Transcription

 

Article written by Ed Panter, LST 289 & 507, Published in LST Scuttlebutt, 2002

 

Operation Tiger

by Ed Panter

 

Foxy 29 was formed in the states. It consisted of medical personnel. Each group consisted of two medical officers and 20 corpsmen. My group was assigned to the LST 507. I don’t know how many LSTs had a Foxy 29 group, but quite a number did.

Specific purpose of each group was to take on the wounded from the various beaches and give them medical care until we reached England. They tried not to give us the severely wounded, those were flown back to England.

Our wounded consisted of Germans, British and even some Poles (the Poles were slaves and on a work battalion for the Germans).

My second ship, LST289, made nine crossings. We hit Omaha, Utah and the British beaches – Juno and Gold. The one we missed was the British beach – Sword.

When we arrived at Portland, the officer in charge of the herd (using a fog horn) said: “What have you there.” The skipper of the LST 515 said: “We have survivors from the LST 507 which was sunk.” The reply was: “What do you want me to do with the sons of bitches.” Of course, that went over like a lead balloon.

I know my life and probably many of the group, was saved by Lt. Commander John Doyle, the captain of LST 515 (the flag ship of the convoy, who returned to pick up survivors. The flotilla commander issued orders not to pick up survivors. The orders were ignored and survivors were picked up. He is my #1 hero).

An interesting side light was: I don’t remember being rescued and when I came to, they gave me some brandy. I said: “get me a cereal bowl of coffee.” That really picked me up. I borrowed a pair of pants, a shirt and some slippers and started checking about the survivors casualties. I noticed a pile of wallets, money and other stuff they accumulated from the clothing of the people they pulled aboard. They cut off our clothes rather than removing them. I said: “I’d like my wallet,” they said, no dice this stuff goes to the Red Cross. I said: “If I point to my wallet can I have it?” They said: “OK,” which is what I did. As we made our way to the Red Cross Building we passed a tavern. I said: “I have 2 pounds. Let’s celebrate.” I told the tavern keeper that we only have 2 pounds and would like a drink. He said: “No problem.” So we each had a whisky, which in England, was scotch. We then went to the Red Cross to get some clothes that almost fit.

Another interesting side light was when we were ordered to abandon ship, Eugene Eckstam, the other medical officer aboard the LST 507, and I jumped off the stern and started swimming away from the ship. I noticed he had his gas mask on, I said: “Why are you dragging that gas mask?” He said: “Don’t we have to account for it?” I said: “Toss it” which he did. We swam out to a raft that was surrounded by [up] to 100 members of our ship. After a while I didn’t have feeling in my hands or legs due to the temperature of the water which was, I believe 42 degrees. The next thing I knew, I was aboard the LST 515 with hypothermia. They cut off my clothing and thought I was dead but I fooled them. We Nebraskans are [a] tough breed.