January - February 1943
January 28, 1943
LCI 35 Commissioned
The LCI (L) 35 was built by the New York
Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, NJ. The Muster Roll for
the LCI (35) noted that the initial crew were received aboard on January
25, 1943 at the Amphibious Training Base NNYD, Portsmouth, VA, but
the first entry in the LCI 35 Deck Log was made on January 28, 1943.
January 28 - February 6, 1943
The LCI 35 was commissioned at 1100 on Thursday
January 28, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From this date until
Saturday February 6th the crew loaded parts, ammunition, food, and
other supplies and completed degaussing operations before getting
underway for Solomons, MD.
Other WW II Action and Notable Events
|January 14, 1943
||President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill opened a wartime conference in Casablanca.
|January 18, 1943
The Soviets announced they had broken the long Nazi siege of Lenningrad.
A wartime ban on the sale of pre-sliced bread in the United States-aimed at reducing bakeries' demand for metal replacement parts-went into effect.
|January 24, 1943
||President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill concluded a wartime conference in Casablanca, Morocco.
February 7 - 8, 1943
Underway for Solomons,
On Sunday February 7th,
after running aground on a small sand bar and pulling itself off,
the LCI 35 got underway passing through the Delaware Canal, Baltimore,
and Cove Point, before arriving at Solomons, MD at 1700 on Monday
February 8th and docking at Pier 8.
Donald Lewis, the Engineering Officer's Account of the LCI 35's "Rocky Start" enroute to Solomons, MD.
The Bridge Too Near
Some of the more memorable adventures aboard the good ship LCI (L) 35 during the two years she carried us about the theaters of Hitler's war went right back to the beginning. By the beginning I mean the first time we boarded ship as landlubbers swept into the relatively new and specialized amphibious operations. We assembled at a Philly Navy yard, moved aboard one of the new LCI's and were told to "take it away" meaning proceed to base Solomons, Maryland for fitting out and training.
The old time navy types at the Philly yard must have had serious misgivings as they watched us moving out into the stream on our virgin voyage on our long way to war. Looking back over the intervening years I suppose our saving grace was an eagerness to learn and our pride in our ship, plus a merciful innocence. Like a driver with a new car we sailed away, testing all the levers, so to speak, practicing little twists and turns, the officers giving orders in nautical terms, the crew clumsy in eagerness to obey.
The initial journey to Little Creek, Virginian, involved certain trials and problems, one being the negotiation of the Delaware Canal. Now the canal is a long skinny body of water that to me did not appear wide enough to accommodate a ship of our size. That was my judgment as I viewed the situation from the conning tower. Years later I was to trave the same canal in a vastly larger vessel of the Grace Line and the Captain whipped us through the canal at a speed and a total assurance that would have been unbelievable to me on that first journey so long ago. So we poked along, barely maintaining steerage way. Taking frequent bearings to insure a course in mid-channel and anticipating crises every mile of the way. But we gradually gained confidence. It began to look easy. I remember we were greeted with friendly waves by observers on shore and we returned their salutes in jaunty fashion.
Well, the emergency we dreaded occurred in due course. There is a drawbridge carrying a highway across the canal - there may be several but I only remember the first one. The bridge must be raised to permit passage of a ship. Our charts indicated that three blasts of our hooter would cause the bridge to go up and no change of pace on our part was indicated. the of way was ours. It was a routine procedure...
Perhaps the first toots on the hooter were premature and may not have been heard at all, we were that far away. Not to worry. Three more long blasts a few minutes later surely have alerted all the bridge-raisers within miles. Still no action. We moved forward to crisis point at a speed that seemed frightening. Three more blasts, then three more, signaled our panic. I braced for the collision that would de-mast our brand new LCI in a most ignominious fashion. Thinking over the event long afterwards, I suppose the man in charge of the bridge had a better sense of timing that we gave him credit for. Probably we could have sailed through at a steady rate, the bridge would have gone up in good time and done down when we passed. But then we were not sure. Emergency action seemed indicated. Any subsequent board of inquiry would want to know what, if any, evasive action we had taken to avoid catastrophe. So the Skipper, following the axiom that one must do something in time of crisis, even if it's wrong, ordered full astern. I thought he would never get it. Reversing any ship takes a little time. With a totally green crew in the engine room it takes a little more, and one should allow for it. In the meantime we moved relentlessly forward. Then with a roar of engines (there were eight of them) we got full speed astern and the response was dramatic. Just a wee touch of reverse power would have done but we got the works. In no time at all we were moving back down the canal at flank speed and the bridge faded away forward. Before the command to stop engines could be carried out (no nautical terminology employed - just ("stop the goddam engines!!") we discovered that an LCI does not steer very well in reverse. We slewed crossways in the canal, and then as the counter order (Jesus! give me full speed ahead!") filtered through the telegraph to the mystified engineers we moved forward again with great acceleration to slam into the opposite shore. It was our first beaching, quite unscheduled. I don't know who gave the order, but anyway, at that point, the deck crew let go the anchor and confusion was total.
Then all action ceased and we began to sort things out. Only our group pride was damaged. I remember noticiing for the first time that the drawbridge was raised and a number of cars were parked on the highway awaiting our passage. Quite a few spectators had gathered......It was most embarrassing.......
In time we got straightened out, the anchor hoisted, the ship maneuvered back into the channel and facing in the correct direction. As we passed under the bridge we got a great round of applause from the gallery.
In the two years that followed we were to survive a great many beaching operation in drill and in action, but none as memorable as the first.
February 9 - 28 , 1943
Trial Run - Training
Exercises - Repairs
On February 9th, the LCI 35 made a trial
run and the crew practiced manning battle stations. The next day LCI
35 sailed to Cove Point where she joined 6 other LCIs already there
and participated in maneuvers. However, while returning to the Amphibious
Training Base at Solomons on February 11th, the LCI 35 needed some
assistance from a Navy tugboat after getting stuck on a sand bar before
she was able to return to Pier 10 at Solomons. On February 12th the
LCI 35 left Solomons and met the rest of the Flotilla in the Chesapeake
Bay and proceeded to Baltimore, MD where she docked alongside LCI
32 at the Pratt Street Pier. The LCI 35 stayed in Baltimore until
Sunday February 14th when she returned to Little Creek, VA docking
at Pier 1.
Note: The first group of LCIs to cross the Atlantic Ocean under
Commander Lorenzo Sherwood Sabin, Jr. got underway on February 15th
in very cold and stormy weather--The weather reported in the Deck
Log of LCI 35 on February 14th indicated that the weather was cloudy
and the water was very rough.
For the rest of February the LCI 35 crew continued with general and
routine duties, had repairs made to the ship*, took on supplies and
ammunition, and practiced beach landings.
* The LCI 35 had 2 separate incidents with LCI 32 during this month.
The first occurred on February 17th after both ships successfully
completed beaching exercises and were heading back to Little Creek,
VA. While LCI 35 was letting a ferry pass in the jetties, LCI 32 was
at the same time trying to retract from being aground on a sandbar
finally pulling loose at the exact moment the LCI 35 passed her stern.
LCI 32 rammed LCI 35's port bow and LCI 35 indicated that they could
not avoid the collision.
Less than a week later on February 22nd while docking at St. Helena
Berth 113, the LCI 35 from a standstill ran full speed ahead into
the LCI 32. This incident occurred when a misunderstanding occurred
in the LCI 35 engine room and the LCI 32 was only 2 feet ahead of
LCI 35. Although no damage was noted for the LCI 32, a small hole
in the port bow of the LCI 35 was noted in the Deck Log.
Other WW II Action and Notable Events
|February 3, 1943
The US transport ship Dorchester carrying troops to Greenland was hit by a torpedo and sank. (Four Army chaplains gave their life belts to four other men and went down with the ship.)
|February 9. 1943
||The battle of Guadalcanal in the southwestern Pacific ended with an American victory over Japanese forces.
|February 25, 1943
||US troops reoccupied the Kasserine Pass