Shore Fire during Salerno Landing
The cargo ship Arcturus was at Oran while plans were firmed up for the landings at Salerno. On September 5, Arcturus got underway with TF 81, the Southern Attack Force, under the command of Rear Admiral John L. Hall. In spite of repeated enemy air attacks, the convoys arrived off the Gulf of Salerno late on 8 September. By 0335 the next day, the first wave of boats was landing at Paestum. Unfortunately, in the hope of completely surprising the Germans, no prelanding bombardment preceded the boats, and many men in the landing craft were killed. The unloading progressed slowly as Arcturus's boats helped move troops and supplies shoreward. One of her boats was lost in crossfire from German machine gun emplacements, with seven men killed and four wounded. By the evening of September 10, unloading was complete. Arcturus and 14 other empty cargo and transport ships sailed for Oran with an escort of 10 destroyers. Shortly after midnight, screening destroyer Rowan (DD-405) sighted a torpedo wake and pursued what was later determined to be a German E-boat. She lost it, and, as she rejoined the convoy, was hit by a torpedo from another E-boat and sank within one minute. The rest of the ships in the convoy proceeded to Oran without incident.