Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Profiles The Remount in Italy and the Cavalry's Return - November 21st, 2003
Posted on 11/21/2003 3:48:23 AM PST by snippy_about_it
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The Quartermaster Review - March/April 1946
Horses were used not necessarily because of a shortage of gasoline and oil, as some mechanized experts would like to have us believe, but because the horse is the logical source of power and means of transportation under certain circumstances unfavorable to motorized equipment. All armies have used the horse for reconnaissance, mounted infantry, cavalry, and horse-drawn artillery, and mules for the packing of food, ammunition, and guns. Of the men and animals connected with the last-mentioned category this narrative is written.
In October 1943 the 5th Army began to recruit men and animals for use in the mountainous campaign of Italy. The first animals, both horses and mules, were procured locally from civilians in that part of the Boot and Sicily already liberated by the Allies. Later the program included procurement from the islands of Sardinia and Corsica; from French North Africa as reimbursement in kind for animals received by the French under lend-lease during the winter of 1943-44; and from the British Near East under reverse lend-lease. Horses to equip the 10th Mountain Division were later procured from the mainland of France and T-E mules for the same unit from the United States. From the beginning of this animal program until VE-day, approximately 15,000 animals were received and processed, and 11,000 issued to using forces by the Quartermaster Remount Service in Italy.
The men selected for Animal Remount Service were chosen from various units and replacement depots on the basis of experience with animals, although, until March 1944, roughly 50 per cent of the personnel were inexperienced and had to be trained on the job by the other qualified 50 per cent.
Lt. Col. Russel V. D. Janzan activated and became Chief of the Remount Service in Italy on October 23,1943. He established his headquarters in Naples, with his main station at Persano. The original organization included two remount stations, which were located at Persano and Santa Maria Capua Vetera. The Persano Station was commanded by Colonel Janzan until the summer of 1944, when he was succeeded by Major Welden Slisher. The station at Santa Maria was commanded by Lt. Col. Kenneth F. Lafayette, who later became Chief of Remount Service, which included the 6742nd and 2610th Quartermaster Remount Depots (Ovhd).
In December 1943 Lt. Col. Sebe J. Houghton, Jr., succeeded Colonel Janzan as Chief of Remount, with headquarters in Naples. He ordered establishment of a third station at Bagnoli, just north of Naples, at a race track called Hippodromo, Agnano.
In June 1944 the Santa Maria Station was moved to Capanello Hippodromo on the southern outskirts of Rome, in an effort to keep up with the advancing 5th Army, and later to Grosseto for the same reason.
Because this site was one of the three large remount establishments of the Italian Government, it was selected as the semi-permanent rear installation of the United States Remount. It is a large farm of approximately 12, 000 acres and has a beautiful setting in a valley dotted with huge shade trees. This station became the largest holding, reconditioning, and recuperating remount station for American animals in Italy. At one time there were approximately 4,000 mules at the Grosseto Station.
The Remount Service in Italy was organized and functioned without the guidance of War Department Tables of Organization and Equipment or established experiences of predecessors. A serious hindrance was the lack of animal equipment. It was May 1944 before the first veterinary and animal equipment, consisting of miscellaneous medicines, nails, shoes, and clipping machines, arrived from the United States. As a result of this delay there was gradually assembled a weird assortment of Italian, French, English, German, and American tack and gear.
In considering exceptional performance of duty under adverse circumstances the Veterinarians assigned to Remount certainly come in for their share of honors. They were confronted with such problems as untrained assistants, lack of special medicines, and lack of instruments. Through their untiring efforts enlisted assistants were supervised and trained to competency, and supplies were procured locally by gleaning and searching all available sources. The fact that not one epidemic ever hit the Remount herds, when the variable sources of the stock is considered, is evidence enough of the great work done by the Veterinarians.
All animals purchased by the Remount Service from local sources were requisitioned. Requisitioning is a very simple process for the Army. It works as follows: a suitable animal, saddle; or any other item needed by the Army is located and the owner notified that the Army desires to buy it. A purchasing and contracting officer or AMG official sets the price and the deal is consummated. The Italian always set a much higher price than he expected to get. On one occasion an Italian brought a Pariani saddle and bridle to the stable one day and offered it for sale at L. 18,000 ($180). The final transaction netted him $100, and he was no former Fascist, either. The Army paid no more than the Italian Government paid for the same articles. Many good stories concerning these purchases went the rounds. One concerns a farmer who presented a slip of paper to an AMG official at Benevento which read: "Pay to the bearer $120 for one horse taken." It was signed "Tom Mix." AMG did not pay.
The purchase of animals was made on a set price scale. The first prices ranged from $80 to $150. Later the top limit was set at $250 for mules and $300 for horses. In the fall and winter of 1943-44 animals were scarce and a mule might be bought even though he could pack only one load of ammunition and then became unserviceable. When animals were no longer of service to the Army they were sold at auction. Later this policy was changed and civilians had to buy from ACC and the Italian Government on an equitable basis. The demand was always great, because if the animal could no longer work, his carcass brought a fortune on the black market.
The procurement of forage in Italy created another difficult problem. Until June 1944 there was no hay at all only tibben, which is chopped straw. After June 1944 prairie hay was usually available in sufficient quantities, but the quality was only mediocre and the price exorbitant. In March 1945 the situation was alleviated by shipments of sixty day forage supply from the United States for mules shipped to Italy for the 10th Mountain Infantry Division.
During the air preparation of the big push in Italy by the U.S. Fifth Army, the men, mules, and armor of the 10th Mountain Division and supporting tank units move forward between 8:30 A.M. and 9:10 A.M., 14 April 1945. Bologna, Italy.
The Army has for a long time adhered closely to the rule of not buying white, gray, or other light-colored animals. Here it was necessary to buy all available animals, irrespective of color. These mules were called upon to pack rations to within a few hundred yards of the front and it was suicide to both men and animals to send a light colored animal forward.
The krauts used to derive great pleasure from mortaring our pack trains. The Germans had advanced and retreated over every inch of ground that our troops were traversing for the first time, and Jerry had his mortars trained on trails likely to be used by our pack troops. It was up to the' Remount Service to camouflage the light-colored mules sent up. Some of the famed Yankee ingenuity was mixed with potassium permanganate, and the result was a solution that, when sprayed on a gray mule, produced a "hintaed". An animal so sprayed remained effectively discolored for thirty to sixty days, depending on whether the weather was damp or arid.
The Luftwaffe was still infrequently pounding Naples harbor in the spring of 1944. In March of that year the first shipment of 865 horses and mules came in from North Africa as part of the French repayment. It was important that they they be unloaded with a minimum delay and transshipped from the port area direct to Persano by rail. It was important because no ship captain relished the idea of playing clay-pigeon for Goering's ace skeet-shooters. To speed up the process the stevedores we're unloading two and three mules at one time in each cargo net. Handling the entire operation were about eight officers and men from the Bagnoli Remount Station.
The animals had to be led from ship's side to the railhead about mile away, and the only personnel available for this duty was inexperienced civilian port labor. As might have been expected, before the door of the last box-car closed, twenty-two hours after the operation began, mules were running loose all over the port, disgruntled Italians were deserting their jobs, and, to make the picture complete, just like clock-work the enemy planes made their regular harassing milk run about 2230 hours. Little difference did it make to the port boys that a net of mules was dangling in mid-air between the hold and the dock, because they were safe in the "ricovero".
The most exciting experiences were connected with shipping horses and mules. Remount personnel loaded and unloaded animals into, and of of, trains, trucks, and ships. The absence of horse-vans made necessary to use 6x6 GMC GI trucks for hauling. High board frames did not always prevent the mules from jumping out, and they had to be roped and reloaded. A load for a GI truck consisted of six horses or mules. Quite often it was necessary to lead or drive herds of mules over long distances. This proved hazardous, due to the heavy traffic that is ever-present in the rear of any active theatre of war. It seems the irony of fate when a combat man, coming to the rear, is injured in a motor accident. However there are many instances of this misfortune. Heavy traffic, loose mules, and men riding horses on pavement proved constant headaches to the Army Safety Program.
Remount Station 5L81 was located at Barbarcina, a suburb of Pisa. The station was quartered in a former racing stable, with the men living in a fine brick building which they christened "Albergo Rimonte "-Remount Hotel. The Albergo was a veritable crossroads in Italy for all ex-cavalrymen, veterinarians, and horse-lovers in general. One could always get a hot meal, a bed, and a hot bath at the Albergo Rimonte.
Normally the Remount Service in the field is not concerned with animal breeding. However the Pisa Station was faced with maternity problems subsequent to the capture of a number of German mares by the 10th Mountain Division. The favorite pet of personnel and visitors at Pisa was a beautiful colt belonging to a dappled gray mare, which formerly spent her time pulling a Jerry field piece in a northerly direction prior to capture. The Germans have a benevolent habit of permitting the farmers to care for their animals when they are in semi-permanent bivouac, as they were in the more or less static period of warfare last spring north of the Arno River. Obviously the mare got in mixed company, as she foaled after she was captured.
It was interesting to see the variety of brands used in identifying animals which came from all parts of the world. The Germans used a hoof brand and the mules from the British Middle East had only a crow-foot. The British liked our Preston branding system so that they adopted a similar one for branding their animals on the off side of the neck.
The condition of the horses captured from the Germans was generally fair. Of the first captives, some came in with gaping shrapnel wounds, most were lousy, and some appeared to be suffering from malnutrition. The manes of the captured horses were not roached, and, unlike our Army, the Germans used many stallions for transportation as well as for drawing heavy artillery.
When our forces captured the Po Valley they discovered tens of thousands of riding and draft horses, and a negligible number of mules, running free. The Germans had been unable to get these across the Po River in the haste of chaotic retreat. Among these animals were some of the best German and Austrian stock, along with the best of the Italian breed, which had been procured as they were rolled back from Reggio and Salerno to the Po River. It was no trouble at all to walk into any field and select a perfectly matched team of dappled gray or chestnut draft horses. Also there were well conformed hunting and jumping types.
The main collection point for these animals, was San Martino De Spino, formerly an Italian Cavalry School. It was here that further evidence of Teuton cruelty was brought, to light, for among the animals collected at San Martino were some with their legs and hind quarters burned severely and, others with their faces and necks burned to a similar degree. This meant that the Germans, when they could not get their wagons across the Po, had set them afire without freeing either the animals drawing the vehicles or those tied to the rear and being led. These poor creatures were, of course, put out of their misery with the least delay by the U. S. Army Remount personnel.
Through the AMG, payment of all requisitioned items was settled. When the war was over, the AMG assumed the job of distributing all captured animals to the patriots that had helped to liberate Italy. Remount collected and held these animals and turned them over to AMG as dispositions were made. This proved to be a gigantic task because of the thousands of horses and mules that had been displaced with the German retreat towards the, Po River. In one compound near Bologna approximately two thousand captured animals were held for distribution to Italian farmers.
The Remount Service played a vital part in the success of the Allied armies in Italy. A quick glance at the North Appenines terrain is all that is required to realize the importance of the sure-footed,. long-eared kinsman of the horse in negotiating the treacherous mountain trails that lead to the fox-holes, the dugouts, and the gun emplacements.
The following citation is a fitting tribute to the men who handled the mules that carried C rations and bullets to the men who won the war:
"The 6742nd Quartermaster Remount Depot (Ovhd) is awarded the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque for superior performance of duty under adverse conditions for the period October 1, 1944, to February 15, 1945. During this period it was the function of the Depot to supply 5th Army horse and mule units, both original issues and replacements of a quality capable of performing the burdensome task of packing supplies quickly and regularly. This meant the procuring, processing, and maintenance of a daily average of 1,304 animals for the entire period... Through the untiring and superior efforts of men and officers this mission was accomplished in a superior and efficient manner, irrespective of time, place, weather conditions, irregularities in schedules, mediocrity of original stock secured, and lack of previously trained personnel... The proficiency and professional skill, outstanding organizational abilities, and efficiency with which animals and administration were handled, reflect the highest tradition of the Service."
Today's classic warship, USS Utah (BB-31)
Florida class battleship
displacement. 21,825 t.
speed. 20.75 k.
armament. 10 12", 16 5", 2 21" tt.
USS Utah (Battleship No. 31) was laid down on 9 March 1909 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 23 December 1909; sponsored by Miss Mary Alice Spry, daughter of Governor William Spry of Utah; and commissioned at the P hiladelphia Navy Yard on 31 August 1911, Capt. William S. Benson in command.
After her shakedown cruise-a voyage that took her to Hampton Roads, Va.; Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola, Fla.; Galveston, Tex.; Kingston and Portland Bight, Jamaica; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba-Utah was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet in March 1912. She operated with the Fleet early that spring, conducting exercises in gunnery and torpedo defense, before she entered the New York Navy Yard on 16 April for an overhaul.
Departing New York on 1 June, Utah briefly visited Hampton Roads and then steamed to Annapolis, Md. where she arrived on the 6th. There, she embarked Naval Academy midshipmen and got underway on the 10th for the Virginia Capes and the open Atlantic. She conducted a midshipmen training cruise off the New England seaboard well into the summer before disembarking her contingent of officers-to-be back at Annapolis on 24 and 25 August. Soon thereafter, the battleship headed for the Southern Drill Grounds to conduct gunnery exercises.
For a little over two years, the dreadnought maintained that schedule of operations off the eastern seaboard, ranging from the New England coast to Cuban waters. During that time, she made one cruise to European waters, visiting Villefranche, France, from 8 to 30 November 1913.
Utah began the year 1914 at the New York Navy Yard and sailed south on 5 January. After stopping at Hampton Roads, she reached Cuban waters later in the month for torpedo and small arms exercises. However, due to tension in Mexico, Utah sai led for Mexican waters in early February and reached Vera Cruz on the 16th. She operated off that port until getting underway for Tampico on 9 April with several hundred refugees embarked. Soon thereafter, it was learned that a German steamship, SS Ypiranga, was bound for Vera Cruz with a shipment of arms and munitions earmarked for the dictator Victoriano Huerta. Utah received orders to search for the ship and put to sea and reached Vera Cruz on the 16th. When it appeared that the shipment might be landed, the Navy took steps to take the customs house at Vera Cruz and stop the delivery. Accordingly, plans were drawn up for a landing at Vera Cruz, to commence on 21 April 1914.
Utah consequently landed her "battalion"-17 officers and 367 sailors under the command of Lt. Guy W. S. Castle-as well as her Marine detachment, which formed part of the improvised "First Marine Brigade," made up of detachments of marines from the other ships that had arrived to show American determination. In the ensuing fighting, in which the men of Utah's bluejacket battalion distinguished themselves, seven won medals of honor. Those seven included Lt. Castle, the battalion commander; company commanders Ens. Oscar C. Badger and Ens. Paul F. Foster; section leaders, Chief Turret Captains Niels Drustrup and Abraham Desomer; Chief Gunner George Bradley; and Boatswain's Mate Henry N. Nickerson.
Utah remained at Vera Cruz for almost two months before returning north to the New York Navy Yard in late June for an overhaul. Over the next three years, the battleship operated on a regular routine of battle practices and exercises from off the eastern seaboard into the Caribbean, as the United States readied its forces for the possible entry of the United States into the worldwide war that broke out in July 1914.
After the United States finally declared war on 6 April 1917, Utah operated in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay as an engineering and gunnery training ship and continued that duty until 30 August 1918, when she sailed for the British Isles with Vice Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet, embarked.
Fears of possible attacks by German heavy units upon the large convoys crossing the Atlantic with troops and munitions for the western front prompted the dispatch, to European waters, of a powerful force of American dreadnoughts to Irish waters. Utah-as part of that movement-reached Brerehaven, Bantry Bay, Ireland, on 10 September. There, she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers, Commander, Battleship Division 6. Until the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918, Utah, along with the battleships Oklahoma (Battleship No. 37) and Nevada (Battleship No. 36), operated from Bantry Bay, covering the Allied convoys approaching the British Isles, ready to deal with any surface threat that the German Navy could hurl at the valuable transports and supply ships.
After the cessation of hostilities, Utah visited Portland, England, and later served as part of the honor escort for the transport George Washington (Id. No. 3018), as that ship bore President Woodrow Wilson into the harbor of Brest, France, on 13 December 1918. The following day, Utah turned homeward and reached New York on Christmas Day 1918.
Utah remained at anchor in the North River; off New York City, until 30 January 1919. During that time, she half-masted her colors at 1440 on 7 January due to the death of former President Theodore Roosevelt and, on the 8th, fired salutes at half-hour intervals throughout the day in memory of the great American statesman.
Utah carried out a regular routine of battle practices and maneuvers, ranging from the New England coast to the Caribbean, into mid-1921. During that time, she was classified as BB-31 on 17 July 1920, during the Navy-wide assignment of hull numbers.
Ultimately departing Boston on 9 July 1921, Utah proceeded via Lisbon Portugal, and reached Cherbourg, France, soon thereafter. There, Utah became the flagship for the United States naval forces in European waters. She "showed the flag" at the principal Atlantic coast ports of Europe and in the Mediterranean until relieved by Pittsburgh (CA-4) in October 1922.
Returning to the United States on 21 October 1922, Utah then became the flagship of Battleship Division (BatDiv) 6, United States Scouting Fleet and operated with the Scouting Fleet over the next three and one-half years.
Late in 1924, Utah was chosen to carry the United States diplomatic mission to the centennial celebration of the Battle of Ayacucho (9 December 1824), the decisive action in the Peruvian struggle for independence. Designated as flagship for the special squadron assigned to represent the United States at the festivities, Utah departed New York City on 22 November 1924 with General of the Armies John J. Pershing, USA, and former congressman, the Honorable F. C. Hicks, embarked, and arrived at Callao on 9 December.
Utah disembarked General Pershing and the other members of the mission on Christmas 1924, so that the general and his mission could visit other South American cities inland on their goodwill tour. Meanwhile, Utah, in the weeks that followed, called at the Chilean ports of Punta Arenas and Valparaiso before she rounded Cape Horn and met General Pershing at Montevideo, Uruguay. Reembarking the general and his party there, the battleship then visited in succession: Rio de Janeiro Brazil; La Gua ira, Venezuela; and Havana, Cuba, before ending her diplomatic voyage at New York City on 18 March 1926. Utah spent subsequent summers of 1925 and 1926 with the Midshipman Practice Squadron and, after disembarking her midshipmen at the conclusion of the 1925 cruise, entered the Boston Navy Yard and was decommissioned on 31 October 1925 for modernization. During that period of alterations and repairs, the ship's "cage" mainmast was replaced by a lighter pole mast; she was fitted to burn oil instead of coal as fuel; and her armament was modified to reflect the increased concern over antiaircraft defense. Interestingly, Utah and her sistership Florida (BB-30) never received the more modern "tripod" masts fitted to other classes.
Utah was placed back in commission on 1 December 1925 and, after local operations with the Scouting Fleet, departed Hampton Roads on 21 November 1928, bound for South America. Reaching Montevideo on 18 December, she there embarked President-elect and Mrs. Herbert C. Hoover; the Honorable Henry T. Fletcher, Ambassador to Italy; and members of the press. Utah transported the President-elect's party to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, between 21 and 23 December, and then continued her homeward voyage with Mr. Hoover embarked. En route, the President-elect inspected the battleship's crew while at sea, before the ship reached Hampton Roads on 6 January 1929.
However, Utah's days as a battleship were numbered. Under the terms of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, Utah was selected for conversion to a mobile target, in place of the former battleship North Dakota; and, on 1 July 1931, Utah 's classification was changed to AG-16. Her conversion-carried out at the Norfolk Navy Yard-included the installation of a radio-control apparatus. After having been decommissioned for the duration of the conversion, Utah was recommissioned at Norfolk on 1 April 1992, Comdr. Randall Jacobs in command.
Utah departed Norfolk on 7 April to train her engineers in using the new installations and for trials of her radio gear by which the ship could be controlled at varying rates of speed and changes of course maneuvers that a ship would conduct in battle. Her electric motors, operated by signals from the controlling ship, opened and closed throttle valves, moved her steering gear, and regulated the supply of oil to her boilers. In addition, a Sperry gyro pilot kept the ship on course.
Returning to port on 21 April, Utah passed her radio control trials off the Virginia capes on 6 May. On 1 June, Utah ran three hours under radio control, with all engineering stations manned; over the next two days, she made two successful runs, each of four hours duration, during which no machinery was touched by human hands. Observers, however-two in each fore room and two in each boiler room-kept telephone information and recorded data.
Her trials completed, Utah departed Norfolk on 9 June. After transiting the Panama Canal she reached San Pedro, Calif., on 30 June, reporting for duty with Training Squadron 1, Base Force, United States Fleet. She conducted her first target duty, for cruisers of the Fleet, on 26 July, and later, on 2 August, conducted rehearsal runs for Nevada (BB-36), Utah being controlled from Hovey (DD-208) and Talbot (DD-114).
Over the next nine years, the erstwhile battleship performed a vital service to the fleet as a mobile target, contributing realism to the training of naval aviators in dive, torpedo, and high level bombing. Thus, she greatly aided the development of tactics in those areas. On one occasion, she even served as a troop transport, embarking 223 officers and men of the Fleet Marine Force at Sand Island, Midway, for amphibious operations at Hilo Bay, Hawaii, as part of Fleet Problem XVI in the early summer of 1936. She then transported the marines from Hawaii to San Diego, Calif., disembarking them there on 12 June 1936.
That same month, June 1936, saw the establishment of a fleet machine gun school on board Utah while she continued her mission as a mobile target. The former dreadnought received her first instructors on board in August 1936, and the first students drawn from the ships' companies of Raleigh (CL-7), Concord (CL-10), Omaha (CL-4), Memphis (CL-13), Milwaukee (CL-5), and Ranger (CV-4)-reported aboard for training on 20 September. Subsequently, during the 1936 and 1937 gunnery year, Utah was fitted with a new quadruple 1.1-inch machine gun mount for experimental test and development by the machine gun school. Some of the first tests of that type of weapon were conducted on board.
Utah-besides serving as a realistic target for exercises involving carrier-based planes-also towed targets during battle practices conducted by the Fleet's battleships and took part in the yearly "fleet problems." She transited the Panama Canal on 9 January 1939 to participate in Fleet Problem XX-part of the maneuvers observed personally by President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30).
After providing mobile target services for the submarines of Submarine Squadron 6 in the late autumn and early winter of 1939, Utah devoted the eight months that followed to special machine gun practices. The following summer, Utah sailed for the Hawaiian Islands reaching Pearl Harbor on 1 August 1940, and fired advanced antiaircraft gunnery practice in the Hawaiian operating area until 14 December 1940, when she sailed for the west coast, returning to Long Beach four days before Christmas.
For the next two months, Utah operated as a mobile bombing target off San Clemente Island, Calif., for planes from Patrol Wing 1, and from the carriers Lexington (CV-2), Saratoga (CV-3), and Enterprise (CV-6). Utah retur ned to Hawaiian waters on 1 April 1941, embarking gunners for the Advanced Antiaircraft Gun School, men drawn from West Virginia (BB-48), Oklahoma (BB-37) Colorado (BB-45), Phoenix (CL-46), Nashville (CL-43), Philadelphia (CL-41), and New Orleans (CA-32).
Over the weeks that followed, she trained her embarked gunner students in control and loading drills for the 5-inch batteries, firing runs on radio-controlled drone targets as well as .50-caliber and 1.1-inch firing on drones and balloons. Utah put into Los Angeles harbor on 20 May and there embarked Fleet Marine Force passengers for transportation to Bremerton, Wash. Putting the marines ashore a week later, the ship entered the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 31 May 1941.
During the ensuing overhaul, Utah received repairs and alterations designed to make her a more effective gunnery training ship. The alterations included the addition of 5-inch/38-caliber guns in single mounts with gunshields-similar to those fitted on the more modern types of destroyers then in service. She also lost her prewar colors, being repainted in overall measure one camouflage-dark gray with pale gray tops. With war paint thus donned, Utah sailed for Hawaiian waters on 14 September, after visits to Port Townsend, Wash., and San Francisco and San Pedro, Calif. She arrived at Pearl Harbor soon thereafter and carried out antiaircraft training and target duties through the late autumn.
Utah completed an advanced antiaircraft gunnery cruise in Hawaiian waters shortly before she returned to Pearl Harbor in early December 1941, mooring off Ford Island in berth F-11. On the morning of 7 December 1941, the senior officer on board-the captain and executive officer were ashore on leave-was Lt. Comdr. Solomon S. Isquith, the engineer officer.
Shortly before 0800, men topside noted three planes-taken for American planes on maneuvers-heading in a northerly direction from the harbor entrance. They made a low dive at the southern end of Ford Island-where the seaplane hangers were situated-and began dropping bombs.
The attack on the fleet at Pearl Harbor lasted a little under two hours, but for Utah, it was over in a few minutes. At 0801, soon after sailors had begun raising the colors at the ship's fantail, the erstwhile battleship took a torpedo hit forward , and immediately started to list to port.
As the ship began to roll ponderously over on her beam ends, 6-by-12-inch timbers-placed on the decks to cushion them against the impact of the bombs used during the ship's latest stint as a mobile target-began to shift, hampering the efforts of the crew to abandon ship. Below, men headed topside while they could. One however, Chief Watertender Peter Tomich, remained below, making sure that the boilers were secured and that all men had gotten out of the engineering spaces. Another man, Fireman John B. Vaessen, USNR, remained at his post in the dynamo room, making sure that the ship had enough power to keep her lights going as long as possible.
Comdr. Isquith made an inspection to make sure men were out and nearly became trapped himself. As the ship began to turn over, he found an escape hatch blocked. While he was attempting to escape through a porthole, a table upon which he was standing-impelled by the ever-increasing list of the ship-slipped out from beneath him. fortunately, a man outside grabbed Isquith's arm and pulled him through at the last instant.
At 0812, the mooring lines snapped, and Utah rolled over on her beam ends; her survivors struck out for shore, some taking shelter on the mooring quays since Japanese strafers were active.
Shortly after most of the men had reached shore, Comdr. Isquith, and others, heard a knocking from within the overturned ship's hull. Although Japanese planes were still strafing the area, Isquith called for volunteers to return to the hull and investigate the tapping. Obtaining a cutting torch from the nearby Raleigh (CL-7)-herself fighting for survival after taking early torpedo hits-the men went to work.
As a result of the persistence shown by Machinist S. A. Szymanski; Chief Machinist's Mate Terrance MacSelwiney, USNR; and two others whose names were unrecorded, 10 men clambered from a would-be tomb. The last man out was Fireman Vaessen, who had made his way to the bottom of the ship when she capsized, bearing a flashlight and wrench.
Utah was declared "in ordinary" on 29 December 1941 and was placed under the control of the Pearl Harbor Base Force. Partially righted to clear an adjacent berth, she was then declared "out of commission, not in service," on 5 September 1944. Utah's name was struck from the Navy list on 13 November 1944. Her partially submerged hulk still remains, rusting, at Pearl Harbor with an unknown number of men trapped inside.
Of Utah's complement, 30 officers and 431 enlisted men survived the ship's loss; 6 officers and 58 men died-four of the latter being recovered and interred ashore. Chief Watertender Tomich received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his selfless act in ensuring the safety of others.
Utah (AG-16) received one battle star for her World War II service.
Big guns in action!
My dad served in Italy, and during the winter of '43-44 he found himself in charge of numerous mules. Since he took his basic training in a Cavalry unit at Ft. Clark TX, I guess they figured he knew something about mules. But wrangling mules is a far cry from horses, they're very stubborn and way too smart. He said it was just crazy and it's a wonder nobody got killed from being kicked in the head. Some of the mules that were sold to the Army weren't even half-broke, and the pack staging areas sometimes looked like a Wild West show, with four or five guys on one end of a rope and a buck-wild mule on the other . . .
The photo of the guys trying to load the mule with a rope around his hocks looks all too familiar to me - many a horse I've had to lever up the ramp that way - the only thing missing is two guys with brooms to whack said mule on the rump (the rope interferes with the usual spectacular mule kicking). The other method is to have two husky guys link arms just above the hocks and LIFT the animal up the ramp . . . I wouldn't want to do that with a mule though.
As they moved up the Po Valley, dad's unit did find a lot of nice livestock running loose, just like in the post. (That color photo shows a mighty good looking Thoroughbred in the cooling sheet.) Dad got hold of a beautiful German warmblood who was trained in high level dressage. He named him "Jack", he came with two captured German soldiers who groomed and fed him! I think Jack eventually caught the colonel's eye, though . . . but in the meantime dad had a great time riding Jack around in preference to a jeep.
The article mentions an Italian civilian selling a Pariani saddle to the GIs - my husband has one and it's a wonderful saddle. We bought it used about 20 years ago and it's as good as new, we've replaced the billet straps and had a couple of places restitched but it will probably never wear out. It's too big for me but I've ridden in it and it's extremely comfortable.
Here they are snoozing the other night. They weigh about 60 lbs each now.
Here's one of them playing in the snow the day before Halloween.
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