Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Fighting Amphibians

This is an excerpt from a screenplay I ran across online authored by a Joseph F. Panicello who served aboard USS LST-533.  Even though this is a fiction, it's based on true events.  One of Joseph's characters mentions the breached LST-312 and the bomb hit of LST-313 - matching the account that Pat (312) relayed to me.  This is also verified by other fellow crew members of the 312.  The actual events within the screenplay is based on the book 'A Slow Moving Target: The LST of WWII' also written by Mr. Panicello.

Bill Krumm (312) broke into a cold sweat in the library when he
ran across this image of the 313 burning.  He wrote to Pat
saying this is the scene he saw when looking out the starboard hatch.

The Fighting Amphibians: Screenplay
by: Joseph F. Panicello  / 2007  (page 66-67)

Gela, Sicily – Day (July 1943)

The assault on Gela begins and is not so easy.  The American Rangers come under heavy machine gun fire losing a whole platoon.

EXT. Gala Shores – LATER

When the next Americans reach the shore on small craft they run into heavy gun fire, concentrations of barbed wire and unexpected mines.  Lieutenant Colonel Darby watches 300 rounds of 30 caliber ammunition bounce off Italian tanks. He drives down to the shore and sees soldiers towing an anti-tank 37mm gun off the ramp of LST 85.

COL. Darby
Men, Follow me with that gun…

They tow the anti-tank gun back to where the Italian  tank was and opened fire.  They completely destroy the Italian tank.  The rest of the Italian tanks quickly withdraw.

COL DARBY (continued)
Come on men, we got them on the run.

Several pillboxes with Italian soldiers stop their advance with machine gun fire.  Sergeant Gilbert runs behind the nearest pillbox and tosses a grenade through one of it’s firing holes.  There is a mighty explosion and before long all of the other pillboxes surrender.


While LST 85 is unloading half tracks, three German Messerschmidt  ME-109 fighter-bombers suddenly swoop down and drop bombs on the LST.  Danny, who is manning the forward 40mm gun, is blasting away at a bomber, but it still manages to drop a bomb on the deck close to Danny.  Danny is hit in the left arm with shrapnel and is thrown overboard.  His wound isn’t serious and he swims to shore.  He jumps into a foxhole for protection but is horrified to find two dead American soldiers laying there.

He peeks out and witnesses an enormous blast coming from  LST 313 which is set ablaze.  Army troops and sailors from the LST 313 abandon the ship as quickly as possible.  Danny finds an empty foxhole.  He then watches LST 312 being hauled off the beach by a tug, after it had been broached.  When the bombing subsides, Danny works his way back to LST 85 which has suffered considerable damage.

Buy the book to read the rest.  Both of Mr. Panicello's LST publications are hyper-linked above.  In the raw footage below, advance 19 minutes into video to see color footage of LST-313 engulfed in flames on the coast of Gela.

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