AUGUST 29, 1944
HYDE PARK, Monday—Here is the second installment of Ensign Swain's letter describing the landings in Normandy:
"The second day was the one that proved most tiring, for we had not even gotten our load to the beach before the first wave of casualties started to come rolling back. We were equipped as a hospital ship, and were quickly swamped. I had left the ship in a small boat to find the commander of our beach assault group, in order to obtain priority to beach our LST. During the course of the trip, I ran across a raft on which 10 men were hanging for dear life. The sea was terribly rough, and the water stays about 50 degrees all the time over here.
"We managed to save all of them by lowering our ramp and dragging them on the boat. I shall never forget the faint smiles of relief which lighted up their faces, as they had been hanging there for some time. The pathetic discovery that 6 of the 10 had either simple or compound fractures didn't make our job any easier. Such heroism as displayed by these men I shall never look for again. For not one let out a moan or any display of frayed emotions. We had to give rapid first-aid and had to knock two of them out with morphine, then head back to the ship on the double.
"It was our first actual contact with the war, and this one was realistic enough; yet each one with me faced it with a calmness that makes me proud of them. Before the day was over, we had 170 cases on board. The medical corps did a marvelous job, and every man aboard pitched in and shouldered his share and then some. It wasn't till later that we learned that the casualties were well below the expected rate, for we thought we had plenty. We soon learned that things were not too quiet on the shore.
"There was only one bad feature about our picking the wounded men up so soon, and that was the fact that we still had troops aboard. It was a faux pas psychologically, for it sobered them up considerably. They had been an especially cocky bunch, and it may have been beneficial in one way. They will probably be a lot more cautious for that lesson.
"We finally got the men and guns ashore and sent them on their way in LCT's, which is a terrific task in itself. It is necessary to marry the two vessels together in order to transfer the equipment. Around 2200, we sent the last ones ashore and pulled away from the beach to get sailing orders. Found it necessary to lay over till the next morning for a convoy. So we lay off and watched the fireworks on shore.
"Again I had the watch when we got word that the *** had been picked up by the "E" boats, and we were ready to take some survivors and casualties aboard. This knocked any plan I had for getting any sleep, so I made preparations to take care of them."