The preparations for the Allied invasion of Normandy were unprecedented in scale and complexity. In addition to accumulating hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of tons of material in Britain, the Allies gathered hundreds of specialized landing craft in ports across southern England. These would play a critical role in delivering the Allied assault troops to the French beaches. Given the presumed difficulties in seizing French harbors from their German garrisons, the Allies designed and built huge metal and concrete artificial harbors – Mulberries – for tow to the Normandy beaches. Once the American and Commonwealth assault troops had secured beachheads in France, the mulberries would make unloading cargo ships easier and faster than carrying supplies over the beach.
Appledore Ebb, Dwight C. Shepler, #134, Watercolor, Feb 1944, 88-199-EG
The twenty-one foot tide of North Devon withdrew toward the Irish Sea, leaving the confluence of the Taw-and-Torridge a Y-shaped trickle in the flat sands. This was significant, for these tidal and beach conditions approximated those in Normandy where the allied invasion force would land in action. LCTs (Landing Craft Tank) and coasters, which would play a part in the invasion, were left high and “dried out” by the ebb. Beyond the lighthouse in the distance lay the dunes and surf-swept beaches of the US Army Assault Training Center at Woolacombe. Here a series of small boat crews from the Advance Amphibious Training Base at Appledore-Instow practiced assaults with successive divisions of infantry troops amidst realistic gunfire and bombardment. The principal objective was the long flat beach of Woolacombe, and the “hedgehogs” of its hinterland, a reasonable facsimile of a “certain” piece of the coast of Europe. Time would tell where and when the actual invasion landscape would be encountered.
Orientation & Introduction
This monograph covers the operations of the 5307 Composite Unit (Provisional) on its first mission, the attack on Walawbum, Burma, March 2-7 1944. To orient the reader, it is necessary to briefly review the major events which led up to this action. In Jan 1942, after overrunning nearly all of southeast Asia, the Japanese struck at Burma. In rapid succession, the Japanese took the city of Moulmein, the port of Rangoon, the rail heads of Mandalay, and Myitkyina and the Burma Road. The enemy’s rapid advance and numerical superiority proved too great for the Allies and all resistance crumbled. A general withdrawal was effected and the Allies retreated west into India and northeast into China. By midsummer of 1943 the Japanese had consolidated their gains and were in complete control of all but a small wedge of territory in northwest Burma. This now placed the enemy in the singular position of threatening the exposed eastern border of India as well as cutting the Chinese land supply routes. All attempts by the Allies to alter this situation had been unsuccessful.
Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt (Oct 27 1858 – Jan 6 1919), the 26th President of the United States of America, carried a Marble’s compass on many of his famous hunting expeditions all over the planet. Admiral Matthew Calbraith Perry (Apr 10 1794 – Mar 4 1858) and Admiral Richard E. Byrd (Oct 25 1888 – Mar 11 1957), both in the United States Navy, also used Marble’s manufactured compasses during their trips to the North and South Pole. Even Charles Lindbergh carried Marble’s a pocket knife, compass and matchbox during his Transatlantic Solo Flight. Our compasses have been routinely pinned on Air Force Bomber and Flying jackets in every American conflict since WW-I. Most of our turn-of-the-century compasses are still in service today. There are very few items that can make that claim.
Operations of the Y-Force Operations Staff, US Army
Salween Campaign, Yunnan, China, May 10 1944 – January 20 1945
(Personal Experience of a Long Range Infiltration Patrol Leader)
Capt Wah G. Chin
The Y Force was the South East Asia Command designation given to Chinese National Army forces that re-entered Burma from Yunnan in 1944 as one of the Allies fighting in Burma Campaign of World War II. The initial supreme commander of the theater was Gen Sir Archibald Wavell while head of the short-lived American – British – Dutch – Australian Command which was dissolved after the fall of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. In August 1943, the Allies created the combined South East Asian Command (SEAC), to assume overall strategic command of all air, sea and land operations of all national contingents in the theater. In August 1943, with the agreement of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Winston Churchill appointed Adm Lord Louis Mountbatten as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, a post he held until 1946. The American General Joseph Stilwell was the first deputy supreme Allied commander, as well as heading the US China Burma India Theater (CBI) command. Mountbatten arrived in India on October 7 1943 and SEAC came formally into being in Delhi at midnight November 15–16 . The headquarters moved in April 1944 to Kandy in Ceylon. On December 2 1943 the Combined Chiefs of Staff approved in principle a staff plan designating the main effort against Japan to be the Pacific as the most rapid means of coming in range of the home islands for aerial bombardment. The secondary advance was “along the New Guinea N.E.I. Philippine axis” under the South West Pacific Area Command. The South East Asia theater, along with the North Pacific, the South Pacific and China efforts were designated to be supportive. At that time available forces were seen to be limited due to British commitment against Germany with major advances not anticipated until autumn of 1944 and after the defeat of Germany. The focus on the Central Pacific and South West Pacific were a compromise reached at the Casablanca Conference in which British views focused on the war against Germany with the entire war against Japan being limited “to the defense of a fixed line in front of those positions that must be held” an approach unacceptable to the United States. Offensive actions in Burma, support of China and other theater activity beyond holding a defensive line in South East Asia, the position of the British Chiefs, were the result of US demands that the Japanese be kept off balance throughout areas of Allied – Japanese contact.
(Photos NARA, Site : Paperless EUCMH)
Provisional OSS Platoon in Night Reconnaissance
Arakan Coast, Burma, October 1944 through April 1945
India – Burma Campaign
Capt Martin J. Waters, Jr., Infantry
Co author : Douglas L. Waters (son of Martin “Joe” Waters)
Operation Type : Amphibious Landing by Units of Platoon Strength, or less, for Purposes or Limited Reconnaissance.
Below is a picture of my father after the siege at N’Phum Ga, Maggott Hill. He was the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) officer attached to the 2-Bn, Blue Co, I&R (reconnaissance) Platoon of the Merrill’s Marauders, 5307-C-(P). This was prior to the Amphibious missions on the Arakan coast with the British commandos. They were surrounded by the Japanese and greatly outnumbered and held on for two weeks until relief came. They were bonsai charged every day and received artillery rounds from the Japs constantly. The Platoon leader became a psychological casualty and remained speechless in his foxhole during most of the siege. My father took over command of the platoon and even though his men wanted to surrender he kept them going, sometimes with threat of a .45 ACP. If the men surrendered he knew the Japs would have killed everyone. Below is the citation for the action and a happier time back in the US after Burma (he’s the big guy in the middle with the tan waistcoat)
First Lieutenant Martin J. Waters 0-454133, Cavalry, Army of the United States is awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service during the period of February 19, 1944 to April 16, 1944. During this period Lt Waters was attached to an Intelligence and Reconnaissance (I&R) Platoon of the 5307 Composite Unit (Provisional) and proceeded the march of the unit by 24 hours in all engagements. Lt Waters marched over 300 miles through enemy occupied territory and participated in 3 battles : Walabum, Shaduzup, Inkangayawng. Wen the platoon leader became a casualty during a 14 days the I&R platoon was surrounded at Maggot Hill, Lt Waters took command and due to his leadership and initiative, the platoon was able to hold on until relief came.
For the Allies, Beach heading in Anzio, Italy in the early part of 1944 had a special purpose. The deal was – before the beginning of the Operation Overlord – Neptune in Normandy (June 1944), to take back the initiative in the southern part of the European Theater as well as to make sure that the German would not be able to reinforces the southern combat zones with troops from the northern areas and vice versa after the landings in France. The following study of the German Operations against the Allied Beachhead at Anzio, Italy, Jan 22 1944 to May 31 1944, is based on the available journals and records of the German X and XIV Armies. It should be noted that the facts and opinions expressed in the text reflect the German point of view, all statements on Allied troop strength, are German estimates. Records of the German Luftwaffe were not available, therefore the details of air action against the beachhead has not been included. The expressions like Panzer (tanks, armored), Jager (light infantry), and Panzer Grenadier (armored infantry), have been left in German for purposes of clarification. The Allied losses are limited to prisoners taken in most instances, and to weapons or materials known to have been destroyed. The German losses seem always to be minus at least one division, which means the German loss figures are probably grossly under-reported, for whatever reason. In addition, the German figures almost never reflect any material losses, so they do not show the number of tanks, trucks, airplanes, artillery pieces, etc., lost in the day-to-day fighting. Figures from other sources show that from the very beginning of the Anzio landing – code named Operation Shingle – the Allies were outnumbered by a considerable margin. The Germans built their manpower to a high of 120.000+, compared to a high of 90.000 for the Americans and British. It is also apparent through the German daily reports that they blamed their losses on poor training and the inexperience of their troops. They seem to completely overlook the fact that most of the American and the majority of the British forces were also seeing their first combat and were not a whole lot better trained than the German troops.
While I am still working on the 1.-SS-Panzer-Division (LSSAH) File (whithout any help as usual) there is the photos serial #-01 (German Bundesarchive) 1936-1945 (450/4900).
I am building the file because many things are yet not being said, are being covered or are being hided to the public. My deal is not to stick into a pile of shit to make it smell but to re-assemble the data in a correct way and allow Europeans (not the Europeans from today) those who were in the good side, to read and understand in what way you were tricked out of this game called : World War Two.
Maj Francis M. Cain III
US Army – Corps of Engineers
The 1111th Engineer Group in the Bulge
Role of Engineers as Infantry in Air Land Battle
This study examines the role of US Combat Engineers fighting as infantry in Air Land Battle by analyzing the actions of the 1111th Engineer Combat Group during the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944). The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion of the 1111-ECG are representative of the 22 engineer units committed as infantry during the Battle of the Bulge to stop the German onslaught. By manning hasty defensive positions at Malmedy, Stavelot and Trois-Ponts, the 291-ECB and C Co, 51-ECB delayed the German advance long enough for the 30th Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division to reach the area and wrestle the initiative from the 6. SS-Panzer Army.
In the early years of World War Two, the German Army amply demonstrated its ability to exploit victory to the fullest. After the tide had turned against the Germans, it became apparent that they also possessed the more outstanding ability to quickly recover from a defeat before their opponents could thoroughly exploit their success. Less than a month after suffering inapparently decisive defeat in which it was crushed and battered beyond recognition, German 7. Armee established a coherent front line from the Meuse River to the Schnee Eifel Range in September 1944. Committed in this wide arc and supported by a motley conglomeration of last ditch reserves, the army’s remaining elements successfully defended the approaches to the Reich. During its withdrawal from Falaise to the West Wall, the 7. Armee passed through three distinct phases.
– 7. Armee rout following narrowly averted annihilation in the Falaise Pocket, 7. Armee ceased to exist as an independent organization, 7. Armee shattered remnants were attached to the 5. Panzer Armee until the September 4 1944, 7. Armee was apparently reconstituted under the command of Gen d. Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger
– 7. Armee then passed through the phase of delaying action while it reorganized its forces and re-established the semblance of a front line. Despite persistent orders from above to defend every foot of ground, Gen Brandenberger realized that a fairly rapid withdrawal was called for, if his forces were to reach the West Wall ahead of American spearheads
– delaying action ended officially on September 9 1944 when the the 7. Armee was charged with the defense of the West Wall in the Maastricht – Aachen – Bitburg sectors. Along with the fortifications the army took over all headquarters and troops stationed in this area. Of the the 7. Armee 3 corps, the LXXXI Corps was assigned the northern sector of the West Wall, from Herzogenrath to Düren witch position to Rollesbroich and the Huertgen Forest sector
LXXIV Corps was committed in the center, from Roetgen to Ormont and the 1. SS Panzerkorps was to defend the West Wall in the Schnee Eifel sector, from Ormont to the boundary with the 1. Armee at Diekirch.
The China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater was the last decisive major arena of World War II. Gen Joseph Stilwell was tasked to perform concurrent diplomatic and military miracles in pursuit of Allied victory. His mission of keeping a reluctant China in the war depended upon opening a ground line of supply and communication, to augment the Hump air route that linked India and China. To do this, the Japanese had to be driven from North Burma. Training and equipping Chinese troops to accomplish this mission required several months.
On the eve of the Chinese attacks in October 1943, a lone American infantry regiment debarked in Bombay, India. By August 1944, this ill-starred force had won accolade and suffered disbandment. During its brief, frenetic history, this first US ground combat unit to fight on the Asian land mass in World War II, was known variously as Shipment 1688, Force Galahad, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), and Merrill’s Marauders. This organization’s participation in the worth Burma Campaign lasted five and a half months and culminated in the capture of Myitkyina. The seizure of Myitkyina and its airfield permitted Allied transports to fly around the Himalayas instead of over them, and contributed greatly to the success of subsequent offensives to break the blockade of China. Although it was an achievement of high order, Galahad paid a price.
Cruchon & Emons (Berne) Marching Compass (1914-1918) US Engineer Corps
Cruchon & Emons (Paris) Marching Compass (1914-1918) US Engineer Corps
Plan Ltd (Neuchatel) Marching Compass (1914-1918) US Engineer Corps
I was searching for the Cruchon & Emons (manufactured in Paris, France) but I didn’t found one yet. It is also the same thing for the Compass Carrier (Leather Cases). I keep on alert but as far as yet, no luck.
Manufactured in Paris, France and in Berne, Switzerland by Cruchon & Emons and in Neuchatel, Switzerland by Plan Ltd, this World War One mirror sighting compass was never as well-regarded as the prismatic models. When introduced into US Army service in 1916 (in fact the US Engineer Corps ordered them), this mirror sighting compass was the most accurate marching compass ever fielded by US forces.
This is the way things goes over here. On August 9th 2015, I spend a moment talking over the fence with my neighbor, M. Jacques Maréchal from Francorchamps, which was the owner of the 1730 build house I am actually renting. I told Jacques that while cleaning the entrance of the house I’ve found 3 cartridge cases (Cal. 30 M1) stamped RIA 4 (should be Rock Island Armory 1944). He then told me that in the period of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, (he was still in the house) he got the visit of an American tourist named Kennedy who was searching for a bullet. In fact, this soldier (he told me) was standing in the door of the house when he was hit by a bullet (probably from a German sniper) which wounded him on the side of his face and still wondering about the nationality of this bullet he pretended to know exactly the place where the bullet entered in the wood stairs behind him.