From the shores of Omaha Beach to the coast of Greenland, from the Labrador Sea, to Mobile, Alabama, the LST 325 played an important role in defending this Country. Here are some highlights of the story of the LST 325, a story that begins in 1942…
The LST 325 was launched on October 27, 1942 and commissioned on February 1, 1943 with Lieutenant Ira Ehrensall as Commanding Officer. On February 17, during the shakedown cruise, Lt. Ehrensall was transferred and Ensign Clifford E. Mosier replaced him. At the completion of her shakedown cruise in and around Norfolk, Virginia the LST 325 sailed to New York, New York.
Launching of an LST in 1942
March 19, 1943 saw the LST 325 in the first convoy of LST’s to go the Mediterranean. After arriving at La Goulette in the Bay of Tunis, preparations began for Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily.
As part of the KOOL Force (the floating reserve force), the LST 325 arrived at the Bay of Gela. They left on July 13 after unloading the vehicles and men of the 1st Armored Division onto LCT’s. (LCTs or Landing Craft, Tank were crafts initially developed by the British Royal Navy, used to deliver tanks directly to the beachhead). They made five more trips to Sicily in support of the offensive before Messina fell on August17, 1943.
September 13, 1943 the LST 325 sailed as part of the Northern Attack Force in support of the invasion at Salerno, Italy carrying elements of the 40th Royal Tank Regiment. LST 325 made three trips to the beachhead at Salerno, the last of these trips carried members of a Ceylanese infantry regiment from Tripoli Libya.
From December, 1943 until May, 1944 LST 325 was involved in several training exercises along the southwestern English coast. On June 5, 1944 LST 325 sailed from Falmouth, England carrying elements of the 5th Special Engineer Brigade. LST 325 was part of Force "B", the back-up force for the troops going ashore at Omaha Beach on June 6. On June 7, they anchored off Omaha Beach and unloaded the men and vehicles onto DUKW's and LCM's.
The DUKW was an amphibious vehicle built by General Motors based on the CCKW (the WWII era "Deuce-and-a-Half) that was wildly popular and proved invaluable to the Allies. The Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCM) was a smaller landing craft primarily used to transport troops and supplies (although they were capable of carrying vehicles as large as a tank) to the shore from larger vessels.
Between June, 1944 and April, 1945 LST 325 made 44 trips between England and France, unloading at Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and the city of Rouen on the Seine River. On December 28, 1944 the LST 325 helped rescue over 700 men from the troop transport Empire Javelin that had been torpedoed off the coast of France. Lieutenant Commander Mosier was awarded the Bronze Star for this rescue.
In May, 1945, the LST 325 set out on her return trip to the United States. The day before the ship was to sail to the Pacific, the news came that Japan had surrendered and the war was finally over. After a trip to Panama in late September, 1945, LST 325 was sent to Green Cove Springs, Florida and decommissioned on July 2, 1946.
LST 325 was reactivated in 1951 for service in Military Sea Transport Service arctic operations. She was involved in Operation SUNAC (Support of North Atlantic Construction) in the Labrador Sea, David Strait and Baffin Bay in 1951-52. This operation was involved in constructing radar outposts along the coast of eastern Canada and Greenland. In 1961, LST 325 was again taken out of service and became part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
LST 325 was again reactivated in 1963 and transferred to Greece in May, 1964. Named Syros (L-144), she served in the Greek Navy until December 1999 when she was decommissioned for the third time.
In 2000, she was acquired by The USS LST Ship Memorial, Inc., and sailed back across the Atlantic for the final time, arriving in Mobile, Alabama on January 10, 2001 by a crew of 29 men, with an average age of 72. She eventually became a museum and memorial ship for the men who bravely served their country aboard LST's, being berthed in Evansville, IN.
The LST 325 is open for daily tours in her home port of Evansville, Indiana. Every year the LST 325 participates in a River Tour in order to bring the Ship's mission to a greater number of people. The mission of the USS LST Ship Memorial, Inc. is to educate all to the role the LST played to keep America free, and to preserve the memory of these ships and the men who served and died on them. The names of all who died while serving on an LST are displayed on the Ship. The Memorial Board has one goal: to be able to sail the Ship under her own power, up and down the inland rivers, and along America's Coasts; allowing all the opportunity to set foot on her decks and to become a Living Museum and learning tool for all ages.
Through these annual River Tours, the Ship is keeping the memory of one of the World's greatest, and at the same time most tragic, eras alive; bringing a piece of Living History to those who recall that era, and exposing it to a completely new generation, ensuring that we will never forget the sacrifices made by so many.