GySgt. J. C. Strauss wrote of his experience in what we called an APA (Amphibious Personnel, Assault) or an AP (Amphibious Personnel) in World War II. They carried more than 1200 troopers and if I remember right the Mess Halls were open all the time. One of the great meals the Navy had on Wednesdays and Sunday Breakfast was “BEANS”.
The decks were covered with Landing craft and the side were covered with rafts in case the ship was sunk. Prior to an Invasion, the Landing Craft was lowered and booms dropped to hold the Landing craft, the First Wave Troops had Breakfast of Steak and eggs (the Navy Medical Department eventually stopped the Steak and eggs meal because of stomach wounds).
Marine Troops supplied Watch on the ships. The 40MM Anti- Aircraft gun tubs had to be washed out every morning because of Sea Sick Marines. During the day if you were sick and lined the rail to get empty your stomach, there was always an old Salt or two (either Marine or Sailor) telling you to stop wasting food and many sickening ideas on how to stop wasting the food.
No showers except Salt Water showers and Brine water (half the salt removed) I found at this time Lava Soap lathered up in the brine water, I’ve had Lava soap since. The Head were troughs running down both sides of the bulkheads in the bow with running water carrying out the waste, every so often there were two boards placed where one could sit to relieve himself. When they closed the heads for cleaning a Bosun would sometimes put a wad of newspaper set it afire and let it go on either or both sides. With a fire coming down and potentially burning your all, there were not many slackers.
I had Mess Duty, Chipped Paint, Stood Watch, and loaded into landing Craft and watched men get sea sick while we circled the area until the flag dropped and we headed ashore always a couple miles or more from the ship. I always admired the Coxswain (of the Peter Boats as we called them) he suffered through troops vomiting on his boat, then running his boat through mortar and cannon fire, with Machine gun fire as he got closer to shore. He would drop his ramp and let us run off, if the Beach Master told him to wait, he waited until they loaded his boat with the Wounded, and then return to his ship and pick up more troops to carry ashore and run the gauntlet again and again till his boat was sunk or he was wounded or killed.
The Peter Boats are gone, so are the Coxswains but we Marines have learned New Ways of going ashore and none of them are safer nor will ever be!
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
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