The group I was with in Flotilla 10 left the States in march of 1943. As we moved along our outward passage, the dreary, cold fog brought forth dismal moaning from the ships in New York harbor. No sooner had we cleared land when a vicious Nor'easter tore into us, bringing sleet that cut the face and mountainous seas.

Each LST, there were probably ten of them in this particular convoy, carried one of our LCTs chained to the deck in a heavy wooden cradle, crews and various supplies. The LST, like all landing craft is flat bottomed. This characteristic, combined with a rather blunt bow, gives it a very distinct motion in heavy weather. At the trough of each wave, she starts a laborious climb and one doubts if it will make the crest. At the crest, she pauses and hovers while the exposed screws flail away at thin air, sending a horrible shudder throughout the vessel. Then she takes a headlong plunge to the next trough where the flat bottom and blunt bow do not cut the water as a conventional ship does. She stops violently and slowly commences a repetition of the same. Since she has no keel, there is an additional uncontrolled sideways motion. This goes on interminably for days, and will drive the best of sailors to the rail.

It took us a week to reach Bermuda. There in the placid, blue waters, surrounded by lush green hills, we anchored. Surprisingly, we were even granted liberty. Harold Slaughter a Midwesterner about my age, and I hurried into our dress uniforms and caught an LCVP to the Naval Air Station where we stood in line for a launch to take us to St. George.

Harold Slaughter stepped onto the ramp leading down, and I started to follow when a Marine placed his rifle across my chest saying, "That's all !" I tried to reason with him that we were together, but the boat only held so many and that was it.

The launch, a longboat with canvas cover, moved out. I turned around and left, trying to figure out how I was going to find my friend in a foreign town neither of us had ever seen. From the harbor came a low rumble like the sound of thunder, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I swung around. There a few hundred yards out was the liberty launch, now a funeral bier!

As I watched, a sailor jumped off the stern, ablaze from head to foot More were breaking through the slats supporting the canvas with various parts of their clothing afire, and jumping into the sea. Every small boat in the area came to life as the air base signal tower began blinking its urgent message to the ships in the harbor.

Among the Pharmacists mates coming in, I found our own, Duffy and Shaw. I grabbed an arm trying to tell them Slaughter was aboard that boat. They rushed by. They didn't have time. A stretcher went by. The face was burned black and in places where the water had gotten beneath, the skin had a bluish tinge. Overcoming the stench of wet clothing and gasoline was that unforgettable smell of burning human flesh.

Out of all this I found Slaughter. His face was burned red. Some of his hair at the front was gone, and he had no eyebrows or lashes. I asked him how he had survived out there. He hung his head and murmured, "I Fought... I never fought harder in my life."

After a while, we caught an LCVP going back to our ship. Slaughter went below to change clothes. I went forward beneath the chains that held the LCT and looked out over the Island. The sky was

still cloudless, and a little train tooted merrily as it wove among the hills. It was still just another sultry Bermuda afternoon, and my thoughts went back years to the parlor at home where the old crank Victrola was playing, "Bermuda My Island Of Dreams."

This was a beginning to what would be 22 months of almost continual offensive operations for LCT(5) Flotilla 10.



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