My grandfather John R Bare (4 Oct 1915 to 10 Nov 2002) from Youngstown Ohio was in World War II. He kept a daily written journal as well as a photo diary. I have scanned the pages of photos and posted them here. They are scaled down to display in a browser better. I retain full ownership of these photos and reprinting or posting of these is not allowed without permission and credit to my grandfather.
It would be great to hear from anyone that recognizes anything or anyone in the pictures - I would be glad to add additional notes to a page. Below the links to the photo diaries is a picture of my grandfather. Below that is an account he wrote of an overview of his time in the war.
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Account of Cpl. John R. Bare, 35394004, 694 Port Company, Transportation Corps, U.S. Army, January 5, 1943 to May 27, 1945, North Africa and European Theaters of Operation.
We left New York City on January 5, 1943 and rode a lighter up the river to the Queen Elizabeth, which was docked next to the capsized Normandie.
On the eve of January 6, after loading about 18,000 troops we weighed anchor and set sail out past the Statue of Liberty. Five days later we docked in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. The voyage over was uneventful except for one submarine alert and some very rough weather, the waves at times going over the ship itself and sometimes I thought the ship was going to roll over. We came over by ourselves, no escort. You see, it takes nine minutes for a submarine to launch a torpedo, so our boat, having an advantage of speed, changed course every seven minutes, so that we really sailed a 1,000 miles or so out of course due to this zigzagging.
In the Firth we loaded onto a lighter and we were given a riotous welcome as at that time there were not too many G.I.'s in Europe. Obsolete planes greeted us and I must say it was a pretty sight.
We were nearly starved for chow on the boat and would not brag about that menu. We pulled guard duty on the ship and had a rough time of it, but pleasant, now that we look back on it.
We boarded a train in Clyde, Scotland and were given "C" rations and that was one of the most enjoyable meals I ever had.
We sailed thru Scotland and England at night, so that we saw little scenery. We stopped for coffee and doughnuts at the SNAAF, salvation Army Canteen, from there to Seaforth, England, a small port city located just outside Liverpool about three miles.
We had an old ramshackle place for barracks and cold, Wow!! We nearly froze to death, starved to death and don't anyone ever offer me a Brussels Sprout again! We were new and all ears and some of the things they told us about air-raids and all that had us started.
Suddenly, after being there three weeks, we were alerted and suddenly found ourselves on a train going through Liverpool on the way to the docks. We boarded the Monarch of Bermuda, a luxury liner, and wondered what next. We knew this would be no picnic because we were going to the Mediterranean, we knew and the subs and planes were having a picnic near the Rock and in the Mediterranean Sea. We met at a rendezvous and formed our convoy and set sail. We made a semi circle and then headed toward the Rock and the sub nests.
The good Lord was with us I guess, because every convoy ahead of us and behind us had "difficulties" with planes and subs. But we glided thru the Rock at 2400 hours and still afloat. We hugged the coast line and we were all on "General Quarters", as you would know it - the alert and everyone at battle stations. Luckily we encountered no trouble although the destroyers were busy setting off depth charges, which was a sure indication that they were too darn close for comfort.
We were anxious to anchor as planes were reported but they were met by our air cover and turned back, another break.
Finally we sighted Mers-il-Kibu located near Oran and rain it did for five days. I slept in mud, no tent or anything, ate burnt hash and whatever gravy we could get. It would take a book to describe those five days and I'll leave that till later.
Anyhow it was some initiation to foreign duty. We worked the docks at Oran and the boys of our battalion were directly responsible for the success of the African campaign even though we did not receive a star as we were out of the battle zone.
The first raid in Oran was a terrifying thing and the second was worse. It was only a nuisance raid as we call them now, nevertheless they hit a ship and a dud saved 25 of our boys. That was a lesson on being prepared and I have seen air-defense and ack-ack, but this one I'll always remember the most vividly.
We finally were told that we were to make an invasion, us limited-assignments, and yet we had to go they said. Well we really sweated and were plenty scared because we knew we were going to invade the impregnable "Festung Europa".
We were schooled in unloading onto ducks and such craft and were issued equipment.
Finally boarded a liberty vessel in support and with the Second Armored Division, we lazed about in the harbor waiting for other boats to be readied. It was a busy place.
We thought were to have an enormous convoy. We saw the battle-wagons and cruisers and auxiliary vessels pull out and there we sat. We said that now we knew were going on a suicide mission.
Twenty-four hours later we pulled out and only 11 ships in our convoy. Where were the 2,000 ships we were supposed to have? We found out later that they all deployed in small convoys.
Following the coast of Africa down to Tunis we then cut up to the Strait of Malta. Mines - I never saw so many and did we sweat. We got through those mine fields, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. The planes missed our convoy although there were plenty about, no subs, strangely.
We were told when and where we were going - to Gela. We pulled in D + 1 at 0800 hours. It was quiet and peaceful - We thought this wasn't bad at all. I sat in the bow of the ship and sunned myself. Suddenly 88's opened up on us. No hits. Then 32 aircraft flew over in formation and we all said they were ours - until I saw bomb-bays open! I hit the deck. Never saw so many bombs then or since. I know that I could have reached out and touched any of the many that straddled our ship. The boat next to ours was hit and then about one hour later, by some miracle, it blew up. I say a miracle because it was loaded with TNT and benzene and all the fellows got off. It was a nightmare and something I cannot adequately write about here.
We had strafing attacks. They would come in out of the sun and be on us before we knew it. An occasional 88 flew out at us - no hits.
More strafing! I saw the first plane shot down. What a sight! I thought it served them right. We actually cheered and what enthusiasm we showed when we saw one fall.
We had a respite for a while and then that evening we had torpedo planes and more bombers. I was so scared my knees ached. A torpedo plane launched a torpedo at our ship, it missed by feet and lifted our boat a foot out of the water. Oh mama!! Finally it was over and the fellows were dying to get off the boat but we had to unload first. We got word about those 40 or 50 German tanks that were threatening our beachhead. We were told to prepare to go ashore as infantry. Well, well and well! While we were getting ready the cruisers and battlewagons were trying something new in warfare and they luckily hit nearly all of them and our beachhead was saved as well as probably my own life. Thereafter, as soon as we had ack-ack and air strips ashore we were not bothered by planes. We saw G.I.'s and equipment being hit and blown to bits but finally they had Gela. Our boat unloaded and the gang of us moved in.
Mines everywhere and we were plenty cautious. Past the cemetery and such sights you don't enjoy seeing. Hiked for one and one-half miles and pitched camp and relaxed. Then after a short stay we moved to town and set up camp. Then we had the air raids and all that goes with it but no casualties.
Paratroopers were dropped near camp but they got most of them.
Bodies of our men still washed ashore. One Major's body was washed up in a mine field and a dog was nibbling at his body. No one dared go into the mine field so they just shot the dog and waited until the Engineers could get around to clearing the beach.
Our work consisted of unloading supplies, of course our G.I.'s were doing O.K.
We moved to Licta and stayed a couple of days and then they took Palermo and we moved right in on the Infantry's heel. We got riotous welcome and we wondered who was who.
The first night there we had a dandy air raid and a bomb hit 500 ft. away and I was covered with dust and debris.
We moved camp that day to more distant sites away from dock area. We moved to probably one of the most beautiful barracks in Sicily.
Worked continued at the docks and this was also the Navy base of the African theatre - a busy place. A raid hit a sub chaser and what a mess the place was. They went around and picked up the bodies in baskets. We lost considerably on that one. They came over regularly at 0400 hours.
Subs were taking a big toll of ships just outside the harbor about 15 miles. Finally the raids ceased and quiet reigned. We thought after they invaded Italy that there would be no more invasion forces.
Peace and work were the rule in Palermo, then bingo! Pack up and off to Italy. This was a luxury ride. We were confident and yet we suspected another invasion of France, but we were cockier and very confident and none of us had the attitude that we had about Sicily because at that time invasions were new and untried. Now we knew everything favored us and also that air cover would be guaranteed - something we hadn't had in Sicily.
Our suspicions were confirmed when we sailed into Naples Harbor. We knew such a gathering of ships was not there for a tea. Experience taught us that.
Reminded me of when the Italian fleet remnants surrendered at Palermo.
We got out to where Ralph went and had I only known I could perhaps have met him, although when he came into Naples I was aboard ship waiting to sail to France.
Our stay in Naples was mainly to be reequipped and readied for an invasion. We were on board ship over two weeks waiting to set sail. Many of the 45th boys were with us. It got awfully monotonous and deadly waiting and sweating out the sailing date.
Churchill ran around looking things over and generals were a dime a dozen. In fact, one came aboard, ate beans with us and he was a dandy. I wish you could have seen that convoy form. It was a sight.
Battlewagons, carriers, cruisers, destroyers and many Liberties and then the assault boats. We felt certain and were very confident.
We sailed to France without incident and it was really a picnic. We came in D-Day and our beachhead was already secured. Battlewagons and rocket ships had made a mess of the beach but there were few Jerries about and I saw only four dead G.I.'s. They did not have sufficient men to man the beach when we came in although the 36th Division beach was really tough. Some of our fellows were in on that.
We unloaded our boat and some of the fellows were already ashore. Cooks finally were ashore. Even though we had nuisance raids our ships were fully lighted at night and work proceeded at full speed to unload. Gigantic amounts of men and equipment were put ashore and thousands of POW's were herded onto boats. What a sight - those were the days.
Those days I spent in the pine-grove were pleasant and more or less carefree and reckless. Every man for himself!
To Marseille and we had a big welcome. The F.F.I. were a big help here and they were still blazing away when we pulled in. We had occasional raids here. We expected V-Bombs but they never came, Thank God!.
Fellows have had it easier here as civilians do the work although it takes many more to do it.
This letter gives the highlights and main events and does not necessarily cover the minor incidents and events that make up the army life and many of its incidental risks. I've had it lucky compared to the infantry and such. I'm certainly we pleased I am as well off as I am right today.
I thought perhaps VE-Day I'd quit sweating but I find that I'm doing more sweating since May 9th than before.
May 27, 1945