Official ACTION REPORT of Salerno
By Captain R. J. Mauerman, USCG,
Commanding Officer of the USS Joseph T. Dickman,
to the Commander of Task Force 81.
This vessel landed assault troops of 2nd Battalion Combat Team, 142nd Infantry, 56th Division, U.S. Army and attached units, on Green beach, .Salerno Bay, Italy, on the morning of 9 September, 1943, in accordance with reference orders, total of dl officers and 1,623 enlisted men.
Weather conditions for this operation were excellent for lowering boats, ease of holding boats alongside, and little seasickness occurred among troops on the trip from ship to beach.
This vessel followed ships ahead into the transport area. The submarine beacon HMS Shakespeare was passed at 2333 of the 8th, at the departure point. Stopped and drifted at 0002, of the 9th, in designated transport area. An LCS(S) boat with scout officer was lowered in the water at 0020 and departed for shore to locate Green beach. The beach was found and marked as planned without difficulty. The lowering of boats commenced at 0015 and was completed at 0115, with the exception of two boats in #1 starboard davit (upper and lower inside cradles) that were damaged and wedged in by the strong-back that fell across the upper boat when the after davit arm dropped down due to the wire cable breaking . . . This davit was repaired and in working order prior to 1660, on D plus 1 day. Boat teams that should have been rail loaded in these two boats were expeditiously loaded at the White net and arrived in the rendezvous area in time to go in with their wave. The third rail loading boat at #2 davit port side was delayed due to the cable becoming jammed on the drum. The boat team was loaded at Yellow net port side. No delay at rendezvous area was caused by this boat. Twenty-one LCVP's and two DUKW's were pre-loaded with boat team equipment and rail loaded with troops; eleven LCVP's were pre-loaded with equipment and net loaded with personnel.
The primary control vessel, PC-625, led the first three waves of boats from the rendezvous area, passed the restricted area marker boat PC-542, and proceeded on to the line of departure. All boats landed on the correct beach in excellent line and well spaced, but were ten minutes late in the scheduled time; this delay was due to the primary control boat being held up behind the minesweepers. When the ramps of the first wave were lowered and troops crossed the beach, heavy machine-gun and HE shell fire were encountered.
The quick action on the part of the Dickman's LCS(S) scout beach marker boat in firing a barrage of 34 rockets caused a decided lull in the enemy's fire and drew fire on the boat itself. It is believed that this factor contributed much to the safe landing and retraction of all boats in the assault waves.
The secondary control boat PC-624. departed from the rendezvous area on time with the fourth wave, but for some unknown reason delayed going into the line of departure, sufficiently to make this wave one hour and fifty minutes late in scheduled time. When this wave retracted and while proceeding away from the beach a medium calibre HE shell struck the starboard side of the ramp of a Dickman's LCM(3) and exploded. Three of the boat's crew were wounded. The boat returned to the Dickman but could not be used for the remainder of the operation. A total of seven members of the crews were wounded. Troops apparently suffered fairly heavy casualties while crossing the beach.
The later waves of boats carrying vehicles were not allowed to land immediately on the beaches by the beach-masters, because of machine-gun and artillery fire. As a result, there was much congestion outside the line of departure by boats from all the transports. The support boats acted as traffic boats and when the beaches became tenable directed the boats to the proper beaches. A faster and larger boat about the size of an SC-boat would be better adapted for traffic control boats.
Unloading of vehicles and cargo proceeded expeditiously on D-day and D plus 1 day. All unloading was completed by 1600 of D plus 1 day. Much of the unloading from boats was done by boats' crews. Thirty Army men from the Port Battalion were sent to the beach prior to noon on the 10th. The unloading on the beaches seemed to be held up principally by the continuous shelling of the beaches from artillery well hidden in the hills behind the beaches.
Three enemy bombers made an attack in the area at 0743 on the 9th, and at 2140 enemy bombers made an attack in the area, but due to the heavy smoke screen made by all the vessels and boats no bombs fell in our vicinity. At 0445 on the 10th, enemy planes attacked in the vicinity and smoke screen was laid by ships. From 2240 to 2312 on the night of the 10th, as transports were preparing to depart, a large formation of enemy bombers lighted up the transport area with varied-colored flares that apparently marked the limits of the area. The transports were subjected to heavy bombing. Apparently no vessels were hit. One bomb fell 600 yards astern of the Dickman. All vessels delivered a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft gunfire. Fire discipline on the Dickman was good. During this operation friendly fighter protection of the area was excellent. The Dickman's support boats patrolling the beach area fired at enemy planes over the beach, but there were no indications that any hits were made.
Three LCVP's and four LCM(3)'s from the Oberon, two LCM(3)'s from the Procyon, and eight LCM(2)'s from the HMS Derwentdale, arrived alongside on time and were used to carry priority vehicles into the beach, consisting of the 6th, 7th, and 8th waves. All were dispatched on scheduled time. All boats from other ships worked smoothly and without interruption.
The officers and crew worked tirelessly throughout the operation and their devotion to duty was outstanding.
During this operation two signalmen from this vessel were temporarily attached to HMS Boxer and one commissioned officer served as liaison officer aboard the HMS Derwentdale.
On the return passage at 0135 on the 11th, a violent explosion was observed off the starboard beam, distance about 10 miles, that appeared to be a ship exploding.
/s/ R. J. MAUERMAN