The following pages and photographs are taken from the book To All Hands: an Amphibious Adventure by John Mason Brown. This book covers the life aboard a troop transport during the invasion of Sicily. The book was published by Whittlesey House in late 1943. The last few chapters were written while aboard the Calvert and many of the photographs in the book are of the Calvert and her crew. ** The contents of this book are now in the public domain.
The author was a drama critic before joining the Navy. During Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily) he was attached to Admiral Kirk’s staff. A Lieutenant at the time, he read the daily announcements and news over the public address system while aboard Kirk’s flagship. The transcript of Lt. Brown’s announcements form the bulk of the written content for this book.
Kirk’s command ship en route to and during the invasion was the USS Ancon (AGC-4), code named Spelvin in this book. Admiral Kirk (“The Flag”) joined the Calvert in Oran, North Africa after the invasion for the voyage back to Norfolk, VA. Here the Calvert’s code name is Bond. Many of the pictures below were taken aboard the Calvert. My Grandfather, Sterling Funck, annotated his copy of this book with the notes I’ve added below.
The following chapters are transcripts of Lt. Brown’s announcements aboard the Calvert en route back to Norfolk, VA.
In memory of those who participated, and those who died, D-Day, June 6th, 1944.
Squadron/Signal Publications‘ WWII Landing Craft in Action book is a good source of information on WWII-era landing craft and landing ships. Two of the Calvert’s landing craft appear on the cover of this book, which depicts landings in Normandy on June 6th. In reality the Calvert was in the Pacific on June 6th, 1944. In any case, it is great to see the Calvert’s boats on the cover of a book.
LST 325, also pictured on the cover, did participate in the landings at Normandy. The caption accompanying the front page states: “An M4 Sherman tank moves out of the Landing Ship, Tank (LST)-325 on the beach in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944. Two Landing Craft, Vehicle Personnel (LCVPs) (PA32-25 and PA32-21) are beached to port of the LST. Both LCVPs were assigned to the attack transport USS CALVERT (APA-32). An ambulance delivered by one of the LCVPs is driving onto he beach. These landing craft were joined by hundreds of vessels in Operation OVERLORD, the Allied invasion of Northern France.
Although this book is no longer actively in print, used copies are available on Amazon and Half.com. More details on this book are available here.
The following landing charts were graciously provided by Mark Fountain, son of Matt Fountain (BM1c). Each chart is original size and provides excellent detail (click on each to open to full-size document in a separate window). These images are photocopies of the original documents, which themselves are are in great shape given they were created over 70 years ago.
1943-July: Scoglitti, Sicily – Operation Husky
1944-January: Roi Namur – Operation Flintlock
1944-June: Saipan – Operation Forager
Diane Weber was kind enough to share the following information about her father, Warren “Ted” Weber in a comment on this site in December, 2013:
“My father, Warren T. Weber, also known as “Ted” or “Teddy” served as BM2C. He fought in No. Africa, Sicily, Pacific and was in Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dad ran the Higgins’ boats during many invasions and spoke often of going in and out of “Pearl.” A major storm off the US Pacific coast late in the war occurred; he went out on deck and photographed 40 foot waves by securing himself with his feet to the railings. Around that time, he steered the USS Calvert down the Columbia River. He was helmsman and said the ship was about 500 feet long. P.S. His photo is in the 2nd Division Deck Crew/Boat Crew, circa 1943 or 1944, USS Calvert. He is in front row on the right.” (see below)
Warren can be seen bottom right on this photograph of the Calvert’s 2nd Division Boat Crew (click on image to open full-sized version in a new window).
I corresponded with Diane over the holidays and she was kind enough to send the following picture of her and her father taken in August 2004 during their cruise to Bermuda.
Sadly, Warren sailed away in December, 2004, at the age of 82. In memory of Warren, and his service for our country, here is a photograph from Diane’s collection from her final cruise with her father:
- Boat: Responsible for the operation and maintenance of all ship’s boats and boat equipment, and for providing boat crews trained in boat engineering and amphibious boat operations.
- Deck: Responsible for the supervision of deck seamanship operations and evolutions; for the employment and maintenance of the armament and ordnance equipment of the ship; and for the supervision of loading, unloading, and stowage of cargo; and launching and hoisting of boats.
- 1st Deck Division
- 2nd Deck Division
- 3rd Deck Division
- 4th Deck Division
- Engineering Department: Responsible for the operation, care and maintenance of the vessel’s main propulsion plant, auxiliary machinery, and piping systems; for the control of damage; for the operation and maintenance of electric power generators and distribution systems; for repairs to ship’s hull and for repairs to material and equipment of other departments which were beyond the capacity of other departments.
- A Division: Fresh water, air conditioning, steering gear, repaired winches for the cargo booms, repaired and maintained the motors on all of the boats on board. A Divsion personnel were also on all the boats when they were operating, in landing operations, and on liberty and mail runs in port.
- B Division: Boiler Room, steam generation and fuel oil for boilers
- E Division: Electrical Equipment, lighting, electric motors
- M Division: Ship’s propulsion and steam electrical generators
- R Division: Damage Control, Welding and woodworking. pipe fitting and plumbing
- Medical Department: Responsible for maintaining the health of the personnel of the command, making inspections incident thereto and advising the Commanding Officer with respect to hygiene and sanitation affecting the command. They also supervised the ship’s training program in health, and first aid, and during general quarter or other emergencies in care for the sick and injured
- Navigation Department: Responsible for the safe navigation and piloting of the ship. They also planned and directed the training of deck watch officers and maintained all navigation equipment and the spaces where such equipment was located.
- Operations Department: Responsible for the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of combat, tactical, and operational information. In addition they obtained clearances and operating area assignments incident to the movements and operations of the ship.
- OS Division
- OR Division
- OI Division
- X Division
- Supply Department: Responsible for procuring, receiving, storing, issuing, shipping, transferring, selling, accounting for, and maintaining all stores and equipment of the command. They also administered the ship’s operating allotment and coordinated the preparation and subdivision of departmental operating budgets.
Sources: 1964 WEST PAC Cruise Book and Steve Straka
The Navy Department Library has published a free online copy of Skill in the Surf – A Landing Boat Manual. This manual was originally published by the US Navy in February, 1945.
Many more publications and topics available online at the The Navy Department Library’s Online Reading Room