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Signalman 2nd Class Clifford A. Goodall

Communication Section - 7th Naval Beach Battalion - 6th Engineer Special Brigade

Omaha Beach

 

I joined the Navy on April 22 1943 and took training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois for 9 weeks. I left the US I believe, in January of 1944 on the British Ship Mauratania. Got in a collision with a freighter about 5 miles out and had to return to New York for repairs. We took the northern route to England and it was terrible. One of the crew told me this was the roughest crossing he had in 20 years and I believe, because everyone was sick. It took us 11 days to get to Liverpool.

We went from Liverpool to Salcombe England where we were stationed. At that time I was in the 294th Joint Assault Signal Co. This was supposed to be half Navy and half Army but I never saw the Army part until I got to Omaha Beach and the Navy part had been disolved. We did the marches and some practice landings. We were equiped the same as the Army, as a matter of fact we looked like the Army.

We had a practice assault landing at Slapton Sands on April 28 1944 where we were trucked into the beach, which was highly irregular because we always came in on LCVP and made the landings. I will never forget standing watch on that beach which was the coldest I have ever been. We never saw anybody land--strange. Did not find out until many years later that there had been three LSTs that had been torpedoed and lost over 700 personel.

The worst memories in England were the mud at Salcombe, and seeing Plymouth just devastated by bombing. Almost every bus they had was destroyed in a parking lot and almost every building. The Germans came over almost every night, but Salcombe being small was never a target. The best memories, how three English just amazed me at their determination to stay the course, without complaining. The food we got was prepared in town and was the best vegetables I have ever eaten. Forget the meat.

We had been sent to Fowey not far from Salcombe and then to I believe a staging area near Falmouth. I guess we were there for several days before we went to a loading area and got on an LST. We left port on June 4th and I guess we were out about 5 miles when we got called back because of the weather.

We left late June 5th and traveled all night, as a matter of fact we heard the paratroopers heading toward the beach, I'm guessing about 1 am. The weather was quite rough and one of the ships company Signalman was quite sea sick, so I gave him the pills they gave to us, because I never got sick after the trip to England. He told me that as sailors they were not supposed to get sick. He let me sleep in his bunk for a few hours while he was on watch.

We anchored next to a Cruiser, some said it was British, but when that opened up it shook the whole LST. We had been scheduled for H-Hour +2 but we kept standing by until word came we were not going because the beach at Omaha was a disaster and nothing was moving. We watched all day as destroyers were laying down smoke screens and guns just kept firing. At night when German planes (or any plane) came over all the ships in the harbor opened fire and you would have thought it was like twenty 4th of July fireworks. They eventually had to halt all ships from firing a day or two later because they were shooting at our own planes.

We landed (our group) early the next morning, and as the LCVP dropped the ramp, right there was one of our 7th Beach guys floating face down in the water. When I got on the beach one of our guys who landed on the 6th yelled to me that "your buddy got it" meaning my pal Douglas Vaughn who never got off the VP. We of course, first dug foxholes and then got to work signaling ships for various supplies at the direction of the Beachmaster and bringing them in at various locations at our beach. There was still some shelling and at one point there was machine gun fire. Also snipers were around and more than one were women. The Engineers built a stockade of sorts to hold them.

The first couple of days I worked around the clock and ate very little and after that just the old K-Rations. We finally got a few C-Rations which were much better and I believe it was 10 days or 2 weeks later the army opened up a tent and were serving chow. (I don't think they knew we were Navy or we may not have been allowed to eat there.)

Bringing in the LCVPs was not too bad, the guys only had to wade in knee deep water, depending on the tide, but larger craft carrying vehicles hit those horrible sand bars had a rough time getting ashore. All the vehicles were water proofed, and many times all you could see on a Jeep was the drivers head. We had to haul a number of them out with a bulldozer. Right in back of where I was working they were stacking dead bodies like cord wood and at one point they had a bulldozer dig a trench and bury many until they could make graves which they did later on.