a letter to the crew

(Off the Coast of Africa)

Today I can tell you, with a pleasure that I know you all share with me, that we are headed for an invasion of the Italian Mainland. . . I also want to tell you, with emphasis, that this promises to be the toughest job we have tackled so far.  The enemy will make it as tough as they can. You can expect a great deal more enemy air activity than we have seen thus far, including every night while we are enroute.  In addition, when we are approaching the assault area and while we are in it; we will probably be attacked by “E” boats, possibly larger surface craft, and of course, the submarine is ever present; today and every day a menace to us.


I believe the enemy will concentrate all possible means to prevent our arrival and successful landing.  We must not only defend against the success of such an effort on his part but we must not lose one single opportunity to destroy the enemy, his weapons and equipment.  It is not sufficient to drive him off, we must destroy him and all his tools.


I give you the picture as I see it because I want you to be ready.  We must be vigilant and alert, without a moment’s relaxation from now until we again return to a back area. It’s going to be tough going but we can take it.  You know what is expected of you. I know that you desire to, expect to, and will, with the help of Almighty God, successfully meet every situation you are faced with.


- R.W. Cary, Captain, U.S. Navy, USS Savannah, September 6, 1943

Robert Webster Cary, Captain of the USS Savannah and recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, and the Silver Star.