U.S. Ships Deliver 'Tommies' On Beach

The New York Times, June 21,1944

Land Troops and Equipment Without Loss
as Balloons Keep Alert for Air and Sea Foes

By Gene Currivan by Wireless To The New York Times

LONDON, June 20

Merchant ships flying the Stars and Stripes and manned by American seamen have delivered intact shipload after shipload of British "tommies" with all their equipment to British beachheads on the Normandy coast, it was disclosed today.

Under hazardous conditions and constant danger this phase of Anglo-American cooperation has developed to a new peak that can be nothing less than disheartening to the enemy.

With heavy seas running in the Bay of the Seine just off the beachhead these men executed an unloading feat that never would have been attempted in peacetime.

But everything was worked out on schedule and neither enemy aircraft, submarines, mines, E-boats nor rocket bombs could stay these men. They had a job to do and they did it -- British to get ashore: and Americans to put them there.

This correspondent was aboard the John B. Ward, an American Liberty ship which delivered British reconnaissance and all equipment to France. Not a man or a piece of equipment was lost, although some of the heavy trucks, tanks and jeeps took a rough battering as they crashed against the ship's side while being lowered to barges.

During the early days of the invasion barges were scarce and there was considerable delay in unloading, but that problem has been overcome. The Germans virtually call off the war during the day in the Bay of the Seine and unloading can go on uninterrupted.

As the John B. Ward entered the bay in the early evening there did not seem to be any available spot to anchor in this wide sweep of water. Craft of every description, from small LSVP's (Landing Craft, Vehicle Personnel) -- a box-like blunt-bowed motor launch -- to heavy turretted battleships crowded the choppy waters. With a few exceptions all the ships carried one or more anti-aircraft balloons, giving the strange impression from a distance that the entire fleet was being kept afloat by balloons.

Through megaphones, the officers called our place of anchorage and then continued on to other ships until the entire confused mass became an elaborately worked out pattern, with each ship in its own designated place.

Before the ship had been at anchor half an hour, hatches not already covered with equipment were opened, booms were in action and heavy steel nets were under the wheels or tracks of heavy vehicles, ready to swing them overside.

A short while later one of the famous "rhino" barges was alongside, its 250 feet of flat unencumbered surface space awaiting the first load. The "rhino" is a series of steel pontoons and resembles a portion of a bridge.

Soldiers of a British unit worked the deck alongside merchant sea­men wherever they could be useful until a detachment of British Royal Engineers arrived to take over. These men worked winches, handled slings and nets and directed the unloading for three days until every piece of equipment was in France.

American Navy men aboard LST's [Landing Ships, Tanks) received the vehicles as they were lowered by the British engineers above.

American Merchant Marine at Normandy June 1944

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