"History of the 
188th Port Company"
"History of the
Transportation Corps"
Award of Meritorious
Service Unit Plaque
"Anzio Annie"
An Heroic Story
Ernie Pyle's
"Let's Get Outta Here!"
"Stevedores of Port Battalion Carry on Prewar Jobs"
188th History
189th History
190th History
191st History

     The 488th Port Battalion was activated December 12, 1942 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, Pennsylvania.  It consisted of Headquarters Company and four companies – A, B, C, and D.  These were later changed to the 188th, 189th, 190th and 191st Port Companies.  Officer personnel came from various training facilities, and enlisted personnel were sought who had any experience in crane operating, stevedoring, longshore, tugs, barges, and any civilian occupation related to port operations. 

     After six months of intensive training at the “Gap,” mostly on a mock up ship affectionately called the “SS Neversail,” the battalion moved by troop train to the Boston port area for overseas assignment.  Nearly assigned to Churchill, Canada which was being considered as a shipping alternative to New York City due to the many ship sinkings by German U-boats, but this assignment never materialized.

     Instead, the 488th Port Battalion was loaded on board a banana boat cruise ship, the USS Santa Rosa, converted to a troop carrier.  The Santa Rosa carried 5500 troops and the first contingent of 500 Women Army Corps (WAC’s) sailed out of New York harbor, without escort, avoiding waiting German submarines.

     The 488th arrived in Oran, Algeria, on the African continent,  in August and was subsequently transported to Naples, Italy in September 1943.  In Naples, the 488th was assigned the main Pier One for cargo unloading.  Sudden bombings at night interrupted operations but the 488th was still able to set cargo discharging records.  Food, ammunition, gas, tanks, and even locomotives were unloaded.

     Records set in unloading in three months at Naples qualified the 488th for the assignment for the Anzio landing.  Three heavily loaded cargo ships made the initial landing at Anzio – the SS John Banvard, the SS Brete Harte, and the SS Herbert.

     On January 26, 1944 the SS Herbert was abandoned at 5:20PM and the SS John Banvard was rocked by two near misses from glider bombs and abandoned at 6:15PM.  Hundreds of personnel of the 488th were now in the winter waters of the Mediterranean Sea.  Some were in the water for over two hours before being rescued.  On February 7, 1944 80 men from the 188th Port Company (A Co.) were killed or injured in dive bombings of LST’s – these, plus others, losses required reinforcements with A Company of the 384th Port Battalion.

     On February 15, 1944 at 6:05PM the SS Yale received a direct hit in the #4 hatch killing seven 488th men and injuring 97 others.  Daily surprise air raids caught the stevedores at work killing and injuring more.  One enlisted personnel, injured in an air raid, was sent to the hospital were he was killed by incoming shells.

     After two months of heavy losses the 488th was relieved and returned to Naples to rest and to receive replacements.  It was noted that replacements, that came from combat units, often lacked experience in stevedoring had a decreasing effect production.

     Even as the ships were enroute to Naples the men suffered losses from mines that the ship hit as leaving the beach.  On April 21, 1944 as the SS John Armstrong left the beach with the 188th Port Company on board and loaded with empty 55 gallons gas drums hit a mine.  Some of the men of the 188th were blown over board and 13 enlisted personnel were seriously injured and one was killed.

     As the Fifth Army moved up the boot of Italy the 488th spearheaded the many port areas unloading supplies. From the destroyed ports of Civitavecchia, Piampino, to Levorno (Leghorn) the 488th moved behind the front lines to unload supplies, as port cities were made available.  Often this was providing high-test gasoline for tanks and weapon carriers, rations, and ammunition for combat troops.

     In early 1945, as the war began to wind down, the battalion produced a baseball team called “The Hatch Boys.”  Headed by Tony “Ironman” Ciemierek, who had demonstrated abilities for the US major leagues, the team captured the semi-finals in short order but missed the finals.

     Returning home after the war, many former members of the 488th Port Battalion continued to distinguish themselves with federal service; most notably five remained in the military service rising to the rank of field grade officers; another completed his medical education and operated his own hospital in Texas; another became a distinguished sports reporter; while another headed the public school system of one of the mid-west states; another followed the profession of the longshoreman to be in charge of one of the largest piers in New York City; and another became a labor leader in the longshoreman industry.

     On June 3, 1994 ten members of the former 488th Port Battalion made a 50th anniversary trip to the US Cemetery at Anzio-Nettuno to visit the burial site of former buddies and to pay a final tribute to the major contribution they made.

- Thanks to Sid Butterfield
188th History
189th History
190th History
191st History
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