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USS Philadelphia - CL-41
Invasion of Southern France - August 1944

This account of events is from the diary of Frank Paukstis, my Dad

Aug 15th
The big day is here. We attacked at dawn. We were 1 of 3 task forces (the Delta) comprised of 2 American Battleships, 2 French cruises and us 2 French Destroyers and 8 American Destroyers, 10 transports, joined up with L.S.Ts etc. attached it ?____? Wave hit the beach an hour later. Many bombers (ours) gave the nazis hell. Been at G.Q from early morning until 11:00 at night. Cruised around all night and during the day. Knocked out gun positions on the 16th. At GQ all day again until late at night. A few German bombs were dropped, mines were swept up and destroyed. Plenty of explosions but have things under control. Lots of alerts etc. planes & subs. The 17th was about the same. Fired a few rounds here and there. Hundreds of ships all over. 12 destroyers, 3 cruisers & 2 battleships left during the afternoon us and 2 French cruisers and 2 destroyers went to Corsica. Arrived late at night to refuel. Left on the 18th at 2:30 in the afternoon. At dawn we arrived to take over some islands near the French shore near Toulon. Have enough planes to sink the islands. Ultimatum was sent for them to give up. 2 of them did. Our truce party was fired upon. We on the 19th are going to land fresh Marine troops on the other island. Lots of confusion going on. Been eating sandwiches for a long time now.

All day on the 19th we fired along with other cruisers on this one island that refused to surrender. Tough job trying to knock out their mobile guns. They fire on the ships shelling Toulon and make it a big nuisance. Did not land troops.

On the 20th we bombarded the island and also the mainland of France. Been at GQ all day and practically all night.

On the 21st one of our planes was shot down. We lost our pilot and radio man. The pilot was talking to me just before he went up. On the 20th we came were close to getting hit by shore batteries. The 21st we went at G.Q at 6:00 am and stayed until 12:00 at night. We set condition III and I had the mid to 4:00 am. Reveille at 4:30. What a life. Sure is rugged.

The 22nd
About the same as any of the other days. We blasted them and they shot back. I saw lots of shell splashes around ships, but none got hit. The enemy sure is getting a pounding. ___ planes are out of the sky. A close one aft today exploded in our wake.

The 23rd
We been bombarding pretty hard. Knocked out many German guns. Started fires that burned all night. We stay right in the area all night. Open up on them in the morning.

The 24th
We were supposed to go to Marseille but it has fallen during the night so we didn’t go until we cruised around some part of the coast of France plowing through a mine field all day. About 25 minesweepers were sweeping. We didn’t fire our main battery at all today. Just sent off planes for spotting. Shot at mines with our 40’s. ___ ____ ____ Seen the Quincy firing at the beach. We _____ from G.Q at 9:30. Had first hot meal in many days. Been eating sandwiches for 10 days now.

Aug 26th
Been patrolling the French coast day and night. All day we have been having trouble with one island that didn’t give up. Yet we can’t find their guns.

Aug 27th
Fired a few rounds. Our spotting planes are in the air constantly but they can’t find anything. I’m sure tired of G.Q’s and sandwiches.

August 31st
...Yesterday we captured the Island, rather they finally gave up to this ship. Our detachment of Marines rounded up 800 Germans. The marines came aboard with all kinds of booty.

NOTE: Dad is referring to the surrender of the fortress islands of Pomeques, Chateau D'If, and Ratonneau in the Bay of Marseilles to Captain Walter A. Ansel, Commanding Officer of the Philadelphia.

Photos are from the album of Don Passoth, Marine on the Philadelphia