Based on five interviews conducted by Dr. John T. Mason Jr. from May 1977 through September 1978, the volume contains 166 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 2004 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.
A principal focus of this memoir is Admiral Moran’s service with the Navy and the Maritime Commission during the 20th century’s two great world wars. In World War I he was an enlisted man and junior officer; he made several trips to Europe on board a Navy refrigerated cargo ship. During World War II he worked with the Maritime Commission in taking over private vessels for government duty and served on the staff of the Navy’s Commander Eastern Sea Frontier in connection with the rescue of damaged ships. Particularly noteworthy was his duty in Europe to oversee the towing of artificial harbor components from Britain to France to facilitate offloading operations following the Allies’ D-Day landings at Normandy. Interspersed are the admiral’s descriptions of his long civilian career with Moran Towing. He began riding tugboats as a youth and learned much from his stepfather, Thomas Reynolds. Moran himself started as an office boy with the company and eventually became its president and chairman. He retired in 1984 after 69 years with the company. The oral history includes a good deal of discussion of the design, construction, and operation of tugboats over the years.
In this selection from his October 1977 interview in his offices at the World Trade Center in New York, Rear Admiral Moran discusses a meeting with Supreme Allied Commander General Eisenhower on board the USS Thompson (DD-627) shortly after D-Day (pictured above).
Admiral Moran: When Eisenhower told me to go over there to London — I had gone across the channel with Ike on a destroyer. One day after the storm I was told to report to Portsmouth at 5:00 o'clock in the morning. At 5:00 o'clock in the morning I was there, and I asked the British officer of the day what I was to do.
He said, "You are going out on a destroyer."
"Where is the destroyer going?"
He said, "I don't know." I went out on the Thompson, and I asked the officer of the deck if I could get some breakfast, because I hadn't any.[‡‡‡]
So he said, "Sure, go down to the wardroom; they'll fix you up." So I went down to the wardroom and sat down at a table for two. Pretty soon a fellow came along, sitting alongside me as you are now. I looked at him, and it was Eisenhower.
So I said, "Good morning, General."
He said, "Can I get some breakfast here?"
I said, "Sure, just a minute. Mine is coming." So when mine came, I said, "Won't you take this?"
"No, no," and he said to the messman, "Get me [whatever]. So the messman came along with his breakfast.
We were talking, and I said, "General, when I came over here, my little daughter assumed that I would see you, and, based upon that assumption, she asked me if I could get your autograph, but I never thought that I would see you. I told her that if by chance I did, I would ask for it, so I hereby request your autograph if it is consistent with your wishes."
"Oh, sure." He wrote out his autograph, and I put it in my pocket. And he said, "We are going to have a meeting later on this morning, after breakfast, and I want to talk to you." So we went up into the wheelhouse and talked things over.
Doctor Mason: And what was the substance of the conversation?
Admiral Moran: The subject was the need for more equipment, because he was afraid his army was then at St. Lo. It was only two weeks after the invasion, and he thought, "God, if they get pushed back again, how can I ever supply them?" I think Bradley was pushing him, too, for more reserves. So he said, "We have to send more equipment over there, and this stuff that we've got may not last, and we'll probably need more. I'm sending this cable to King and Land and Marshall, and I want you to go over tonight."
Doctor Mason: Back to the States?
Admiral Moran: Back to the States — no orders, no nothing. He said, "I'll tell Beetle Smith to arrange for your transportation and send you over.[§§§] So he met me back on the beach about 4:00 o'clock, and we went back to the destroyer. I went up to Prestwick the next morning, took a flight over to Reykjavik, Iceland, and then we went down to Greenland in a hell of a snowstorm, and then we flew to Washington.
Then I saw Marshall and King. King said to me, "I saw that place you built there at Normandy, and I must say it was a great job.”
[‡‡‡] USS Thompson (DD-627) was active in providing naval gunfire during the landings at Normandy. On 12 June she carried a group of VIPs from England to the invasion beaches at Normandy. Included were General George C. Marshall, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral Ernest J. King, and General Henry H. Arnold.
[§§§] Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, USA, was Eisenhower's chief of staff.