a danse macabre

(Off the Coast of Salerno, Italy)

2115 – Five flares burst on port bow, 4 more on starboard bow.

2136 –Continual AA fire in area of flares.  TBS says there are friendly planes bearing North. Radar shows many friendly as well as unidentified planes in area of firing.


- excerpted from General Quarters Narrative, USS Savannah, September 8, 1943, Salerno, Italy


0240 – Mine sweepers report drifting mines in boat channel.  The channel is not clear. Heavy explosions are continually seen on the beaches around us.

0455 – Unidentified planes reported 5 miles.

2145 – Unidentified plane closing astern of us.  Range 10 miles is an unidentified plane on course 170.


- excerpted from General Quarters Narrative, USS Savannah, September 9, 1943, Salerno, Italy


0440 - Unidentified planes are approaching from the land.  More flares are being dropped lighting the area brilliantly.

0445 – Two bombs splashes about 2,000 yards off port beam.

2255 – Radar is plotting course of some planes say they should be directly overhead now. Captain says open up on them.

2315 – For the past 45 minutes the entire area has been lighted up brilliantly by AA fire and flares. It is so bright now that one can count the AA powder bursts overhead.

2318 – Ceased firing.


- excerpted from General Quarters Narrative, USS Savannah, September 10, 1943, Salerno, Italy


For two days and two interminable nights our cruiser and Nazi bombers and all the Allied ships in Salerno Gulf have been going round and round in the maddest “danse macabre;” a chase of lethal hounds and hares that reddens the skies with anti-aircraft and fiery cones of bombs exploding.

This repeated performance on the water has a ghastly reflection on the hillsides where, landing in increased numbers with artillery, our boys and the British are now turning loose on the German.  Hell has indeed come to Salerno. . .


- Ivan H. Peterman, War Correspondent for The Philadelphia Inquirer, USS Savannah,  September 11, 1943, pre-dawn