Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Lt. Richard Winters at Brecourt Manor - (6/6/1944) - Jan 21st, 2004
Posted on 01/21/2004 12:00:23 AM PST by SAMWolf
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It can be said that D-Day, June 6th, 1944, is one of most important days in military history. That long-awaited day, the Allied invasion, combining forces mainly of the United States, Great Britain and Canada, assaulted the Normandy beaches and began to drive back the German occupying forces from western Europe. The landings from the English Channel took place primarily in Normandy; the Americans landed in the southeastern part of the Contentin Peninsula, code-named Utah Beach and just to the east at a placed code-named Omaha Beach.
Five hours before the invasion began, C-47s and gliders made drops of paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions the preceding night into the peninsula with the objective of disrupting German lines of communications and defenses. Due to heavy anti-aircraft fire and inexperienced pilots, most of the paratroopers were given the green light to jump before reaching their assigned drop zones. The troopers were scattered about the peninsula and spent most of the night time trying to muster under the cover of darkness. Many troopers were killed or taken prisoner, but some limited numbers did manage to assemble and begin their missions.
As day broke the massive invasion of Allied forces rolled in from the sea but was met with heavy resistance from the German coastal defenses. American forces at parts of Utah Beach were taking indirect fire from a battery of 105 mm guns just inland. These guns were situated in a field to the north of an estate known as Brecourt Manor and just south of the hamlet of Le Grand Chemin. It was imperative that these guns were taken out, as they they were being directed by telephone from a forward observation post on the beach.
There is no arguing that the assault at Brecourt Manor was a well-executed operation. Given the task of assaulting the placement, Lt. Richard Winters, Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, collected 13 others, planned and led the assault. As team member Sgt. Carwood Lipton later said, "The attack was a unique example of a small, well-led assault force overcoming and routing a much larger force. It was the high morale of E Company men, the quickness and audacity of the frontal attack, and the fire into their positions from different directions that demoralized the German forces and convinced them that they were being hit by a much larger force." (Band of Brothers, Ambrose pg. 102) After being assigned the task and gathering his team, Winters had everyone drop everything save their guns, ammunition and grenades (D Day and the Screaming Eagles, Koskimaki pg. 231).
Lt. Richard Winters
After a night of havoc with sporadic contact with the enemy, Lt. Richard Winters, Easy Company (506 P.I.R.) managed to collect some of his men and men from other companies. He had landed on the northwest corner of Ste. Mere Eglise and steadily made his way, picking up others, to the east towards the beaches and then south. Eventually he assembled with larger numbers, and moving southward from Le Grand Chemin enemy contact was made; just south of Le Grand Chemin and north of Brecourt Manor a battery of 105 mm guns was shelling Utah Beach. Without realizing most of E Company was still making its way to the assembly point, Lt. Winters was ordered to take his men and knock out the placement. Knowing little more than the placement of a machine gun and one artillery piece, Winters and his force of 12 men moved south (Koskimaki, 230 - 231). On scouting the area, Winters found that there were actually four 105 mm guns connected by a trench network and defended from a distance by a collection of German MG42 nests.
The highlight area in the middle of the diagram marks where the assault was setup and begun.
Upon arrival to close proximity to the battery, Lt. Winters set up two 30-caliber machine gun positions to act as bases of fire. Pvts. Joe Liebgott and Cleveland Petty were assigned one position, while Pvts. John Plesha and Walter Hendrix manned the second. Sgts. Mike Ranney and Carwood Lipton were sent northwesterly (past the old truck and rubbish pile) to establish covering fire as well. Lipton, with limited visibility, climbed a tree for a better view, but in an exposed position. Sgts. Bill Guarnere and Don Malarkey accompanied Lt Buck Compton down the tree line in a flanking position of the German MG42 nest.
Pvts. Joe Liebgott and Cleveland Petty were given the order to commence firing. Lipton and Ranney also began harrassing fire from the tree position. Meanwhile Compton, Malarkey and Guarnere were in position to attack from the German machine gun's right flank...
...from the gun's right flank they threw grenades and began charging in thus knocking out the MG42. Lt. Carwood Lipton later recalled, "And then, just like in the movies, I saw Compton and Guarnere running in and throwing grenades with almost every step." (Koskimaki, pg. 230)
Winters, along with his group (1) then charged along the tree line then out through the field to the trench system. The Germans in gun position one were overwhelmed...
...and abandoned the first gun position. What German infantry was left retreated south in the trench system towards the next gun and south across the field towards Brecourt Manor only to be fired on in the open. Contrary to the HBO series depicting Lorraine has having trouble hitting a retreating German, it was Bill Guarnere who actually missed his man. "Guanere missed the ... Jerry, but Winters put a bullet in his back. Guarnere followed that up by pumping the wounded man full of lead with his tommy gun." (Ambrose, 98)
The assault team now began to take fire from a line of MG42 nests located in the hedges to the west and southwest. Additionally the Germans in the next gun position began to fire and throw grenades. It was here in the north end of the trenches, as gun one was taken and about to be destroyed, that Popeye Wynn was injured by grenade, and Joe Toye had two close calls.
With the first gun under control, the attack on the second gun was put into place, but Winters, sensing a counterattack, checked the trench system. "I flopped down and by lying prone I could look through the connecting trench to the next position, and sure enough there were two of them setting up a machine gun, getting ready to fire. I got the first shot in however, and hit the gunner in the hip. The second...in the shoulder." (Koskimaki, pg 232)
The MG42 fire from the west across the field was almost non- stop at this point, so all activity was limited to a crouch in the trench system. Lipton made his way up to the first gun only to discover that he had left his musette bag with explosives behind. He left, as ordered, to retrieve his bag.
Winters now ordered the assault on the second gun. Leaving three men on the first 105, Winters led five others in a charge on the gun. With only one casualty the gun was taken (Ambrose 100). It was at the second 105 position that Winters discovered the radio and map room. This was an important find, as the maps contains locations of every German battery on the Contentin Peninsula. Winters ordered the radios and remaining materials destroyed.
With two guns under their control, Winters ordered the four machine gunners forward to suppress the MG42 fire from across the field. The team was joined by Pvt. John D. Hall of A Company. Hall led the charge on the third gun but was killed. However, the gun was taken (Ambrose, pg. 100). Captain Hester, S3, then joined the team, bringing with him incendiary grenades. Winters ordered all the captured guns destroyed.
Five more men, led by Lt. Ronald Spiers of D Company, arrived to reinforce the effort. Speirs led the assault on the fourth and final gun. The gun was taken but not without the loss of one man, "Rusty" Houch of F Company (Ambrose 101). All guns were now capture and effectively put out of operating order.
With all guns captured and destroyed, Winters ordered a fallback to the original starting point and subsequet retreat to Le Grand Chemin.
"Winters' casualties were four dead, two wounded. He and his men had killed 15 Germans, wounded many more and taken twelve prisoner; in short they had wiped out the 50 man platoon of elite German paratroops defending the guns, and scattered the gun crews" (Ambrose, pg. 102)
10,5-cm leichte Feldhaubitze 18/40
For their actions, Lt Richard Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross, while Compton, Guarnere, Lorraine and Toye received the Silver Star; Lipton, Malarkey, Ranney, Liebgott, Hendrix, Plesha, Petty and Wynn recieved the Bronze Star (Ambrose, pg. 104).
"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory."
-- Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
In his analysis of combat leadership, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower once remarked, "Optimism and pessimism are infectious and they spread more rapidly from the head downward than in any other direction. Optimism has a most extraordinary effect upon all with whom the commander comes in contact." Ike's assessment remains as valid for America's Army in the 21st century as it did in 1944, particularly at the tactical level of war, where battles are won or lost under the calm direction of company and platoon commanders. An officer who best personified Ike's dictum of optimism and courage was Capt. Richard Winters, commanding Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II.
Seeking adventure, he next volunteered for airborne training. In Winters' eyes, the airborne training appeared to be "interesting work." The troopers were "hard, lean, bronzed and tough ...a proud and cocky bunch." Moreover, the physical training was very appealing to Winters. Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 177 pounds, he was accustomed to lots of running and outdoor activity. Also, the additional jump pay might help pay off his father's home mortgage.
When the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was formed in August, Winters became one of the original members of Easy Company. Training at Camp Toccoa, Ga., was rugged, but Winters relished the camaraderie and challenges associated with airborne training. Assigned command of Easy's 2nd Platoon, he soon completed his five jumps and received his airborne wings. In mid-April 1943, he had also assumed the duties of company executive officer, a position that he found brought new challenges. Still a first lieutenant, Winters remained with Easy Company when the regiment joined the 101st Airborne Division in June 1943. Three months later, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) deployed to England to prepare for the ensuing invasion of the European continent.
For those soldiers, sailors and airmen who participated in D-Day, June 6 was unlike any day in history. And it was on D-Day that Dick Winters had his rendezvous with destiny. Easy Company's mission, as with the other units within the 101st Airborne Division, was to seize the causeways behind Utah Beach to facilitate the expansion of the beachhead. Jumping from a C-47 Dakota at 150 miles per hour and at 500 feet and less, the Division's drop was scattered across the Cotentin Peninsula. Winters came down near the town of Ste. Mere-Eglise, several kilometers from the intended drop zone. Rallying a couple of troopers, he soon was en route to Ste. Marie-du-Mont, destined to be the Division's headquarters for most of D-Day. En route, Winters stumbled across the battalion staff and 40 men of D Company. By 7:00 a.m., E Company consisted of two light machine guns, one bazooka with no ammunition, one 60 mm mortar, nine riflemen and two officers. No one knew the whereabouts of the company commander, so Winters took command.
Three kilometers from Ste. Marie-du-Mont, the column encountered sustained enemy fire, and Winters was summoned to the front. The battalion commander informed Winters that there was a four-gun battery of German 105 mm cannons, a few hundred meters to the front across an open field opposite a French farmhouse called Brécourt Manor. The battery was set up in a hedgerow and defended by a 50-man German platoon. The guns were firing directly down a causeway leading to Utah Beach. The battalion operations officer directed Winters to take the battery. Taking his company, Winters made a careful reconnaissance and then issued orders for an assault. The attack would consist of a frontal assault led by Winters with covering fire from several directions to pin down the Germans. Winters selected three soldiers for the assault: Pvt.Gerald Lorraine, Pvt. Popeye Wynn and Cpl. Joe Toye. Asked later why he selected these three, Winters recalled, "In combat you look for killers.' Many thought they were killers and wanted to prove it. They are, however, few and far between."
With the first gun out of action, Winters grabbed two other soldiers and charged the second gun. Throwing hand grenades and firing their rifles, they took the second howitzer. Next to the gun was a case with a map that showed all the German artillery in the Cotentin Peninsula. Winters sent the map back to battalion headquarters and then directed another assault which rapidly captured the third gun. Reinforcements led by an officer from D Company soon arrived. Winters briefly outlined the situation and then watched D Company capture the last gun. With the mission complete, Winters ordered a withdrawal. It was 11:30 a.m., roughly three hours since Winters had received the order to take the battery. In summarizing Easy's action, historian Stephen Ambrose notes that with 12 men, what amounted to a squad, later reinforced by elements of D Company, Winters had destroyed a German battery, killed 15 Germans, wounded many more, and taken 12 prisoners. It would be a gross exaggeration to say that Easy Company saved the day at Utah Beach, but reasonable to say that it had made an important contribution to the success of the invasion.
Winters' action at Brécourt Manor was a textbook infantry assault, frequently studied at the U.S. Military Academy. Ever the self-effacing leader, Winters described the action to combat historian S.L.A. Marshall simply as laying down a base of fire to cover the assault. Left unsaid was his leadership by example. At every turn he had made the correct decision, from selecting the right men for each task, to making an accurate reconnaissance of the enemy position, to leading the maneuver element in person. In his own analysis, Winters credited his training and preparing for D-Day, his "apogee" in command. When the day was finally over, he wrote in his diary that if he survived the war, he would find an isolated farm somewhere and spend the rest of his life in peace.
For Dick Winters, command of Easy Company was the culmination of a career that had begun but two short years earlier. He would lead the company with great distinction during Operation Market-Garden in mid-September, and then remain in Holland until late November. Trained for light infantry assault, the American airborne divisions were not designed for sustained infantry combat. Excessive casualties in Normandy and in subsequent operations, however, dictated that both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions remain in combat. For Winters and Easy Company that meant defending a 5-kilometer wide "island" that lay between the Lower Rhine on the north and the Waal River on the south. On October 5, in defense of the "island," Winters again wrote a shining page in the history of Easy. At the time, Easy Company consisted of 130 men and had to cover 3 kilometers along the front. Winters deployed his men with two platoons forward and one in reserve along a dike that ran roughly parallel to his front.
Now a veteran company commander, Winters received word that an enemy company was attempting to penetrate his defenses. Gathering half his reserve platoon, roughly 15 men, he immediately moved forward. Repeatedly halting the patrol to make a personal reconnaissance, Winters brought his men up to a small ditch adjacent to an enemy machine gun nest. The paratroopers wiped out the enemy position and Winters called up the remainder of the platoon. Carefully orchestrating another assault, he then directed that his men attack toward the road, behind which unknown numbers of the enemy were huddling. With two squads providing covering fire, Winters ordered the remaining squad to fix bayonets and to follow him across 200 yards of open ground.
Col. Sink issued a general order, citing 1st Platoon's "daring attack and skillful maneuver." Four days later, he promoted Winters to executive officer of the 2nd Battalion. Winters' days in command of Easy were at an end, but it had been a glorious close. With only 35 men, he had routed two German companies of 300 men, killed 50, captured 11 and wounded approximately 100 enemy troops -- all at a cost of one dead and 22 wounded Americans. Winters later said this attack was "the highlight of all E Company actions for the entire war, even better than D-Day, because it demonstrated Easy's overall superiority in every phase of infantry tactics: patrol, defense, attack under a base of fire, withdrawal, and above all, superior marksmanship with rifles, machine gun and mortar fire." October 5 was also the last day that Dick Winters fired his weapon in anger.
For Winters, the war would continue. His toughest Fight was at Bastogne, and in March he received command of 2nd Battalion, which he led with distinction until V-E Day. At war's end, his battalion was at Berchtesgaden, but his heart was always with the men of Easy Company. What made Easy so special under Winters? The answer was simple. Shared hardship and stress created a bond that still exists today. The original members of Easy Company still sit together at reunions because they formed the core. To a man, the survivors acknowledge that Capt. Dick Winters was the best combat commander they had during the entire war. Winters shuns such acclaim, noting that "hardship and death bring a family together. Officers aren't family; the family belongs to the men, not the officers."
The above is an exerpt from "Captains Courageous" by Col. Cole C. Kingseed, USA Ret. published in Army Magazine Jan/2002
| "Looks like your going to be surrounded."
-- Lt. George Rice
"We're paratroopers, Lt., we're supposed to be surrounded."
-- Captain Richard Winters
'My grandson asked me once, "Grandpa, are you a hero?" I told him, "No, but I served with a company of them." '
-- Major Richard Winters
Be sure to update your anti-virsu software. There's a computer virus really making the rounds.
We missed out on all the snow yesterday. The storm system fizzled out before it had any chance to impact us.
Today's classic warship, USS South Dakota (BB-57)
South Dakota class battleship
beam. 108' 2"
draft. 36' 4"
speed. 27.8 k.
armament. 9 16", 16 5", 68 40mm., 76 20mm.
The USS South Dakota (BB-57) was laid down on 5 July 1939 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 7 June 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Harlan J. Bushfield; and commissioned on 20 March 1942, Capt. Thomas L. Gatch in command.
After fitting out at Philadelphia, South Dakota held shakedown training from 3 June to 26 July. She stood out of Philadelphia Navy Yard on 16 August and headed for Panama. The battleship transited the Panama Canal on 21 August and set course for the Tonga Islands, arriving at Nukualofa, Tongatabu, on 4 September. Two days later, she struck an uncharted corral pinnacle in Lahai Passage and suffered extensive damage to her hull. On 12 September, the ship sailed for the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard and repairs.
South Dakota was ready for sea again on 12 October and began training with Task Force (TF) 16 which was built around aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6). The task force sortied from Pearl Harbor on 16 October to join TF 17, which was centered on carrier Hornet (CV-8), northeast of Espiritu Santo. The rendezvous was made on the 24th; and the combined force, now operating as TF 61 under Rear Admiral T. C. Kinkaid, was ordered to make a sweep of the Santa Cruz Islands and then move southwest to block any Japanese forces approaching Guadalcanal.
"Catalina" patrol bombers sighted a Japanese carrier force at noon on the 25th, and TF 61 steamed northwest to intercept it. Early the next morning, when all carrier forces were within striking range, a Japanese snooper spotted the American force, triggering the Battle of Santa Cruz. South Dakota and the Enterprise group were approximately 10 miles from the Hornet group when the air battle began.
The first enemy attack was concentrated against Hornet. At 1045, South Dakota was operating near Enterprise to provide protective fire from her numerous antiaircraft guns when their group was attacked by dive bombers. Approximately an hour later, about 40 torpedo planes struck at the two ships. A third aerial assault, made by dive bombers and torpedo planes; came in at 1230. South Dakota sustained a 500-pound bomb hit on top of her number one turret. When the action was broken off that evening, the American forces retired toward Noumea, New Caledonia, with the battleship credited with downing 26 enemy planes.
At 0414 on 30 October, while avoiding a submarine contact, South Dakota and Mahan (DD-364) collided, causing damage to both ships. Mahan's bow was turned to port and crumpled to frame 14, and a fire, soon brought under control, started in her forward hold. Both ships continued to Noumea where Vestal (AR-4) repaired South Dakota's collision and battle damage.
On 11 November, South Dakota, as part of TF 16, sortied from Noumea for Guadalcanal. On 13 November, she joined battleship Washington (BB-56) and destroyers Preston (DD-379), Walke (DD- 418), Benham (DD-397), and Gwin (DD-433) to form TF 64 under command of Rear Admiral W. A. Lee. The next evening at 2330, the force was operating 50 miles southwest of Guadalcanal when Lee learned that an enemy convoy was coming through the passage off Savo sometime between 0030 an d 0230. This was Admiral Kondo's bombardment group consisting of battleship Kirishima; heavy cruisers Takao and Atago; and a destroyer screen.
Admiral Kondo's forces were divided into three sections: the bombardment group; a close screen of cruiser Nagara and six destroyers; and a distant screen of cruiser Sendai and three destroyers in the van of the other forces. A quarter moon assured good visibility. Three ships were visually sighted from the bridge of South Dakota, range 18,100 yards. Washington fired on the leading ship, thought to be a battleship or heavy cruiser; and, a minute later, South Dakota's main battery opened on the ship nearest to her. Both initial salvos started fires on the targets. South Dakota then fired on another target and continued firing until it disappeared from her radar screen. Turret No. 3-firing over her stern and demolishing her own planes in the process-opened on another target and continued firing until the target was thought to sink. Her secondary batteries were firing at eight destroyers close to the shore of Savo Island.
A short lull followed after which radar plot showed four enemy ships, just clear of the left tangent of Savo, approaching from the starboard bow; range 5,800 yards. Searchlights from the second ship in the enemy column illuminated South Dakota. Washington opened with her main battery on the leading, and largest, Japanese ship. South Dakota's secondary batteries put out the lights; and she shifted all batteries to bear on the third ship, believed to be a cruiser, which soon gushed smoke. South Dakota, which had been under fire from at least three of the ships, had taken 42 hits which caused considerable damage. Her radio communications failed; radar plot was demolished; three fire control radars were damaged; there was a fire in her foremast; and she had lost track of Washington. As she was no longer receiving enemy fire and there were no remaining targets, she withdrew; met Washington at a prearranged rendezvous; and proceeded to Noumea. Of the American destroyers , only Gwin returned to port. The other three had been severely damaged early in the engagement. Walke and Preston were sunk. Benham had part of her bow blown off by a torpedo and, while en route to Noumea with the damaged Gwin as her escort, had to be abandoned. Gwin then sank her by gunfire. On the enemy side, hits had been scored on Takao and Atago; Kirishima and destroyer Ayanami, severely damaged by gunfire, were abandoned and scuttled.
Prometheus (AR-3) repaired some of the damage inflicted on South Dakota at Noumea, enabling the battleship to sail on the 25th for Tongatabu and thence for home. South Dakota arrived at New York on 18 December 1942 for an overhaul and the completion of repairs to her battle damage. She was back at sea on 25 February 1943 and, following sea trials, operated with Ranger (CV-4) in the North Atlantic until mid-April.
The battleship next operated with the British Home Fleet, based at Scapa Flow, until 1 August when she returned to Norfolk. On 21 August, South Dakota stood out of Norfolk en route to Efate Island, arriving at Havannah Harbor on 14 September. She moved to Fiji on 7 November and sortied from there four days later with Battleship Divisions (BatDiv) 8 and 9 in support of Task Group (TG) 50.1, the Carrier Interceptor Group, for Operation "Galvanic," the Gilbert Islands assault. The carriers launched at tacks against Jaluit and Mili atolls, Marshall Islands, on 19 November, to neutralize enemy airfields there. The force then provided air support for the amphibious landings on Makin and Tarawa, Gilbert Islands.
South Dakota, with five other battleships, formed another task group on 8 December to bombard Nauru Island. A joint aerial attack and shore bombardment severely damaged enemy shore installations and airfields there. South Dakota retired to Efate on 12 December 1943 for upkeep and rearming. Her next action occurred on 29 January 1944 when the carriers launched attacks against Roi and Namur, Marshall Islands. The next day, the battleship moved in to shell enemy positions on Roi and Namur and then rejoined the carriers as they provided air support for the amphibious landings on Kwajalein, Majuro, Roi, and Namur.
South Dakota departed the Marshall Islands on 12 February with the Truk striking force which launched attacks against that Japanese stronghold on 17 and 18 February. Six days later, she was in the screen for the carriers which launched the first air attacks against the Marianas. The force was under constant enemy air attack, and South Dakota splashed four Japanese planes. She returned to Majuro from 26 February until 22 March when she sailed with the fast carrier forces of the of the 5th Fleet. Air strikes were delivered from 30 March until 1 April against Palau, Yap, Woleai, and Ulithi in the Western Caroline Islands.
South Dakota returned to Majuro on 6 April and sailed the following week, again accompanying the fast carriers. On 21 April, strikes were launched against Hollandia, New Guinea, and the following day against Aitape, Tanahmerah, and Humboldt Bays to support the Army landings. On 29 and 30 April, the carriers, with South Dakota still in the screen, returned to Truk and bombed that base. The next day, the battleship was part of a surface bombardment group that shelled Ponape Island in the Carolines. She returned to Majuro for upkeep from 4 May to 5 June when she got underway with TF 58 to participate in Operation "Forager," the landings on Saipan and Tinian. The carriers began launching attacks on the 11th against enemy installations throughout the islands. On the 13th, South Dakota and six other battleships were detached from the fast carrier groups to bombard Saipan and Tinian, South Dakota shelled the northwest coast of Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, for over six hours with both her primary and secondary batteries.
On the evening of the 15th, 8 to 12 enemy fighters and bombers broke through the combat air patrol and attacked the task group. South Dakota fired at four and splashed one; and the remaining 11 were shot down by fire from other ships. On 19 June, the battleship was again operating with the fast carriers. It was known that a major Japanese force was approaching from the west, and the American capital ships were placed so that they could continue to support the ground forces on Saipan and also intercept this enemy force.
At 1012, a large group of bogies was reported coming in from the west. At 1049, a "Judy" dropped a 500-pound bomb on South Dakota's main deck where it blew a large hole, cut wiring and piping, but inflicted no other serious material damage. However, personnel losses were heavy: 24 killed and 27 wounded. The ship continued to fight throughout the day as air attacks were continuous. This was the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea and was called the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" as the Jap anese lost over 300 aircraft. The air battle continued throughout the 20th. When it ended, the badly mauled Japanese fleet no longer posed a threat to the American conquest of the Marianas. The task group returned to Ulithi on 27 June, and South Dakota sailed via Pearl Harbor to the west coast, arriving at Puget Sound on 10 July.
The battleship was overhauled at the navy yard there; and, after sea trials, sailed on 26 August for Pearl Harbor. South Dakota was routed to Ulithi and, upon her arrival, was attached to TG 38.3; one of four task groups of formed Task Force 38, the Fast Carrier Task Force. The task force sortied on 6 October and, four days later, launched air attacks against Okinawa. On the 12th and 13th, attacks were flown against shipping and installations in Formosa. Three of the groups, including South Dakota's, retired and operated east of the Philippine Islands until 24 December. During the operation, carriers of the group flew strikes against targets on Manila and Luzon to support the landings on Mindoro. From 30 December 1944 through 26 January 1945, the fast carriers alternated strikes between Formosa on 3, 4, 9, 15, and 21 January; Luzon on the 6th and 7th; Cape San Jacques and Camranh Bay on the 12th; Hong Kong and Hainan on the 16th; and against Okinawa on 22 January.
South Dakota operated with the fast carriers in their strikes against the Tokyo area on 17 February and against Iwo Jima on the 19th and 20th in support of amphibious landings there. Tokyo again was the target on the 25th, and Okinawa's turn came on 1 March. After rearming at Ulithi, the task groups sailed toward Japan again and pounded targets in the Kobe, Kure, and Kyushu areas on 18 and 19 March. They launched strikes against Okinawa on the 23d; and, on the 24th, the battleship joined a bombardment group which shelled southeastern Okinawa. She rejoined her task group which, after bombing Okinawa, struck enemy airfields in southern Kyushu on the 29th and then, from 31 March through 3 April, again pounded targets on Okinawa. On 7 April, all fast carriers launched attacks against an enemy fleet off southwest Kyushu, sinking Japan's fast super battleship Yamato, two cruisers, and four destroyers.
South Dakota once more participated in shore bombardment on southeastern Okinawa on 19 April in support of an all-out offensive by the XXIV Army Corps against enemy lines.
While rearming from Wrangell (AE-12) on 6 May, a tank of 16-inch high capacity powder exploded, causing a fire and exploding four more tanks. Turret No. 2 magazines were flooded and the fires put out. The ship lost three men killed instantly; eight more died of injuries; and 24 others suffered non-fatal wounds. The ship retired to Guam from 11 to 29 May when she sailed for Leyte, arriving on 1 June.
South Dakota departed Leyte on 1 July, supporting the carriers of TG 38.1 which attacked the Tokyo area on the 10th. On 14 July, as part of a bombardment group, she participated in the shelling of the Kamaishi Steel Works, Kamaishi, Honshu, Japan. This was the first gunfire attack on the Japanese home islands by heavy warships. From 15 through 28 March, South Dakota again supported the carriers as they launched strikes against Honshu and Hokkaido. On the night of 29 and 30 July, she participated in the shore bombardment of Hamamatsu, Honshu, and, on the 9th, again shelled Kamaishi. The battleship supported the carriers in strikes against northern Honshu on 10 August, and in the Tokyo area on the 18th and 15th. The latter was the last strike of the war for, later that day, Japan capitulated.
She anchored in Sagami Wan, Honshu, on 27 August and entered Tokyo Bay on the 29th. South Dakota steamed out of Tokyo Bay on 20 September and proceeded, via Okinawa and Pearl Harbor, to the west coast of the United States. On 29 October, she moved down the coast from San Francisco to San Pedro. She sailed from the west coast on 8 January 1946 for Philadelphia and a yard overhaul. In June, she was attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On 31 January 1947, she was placed in reserve, out of commission. The battleship remained in that status until she was struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1962. On 25 October 1962, she was sold to Lipsett Division, Luria Bros. and Co., Inc., for scrap.
South Dakota received 13 battle stars for World War II service.
1824 January 21
Thomas Jackson was born at Clarksburg, [West] Virginia. He took a middle initial at West Point to differentiate himself from Thomas K. Jackson, who was a student. Gradually the J became Jonathan (after his father).
Parents: Jonathan Jackson (1790-1826) an attorney, and Julia Beckwith Neale (1798-1831). They were married in September 1817 and had four children: Elizabeth (1819-1826); Warren (1821-1841); Thomas (1824-1863), and Laura Ann (1826-1911).
Jackson's sister Elizabeth (age 6) and his father died of typhoid fever. Julia Jackson gave birth to Laura the day after her husband died. Widowed at age 28, Julia was left with extensive debts and the family was impoverished.
Julia Jackson remarried. Her new husband, Blake Woodson, disliked his stepchildren and the family had financial difficulties. A short time after the marriage, Thomas and Laura were sent to live with Jackson relatives in Jackson's Mill [West] Virginia; Warren was sent to Neale relatives. Julia Jackson died, as a result of childbirth complications, on Dec. 4, 1831. She left behind the three Jackson siblings and a newborn son (Thomas's half brother), William Wirt Woodson (1831-1875). Jackson and Laura spent the remaining years of childhood with their paternal uncles. Jackson's brother, Warren, died of tuberculosis in 1841.
June 1842 June-1846
Jackson attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. Jackson was not the first choice for his congressional district's appointment, but the top applicant withdrew from the academy after only one day. Jackson graduated in June 1846, standing 17th out of 59 graduates. Jackson began his U.S. Army career as a 2nd Lt., First Artillery Regiment. In 1844, Jackson's beloved sister, Laura, married Jonathan Arnold.
United States Army officer. Served in the Mexican War, 1846-1848; stationed at Carlisle Barracks, PA; Ft. Hamilton, NY; Ft. Meade, FL.
1851- April 1861
In the spring of 1851 Jackson was offered and accepted the appointment to teach at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia; he resigned from the army.
Reported for duty at VMI on August 13, 1851. He taught natural and experimental philosophy (related to modern day physics and including physics, astronomy, acoustics, optics, and other scientific courses).
On August 4, 1853, Jackson married Elinor Junkin (1825-1854), daughter of Dr. George Junkin (President of Washington College) and Julia Miller Junkin. Elinor (Ellie) died in childbirth on October 22, 1854. Their child, a son, was stillborn.
During the summer of 1856 Jackson toured Europe, visiting Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, England and Scotland.
On July 16, 1857, Jackson married for the second time. His wife was Mary Anna Morrison (1831-1915), daughter of Robert Hall Morrison and Mary Graham Morrison. Mary Anna's family resided in North Carolina; her father was the retired President of Davidson College.
Mary Anna gave birth to a daughter, Mary Graham, on April 30, 1858; the baby died less than a month later, on May 25.
In November 1859, Jackson was one of the VMI officers who accompanied a contingent of VMI cadets to Harper's Ferry, where they stood guard at the execution of abolitionist John Brown.
April 21, 1861 - the VMI Corps of Cadets was ordered to Richmond to serve as drillmasters for new army recruits. Jackson was placed in command of the cadets.
April 27, 1861 - Gov. John Letcher ordered Col. Jackson to take command at Harper's Ferry, where he organized the troops that would soon comprise the famous "Stonewall Brigade" (2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th and 33rd Virginia Infantry Regiments; Rockbridge Artillery; all were from the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia).
July 1861 - Promoted to Brigadier General. Battle of 1st Manassas, where he acquired the legendary nickname Stonewall. "Look, there stands Jackson like a stone wall."
October 1861 - Promoted to Major General. Placed in command of the Valley of Virginia (Shenandoah Valley) 1862 May & June - Jackson's brilliant Shenandoah Valley Campaign; victories at Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys and Port Republic. Following the successful campaign, Jackson was ordered to join Gen. Lee in the Peninsula (Eastern Virginia).
1862 June-September. Battles of Cedar Mountain, Clark's Mt., 2nd Manassas (July 21), Antietam (September 17).
1862 October - Lee reorganized his army into two corps. Jackson was promoted to Lt. General and given command of the new Second Corps. Jackson was now in charge of half of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
1862 November - Jackson's daughter, Julia Laura, was born.
1862 December 13 - Battle of Fredericksburg
1862 December-1863 March - In quarters at Moss Neck, 10 miles south of Fredericksburg. The estate was owned by the Corbin family, who offered their home as winter headquarters.
1863 April - in camp at Hamilton's Crossing
1863 May 1 - Battle of Chancellorsville begins. 1863 May 2, 9:00 p.m. - While reconnoitering with members of his staff, Jackson was accidentally fired upon by his own troops. The 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment was responsible for the "friendly fire" incident. Jackson was struck by three .57 caliber bullets. He was taken to a field hospital near the battlefield, where his left arm was amputated.
1863 May 4 - Jackson was moved to a field hospital at the home of Thomas and Mary Chandler, near Guiney Station, approximately 30 miles from the battlefield.
1863 May 10 - Jackson died at 3:15 p.m. His last words were "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."
1863 May 15. Jackson's funeral took place in Lexington, Virginia, the town that was Jackson's home during his years as Professor at VMI.
Notice, everyone, how effective real riflemen are in war.
Appears they were up against Fallschirmyaeger, and early war ones, the sort of lads who defended Monte Cassino town. Brings a feeling of quiet satisfaction.
-- Captain Richard Winters
This is priceless.
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