National Geographic : 1944 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine '. S. Coast Guard, Official This Is What the Enemy Sees When the First Wave Hits the Beach From the bow of an LCS(S) (Landing Craft, Support, Small), the combat photographer looks back at assault boats, or LCVPs, speeding shoreward, loaded with troops. Accompanied by shelling, strafing, and bombing with live ammunition, these maneuvers on the eastern United States coast simulate invasion. In battle, the men crouch down behind the armored visor and fire rockets from the covered projector at right. Cruisers in the distance cover the landing with shellfire. privileges of a commanding officer. His only trouble is in obtaining extras for his crew. An ensign hasn't enough gold braid! "After a few days Coen and I headed north for Gibraltar and then, bucking terrific head seas, we steamed down the Mediterranean to Oran," Allen continued. "I shall never forget how my LCT acted in those big seas. Her bow would rise on a wave and then slam down with a mighty wham on the next one. From the bridge I could see the deck undulate like a caterpillar. Our crew had never been to sea before, yet they handled the ship like old salts. "About this time Ensign Jesse Anderson, an LCT friend, drew the first enemy blood for our craft and won our first Silver Star. While coasting along North Africa, a big German JU 88 swooped over and dropped a bomb while the crew was at breakfast. Fortunately it missed by 200 feet. "By the time the plane had come around for a second run, the cook and a gunner had manned the 20 mms. and opened fire. At first the bullets went wide, but then they got on and plastered the plane. It caught fire and crashed in the mountains. Later the Army brought down a section for the LCT boys. "During the Tunisian campaign our LCTs ferried tanks and supplies along the African coast for the Army, and so we played a part in the final victory at Cape Bon. "My LCT landed at Licata, Sicily, early in the morning of July 10. Our job was to ferry tanks, troops, and supplies ashore from big transports. On the trips back we carried Italian and German prisoners. Once we had 225 of them on deck. They were docile and glad to be out of the fight. "For a few cigarettes they would hand over their helmets, rifles, and other trinkets to our men. The civilian crewmen of some of the big ships, wanting trophies to take home, would buy them at fabulous prices. Many sailors made handsome profits in this quick turnover of enemy souvenirs. "After a day or so we ran short of supplies, but we soon fixed that! Transports were anx ious to unload and head for home. We soon got on to this and worked it to our benefit. Coming out from shore, I would sidle up to a fat transport and wait for a hail. "'LCT No. 15, can you unload us?' "'What have you got to eat?' I would yell back.