Naval Operations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean to March 1944

"Anchors Aweigh"

[Excerpted from Admiral Earnest J. King, First Report to the Secretary of the Navy: Covering our Peacetime Navy and our Wartime Navy and including combat operations up to 1 March 1944. April 1944, pp. 75-88]

The Atlantic Theater

GENERAL

At the outbreak of the war our operations in the Atlantic Ocean consisted chiefly of escorting convoys to Great Britain, and to Russian and Near East ports (also West Indian and South American ports) and of training. Concurrently, with these operations, it was necessary to dispose the heavy units of our Atlantic Fleet so that they would be available immediately in case ships of the German Fleet, basing at various ports in Germany, Norway, and France, attacked our shipping. From time to time, in order to maintain a satisfactory distribution of Allied strength, as insurance against such a breakout by units of the German Navy, certain of our ships operated with the British Fleet.

By agreement with the British, emphasized at the Casablanca conference and at each subsequent conference, the maintenance of the war-making capacity of the British Isles has been a continuing commitment of the United States. Obviously, such a commitment requires, as a prerequisite to the furnishing of the necessary support the maintenance of overseas lines of communication, so that the safe passage of lend lease shipments, supplies to our own forces, and troop convoys can be accomplished.

The responsibility for those naval operations required to keep open not only those lines of communications, but, as well, all lines of communications in the Atlantic Ocean, has rested with Admiral R. E. Ingersoll, the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. Faced with the threat of the u-boat fleet (the methods taken to combat and overcome that menace are covered elsewhere in this report) and with the possibility of attack by other enemy units, escort of convoy operations was of paramount importance.

Early in the war the attempts of the enemy to interrupt our lines of communications, while not successful, nevertheless were a matter of considerable concern. By judicious use of escorts, however, and by other means, our convoys continued to go through. The magnitude of those escort operations, which have been continuous, is not likely to be overestimated, as we have expended tremendous effort in providing the ships and training them, and in the execution of their duties. The record of safe overseas transportation of troops and material speaks for itself, in so far as the efficiency of those operations is concerned.

Direct support of units of the British Fleet in any operation requiring combined effort has been another Atlantic Fleet activity calling for careful planning and execution.

In addition, Admiral Ingersoll has had the responsibility for the defense of the Western Hemisphere by our naval forces. That has involved the stationing of air and surface forces at various points in North and South America and in certain islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and, of course, such changes in their disposition as might be warranted by the situation. The South Atlantic Force, under the command of Vice Admiral (now Admiral) J. H. Ingram, whose headquarters are in Brazil, has operated in harmony and close combination with forces of the Brazilian Navy in contributing to our control of the South Atlantic.

In order to facilitate the passage of convoys to Russia and Great Britain, and in order to provide a base for our heavy surface forces, considerable use has been made of Iceland, where we originally established a base for forces engaged in escorting lend-lease convoys. All of the bases acquired from Great Britain in exchange for the 50 destroyers have been in constant use, and of great value.

Except for antisubmarine actions and for occasional aircraft attacks, units of the Atlantic Fleet have not been in any extensive combat in the Atlantic Ocean. As covering and supporting forces, however, they have accompanied our expeditions which landed in North Africa, and later in Sicily and Italy, and in the case of the landings in North Africa, there were some engagements in the Atlantic Ocean. The details of those expeditions are covered separately in this report.

For the purpose of training the large number of newly commissioned ships on the east coast, which report to the Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet as soon as they are completed, a training command, under Rear Admiral D. B. Beary, was established as a part of the Atlantic Fleet. That command took over all ships (except submarines) as soon as they were ready for sea, and conducted such operational training as was necessary to fit each ship for duty in the fleet to which assigned. In addition to that type of operational training, the Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet was charged with extensive amphibious training.

From the foregoing it will be seen that the Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet has had a wide variety of responsibilities which have been contributory to the success of the multiplicity of operations, some of which were carried out by the Atlantic Fleet and some by other fleets. Because of the situation, there has been a continuous shift in the strength and disposition of the Atlantic Fleet, in which connection its flexibility and the manner in which adjustments and readjustments were made have been of tremendous assistance to the Navy as a whole.

THE ATLANTIC SUBMARINE WAR

The submarine war-particularly the Atlantic phase of it-has been a matter of primary concern since the outbreak of hostilities. Maintenance of the flow of ocean traffic has been, and continues to be, a vital element of all war plans.

Operating on exterior lines of communication on almost every front, the United Nations have been dependent largely upon maritime transportation. The success of overseas operations, landing attacks, the maintenance of troops abroad and the delivery of war materials to Russia and other Allies concerned primarily with land operations has depended to a large extent upon the availability of shipping and the ability to keep it moving. Shipping potentialities have been the major factor-often the controlling factor-in most of the problems with which the Allied High Command has had to deal.

The principal menace to shipping has been the large fleet of submarines maintained by Germany. Our enemies have employed the submarine on a world-wide scale, but the area of greatest intensity has always been the Atlantic Ocean where the bulk of German U-Boats have operated.

The German U-boat campaign is a logical extension of the submarine strategy of World War I which almost succeeded in starving Great Britain into submission. Unable to build up a powerful surface fleet in preparation for World War II, Germany planned to repeat her submarine campaign on a greater scale and to this end produced a U-boat fleet of huge size. The primary mission of this underwater navy was to cut the sea routes to the British Isles, and the enemy undersea forces went to work on this task promptly and vigorously.

The United States became involved in the matter before we were formally at war, because our vessels were being sunk in the trans-Atlantic traffic routes. Consequently, in 1941, we took measures to assist the Royal Navy to protect our shipping. As stated in more detail elsewhere in this report these measures included the transfer of 50 old destroyers to the British, and-in the latter part of 1941-the assignment of our own naval vessels to escort our merchant shipping on threatened trans-Atlantic routes.

The submarine situation was improving as 1941 drew toward a close. Escort operations on threatened convoy routes were becoming more and more effective. British aviation had become a potent factor, by direct action against the U-Boats, and also by bringing under control the German over-water air effort that had augmented the submarine offensive. Our resources were stretched, however, and we could not, for a time, deal effectively with the change in the situation brought about by our entry into the war on 7 December 1941. Our whole merchant marine then became a legitimate target, and the U-Boats, still maintaining full pressure on the trans-Atlantic routes had sufficient numbers to spread their depredations into wide areas hitherto immune. Our difficulty was that such part of the Atlantic Fleet as was not already engaged in escort duty was called upon to protect the troop movements that began with our entry into the war, leaving no adequate force to cover the many maritime traffic areas newly exposed to possible U-boat activity. The Germans were none too quick in taking advantage of their opportunity.

It was not until more than a month after the declaration of war that U-Boats began to expand their areas of operation. The first move took the form of an incursion into our coastal waters in January 1942. We had prepared for this by gathering on our eastern seaboard our scant resources in coastal antisubmarine vessels and aircraft consisting chiefly of a number of yachts and miscellaneous small craft taken over by the Navy in 1940 and 1941. To reinforce this group the Navy accelerated its program of acquiring such fishing boats and pleasure craft as could be used and supplied them with such armaments as they could carry. For patrol purposes we employed all available aircraft-Army as well as Navy. The help of the Civil Air Patrol was gratefully accepted. This heterogeneous force was useful in keeping lookout and in rescuing survivors of sunken ships. It may have interfered, too, to some extent with the freedom of U-boat movement, but the heavy losses we suffered in coastal waters during the early months of 1942 gave abundant proof of the already well known fact that stout hearts in little boats can not handle an opponent as tough as the submarine.

The Navy was deeply grateful for the assistance so eagerly volunteered by the men who courageously risked their lives in order to make the best of available means, but there had to be better means, and to provide them no effort was spared to build up an antisubmarine force of adequate types. Submarine chasers, construction of which had been initiated before the war, began to come into service early in 1942. The British and Canadian Navies were able to assign some antisubmarine vessels to work with our coastal forces. Ocean escorts were robbed to reinforce coastal areas. These measures made it possible to establish a coastal convoy system in the middle of May 1942. Antisubmarine aviation had concurrently improved in quality and material and training of personnel. The Army Air Force had volunteered the services of the First Bomber Command which was especially trained and outfitted for anti-submarine warfare.

The effect of these measures was quickly felt in the Eastern Sea Frontier (the coastal waters from Canada to Jacksonville) where they were first applied. With the establishment of the initial coastal convoy (under the command of Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews, Commander of the Eastern Sea Frontier) in the middle of May 1942, sinkings in the vital traffic lanes of the Eastern Sea Frontier dropped off nearly to zero and have so remained. While it has not been possible to clear those routes completely-there is evidence that nearly always one or more U-Boats haunt our Atlantic Coast-submarines in that area long ago ceased to be a serious problem.

When the Eastern Sea Frontier became "too hot," the U-Boats began to spread farther afield. The coastal convoy system was extended as rapidly as possible to meet them in the Gulf of Mexico (under the command of Rear Admiral J. L. Kauffman, Commander Gulf Sea Frontier), the Caribbean Sea, (under the command of Vice Admiral J. H. Hoover, Commander Caribbean Sea Frontier), and along the Atlantic Coast of South America. The undersea craft made a last bitter stand in the Trinidad area in the fall of 1942. Since then coastal waters have been relatively safe.

The problem was more difficult to meet in the open sea. The submarine chasers that do well enough in coastal waters are too small for ocean escort duty. Destroyers and other ocean escort types could not be produced as rapidly as the smaller craft. Aircraft capable of long overseas patrol were not plentiful, nor were aircraft carriers.

In consequence, protection of ocean shipping lagged to some extent. By the end of 942 however, this matter began to come under control, as our forces slowly increased, and there has been a steady improvement ever since.

The Atlantic antisubmarine campaign has been a closely integrated international operation. In the early phases of our participation, there was a considerable mixture of forces, as the needs of the situation were met as best they could be. For a time some British and Canadian vessels operated in our coastal escorts, while our destroyers were brigaded with British groups in the Atlantic and even occasionally as far afield as north Russian waters. As Allied strength improved in power and balance, it became possible to establish certain areas of national responsibility wherein the forces are predominantly of one nation. This simplifies the problem of administration and operation, but there still are-and probably always will be-some areas where forces of two or more nations work together in a single command, and always there is close coordination in deploying the forces of the several Allies.

There is a constant interchange of information between the large organizations maintained in the Admiralty and in the United States Fleet Headquarters (in the form of the Tenth Fleet which coordinates United States anti-u-boat activities in the Atlantic) to deal with the problems of control and protection of shipping. These organizations, also, keep in intimate touch with the War Shipping Administration in the United States and with the corresponding agency in Great Britain.

Command of antisubmarine forces-air and surface-that protect shipping in the coastwise sea lanes of the United States and within the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico is exercised by sea frontier commanders, each assigned to a prescribed area. The command is naval except in the Panama area where the naval sea frontier commander is under the Commanding General at Panama.

Since aircraft and surface combatant ships are most effective when working as a closely knit team, it is the policy-in antisubmarine as well as other naval operations-to weld together air and surface forces in a single command in each area.

In the Atlantic Ocean, beyond the coastal area, antisubmarine forces-air and surface-are part of the Atlantic Fleet under the command of Admiral Ingersoll. One of the units of Admiral Ingersoll's fleet is the South Atlantic Force (Vice Admiral Ingram commanding) which guards shipping in the coastal waters south of the Equator and throughout the United States area of the South Atlantic. Vice Admiral Ingrams command includes highly efficient surface and air units of Brazil, which country has wholeheartedly joined our team of submarine hunters. This team, incidentally turns its guns on surface raiders and other bigger game when the enemy provides the opportunity.

It is appropriate to express here appreciation of the services of Netherlands antisubmarine vessels which have operated with exemplary efficiency as part of the United States Naval Caribbean Force ever since we entered the war.

Antisubmarine warfare is primarily a naval function, but, in accordance with the general policy of working together, Army and Navy forces that are available, turn to together on the enemy when need arises. Thus it happens that there are instances in which Army aircraft join in the submarine hunt. The assistance of the Army Air Force has been of great value, particularly in the early phases of the war, when naval resources were inadequate. An example of this is the formation of the Army Air Force Anti-Submarine Command in the spring of 1942, which was given the equipment and training necessary to make its members antisubmarine specialists. It operated, under the command of Brigadier General (now Major General) T. W. Larson, in the United States and abroad until last November, when the Navy obtained enough equipment to take over the tasks so well performed by this command.

It is regretted that it is not possible at this time to go into the details of our antisubmarine operations in this report. It would be a great pleasure to recount the many praiseworthy exploits of our antisubmarine forces, but to do so now would jeopardize the success of future operations. The U-boat war has been a war of wits. The submarine is a weapon of stealth, and naturally enough the German operations have been shrouded in secrecy. It has been of equal importance to keep our counter measures from becoming known to the enemy. There is a constant interplay of new devices and new tactics on the part of forces working against the submarines as well as on the part of the submarines themselves, and an important element of our success has been the ability to keep the enemy from knowing what we are doing and what we are likely to do in the future. It is, also, of the utmost importance to keep our enemies from learning our antisubmarine technique, lest they turn it to their own advantage in operations against our submarines.

Submarines have not been driven from the seas, but they have changed status from menace to problem.

The Mediterranean Theater

LANDINGS IN NORTH AFRICA

In July 1942, after several months of discussions and study by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, it was decided to effect landings in force in North Africa and there establish our troops in opposition to the German forces. The strategic significance of that move since has become apparent, in that the troops which were transported and landed in North Africa subsequently moved through Sicily to Italy, and there engaged enemy land forces.

The invasion of North Africa was a complicated operation. In the first place, in view of the uncertainty of the relationships existing between the French forces in that area and the Vichy government, the political situation in North Africa required the most careful and diplomatic handling. Obviously it was to our advantage to effect unopposed landings, and the problem therefore was to persuade the French forces not to resist. We could not afford, however, to take any chances in revealing our own plans, and the dealings with the French authorities had to be undertaken with utmost discretion. As it turned out, the French forces resisted initially, but within a few days agreed to an armistice.

In addition to the foregoing difficulty, it was agreed that the forces participating in the operations would consist of British and American units. Furthermore, the nature of the operations was such that the American units had to be both Army and Navy. Command relationships were worked out accordingly, and Lieutenant General (now General of the Army) D. D. Eisenhower, USA, was appointed Commander in Chief of the Allied force. His principal naval subordinate was Admiral Sir Andrew

The plan agreed upon called for three points of attack: Oran and Algiers, both Algerian seaports on the Mediterranean, and Casablanca on the Atlantic coast of French Morocco. The attack forces assigned to effect landings at Oran and Algiers consisted of United States Army troops supported by British naval units (with a few exceptions). The Casablanca attack force was composed entirely of United States forces. This report deals chiefly with the part played by United States naval forces in the operation.

Rear Admiral (now Admiral) H. K. Hewitt, who was placed in command of the United States naval forces designated to support the Casablanca attack [Major General (later General) George S. Patton (now deceased) commanded the Army troops in this attack] left the United States on 24 October and the movement overseas proceeded without untoward incident. On 7 November the forces separated and the three attack groups, the covering force (under the command of Rear Admiral Giffen) and the air groups proceeded independently to their assigned positions for the landing attacks.

Operations in French Morocco

Operations in French Morocco were conducted by United States forces under the unified command of Rear Admiral Hewitt until General Patton's headquarters were established on shore and he was ready to assume command. The plan called for a main landing at Fedala, 14 miles north of Casablanca, and secondary landings at Port Lyautey, 65 miles north of Casablanca, and Safi, 125 miles south of Casablanca. The object of the main landing was to capture Casablanca from the land side. The principal objective at Port Lyautey was the airfield nearby, and the objective of Safi was to capture the port by direct assault and then to assist in the reduction of Casablanca.

Early in the morning of 8 November, shortly after our troops had been landed, shore batteries opened fire on the naval forces supporting the landings at Fedala. These shore batteries were engaged at intervals during that morning by AUGUSTA, BROOKLYN, and accompanying destroyers. Early in the afternoon the shore batteries on Point Fedala were captured.

Several naval actions took place between Fedala and Casablanca on 8 November. Shortly after daylight, eight submarines left Casablanca. Three others were sunk at their moorings. Early in the forenoon, two French destroyer-leaders and five destroyers sortied and stood toward Fedala. They were taken under fire and forced to retire. Shortly afterward the French light cruiser PRIMAGUET sortied and joined the French destroyers outside the harbor. The group, which stood toward Fedala, was promptly engaged by AUGUSTA and BROOKLYN, and vessels of the covering force. With the exception of one transport, which managed to get back to the harbor, all French ships were either sunk or beached. Meanwhile, the covering force, consisting of MASSACHUSETTS, WICHITA, TUSCALOOSA, and four destroyers, exchanged fire with the shore batteries at El Hank, and the French battleship JEAN BART, which was moored in the harbor, and with the French forces that had sortied from Casablanca.

Another action took place on 10 November. Late in the forenoon the enemy vessels took up a position outside of the harbor at Casablanca and opened fire on our troops ashore, whereupon AUGUSTA and four destroyers stood toward Casablanca and engaged the two enemy vessels. While in that position, AUGUSTA was fired upon by JEAN BART. AUGUSTA and accompanying destroyers immediately retired. Sometime between 8 November and 10 November JEAN BART was sunk at her moorings, but the water was shallow and she was able to continue to fire.

Thanks to the elimination of the French forces at Casablanca the landings at Fedala were successfully completed, but the aftermath was costly. On 11 November the transport JOSEPH HEWES, the oiler WINOOSKI and the destroyer HAMBLETON were torpedoed. The HEWES sank in an hour, and the other two ships were later taken to Casablanca for repairs. On 12 November the transports HUGH L. SCOTT and EDWARD RUTLEDGE were torpedoed and immediately caught fire and burned. All these attacks were assumed to be from Axis submarines.

The attack on Safi was made principally by two destroyers, BERNADOU and COLE, which were supported by gunfire from a covering group under the command of Rear Admiral L. A. Davidson, consisting of the battleship NEW YORK, the cruiser PHILADELPHIA and the destroyer MERVINE, BERNADOU, carrying Army troops, and MERVINE, with naval personnel, made a daring entry into the harbor early in the morning of the 8th, and there landed their troops without serious difficulty.

The landings at Port Lyautey were made with comparatively little difficulty. Stiff resistance was later encountered south of the mouth of the Oued Sebou River, and shore batteries were not silenced until 9 November. Ships furnishing naval gunfire and naval aircraft support included TEXAS, SAVANNAH, and a number of destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Monroe Kelly.

The Oran Operation

The naval support for the landings at Oran was furnished by the British naval forces. In order to facilitate the capture of Oran, however, it was decided to seize the harbor of Arzeu, about 25 miles east of Oran, and by a daring and well executed assault, a small raiding party, under Captain Walter Ansel, captured the harbor early in the morning of 8 November.

Also assigned to assist British naval forces was a small United States naval unit commanded by Lieutenant Commander (now Captain) George D. Dickey. This unit, together with army units, was embarked in two British ships, HMS WALNEY and HARTLAND both of which were formerly United States Coast Guard cutters. Upon entering the harbor early in the morning of 8 November, both ships were discovered and sunk.

The Algiers Operation

Included in the naval task force assigned to assist in the Algiers landings was a division of four American transports. These vessels had proceeded from Great Britain in time to arrive on the Algerian coast simultaneously with the forces arriving on the Moroccan coast from the United States. Late in the afternoon of 7 November the transport THOMAS STONE was torpedoed. Her troops thereupon were put in landing boats about 160 miles from Algiers. After a hazardous trip, during which a number Of the landing craft were lost, they succeeded in reaching the Algerian coast, but by that time hostilities had ceased.

The transport LEEDSTOWN was attacked by German aircraft on the evening of 8 November and again on the following afternoon, and was sunk by torpedoes. The loss of personnel was light.

With the successful negotiation of the armistice on 11 November, resistance from the French forces ceased, and in so far as the immediate participation of United States naval forces was concerned, the operation ended. Meanwhile, however, a naval unit on the east coast of French Morocco was established as a Sea Frontier under the command of Rear Admiral John L. Hall, Jr., and a Naval Operating Base at Oran, under the command of Rear Admiral A. C. Bennett, was also established.

The United States naval forces participating in these operations were taken from the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

LANDINGS IN SICILY

 

By May 1943, German forces had been driven from Tunisia, and by that time our fighting strength was such that we were able to make definite plans for a major offensive move against the enemy in his own territory. Sicily was selected as the immediate objective, and an amphibious operation on the largest scale yet undertaken was planned. Generally speaking, one part of the operation was to be a ship-to-shore movement in which our troops were to be taken to the scene of the landing in transports and there embarked for the actual landing in small boats. The second part was a shore-to-shore movement, the troops being transported directly to the landing beaches from the point of embarkation.

Like the North African operation, the landings in Sicily were to be combined British and American. General Eisenhower was given command of the expeditionary force and Admiral Cunningham was given command of all naval forces participating. Under these officers were three task forces, one of which was (with the usual provisions for change-over in command) under the command of Vice Admiral Hewitt, and Lieutenant General Patton. Army air forces were under the command of Brigadier General (now General) Carl Spaatz. Under the plan agreed upon, landings were to be made at five places on the island of Sicily. Three of those objectives, namely Scoglitti, Gela, and Licata, on the south coast of Sicily, were to be attacked by the American task force.

This report concerns itself primarily with the activities of the American naval forces in the operation.

In anticipation of the operation, transports, cruisers and destroyers were assembled at Oran and Algiers. Various types of landing craft were assembled at Tunis and Bizerte. There were some exceptions to that arrangement. On 5 July the largest ships of the Scoglitti force left Oran and on the following day they were joined by the ships of the Gela force from Algiers. As the force passed Tunis and Bizerte they were joined by the small craft.

Scoglitti

The landing at Scoglitti, early in the morning of July 10, which was preceded by bombardment of shore batteries and beach positions by our naval units, was accomplished with comparatively little opposition, as the Italian troops abandoned their positions at the first attack. Landings at Scoglitti were both ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore operations, and by early forenoon all troops were on the beach.

Gela

The landings at Gela were more of a shore-to-shore undertaking than those at Scoglitti. Troops landed on schedule, and the first wave encountered slight opposition, but the second wave met stiff resistance and suffered heavy casualties until the shore batteries were silenced by the naval gunfire from the light cruisers SAVANNAH and BOISE.

Licata

The landing at Licata was almost entirely a shore-to-shore operation, practically all troops being transported in small craft. After comparatively heavy opposition was encountered, all beaches were captured by early forenoon and the unloading of supplies begun. We lost the destroyer MADDOX and the minesweeper SENTINEL in the operation, both being sunk by bombs.

After the Licata landing had been accomplished, the participating forces were subjected to intense enemy air attack which lasted three days. During that three-day period, also, the enemy launched a counterattack with tanks, which took up a position from which they could fire on the beaches and at the ships standing by. When this tank attack developed, our cruisers and destroyers moved inshore and opened fire on them, pending the establishment of anti-tank fire on the beach. So effective was naval gunfire on this occasion that the tanks were successfully repulsed at a most opportune time. Had there been no naval gunfire support, or had it been less effective, our landing force in all probability would have been driven into the sea.

By the 13th, most of our ships had completed unloading and left the area.

As our troops advanced inland and along the coasts from their landing points, their advance was supported from time to time by naval gunfire. During the period 12-14 July our cruisers and destroyers bombarded Porto Empedocle and Agrigento, this bombardment being one of the factors which contributed to the capture of those towns on 17 July. This bombardment was followed by a short lull, in so far as naval participation was concerned (a second contingent of transports had already arrived) and it was not until the end of the month that our forces were again employed directly in the attacks. On 31 July fresh troops were transported to Palermo. These transports were attacked by German air forces when in Palermo harbor, but were effectively protected by our destroyers.

Throughout the month of August the Navy supported the movements of land forces as they closed in on Messina. Naval gunfire destroyed shore batteries, roads, bridges, and other objectives, and on 17 August a task force of cruisers and destroyers proceeded against southern Italy.

LANDINGS IN ITALY

Landings in Italy were in logical sequence to the occupation of Sicily. Shortly after the Sicilian operation was completed, British forces began crossing the Straits of Messina, and in order to assist these forces in their progress up the Italian Peninsula, a combined Anglo-American attack was undertaken some distance in the rear of Axis troops opposing the British. The general region chosen was that portion of the Italian coast extending from Cape Circeo to the southern headland to the Gulf of Policastro and containing the important harbors of Naples, Gaeta, and Salerno. The particular part of the coast selected for the initial assault was the Bay of Salerno, which offered a number of beaches suitable for troop landings.

Although the troops employed in the landings were exclusively British or American, the naval forces supporting them were mixed. The latter were placed under the command of Vice Admiral Hewitt and divided into two parts, one of which was predominantly American and the other predominantly British. The American (southern) attack force was assigned coverage for the landings at Salerno.

The principal American convoy assembled at Oran, and British forces formed up at Tripoli, Palermo, Termini (in Sicily) and Bizerte, and from time to time, beginning 5 September, sailed from the points of assembly.

The landings were made on the morning of 9 September, and, although successfully accomplished, met immediate resistance from the Germans, who delivered a series of air attacks for the next two days. Also, enemy fire on the ground was intense, exceeding anything previously experienced and proving considerably more troublesome than had been anticipated. In spite of the resistance, however, (which included counterattacks, some of which were broken up most opportunely, as at Licata, by fire of naval vessels) the port of Salerno was captured by the 10th, and after heavy fighting on the 11th and 12th in the vicinity of Salerno, the town of Battipaglia was captured.

On the 13th and 14th, the enemy succeeded in retaking some of the ground previously gained by our troops. Our naval units, however, continued to lend reinforcements and supplies, and Allied warships, including battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, bombarded enemy positions. During the remainder of the operation, our naval forces kept up a steady flow of supplies to the various beaches, bombarded shore objectives, helped to repel air raids, and finally on 1 October took the city of Naples under bombardment.

For several months our naval forces continued to operate in the Mediterranean area chiefly in supplying our troops in that theater and in keeping open the lines of supply.

On 22 January 1944, a joint force landed at Anzio, Italy, and there established a beach head. The amphibious task force participating was under the command of Rear Admiral F. J. Lowry. Gunfire support for the operation was furnished by cruisers and destroyers.