A Witness Of History


In a history class, students study the textbooks and read about what it was like to be at war. They will then proceed to take a test about the specific events of that war. However, true understanding of war can only come from someone who has lived it.


This article is about the story of Bill Albert, a navy Gunner’s mate stationed on the LST 74. He was in action on the shores of Italy, Southern France, Sicily, Greece, and Africa, and he made sure one of the things included in this article was that he is not hero,  just a man who served his country. In the second world war, we needed every man we could get. “Well, I thought about it, and in late 1943, I decided to enlist.” said Bill, who enlisted in the Navy and became a Gunners mate on an LST transport ship. They transported tanks, Jeeps, and men onto shores with only anti Aircraft guns to protect them.


Although the draft was put in place, Bill  volunteered when he was 17 years old, and like his father, he decided to join the navy. “ We were trained for only four weeks and five days” said Bill. At one point in boot camp, Bill had to jump off of a tower the height of a carrier. He attempted to avoid it, but of course, his name was first.


“I said to him, ‘I’m not going up’ ” said Bill. He was misled into believing there was an exit at the top, but instead, the man waiting at the top simply pushed him off. “Next thing I knew, I was flying” said Bill, and he landed into a pool of water. He  was later criticized for diving into the water instead of simply falling,


After being introduced as a Gunner, he was assigned to an LST. He asked someone “What the hell is an LST?” The man came back laughing and told him “It’s a slow moving target.” Bill was soon sent to Africa, where he saw he joined up with a massive fleet of ships.”I’ve never seen so many ships in my life,” said Bill. However, the next day, Bill noticed that 3 ships had been sunk by the German U- Boats. They slowly began losing three per night, which continued for a time. Bill and his ship was sent to Gibraltar, where he was put on the LST 74.


However, the best way to hear this story is to let Bill tell it himself, so here is Bill’s story of his time at war and of his service to his country.