1944 Bizerte, S France

Bizerte, Algiers then Naples.
"" In June of 1944 after the invasion, 9 of our rocket ship flotilla went to Bizerte in Algiers, and then on to Naples, Italy. In July we were heading south to the Southern France invasion where we stopped a day and night in Naples for fuel and provisions. The entrance to the harbor was full of sunken ships which had been damaged by the Germans to keep the Allies from using them and that harbor. We managed to go around them safely! . We stopped at the edge of Africa after making the longest ocean trip for the LSTR’s, We delayed for 2 days then on to Algeria. We were there for about 2 weeks before going to Naples.

"We were off the coast of southern France between Marseilles and Monte Carlo, the beach area where all the rich and famous go. As we were approaching the coast, a wing of American heavy bombers passed over on their way to the initial bombardment and we watched in horror as one opened up his bombbay doors and let go a whole string of bombs. Boy, were we praying that they would miss us, and they did--WHEW !!!!!

The 9 LCTR's were lined up in a row ready to fire our rockets on the beach barricades when the navy sent in a small fleet of radio controlled LCVP's loaded with explosive to blow up the enemy underwater defensive obstacles such as hedgehogs. Those clever Germans intercepted our signals and turned them around and headed them back to the destroyers and cruiser sitting there looking so ominous looking! Our big ships could not depress their guns low enough to sink the small boats so some PCs came in and blew up the "hijacked" LCVPs.

We were ordered to turn and steer East and parallel the coast until we could reach an alternate landing area. . At this time the LCTR’’s suffered our only casualty in battle. Syers was a motormac and was under strict orders to stay below until the all clear was sounded. He was writing to his folks and no doubt felt compelled to go up on deck to see what was happening. The Germans started firing their dreaded 88s and bracketed us twice with the exploding shells throwing water spouts up on our deck. Elmer was on the con and I was checking the crews, radar, and signalmen. Someone hollered 'Man Down!' As medical officer, I examined Syers but he was dead. You can imagine how I felt about our young engineer!! We took him to a nearby hospital ship that was with the invasion fleet and said a prayer as we transferred him. Although a difficult and unwelcome task Elmer wrote a letter to Syers' parents. He was a good skipper, always did what was right! Those 88s were wicked and extremely accurate. It was a weird feeling watching those spouts of water leap up with each explosion, so near yet just far enough thanks be to GOD!!!!

"After the landings in southern France we anchored in the then safe surroundings of Ajaccio Bay. We swam there and visited Napoleon's home. Then we went back to Naples to the harbor at Bizerte in Tunisia."

"The USLCT(R) was our workplace and our home for 4-5 months since we lived on board at all times - even when berthed. We loved our ship and worked well together as a family. Our crew was exceptional. We had very few occasions of trouble with the crew, particularly at the times of action at Normandy and Southern France. They never got sick, never complained, and always did what we told them to do.”

“We loved our ship and worked well together as a family. We left the ship all at the same time in great anticipation of what was next."

“ Leaving her for the last time was an exciting experience but tinged with sadness since it was the start of a process that would see our "band of brothers" dispersed to the four winds.”

"We returned to New York in September aboard the Army troop ship General Meigs and ran into a terrible storm with over 50 foot waves. This didn't bother the men at all as the sailors were all crowded around gambling and having a good time."
On October 4th 1944 all the LCTRs were returned to the Royal Navy.

They were not sailed back to England as expected for transfer back to the Royal Navy instead they were transferred to the British base at Messina and all US Navy personnel repatriated.

More information on CombinedOps and Normandy invasion:

many thanks to the writing and editing of Geoff Slee in charge of the Com Ops

US NAVY LANDING CRAFT TANK (ROCKET) by Lt Commander Carr. His account concentrates on US Landing Craft Tank (Rocket) operations in Normandy and Southern France in the summer of 1944

National D-Day Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
Article from: Sea Classics
Article date: January 1, 2000
Author: Panaggio, Leonard J

The National D-Day Museum is planning an opening this coming summer, according to Kenneth Hoffman, Director of Education. The museum, currently preparing exhibits and accepting World War II memorabilia, is located at 923 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130.

Of particular interest is the museum's acceptance of the logs and records of LCT(R) 439 from Stu Mahlin of Cincinnati, Ohio, whose father, Elmer Mahlin, commanded the vessel outfitted with rockets for close-in support of landing troops. Mahlin was firing his rockets off Utah Beach on D-Day at 0635.

The craft was decommissioned off Sicily on 1 October 1944, and Mahlin took all the craft's paperwork with him including every order he received during the way. This valuable material included the original log of LCT(R) 439, the US log starting 22 April 1944, when Mahlin accepted the craft from its British commander, along with the American officer's diary, orders, sea charts, snapshots and sea chest. Of particular interest is the American flag that flew from LCT(R) 439 on D-Day.

Also included in the collection are Mahlin's sidearm and records pertaining to his service as Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Training Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. What has been received comprises the most complete record of one sailor's service during World War II.