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Howitzers on ducks8548 Reads  Printer-friendly page

Korea It was July 1951. I was training with the division in Japan on the island of Honshu. The next part of our training was to be a mock invasion on Yokohama Beach. This landing would be exactly like a real invasion. All our vehicles were equipped for land service, but when the orders came down, they were to be retrofitted with snorkels, which would allow them to operate in shallow water such as beaches.

These snorkels were extensions on the exhaust pipe and air intake on the engine carburetor. These pipes stuck out well above the water, allowing the engines to run normally.

My orders were to lead the kitchen crew in an advance party, setup the kitchen on the beach, and serve a roast beef meal to the troops when they arrived.

The day arrived when this big exercise was to take place and we were ready. At ll a.m. the snow started. The fighter planes came swooping down at treetop altitudes. Then the armada came into sight. There were war ships, troop ships, landing-craft, infantry and landing ship tanks. It was quite a spectacle to see.

As the ships drew nearer, we could see a ship unloading our howitzers on to the ducks. The ducks were an amphibious vehicle that could travel on land and water.

They came ashore without any problem, but as the trucks and jeeps started to come ashore their snorkels failed. As time passed all of our trucks and Jeeps were stalled on the beach, Including the general's jeep. This was a great embarrassment for him as he was sitting in water up over his hips.

After he surveyed the disastrous landing, he jumped out of the jeep and stomped angrily and splashed to shore. I could hear him cursing at the top of his voice. A few minutes later a jeep picked him up and drove off.

Later that day several five-ton wrecker trucks came and winched all of our vehicles out of the water, which took considerable time. Had this been a real invasion many men could have met their deaths.

I would have liked to have seen the general's explanation for this disaster on his report.

As for our kitchen, we served the meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy, peas and carrots, bread and butter, and cake for dessert. After-the meal we washed our equipment and drove back to camp.

Fourth of July was never like this back home in Wisconsin Rapids.

Note: by Bill Arnold, 143d FA 40th ID


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