A small cove outside Porto Vechio, Corsica became the operating base for this group of LCTs from Naples. There in this idyllic setting among craggy hills and evergreens with a small beach where our craft could drop their ramps, the maintenance staff of Flotilla 10 , once again demonstrated their versatility.

All the necessary equipment, welders, battery chargers and spare parts were in the open. We slept in an army tent, and got our meals, showers from an Army bivouac a little ways inland. In fact, for us, it was more like a camping trip. Most of the work had been done in Naples. There was just enough work to fight boredom.

During the evenings, we would sit around the tent talking, playing cards or listening to the radio (I still had that old box since before Anzio.) which got broadcasts from the Italian mainland. Grade Fields was doing a silly number called "Mairzydoats and Dozeydoats and Liddle Lambzydivey" or as translated in the song, "Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats and Little Lambs Eat Ivy," while Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians revived some of the classics.

Old Jake Messar, (Anyone over 25 was old to me.) surprised us all. Jake was a quiet homebody type till now. Suddenly, he started using more after shave lotion and hurried to get into his dress canvas after work. Somewhere in those hills he'd found a mountain rose in the form of a school-marm. With the fading rays of the setting sun, we'd watch him disappear over a knoll with a token gift under his arm. Nobody shared his secret for Jake didn't talk much. Grudgingly, we turned back to our cribbage and Fred Waring.

I hiked the approximately 3 miles into the picturesque walled town of Porto Vechio once. It was a small town and like most island communities hadn't changed much in the last few centuries. The men with long black leather boots and typical Corsican dress looked much the same as I'd seen in my grammar school geography book. They sat by themselves and stared at us, saying nothing. The streets were nearly deserted, and I saw no women. The children were there, as usual, and the poorer they were, the bolder they were. The little ones who had suffered the most from poverty and deprivation were the most willing to take me risks. I gave them candy and chewing gum, and while speaking in some very limited high school French learned more about the town in 10 minutes than I would have from the men in 10 years. Touring the town was not a long process and after purchasing some goat's milk ice cream and post cards, I headed back along the dirt road to camp.

The entire Corsican affair was strictly a French operation. Our orders came from a Gen. Leclerc, and the troops were Senegalese Goumiers and Morocans. Late one afternoon, about the middle of June, the loaded ships embarked.

June 17,1944, the radio reported the invasion of the Island of Elba. The situation was in doubt for a while, then after 2 days, the capitulation of the island was announced. The French had take the island of Napoleon's first exile.

The LCTs started coming back after a few days. We patched them up as best we could, and when the last arrived, headed back to Naples. The veterans of North Africa, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio bore tales of some of the fiercest resistance they had met so far. The defenders cross-fired from two hills on either side of the landing area. The men were quite critical that these guns had not been silenced before the landing. The story came out later of a gross under estimation of the forces on the island. They had been reinforced by the Germans who fled Corsica, and our smallest invasion became one of our toughest.

Goumiers boarding an LCT for Elba.

Corsican Postcards

This Postcard of Pertain with its plaintive plea for unity was given to me by the shop owner who seemed to be quite anxious to get rid of it.


Next Chapter


Copyrighted 2000

No part of the text or personal photos may be copied in any form without the express permission from the author.


© 2000 LCT Flotillas of World War II ETO PTO

Contact us