WWII Attack Transports
Boats (The Color Movie on DVD)
By Kenneth Dodson
If you want to re-live your experiences (in color) aboard a Haskell Class APA watch
"Away All Boats".
Boats (The Book)
The movie was based on this book. The book has many more details. Below are some
Attack Transport - A book about the first APA
among the auxiliary classes of the Navy List are two that carry not only an "auxiliary" but also a "combatant" classification letter. These are the attack transports (APA's) and the attack cargo vessels (AKA's). Without belittling the importance of LST's, LSM's, LCT's, and other small types used in the maritime transportation of men and freight, it is the APA's and the AKA's that carry the bulk of the troops and equipment to the bloody assault beaches of our overseas landings. They are the backbone of the Amphibious Forces. These ships arrive with the initial amphibious attacks and continue their support throughout the fighting. Unarmored and with small fire power, they yet carry a great weapon that is war's one essential combat element: the troops that fight on the ground.
In war, transports seldom rest. Between assaults, on long and dreary voyages they carry out to distant bases replacement and service troops and freight, and carry back to home ports our casualties and essential war materials. They are the unsung, battle-scarred work horses of the Navy.
The men of the ships' companies (chiefly naval, but with a small percentage of Coast Guard) who manned the APA's and the AKA's during the war were mostly Reserves, with a small nucleus of Regulars. Because the operation of these types was new to us, the men of the transports in commission at the beginning of the war necessarily learned their highly technical duties by experience. Drafts from the older vessels provided nuclei of officers and bluejackets as the foundations on which new vessels could build effective companies. A transport that had been through one amphibious operation was a veteran.
Transport life was mainly on a humdrum level that had occasional peaks of furious battle. Morale was always high. The resourceful crews of these ships made up for lack of experience through native ingenuity, shining courage, and an eager offensive spirit.
As modestly portrayed in Attack Transport, these truly combatant naval vessels of the Amphibious Forces did their share in winning the war.
God bless them and the splendid Americans who worked and fought them!
Richmond K. Turner
Admiral, U.S. Navy, Former Commander
Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet
New York City April 11, 1946
A Word from the Author:
How did this book come to be written? That is the question, I understand, that all prefaces should answer.
Though I did not actually report aboard until after the Marshalls, the factual material preceding that time is true. All the incidents happened, and the characters involved took part in them. The chapter on crossing the equator is wholly authentic. The Doyen crossed the line at least eight times. I have merely transposed my own initiation experiences to a crossing of an earlier date.
Attack Transport professes to do but one thing— to describe the war in the Pacific as it was seen from one small unit of the fleet. It is not an analytical discussion of policies, but merely an account of the day-to-day life. Combat has been kept in its proper relation to other activities.
It is not the story of one man, or essentially of one ship. It is a compilation of the experiences of many of our ship's personnel; it represents many hours of bull sessions—of long discussions with Commander Hogan, Doc Gil, Doc Watkins, Doc Kelly, Tom Hawk, Ed Buczek, Sal Murino, Cliff Hanlin, "Pop" Slattery, "Ace" Parker, and the many others who are all its indirect authors. The experiences were not peculiar to the Doyen. They have been duplicated on the hundreds of other vessels of the Amphibious Force with which we traveled. I sincerely hope that the book is worthy of the men and the ship it describes.
Lawrence A. Marsden
Washington, January 1946
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