D-Day and After
Home Up D-Day and After D-Day & After 83415

 

D-Day and After on the 83512
In His Own Words, Edward Biernacki, GM 3c


I boarded the 83512 in 1943 at Wheeler Shipyard on Staten Island, NY where it was built. The crew members came from Manhattan Beach Training Station. All the guys had attended a training school. I attended Seamanship school and later Gunners mate school. My rate was Gunner's Mate third class. Our first trip was to the USCG Academy, New London, CT where the boat's compass was calibrated. I recall the weather was cold and the super structure was covered with ice when we reached port.


We then received orders to go to Trinidad. The first night of our trip we tied up at Ocean City, NJ. During the night our Skipper, Donald Banks, received orders to return to Staten Island, NY. There we received orders to deliver our boat to a cargo ship anchored in New York Harbor and then report to Ellis Island Receiving Station for further orders. It was Easter Sunday, 1944, when we boarded the Ellis Island Ferry which took the crew to the liberty ship ELISA WHEELOCK which joined a 72 ship convoy that carried us across the Atlantic to Cardiff ,Wales. Our home port was the English town named Poole located on the English Channel. The Rescue Flotilla One was stationed there. We were one of the 60 boats that comprised the flotilla. We removed all the boat's ordnance except the 20 mm antiaircraft gun in preparation for sea rescue duty. We changed the number of our boat from 83512 to 57. We also stenciled a white four foot star on our deck as all the Allied vessels did which helped the airmen to identify us as friendly.

On June 5, 1944 we were informed by our skipper that the invasion of Normandy was to begin tomorrow, June 6, 1944. Earlier other boats in our flotilla that were scheduled to be in the initial attack left on June 5, to join the invading convoy which was to arrive at the beach just before day break. We left for our assigned station the night of June 6,1944 and arrived in Normandy on June 7, 1944.

We reported to headquarters when we were on station at OMAHA EASY White on June 7,1944, our initial orders were go to a Polish Navy Destroyer that was damaged by a magnetic mine. We were to pick up five dead sailors in weighted canvas body bags and bury them at sea. There was a Polish honor guard that accompanied their dead shipmates. Then we went to a British landing craft and picked up a British chaplain. We then headed for the Atlantic to an area designated on the chart and after an allotted time stopped the boat where the proper ceremony was performed as the crews from both nations remained at attention for each honored hero as he was committed to the deep. We then washed the blood off the fantail and returned our guests to their stations.
On jJune 10, 1944, 83512(57) Pulled a navigator of a B-17 out of the channel.

The fall of 1944 our flotilla was disbanded.

After completing our invasion duties, our skipper was transferred and Harold Russell, Chief Petty Officer, became the new skipper. Russ was a career Coasty while the others were reservists for the duration of the war. Many were requested to remain on the crew by the chief but refused the offer and chose to return to the States. According to naval records the final location of the 83512 is unknown; the 57 and several other 83's were sent to the French ports of Cherbourg and Le Harve to maintain order and continuous communications among the various convoy vessels to ensure the expeditious movement of the most urgent materiel. After these ports were cleaned of mines by the Navies and the ships could enter these ports, our boat was assigned to patrol the Scene River all the way to Paris. We and the other crews received orders to disband and deliver a number of 83 footers to various UK ports for shipment to USA. We returned to Poole by train. Christmas Eve 1944 we left Poole for Southampton where we boarded a Coast Guard personnel carrier USS Richardson along with thousands of GI's.

Back in the USA we found ourselves once again assigned to Ellis Island Receiving Station.


After some R&R we returned to pick up an 83 footer at Pelham Bay in the Bronx, NY and deliver it to the Little Creek Amphibious Base near Norfolk, VA. There we were kept busy by running patrols off the coast of Va. until we were put on trains for California. We were billeted in a former Japanese School house in San Padro, CA until August 1945. When Truman dropped the A-Bomb we were sent home.

**************************************
PS: Here is an item that may be of interest to the sailors. Bill Lewis, was a MM1/C on our boat. He was a fun guy and a great addition to our crew . He was a real pro at his job. The reason I mention the late Bill Lewis is that he was one of the five survivors of the crew of the USCG Cutter Alexander Hamilton which was the first US military vessel torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat during WW II.