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Historical Media, LLC
150. US WWII Navy OFFICER
Album, Dog Tag & Continuous Service
Record - LST 312 -
Sicily, Salerno, OMAHA BEACH
Officer Derrel Lee DIRKS served on many
vessels. Served on the USS LST 312. The LST
312 participated in the Sicilian, Salerno
AND D-Day OMAHA BEACH landings!! Comes with
his CSR showing all vessels served on,
listed for commendation for participation in
invasion Sicily as well as Salerno in Italy.
Several original photos, more
Derrel Dirks recalls
The following is an excerpt from an article from LST SCUTTLEBUTT newsletter,
November/December1990 issue. Chief Dirks served aboard the 312 with Lt. P.A.
Finlayson. I've found several correspondences between Derrel and Pat in the
footlocker. I haven't had the time to read all the letters, just group and
bundle them. As I do, I know that I'll come across more articles, photos,
and important bits. I'll be sharing various footlocker finds in the future.
...Another news item that I believe will be of interest is that on 21 April,
1944 the British Admiralty gave a special commendation to Flotilla I Group I
of LSTs 311, 312, 313, 344, 250, 337, 338 (that’s all I can remember) for
their participation in the landing at Salerno, Italy. We were attached to
the British Eighth Army.
LST 312 was the flagship. LST 313 was hit and burned on the beach at Gela,
Sicily. I noticed in the March-April issue that LST 338 claimed to be the
first ship to hit the beach at Gela. We hit the beach at the same time she
did but we got stuck on a sand bar. After the 388 retracted 344 came in,
then 311 and finally 312 which was hit by a bomb just aft of the elevator.
We had launched our pontoons and the 311 took one of them and put it at the
stern of the 313 rescuing most of her crew. Shortly afterwards our stern
anchor was hit by a bomb and we broached on the beach with our stern anchor
was hit by a bomb and we broached on the beach with our stern less than 100
yards from the 313 with every now and then an army truck load of ammunition
exploding showing our stern. The captain had ordered me to let a line over
to a tug, which I did, as our stern anchor winch had been knocked out we had
to pull the cable in by hand. I was using soldiers and every time a truck
load of ammunition would explode we would duck for cover. We didn’t get off
the beach until about 0230 the following morning.
Before the bomb hit our stern anchor we fired over 40,000 rounds of 20mm,
burned out seven barrels, three on one gun, out of our six 20mm plus all the
50 caliber of the Army vehicles. We were credited with three planes and one
possible. We were at GQ for 69 hours most of that time under fire. We only
lost one man, a soldier who was hit in the stomach by a 50 caliber bullet
from a LCVP that accidentally raked our topside.
At Salerno after we launched our planes, we were given orders to land at the
city beach, they forgot to tell us that the town was under German control,
as we headed in 88s from the mountainside starting at us, we headed south
and beached at “Green Beach.” The Scots Guards we had aboard landed, fell in
formation, they started to muster them, and an 88 shell hit amongst them,
they reformed, held muster again and then proceeded to the front line in
parade formation. We retracted and got a signal from the beach to come in,
it was about 1,000 yards north. We beached and rescued the first beach
battalion who were completely surrounded by German troops. The captain got a
“Legion of Merit” for that.
When we hit England we were first LST into Portsmouth. Boy what a liberty.
We were put on detached duty and we were the first LST into Cherbourg
followed by 338.
On 8 July 1944 while tied to the dock at Deptford, England she was hit by a
buzz bomb along with LST 384 at 0319 hours losing eight killed and 10 were
wounded, her first casualties.
After being repaired she repaired she returned to the States under her own
power and arrived in New York exactly three years to the day when she was
commissioned at Brooklyn Navy Yard.
I have written a history of the amphibs, from the beginning and of the LST
312. Her crew’s history is unique in that her crew came out of Paradise
Creek, VA before Little Creek was ever heard of.
Another interesting thing was at Little Creek when we took Secretary of Navy
Knox and Anthony Eden of Great Britain plus high-ranking American and
British admirals and generals aboard to observe a mock landing on the beach.
I ran into Richard V. Robinson LST 1035 at the Farragut Naval Training
Station reunion, Farragut, ID 8 August 1990 and he gave the Scuttlebutt
paper to me. I was stationed there in 1944-45 in charge of the bakery after
I got out of Portsmouth Naval Hospital, VA.
There’s lots more but this is enough. Smooth sailing and pleasant seas,
-Derrel L. Dirks MSCM (Ret.)
P.S. I was chief commissary steward aboard the USS LST 312