History Podcasts

2 May 1944

2 May 1944

2 May 1944

War at Sea

German submarine U-674 sunk off Narvik

German submarine U-959 sunk with all hands off Jan Mayen

Diplomacy

Spain makes an agreement with the Allies, removing Hitler's last hope of help from that quarter

War in the Air

The second prototype of the Bell XP-77 makes its maiden flight



How Important Was Oil in World War II?

Keith Miller has been a speaker with the OAH Distinguished Lectureship Series since 1999.

Let me begin with a short story. The great tank commander--George S. Patton--found out the hard way how important oil was (in the form of gasoline) to the war effort. His tanks were moving so fast as they approached the Seigfried Line of Germany, they all ran out of gasoline. To get more fuel to the fiery general, as quickly as possible, it had to be airlifted from Normandy.

But, many more stories of a similar kind could be told. The truth is--oil was the indispensable product, in all its forms, to the Allied campaigns around the world. Without it World War Two could never have been won. For oil, once processed or refined in various ways, became the source or indispensable material for laying runways, making toluene (the chief component of TNT) for bombs, the manufacturing of synthetic rubber for tires, and the distilling into gasoline (particularly at 100-octane levels) for use in trucks, tanks, jeeps, and airplanes. And, that is not to mention the need for oil as a lubricant for guns and machinery.

To provide all the oil, or at least most of it, for the Allied war effort, the United States enlisted the aid of American oil companies, all of which responded without hesitation to the challenge. Meeting what eveyone in government knew would amount to a demand for oil in unprecedented quantities required much organization. On 28 May 1941, even then before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established by a letter what became known officially as the Petroleum Administration for War (PAW), on 2 December 1942. To head that agency Roosevelt appointed the very capable Harold L. Ickes, who had been Secretary of the Interior. Ickes, soon after his appointment, selected 72 leaders of America's oil industry for the Petroleum Industry Council for National Defense, which later became known as the Petroleum Industry War Council (PIWC). Interestingly enough, the PIWC held its first meeting,"'one of the great coincidences of history,'" (as Ickes referred to the matter in his fine book Fightin' Oil), the day after Pearl Harbor.

Ickes' right-hand man from the oil business became Ralph K. Davies, vice-president of Standard Oil of California, whom Ickes designated Deputy Petroleum Coordinator. This appointment by Ickes, along with a meeting of 1,500 influential oilmen, dispelled any doubts about the willingness of Ickes (who had, before the war, made some harsh judgments regarding America's oil industry) to cooperate fully with oil industry leaders and their companies, great and small. In fact, Ickes and Davies, along with the whole of the American oil business, forged an amicable working relationship that endured throughout World War Two.

Space will not permit an exhaustive treatment of the ways and means by which the national government and the oil industry met war-time needs involing petroleum, but it is possible to focus on the following: the production of toluene the output of synthetic rubber the refining of crude into huge quantities of gasoline, including that of 100-octane grade and the laying of the Big Inch and Little Big Inch pipelines.

For years toluene had come as by-product of coke-oven operations, but in 1933 the Standard Oil Development Company announced a laboratory method for producing it from oil. By the time of World War Two the process had been perfected. During the war Humble Oil & Refining Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey, through the operation of the Baytown Ordnance Works, which was government-owned, produced almost half of the U. S. supply of toluene. Much of the rest came from the efforts of Shell Oil. To be specific--from 1940 through 1945 the total production of toluene by American oil companies equaled 484,282,000 gallons, with 239,282,000 from the Baytown Ordnance Works (49.4 percent of the total) and 72,735,000 gallons from Shell (15.0 percent).

Also, of vital importance to the Allied prosecution of World War Two was the making of synthetic rubber. That had to be achieved, because the Japanese, in occupying the Netherlands East Indies, controlled 90 percent of the world's natural supplies of rubber. To produce synthetic rubber required the making of butadiene, its basic raw material. Standard Oil Company of Louisiana and Humble Oil & Refining Company, both subsidiaries of Standard Oil Of New Jersey, built plants at Baton Rouge and Baytown respectively. Other companies produced butadiene during the war, but none were more important than the two companies referred to here, which together provived 29.1 percent of the total U. S. yield of butadiene from 1943 through 1945. It must be emphasized, that so effective were the efforts of American oil companies at manufacturing synthetic rubber, at no time did Allied campaigns suffer from a shortage of rubber.

Along with the marvelous achievements of American oil companies at producing toluene and synthetic rubber, one must add the prodigious yields of gasoline, including 100-octane grade. When it is realized to what extent World War Two was motorized in nature, not to mention the primacy of air power, one can hardly exaggerate the importance of such fuel output. As suggested above, that production by American oil companies exceeded even U. S. government expectations. For instance, the Jersey group of companies, with just the Baytown and Baton Rouge plants being considered, combined to deliver 2 billion gallons of 100-octane fuel (the grade needed for airplanes) by 1 June 1945.

Before my summation, it remains to recount the history of the Big Inch and Little Big Inch pipelines. Both lines originated in Texas and extended to the East Coast. The former carried oil, as yet unrefined, and the latter petroleum products. Construction of the Big Inch began 3 August 1942 and was completed on 14 August 1943. Until that pipeline was completed east of Norris City, Illinois, however, that small town in the prairie state served as terminus for the line--tank cars were filled there for shipment to the East Coast.

One oilman should be singled out so far as the laying of the Big Inch is concerned. That man was Burt E. Hull of the Texas Company (Texaco). He was what one might call the"dean of the pipeliners" in the U. S. Under his direction the Big Inch was completed in record time.

Now for a brief account of the Little Big Inch. Its construction began 23 April 1943 with the placing of the last pipe on the East Coast on 8 October 1943.

The Big Inch and Little Big Inch pipelines, it should be stressed, aided almost beyond estimation the winning of World War Two by the Allies. For one thing, protected as they were from enemy attack, it was possible to circumvent submarine attacks by the Germans, which had wreaked havoc on oil tankers from the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Caribbean to the East Coast. In fact, before the two pipelines began to operate German submarines had sunk so many tankers, there were many beaches on islands in the Caribbean, which were seriously polluted with oil. But, it must be added--the Big Inch and the Little Big Inch pipelines were both finished before the D-Day invasion at Normandy on 6 June 1944. That made possible the delivery of huge quantities of crude and its refined products for Operation Overlord, the code name for that landing in northern France.

Now, it cannot be stated too forcefully, American oil, which amounted in all to 6 billion barrels, out of a total of 7 billion barrels consumed by the Allies for the period of World War Two, brought victory! Without the prodigious delivery of oil from the U. S. this global war, quite frankly, could never have been won. Besides, without the outstanding cooperation of the Petroleum Administration for War with the numerous oil companies of America, World War Two very likely would never have been won by the Allies either. To dramatize that assertion, consider the following quote from a letter, dated 10 November 1945, to Ralph K. Davies, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Army-Navy Board:"at no time did the Services lack for oil in the proper quantities, in the proper kinds and at the proper places."

To conclude--this essay began with a anecdote about George S. Patton, American general and tank commander. Let me close with a refernce to a superior officer on the other side, Field-Marshall Karl Gerd Von Rundstedt of Germany. When interviewed by newspapermen, he readily admitted how important oil had been in World War two. In fact, he attributed German defeat to three factors, to wit: (1) the Allied bombing sorties (strategic and tactical) (2) the bombardments by Allied naval guns and (3) Germany's own deficiency in oil, especially in the form of gasoline. What more need be said?


Faces of The Blitz and England in World War 2 (40 Photos): 1940-1944

The Blitz (short for Blitzkrieg, German for “lightning war”) began on 7 September 1940, with more than 300 bombers involved. The attacks started on the East End before moving to central London. In total, 430 were killed and 1,600 badly injured that day.

What happened next we know. But life went on.

London continued to be bombed. Coventry was smashed.

The raids killed 43,000 civilians and lasted for eight months, petering out when Hitler began to focus on his plans for Russian invasion in May 1941.

We’ve not only stuck with the Blitz. These photos show fcses on British people on the Home Front during the Second World War.

It’s hard to believe that this was just 70 years ago…

An Air Raid Prevention officer and some nurses try to salvage any vital supplies from the rubble of a hospital in London’s East End, that was hit during an air raid.

A city girl worker still smiling after being rescued from a London building just wrecked by a bomb dropped by a daylight German Luftwaffe raid.

East Ham Borough Corporation have issued a pamphlet to encourage the saving of waste materials of all descriptions which are needed for the national war effort.

Mr. and Mrs. Steptow and their two daughters were buried beneath the debris of their house in the London area when a bomb fell at 2.40 a.m. on Wednesday morning. It was believed by wardens that the people had gone to shelter in the underground, until tapping was heard from the imprisoned people. Rescuers at once got to work and at 1.30 p.m. yesterday, Friday. Mrs. Steptow and her two daughters were rescued. Mr. Steptow was killed when the bomb fell. Rescue workers working to free the trapped people, Nov. 9, 1940. (AP Photo)

A nurse hand a baby to its mother in an ambulance after, bombs had driven them from a London Hospital, Oct. 27, 1940.

From a choice billboard spot on London?s busy strand, this sign advocates in plain language that the R.A.F. carry out reprisals for German Luftwaffe attacks in London, Oct. 18, 1940. It is one of many erected privately in various parts of London.

Londoners camp out for the night at the tube along the platform and train tracks during heavy bombing by the Germans in London, England, on Oct. 21, 1940 in World War II. Families fled their homes at the sound of the air raid sirens, and will remain here until the air raid wardens notify them of the all-clear signal. (AP Photo)

Women knit and talk as they seek shelter in the tube station during heavy bombing by the Germans in London, England, in 1940 during the blitz in World War II. (AP Photo)

Londoners sleep on stopped escalators of a tube station for safety and shelter during heavy bombing by the Germans in London, England, in 1940 during the blitz in World War II. (AP Photo)

This is typical of the way Londoners had breakfast in England, Sept. 6, 1939, after the air raid warning had sounded. Breakfast was in the family dugout–this one in a garden?with a gasmask hanging ready. (AP Photo)

Mr. and Mrs. Walker of southwest London in 1940, don?t have to run out of their house hurriedly, when an air raid siren sounds. They have their own brick shelter in the front room of their home. Here they are enjoying the comforts of home with comparative safety, according to British caption. It has been approved by protection authorities. (AP Photo)

A nurse hand a baby to its mother in an ambulance after, bombs had driven them from a London Hospital, Oct. 27, 1940. If the baby?s a girl, she has a good chance to be named ?Siren?, a favorite since the British capital went under German bombardment. (AP Photo)

An air raid warden brings a drink of water for a young girl who has awakened during the night in an air raid shelter at the Aldwych tube station in London, England, Oct. 21, 1940 during the blitz in World War II. Hammocks are slung across the train tracks for sleeping. (AP Photo)

An air raid warden passes among Londoners in a subway shelter in London, Oct. 21, 1940, collecting funds to pay for more spitfire pursuit planes to help defend the capital and strike back at England?s enemy. A small child makes a contribution as other air raid wardens look on. (AP Photo)

An Anderson shelter fitted with bunks to hold four adults and four children, Oct. 11, 1940. (AP Photo)

One of the clergy of St. Paul?s cathedral in London looks at two cherubs standing among the debris and holding their heads as though for protection, Oct. 10, 1940 in London. The destruction was caused by a bomb. St. Paul’s cathedral in London, Eng. (AP Photo)

Nurses carry cribs containing newly born babies, the maternity section of a southeast London hospital was evacuated,+ Sept. 16, 1940 after being bombed by German raiders the night before. (AP Photo)

A London family stretches out on the platform of a subway station in London, Sept. 20, 1940, seeking sleep during a night of air raids. All except the baby have their eyes closed. This air raid shelter, regarded by Londoners as bomb proof because of its depth in the ground, is one of the Not de Luxe havens. (AP Photo)

Children sleep on the platform of a London Underground station, where they are sheltering with their families during the all night Nazi bombing raids.

Deep underground, thousands of Londoners nightly wait out the danger of German air raids on the capital in London, Oct. 1, 1940. The bomb fugitives break the monotony of a night-long wait with luncheon underground. (AP Photo)

A nun at a convent school in the home counties inspects the damage done to one of the classrooms after a Nazi bomb hit the school during a night raid in London, March 21, 1941. Five nuns were injured during the bombing. (AP Photo)

Women sleep in a corridor of the Grosvenor house hotel in London, Dec. 17, 1940, their bodies stretched over chairs and deck chairs.

young mother and her child sleep soundly in a London subway shelter, Sept. 28, 1941, according to British sources. (AP Photo)

Voluntary workers in the communal kitchen preparing meals, some of which will be eaten by employees in nearby factories in London on Sept. 17, 1941. Others are taken in a mobile canteen to crippled, aged and homeless folk. The canteen normally operates during enemy raids. It is sent around on mercy errands to feed the poor and infirm during the lull in the blitz. (AP Photo)

Robert Bunnelle, Chief of the London Bureau of the Associated Press, sets out a young tomato plant in an old butter tub in the roof garden of the apartment house in London on June 10, 1942 where he lived through the 1940-41 German blitz on the city, while Mrs. Bunnelle looks on with critical eye. Tomatoes sell for fifteen cents a pound in wartime London. The Bunnelles’ apartment is in the central London District of Kensington. (AP Photo)

espite the condition of the structures, damaged by aerial bombs, this London housewife gets her washing up to dry, Monday, May 28, 1941 in London. (AP Photo)

A housewife and her baby rings her contribution of pots and pans to Chelsea Town Hall, London, Oct. 7, 1940 after Lord Beaverbrook made an appeal to the women of Britain to give their aluminum pot and pans to be convert to into spitfires and hurricanes. (AP Photo)

Young Londoners, in a shelter against Hitler’s robot bombs, crowd the canteen for refreshments, deep under the city of London, July 25, 1944. When completed, the shelters will provide sleeping accommodations for 40,000 persons. (AP Photo)

Deep in tubes underneath underground railway lines in London shelters provide safety from buzz bombs, July 25, 1944. Shelters prepare for bed. (AP Photo)

Five-year-old David Day is prepared for bed in his home is a cave in Dover?s chalk cliffs on the English Channel Coast in Dover, England, April 19, 1944. About 90 of the city?s residents have become permanent residents of caves to evade danger and harm from German shells and bombs. David remembers no other home, having become a cave dweller at five months of age. (AP Photo)

The underground factory’s night club is a simple affair where some of the workers drink tea while others dance somewhere in England, April 11, 1944. (AP Photo)

A row of smiling faces nurses, calm and cheerful look out, Sept. 9, 1940 in London. Through the broken windows of their damaged home a high explosive bomb fell on their East London Hospital last night but all were safe in their shelter and there were no casualties. (AP Photo)

Queen Elizabeth, left, followed by the King, inspected the wreckage of Buckingham Palace caused by the explosion of a German time bomb, Sept. 10, 1940 in London. The bomb, believed to be a 250-pounder, fell near the Belgian suite. (AP Photo)

After another night of German bombings in September 1940, three children are sitting next to the remains of what was once their home in East London, in the early days of the Blitz during World War II. (AP Photo)

AIR RAID WARDENS 1940: Members of a team of Air Raid Wardens in a London suburb who have been tackling and extinguishing Luftwaffe incendiary bombs. The men are holding stirrup pumps, used to douse fires with water from a bucket. Picture part of PA Second World War Collection : The Blitz

Bread is sold at this bakers, through the remains of the window, whilst repairs are being done on damage caused by a Nazi bombing raid, in London, Aug. 23, 1940. (AP Photo/Leslie Priest)

A morning scene in a London suburb: after most of the night spent in the shelter morning sees this little party of women and children having breakfast, August 3, 1940. (AP Photo)

Pancras day nursery for has an A.R.P. bomb-proof nursery tom in London, August 2, 1940 to which the children are trooped daily, singing ?now we go down the steps again? and thinking it a royal game. (AP Photo)

Despite the condition of the structures, damaged by aerial bombs, this London housewife gets her washing up to dry, Monday, May 28, 1941 in London. (AP Photo)

THE BLITZ 1940: Washing day as usual, using a washboard and tin tub, in the East End of London despite the damage caused by Luftwaffe bombing raids on the British capital.


World War II Today: May 23

1940
Heavy fighting around Boulogne. Units of the German 6th Army cross the Scheldt river at Oudenarde in Belgium.

Sir Oswald Mosley and other British fascists arrested. 76 IRA men arrested in Northern Ireland.

1941
During the evening, the cruiser HMS Suffolk sights the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Straight. The Home Fleet makes ready to intercept at dawn on the 24th May.

Further German attempts to land troops by sea on Crete are repulsed as heavy fighting continues around Canea.

Luftwaffe sinks two more British destroyers off Crete, Kashmir and Kelly.

1942
US Navy orders production of Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter.

The British C-in-C of the Home Forces orders an end to ‘blood-lust inculcation’ in battle training.

Air Marshal Harris issues his orders for operation ‘Millenium’. The target is to be Hamburg, with Cologne as an alternate. The raid was to take place on the night of the 28th/29th May, or the first suitable night thereafter.

The 6th Army and Kleist’s Panzer’s meets thereby pinching of the Russian salient Southeast of Kharkov.

1943
The heaviest RAF raid of war to date is made against Dortmund, during which 2,000 tons of explosives are dropped.

The British claim that 313 Axis ships have been sunk in the Mediterranean since the battle of El Alamein.

1944
General Hans Cramer, the last German commander of the Afrika Korps, who was captured in May 1943, arrives in Berlin. Imprisoned in a POW camp in Wales, his deteriorating health caused him to be repatriated to Germany through the Swedish Red Cross. He was brought first from Wales to London, the route taken brought him through the south and south-west of England. He was allowed to see the massive build up of tanks, planes and ships getting ready for the D-Day invasion. What he didn’t know was the exact area of England he was being driven through. He was told it was southern and eastern England and this is what he reported to his seniors in Berlin, adding emphasis to the Allied propaganda that the invasion would take place in the Calais area.

The U.S. Fifth Army begins an offensive from the Anzio bridgehead toward Rome. Canadian troops breach the Adolf Hitler Line to the South West of Monte Cassino.

Chinese forces counter-attack in central China, and also make ground along the Burma Road.

1945
British troops arrest the Donitz government and the remnants of the German High Command at Flensburg.

Himmler commits suicide at the British Second Army HQ on Lüneburg Heath.

The heaviest air raid so far on the Japanese homeland, see USAAF bombers drop 4,500 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo. 21% of the city is now burnt out, but the firebombing continues for next four days.


2 May 1944 - History

LST - 600 - 650

LST-601 was laid down on 21 October 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 4 March 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Celia Counter Finch and commissioned on 25 March 1944, Lt. Ledbetter in command. During World War II, LST-601 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the invasion of southern France in August and September 1944. At the close of World War II, LST-601 remained in active service under Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. LST- 601 was redesignated Clarke County (LST-601) on 1 July 1955 after counties in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, and Virginia. She was decommissioned on 23 November 1955. The ship was recommissioned on 28 July 1966. Clarke County performed service in the Vietnam theater during the period 1967 to 1970. LST-601 received one battle star for World War IT service, and six battle stars plus two awards of the Meritorious Unit Commendation for Vietnam service.

LST - 602 was laid down on 23 October 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 9 March 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Adele R. Ziehm and commissioned on 31 March 1944, Ens. John H. Mehus, USNR, in command. During World War IT, LST-602 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the invasion of southern France in August and September 1944. In 1946, she was decommissioned and, as a result of hostilities in Korea, the ship was recalled to active service in 1950 and performed service in the Korean theater. On 1 July 1955, she was redesignated Clearwater County (LST-602) after counties in Idaho and Minnesota. The tank landing ship was operated by the Air Force from September 1957 to September 1969 when she was transferred to the temporary custody of the Maritime Administration. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 May 1972 and sold to Mexico on 30 May 1972 where she served as Manzanillo (IA-02). LST-602 earned one battle star for World War IT service and two battle stars for Korean service.

LST - 603 was laid down on 5 November 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 14 March 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Etla N. Hobart and commissioned on 5 April 1944, Ens. William B. Sweet in command. During World War IT, LST-603 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the invasion of southern France in August and September 1944. Following the war, she performed duties with the Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, including one deployment to the Mediterranean in 1950. The ship was decommissioned on 12 May 1955. On 1 July that same year, she was redesignated Coconino County (LST-603) after a county in Arizona. She was recommissioned on 8 June 1966 and operated in the Vietnam theater commencing in 1966 until she was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam Navy on 4 April 1969 where she served as Vung Tau (HQ-503). LST-603 received one battle star for World War IT service, and six battle stars and two awards of the Meritorious Unit Commendation for Vietnam service.

LST - 604 was redesignated AGP-11 and named Silenus (q.v.) on 18 December 1943.

LST - 605 was laid down on 30 September 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 29 March 1944 sponsored by Mrs. IT. F. Stearns and commissioned on 14 April 1944. During World War IT, LST-605 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landing-October 1944 Mindoro landing-December 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-May and June 1945 Following the war, LST-605 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-December 1945. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 24 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July that same year. On 15 April 1948, the ship was sold to Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Wash., for scrapping. LST-605 earned three battle stars and one award of the Navy Unit Commendation for World War IT service. LST-606

LST - 606 was laid down on 27 November 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. launched on 3 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. George Milligan and commissioned on 24 April 1944, Lt. William R. Brooks in command. During World War IT, LST-606 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands - September 1944 Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April through June 1945 Following the war, LST-606 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-September 1945. Upon her return to the United States, she was decommissioned on 13 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 19 June that same year. On 19 April 1948, the ship was sold to the Bethlehem Steel Co., of Bethlehem, Pa., for scrapping. LST-606 earned four battle stars for World War IT service. LST-607

LST - 607 was laid down on 2 December 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 7 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. John Pirok and commissioned on 24 April 1944. During World War IT, LST-607 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the capture and occupation of the southern Palau Islands from September to October 1944. Following the war, LST-607 performed occupation duty in the Far East until early January 1946. She was decommissioned on 11 January 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-607. USNS LST-607 was transferred to the Philippine Navy on 13 September 1976. LST-607 earned one battle star for World War IT service. LST-608

LST - 608 was laid down on 4 December 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 11 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. W. S. Martin and commissioned on 15 April 1944. During World War IT, LST-608 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April 1945 Following the war, LST-608 performed occupation duty in the Far East until early January 1946. She was decommissioned on 1 January 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 7 February 1947. On 31 May 1947, the ship was sold to the government of South Korea. LST-608 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 609 was laid down on 10 December 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 15 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Willard Maybauer and commissioned on 15 May 1944. During World War II, LST-609 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landing-October 1944 Mindoro landings-December 1944 Zambales-Subic Bay-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April 1945 Following the war, she was decommissioned on 4 January 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 21 January that same year. The ship was sold on 26 September 1947 to the Boston Metals Co., of Baltimore, Md., for scrapping. LST-609 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 610 was laid down on 16 December 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 19 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Patrick J. O'Herron and commissioned on 15 May 1944. During World War 11, LST-610 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands - September and October 1944 Leyte landing-October and November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Following the war, LST-610 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-June 1946. She was decommissioned on 28 June 1946 and transferred to the military government of Okinawa on IS September that same year. The ship was struck from the Navy list on 23 December 1947. LST-610 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 611 was laid down on 17 December 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 28 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Ray Hines and commissioned on 15 May 1944, Lt. Roy E. Burton, Jr., USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-611 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landing-October 1944 Mindoro landing-December 1944 The ship operated with the Amphibious Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, following World War II and participated in the Inchon landings in September 1950 during the Korean War. On I July 1955, LST-611 was redesignated Crook County (LST-611) after counties in Oregon and Wyoming. On 26 October 1956, the ship was placed in service, in reserve, in caretaker status. LST-611 earned two battle stars for World War 11 service and three battle stars for Korean service.

LST - 612 was laid down on 18 December 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 29 April 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Perry Arnold and commissioned on 16 May 1944, Lt. John A. White in command. During World War II, LST-612 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landing-October 1944 Mindoro landing-December 1944 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April and June 1945 Following the war, LST-612 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw China service until early May 1946. She was decommissioned on 1 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July that same year. On 5 December 1947, the ship was sold to Bosey, Philippines. LST-612 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 618 was laid down on 21 January 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 2 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. W. D. Ford and commissioned on 19 May 1944. During World War II, LST-613 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Morotai landing-September 1944 Leyte landing-November 1944 Mindoro landing-December 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Visayan Island landing-March 1945 Tarakan Island operation-April and May 1945 Following the war, LST-613 performed occupation duty in the Far East until early January 1946. She was decommissioned on 6 January 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-613 until struck from the Navy list. LST-618 earned five battle stars for World War II service. LST-614

LST - 614 was laid down on 28 January 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 6 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Marjorie H. Elting and commissioned on 22 May 1944, Lt. (jg.) P. S. Donovan, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-614 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Morotai landing-September 1944 Leyte landing-October 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landing-April 1945 Following the war, LST-614 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-January 1946. She was decommissioned on 20 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 29 October that same year. On 13 February 1948, the ship was sold to Bosey, Philippines. LST-614 earned four battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 615 was laid down on 4 February 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 9 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Leo Marcoux and commissioned on 26 May 1944. During World War II, LST-615 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the Leyte landing in October 1944 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in April 1945. Following the war, LST-615 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-November 1945. She was decommissioned on 14 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 12 April that same year. On 7 April 1948, the ship was sold to Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Wash., and subsequently scrapped. LST-615 earned two battle stars for World War II service. LST-616

LST - 616 was laid down on 12 February 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 12 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Carrol McDaniel and commissioned on 29 May 1944, Ens. Julian H. Rutherford, Jr., in command. During World War II, LST-616 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in March and April 1945. Following the war, the ship performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until early December 1945. She was decommissioned on 19 January 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-616. LST- 616 was struck from the Navy list on 1 May 1961 and transferred to the government of Indonesia. LST-616 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 617 was laid down on 17 February 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 15 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. E. B. Payne and commissioned on 1 June 1944, Lt. Howard J. Benward in command. During World War II, LST-617 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landing-October 1944 Mindoro landing-December 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-March through June 1945 Following the war, LST-617 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-December 1945. Upon her return to the United States, she was decommissioned on 24 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July that same year. On 15 April 1948, the ship was sold to Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Wash., and subsequently scrapped. LST-617 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 618 was laid down on 23 February 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 19 May 1944 sponsored by Miss Anita Pierce and commisioned on 3 June 1944. During World War II, LST-618 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landing-October and November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-April 1945 Following the war, LST-618 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw China service until early July 1946. On 24 October 1946, she was transferred to United States Army custody and struck from the Navy list on 23 December 1947. LST-618 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 619 was laid down on 8 March 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 22 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Walter B. Colby and commissioned on 5 June 1944. During World War II, LST-619 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Mindoro landings-December 1944 Palawan Island landings-March 1945 Visayan Island landings-March 1945 Following the war, LST-619 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-April 1946. Upon her return to the United States, she was decommissioned on 19 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 31 October 1947. On 27 May 1948, the ship was sold to Consolidated Builders, Inc., Seattle, Wash., for scrapping. LST-619 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 620 was laid down on 11 March 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 30 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. V. A. Carpano and commissioned on 17 June 1944. During World War II, LST-620 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in May and June 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until early May 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 7 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 19 June that same year. LST-620 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 621 was I laid down on 15 March 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 2 June 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Josephine F. Madura and commissioned on 21 June 1944, Lt. C. E. Watkins in command. During World War II, LST-621 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in April and May 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until late December 1945. The ship was decommissioned on 10 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 31 July that same year. On 30 March 1948, she was sold to the Kaiser Co., Inc., Seattle, Wash., for scrapping. LST-621 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 622 was laid down on 15 March 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 8 June 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Ray Menefee and commissioned on 26 June 1944. During World War II, LST-622 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the Lingayen Gulf landing in January 1945 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto from March to June 1945. Following the war, LST- 622 was decommissioned on 14 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 12 April that same year. On 13 April 1948, the ship was sold to Kaiser Co., Inc., Seattle, Wash., for scrapping. LST-622 earned two battle stars for World War II service. LST-623

LST - 623 was laid down on 17 March 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 12 June 1944 sponsored by Mrs. J. K. Esler and commissioned on 29 June 1944. During World War II, LST-623 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landings-October through November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Palawan Island landings-March 1945 Following the war, LST-623 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-February 1946. She was transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she operated as USNS LST- 623. LST-623 earned three battle stars for World War II service. LST-624

LST - 624 was laid down on 22 March 1944 at Seneca, III., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 16 June 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Agnes Reynolds and commissioned on 3 July 1944, Lt. R. S. Salzer in command. During World War II, LST-624 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Manila Bay-Bicol operations-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April 1945 Following the war, LST-624 performed occupation duty in the Far East until early February 1946. She was decommissioned on 14 February 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 7 February 1947. On I June 1947, the ship was sold to the government of South Korea. LST-624 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 625 was laid down on 30 March 1944 at Seneca' Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 20 June 1944 sponsored by Miss Margaret Jones and commissioned on 10 July 1944, Lt. George F. B. Capozzi, USNR, in command. During World War 11, LST-625 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the Lingayen Gulf landing in January 1945 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in April 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until early February 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 11 February 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-625 until struck from the Navy list on 19 May 1954. LST-625 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 626 was laid down on 31 March 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 27 June 1944 sponsored by Miss Mary B. Ralston and commissioned on 15 July 1944. During World War II, LST-626 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Leyte landings-November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-March 1945 Tarakan Island operation-April and May 1945 Brunei Bay operation-June and July 1945 Following the war, LST-626 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until early March 1946. She was decommissioned on 2 March 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-626 until struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1972. On 25 May 1973, the ship was sold to the Dongkuk Steel Co. of America, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., for scrapping. LST-626 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 627 was laid down on 8 April 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 1 July 1944 sponsored by Mrs. C. H. Mattern and commissioned on 20 July 1944, Lt. S. R. Parker, in command. During World War II, LST-627 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the Lingayen Gulf landing in January 1945 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in April 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-May 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 6 June 1946 and sold to the government of the Netherlands East Indies on 15 June that same year. On 19 June 1946, LST-627 was struck from the Navy list. LST-627 earned two battle stars for World War II service. LST-628

LST - 628 was laid down on 10 April 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 4 July 1944 sponsored by Mrs. P. G. Abernathy and commissioned on 31 July 1944, Lt. Frank C. Siedenburg in command. During World War II, LST-628 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in May 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until early March 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 3 April 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July that same year. She was sold to the Ships & Power Equipment Corp., of Barber, N.J., on 9 December 1947 for scrapping. LST-628 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 629 was laid down on 13 April 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 8 July 1944 sponsored by Mrs. R. B. Douglass and commissioned on 28 July 1944. During World War II, LST-629 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-April 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-June 1945 Following the war, LST-629 saw service in China until late December 1945. The ship was decommissioned on 4 March 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-629. LST-629 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 630 was laid down on 14 April 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 13 July 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Walter Dunnett and commissioned on 4 August 1944. During World War II, LST-630 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Mindoro landings-December 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-March through April 1945 Following the war, LST-630 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-February 1946. She was decommissioned on 13 February 1946 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she served as USNS LST-630 until struck from the Navy list on 15 June 1973. On 19 November 1973, she was sold to B. V. Dimex, Nijmegen, Netherlands, for scrapping. LST-630 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 631 was laid down on 19 April 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 18 July 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Theresa Colmone and commissioned on 9 August 1944. During World War II, LST-631 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Zambales-Subic Bay-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-March and April 1945 Following the war, LST-631 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-December 1945. She was decommissioned on 24 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July that same year. On 15 April 1948, the ship was sold to Kaiser Co., Inc., Seattle, Wash., and subsequently scrapped. LST-631 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 632 was laid down on 26 April 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 21 July 1944 sponsored by Mrs. William H. Hallenback and commissioned on 12 August 1944, Ens. G. W. Chandler, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-632 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Corregidor-Mariveles-February 1945 Mindanao Island landings-March through April 1945 Balikpapan operation-June and July 1945 Following the war, LST-632 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-May 1946. She was decommissioned on 30 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 28 January 1947. The tank landing ship was destroyed as a target on 11 June 1948. LST-632 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 633 was laid down on 3 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 27 July 1944 sponsored by Miss Evelyn Martin and commissioned on 17 August 1944. During World War II, LST-633 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto from April to June 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid- February 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 15 February 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 29 September 1947. On 23 June 1948, she was sold to Consolidated Builders, Inc., Seattle, Wash., and subsequently scrapped. LST-633 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 634 was laid down on 13 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on I August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. R. F. Hendren and commissioned on 22 August 1944, Lt. T. Little in command. During World War II, LST-634 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945. Following the war she performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until early June 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 8 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 19 July that same year. On 23 June 1948, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. LST-634 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 635 was laid down on 17 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 7 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Isabelle Wurst and commissioned on 26 August 1944, Lt. D. J. Lanphere in command. Following World War II, LST-635 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until early June 1946. She was decommissioned on 7 June 1946 and transferred to the State Department for disposition on 19 July 1946.

LST - 636 was laid down on 22 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 11 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Katherine R. Biehler and commissioned on 31 August 1944, Lt. T. M. Hayes, Jr., USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-636 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the Lingayen Gulf landing in January 1945 and the Mindanao Island landings in March and April 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until early May 1946 * The ship was decommissioned on 25 May 1946 and sold to Bosey, Philippines, on 5 December 1947. On 23 December 1947, she was struck from the Navy list. LST-636 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 637 was laid down on 24 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 18 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Michaels and commissioned on 5 September 1944, Lt. C. E. Helfrich, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-637 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Visayan Island landings-March through May 1945 Tarakan Island operation-April and May 1945 Following the war, LST-637 performed occupation duty in the Far East until late October 1945. She was decommissioned on 29 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 5 June that same year. On 18 December 1947, the ship was sold to the Ships & Power Equipment Corp., of Barber, N.J., and subsequently scrapped. LST-637 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 638 was laid down on 25 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 23 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Marjorie T. Twyman and commissioned on 8 September 1944. During World War II, LST-638 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the Palawan Island landings in March 1945 and the Visayan Island landings in April 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until midMay 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 8 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 12 March 1948. She was destroyed as a target on 15 June 1948. LST-638 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 639 was laid down on 26 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 28 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Isabel C. Christofferson and commissioned on 14 September 1944. During World War II, LST-639 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Palawan Island landings-March 1945 Visayan Island landings-March 1945 Balikpapan operation-June and July 1945 Following the war, LST-639 performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-May 1946. She was decommissioned on 1 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 16 September 1947. On 5 December 1947, the ship was sold to Bosey, Philippines. LST-639 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 640 was laid down on 27 May 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 31 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Mary Frances Fox and commissioned on 18 September 1944. During World War II, LST-640 served in the AsiaticPacific theater and took part in the following operations: Palawan Island landings-March 1945 Visayan Island landings-March and April 1945 Following the war, LST-640 performed service in China in March and April 1946. Upon her return to the United States, the ship was decommissioned on 30 April 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 19 July 1946. LST-640 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 641 was laid down on 1 June 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 4 September 1944 and commissioned on 22 September 1944. During World War II, LST-641 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima in February 1945 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto from April through June 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East and saw service in China until mid-June 1946. The ship was decommissioned on 13 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 19 July that same year. LST-641 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 642 was laid down on 5 June 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 8 September 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Sylvia W. Nesbitt and commissioned on 28 September 1944. During World War II, LST-642 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid- February 1947. The ship was decommissioned on 30 June 1947. LST-642 was abandoned at Barter Island, Alaska, on 10 February 1948 and struck from the Navy list on 19 February that same year. LST-642 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 643 was laid down on 10 June 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 12 September 1944 sponsored by Lt. Cornelia W. Mattert, USNR and commissioned on 2 October 1944. During World War II, LST-643 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima in February 1945 and the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in April 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-January 1946. LST-643 was transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 March 1952 where she operated as USNS LST-643 until struck from the Navy list on 15 June 1973. On 17 September 1973, the ship was sold to S. S. Zee, Taipei, Taiwan, for scrapping. LST-643 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 644 was redesignated ARL-14 and named Minos (q.v.) on 14 August 1944.

LST - 645 was redesignated ARL-15 and named Minotaur (q.v.) on 14 August 1944.

LST - 646 was laid down on 30 June 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 25 September 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Marie S. Pagoria and commissioned on 13 October 1944. During World War II, LST-646 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945. Following the war, LST-646 performed occupation duty in the Far East until early December 1945. She was decommissioned on 15 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 17 April that same year. On 11 May 1948, the ship was sold to J. Willis Smith & Bros. for scrapping. LST-646 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 647 was laid down on 5 July 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 28 September 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Margaret H. Johnson and commissioned on 19 October 1944. During World War II, LST-647 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto from March to June 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East. The ship was decommissioned on 2 February 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 23 December 1947. On 25 May 1948, she was sold to the Bethlehem Steel Co., of Bethlehem, Pa., for scrapping. LST-647 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 648 was laid down on 7 July 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 3 October 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Edith V. Vosburgh and commissioned on 21 October 1944. During World War II, LST-648 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima in February 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until early February 1947. The ship was decommissioned on 14 February 1947 and struck from the Navy list on 25 February that same year and transferred to the United States Army. LST-648 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST - 649 was laid down on 19 July 1944 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 6 October 1944 sponsored by Miss Dorothy E. Otten and commissioned on 26 October 1944. During World War II, LST-649 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto from March to June 1945. Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until early March 1946. On 31 March 1952, the ship was transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service where she operated as USNS LST-649 until struck from the Navy list. LST-649 earned one battle star for World War II service.


The invasion of the Philippines

At the time of the Morotai and Palau landings, MacArthur was planning to invade Mindanao, southernmost of the large islands in the Philippines. However, naval strikes against the Philippines in September revealed unexpectedly weak Japanese defenses on both Mindanao and Leyte in the central Philippines. It was then proposed that plans be changed to bypass Mindanao and land directly on Leyte. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, then meeting with the British Chiefs of Staff at the Octagon Conference in Quebec, quickly approved the proposed changes, and MacArthur scheduled the Leyte attack for October 20, 1944.

The first landings in the Leyte area were made on October 17 and 18 when offshore islands in Leyte Gulf were seized. Precisely on schedule, on October 20, four U.S. Army divisions (1st Cavalry, 7th, 24th, and 96th Infantry) poured ashore on the east coast of Leyte, where strong opposition was met at only one of the four division beaches. A vast armada of battleships, carriers, cruisers, and destroyers pounded the area with shells and bombs before the landing and during its early stages.

The Japanese reacted by activating, on October 18, their plan for Operation Sho: four carriers, with a total strength of just over 100 planes, were to move southward to lure the U.S. carrier task force toward them, while a fleet of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, passing in two groups through the San Bernardino and Surigao straits, was to converge on Leyte Gulf to bombard the enemy landing force. The Army and Navy air forces in the theatre were also ordered to attack the invaders, but their actual strength had been reduced to a mere 212 planes by the time of the landing. Vice Adm. Ōhnishi Takijirō, the newly appointed commander in chief of the 1st Air Fleet, finally decided to employ suicidal kamikaze tactics to deal with the crisis.

A powerful surface group under the command of Vice Adm. Kurita Takeo, steaming through Palawan Passage on October 23, 1944, was intercepted by U.S. submarines. Two heavy cruisers were sunk and another seriously damaged. On the following day, Kurita’s group was repeatedly pounded by carrier-borne planes and the Musashi, one of the two mightiest battleships of the Japanese Navy, was sunk. Meanwhile, the group under the command of Vice Adm. Nishimura Shoji was ambushed in Surigao Strait by a force of the U.S. 7th Fleet under the command of Rear Adm. Jesse B. Oldendorf and was virtually annihilated.

The tactic of luring the main U.S. carrier force to the north did achieve some measure of success. On October 25, when Kurita’s force entered the Pacific through San Bernardino Strait, it unexpectedly sighted a U.S. escort carrier force and inflicted heavy damage. On the same day, Ōhnishi’s air force made the first kamikaze attack upon the same U.S. group. But meanwhile Vice Adm. Ozawa’s force itself was caught by the main U.S. force under Halsey, and in all, four carriers, a light cruiser, and two destroyers were sunk. Kurita abandoned the original intention of forcing his way into Leyte Gulf and withdrew. The Battle of Leyte Gulf was a disaster for the Japanese Navy. Operation Sho not only failed to inflict serious damage on the enemy, but resulted in significant losses, the total coming to three battleships, one large carrier, three light carriers, six heavy cruisers, four light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. The United States lost one light carrier, two escort carriers, and several other vessels.

Despite their huge naval losses, the Japanese were determined to hold Leyte, and after the naval battle they started sending reinforcements to the island while continuing aerial attacks against Allied shipping in Leyte Gulf. During October 1944 too few Japanese reinforcements arrived to have much effect upon operations, and the U.S. X Corps drove rapidly up Leyte Valley to the north coast while the XXIV Corps pushed inland and sent one division overland to the southwest coast. Bad weather and strong Japanese reinforcements—the equivalent of two and a half divisions by late November—slowed the 6th Army’s advances during November and December, while the Japanese defended the Ormoc Valley and the mountainous interior. MacArthur therefore found it necessary to reinforce the 6th Army, and during November the U.S. 11th Airborne Division, the 32nd Infantry Division, and a separate cavalry regimental combat team reached the island. Both the X and XXIV Corps maintained heavy pressure on all fronts to keep the Japanese off balance and to prevent them from organizing strong, coordinated counterattacks.

Japanese reinforcements continued to arrive at Ormoc, on the northwest coast, despite staggering losses of ships and troops through Allied air and naval attacks. The Japanese even tried some abortive airborne assaults which accomplished little. To prevent further reinforcements from reaching the island, MacArthur sent the 77th Infantry Division (which had reached Leyte late in November 1944) on a shore-to-shore movement from the east coast to Ormoc, near which town the division landed on December 7. Ormoc fell three days later and the 77th Division pushed up the Ormoc Valley to establish contact with the X Corps units fighting their way southward. This contact marked the end of the strongest organized resistance on Leyte and the island was declared secured on Christmas Day, 1944.

The 6th Army, in order to prepare for future operations, turned over the task of mopping up to the 8th Army, and the XXIV Corps was relieved by the Americal Division. American and Filipino troops fought against the 20,000 Japanese left on Leyte for the rest of the year. Mopping up operations actually continued into 1945 until almost 75,000 Japanese had been killed or captured. Even before Leyte was cleared of enemy forces, the 6th Army had started to move toward the next objective, the island of Luzon.


Discussion

The rifle company, with a fairly substantial baggage train, support personnel, and potential for reinforcement from the Grenadier Battalion's 12cm mortars, 8cm mortars, and/or heavy machine guns, could reasonably operate by on its own. The rifle platoon was the lowest level where fire and maneuver could practically take place. Although there was provision for fire and maneuver in the rifle squads (the lowest tactical unit), with the machine gun team supporting riflemen in an assault, more often than not (especially in the defense) the riflemen would essentially act as protection for the machine gun. The riflemen themselves were not competent at covering a maneuvering machine gun. If a squad were to lose its machine gun, those personnel were typically redistributed to squads that still had one.

There were no revolutionary changes to the standard German rifle company throughout the war, although minor, more incremental changes did occur. From the last organization change published December 1943 to this one published May 1944, these were the changes that occured:

​ The company's mortar squad (Granatwerfergruppe) that served 2 Gr.W.34 8cm mortars was dissolved and replaced by the heavy machine gun squad which served 2 general-purpose machine guns in the heavy role (i.e. from tripods).

The rifle platoons' 2 reserve general-purpose machine guns in the light role (i.e. from bipods) were reduced to 1 in reserve. The number of infantry carts per platoon was also reduced from 3 carts to 2 carts.

In the company's baggage train, the horse-related billets were reduced from 5 drivers from the buck and 1 driver from the sattle to just 4 drivers from the buck. The field cook was then given double-duty of a horse driver from the buck.

As far as the rifle platoons were concerned, there were no major changes since the last organizaitonal change. However, they did look different from the rifle platoons at the start of the war. In 1941, each rifle platoon had 4 rifle squads (10 men each) and a light mortar troop. Mind this was also after a reduction in manpower. The German Army would have been rolling with 13-man rifle squads during the invasion of Poland in 1939. Over the course of the war, the platoon was reduced in size to just 3 rifle squads, with each rifle squad being reduced in size to 9 men. This was almost certainly done to lean out the rifle companies to cope with an increasingly desperate manpower situation. It would stay at this size on paper until the end of the war, although in practice it could drop to fewer than 6 men as long as it still had a machine gun. Not to mention the early-war rifle company anti-tank rifle sections were removed, although this was probably offset by the introduction of superior man-portable anti-tank weapons.

Aside from the practical changes, the title of German infantry was also changed to "Grenadier" &mdash an appeal to old Prussian military tradition. This should not be confused with the Grenadierkompanie , which were intended to be assault rifle-equipped companies within the Volksgrenadiers that ascribed to a completely different set of tactics, organization and equipment.

A brief overview of ammunition carriage:

Personnel authorized submachine guns had a standard ammunition carriage of 6x 32-round magazines (192 rounds) carried in 2 3-cell ammunition pouches.

Personnel authorized pistols had a standard ammunition carriage of 2x 8-round magazines (16 rounds) with 1 in the gun and 1 in the holster.

Personnel authorized Kar98k rifles had an ammunition load of 9x 5-round clips (45 rounds) on the march and 12x 5-round clips (60 rounds) in combat.

Each rifle squad had 1,150 rounds of ammunition for its machine gun. The machine gunner carried a 50-round belt drum loaded for quick reaction to contact. The assistant machine gunner carried 4 additional 50-round belt drums as the first-line ammo load and a 300-round ammo box. Two additional 300-round ammo boxes were carried by the riflemen. Before 1943, these 2 boxes would have been carried by an ammunition bearer (a third member for the LMG Team). Unlike in the U.S. Army and British Army, there were no special pouches or bags for carrying ammo for squad-level auomatic weapons or machine gun belts. Thus, the ammo boxes would be carried by hand.

In combat, up to 2 grenades (Model 24 stick or Model 39 hand grenades) could be carried by each member of a rifle squad.

Although not included in the KStN, disposable anti-tank weapons (Panzerfausts) were intended to be issued as part of a company's ammunition scales. Unlike the Panzershreck, which was considered a weapon, the Panzerfaust was considered a munition. Approximately 36 Panzerfausts were meant to be available to each rifle company to be distributed as needed depending on the situation. This would mean about 12 Panzerfausts per rifle platoon if distributed equally, or 4 per squad. This obviously varied and it could be expected under normal circumstances, Panzerfausts would be hauled in the platoon or company wagons when not needed. We've found numbers ranging from 30 to 50 per platoon as well, but it should be noted that the supply of Panzerfausts is often listed in divisional numbers (as part of the divisional ammo supply) and that the supply situation at the end of the war would have affected the numbers available unit to unit.


Norway's liberation

In Norway, the second world war ended in a way which few had expected or even dared to anticipate. The German forces, led by General Franz Böhme, surrendered their weapons on midnight, 8 May 1945 after orders from the German High Command, and afterwards conducted themselves in an exemplary manner. Allied forces, Norwegians among them, took over and within a few weeks all administration was transferred to civilian Norwegian organs.

It was widely feared that the war would end differently. Such apprehensions had a basis in arithmetic - the Germans had a huge concentration of armed forces on Norwegian soil. As many as 400,000 men- members of the German army, navy and air force - were stationed in Norway and when the Third Reich's collapse drew near, there were still 360,000 enemy troops in the country.

Among them were numerous detachments with fresh combat experience on the Northern Front, in Russia and Finland. From the summer of 1944 to the beginning of 1945 they had been led by General Lothar Rendulic. Rendulic, his chief of staff General Böhme, Major-General Hermann Hölter, and the naval chief, Admiral Krancke, were all officers with battle experience and tough reputations.

But the main cause for concern about a violent end to the war in Norway was the ardent Nazi, Josef Terboven. From the summer of 1940 he had been the German commissioner (Reichskommissar) and the country's real ruler. He was known as a hawk and was associated with slogans such as "fight to the last man" and Festung Norwegen (Fortress Norway). One suspected that his certitude about the fate awaiting him after a capitulation also contributed to his uncompromising stance.

Terboven did not have command of the military forces. However, the police were under his leadership. They numbered some 6,000 troops, including 800 in the widely feared security police. There is no reason to doubt that if Terboven had had his way the termination of the war would not have been so peaceful.

The beginning of the end

One can say that the closing of the war in Norway began on 18 October 1944. That was the day when Soviet military units crossed the Norwegian-Soviet border in pursuit of retreating German forces. The Norwegian exile government in London had been forewarned about the Soviet advance, and there was some uncertainty about the Soviet goals. How far would the Russians penetrate into Norway, and how long would they stay?

The Soviet forces were satisfied with occupying Sør-Varanger, the border area of Finnmark county. However, the Germans retreated to the southwest, all the way to Lyngen in northern Troms county. Here they established a new front, where three German Army corps dug in. During the withdrawal, the Norwegian civilians were forced to evacuate to the south, and the Germans razed the territory.

However, even before the retreat, the eastern part of Finnmark was devastated by the war. For instance, the town of Kirkenes had been bombed 328 times. During the retreat, buildings were burned to the ground, the infrastructure blown to bits, and everything of value which the Germans came across was demolished. Nothing was to be left for Germany's enemies - the scorched earth tactic was implemented across an area considerably larger than the whole of Denmark.

But the Soviet forces crossed into Norway before the Germans had completed their plans of evacuation. The people of Sør-Varanger welcomed the Soviet troops enthusiastically. Among the liberated civilians were 3,000 to 4,000 who had hid in a mine shaft at Bjørnevatn. All in all, from 20,000 to 25,000 Norwegians managed to escape German detection during the forced evacuation. For most of them, the period until the German capitulation was harrowing - it was mid-winter and provisions were scarce.

However, the hardships were also considerable for the 40,000 to 45,000 who were forced to flee to the south. They were transported to areas which were far from prepared to receive them. The town of Tromsø, which at the time had a population of about 10,000, doubled in size. Yet primary services functioned relatively well in the north Norwegian towns. However, in the south of the country the evacuees' reception by their countrymen was not always as warm and understanding.

Norwegian troops return

Norwegian troops arrived at Kirkenes three weeks after the Russians. On 11 November 1944, 300 soldiers led by Col. Arne D. Dahl crossed the border in Soviet lorries. They belonged to the 2nd mountain company of the Norwegian brigade in Scotland, and had been sent by ship to Murmansk. The Norwegians who had remained in Finnmark were disappointed that the Norwegian troops came so late and were so few in number. Of course, they couldn't know that the exiled government in London had pressed hard for a bigger effort among the Western Allies. But the British and Americans had other plans - top priority was given to the battles on the Continent in the final phases of the war in Europe.

Later in the winter, Norwegian police troops from Sweden also arrived. When the war ended there were 3,000 Norwegian soldiers in the region.

After the Soviet incursion, there was a cessation of battle in Finnmark. One of the reasons was that Stalin also gave priority to the drive in Central Europe. The Russians remained in Norway until 26 September 1945, when they withdrew across the border to their own territory.

The decision to withdraw was subject to internal disputes in leading Soviet circles. Some officers and foreign ministry officials wanted the USSR to stay put in Finnmark. But Stalin and Molotov gave priority to good relations with their Norwegian neighbour, thus avoiding a new dispute with the Western Allies.

Norway in the grip of the Nazis

As the second world war escalated toward its finale in the main theatre of battle, confrontations in Norway also grew more fierce. Although in the last months of the war Norway was held in the iron grip of the occupying power, Germany had allowed a puppet regime to govern from 1 February 1942. The head of this regime was Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the fascist party Nasjonal Samling (NS). As mentioned, the German overseer for the Norwegian administration, and the real ruler, was Reichskommissar Josef Terboven.

Compulsory mobilisation?

Toward the end of the war, Quisling's government had worked for the compulsory mobilisation of Norwegians as cannon fodder for the German side. This never came about, partly because the Germans did not think it feasible, but also because plans and facilities for induction and mobilisation were subjected to acts of sabotage by Norway's legitimate forces. But the Quisling government had been permitted by the Germans to establish an armed alarm unit. In April 1945 it was 2,000 strong and capable of causing harm. Quisling planned to mobilise another 10,000 men, but developments evolved too fast for these to be effected.

But there were Norwegians in German uniforms at the Nazi's disposal around the country. These consisted of SS units which had fought on the northern front and later had been evacuated. In Finnmark, detachments of these Norwegian SS units engaged in battle with small Norwegian partisan groups.

As the war drew to a close, the Norwegian resistance leaders feared that civil war conditions could break out in many areas of the country. Norwegian underground units were being ordered to participate in a rising number of actions against the Nazi transport apparatus and the activities of the Norwegian NS authorities. As a result, the main headquarters of the Norwegian State Railways was blown up.

Antagonisms also mounted within the NS party toward the end of the war. A represent for the more aggressive faction, Henrik Rogstad who led the Trøndelag county branch, was promoted to commander of the State Police in April 1945. Together with the police minister, Jonas Lie, he was dead set on battling to the bitter end.

Tens of thousands of Norwegians were in prisons and prisoner of war camps at home and in Germany at the end of the war. In camps spread around Norway, the Germans had nearly 100,000 allied war prisoners, mainly Russians. Conditions were deplorable and the mortality rate among these prisoners was enormous. There were also some 30,000 to 40,000 alien civilians in Norway. The Germans had imported them as forced labour to build Festung Norwegen.

The Resistance Movement

In secret, a Norwegian military force had been created to fight the huge German power. In part, the underground had been spontaneously organised by individuals who wanted to continue fighting the occupying forces. Other troops had been dropped in by parachute or transported into the country, on small vessels - the so-called "Shetland bus" - aboard submarines, or by the land route across the Swedish border. These clandestine forces included radio operators, sabotage experts and military instructors. In their wake followed weapon and equipment deliveries. In time, a secret army had been organised. When the Germans capitulated, the underground military groups totalled 40,000 soldiers. Their commander was Jens Christian Hauge, who was later appointed minister of defence by Einar Gerhardsen in the Labour Party government which was elected in the autumn of 1945.

The Resistance cooperated closely with the Norwegian government in London, and detailed and closely synchronised preparations had been made. This is certainly part of the reason why the capitulation did not end in massive bloodshed.

Fear of last-ditch battles

Norwegians and the allies feared that the strong German forces in Festung Norwegen might attempt to continue the fight even after the collapse of Berlin. In that case, huge allied forces would have to be sent to Norway, resulting in massive destruction and loss of life. But contingency plans for such a scenario had been made by the Allied staffs.

Of course, the Norwegian government in London was also prepared for such a denouement. It was believed that if this were the outcome, Swedish forces would also be drawn into battle. Without informing the Allied partners, Norwegians raised the matter with the Swedish government. The Swedes were also convinced that Allied battles with the German troops on Norwegian soil would have such an effect, but the Swedish government wished to avoid being drawn into the fight to liberate Norway.

Right toward the end of the war, the issue of Sweden's ability to help reach a solution in Norway was raised by a Swedish count, Folke Bernadotte, at a meeting with SS Commander Heinrich Himmler's representative, Walther Schnellenberg. Would it be easier for the German forces to capitulate to the neutral Sweden, and in return receive immediate transportation back to Germany? Himmler agreed that it would.

The Swedish government pursued the matter. It continued its dialogue with German officers until the idea was totally rejected by General Böhme and the chief of general staff in Norway, General Hölter.

Hitler's suicide on 30 April 1945 in his bomb shelter in Berlin was the supreme sign that peace was close at hand. The Allied forces had a choke hold on the Germans in Central Europe. The Germans were still in control in only two countries - Denmark and Norway. But it was only in Norway that fanatical Nazis had an opportunity to prolong the war.

In these final days, the spotlight was on the German headquarters in Lillehammer. Norwegians - and thus the Allies as well - knew what was going on with the aid of intelligence sources within the German headquarters. It was known that Terboven, in March 1945, was considering plans to make Norway the last bastion of the Third Reich - a last-ditch sanction for German leaders.

But after Hitler died, the German situation was obviously hopeless. On 1 May, Hitler's successor Admiral Dönitz summoned General Böhme and Reichskommissar Terboven to a meeting in Flensburg where they were ordered to follow the instructions of the General Headquarters. Upon his return to Norway, it was clear that Terboven also recognised defeat. In a secret directive to the military commanders, General Böhme ordered "unconditional military obedience" and "iron discipline".

Naturally, the likelihood of a peaceful solution in Norway increased when the German occupiers capitulated in Denmark on 5 May. On the same evening, General Eisenhower sent a telegram to the resistance headquarters in Norway. It was passed on to General Böhme and contained practical information about how to make contact with the Allied General Headquarters.

On 7 May, at 02:41, the German high command signed capitulation documents in the Western Allies' headquarters in Reims, France. The ceremony was repeated on the following day at the Red Army's headquarters in Berlin. The armistice was to be implemented at midnight between 8 and 9 May.

In Norway, the news spread like wildfire on 7 May. Flags were flown for the first time in years and the population was infected with expectations. But do to doubts regarding how the occupiers and their helpers would respond, the mounting Norwegian joy was tinged with reservation.

Admiral Dönitz dismissed Terboven as Reichskommissar on 7 May, and his power was transferred to General Böhme. Then, at 9:10 P.M, General Böhme was ordered by the German high command to follow the capitulation plans. At 10 P.M. he went on radio and declared that the German troops in Norway would obey orders.

This lead immediately to full mobilisation of the resistance military organisiation, Milorg. The underground forces took up their positions on the same evening. Soon, 40,000 armed Norwegians turned up, more or less right in front of the German rifles. They occupied the Royal Palace, the central police station in Oslo, as well as a number of other public buildings and strategic places. As early as 10 May, the Resistance had even posted guards in Lillehammer, where the Germans had their headquarters. Over night, a pre-planned Norwegian administration was on the spot, prepared also to administer counties as well as municipalities.

On the afternoon of 8 May, the Allied military mission arrived in Oslo. It delivered its conditions for capitulation to the Germans, and the surrender was arranged in the course of the night.

The demands were actually quite astounding. The German high command agreed to arrest and intern all German and Norwegian Nazis who were listed by the Allies. The Germans were to disarm and intern all their SS troops and the armed Norwegian Nazis. They were forced to send all German units to areas designated by the Allies. They was also ordered to respect Norwegian authorities and the Norwegian resistance. In retrospect, we can conclude that events turned out most satisfactorily.

For the German power elite in Norway, the defeat was indisputable when Reichskommissär Terboven and his police general, Wilhelm Rediess, committed suicide. Their Norwegian proteges, Minister of Justice Jonas Lie and the chief of the State Police, Henrik Rogstad, also took their own lives. The minister president, Vidkun Quisling, was arrested and later sentenced to death by a Norwegian court.

After the war, legal proceedings were initiated against those who had aided the Germans. Charges were filed against 90,000 persons, and 46,000 were sentenced for treason. Among these, 18,000 were sentenced to prison terms, 28,000 were fined and deprived of their rights as citizens.

A total of 30 Norwegians received death sentences, as were 15 German war criminals. Thirty-seven of the executions were carried out - 25 Norwegians and 12 Germans. Among the Norwegians was also Quisling's minister of the interior, Albert V. Hagelin. Among the Germans executed were the police chiefs in Oslo, Trondheim and Kristiansand. Another 60 Germans were sentenced to prison terms, most of them members of the security police.

Following the German capitulation, regular Norwegian and Allied detachments were sent to Norway. Among these were Norwegian forces trained in Sweden. Upon their return home on 10 May, there were 13,000 of these troops, comprising 8 battalions of police reserves, 8 state police companies, as well as staff and support units. At their peak, the British and American detachments totalled 30,000 soldiers.

Representatives for the civilian Norwegian authorities followed on the heals of the military troops. Crown Prince Olav arrived in Oslo aboard a British cruiser on 14 May. Accompanying him was a 21-man Norwegian government delegation led by ministers Sverre Støstad and Paul Hartmann. The rest of the Norwegian government and much of the London administration followed on the troop transport ship Andes. Finally, on 7 June - the 40th anniversary of Norway's dissolution of its union with Sweden in 1905 - King Haakon VII and the rest of the royal family set foot on Norwegian soil.

The first job for the allied authorities and the Norwegian administration was to send the German forces home and repatriate the enormous number of mistreated prisoners of war whom the Germans had interned in Norway. Little progress was made with the return of German soldiers until the late summer, and the last ones did not leave Norway until the summer of 1946.

In Norway there were 83,000 Soviet P.O.W.s, several thousand Poles, 2,500 Yugoslavs as well as a few prisoners from other former occupied countries. Most of them were in miserable condition. About 17,000 prisoners had already succumbed from mistreatment or had been executed. Some wished to get back to their home countries as soon as possible others hoped to stay in Norway. But the fate of the prisoners of war was in the hands of the major powers - they were to be sent home.

Later, we have learned that an awful fate awaited many of the Soviet war prisoners. Some were shot when they crossed the border, and most wound up in concentration camps.

The legitmate administration

The Commander in Chief for the Allied forces in Norway, the British General Sir Andrew Thorne, transferred power to Norway's constitutional monarch, King Haakon, on the day of the king's return, 7 June. Cooperation between Norwegian and Allied authorities was congenial and generally problem-free. The biggest point of contention involved the matter of the German weapons and equipment in Norway. The Norwegians wished to keep it for the development of the nation's own armed forces. But most of it was destroyed, apparently to facilitate future British weapons exports to Norway.

After the liberation, the Norwegian exile government from London was replaced by a coalition government led by Einar Gerhardsen. It governed until a general election was held in the autumn of 1945. Gerhardsen was elected to continue as prime minister, but this time as head of a Labour Party government. Everyday life had returned to Norway.

Before reconstruction commenced, the war's cost to Norway was calculated. A total of 10,262 Norwegian lives had been lost. Significant areas of the country were in shambles. Bombs and battles had devastated towns. Rural areas were also marked by the destruction and terror of war. Enormous reconstruction tasks lay ahead after the scorched earth policy practiced in northern Troms and Finnmark counties - and hardships awaited the northerners who set off for their former homes after the liberation . An estimated 16 per cent of the country's national wealth had been lost.

Much of the country's means of production had been destroyed, and even more was worn out. The occupying power had confiscated 40 per cent of the nation's production. The monetary system was in ruins because the Germans had used the printing presses indiscriminately to cover their needs. Thus, one of the first things the authorities initiated was a monetary reform, and paper currency was recalled and replaced with new issue. Confidence was created in the new Norwegian krone (NOK).

The Norwegian economy recuperated at an astonishing rate. By 1946, industrial production and the gross domestic product had returned to its level from before 9 April 1940. Three years later, the national wealth had regained its pre-war strength.


The author of the article, Tor Dagre, is the former editor of Nytt fra Norge.


Operation Overlord Video

The Allies prevailed in the Battle of Normandy through the sheer numbers and force applied to the invasion. There were more than 3 million men and 16 million tons of supplies pre-positioned in Great Britain used in the attack. The occupation of Normandy would prove crucial for the Western Allies to commence battling Germany on the western Front. If the Normandy invasion had not occurred, then Soviet vice western powers could have in theory taken all of the land from the Germans as they were weighing down the Nazi war machine on the Eastern Front at this time.


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