National Geographic : 1944 Jul
Landing Craft for Invasion U. S. Navy. Official Down the Mississippi Come Six LCTs Built Far from the Sea on Rivers and Lakes Ferry crews bring the Landing Craft, Tank downstream to New Orleans, where they are lifted aboard LSTs and sent overseas (page 30). This is the newest type, called Mark VI by the Navy. Hundreds of 327-foot LSTs, too, are built inland, many sailing 2,000 miles from Pittsburgh down the Ohio and Mississippi. history to cross the Atlantic going sideways! LSTs have such high freeboard and shallow draft that the wind blows them off the course. Our navigator computed the leeway, as in sail ing-ship days, and then plotted a 'crabbing' course. "During the Italian invasion Blackjack Maru and a British LST loaded two motorized Canadian regiments for the east coast of Italy. Our ship had 71 vehicles aboard, nearly half of them General Sherman tanks a very heavy load. "When I showed their brigadier to a room, he brushed aside my apologies for his three roommates with the statement, 'Last night I slept on the floor!' There is always much camaraderie between the ship's crew and the Army. This is due largely to the commissary department, which serves the best possible meals to our guests. Of course-there is some confusion over Navy terms, but by the end of the trip the soldiers refer to the 'deck' and 'ladder' instead of 'floor' and 'stairs.' "Off Barletta we were ordered to Manfre donia, just captured by Commandos. For safety's sake we sneaked along close to shore, our shallow draft making this possible. As we nosed in between the break-waters, I momentarily expected an explosion from a mine. Ships in the harbor with only masts and funnels above water were not reassuring. "Keeping away from deeper parts of the harbor where mines might be, we let go our stern anchor, nosed up to the sea wall, and opened the bow doors. Commandos gathered around to watch the Shermans clatter down the ramp. "The British 8th Army's drive through Italy was supported by these tanks, which took the enemy by surprise. We learned later that one of them captured a German general while he slept! "Our 75th beaching took place in Jap-dis puted territory. Our orders were to land 30-ton tanks at night on a beach too shal low for us. To overcome this difficulty, we ran up as far as possible at high water, waited for the tide to fall, off-loaded at low water so that the tanks wouldn't drown, and got out when the tide came in. If the Japs had spotted us 'monumented' on the beach, unable to move, we would have been 'duck soup.'