned anchorages off Scoglitti and abandon their assault beaches. New beaches lie 2000 yds. northwest of Scoglitti. 1800 NCWTF orders CL's and DD's to remain underway during the night as protective screen for transports against enemy air, surface or submarine attacks. LCT's are ordered to debark troops from the transports Orizaba and Chateau Thierry, as soon as possible. 1810 Enemy air attack on JOSS Blue Beach. 1815 CTF 81 advises that only Red 2 Beach in DIME is really suitable for LST and reemphasizes need for additional fighter cover. More mines are discovered on Blue and Yellow beaches and they are closed again. 1835 DIME beaches and transports attacked by enemy bombers. LST 313 hit and afire. LST 312 damaged. McLanahan shot down one enemy plane. 1845 Army requested Navy provide transportation for 2500 Prisoners-of-War to North Africa. 1900 CTF 81 reported slowness of unloading largely due to shore parties not working efficiently.
1930 CG 1st. Inf. Div. reports being subjected to 2 hours continuous dive bombing and requests more fighter cover. LST in DIME gets direct hit from "hit and run" raider and is burning. NCWTF directed CTF 86 to send as many LCM's and LCT's as were available from JOSS to assist in landing at DIME and CENT beaches. 2130 Additional fighter cover was recommended for all beaches at first light. JOSS turnaround convoys started as Port Licata was rendered operational. 2135 CTF 86 reported that all but one beach and one pontoon causeway were operative, despite difficulties of enemy air attacks and exposure to choppy seas. 2145 NCWWTF orders all available craft to continue unloading of ships at maximum speed all through the night. 2150 Combatant ships intensify efforts to neutralize enemy counter attacks near Gela which are driving our troops back toward the beaches. 2215 CG 1st Inf. Div. requests reinforcement of tanks, This should be supplied by reserves This should be supplied by reserves landing as KOOL forces. 2225 CENT shipping undergoing enemy air raid. One JOSS newly-improved Yellow beach. 2245 Enemy Raiders bombing DIME transport area. 2252 Enemy aircraft attacking JOSS shipping. 2300 LST receives direct hit from divebomber in JOSS area. CTF 85 reports that surf and wind have caused considerable damage to LCVP's in CENT area. 2350 Tank reinforcements from KOOL not yet ashore in force and CG 1st. Inf. Div. signals again urgently. CTF 85 orders debarkation of all heavy guns and ammunition on the South end of CENT Yellow Beach. July 11th, 1943. D+1 Day. 0128 Birmingham directed to furnish fire support at daylight for Army reconnaissance West of Licata. AFHQ Malta reports air cover for July 11 same as for July 10. CTF 85 directed transports conCENTrate on unloading in order to be completed by sunset of 12th. Further ordered prospective minefield area swept for enemy mines. 0245 NCWTF congratulated LCT's and urged increased effort to unload transports before expected rough weather returns tomorrow. 0300 45th Inf. Div. troops are reported to be a mile from Vittoria and will attack Comiso airport this morning. 0500 CTF 81 ordered change in fire support DD's. The Shubrick is relieved by the Butler and the Jeffers by the Glennon. 0506 CENT transport area bombed in enemy air attack. 0530 Biddle collided with LST 382--Minor damage. 0554 CENT beaches congested and lack of vehicles to remove stores reported. 0635 DIME transport area attacked by about 12 dive-bombers and fighter-bombers. Near miss on Monrovia (FF). The transport Barnett hit; forward magazine flooded; fire in No. 1 hold under control.
The transport Orizaba is also damaged. She suffers 6 holes above water line, electric and gyro cables leading to the bridge are cut. The transport Dickman also slightly damaged by near miss.
0645 Enemy air raiders past. CTF 81 orders all ships to stand-by to get underway as new attack appears to be developing. 0730 Eight formations of 6 planes each were plotted as heading towards DIME. JOSS Yellow Beach was bombed by 3 aircraft. No damage.
NCWTF directed CTF 86 to send all available LCT's to land KOOL Force at DIME.
0735 Fighter cover arrived and dispersed enemy attackers over JOSS after quick bombing and strafing raid on beaches completed. 0810 JOSS shipping again being raided by 6 aircraft. LST-158 received a direct hit and is burning. 0820 Savannah reported loss of all its spotting planes.
0833 Convoy NCS-1 consisting of 7 Liberty Ships, Minediv 50, Desron 7 (less Mayo) stood into DIME area. 0913 Licata and adjacent beaches in JOSS area bombed by enemy aircraft. Little damage. 0915 CTF 81 reported his resources for reinforcing Shore Party exhausted. Suggested alternative is withdrawal of soldiers from front to assist in unloading. Cruisers and DD's cruise close inshore in Gela area firing salvos into enemy positions. 0937 CinCMed orders Operation "FRACTURE", the diversionary raid, advanced twenty-four hours to tonight, 12th. Minor alterations added; Force "H" is to supplement the demonstration. 1012 Enemy artillery and tanks commenced firing on transports, Liberty ships and beaches. Fire support ships took enemy tanks and guns under fire and silenced them. 1055 Salvage ships report salvage operations impossible on DIME beaches due to enemy's fire. 1135 NSWTF embarked in Steady to visit JOSS area. 1140 Abercrombie made available by CTF 85 to CTF 81 for bombardment of Gela sector with 15" guns. Defensive minefield seaward of DIME area was being laid as planned. 1200 At CinCMed's request, NCETF sends AA cruiser, HMS Colombo, to NCWTF to reinforce AA protection of anchorage. 1204 JOSS beaches strafed by enemy aircraft. 1225 NCWTF arrived JOSS area as it received new "hit and run" bombing raid. 1228 30 enemy tanks advancing in valley back of Gela. Warships again called on by Army to render gunfire support. 1245 NCWTF went aboard USS Biscayne in JOSS Attack Force Area to confer with CTF 86. 1321 NCWTF ordered sailing of CTG 80.5, Orizaba, Chateau Thierry, and escorts to Bizerte in accordance with plan. Escorts to return immediately JOSS reported force as now being about 75% unloaded. More sneak air raids are made on all beaches at periodic intervals. 1400 Loaded boats being turned away from CENT beaches because of congestion and lack of personnel to unload boats. 1415 AFHQ advises that all available air assistance is being given even to extent of drawing cover from other sectors. Raiders bombing DIME shipping. Stuka dive bombers on JOSS Red Beach. 1422 Raiders over CENT transport area. 1445 NCWTF returned to Steady and proceeded down coast, past DIME, towards CENT area. 1500 NCWTF signals "Well Done" to CTG 80.5 for his good work in laying anti-submarine minefield. 1510 Savannah requested CTF 81 notify all ships that our own tanks are now engaged in battle and care should be taken to distinguish friend from enemy. 1535 Approximately 18 twin-engined enemy bombers attack DIME transport area. Some pass on to JOSS area. Little damage. 1545 CTG 80.4 reported inability due to weather to operate as originally planned on the left flank of assault, requested permission to operate tonight (this sugggests CinCMed's orders for "FRACTURE" not received.) 1546 DIME area attacked by approximately 16 FW 200 and Heinkel 111 bombers and 6 to 8 fighters. Fighters in low, strafing beaches, bombers made high-level attack on shipping. Several fires started on beaches. Robert Rowan, a Liberty ship loaded with ammunition, is hit and is afire. Several near misses on other vessels. One aircraft believed shot down. 1550 Salvage group ordered to assist Robert Rowan. 1555 Comiso airport in CENT area is reported captured by our forces. 1600 Samuel Chase (FF of DIME Attack Force) reported antenna is shot away. Radio transmission will be delayed half-hour. 1603 17 hostile aircraft plotted as shipping in JOSS area is bombed. Robert Rowan is abandoning ship. All vessels adjacent to Robert Rowan ordered to stand clear.
1630 NCWTF goes aboard Ancon (FF of CENT Attack Force). More enemy bombing raids over DIME and JOSS areas. No serious damage.
Command CENT transports directed to site all pontoon causeways at newly marked CENT beaches 2000 yds. NW of Scoglitti and unload remaining LST's there.
1652 Boats now landing at CENT beaches without trouble but delayed by shortage of Shore Party personnel to handle cargo. 1700 Robert Rowan blows up; flames visible for miles. 1721 13 enemy tanks headed towards Gela beach. McLanahan attempted to sink Robert Rowan by gunfire in order to extinguish flames. 1739 Laub reported 4 tanks destroyed in CENT area by naval gunfire. 1830 NCWTF returned aboard Monrovia. 1850 Our paratroops broadcast their position on captured German transmitter. They are well inland, have 200 prisoners and await orders. 1915 CTF 85 reports Ragusa airfield has fallen to us. Seven of CENT transports should be unloaded by midnight. Supplies moving across beaches, and inland to 45th Inf. Div. near Vittoria. CTF 85 advised C.G. 11 Corps that boats were held up at beaches due to lack of unloading personnel. Boats were being told to wait off beaches 3 hours. 1940 CTF 81 reports positions of our troops in Gela sector. He expects all but three of his transports and cargo vessels to be ready to sail for Africa tomorrow. Straffing and "intruder" air attacks have continued all day. Robert Rowan in too shallow waters to sink; this fire proves to be brilliant beacon to attacking aircraft. NCWTF orders CTG 80.4 (Diversion Group) not to deviate from CinCMed's plan. Malta advised NCWTF that fighters will patrol areas through the night. 2000 ME 109's attacked CENT shipping. COWIE advised bombs dropped. 2130 Enemy submarine contacted on East flank of CENT Force. Screening group dealing with it. 2155 Approximately 15 enemy aircraft attacked DIME Attack Force transport area; they dropped flares and bombs but no hits recorded. Several near-misses. Enemy also attacked convoy from JOSS just after departure from Licata for Bizerte. No hits. 2205 JOSS shipping being bombed by enemy aircraft. Flares also dropped. No hits. Some near misses. Four bombs straddle Birmingham; one lands close aboard Brooklyn. 2216 DIME area again attacked by aircraft dropping flares and bombs. Robert Rowan still burning brightly.
Torpedo planes reported attacking on West flank. Murphy and McLanahan report near misses but no damage.
2220 New air attack developing but is dispersed by arrival of night fighters. 2230 Gela airfield reported as ready for use. Licata to be ready by dawn. 2234 Air raid over all transport areas. Flares and bombs dropped. No damage. 2250 CENT transport area attacked but enemy aircraft driven off by night fighters. JOSS AA fire breaks up attempt to attack shipping in that area. 2300 SS reported at 2130 attacked and damaged by British MTB. Attempts to lay smoke screen in order to remove glare on transports from blazing Robert Rowan ineffectual due to wind conditions. 2310 Artillery batteries in CENT area opened fire; "hit-and-run" air attack made direct hit on CENT beach starting large fire. Attack developing in force. One enemy plane shot down. 2330 Our night fighters again overhead to disperse threatening attack. NCWTF orders transport areas swept tomorrow for mines possibly dropped by planes during night.
All ships were reminded of recognition signals to be shown by our troop transport planes tonight.
2335 CTF 85 reported 2 hostile planes shot down in his area three miles off Scoglitti. Planes over DIME area. 2345 Reports arrived of our airborne troops landing in JOSS and CENT areas. One of our aircraft is down in JOSS area. Number of unidentified bombers headed towards CENT.
CG 3rd Inf. Div. requested CTF 86 provide cruiser and 2 DD's for fire support at daylight, 12th July, on town of Agrigento and road to Palma de Montechiaro.
CG 1st Inf. Div. reported bombing of DIME area. Damage heavy and costly. More fighter protection needed. RAF reports night fighters turned back at least 3 attacks in Western Attack Force area.
CTF 85 cancelled departure of CENT transports this evening.
NCWTF directed CTF 85 Jto transfer 20 LCM's with crews and spare parts to CTF 81.
Craft are to be used to assist DIME unloading, then transferred to JOSS.
Two hostile planes shot down in CENT area during air raid.
July 12th, 1943. D+2 Day. 0042 CTF 81 reported that all but 10% of his unloading was completed and that, despite as much as three hours delay in unloading boats on the beaches, seven transports will be ready to sail tonight, the 12th. 0146 The Army reported that of the 50 tanks attacking the DIME and KOOL Forces around Gela, 13 were destroyed during the day. The remainder withdrew at 2235 last night. 0347 Admiralty advises that at 1840, on the 11th, German aircraft were informed in plain language that Gela was occupied by German troops.
Gen. Truscott, in the JOSS area, advised that the situation is considered so satisfactory there that he is able to send assistance to DIME if required.
0300 HMS Princess Charlotte and Princess Astrid, with Army personnel aboard, stood into DIME area. 0431 NCWTF advised all ships that almost continual fighter air cover will be available today over CENT and DIME. 0511 Repeated warnings not to fire on friendly planes overhead are sent by NCWTF. 0526 CENT transports reported unloading progressing very slowly. 0618 Gen. Eisenhower, aboard HMS Petard, arrived in the Attack area. 0630 Gen. Eisenhower came aboard Monrovia and was greeted by NCWTF. 0715 Gen. Eisenhower left Monrovia to go ashore. 0747 Dispatch received reveals 24 of our own troop transport planes shot down during last night. The majority are said to have been brought down by our own and Army AA guns ashore. 0755 Gen. Eisenhower left the Western Task Force area. 0845 1st Inf. Div. captured Ponte Olivo airfield. 0915 Herndon relieved Glennon as fire support DD in DIME Fire Support Area 2. DIME LST's, with escorts, sailed for Bizerte.
CENT reported unloading completely blocked by failure to clear beaches and unload boats. Only 4 CENT transports unloaded.
1000 HMS Colombo, AA cruiser, reported to NCWTF and is directed to anchor off Gela mole and provide AA protection. 1150 Chief of Combined Operations (Vice Admiral Mountbatten) arrived aboard Ancon from HMS Lamerton for conference with NCWTF.
Enemy division reported by reconnaissance as moving south.
1253 A signal from CTF 85 to CTF 86--"Accordance verbal instructions yesterday of NCWTF I am unloading combat loaders with LST, LCI(L) and LCT(5)'s. This will delay use of my craft for shuttle convoy. Pontoons being shifted to new beaches 1 mile north of Scoglitti at request of CG II Corps." 1300 CTG 80.4 reported that signal from CinCMed regarding "FRACTURE" not received in time. Diversion Group operated independently in another area and request permission execute TG 80.4 part of "FRACTURE" tonight.
Situation ashore infinitely better today. Our forces now moving forward on all fronts and enemy's counter attacks near Gela frustrated.
DIME transports completed unloading.
1400 CTF 86 received direction proceed to Gela and assume general charge of DIME and CENT, as well as JOSS, activities.
1404 Chief of Combined Operations left Monrovia. 1530 NCWTF ordered execution of his Operation Plan No. 3 providing for return of transports. HMS Abercrombie remaining in assault area to aid cruisers and DD's in gunfire support. 1545 HMS Princess Charlotte and Princess Astrid cleared DIME area after round trip to Africa day ahead of schedule. Permission is requested for them to proceed to JOSS to locate some missing British landing craft. 1555 CTF 86 in Biscayne anchored off Gela to assume charge of all Naval Attack Force areas. 1600 NCWTF notified all commands that he is sailing his Flagship, Monrovia, with the transports tonight in order to eliminate as many vulnerable targets from area as possible. He is shifting his Flag to McLanahan. Operational control will continue through his staff on board Flagship until return to Algiers, then at AFHQ. 1601 CTF 85 advised all commands that he is sailing his flagship, Ancon, with transport convoys tonight. He is shifting his Flag to Earle. TF 85 Administrative continues from Ancon, which returns to Oran. First section of CENT transports completed unloading. 1605 Additional British and U.S. LCT's arrived in area and report for duty. 1700 NCWTF went aboard Biscayne for conference. CG 7th Army goes ashore to establish his Command Post. 1730 Flag of NCWTF broken in McLanahan. 1735 CL's and DD's continue intermittent bombardment of DIME area targets. "Hit and run" enemy air raids, causing little damage, continue as before. 1745 One enemy aircraft brought down over CENT area. 1811 Monrovia, Ancon, Samuel Chase and transports of DIME and CENT Attack Force areas weigh anchor and form up convoy for return.
Savannah, Boise and destroyer division 34 were assigned, under CTF 86, as Fire Support ships. Abercrombie and Colombo also reported to CTF 86, now tactically commanding whole area. Targets were now well inland, in the vicinity of NISCEMI and BUTERA.
2000 Returning CENT and DIME convoys formed up. Only remaining ships, aside from combatant ships, are large and small landing craft. Follow-up convoys proceeding according to plan. CinCMed reported diversionary demonstration by large units off Favignana Island and Marsala was successfully executed. July 13th, 1943. D+3 Day. 0836 NCWTF advised all commands that he is proceeding to Malta. ComCruDiv 8 (Admiral Davidson) remains as S.O.P.A. CTF 86 to remain to take charge of landing areas, operations of ships and craft as contemplated by plan. HMS Abercrombie and Colombo to remain in DIME area in support until no longer needed. CruDiv 13 to remain in JOSS area to furnish gunfire support as long as required, returning to Algiers for fuel and ammunition as required.
CTF 86 ordered "prompt and thorough program of boat overhaul" as early as possible, also ordered a detailed report of conditions of vessels made to him.
1000 ComCruDiv 13 requested air cover for Brooklyn. 1012 NCWTF signaled to ComCruDiv 8 that left flank of gunfire support ships should be withdrawn to Gela area during the night to afford them better protection. Fighter cover for detached units has been requested for today. 1500 NCWTF arrived in Malta aboard McLanahan. 1600 Army Air Force stated its directive restricts its limits to the areas off DIME, CENT and JOSS Beaches. CTF 86 requests that suitable modifications of directive be made. 1700 All remaining ships of TF 85 reported completely unloaded. Convoy formed and ordered to sail to ORAN.
July 14th, 1943. D+4 Day. 0515 USS Brooklyn was damaged by mines while patrolling Southward and Westward off Licata. 0700 CTF 85 in Earle departed CENT area for Malta. All AM's, YMS, PC's, SC's, AT's, LST's, LCI(L)'s, LCT(5)'s of TF 85 ordered to report CTF 86 for duty. 0930 HMS Colombo and USS Gherardi were detached from Gela area. Cruisers and DD's still firing occasional salvos at maximum range. 1113 MTBron 15 and TG 80.7 were ordered to operate against enemy shipping in the West Sicilian area, including Palermo. 1500 NCWTF left Malta aboard McLanahan for Bizerte. Brooklyn, Boise and Savannah with escorts, ordered to Algiers.
CTG 80.2 (Escort Group) placed under CTF 86. CG 3rd Inf. Div. requested CTF 86 for cruiser gunfire support on Agrigento for 0600 tomorrow, July 15th.
1600 All commands advised of nights of airborne troops in transports and gliders. Courses, times, altitudes and speeds are given.
CTG 80.4 requests permission to continue diversionary operations under tactical command of CTF 86.
Signal from NCWTF to WNTF--"Due to careful planning, excellent seamanship, gunnery, and engineering, and a high standard of proficiency and devotion to duty by all hands, the most difficult and complicated task of landing our troops on hostile shores has been successfully accomplished. Informed reports of especially meritorious acts and accomplishments have been many. I consider that all, from the Task Force commanders to the lowest ratings, have performed splendidly and are deserving of the highest praise. Well done. It is now our duty to support, maintain, and build up the forces which have been landed. Carry on."
NCWTF arrived in Bizerte, returning by air to Algiers. McLanahan returns with convoy to report to CTF 86 for further assignment. CinCMed orders as many landing ship and craft as possible withdrawn from "Ferry Service" to Sicily as they are wanted for reconditioning and training for prospective operations in the immediate future. Meanwhile transports, merchant vessels and remaining landing ships and craft will carry the weight of the "follow-up."
July 15th, 1943. D+5 Day. 0600 Philadelphia, Birmingham and HMS Abercrombie bombarded Porto Empedocle and Agrigento in support of 3rd Infantry Division. USS Staff, Minesweeper, hit a mine while maneuvering to avoid enemy air action. A Liberty Ship is reported hit. July 16th, 1943. D+6 Day. CTF 86 recommended to NCWTF that routes for troop-carrying aircraft be modified. Present routing, he feels, endangers planes and reduces effectiveness of AA defenses. Philadelphia and Birmingham patrolled off Empedocle but no enemy within range. Empedocle was given an ultimatum to surrender. July 17th, 1943. D+7 Day. Excerpt of a message to Gen. Eisenhower from Prime Minister Winston Churchill -- "further congratulations on the unfolding success of the Sicilian Campaign. I should be grateful if you would give my compliments to Admiral Hewitt. The weather gave occasion, according to reports made by the Admiralty, for a magnificent display of American seamanship."
Boise and Savannah ordered to report to ComCruDiv 8 in DIME area; Philadelphia and Birmingham to be relieved. Air action during the day slackened considerably. CTF 86 released British LCG's and LCF's for overhaul, repairs and training.
July 18th, 1943. D+8 Day. Birmingham is to remain in combat area in support of Army ground forces until she is relieved.
HMS Abercrombie and Colombo ordered to continue duties under CTF 86. Porto Empedocle now opened.
Boundaries assigned to NCWTF are abolished by CinCMed who reassumed control of the area. The day's dispatches dealt exclusively with convoy movements, supplies, embarkation of casualties, and prisoners.
July 19th, 1943. D+9 Day. Organization of "follow-up" convoys occupying greatest Naval attention. The number of craft provided are in excess of what was planned, and ships are turning around faster than anticipated. July 20th and 21st, 1943. D+10 and 11 Day. Air activity over sea areas was negligible. Brooklyn returned to combat area; Birmingham and Chicopee were ordered to the United States, while Boise and Savannah, together with HMS Abercrombie, are to remain in support of the 7th Army. A request by the Army for the 6" cruisers to engage enemy coast artillery (believed to be 12" guns) was denied.
Many stranded landing craft were reported on the assault beaches. Confusion over sailing orders resulted in several ships arriving at incorrect destinations.
Malta announced a new approach channel to the southward and information has been disseminated regarding enemy mine fields, demolition plans, codes and call signs.
CTF 86 prepared to turn over his command to Capt. Doughty, Commander, Advanced Bases, and return to Bizerte.
July 22nd to 24th, 1943. D+12 to 14 Day. Palermo fell to our forces on the morning of the 22nd.
CTG 80.4 ordered to cease all deceptive and diversionary operations.
MTBron 15 (PT boats) sank enemy cargo-transport and small tug while patrolling off western entrance to the Straits of Messina.
July 25th, 1943. D+15 Day. MUSSOLINI RESIGNS.
CG 7th Army proposes to NCWTF the execution of a series of amphibious landings in the rear of enemy positions, along the Sicilian north coast. Naval Gunfire Support to be supplied by CL's and DD's. Operation to be mounted from Palermo.
MTBron 15, during patrol off Italian coast, engaged F-lighters, 2 of the enemy believed sunk.
All other naval activities of routine nature dealing with problems of supply and maintenance.
July 26th, 1943. D+16 Day. 0926 Palermo bombed in 40-minute attack by enemy aircraft; Mayrant badly damaged by near misses.
July 27th, 1943. D+17 Day. Com 8th Fleet concured in suggested "leap-frog" landings and assigned ComCruDiv 8 to command TG 88, comprising Savannah, Philadelphia, escorting DD's and a large group of landing craft (the latter assigned by CTF 86), which is to execute the assaults, MTBron 15 also assigned to the force to support and screen operations, July 28th, 1943. D+18 Day. Palermo harbor was opening up. The congestion of wrecked vessels blocking the port was being eased.
MTBron 15 engaged enemy shipping off NE coast of Sicily. Hits were noted but further results not known.
July 29th, 1943. D+19 Day. CinCMed ordered all submarines to withdraw from areas north of Sicily. The Messina Straits are to be patrolled henceforth by surface forces.
Palermo successfully proceeding with local repair work on the Mayrant. Sweeping operations and the work of dragging the harbor for obstructions continues with considerable speed. MTB's again engage enemy E-boats and F-lighters. Many hits scored but no sinkings claimed.
Convoys arrived and departed according to planned schedules.
July 30th and 31st, 1943. D+20 and 21 Day. Naval forces continued to support Army movements by intensive gunfire along the North Sicilian coast. St. Stefano was a particular target in aid of the 45th Inf. Div. Plans were laid for bombardment of railway bridge over the Oliva River and of the harbor of Vibo Valentia.
The Philadelphia was subjected to two air attacks while on patrol but suffered no damage.
August 1st to 14th, 1943. D+22 to 36 Day. Palermo again bombed on August 1st by enemy aircraft.
August 3rd: Buck, while escorting 6 Liberty Ships, attacked and sank an enemy submarine.
Demonstration Group, returned to operations, was ordered to cease operations.
Plunkett was ordered to receive the surrender of the Island of Ustica.
August 4th: Palermo again attacked by 3 squadrons of enemy planes. Shubrick was damaged and suffered casualties of 2 killed and 15 wounded. The Mayrant was again damaged. One LST was sunk.
Philadelphia and Savannah had begun, in concert with DD's, a series of night and day bombardments of enemy positions behind the front lines. Offensive sweeps by night by DD's, MTB's and PT's were also begun.
August 5th: Catania surrendered to the British.
August 6th: Palermo once more attacked in force but little damage resulted. The attack was broken up by our night fighters; 5 enemy E-boats were dispersed by the DD patrol outside the harbor.
August 8th: the first "leap-frog" amphibious landing behind enemy lines was executed by CTF 88 in the vicinity of Terranova. The landing was made with little opposition and no loss to the Navy except 1 LCVP. It resulted in a break in the enemy line and the capture of 1200 prisoners and much equipment.
During the day naval guns from the Philadelphia and Savannah continued to hit road and railway objectives with marked effect.
August 9-10: Failure to indentify each other quickly enough brought about the Opening of fire of the Benson on the Brant. A PC and SC collided while on patrol.
August 10: Palermo harbor clearance progressing but it is estimated that it will be month yet before the port can be satisfactorily opened to any but small craft as there are at least 27 sunken ships blocking the channel.
The Savannah states that operations are being handicapped and endangered by lack of adequate air coverage.
August 11th: The second amphibious attack was launched at 0300 today behind the enemy lines 2 miles East of Cape Orlando. Again little opposition was encountered and the operation was instrumental in breaking strong enemy defense lines along the ridge from Cape Orlando to Naso. This was to be the last stand of any strength made by the enemy prior to complete evacuation.
August 12th: Axis evacuation on increasing scale via Messina begun. Shortage of LCT's and Lighters caused a reduction in the delivery of Air Force bombs.
PT's and MTB's operated with increasing aggressiveness in and near the Straits of Messina.
August 12th and 14th: TF 88 continued to operate LCT's for ferrying of Army artillery and heavy equipment around mined and/or blocked coastal highways. Except when used for amphibious assaults these craft have been in continuous service.
August 16th: The plan for the third amphibious "leap-frog" landing was abandoned as the advance had now become so rapid it was found to be unnecessary. Instead an RCT was brought up and landed behind our own lines at Talcone. DD's and PT's (of MTBron 15) continued their offensive sweeps East of Milazzo to the mainland. Numerous successful contacts are made with enemy light craft over a period of several days (for details see "Operations of PT Boats").
August 17th: Messina is occupied. Operation "HUSKY" is formally concluded.
Table of Contents ** Previous Section (1) Next Section (3)