Captain Harold F. Kleindienst
July 9-10, 1943


Invasion! July 9-10, 1943

Racing through heavy seas, our convoy passed Malta and on toward our goal ........the south east coast of Sicily. For awhile, with Mediterranean acting so unruly, it appeared as though landing operations might be quite the hazardous undertaking and, that the whole operation might be postponed for 24 hours. We continued however, ploughing through the mountainous waves of Blue water.

APA-90 James O'Hara
apa-90 James O'Hara

We managed for an attempt at a last few hours of sleep aboard the army transport James O'Hara.......our last bit of living sleep? Early morning of the 10th and naval gunfire, coupled with the dull booming of distant bombing become audible. Too much excitement going on now for any more attempts at relaxation and we curiously scurry up the companionway to top deck for a view of the doings. The flash of heavy naval guns goes on all around us, followed by the curving trajectory of

tracer shells hurtling inland through the inky blackness of night... ...screeching their message of death and destruction to the Wop and Kraut defenders. Then fires start to spring up here and there along the coastal hills, we spot the continued glow of falling bombs.....our bombs.....beating a deadly tatoo on old Musso's island domain.

Our infantry has long since started coastward in the small landing craft. Suddenly the light house at Scoglitti throws out a sharp, telescopic beam....defiance or welcome?......who knows? Yet, we have still not recieved any answering fire from the many coastal batteries we know to dot the shore line.

Oh, oh......the drone of planes overhead, circling over the ship congested waters. Friendly or......hell yes, they're enemy 'cause flares are being dropped affording day-bright illumination. We don't have to be told what that means. Boche bombers unleashing their lethal loads. God what a screech as they plummet to the water, sending up mountainous geysers of spray as they strike all about us. Fortunately most of them are misses, but off to the South, pencils of hungry flame begin the reduction of an ill-fated transport. Funny, but I'm too fascinated by all that's going on to even be frightened. Truthfully speaking, it's my ignorance of the many type dangers that keeps me interested and not completely scared to death.

The flares burn themselves out, the bombers.....unscathed by our answering barrage of light and heavy ack-ack .....return to thier bases and our movement beachward continues. Landing craft load, hit the beach, unload, return to the mother ship, reload. Dawn appears and the tiny craft are still completing the cycle......back and forth. We are still aboard ship with the artillery, but the time for our group to debark is close at hand and, the tension increases. we're so loaded down too; that is , individually. Golly will we ever make it with all this equipment dangling from all parts of our bodies? I hardly know, but after lugging it this far, it's at least going to hit that beach with me.

Finally over the side we go and down the rope net, into the puffing craft which gently rolls in the now calm sea. Fully loaded and out we turn toward the smoky coast, pistols and rifles ready for immediate use should it be necessary. The bottom of the craft scrapes the sandy beach, the ramp falls and we plunge out, splashing through a few feet of shallow surf and then, finally, footprints on Festung Europa. Thrilling, yes!

No time to waste on the's inland we go, proceeding to the higher ground. Noise of battle has now subsided some, but probably because our infantry has pushed so far on in.

Focke Wulf FW-190

A few FW 190's come over strafing the beach and dive bombing our huge landing craft as they belch out tanks by the dozen. There goes one on the tail of a British patrol plane. One sided fight as the Boche continues to pour lead into the unfortunate Tommy, clear on down to the water. Jittery gunners with heavy trigger fingers even threw some flak into the doomed Britisher in thier attempts on the FW. Nasty mess

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