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Monday, February 28, 2011
Chapter 5: Sicily
OK Now the 3rd Division begins it trek to Salzburg. But first it has to go through Sicily, Italy, Anzio, France then Germany.
The Division sailed from Bizerte on a calm sea. This was going to be nice. But shortly the sea got rough and the ride became quite unpleasant. A LST rides like a cork with water splashing over the deck. To escape Bill got into the cab. The cab was not big enough for all but it was his truck so he because fairly comfortable compared to the others who had to tough it out in the water breaking over the deck.
The division infantry began unloading at 2 am in the dark obviously. Bills 39th FA began unloading at daybreak. The Germans knew they were coming and met them with a few rounds of 88. Bill landed on yellow beach. The beach was good for amphibious landing as the driver of the LST went full speed at the beach after dropping his anchor to pull them off after unloading. The LST went up on the beach so far that the trucks didn't need their waterproofing to keep dry. They just drove off and on to the beach.
Within a few hours they had their first casualty which was Bill Presley. Bill didn't say how but probably by land mine which was the main cause of casualties.
It was here that one of the major tragedies of WW2 happened. 23 fully loaded troop transports were shot down by American anti aircraft fire because of confusion. It was just a mixup which can happen in war. But about 500 men died because of this mixup.
To show you how the luck of the draw is and how close you can get to getting killed consider this. Bill and other soldiers of the battery were standing around during a stop when a jeep drove up. It turned around and drove out. On the way it ran over a bouncing betty and although Bill didn't say anyone was killed several were wounded. Any one of the original group could have walked on it or drove over it instead of the jeep that did run over it. Here is a picture of Bill Sheldon and Machull Miller each holding one. You will note they are using two hands. Although it is probably not armed. Still...
Read my blog about my fun in the ETO
Watch for the next chapter. Coming soon