Joseph T. Dickman, Report of Operations, Sicily, July 10-12, 1943
From: Commanding Officer, USS Joseph T. Dickman
To: Commander in Chief, United States Fleet
"1. This unit landed troops of the Special Force, 1st Division on beaches alongside the mole at Gela, Sicily on the morning of 10 July in accordance with reference orders.
"2. Heavy weather was encountered during the day of July 9, 1943, which moderated sufficiently for good small boat operations at H-hour. This adverse weather had no adverse effect on the Dickman and the LCI's and the LST-381 made good their runs; but it may have been responsible for the delay in arrival of the control boats PG-624 and SC-676.
"3. The approach was accurately made using the submarine beacon HMS Shakespeare as a departure point, the shore-line was ringed by intermittent flares and search-lights but neither these nor the SH radar gave positive data for close position findings. Soundings were a useful check. A beach marking boat was placed in the water at 0044 and it found and marked the center of the beach without difficulty. Lowering of landing boats commenced at 0045 and was completed at 0125. Twenty-six boats were preloaded with troops and four with equipment only, receiving their troops via the nets.
"4. The primary and secondary control vessels were not in the rendezvous area and the boats were held off the bow to await their arrival. At 0155 they were directed to proceed without the control vessels. As they were leaving the SC-676 arrived and was directed to lead the boats in. About ten minutes later the PC-624 arrived and was sent in to the line of departure. All boats landed on the correct beach but were 30 minutes late in scheduled time. Boats encountered some machine-gun and small calibre HE shell-fire. The later waves and the LCI's received most of the HE fire. Casualties were light. Six. members of the boat crews were wounded, one mortally. One Army officer was killed before he could disembark at the beach. The LCT-17 was stranded for some time and hit by shell-fire but managed to unload and return to the Dickman for a cargo load. The Dickman lost one boat when the ramp dropped and the boat sank. Another empty boat was broached by an explosion close aboard when retracting from the beach. The troops crossed the beach fairly free from fire and suffered few immediate casualties. Most of the fire appeared to be directed at the boats. Rockets fired from the support boats are believed to have been instrumental in silencing several machine-guns on the beach.
"5. Unloading proceeded expeditiously on D-day. The mole at Gela was found to have been broached and unusable for the LST vessels. The LST-381 was finally unloaded at beach Green 2 which had a more favorable gradient. LCM's from the Dickman were used for this purpose. Unloading lagged during the evening due to lack of labor on the beach (Red-Green). Most of the unloading from boats on the morning of the 11th was done by the boat crews and a party sent in by the Dickman. Fifty Army men from the Port Battalion were sent to the beach at noon of the 11th. All unloading was completed by 2000 of D plus 1 day. The beaches were thickly mined and several of the first vehicles landed were destroyed.
"6. Enemy bombers dropped bombs close aboard on the morning of the 11th but no damage was sustained. About 1550 of the 11th a large formation dropped bombs around the ship but no direct hits were received. Minor damage was sustained and six men were wounded by fragments. The damage consisted of numerous holes through the side ranging up to four inches In diameter and many dents and small holes in superstructure. Two boat davit wire ropes were cut. A second attack occurred about 1640 by a few planes but no bombs fell close to the Dickman. The SS Robert Rowan was observed to have been hit during the afternoon attack and to have smoke coming out of her hold. Boats with portable fire pumps were dispatched to her assistance. It was too late to use the pumps but the boats picked up 92 survivors and brought them aboard. The Dickman weighed anchor to clear SS Robert Rowan and was about 1,000 yards off when she blew up.
"7. Probable hits were scored on three enemy planes by the Dickman but there is no definite way to substantiate the claims. An enemy fighter plane was shot down near the beach by .50 calibre fire from a Dickman LCM(3) boat. Fire discipline on the Dickman was good as far as firing on friendly planes is concerned but with conditions prevailing it is unlikely that a determined enemy plane assault could have been beaten off.
"8. Communications were generally satisfactory. The signal light furnished the beach platoon was not strong enough for effective use. The TBY sets in the boat circuit functioned better than they have on previous occasions,
"9. Ninety-nine casualties were evacuated from the beach and received treatment on board. The number was well within the capacity of the ship.
"10. Vehicles were carried on #7 hold as general cargo and gasoline and ammunition placed in them at the time of unloading. This method caused no delay and was a great safety factor during the time of transit.
"11. Eighteen boats were stranded, or sunk during the operation. Eight of these were recovered by the Dickman and repaired. It is believe
that eight or nine of the ten lost could be or have been salvaged by the beach platoons, three LCA's from the British LSI's were also stranded. Damaged rudders and steering gear comprised most of the boat damage. Boat-handling was very good throughout."
/s/ C. W. HARWOOD
(81.2.1) Section 1 -- Capt. Harwood, USCG (Dickman) USS Joseph T. Dickman (F) HMS Prince Charles HMS Prince Leopold (81.2.11) LCI Div. 1 -- Capt. Leppert, USN(17) USS LCI-17(F) USS LCI-188 USS LCI-189 (61.2.12) Control Group 1 -- Lt. Comdr. Lauther, USN USS PC-624 USS SC-676 USS SC-690