Robert Louis Curl,
survey the rise of the Normandy shore as they prepare to land on June
6, 1944. (Courtesy U.S. Army Center for Military History)
My name is Robert
Louis Curl. I was born on June 28, 1925 in Warrior, Alabama and now live
in Birmingham, Alabama. When I was 17 years old I graduated from Minor
High School on Friday night and joined the Navy the next morning on June
I received boot training at Bainbridge, Maryland and Navigational Radar
training at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. From there I was sent to Amphibious
Training at Little Creek, Virginia. We were formed into crews and each
crew was sent to Brooklyn Navy Yard to pick up a new Landing Craft Control
LCC. Our crew was made up of all petty officers except the skipper, Lt.
Tinsley, and an executive officer, Ensign Kirchoff. We had a quartermaster,
signalman, sonarman, two radiomen, two machinist-mates and three gunners-mates.
There were only two bunks on this 56-foot craft. We survived on K and
C rations for three weeks in Normandy. Usually we were land-based most
of the time. Nine of these Landing Craft Control LCC's were built
five for the Atlantic Operations and four for the Pacific Operations.
I was separated from my crew and assigned to accompany three of these
boats on a Liberty ship headed for Plymouth, England. We arrived in February
1944 and trained for amphibious landing until about the middle of May,
1944. I was again separated from my crew and sent to Fahnouth, England
for Overlord briefing. There was a scale model of Omaha Beach that showed
everything about the area. Everything was to scale buildings, roads,
fences and even grass. I studied maps of Omaha Beach. With the small map
that was issued after we embarked for Normandy, I was to superimpose the
radar image over the map and find the correct landing place on Omaha Beach.
We used a Virtual Image Plan Position Indicator Reflectoscope to accomplish
Each of the five Landing Craft Controls was assigned to lead-in the first
wave on each of five beach areas. My LCC 1O was assigned to lead in the
first wave on Omaha Beach and stay there 1,000 yards off the beach for
each successive wave to follow us. We were told the Germans might use
poison gas and we were to wear impregnated clothing and armbands that
would detect poison gas.
I was sent to join my crew at Weymouth on June I, 1944 and we were quarantined
in this area.
On June 5th we started across the English Channel leading a group of LCTs
loaded with DD tanks. We had to leave early because we could only travel
at five knots. We were told to return to Weymouth because of heavy seas.
We left again on June 6th and were followed by thousands of ships all
carrying barrage balloons attached to the ships with steel cables.
The ships rendezvoused several miles offshore and began the bombardment
from battleships, cruisers and destroyers. The soldiers were to climb
down large cargo nets from the deck of the troopships to the landing crafts
below. Ten or fifteen men could descend at the same time. This maneuver,
however, was almost impossible due to the huge waves and swells. The landing
craft would rise almost to the deck of the ship, riding the crest of a
wave, so any men on the nets at the time would have been crushed against
the side of the ship. The men began to wait until the landing craft rose
and then jumped from the ship to the landing craft. Many men wound up
with broken bones and other injuries since the timing of the jump was
crucial. After the sea calmed, they resumed the transfer by climbing down
the cargo nets.
We began leading the first wave into the beach as the bombardment began.
The large projectiles flying overhead looked like footballs. We recovered
the bodies of numerous soldiers who had drowned because the sea-swells
sank their DD tanks. Things were not going well early that morning. Many
of the LCVPs and LCMs were hung on the hedgehogs that the Germans had
installed on the beach. We, and also the landing craft, were being fired
on from the pillboxes. I saw an American destroyer turn and proceed backwards
to the beach and come in as close as we were. It knocked out a German
pillbox that had been causing havoc.
About sundown that first day, two German planes came in strafing Omaha
Beach and amazingly did not strike a single steel cable that was attached
to the many barrage balloons.
A few days later we were directed to do hydrographic work for the sinking
of several old Liberty ships and one French battleship in order to form
a breakwater harbor for the landing supplies. We were recommended for
the Bronze Star for this work, but as far as I know none of us ever received
After three weeks we were dispatched to Corsica and Sardinia to prepare
to lead the first wave in the invasion of Southern France. Three months
after the successful invasion, we were sent home to the States on 30-days
I was then assigned to a new rocket ship LSM(R) 408 which was equipped
with gyro-stabilized rocket launchers. We went through the Panama Canal
headed for the West Coast. There we practiced shelling San Clemente Island
in preparation for the invasion of Japan. We had almost reached Eniwetok
when the atomic bomb was dropped. This, of course, ended the war. We were
sent stateside and I was honorably discharged in March of 1946.