A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army’s First Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach. USCG photograph
The Coast Guard historian has an excellent collection (broken link) of stories about the Coast Guard’s participation in the invasion. Virtually all the American made video footage you may see of the Normandy invasion was done by the Coast Guard. The Army Signal Corp lost their footage overboard.
Famous Film maker John Ford, who also filmed the attack on Midway, was in the Navy, but he landed on D-Day with Coast Guard Cameramen. The following is from: “We Shot D-Day on Omaha Beach (An Interview With John Ford)” by Pete Martin, the article first appeared in The American Legion Magazine, June 1964.
Ford was head of the Photographic Department of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) under General “Wild Bill” Donovan. The cameramen in his unit were attached to the Coast Guard and trained for every sort of action. They could drop by parachute, land with raiders, commandos, infantry. They knew about amphibious landings. All Ford had to do was name it. They could do it. He’d hand picked his group of helpers. They were a superb team. Ford was told to head that team up and get both color and black-and-white footage of the invasion of Omaha Beach from start to finish.
“I take my hat off to my Coast Guard kids. They were impressive. They went in first, not to fight, but to photograph. They went with the troops. They were the first ones ashore.”
The late Art Green was a Coast Guard photographer during WWII. His very dramatic photographs of the damage done to and the reclamation of the USS(CG) Menges. See his work, http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Menges.asp
During a personal conversation I had with him before his death, Art noted with great pride the high quality of photographers, journalists, film makers and artists the Coast Guard was able to enlist. They were from the top of their professions in that era. I say enlist because most were enlisted as BM1 or CPO. Some enlisted as Seamen.
This is an area of Coast Guard history still undone. I understand that some 10,000 pieces of Coast Guard World War II art are missing. The tale I heard that much of it was on loan for war drives around the country and when the war ended no one collected it back. I could be mistaken, but I do not believe anyone had done research in the National Archives to locate any shipping or exhibit lists so that these may be uncovered. Perhaps some dedicated and enterprising young Public Affairs specialist, or several of them, will take this on as a tribute to those who established their profession.
Two curators at the Washington Navy Yard Art Museum are aggressively pursuing the Navy’s lost art. The are unafraid to get any U. S. Attorney involved in the recovery because all that art, including the Coast Guard’s, is property of the United States.
Hi Bill – My grandfather was aboard the USS Duane during WWII and was part of the Allied invasion of Southern France. My grandfather was a medic, and a combat photographer named Dale Rooks was told to stick with my grandfather. Rooks gave my grandfather a collection of photographs that he took. My grandfather put these into a book he called his “warbook”. He passed away late last year, and I have been given the Warbook. I have started scanning and retouching each image and have been posting them upto my blog, which can be read at johnbakerswarbook.org — I have been trying to spread the word about this project of mine, as I have had extremely positive feedback from everyone I have showed it to. The thing I am truly lacking the most is more history to fill in what I cannot find during my research.. Enjoy.
Great photos and even more importantly is knowing who took them. To have them in one book provides us with a better mind image of the era than the often seen individual or disjointed pictures. I look forward to seeing more.
Adam, Thanks for the link, http://www.johnbakerswarbook.org/. As a former Duane XO I appreciate the pictures. When I was aboard, we had the ship’s war diary and I regularly did a “40 years ago today” for the plan of the day.
The history is available in several places. There is of course the Coast Guard historian’s site:
I also recommend “Bloody Winter” by John M. Waters, http://www.uboat.net/books/reviews.html/title/389
Hi All – thanks for the encouragement. I have been pulling most of my history from http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Duane_WPG_33.asp — it is amazing because it correlates with many of the dates and captions within the Warbook. I will absolutely pickup “Bloody Winter”. I am also interested in hearing about any more stories you may have.
The Naval History and Heritage Center has a selection of 12 photos from D-Day. Five of these are CG photos.
Dale Rooks was my grandpa. I never met him of course because he died when his daughter (my mom) was 2 years old. Any chance you could email me some of his photographs from the war?
I have read bloody winter many times and would still be if not for dads garage collapse where many of my best books were ruined. he was also an ex coastie. sonarman first. I remember as a young fella seeing the duane in Portland harbor.
The Duane has a facebook page here:
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