United States Coast Guard at Normandy

Discussion in 'US Units' started by Drew5233, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I saw these pictures on the Normandy site posted by Verries and thought the USCG doesn't get very much PR from WW2 so heres some info for your perusal.


    The USCG-1, formerly the 83300, escorted the first waves of landing craft into the Omaha assault area on D-Day morning. Her crew pulled 28 survivors from a sunken landing craft out of the English Channel right off the beaches before 0700, 6 June 1944. Here the 83-foot Coast Guard cutter USCG 1 is picturedoff Omaha Beach on the morning of D-Day, tied up to an LCT and the Samuel Chase.
    The USCG-6 (83334) off Normandy. Note her unofficial skull and cross-bone insignia hand-painted beneath her flying bridge.
    USCG-20 (83401) and USCG-21 (83402) off the coast of Normandy. The USCG-20 was later driven ashore during the storm that destroyed the artificial harbors in June, 1944. She was repaired and transferred to the Royal Navy (through the WSA) later that year.
    The crew aboard the USCG-6 with the cutter's unofficial insignia painted on their helmets.

    From a quick bit of research on the USCG site they had a wide role on D-Day from manning some of the many Landing Craft Infantry (LCI's) to the bigger Assault Transport ships off shore helping to co-ordinate the landings. In total 100 vessels were manned by the USCG. The craft pictures above are several of the sixty 83ft Cutters that patrolled the shore under sometimes direct enemy fire rescuing survivors in the sea and ferry wounded back to larger ships off shore to receive medical treatment.

    Some further info on the cutters.

    During the spring of 1944, prior to the onset of Operation Overlord, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the Coast Guard to provide search and rescue craft for the invasion. The Coast Guard had a fleet of 83-foot wooden-hulled patrol craft that were used for coastal patrols in U.S. waters and so the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, Admiral Ernest King, USN, ordered the Coast Guard to deploy 60 of these cutters to the United Kingdom for service during Operation Neptune/Overlord. Their hull numbers were removed and they were given new designations of 1 to 60, preceded by "USCG", to ease identification issues in the Allied invasion fleet. Each cutter was transported piggy-back on freighters to the U.K. where they were offloaded, formed into "Rescue Flotilla One" based at Poole, England, and modified for service as rescue craft. They earned the nickname "Matchbox Fleet" due to their wooden hulls and two Sterling-Viking gasoline engines -- one incendiary shell hitting a cutter could easily turn it into a "fireball."
    They were assigned to each of the invasion areas, with 30 serving off of the British and Canadian sectors and 30 serving off the American sectors. During Operation Neptune/Overlord these cutters and their crews carried out the Coast Guard's time-honored task of saving lives, albeit under enemy fire on a shoreline thousands of miles from home. The cutters of Rescue Flotilla One saved more than 400 men on D-Day alone and by the time the unit was decommissioned in December, 1944, they had saved 1,438 souls.

    The USCG suffed 15 casualties on D-Day, mainly from crewing the LCI's.

    For further reading click below.
  2. Paul Dahl

    Paul Dahl Junior Member

    From a proud, still serving "Coastie", thank you for the pictures (and publicity). What isn't mentioned is that many of the troop transports and LCVP's that landed the soldiers on the beach were also manned by Coastguardsmen.

    Warmest Regards!
  3. Passchendaele_Baby

    Passchendaele_Baby Grandads Little Girl

    Nice Pic's!!!
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    The US Coast Guard website has the following interesting information on memorials and commemorations relating to D Day:

    Rescue Flotilla 1 (The "Matchbox Fleet") Memorial
    Poole, England
    Along the harborside at Poole, England, on June 6, 1994, a plaque was dedicated to the men of Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla 1. The inscription reads: "From this Quay, 60 cutters of the United States Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla 1 departed for the Normandy Invasion, 6 June 1944. These 83 foot boats, built entirely of wood, and the 840 crewmembers were credited with saving the lives of 1437 men and 1 woman. In remembrance of the service of Rescue Flotilla 1, and with appreciation of the kindnesses of the people of Poole to the crews, this Plaque is given by the men and women of the United States Coast Guard."
    Coast Guard at Normandy Memorial
    Utah Beach, Normandy, France
    On June 6, 1994, the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association dedicated a plaque to those Coast Guard veterans who served at the invasion of Normandy. The plaque's inscription reads: "Dedicated this 6th day of June, 1994, to the members of the United States Coast Guard who participated in the initial invasion of Normandy, especially to those who gave their lives here, and to all United States Coast Guard forces who served world wide on land, sea and air during WWII. The nations of the world shall long remember Normandy; the United States armed forces, their allies and the cost of freedom at this place. The United States Coast Guard motto is, as always, 'Semper Paratus' Always Ready".
    Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
    Colleville-sur-Mer, France
    This U.S. national cemetery near Normandy is the final resting place of seven Coast Guardsmen:

    • Harry L. Siebert; BM2c (died 6 June 1944)
    • August B. Buncik, MoMM3c
    • Fletcher P. Burton, Jr., S1c
    • Jack A. DeNunzio, S1c
    • Leslie Fritz, S1c
    • Stanley Wilczak, RM3c
    • Bernard L. Wolfe, S1c
    Coast Guard Monuments & Memorials
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    From a proud, still serving "Coastie", thank you for the pictures (and publicity).

    Your welcome Paul,

    The pictures stood out to me and made me remember I met some of your lady colleagues down in the port at Um Qasar in Iraq, 2003.

    Here's a little USCG humour for you too.
    I think this is either taken in the UK on the South Coast (Pre Invasion) or on the French Coast (6th June). I think its the latter though. The Cutter is USCG 60 (Taken from the USCG site) and I think it would have been attached to the British sector of beaches. Ironically the British contingent in the photo is from what I can make out two Corporals from The Royal Corps of Signals and a chap from the Royal Tank Regiment. I'm not sure who the Royal Navy chap is though- If anyone has any ideas?

  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    'New' member cmomm had a bit of bother posting this so I'm just lending a hand:

    "Nice to see the pics of Resflo 1---we are finally getting some recognition of CG overseas service---my county Veterans Service Officer told me about 15 yrs ago "there were no CG at Normandy" when I asked him if he could help me get the medal given by France for the 50th Anniversary.

    As to the monument/plaque in Poole, Dorset where our 83's were based in '44-'45, it was the Resflo boys who put it there. Jack Campbell GM3c, CG49(83490), a PNP of Coast Guard Combat Vets and I put our heads together and became the moving force to put a remembrance for the Coast Guard in England or Normandy for the 50th Anniversary in 1994 (we choose Poole, siince it was our base for the 60 cutters and the town supplied the Purbeck Stone for mounting the bronze plaque)---Jack (who just 'passed over the bar' in Dec '08) did most of the legwork while I had the honor to write the inscription words.

    God Bless the United States Coast Guard and all those who have served in her and their Nation, past and present. 'You have to go out, you do not have to come back'----Semper Paratus

    Jack W Read CMoMM,USCG ----CG43(83464) Juno Beach, Normandy 6/6/44"
  7. militarycross

    militarycross Very Senior Member

    Thanks for this new piece to my knowledge bank. Welcome to Jack and I would really appreciate it if he would take some time to share a bit of what D-Day was like from a Coastie's perspective.

  8. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thanks to van Poop fo posting my info---will get back anon---nursing a cold and sore throat from this rotten winter we have had in PA
  9. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    some pics of normandy---for those at juno beach (canadian) this is the list of ships in myconvoy group assignment--'queen emma' (underlined on above list) was troopship my cutter was assigned to----coast guard cutter loading casualties onto hospital ship

    Attached Files:

  10. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    few more pics of cg at normandy---

    copy of Bournemouth Echo about D-Day--
    part of the 60 CG cutters at Poole Quay--
    most of my crew(CG43)---me--row 1, right

    Attached Files:

    • TMP2.JPG
      File size:
      114.9 KB
    von Poop likes this.
  11. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    sorry about foulup on middle pic of above post -that is plaque on Poole Quay--

    couple more pics and I have additional if you folks would want them--

    1--many of the 60 cutters at Poole Quay--'44
    2--Barrage balloon on Poole Quay
    3--my cutter (83464) anti-sub inshore patrol (50 fathom curve) of East coast US 1943

    Attached Files:

  12. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    forgive me folks (I am old)---here is the pic of the cutters!!

    cutters at Poole

    me as CMoMM in London on leave

    me at home as Seaman2c in early '42

    Hope Ifinally got it right??

    Attached Files:

    James S likes this.
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Many thanks for sharing your pictures, I'm glad the thread brought you along to the forum :)

  14. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Thanks for sharing your great photographs with us all.

    Are the racks on the Bow of your Cutter rocket projectors?

  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Great stuff cmomm,
    I've taken the liberty of adding you and your crew as your avatar (the picture under your name).
    Hope you don't mind, give me a shout if you'd prefer something else.

  16. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Yes---they are what we called 'mousetraps'---worked with a unit in the wheelhouse they called a' chemical recorder'---something like a computer today, I believe---I was and engineer and had to training on that unit --tracked the sound echo and cutter speed, etc----idea was because depth chages killed the sound contact while these 'rockets armed themselves with a spinner vane nose---no hit, no explosion, no loss of echo (as my memory seves me after all these years)
  17. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    three more pics--

    1-beach after d-day

    2-two 83's on a channel crossing

    3-side view of an 83' cutter--(traps up--they lie flat on deck when not in use)

    Attached Files:

  18. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    1--another casualty loaded to hospital ship

    2--tied up at Poole Quay

    3--nazi flag

    Attached Files:

  19. cmomm

    cmomm WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    1-Normandy beachhead

    2--" " " "

    3--HMS Cerebus--??

    Attached Files:

  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Mr. Jack, those are great pics, I've enjoyed looking at them. Post all you can.

    You need to move South. We're having great weather, temp in the 70s today and yesterday.

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