James Henry GRIBBIN (english version)
RANK: Stoker LT/KX
BORN:15TH may 1923 Douglas, Isle of Man.
SERICE/REGIMENT: Light Costal Forces ML 1123
I did two tours of duty, each of several weeks. Our workload was during daylight hours when we patrolled among the merchant ships. At night we berthed at the breakwater with a royal air force rescue launch. My memories are of the ships being smoke-screened at dawn and dusk by the destroyers, then the ensuing air raids. The wonderful sight of the supplies being landed by the amphibious vehicles and the sight of a German tiger tank which got through the allied lines and started to fire out to sea, from the beach. On to occasions seeing Auster spotter planes being shot down over the front lines, while either photographing or directing the fire for the royal artillery gunners.
The occasion when the royal air force rescue launch went to look for survivors of an allied bomber which “ditched” in the mouth of the Tiber, and got shot-up, although they had cover from the two fighter planes from the air-strip. They managed to get back to Anzio but went out of commission the night seventeen human torpedoes attacked but none got through, heard at the time they were manned by 16, 17 and 18 year olds.
Then the nights berthed at the breakwater, when the noise of battle at the front, the air raids and anti-aircraft guns, quietened down a bit, you could then hear the big gun some twenty miles away fire into the beachhead, first the “boom” then seconds later the screeching shell. One even landed on the breakwater near to us, but luckily was a “dud”.
My last sight of Anzio was when we were relieved on the 19TH may 1944 and I then realised that I had missed my 21ST birthday which was four days previous on the 15TH. I celebrated it in a big way on reaching base at Ischia.