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March 22, 1944 – Rest camp, replacements, and those amazing LSTs

March 22 Late in March, some units of the 3rd Infantry Division began to come out of the line after more than 60 consecutive days of combat.[1]

The (3rd) Division started relinquishing its portion of the beachhead line March 22 and units withdrew piecemeal from their positions as units of the 34th Infantry Division slowly moved in to replace them.[2]


The arrival of 14,000 replacements in March brought Allied units up to full strength. By the end of the month the numerical strength of the combat units of VI Corps was equal to that of six full divisions—approximately 90,000 men—and considerably exceeded that of the opposing Fourteenth Army.[3]


VI Corps as well as the enemy awaited the renewal of the offensive in the south. In the meantime, it limited its operations to patrolling and local attacks designed to keep the enemy on the defensive.[4]


The veteran (British) 34th Division … began to disembark on 21 March, relieved the 3d Division on the Cisterna front on 28 March, after the latter had completed sixty-seven consecutive days of front-line duty. [4]


[1] Ernie Pyle. With Fifth Army Beachhead Forces in Italy. The Commercial Appeal, Memphis. News Clipping. 23 Mar 44.

[2] Ambrose. Citizen Soldiers, 43.

[3] Prohme, 149.

[4] American Forces in Action. Anzio Beachhead (22 January-25 May 1944). The Breakthrough.


Sailors of LST’s Veteran At Handling Dynamite, Troops

The sailors aboard an LST (landing ship tank) have the same outlook on life that the average soldier oversea has. That is, they devote a good part of their conversation to home, and to when they may get there.

They are pretty veteran by now, and have been under fire a lot. They’ve served the hot beaches of Sicily, Salerno and Anzio. They know a gun fired, in anger when they hear one.

On the whole, altho the boys who man these beachhead supply ships are frequently in great danger, they do live fairly comfortably. Their food is good, their quarters are fair, and they have such facilities as hot baths, new magazines, candy, hot meals, and warmth.

The sailors sleep in folding bunks with springs and mattresses The officers sleep in cabins, two or so to a cabin, the same as on bigger ships.

An LST isn’t such a glorious ship to look at—it is neither sleek nor fast nor impressively big—and yet it is a good ship and the crews aboard LSTs are proud of them.

The LSTs are great rollers—the sailors say. “They’ll even roll in drydock.” They have flat bottoms and consequently they roll when there is no sea at all. They roll fast, too. Their usual tempo is a round-trip roll every six seconds. The boys say that in a really heavy sea you can stand on the bridge and actually sec the bow of the ship twist, like a monster turning its head. It isn’t an optical illusion either, but a result of the “give’’ in these ships.

The sailors say that when they run across a sand bar the ship seems to work its way across like an inchworm, proceeding forward section by section.

The LST has handled every conceivable type of wartime cargo. It has carried a, whole shipload of fused shells, the most dangerous kind. Among the soldiers of many nationalities that my LST had carried, the crew found the Indian troops of Jahore the most interesting. The Indians were friendly, and as curious as children. The Americans liked them. In fact, I’ve found that Americans like practically anybody who is halfway friendly.

The Indian soldiers base practically every action on their religion. They brought their own food, and it had to be cooked by certain of their own people.

They made a sort of pancake out of flour that was full of weevils and worms. But it was sacred, and if an American cook tried to help out and touched the pan, the whole panful(sic) had to be thrown awav.

Even going to. the toilet was a religious, ritual with them. They carried special toilet-seat covers previously cleansed by some proper person, and would no more think of using an unflushed toilet than you would think of committing murder.

Capt. Joseph Kahrs told me of one touching incident that happened when the Indian troops were put ashore. One of them had fallen ill and had to be taken back to Africa.

He was the only Indian left on the ship. The tragedy of his pitiful case was that the poor unfortunate was caught without a sacred toilet seat, and he had dysentery.

“What did he do?” I inquired.

“I never did ask,” Captain Kahrs said. “I couldn’t bear to know. To me it is the most frightful incident of the war.”[1]


Background on LSTs

The LSTs … provide a symbol of the Alliance. British-designed, American-built, the did what no one thought possible: they came into open beached to supply fighting divisions with their needs. … the Germans continued in the face of all evidence to believe LSTs could not supply the Allied divisions already ashore.[2]

[1] Ernie Pyle. With Fifth Army Beachhead Forces in Italy. The Commercial Appeal, Memphis. News Clipping. 23 Mar 44.

[2] Ambrose. Citizen Soldiers, 43.

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