dead, missing or wounded
1000 – Many men are being carried out of all the turrets and some are being given artificial respiration immediately, while some apparently dead are being carried aft.
- excerpted from General Quarters Narrative, USS Savannah, September 11, 1943, Salerno, Italy
The explosion blew open both the #2 and #1 magazines forward, and killed most everyone in the bow forward of the #3 turret. There were a few exceptions, and there were some guys that were trapped in compartments that we couldn’t get to because they were surrounded by water on 3 or 4 sides. Once the #3 magazine exploded, the blast continued to travel towards the bow. Almost everyone forward of the boiler room that were below deck were killed. There were 4 sailors trapped in the Auxiliary Radio Room, 2 men that got out of the #2 turret, and 5 or 6 guys that escaped the #1 turret. One of the men who got out of the #2 turret held the hatch open for his brother. They argued about who should go first and the one holding the hatch was killed. The men in the magazines were killed by blast and concussion. Most of those killed in the turrets died from lethal gas caused by the exploding powder.
- Frank Romano, S1, USS Savannah
When I reached Turret #3 I saw that the bomb had hit directly in the center and gone all the way through. For the next six hours I and another Pharmacist Mate, who, incidentally had escaped from the sick bay area, were busy up forward trying to revive the men from Turret #2 most of whom had been asphyxiated by the heavy powder smoke. All other corpsmen including our junior medical officer who were still alive were kept busy caring for all the wounded personnel. One of our hospital corpsman in a forward repair party was overcome by the heavy smoke in Turret #2 while engaging in the rescue work and died a few minutes after he was brought out. All was possible to reach at this time and then taken over in Higgins boats to be buried in Salerno. After the work had slowed down somewhat we were able to take stock of events and see just how much we had suffered and how many casualties we had received.
Three corpsmen were lost in all the casualties which numbered 219 either dead, missing or wounded. We were able to rescue four men from the Emergency Radio which was down on the fourth deck level by listing the ship to port very sharply and cutting the deck above them and then pulling them out. Of course by this time most of the oil and water was on the port side of the compartment above them and it was comparatively dry on the starboard side. It took about sixty hours to complete these operations but they were finally rescued and I’ll bet they really felt good to see the good old world again.
- Richard Sharron, PHM2, USS Savannah, September 17, 1943
We knew we were trapped, and we stood around two or three minutes trying to size it up. We sure wished we had an escape hatch. . . Some time later, possible ten minutes they came back saying our division officer said to get out. We told the signal bridge, sort of jokingly, because we knew we were caught, to ask Mr. [Lieut.] Gores how? I told the boys what the dope was, and we sort of took a vote of trying to break out into the outer compartment. We didn’t know the Marine Compartment was flooded.
- Robert J. Garmy RM1, USS Savannah, Emergency Radio Compartment
To view the ship's casualty list please click here
Blankets cover crewmen killed at the Battle of Salerno. (Courtesy of the Navy Department, photo no. 80-G-54353)
Corpsmen attend to casualties. (Courtesy of the Navy Department, photo no. 80-G-54355)