We have received a generous donation from the family of Capt. John E. Mellen, who commanded the 818th and was with them from their training at Camp Gordon Johnston through the end of the war and beyond. Although we are just in the beginning of constructing the history of the 818th, this is what we have gleaned so far:
The 818th was formed along with the 817th and 816th at Camp Gordon Johnston in the fall of 1943. The company Commander, John E. Mellon of Massachusetts, arrived in Tallahassee by train from Ohio, where he worked for an insurance agent. He traveled by bus from Tallahassee to Carrabelle. Gradually the soldiers and junior officers were assembled and began their training, which continued until March of 1944. A letter sent home to his bride Miriam on 16 March 1944 show that the company would travel to Brunswick, New Jersey for transport to England. Letters written in England dated mid to late April from England expressed an appreciation for the people who were hosting him and his company.
The 818th Amphibious Truck Company in May 1944 pre-staged at Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. From there they were taken by Transport to Normandy, where they went ashore as part of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, assisting the 4th Infantry Division.
No letters covering the days immediately following the landings, as would be expected. Three V-mails were dated June 17, 20 and 26, indicating a safe arrival. His men would transport tons of cargo, including fuel, food, spare parts, ammunition and other needed materials by water, then through the Mulberry Harbors installed at Utah, and then finally through restored French Ports. In one report Mellen describes his men transferring their DUKWs to other companies and serving as drivers on the Red Ball Express!
Mellen’s reports covered a variety of events from July 1 through the early spring of 1946. Mellen’s letter of 14 March 1946 indicates that finally he would be released to return home. In that time he had visited Paris, served with a POW camp, and tended to he needs of his company. The 818th, like most of the QM truck units, were disbanded on return to the US.
The Officers of the 818th at the time they were at Utah were:
Company Commander, Captain, John E. Mellen
Platoon Leader, 1LT, Robert B. McKorell
Platoon Leader, 2LT, Maurice Green
Platoon Leader, 1LT, Donald C. Brooks
Roster of the 818th
In the fall of 2022, the Mellen family located an original DUKW used by the 818th in the Dezerland Auto Museum in Orlando, FL! This DUKW, pictured below, had the name “Jeanette” painted on both sides, which allowed us to identify the driver as CPL Martin McCray of Baltimore City, MD, who married Jeanette Smith before leaving for Europe, and they remained husband and wife until the end of their lives and are buried together.
We continue to add men to the 818th Roster with he help of writer Everette Coppock of Colorado Springs, who is writing the history of the 818th Amphibious Truck Company.