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Amphibious Operations

Amphibious Operations

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An amphibious operation involves the co-ordination of military and naval forces to effect a landing on a hostile shore. The first large-scale landing in the Second World War was by the Germans in Norway in 1940. Amphibious operations by the Allies included St Nazaire (March, 1942) Dieppe (August, 1942), Normandy (June, 1944), Iwo Jima (February, 1945) and Okinawa (April, 1945).

Amphibious Operations

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Amphibious Warfare History

The first American Amphibious landing took place during the Revolutionary war. On March 3, 1776 the fleet's Marines and a number of seamen under Marine Captain Nicholas splashed ashore about two miles east of Fort Montagu, one of the Bahama Island's two forts, which they captured in a battle as "bemused as it was bloodless." After resting the night in their prize, the invasion force completed the job the next morning by taking Fort Nassau, securing the town, and arresting the British governor. By March 16, the island's military stores, with the exception of the gunpowder, were loaded and secured. The Marines and seamen who took part in the landing were then embarked, as was the governor and two of the island's key officials. The following morning the signal was given to weigh anchor, and the force returned to America.

Aboukir Bay

In 1801 the British mounted a combined operation in the Mediterranean to capture the French army that for three years had been occupying Egypt. The naval force consisted of 180 ships under Admiral Lord Keith. The Army contingent numbered about 15,000 men under Sir Ralph Abercromby, who had performed the landing in Holland two years before. There was no overall commander of the expedition, but fortunately Abercromby and Keith cooperated well.

The French army of about 25,000 men were scattered throughout Egypt. Abercromby decided to land on the beach at Aboukir Bay so that he could capture the nearby port of Alexandria. Although they received some advanced warning, the French posted only about 1,600 infantry and 200 cavalry at the landing site, backed by 15 guns. (Abercromby expected to face up to 10,000 Frenchmen.) Thanks to a storm and the indiscretion of Admiral Keith (who allowed the French full view of his fleet), the French had six days' warning but made no attempt to prepare fixed defenses on or near the beach.

The landing was a resounding success. The landing force lost 652 soldiers and 97 sailors, most during the run to shore. The French lost between 300 and 400. Once ashore, Abercromby had to fight two more battles, at the second of which he was mortally wounded (he died on 28 March). Nonetheless, Alexandria fell after a siege on 3 September, and the remaining French forces surrendered at Cairo the next June. The success of the landing at Aboukir Bay was due to the careful planning, preparation, and rehearsal beforehand. The landing craft were carefully arranged to allow the troops to land in proper tactical order and deploy for combat immediately. The failure to appoint a single commander for the expedition, and the lack of doctrine defining the command relationships, could have posed a problem, but the harmonious cooperation between Abercromby and Lord Keith (who allowed Abercromby to take the lead in the expedition) helped to avert serious conflicts.

American Civil War

European military observers were sizing up the Americans during the Civil War. These observers were particularly interested in American coastal fortifications. British observers concluded that "ships cannot contend with forts when conditions are anything like equal," and therefore to reduce a wellconstructed fort it was necessary to land a force and establish siege batteries. The Prussian observer, Captain Justus Scheibert, reached similar conclusions based upon his observations of the defense of Charleston and his studies of joint operations on the Mississippi River. "A fleet," Scheibert wrote in a study he entitled Zusammenwirken der Armee und Marine (Collaboration of the Army and the Navy), "despite its mobility and clear superiority in both the caliber and quality . . . of its guns, was not equal to land batteries . . . if not supported by land forces." The Swiss military observer, Major Ferdinand Lecompte, offered the view that while the amphibious landing in the Crimean War was regarded as almost "the eighth wonder of the world," the Union Army during the Civil War had conducted about 50 such landings "with superior skill and less fanfare."

Korean War

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur envisioned that the Eighth U.S. Army (EUSA) would break out of the Pusan Perimeter at the same time as X Corps landed at Inchon, pushing the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) northward, trapping it between the two forces.

The invasion of Inchon, Operation CHROMITE, began on Sept. 15, 1950. Landing 150 miles behind enemy lines, X Corps under Army Major General Edward M. Almond consisted of the US 1st Marine Division and its attached South Korean Marine Regiment and the US Army 7th Infantry Division (which included more than 8,000 South Korean soldiers). X Corps' major objectives were to capture Inchon, about 25 miles west of Seoul, and then to liberate Seoul. Elements of the 1st Marine Division landed and secured Wolmi Island on the morning of Sept. 15, and late in the afternoon assault troops of the 1st and 5th Marines scaled the seawall at Inchon. By the morning of Sept. 16, the two Marine regiments formed a solid line around Inchon, making the escape of any enemy still within the city unlikely. Within 24 hours of landing, the Marines had secured the high ground east of Inchon, occupying an area sufficient to prevent enemy artillery from firing on the town, and obtained a base from which to seize nearby Kimpo Airfield, the largest in Korea. The 5th Marines reached the edge of the airfield on Sept. 17 and secured it the following morning. The capture of Kimpo provided a base for air operations for the ensuing attack on Seoul, and for operations against enemy supply lines throughout South Korea.

As MacArthur anticipated, the NKPA was cut off and now in flight. The United Nations Command (UNC) had captured 23,000 enemy soldiers and the NKPA in South Korea had disintegrated as an effective fighting force. Following the liberation of Seoul by X Corps and the return of the city to the South Korean government on Sept. 29, U.N. and American officials faced a new situation - an opportunity to achieve wider military and political objectives.

The US X Corps' 1st Marine Division went ashore at Wonsan on 26 October 1950. The 1st Marine Division was scheduled to make an assault landing at Wonsan, on the east coast. After establishing a beachhead, the Corps was to advance westward through the Pyongyang-Wonsan corridor and link up with General Walker's army in order to trap North Korean troops falling back from the south. However, when Wonsan fell to the rapidly advancing South Koreans, the regiment made an administrative landing and took up blocking positions in the area. The 7th Division landed unopposed at Iwon, 80 miles north of Wonsan, on Oct. 29. X Corps' mission now was to capture the industrial and communications areas, port installations and the power and irrigation plants in northeastern Korea.

Recent Operations

The largest and most extensive amphibious operation to take place between the Korean and Vietnam war was the landings in Lebanon in 1958, where Soldiers and Marine landed unopposed. Operation Bluebat lasted 102 days from July 15 to Oct. 25, and involved the 6th Fleet with over 70 ships and 40,000 sailors, as well as 14,357 ground troops. The Composite Air Strike Force of Naval carrier aircraft as well as U.S. Air Force planes from the 322nd Air Division provided air support. The operation included some 8,509 Army soldiers from the 201st Logistics Command and the 24th Airborne Brigade, built around the 1st Reinforced Airborne Battle Group from Germany. Some 5,842 Marines that landed unopposed on the beach came from the 2nd Provisional Marine Force, 2nd Marine Division.

Reporters provided live television and radio coverage of the night amphibious landings that marked the beginning of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992 and the end of the UN operation during Operation United Shield in 1995. The last amphibious landing in February 1995 lasted a little over four hours. It started slightly before midnight, Mogadishu time, and by about 4:15 to 4:20, in the morning it was complete. The U.S. put 16 of the LAVs and 28 AAVs ashore. Fewer than 30 reporters had accompanied the entire invasion force to Normandy, France, on 6 June 1944. While the landings in Somlia provided dramatic B-roll, they were administrative landings, not assault landings.

During the early days of DESERT SHIELD, a powerful 18,000-man amphibious task force steamed into the North Arabian Sea to add an important element to the allied arsenal. Within less than a month after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, more than 20 amphibious ships had completed the 10,000-mile trip to the Gulf of Oman, where nearly 8,000 Marines and 10,000 Sailors commenced full-scale preparations to "hit the beach" to eject Iraq's army from Kuwait. Training grew more intense as the amphibious forces performed high-visibility exercises off the coast of Saudi Arabia to heighten the enemy wariness of an invasion from the sea.

Amphibious Operations

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The Sác Forest comprises approximately 1,256 square kilometres (485 sq. mi) of tidal mangrove swamp including over 4,800 kilometres (3,000 mi) of interlocking streams located approximately 36 kilometres (22 mi) south-southeast of Saigon . Its boundaries in 1962 were Nhà Bè District and Nhơn Trạch District to the north, Long An Province and Tiền Giang Province to the west, Phước Tuy Province to the east and the South China Sea to the south.

On 8 June 1962, the South Vietnamese Government organized the Rung Sat Special Zone (Đặc khu Rừng Sác) as a military region in order to defend the Lòng Tàu River , the main shipping channel from Saigon to Vũng Tàu .

The Viet Cong established base areas in the zone from the late 1950s and in April 1966 COSVN designated the area as the D-10 Special Military Zone.

Due to the difficult conditions for ground operations within the zone, the VC regarded it as a safe area, however from 1965 onwards the USAF began defoliating the area as part of Operation Ranch Hand .

Following attacks on allied shipping on the Lòng Tàu River, from 27 March to 6 April 1966, 1st Battalion 5th Marines and two Battalions of Vietnamese Marines launched Operation Jackstay , a search and clear operation along the Lòng Tàu shipping channel killing 63 VC and seizing and destroying large supply caches.

Following the conclusion of Operation Jackstay, the Marines handed over responsibility for the zone to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment . Responsibility for security in the zone was then passed to the Mobile Riverine Force and the 9th Infantry Division .

The next deployment of the SLF during 1966 occurred when the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) commander General William Westmoreland directed the SLF to attack Viet Cong (VC) forces in the Rung Sat Special Zone. This area, south of Saigon, contained enemy units, which were attacking commercial shipping in the river channel leading to the capital. Marines of BLT 1/5 in Operation JACKSTAY (26 March – 6 April) were only partially successful in clearing the VC from the Rung Sat. Although the swampy terrain did not allow tracked vehicles to be deployed, Marines from 1/B/1AT used the operation to experiment with Riverine Warfare techniques that included positioning Ontos on the cleared deck areas of a LST (Landing Ship, Tank) in order to provide a direct fire capability. A platoon of M-48 tanks from 3/C/1TK was included in the BLT. Casualties were light: 63 enemy were confirmed KIA, five Marine KIA. (CC-1/5, 2-5/66). Needless to say: Neither tanks nor Ontos saw a lot of action in this arena but the ever mindful Ontos crewmen and Tankers did not lack aggressive and innovative ways to use their weapons.

Deckhouse I – 18-30 June 1966. South of Qui Nhon

Deckhouse II – 18 July 1966. DMZ

Deckhouse III – 16-29 August, 1966. Saigon.

Deckhouse IV – 15-24 September 1966. DMZ

Deckhouse V – 6-15 January 1967. Delta region

Deckhouse VI – 16 February to 3 March 1967. Northern I Corps

Operation JACKSTAY was followed by Operation OSAGE, 27 April – 2 May, in Phu Loc district, Thua Thien province. Attached to BLT 1/5, five Ontos with 18 Marine personnel were landed over the beach in support of B/1/5. There was little enemy contact. Enemy KIAs totaled 11 friendly KIAs were 6. (CC-1/5, 2-5/66).

At this time, General Westmoreland communicated to Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp, commander of the Pacific Command (PACOM), that the changing nature of the war warranted a change in the mission of the SLF. Senior MACV and Navy commanders agreed to broaden the scope of ARG/SLF attacks. These amphibious operations, named DECKHOUSE, would complement allied ground operations against enemy forces.

Operation DECKHOUSE I took place in II Corps in Phu Yen Province from 18 June to 30 June. The landing force (BLT 3/5) supported the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division’s Operation NATHAN HALE. A platoon of tanks from 2/C/1TK and a platoon of Ontos from 3/B/1AT provided armor. Marines from the tank and Ontos platoons landed as “provisional rifle platoons” (aka: without their tracks!) to provide security for Marine artillery and amphibious tractor units. BLT 3/5 made no major contact with enemy forces during the operation. Marine casualties included 2 KIA while 25 VC were confirmed killed. Although the SLF contribution was modest, the operation overall involved several US battalions and resulted in the deaths of over 400 enemy . (CC-3/5, 6/66).

DECKHOUSE II was an amphibious assault eight miles northeast of Dong Ha in Quang Tri province, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). BLT 3/5, training at Subic Bay in the Philippines, sailed for Vietnam on 13 July. The assault took place on 16 July in support of Operation HASTINGS. After two days, the BLT was placed under the control the Marine units involved in HASTINGS. Three tanks from 2/C/1TK were landed to operate with an infantry company. There was little contact with the enemy. The BLT suffered no combat casualties. On 30 July it withdrew and moved to Chu Lai. (GB-66)(CC-3/5, 7/66).

August saw the next amphibious assault by the SLF. Operation DECKHOUSE III took place from 16 to 29 August on the Vung Tau Peninsula southwest of Saigon. BLT 1/26 included a platoon each of tanks from 1/A/5TK and Ontos from 1/A/5AT. The amphibious assault was in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Operation TOLEDO. The AT platoon Marines were helilifted ashore on 17 August to serve as a provisional rifle platoon. The following day the tank platoon Marines landed by helicopter at a different landing zone to serve as a provisional rifle platoon to provide security for the 107mm Mortar Battery. The results of the operation were meager: two VC and three Marines were killed in action. (GB-66)(CC-1/26, 8/66).

In September, the SLF returned to the DMZ area. DECKHOUSE IV, with BLT 1/26, was launched on 15 September in support of Operation PRAIRIE (the same operational area as DECKHOUSE II and Operation HASTINGS). A platoon of tanks and Ontos from 1/A/5TK and 1/A/5AT were assigned to the BLT, which was located at Subic Bay prior to the operation. The tanks and Ontos, landed on the beach by landing craft, were later transported by boat upriver to Dong Ha, where they deployed into the field. On 18 September control of the BLT was passed to the 4th Marines for the duration of PRAIRIE. During the operation, the BLT fought NVA regulars who used conventional tactics, made little attempt to avoid combat, and sought to engage the BLT by ambush and from fortified positions. Tanks suffered damage from antitank mines. On 21 September, two tanks were hit by antitank rockets fired by a four-man NVA rocket team. Damage to the tanks was minor when one tank fired canister at a range of 75 yards, “the four NVA’s were disintegrated.” Antitank rockets again struck the tank platoon while withdrawing at the end of the operation. Tanks and Ontos returned to their ships on 25 September and embarked for Da Nang. 34 Marines from BLT 1/26 were killed 254 enemy were confirmed KIA by body count. (GB-66)(CC-1/26, 9/66).

During October and November 1966, the ARG/SLF kept a Marine BLT afloat off the northern coast of South Vietnam. BLT 3/26 (with 3/A/5TK and 3/A/5AT) replaced BLT 1/26. In December, BLT 1/9 (with 3/B/3TK and 3/C/3AT) relieved 3/6 as the landing force battalion.

ARG/SLF operations to the end of 1966 had little in common with historic amphibious warfare. Most Marine amphibious landings in Vietnam were administrative landings, efforts to exploit existing situations, or amphibious raids. Rather than assaulting hostile shores, the BLT’s landed where friendly ground and air forces were already present. According to Marine Colonel John Chaisson, Assistant Chief of Staff, III MAF, SLF operations for the most part “were sort of contrived. It was almost a concept looking for a home .” (GB-66).

The first SLF landing of the year was DECKHOUSE V, 6 January to 15 January. The landing took place in Thanh Phu and Kein Hoa provinces in the Mekong Delta and involved BLT 1/9 (with tanks from 3/B/3TK and Ontos from 3/C/3AT) plus the 3d and 4th Battalions of the Vietnamese Marine Corps. The Vietnamese Marines underwent “a near record-breaking ship-to-shore landing-craft move pf 23 miles,” rivaled only by some U.S. Pacific operations in World War II (GB-67). The sweep was unproductive: 21 VC and 7 Marines died in the operation. The poor results were probably due to enemy forces having prior knowledge of the operation, giving them the opportunity to move their supplies and personnel out of the area. DECKHOUSE V was the last operation conducted outside of I Corps. (CC-1/9, 1/67).

After DECKHOUSE V, the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to form a second SLF and to concentrate SLF operations in I Corps. In late January, BLT 1/4 replaced 1/9. Sailing from the Philippines, the BLT arrived off the Vietnamese coast in mid-February. Tanks from 1/A/3TK and Ontos from 2/B/3AT were included in the BLT, which made an amphibious landing in Quang Ngai province on 16 February to begin Operation DECKHOUSE VI. The opening phase was uneventful. Ontos were used to destroy roadblocks and caves. Tanks and Ontos were employed with good effect in support of Marine infantry during search and destroy operations. On 26 February the BLT withdrew. On 27 February it landed ten miles north in Phase II of the operation, which terminated on 3 March. Marine casualties were 12 KIA. 279 VC were reported killed. (GB-67)(CC-1/4, 2/67).

The SLF with BLT 1/4 was next landed the following month north of the Cua Viet River in Quang Tri province. Operation BEACON HILL I was in response to the NVA threat in the eastern section of the DMZ, and was in conjunction with Operation PRAIRIE III to the west. BEACON HILL ended on 1 April and resulted in the deaths of 334 NVA soldiers and 29 SLF Marines . (GB-67).

After Beacon Hill, the Marine Corps employed a twin SLF concept. BLT 1/3 joined SLF Alpha while BLT 2/3 became part of SLF Bravo. Both groups sailed from Okinawa and arrived on station near the DMZ by 18 April.

Operation BEACON STAR (22 April - 12 May) was SLF Bravo’s first operation. The location was a VC base area along the border of Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces. BLT 2/3 tanks were from 1/A/3TK and Ontos from 2/A/3AT. The battalion landed with minimal resistance. The operation was interrupted on 26 April when large NVA formations were discovered in the hills west of the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB), 43 miles west of the BEACON STAR area. Three of the BLT 2/3’s companies moved by helicopter and C-130 transport aircraft to Khe Sanh in less than seven hours. The second phase of BEACON HILL is known as the “First Battle of Khe Sanh” or the “The Hill Fights.” (SF-EM). Fighting was heavy: the BLT had 71 KIA and 349 WIA before the unit began the return to the ships of the Amphibious Ready Group on 10 May. (GB-67).

The other SLF, SLF Alpha, was formed on Okinawa on 1 March. The BLT was 1/3 and included tanks from 3/C/3TK plus Ontos from 1/A/3AT. The BLT made its first landing in Vietnam on 28 April south of Da Nang at the Que Son Valley. This was Operation BEAVER CAGE (28 April – 12 May). The tanks and Ontos were landed at 0800 on the first day of the operation only to be back loaded aboard ship two days later. 55 Marines and 181 enemy were killed in the operation.

In response to the buildup of enemy rocket and artillery forces in the DMZ, General Westmoreland authorized the deployment of US military forces into the zone south of the actual border. Both SLF Alpha and SLF Bravo participated in the assaults: Operation BEAU CHARGER and Operation BELT TIGHT respectively. This was a unique amphibious assault plan in that it deployed both SLFs in the same operation at the same time. Both assaults were in support of ground operations by other U.S. Marine and ARVN units. BEAU CHARGER lasted two days, 18 -19 May. BELT TIGHT began on 20 May and ended on 23 May, after which operational control of SLF Bravo passed to the 9th Marines. 125 NVA were reported killed in these operations. (GB-67).

MACV increased its reliance on the ARG/SLF for the duration of 1967: not only did the number of combat days increase, the number of operations more than doubled compared to the first four months of the year. (GB-67).

SLF Alpha, with BLT 1/3, began Operation BEAR BITE on 2 June about 25 miles south of the DMZ. The operation was uneventful: there were no Marine casualties, two enemy were killed, and a tank got stuck in a rice paddy. The operation ended on 5 June.

The same SLF (less tanks and Ontos) participated in Operation COLGATE in Thua Thien province during the period 7-11 June. This operation was equally unproductive. There were no Marine casualties. The next operation was CHOCTAW, which involved sweeps along Route 1 in the Quang Tri-Thua Thien provincial border area. Again, no Marine casualties. Next was Operation MARYLAND, Thua Thien province, 25-27 June. None of these four operations achieved significant results. (GB-67).

SLF Bravo with BLT 2/3 operated further south, in the area south of Da Nang near the Quang Nam-Quang Tin border. Operation BEACON TORCH began on 18 June. Tanks from 2/A/3TK and Ontos from 2/A/3AT were included in the BLT. Tanks were deployed during the first three days of the operation. Their use was of a more psychological than tactical benefit due to the lack of appropriate targets. As the operation moved further inland, the tanks returned to shipping due to their inability to ford a river. BEACON TORCH merged into Operation CALHOUN on 25 June. The BLT withdrew on 2 July. Although 86 enemy and 13 SLF Marines died in the fighting during these operations, there was no lasting impact: the Marines observed enemy troops near the beach during the BLT’s withdrawal. The VC seemed to completely control the uncooperative civilian population, who refused evacuation to government controlled areas in spite of air and artillery attacks. (GB-67)(CC 1/3, 6/27).

During the first of July, SLF Alpha was afloat, preparing for Operation BEAR CLAW, with eastern Quang Tri province as the landing site. Instead, on 3 July BLT 1/3 was ordered to join the 9th Marines which was engaged with a large enemy force in Operation BUFFALO at Con Thien. The BLT made a sweep in support of 3/9. On 6 July NVA rockets destroyed a Marine tank, killing the tank crew. Two other tanks were crippled. The BLT withdrew to Con Thien under enemy attack on 8 July, a withdrawal complicated by the need to remove two crippled tanks from the battlefield. After several days of patrolling the Con Thien perimeter, the BLT ended its participation in BUFFALO. The BLT suffered eight killed. Total NVA casualties for BUFFALO were 424. (GB-67).

SLF Alpha next participated in nearby Operation HICKORY II. Moving a few miles south, the BLT experienced no casualties and returned to its shipping on 17 July. (GB-67)

SLF Bravo with BLT 2/3 was also operating in the same area in July 1967. The tanks involved were 1/A/3TK and 1/B/3TK Ontos were 1/A/3AT and 2/A/3AT. The operations were BEAVER TRACK, BUFFALO, and HICKORY II and under the operational control of the 3d Marines. The location was north of Cam Lo, just south of the southern edge of the DMZ. In the ensuing combat over the next few days, tanks received damage from by RPG rounds and antitank mines. Sixteen SLF Marines were killed before the battalion reembarked on 16 July. NVA casualties credited to the SLF totaled 148 KIA, including 16 confirmed by tank fire. (GB-67)(CC 2/3, 7/67).

BLT 2/3’s next operation was Operation BEAR CHAIN, held in conjunction with the 4th Marines’ Operation FREMONT in the Thua Thien/Quang Tri border area. The BLT included tanks and Ontos from 2/A/3TK and 2/A/3AT. The tanks were landed early in the morning of the 20 July, the first day of the operation. Nine Marines and two Corpsmen were killed on the operation, along with 22 NVA (confirmed). On 26 July the BLT returned to its shipping. (CC 2/3, 7/67).

The last SLF operation of July 1967 was Operation BEACON GUIDE with SLF Alpha’s BLT 1/3. This search and destroy operation took place along the coast about 20 miles south of Hue. The operation was uneventful casualties were negligible. SLF Alpha returned to its shipping on 30 July. (GB-67).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 2/3 (which included 2/A/3TK tanks and 2/A/3AT Ontos) spent the period 1 August – 21 August 1967 in Operations KANGAROO KICK and FREMONT. The operational area was the border region between Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces. Tanks and Ontos were not utilized. Three enemy soldiers and three Marines from the SLF were killed. (GB-67)(CC 2/3, 8/67).

SLF Alpha operated further south in August, in the area between Quang Nam and Quang Tin provinces. The BLT included tanks from 3/C/3TK and Ontos from 3/A/3AT. The Operations were BEACON GATE (7-11 August) and COCHISE (11-27 August). Tanks were deployed on these search and destroy operations, which resulted in the deaths of 59 enemy soldiers and nine Marines . (GB-67)(CC 1/3, 8/67).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 2/3 (1/A/3TK tanks and 2/A/3AT Ontos) went into action in eastern Quang Tri province on 27 August. The Operations were BELT DRIVE and LIBERTY, and terminated on 5 September. Tanks and Ontos were not deployed due to the nature of the BLT’s mission, which was to block NVA approaches to Quang Tri City and Route 1. Three Marines and 19 NVA/VC died during the operations. (GB-67)(CC 2/3, 8-9/67).

In September 1967, Marine helicopter assets were greatly diminished due to the grounding of its CH-46A’s, which accounted for 50 percent of its helicopter capabilities. As a result, the SLF BLT’s were assigned to the OpCon of the Marine regiments operating in the area. They were employed on missions ranging from road security to the construction of fortifications, missions that had little to do with their traditional amphibious assault functions. (GB-67).

SLF Alpha, with BLT 1/3, engaged in two Operations during September 1967: BEACON POINT/FREMONT (1-9 September), Thua Thien province, and BALLISTIC CHARGE/SHELBYVILLE (16-28 September), Quang Nam province (included tanks from 3/C/3TK). Casualties for the month were light: In 22 days of operations, eight Marines and 26 enemy soldiers lost their lives. (GB-67)(CC 1/3, 9/67).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 2/3, participated in Operation FORTRESS SENTRY during the period 17 September to 15 October. This operation was in conjunction with Operation KINGFISHER in the northeastern area of Quang Tri province. Tanks from 1/A/3TK and Ontos from 2/A/3AT were aboard the BLT. Tanks were deployed in the initial stages of the operation to provide security for the amphibious tractor movements. The tanks could not operate further inland due to their inability to ford wide streams in the maneuver areas. Two Marines and 89 NVA were killed in the operation before SLF Bravo ended its participation on 15 October. (GB-67)(CC 2/3, 9/67).

SLF Alpha, with BLT 1/3 (which included tanks from 3/C/3TK and Ontos from 3/A/3AT), participated in Operations BASTION HILL/MEDINA from 10-19 October and LIBERTY II/FREMONT from 19-23 October. The operational area was the Hai Lang Forest south of Quang Tri City, an NVA base area. Tanks and Ontos were not landed. Marine and enemy casualties were about the same, approximately ten each. (GB-67).

The next operations for SLF Bravo and BLT 2/3 were FORMATION LEADER (17-18 October), LIBERTY II (18-24 October), and KNOX (24 October-4 November). The operational area was coastal Thua Thien province. The tanks and Ontos were landed at the Navy ramp at Hue. Bad weather impacted both the landing and embarkation. Contact was light. (GB-67)(CC 2/3, 10/67).

SLF Alpha/BLT 1/3 returned to the Hai Lang Forest on 26 October in Operation GRANITE. Although tanks from 3/C/3TK were part of the BLT, the assault battalions were landed by helicopter. The operational objective was to locate and destroy an enemy base area however, the operation was unable to locate its objective. The BLT moved north on 6 November to participate in Operation KENTUCKY around Cam Lo as the division reserve. After making a sweep around Con Thien near the DMZ, the BLT moved to Dong Ha and reembarked on 16 November. Casualties on these operations were light. (GB-67)(CC 1/3, 11/67).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 2/3, participated in Operation BADGER HUNT/FOSTER during the period 13-29 November. The location was a few miles south of Da Nang in Quang Nam province. Tanks from 2/A/3TK and Ontos from 2/A/3AT were part of the BLT. The Marines reported no deaths during the operation while claiming 48 confirmed NVA/VC kills. (GB-67)(CC 2/3, 11/67).

In December 3/1 became the new SLF Bravo battalion. After spending the first half of the month at the SLF Camp at Subic Bay in the Philippines, they returned to the I Corps area of South Vietnam. The tanks were from 3/C/1TK Ontos from 3/C/1AT. On 21 December, Operation FORTRESS RIDGE commenced on 21 December with seaborne and helicopter landings around Gio Linh, near the DMZ. The tanks were landed on the beach by landing craft. On the morning of the following day, a tank was hit in the turret area by a recoilless rifle round. Tank crew casualties were one KIA and two WIA. On 23 December, a tank hit a 15-pound antitank mine, blowing off a portion of the tread. The tank was repaired. Ten Marines and ten enemy soldiers were killed before the operation ended on 24 December. All units were returned to their ships well before Christmas Eve. (GB-67)(CC 3/1, 12/67).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 3/1, ended the year with Operation BADGER TOOTH, which began on 26 December. The location was a coastal area in southern Quang Tri province. The objective was to find and destroy a large enemy force believed to be in the area. On the 27th, after coming under attack by a large enemy force, the BLT commander ordered the landing of the tank platoon from ARG shipping. Of the five tanks assigned to the BLT, one was under repair at Da Nang and another refused to start and had to remain afloat. Of the three remaining, none had been properly waterproofed, causing one to “submerge” while attempting to land. The other two received water damage to their communications equipment upon landing, rendering them unable to communicate with the infantry units except by voice. Nevertheless, the tanks were able to destroy some enemy bunkers with direct fire from their main guns. The Ontos were not landed. At 1800 hours on 31 December, a New Year’s truce took effect. Bad weather and rough seas hindered the withdrawal of the SLF to its shipping. The Marines suffered 48 killed during the operation, which ended on 2 January 1968. (GB-67)(GB-68)).

The last Operations of SLF Alpha and BLT 1/3 during 1967 were BALLISTIC ARCH/KENTUCKY V. These operations commenced on 24 November. The operational area was the coastal area just south of the DMZ. Tanks from 3/C/3TK and Ontos from 3/A/3AT were part of the BLT. Enemy contact was light, and most of the BLT’s effort was spent providing security completing the construction of defensive wires and minefields at Strongpoint A-3. On 29 December, the BLT left the operational area via a combined foot and motor march south to the airfield at Quang Tri. ( GB-67)(CC 1/3, 11/67).

The ARG/SLF accounted for over 3,000 enemy killed during the year 1967. [“Amphibious Landings in South Vietnam.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/vietnam2-amphibious.htm. Retrieved 4/15/17].

January 1968 saw much discussion by senior military commanders about the future role of the SLFs. MACV preferred these Marine units be stationed in-country continually. Marine commanders felt a strong need to work closely with the Navy to preserve Marine usage of Navy amphibious shipping. Was the SLF to be the reserve force for the entire Western Pacific, or more narrowly, a reinforcement of Navy/Marine forces in Vietnam? MACV Commander Westmoreland needed more troops, and was concerned the SLF tied up “two battalions of well-trained Marines who were floating around on the ships.” Should one of the SLF’s be based ashore permanently, rather than be kept afloat? Also at this time, Westmoreland was considering a possible amphibious landing north of the DMZ (Operation DURANGO CITY).

Discussions about the future role of the SLF were overtaken by events. Following the Tet Offensive, the SLF battalions became part of the III Marine Amphibious Force for all practical purposes. From the end of January until June 1968, the SLF battalions functioned like the other Marine infantry battalions of the 3d Marine Division in the northern part of South Vietnam. (GB-68).

In June 1968, the situation in the north had stabilized enough to allow the re-formation of the SLF’s. On 7 June, SLF Bravo with BLT 3/1 began Operation SWIFT SABER in the Elephant Valley area northwest of Da Nang. Tanks from 3/C/1TK and Ontos from 3/A/5AT were assigned to the BLT. Tanks were deployed along with amphibious tractors to move an infantry company to its objective. On 10 June, a tank struck a mine. Three Marines and no enemy were reported killed before the operation ended on 14 June. (GB-68)(CC 3/1, 6/68).

In July, 2/7 became the BLT for SLF Bravo, which included a platoon of tanks from 2/B/1TK and Ontos from 3/A/5AT. During the period 9-22 July, the SLF participated in Operations EAGER YANKEE and HOUSTON IV in Thua Thien province. During the period 23-31 July, the BLT moved south to participate in Operations SWIFT PLAY and ALLEN BROOK in the Go Noi Island area below Da Nang. Casualties were light in these search and destroy operations. After 31 July, the BLT was assigned the task of providing security for the heavy equipment destroying all natural and man-made structures that could provide cover for the enemy on Go Noi. (GB-68)(CC 2/7, 7/68).

During this period SLF Alpha, with BLT 2/4, was operating near the DMZ as part of Operation LANCASTER II. On 13 August, BLT 2/26 replaced 2/4 as the Alpha infantry unit. Here the BLT functioned as a regular infantry battalion during Operations PROUD HUNTER (18-21 August) and SWIFT PURSUIT (28 August-2 September). Into October, the BLT continued to operate under the control of the 3d Marines in the LANCASTER II area. (GB-68).

By mid-October, both SLFs were functioning much as they had before June: as regular infantry units fighting for extended periods ashore with other Marine units. SLF Alpha was attached to the 3d Marine Division SLF Bravo to the 1st Marine Division.

On 19 October, SLF Alpha with BLT 2/26 (including tanks from 4/A/5TK and Ontos from 1/A/5AT) embarked from Quang Tri and moved south. On 26 October, the BLT came under OpCon of the 1st Marines and participated in Operation GARRARD BAY along the coast south of Da Nang. On 20 November, the BLT participated in Operation MEADE RIVER, another search and clearing operation in the same general area. Casualties were light only seventeen enemy soldiers were reported killed in both operations. (GB-68)(CC 2/26, 11/68).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 2/7, remained attached to the 1st Marines until November, when it returned to its shipping. On 10 November, the BLT landed on the coast near Hoi An, South of Da Nang in Quang Nam province. This Operation, DARING ENDEAVOR, was a search and destroy operation in conjunction with the U.S. Army 1st Air Cavalry Division. Tanks were struck the following day by antitank mines, which caused minor casualties and damage. Infantry from G/2/7 provided a defensive perimeter for the disabled tanks. One Marine and 39 enemy soldiers were killed before the operation ended on 17 November. (GB-68)(CC 2/7, 11/68).

On 15 December, SLF Alpha with BLT 2/26 landed on Barrier Island, south of Hoi An and south of the earlier DARING ENDEAVOR operations. This was a cordon and search operation that lasted until 5 January 1969. The landings were by helicopter. The BLT returned to its shipping on 25 December where the BLT enjoyed the Christmas holiday. “Huge quantities” of Christmas “goodies” were received and distributed to the various units of the battalion. Early in the morning on 27 December the BLT again landed in its area of operations. Casualties on both sides were very light. (GB-68)(CC 2/26, 12/68) .

At the end of 1968, the situation with the SLFs had much in common with the situation at the beginning of the year. One battalion was bringing an operation to a close while the other was attached to a Marine division ashore. There was still controversy about the proper use of the SLF. Later in 1969, Marine Colonel Clyde Hunter, Operations Officer for the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB), noted the “divisions were using the SLFs improperly, actually ginning up operations just to get them ashore and tie them down to a TAOR, or into some kind of operation, that had no connection to their mission as an SLF.” (GB-68).

Senior U. S. military commanders continued to debate the proper role of the SLF. Many Marines felt any Marine not ashore and fighting was being underutilized. Consequently, since 1968, the SLFs had been committed ashore more often and for longer periods than originally envisioned. Mindful that the SLF was created to serve as a contingency force throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, these deployments meant the amphibious capabilities of the Seventh Fleet were being restricted, leaving them unavailable to meet sudden crises beyond Vietnam. Navy commanders found it hard to justify the commitment of so many underutilized amphibious assets off the coast of Vietnam. MACV wanted the SLFs available for use in coastal areas other than I Corps. Some Navy commanders agreed with the MACV position Marine commanders were opposed. Some critics felt amphibious operations in Vietnam were a waste of time and the SLFs should be based ashore permanently. Given the vast responsibilities of the United States in the Western Pacific, should the only units in the Marine Corps engaged in a truly amphibious role be dedicated to the war in Vietnam? (GB-69).

Prior to 1969, all reinforced Marine infantry battalions in Vietnam were eligible for assignment to the SLF for a period of six months. Henceforth, the 26th Marines would provide the BLTs.

In January, both SLFs moved in their shipping to an assembly point off the coast of Quang Ngai province. Their destination was the Batangan Peninsula, an enemy stronghold a dozen miles south of Chu Lai. The Operation, BOLD MARINER, was to be the largest amphibious operation since the Korean War. The operation began on 12 January. The BLT’s were 2/26 (with tanks from 3/A/5TK and Ontos from 1/A/5AT) and 3/26 (with tanks from 3/C/5TK). The operation began on 12 January. The following day, tanks and Ontos from 2/26 were landed to provide security for the beach fire support base. Contact with the enemy was light, and no enemy were reported killed. BLT 2/26 returned to its shipping on 24 January, only to land further north two days later in Operation LINN RIVER. On 28 January, tanks were called up to aid Company G, pinned down by enemy fire from concealed positions. These positions were destroyed, aided by tank .50 caliber machinegun fire. 15 NVA were reported killed during the operation. On 7 February, control of BLT 2/26 passed to the 5th Marines. The BLT participated in Operation TAYLOR COMMON for five days before returning to its shipping. (GB-69)(CC 2/26, 1/69).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 3/26, participated in BOLD MARINER during the period 13-24 January, followed by Operation RUSSELL BEACH (25-31 January). The BLT claimed 32 NVA/VC killed during these operations. (CC 3/26, 1/69).

Both BLTs participated in Operation TAYLOR COMMON, ongoing since December 1968 in the area southwest of Hoi An. BLT 2/26 experienced little enemy contact and claimed no enemy casualties during the period (7-12 February). It returned to its shipping on 13 February. BLT 3/26 joined TAYLOR COMMON on 10 February. Contact with the enemy was substantial: on 27 February alone, Lima Company killed 75 enemy soldiers and destroyed two anti-aircraft sites. The BLT claimed 295 NVA and VC killed Marine losses were 35 killed and 249 wounded. BLT 3/26 ended its participation in the operation on 8 March. The BLT immediately joined Operation OKLAHOMA HILLS in the same area. Tanks and Ontos were not landed during TAYLOR COMMON or OKLAHOMA HILLS. On 23 March the BLT command group moved to Hill 55. OKLAHOMA HILLS continued throughout April, with the BLT claiming 140 enemy soldiers killed during the month. The BLT destroyed the base camp of the 141st NVA regiment. Large quantities of arms and other supplies were seized. 18 Marines were KIA during April. The BLT ended its participation in OKLAHOMA HILLS on 3 May and returned to its amphibious shipping. (CC 3/26, 2/69)(CC 3/26, 3/69)(CC 3/26, 4/69).

SLF Alpha/BLT 2/26 (with tanks from 3/A/5TK and 4/A/5TK, plus Ontos from 1/A/5AT) participated in Operation EAGER PURSUIT I (1-8 March), a combined amphibious and helicopter assault west of Da Nang. EAGER PURSUIT II followed (9-27 March). The BLT encountered only minor enemy resistance as the enemy avoided major contact. On 1 April, BLT 2/26 was replaced by 1/26 as the BLT with SLF Alpha. (GB-69)(CC 3/26, 3/29).

BLT 1/26, with tanks from 1/A/5TK and Ontos from 1/A/5AT, engaged in an operation north of Da Nang in the Hai Van Pass area along National Route 1. The mission was to provide security and keep the highway open. The operation was successful: traffic was not delayed during the month, nor was any allied vehicles damaged by enemy attack. The BLT embarked to its ARG shipping on 25 April. One Marine and 30 enemy soldiers were killed on this operation during the month. (CC 1/16, 4/69).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 3/26, remained aboard its shipping as the III MAF amphibious reserve until 10 June. At that time, it moved ashore to relieve 2/26, which then became the BLT. After rehabilitation in Okinawa, BLT 2/26 rejoined ARG Bravo on 26 June.

SLF Alpha with BLT 1/26 (tanks from 1/A/5TK Ontos from 1/A/5AT) conducted Operation DARING REBEL on Barrier Island, south of Da Nang. The operation lasted from 5 to 20 May. The BLT next participated in Operation GALLANT LEADER, in which the BLT moved by helicopter and truck to Hill 55 and engaged in a sweep to the east. GALLANT LEADER was followed by Operation PIPESTONE CANYON, during which the BLT attacked south toward Go Noi Island. During the month, the BLT reported 23 Marine KIA’s and 124 enemy KIA’s (most of the enemy encountered were VC, not NVA). The mission of the tanks and Ontos was to provide an assault capability, provide anti-mechanized defensive capability, and to provide direct and (for tanks) indirect fire support as needed. The battalion remained in this area until 8 June when it withdrew to ships of the amphibious ready group. (GB-69)(CC 1/26, 5/69).

SLF Alpha/BLT 1/26 landed again on Barrier Island on 27 June. This was Operation BOLD PURSUIT. The mission was to search for enemy bunkers and supply caches, locate and destroy enemy forces, and to deny enemy forces access to the area. Contact was light. Three Marines and 34 enemy soldiers were reported killed before the BLT returned to its shipping on 6 July. (CC 1/26, 6/69).

During the period 10-20 July, the BLT participated in Operation MIGHTY PLAY. The landing was on the coast in the southeastern section of Quang Nam province (in the Da Nang TAOR, south of Da Nang). No over-the-beach assault took place. Contact was extremely light. The operation ended on 20 July. (GB-69).

SLF Bravo, with BLT 2/26, after spending several weeks in rehabilitation on Okinawa and training at Subic Bay in the Philippines, began Operation BRAVE ARMADA on 24 July with a landing across the beach about ten miles south of Chu Lai, in Quang Ngai province. Tanks from 2/A/5TK and Ontos from 2/A/5AT were included in the BLT. The operation terminated on 7 August. Results were negligible. (GB-69)(CC 2/26, 8/69). The battalion spent the next month ashore, proving security for military installations around Da Nang.

SLF Alpha and BLT 1/26, after spending a few weeks engaged in training and equipment repair, commenced Operation DEFIANT STAND on 7 September. The target once again was Barrier Island, along the coast between Quang Nam and Quang Tin provinces. This was the first amphibious landing with Republic of Korea Marines (the 2d ROKMC Brigade). The mission was to conduct search and clear operations in order to locate and capture or destroy all enemy forces, caches, and installations. U.S. Marine casualties during the operation were light, and the tanks and Ontos played no significant role. The BLT returned to its shipping and moved to Da Nang on 20 September. (CC 1/26, 9/69).

In October, BLT 1/26 ended its assignment with the Special Landing Force and reverted to 1/26. BLT 2/26, assigned to SLF Bravo, occupied various positions in the Da Nang area. On 27 October BLT 2/26 was redesignated 2/26. With the redeployment of the 3d Marine Division from South Vietnam in the fall of 1969, the role of the ARG/SLF was considerably scaled back. Although the ARG/SLF would continue to be maintained at a high level of capability and readiness, it was felt that only the launching of a major enemy offensive would warrant reintroducing the force into Vietnam. In November, BLT 1/9 joined SLF Bravo. The following month, BLT 2/9 boarded the ships of SLF Alpha. The forces operated along the coast of South Vietnam, always remaining outside the 12-mile territorial waters limit. (GB-69).

THE SLF IN 1970 - 1971

Operation DEFIANT STAND turned out to be the last SLF operation of the war. In 1970, the 3d Marine Division (now in Okinawa) was tasked with providing the BLTs for the Special Landing Force. The mission of the SLF reverted to what it had been before 1965: the strategic reserve force for the Pacific Command.

The 9th Marines provided the BLTs during the period January 1970 through June 1971. There continued to be two SLFs, with one afloat at a time. Headquartered in Okinawa and training in the Philippines, the SLFs spent only about two days per month along the coast of Vietnam. 9th Marines’ battalions were assigned SLF duty for three-month periods. The Ontos had been phased out as anti-tank vehicles, and most of the Ontos personnel were reassigned to tank and infantry battalions. In late 1970, the Special Landing Force was renamed the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU).

No 31st MAU ground forces went ashore in 1970-71. In February and March 1971, the MAU was assigned the task of feigning an amphibious attack along the coast of North Vietnam in order to influence the disposition of NVA forces in the South. In April, the III MAF withdrew from Vietnam and was replaced by the 3d Marine Amphibious Brigade (3d MAB) as the Marine headquarters in Vietnam. In May, all Marine ground and air operations ceased. In June, the remaining Marines left Vietnam and the 3d MAB was deactivated. (GB-1970-71).

Note to reader: You will see throughout Peter Brush’s article source notations which, if followed, will lead you to the applicable volume of “U.S. Marines in Vietnam”. For example: “(GB-1965)” indicates that the previous text was taken from “U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Landing and the Buildup – 1965”.

Another often-cited source in Mr. Bush’s article is the unit command chronology written by every battalion-sized unit each month. For example: (CC-1/26, 9/69) indicates the source is the Command Chronology of the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, September, 1969.

Amphibious Operations - History

US Navy Landing Ship Tank LST-1 (US Naval Historical Center , click to enlarge ), one of hundreds of amphibious warfare ships of many types which stemmed in part from the fertile imagination of Winston Churchill. Initially designed in Britain and mainly built in the US, the Allied invasions from late 1942 to 1945 would not have happened without them.

Each Summary is complete in its own right. The same information may therefore be found in a number of related summaries

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

In September 1939, the Royal Navy had little amphibious and combined operations capability. Yet through to 1942 it had to evacuate often large numbers of British, Commonwealth and Allied forces from western & southern Europe, East Africa and South East Asia. Lacking air cover in most cases, the losses in ships and men were often high.

Wartime Developments - As the war progressed, the Royal and Commonwealth Navies expanded rapidly with large construction programmes, particularly landing ships and craft. Huge combined operations landings took place with air superiority usually assured.

The largest British landings, in order, were French North Africa , Sicily , Salerno , Anzio and the greatest of all, Normandy. Other major combined operations landings included Madagascar, Walcheren, Arakan (Akyab and Ramree Island) and Rangoon.


APRIL 1940

Germany Invaded Norway

Norwegian Landings - Th e first Allied landings took place between the 14th and 16th. In the north, British troops occupied Harstad in preparation for an attack on Narvik. They were reinforced by French and Polish units through into May. Royal Marines led British and French troops into Namsos ready for an attack south towards Trondheim. The British went ashore in the Andalsnes area to try to hold central Norway with the Norwegian Army. By the 27th, Allied plans to attack towards Trondheim and hold central Norway proved impossible. The decision was taken to pull out of central Norway and the evacuation of Andalsnes and Namsos got under way.

MAY 1940

Norwegian Evacuations start - In three days and nights ending on the 2nd/3rd, the last 10,000 British and French troops were evacuated from Namsos and around Andalsnes following the failure to attack towards Trondheim and hold central Norway. Other troops were later landed further north, including at Bodo in an attempt to block the German advance from Trondheim towards Narvik. The Allies continued to build up forces for the attack on Narvik.

Germany Invaded Holland, Belgium and France

Landings in Iceland & Dutch West Indies - On the 10th as Germany attacked France and the Low Countries, British Royal Marines landed from two cruisers at Reykjavik, Iceland then part of the Danish Crown. More troops followed to set up air and sea bases that became vital to Britain's defence of the Atlantic supply routes. Soon after Germany invaded Holland, Allied troops landed on the Dutch West lndies islands of Aruba and Curacoa to protect oil installations.

Holland and Belgium Evacuations - British Admiralty plans had already been made to withdraw shipping from the Low Countries, block main ports, demolish installations and remove gold and diamonds. Most of these duties were carried out with the aid of Royal Navy destroyers which suffered heavy losses over the next few weeks.

Northern France Landings - Destroyers carried Allied troops to Boulogne and Calais on the 20th and remained in support. Over the next four days, five Allied destroyers were lost and others damaged in the area.

Dunkirk, Northern France Evacuation (Operation 'Dynamo') - Initial plans were to lift off 45,000 men of the British Expeditionary Force over a two-day period under the direction o f Vice-Adm B. H. Ramsey. In the next five days, 8,000 men on the 27th May, 18,000 on the 28th, 47,000 on the 29th, 54,000 on the 30th and 68,000 on the 31st were carried to Britain - a total of 195,000, both British and French. Every phase of the operation was subject to heavy air, sea and land attack. Forty British, six French and a Polish destroyer took part, together with 800 other vessels, large and small. Losses were considerable. The Dunkirk evacuation continued into June.

JUNE 1940

Norwegian Evacuation concluded - Following the capture of Narvik, Allied forces totalling 25,000 men were evacuated over the period 4th-8th from northern Norway, by which time King Haakon VII and his Government were on their way to Britain aboard heavy cruiser “Devonshire”.

Dunkirk Evacuation concluded - As the evacuation continued under heavy ground and air attack, destroyers “KEITH”, “BASILISK”, “HAVANT” and the French “LE FOUDROYANT” were bombed by the Luftwaffe and lost off the beaches, all on the 1st. The evacuation of the BEF and some of the French troops trapped within the Dunkirk perimeter came to an end on the 4th. In the first four days and nights of June, 64,000, 26,000, 27,000 and 26,000 men were saved to bring the overall total to 340,000, including the bulk of Britain's army in northern France. Naval and civilian shipping losses were heavy. In destroyers alone the Royal Navy lost six sunk and 19 badly damaged, the French Navy seven sunk.

Italy Declared War

Western France Evacuations - The Battle for France began on the 5th with a German advance south from the line River Somme to Sedan. 10th - The evacuation of British and Allied forces from the rest of France got underway. Starting with Operation 'Cycle', 11,000 were lifted off from the Channel port of Le Havre. 15th - Operation 'Aerial' began with the evacuation of Cherbourg and continued for the next 10 days, moving south right down to the Franco-Spanish border. 17th - The only major loss during the evacuation from western France was off St Nazaire. Liner “Lancastria” was bombed and sunk with the death of nearly 3,000 men. 25th - The Allied evacuation of France ended with a further 215,000 servicemen and civilians saved, but Operations 'Aerial' and 'Cycle' never captured the public's imagination like the 'miracle' of Dunkirk. On the final day of the evacuation, Canadian destroyer “FRASER” was rammed and sunk by AA cruiser “Calcutta” off the Gironde Estuary leading into Bordeaux.

JULY 1940

French Navy in the Atlantic and Britain - Carrier “Hermes” and cruisers “Dorsetshire” and Australian sister-ship “Australia” lay off Dakar, French West Africa o n the 8th after negotiations were refused on the future of French battleship “Richelieu”. Attacks made included one with depth-charges from a fast motorboat. This failed and a torpedo strike by Swordfish inflicted only minor damage. In Britain, two World War 1 French battleships "Courbet" and "Paris" and several destroyers and submarines, including the giant "Surcouf" were in British ports. On the 3rd they were boarded and seized, but not before there were casualties on both sides including three British and one French dead.


British Somaliland, East Africa Evacuation - Italian forces from Ethiopia invaded British Somaliland. The capital of Berbera was evacuated on the 14th and the garrison carried across to Aden. Italians entered the town five days later, just as a British mission went into Ethiopia to help organise uprisings against the Italians there.


Dakar, West Africa Expedition (Operation 'Menace') - Be cause of Dakar's strategic importance to the North and South Atlantic shipping routes, an expedition was mounted to acquire the port for Allied use. Free French troops led by Gen de Gaulle were carried in ships escorted and supported by units of the Home Fleet and Force H under the command of Vice-Adm John Cunningham. They included battleships "Barham" and "Resolution", carrier "Ark Royal", three heavy cruisers and other smaller ships including Free French. Naval forces at Dakar included the unfinished battleship "Richelieu" and two cruisers recently arrived from Toulon (see below). Attempts to negotiate on the 23rd soon failed and as Vichy French ships tried to leave harbour, shore batteries opened fire, damaging heavy cruiser "Cumberland" and two destroyers. Shortly afterwards, the Vichy submarine "PERSEE" was sunk by gunfire and large destroyer "L'AUDACIEUX" disabled by cruiser "Australia" and beached. A Free French landing was beaten off. Next day, on the 24th, Dakar was bombarded by the warships and "Richelieu" attacked by "Ark Royal's" aircraft. Vichy submarine "AJAX" was sunk by destroyer "Fortune". The bombardment continued on the 25th, but battleship "Resolution" was now torpedoed and badly damaged by submarine "Beveziers" and "Barham" hit by "Richelieu's" 15in gunfire. At this point the operation was abandoned and the Anglo-Free French forces withdrew.


Greece & Crete, Landings in - As the Greek Army pushed back the Italians into Albania, RAF squadrons were sent from Egypt to Greece and the Royal Navy carried over the first Australian, British and New Zealand troops by cruiser. Mediterranean Fleet established an advance base at Suda Bay on the north coast of Crete.



North African Naval Operations - As the British advance continued into Libya, Bardia was taken on the 5th. Australian troops captured Tobruk on the 22nd and Derna, further west by the end of the month. The Royal Navy's Inshore Squadron played an important part in the campaign - bombarding shore targets, carrying fuel, water and supplies, and evacuating wounded and prisoners of war.

MARCH 1941

Norway, Combined Operations Raid - A successful commando raid was carried out on the Lofoten Islands, off northwest Norway with installations destroyed and shipping sunk. Escort was provided by destroyers and cover by units of the Home Fleet.

British Somaliland Landings - British forces were transported from Aden to Berbera in British Somaliland on the 16th. From there, they advanced southwest into southern Ethiopia. To the north, Keren fell to the attacking Indian troops and the road was opened to the Eritrean capital of Asmara and Red Sea port of Massawa.

APRIL 1941

Greece, Evacuation of - Ger many invaded both countries on the 6th. By the 12th they had entered Belgrade and within another five days the Yugoslav Army surrendered. Greek forces in Albania and Greece suffered the same fate. Starting on the 24th and over a period of five days, 50,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops were evacuated to Crete and Egypt in Operation 'Demon'. The Germans occupied Athens on the 27th. 27th - As units of the Mediterranean Fleet carried out the Greek evacuation, destroyers "DIAMOND" and "WRYNECK" rescued troops from the bombed transport "Slamat", but were then sunk by more German bombers off Cape Malea at the southeast tip of Greece. There were few survivors from the three ships.

North Africa, Siege of Tobruk - Ge rmans entered Benghazi on the 4th and by mid-month had surrounded Tobruk and reached the Egyptian border. Attacks on the British and Australian troops defending Tobruk were unsuccessful, and an eight-month siege began.

Iraq landings - A pro-Ge rman coup in Iraq on the 1st threatened Allied oil supplies. British and Indian units were entering the country through the Persian Gulf by the middle of the month. The campaign continued through May.

MAY 1941

Crete, Evacuation of - Mo st of the Mediterranean Fleet with four battleships, one carrier, 10 cruisers and 30 destroyers fought the Battle for Crete. For the Navy there were two phases, both of which took place under intense air attack, mainly German, from which all losses resulted. Phase One was from the German airborne invasion on the 20th until the decision was taken on the 27th to evacuate the island. During this time the Mediterranean Fleet managed to prevent the sea-borne reinforcement of the German paratroops fighting on Crete, but at heavy cost. Most of these losses happened as the ships tried to withdraw from night-time patrols north of the island out of range of enemy aircraft. During this phase, two cruisers and four destroyers were sunk, and one carrier, two battleships and three cruisers badly damaged.

Phase Two was from 27th May to 1st June when over 15,000 British and Commonwealth troops were evacuated. Ten thousand had to be left behind - and again the naval losses were heavy. 28th - The decision to evacuate was made, and cruisers and destroyers prepared to lift off the troops. As they approached Crete, cruiser "Ajax" and destroyer "Imperial" were damaged to the southeast. 29th - Early in the morning, 4,000 men were lifted off from Heraklion on the north coast. As they did the damaged "IMPERIAL" had to be scuttled, and "HEREWARD" was hit and left behind to go down off the eastern tip of Crete. Shortly after, cruisers "Dido" and "Orion" were b adly damaged to the southeast. 30th - Early in the day, more troops were lifted from the southern port of Sphakia by another cruiser force. Well to the south the Australian cruiser "Perth" was bombed and damaged. 1st June - As the last men were carried from Crete, cruisers "Calcutta" and "Coventry" sailed from Alexandria to provide AA cover. "CALCUTTA" was s unk north of the Egyptian coast. Some 15,000 troops were saved but at a cost to the Royal Navy of 2,000 men killed.

North Africa, Supply of Besieged Tobruk - A British offensive started from the Sollum area on the 15th in an attempt to relieve Tobruk. Two weeks later both sides were back to their original positions. The first of many supply trips to besieged Tobruk were made by Australian destroyers "Voyager" and "Waterhen" and other ships of the Inshore Squadron.

JUNE 1941

Germany Invades Russia

North Africa, Tobruk - Another unsuccessful British offensive to relieve Tobruk started from Sollum on the 15th (Operation 'Battleaxe'). Within two days the operation was called off. A heavy price was paid for the supply of besieged Tobruk by the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy ships involved. All trips took place under continual threat of German and Italian aircraft attack: 24th - Sloop "AUCKLAND" was l ost off Tobruk. 30th - Australian destroyer "WATERHEN" was bo mbed and sunk off Bardia.

JULY 1941

North Africa, Tobruk - On the Tobruk Run, destroyer "DEFENDER" was bom bed by German or Italian aircraft and went down off Sidi Barrani on the 11th.


North Africa, Tobruk - Covering the transport of troops into and out of besieged Tobruk, cruiser “Phoebe” was hit by an aircraft torpedo on the 27th.

Persia (Iran) Landings - The possibility of a pro-Axis coup d'etat led to Anglo-Soviet forces going into Persia on the 25th from points in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Russia. A cease-fire was announced within four days, but later violations led to Teheran being occupied in the middle of September. The landings in Persia from the Gulf were made from a small force of British, Australian and Indian warships of the East ladies Command.


North Africa, Tobruk - Over a period of 10 days, cruiser-minelayers "Abdiel" and "Latona" transported troops and supplies to besieged Tobruk and carried out Australian units. On the last mission on the 25th, "LATONA" was bo mbed and sunk north of Bardia by Ju87s Stuka divebombers


North Africa, Tobruk - A major British offensive (Operation 'Crusader) started on the 18th, again from the Sollum area and by January had reached El Agheila. Axis forces around Sollum and Bardia were by-passed in the drive on Tobruk. The first link-up with the besieged garrison was made by New Zealand troops on the 27th. On the 27th, Australian sloop "PARRAMATTA" escorting an ammunition ship on the Tobruk Run was sunk by "U-559" off the port. Since the siege started destroyers and other warships had been carrying in men and supplies almost nightly. As it came to an end the cost could be counted - 25 warships of all sizes and five merchantmen lost.


Japan Declares War

Norway, Combined Operations Raid - Separate commando raids took place in northern Norway on the Lofoten Islands and further south on Vaagso Island. The aim was to destroy installations and sink and capture shipping. The first force was led by cruiser “Arethusa” with limited results. The second with cruiser “Kenya” was more successful. On the 27th, cruiser “Arethusa” was damaged in German bombing attacks.



Submarine Cloak and Dagger Operations - Submarine "TRIUMPH" sailed from Alexandria on 26th December for a clandestine landing near Athens before patrolling in the Aegean. She reported the landing on the 30th, but failed to rendezvous back there on the 9th and was presumed mined off the island of Milo, southeast of the Greek mainland. This was one of many such landings and pick-ups by submarines, coastal forces and other ships and craft that took place in all theatres throughout the war


Northern France, Combined Operations Raid - Commandos carried out a raid on Bruneval in northern France to capture radar equipment in which they were successful. They were lifted off by Royal Navy coastal forces.

Singapore Evacuation - On the 8th, Japanese forces started crossing over to Singapore Island. Heavy fighting took place, but by the 15th Singapore surrendered and over 80,000 mainly Australian, British and Indian troops were doomed to captivity. Others attempted to escape in a variety of small ships and craft. 14th - Sailing for Batavia, auxiliary patrol ship "LI WO" with a single 4in gun attacked a troop convoy south of Singapore and was soon sunk by a Japanese cruiser. Commanding officer Lt Thomas Wilkinson RNR was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

MARCH 1942

Combined Operations Command - Lord Louis Mountbatten was promoted Vice-Adm and appointed Chief of Combined Operations as planning continued for the raids on St Nazaire and later Dieppe.

Western France, Raid on St Nazaire - C oncerned about the possibility of battleship "Tirpitz" breaking out into the Atlantic, the decision was made to put out of action the only dry-dock in France capable of taking her - the 'Normandie' at St Nazaire. Ex-US destroyer "Campbeltown" would be loaded with high explosives and rammed into the lock gates while British commandos, carried over in Royal Navy ML's or motor launches were to land and destroy the dry-docks installations. The force sailed from southwest England on the 26th, and by a number of ruses penetrated the heavily defended port early on the 28th. In the face of intense fire, "Campbeltown" was placed exactly in position and many of the commandos got ashore to carry out their mission. Losses in men and coastal forces' craft were heavy, but when "CAMPBELTOWN" did blow up, the lock gates were put out of commission for the rest of the war. The Victoria Cross was awarded to three members of the Royal Navy taking part - Cdr Robert Ryder RN, Commanding Officer, Naval Forces sailing with his staff on board "MGB-314", Lt-Cdr Stephen Beattie RN, Commanding Officer, HMS Campbeltown, and posthumously to Able Seaman William Savage, gunner on "MGB-314" for gallantry under heavy fire.

Java, Dutch East lndies Evacuation - Strong Japanese naval forces patrolled the Indian Ocean south of Java to stop the escape of Allied forces and shipping. Old destroyer "STRONGHOLD" was sunk i n action with the 8in cruiser "Maya" and two destroyers on the 2nd. Two days later Australian sloop "YARRA" and the ships she was escorting were also destroyed.

MAY 1942

Madagascar, Indian Ocean Landings (Operation 'Ironclad') - Concer ned about the Japanese carrier sorties into the Indian Ocean and the vulnerability of the Cape of Good Hope/Middle East convoy routes, Britain decided to take Diego Saurez at the north end of Vichy French Madagascar. Under the command of Rear-Adm E. N. Syfret (recently appointed to Force H), a large force of ships including battleship "Ramillies" and carriers "Indomitable" and "Illustrious" assembled at Durban, South Africa towards the end of April. The assault took place on 5th May in Courrier Bay to the west of Diego Saurez. As usual the Vichy French forces resisted strongly. Submarine "BEVEZIERS" was sunk, but the only Royal Navy casualty was corvette "AURICULA" mined on the 5th. The advance on Diego Saurez was held up and next day a Royal Marine unit stormed the town from the sea. By the 7th the fighting was over and the important anchorage was in British hands. On the 7th and 8th, French submarines "LE HEROS" and "MONGE" were sunk by joint air and sea attacks. On the night of the 30th, Japanese submarines "I-16" and "I-20" launched midget submarines for attacks on Diego Saurez. "Ramillies" was tor pedoed and badly damaged and a tanker sunk. By September the complete occupation of Madagascar became necessary.

JUNE 1942

French and French North African Invasion Plans - Winston Churchill flew to Washington DC for another series of meetings with President Roosevelt. Agreement did not come easily on the question of where to open a Second Front in 1942. The Americans wanted to land in France to take pressure off the Russians, but the British considered this impossible at present and proposed the invasion of French North Africa. The President did not come to accept this until July. Planning then started on what became Operation 'Torch'.


Northern France, Raid on Dieppe (Operation 'Jubilee') - U nable to open a Second Front in Europe, the Western Allies decided to mount a large-scale raid on the French coast to take some of the pressure off the Russians. The plan was for a largely Canadian force supported by British commandos to assault the defended port of Dieppe in northern France. Over 200 ships and landing craft, including escort destroyers and coastal forces under the command of Capt J. Hughes-Hallett, sailed with 6,000 troops from south coast of England ports on the 18th. The attempted landings took place early on the 19th against heavy defensive gunfire. One flanking attack by commandos achieved some success, but the other and the frontal assault with tanks were total failures. By noon the decision was taken to withdraw. As this went ahead under constant air attack, escort destroyer "BERKELEY" was bombed and sunk. Others were damaged. Canadian casualties in dead, wounded and prisoners were high, and Dieppe proved an expensive but important lesson on the problems of landing in occupied Europe at a defended port.

Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands Landings - The Japa nese were now extending their hold in the southern Solomons and building an airfield on the island of Guadalcanal. From there they could move against the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and other islands along the supply routes to Australia and New Zealand. After the Japanese presence was discovered, the US 1st Marine Division was landed on the 7th, soon capturing the airstrip which was renamed Henderson Field. Close cover was provided by a force of American and Australian cruisers. 9th - Battle of Savo Island - In the early hours of the 9th a Japanese force of seven cruisers and a destroyer headed for Savo Island to the north of Guadalcanal to get at the US transports. Instead they stumbled on five patrolling cruisers. Taken completely by surprise, heavy cruisers "CANBERRA" and the American "ASTORIA", "QUINCY" and "VINCENNES" were hit by a torrent of gunfire and torpedoes and sank in an area soon known as lronbottom Sound. The fifth cruiser "Chicago" escaped and Australian cruisers "Australia" and "Hobart" were close by but took no part in the action. The transports were untouched.

Papua, New Guinea Operations - In their move on Port Moresby, Japanese troops landed at Milne Bay at the extreme southeast tip of Papua on the 25th. The mainly Australian resistance was strong and by the 30th, the invaders were starting to evacuate. By early September they had gone - the first major setback Japanese forces had experienced on land. Before then on 29th August, Japanese submarine "R0-33" attacked Australian troop reinforcements bound for Port Moresby and was sunk off the harbour by Australian destroyer "Arunta".


North Africa, Raid on Tobruk (Operation 'Agreement') - To help relieve the pressure on Eighth Army in the Alamein area, a combined operations raid was planned on Tobruk to destroy installations and shipping. An attack was to be launched from the landward side by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) while simultaneously destroyers "Sikh" and "Zulu" together with coastal forces craft would land Royal Marine and army units from the sea. AA cruiser "Coventry" and 'Hunts' provided cover. In the night of the 13th/14th, a few troops got ashore but "SIKH" was soon disabled by shore batteries. She went down off Tobruk early in the morning of the 14th. As the other ships withdrew, heavy attacks by German and Italian aircraft sank cruiser "COVENTRY" and destroyer "ZULU" to the northwest of Alexandria. The land attack also failed.

Madagascar, Indian Ocean Landings - Britain decided to occupy the rest of the Vichy French island in the Indian Ocean. Starting on the 10th, British, East African and South African troops were landed through the month at points in the northwest, east and southwest. By the 23rd the capital, Tananarive, was captured but fighting continued into October. The Vichy French did not surrender until early November, by which time they had been driven into the extreme southeast corner of the large island.

Timor, SE Asia Operation - Australian troops were carried to the occupied island of Timor by Australian destroyer "VOYAGER" to strengthen the Sparrow Force guerrilla unit. She ran aground on the south coast on the 23rd, was bombed by the Japanese and had to be destroyed.


Submarine Cloak and Dagger Operation, French North Africa - In preparation for Operation 'Torch', US Gen Mark Clark landed in Algeria from submarine "Seraph" to help persuade the Vichy French authorities to support the coming Allied landings. Gen Giraud was to be smuggled from unoccupied France, again in "Seraph", to head pro-Allied Frenchmen.


8th - French North African Landings: Operation 'Torch'

By July 1942 the Allies had accepted that a cross-Channel assault on German-occupied Europe was not yet possible, and instead opted to land an expeditionary force in French North Africa. For political reasons the main landing forces would be American. Their arrival was timed to coincide with Eighth Army's offensive. Plans were formally approved in October, by which time the large amounts of shipping needed had been organised and assembled. To provide them, Russian convoys and those to and from Britain and Gibraltar/West Africa had been suspended and the Home Fleet stripped bare. The Allies' greatest concern was the hundred or more U-boats at sea. Outline order of battle was:

Allied Commander-in-Chief - US Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower

Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force - Adm Sir Andrew Cunningham

Landing Areas:

Casablanca, Morocco



Forces landing:

35,000 US troops

39,000 US troops

33,000 US & British troops

Departure from:

United States



Naval Task Forces:

Rear-Adm H K Hewitt USN

Cdre T H Troubridge

Vice-Adm Sir H Burrough

Other warship
Troopships, supply ships, tankers etc




Total Ships

105 USN

105 RN

91 RN

Most of the task force carriers were escort carriers, and the US totals included a heavy cover force. In the Mediterranean, British Force H reinforced by Home Fleet and under the command of Vice-Adm Sir Neville Syfret, covered the Algerian landings. Their main task was to hold off any attack by the Italian fleet. Strength included three capital ships, three fleet carriers, three cruisers and 17 destroyers. Various other forces added to the number of Allied ships in the area. Over 300 ships were therefore directly involved in what at the time was the greatest amphibious operation in history, and the forerunner of even greater ones to come before the war was over. Throughout October and early November convoys sailed for the landings on Vichy French soil in the early hours of the 8th. Negotiations with the French were not completed in time to avoid resistance. There was bloodshed on both sides.

Casablanca, Morocco - US troops landed at three points along a 200-mile stretch of Atlantic coastline. By the 10th they prepared to attack Casablanca itself, but this became unnecessary when the French forces stopped fighting. Before this happened the Western Task Force had fought a series of fierce actions with Vichy French warships. Battleship "Jean Bart" was seriously damaged and a cruiser and several destroyers and submarines sunk or beached.

HMS Fishguard, sister ship to "Walney" and "Hartland"

Oran, Algeria - Within the Mediterranean, the landings to the west and east of Oran were followed by an attempt to smash through the harbour boom and land troops directly from ex-US Coast Guard cutters "WALNEY" (Capt Peters) and "HARTLAND". Both were disabled by ship and shore gunfire and soon sank. (+ Capt Frederick Peters RN of the "Walney" was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry. Five days later he was kiIled in an aircraft accident.)

Cruiser "Aurora" (Capt Agnew) and destroyers fought off an attack by French destroyers outside the port. The large destroyer "EPERVIER" was driven ashore and "Tornade" and "Tramontane" disabled. In addition, destroyers "Achates" and "Westcott" accounted for submarines "ACTEON" and "ARGONAUTE". US troops fought their way into Oran, which fell on the 10th.

Algiers, Algeria - A similar opening attack was mounted by old destroyers "Broke" and "Malcolm". The latter was badly damaged but "BROKE" eventually broke through the boom to land her troops. Hard hit by shore batteries, she got away but foundered next day on the 9th. Algiers was soon in Allied hands and Adm Darlan, C-in-C Vichy French forces was captured. It was not Gen Giraud as originally intended, but Adm Darlan who broadcast the ceasefire on the 10th.

Algeria Landings continued - Further Allied landings were made to the east of Algiers where there was little air cover. Attacks by German aircraft on these and other targets sank or damaged a number of ships. On the 10th, sloop "IBIS" was hit by an aircraft torpedo and went down off Algiers. The first of the further Allied troop landings were made at Bougie and Bone on the 11th and 12th, well on the way to the Tunisian border.


'Cockleshell Heroes', Western France - Maj H. G. Hasler led Royal Marine Commandos in canoes up the Gironde Estuary in southwest France and damaged several blockade runners with limpet mines on the 7th.



Burma - Col Orde Wingate mounted the first Chindit Operation behind Japanese lines, northwest of Lashio. Success was limited, losses heavy and the survivors started to withdraw in late March 1943. In the south-west, the Arakan Offensive failed to make any progress.

APRIL 1943

'The Man Who Never Was', Spanish Mediterranean Coast - Submarine "Seraph" released the body of a supposed Royal Marine officer into the sea off Spain. His false papers helped to persuade the Germans that the next Allied blows would fall on Sardinia and Greece as well as Sicily.

JULY 1943

10th - Invasion of Sicily: Operation 'Husky'

The Americans still wanted to concentrate on the cross-Channel invasion of France, but at the Casablanca Conference somewhat reluctantly agreed to go ahead with the Sicily landings. Amongst the benefits would be the opening of the Mediterranean to Allied shipping. The final plan was approved in mid-May and not much more than a month later the first US troop convoys were heading across the Atlantic for an operation even greater than the French North African landings the previous November.

Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force - Adm Sir Andrew Cunningham

The grand total of 2,590 US and British warships - major and minor (summarised below) - were mostly allocated to their own landing sectors, but the Royal Navy total included the covering force against any interference by the Italian fleet. The main group under Vice-Adm Sir A. U. Willis of Force H included battleships "Nelson", "Rodney", "Warspite" and "Valiant" and fleet carriers "Formidable" and Indomitable". Seven Royal Navy submarines acted as navigation markers off the invasion beaches. Many of the troops coming from North Africa and Malta made the voyage in landing ships and craft. As they approached Sicily with the other transports late on the 9th in stormy weather, Allied airborne landings took place. Sadly, many of the British gliders crashed into the sea, partly because of the weather. However, early next day, on the 10th, the troops went ashore under an umbrella of aircraft. The new amphibious DUKWS (or "Ducks") developed by the Americans played an important part in getting the men and supplies across the beaches.

Landing Areas:

Gulf of Gela, S coast

South of Syracuse, SE coast

Forces landing:

US 7th Army - Gen Patton
66,000 troops

Eighth Army - Gen Montgomery
115,000 British & Canadian troops

Departure from:

United States, Algeria, Tunisia

Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Malta Canadian division from Britain

Naval Task Forces:

Rear-Adm H K Hewitt USN

Adm Sir B Ramsey

Naval Forces
Other warship
Troopships, supply ships, LSIs etc
Landing Ships and Craft (major)



British & Allied



435 USN

930 RN

Plus Landing Craft (minor)

510 USN

715 RN

New Guinea, SW Pacific Landings - On 30th June, Allied forces landed south of Salamaua. By mid-July they linked up with the Australians fighting through from Wau, and prepared to advance on Salamaua itself. The struggle against the usual fierce resistance continued right through July and August.


Sicily Landings concluded - As the Germans and Italians prepared to evacuate Sicily across the Strait of Messina, the Allies started the final push - US Seventh Army along the north coast aided by three small amphibious hops and Eighth Army up the east side from Catania with one small landing. Gen Patton's men entered Messina just before Gen Montgomery's on the 17th. Sicily was now in Allied hands but 100,000 Axis troops managed to escape without any serious interference.

Aleutian Islands, North Pacific Landings - In mid-month US and Canadian troops landed on Kiska after heavy preliminary bombardments to find the Japanese had quietly left. The Aleutian Island chain was completely back in US hands.


The Italian surrender was signed in Sicily on the 3rd, but not announced until the 8th to coincide with the main Allied landing at Salerno, and in the forlorn hope of preventing the Germans from taking over the country. Meanwhile the invasion and occupation of southern Italy got underway. A start was made on the 3rd when British and Canadian troops of Gen Montgomery's Eighth Army crossed over the Strait of Messina from Sicily in 300 ships and landing craft (Operation 'Baytown') and pushed north through Calabria, eventually joining up with forces landed at Salerno. Early on the 9th, in conjunction with these landings, the Eighth Army's 1st Airborne Division was carried into Taranto by mainly British warships (Operation 'Slapstick'). Shortly afterwards the Adriatic ports of Brindisi and Bari were in Allied hands. 9th - Around midnight in Taranto harbour, cruiser-minelayer "ABDIEL" (abelow - Navy Photos/Bob Hanley), loaded with 1st Airborne troops, detonated one of the magnetic mines dropped by E-boats "S-54" and "S-61" as they escaped, and sank with heavy loss of life.



Section 1
Paragraph Page
History and Development 1 1-2
Section 2
Necessity for Shore Party 2 3
Functioning of a Supply System During Unloading Operations 3 3-4
Necessity for and Results Obtained by Establishment of a Composite Shore Party 4 4
Section 3
Individual 5 5
Morale 6 5
Esprit 7 5
Unity 8 5
Leadership 9 5-6
Section 4
Basic Components 10 7
Command 11 7-8
Allocation of Shore Parties 12 8
Section 5
General 13 9
Supply 14 9
Service 15 9
Security 16 10
Evacuation 17 10
Communication 18 10
Special 19 10
Section 6
General 20 11
Military Component 21 11-16
Naval Component 22 16-18
Command Component 23 18-19
Section 7
General 24 21
Basic Shore Party Training 25 21-22
The Naval Beach Party 26 22
Reinforced Shore Party Training 27 22-23
Section 8
General 28 25
Responsibilities 29 25
Liaison 30 25
Estimate of the Situation 31 25-26
Activation 32 27
The Shore Party Plan 33 27-30
Section 9
General 34 31
Logistic Control Groups 35 31
System of Control 36 33-34
Time of Landing Shore Parties 37 34-35
Handling of Supplies and Equipment 38 35-40
Section 10
General 39 41
Organization of Communication Troops 40 41
Equivalent Naval Organization 41 41
Naval Radio Nets of Joint Importance 42 41-43
Shore Party Communication 43 43
Forward Echelon of Shore Party 44 43-44
Shore Party Team Ashore 45 44
Shore Party Group Ashore 46 44-45
Division Shore Party Ashore 47 45
Function of Landing Force Shore Party 48 45-46
End of Controlled Unloading 49 46
Conclusions 50 46
Section 11
Beach Markers and Beach Organization 51 47
Beach Dumps 52 47-51
Figure Page
Employment and organization of the military component of the shore party team 1 13
General organization of shore party, showing relationship with logistic control groups 2 32
Floating crane for use in transfer area 3 35
LST unloading directly on beach 4 37
Use of mobile hydraulic crane in unloading small amphibious craft 5 37
Use of beach sled to transport bulk cargo to beach dumps 6
LST being unloaded at reef line 7 39
Use of pierced steel plank to form beach roadway 8 40
Shore party communication nets 9 42
Unloading point markers 10 48
Beach markers 11 49
General unloading of large landing craft directly on the beach 12 50
Typical beach layout 13 51


  1. The first realization of the inherent problem of supplying a large force over a beach appears to have been made by the British at Gallipoli. Here, for the first time in history, an organization was set up to handle and control the supplies transported to the beaches for the support of the landing forces. The British called their organizations "beach parties," and they were composed of both military and naval personnel and commanded by a naval officer. These organizations did not function too efficiently and many mistakes were made, which in the light of what is known today on the subject, appear reprehensible. However at Gallipoli the seed of the present shore party was planted.

  2. As the concept of the Marine Corps of amphibious undertakings was (and is) based on the premise that any landing would be made over a beach rather than within the safety of a previously seized port, officers of the Corps assiduously studied the Gallipoli campaign and quickly realized the importance of a special organization for unloading the vast amount of equipment and supplies required to support a modern amphibious operation. During the Navy-Marine Corps maneuvers at Culebra in 1924, and during the joint Army-Navy-Marine Corps maneuvers at Hawaii in 1925, much thought and study was given to amphibious logistic supply.

  3. During the late 1920's and early 1930's, the Marine Corps was busily engaged in the pacification of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, and in protecting American lives and interests during the unrest in China. It was thus precluded from engaging in large-scale amphibious exercises, none of which were held by any service during these years. However study and experiments in amphibious landings continued, culminating in the publication by the Marine Corps Schools in 1934 of a Tentative Manual for Landing Operations. In this text, which was later developed into Landing Operations Doctrine, United States Navy (FTP-167), appears the first mention of the shore party, its organization and duties.

  4. In all of the large-scale amphibious training exercises, beginning with Fleet Marine Force Exercise MM in 1934 and continuing through the six Fleet Landing Exercises which

    terminated in 1940, shore party cadres were set up and their operations closely observed and reported with a view to continued improvement in their organization, technique, and functioning. During these training maneuvers, Navy and Marine Corps officers quickly saw the need for ships' boats with sufficient speed and certain other characteristics to allow for proper beaching. The need for other types of boats to handle particular items of equipment, such as tanks and artillery pieces, was also envisioned, and work was begun toward the designing of these craft. The need for amphibious craft to cross coral and swampy terrain was also anticipated, and steps toward their designing were taken. The results are the now-familiar LCVP's, LCM's, and LVTs. The need for unloading aids such as small cranes, tractors, and beach-roadway matting was also discovered as a result of training maneuvers in the Caribbean and off San Clemente Island on the West Coast. All these items were directed toward the landing of large forces over hostile beaches with a minimum amount of confusion.

  1. Although forced economy prevented the handling and landing of large amounts of supplies and equipment during peacetime, the Marine Corps' theory and long study of shore parties were sound, and their practical application has been worked out in the many amphibious operations in the war just brought to a successful conclusion.


  1. Although during World War II great strides were made in overcoming the many problems which arose involving shore party operations, complete uniformity in the approach to these problems was not achieved, nor was any one shore party organization satisfactory to all services realized.

  2. While assault troops participating in an amphibious operation may be said to complete the "amphibious phase" of the operation as soon as their feet are on dry ground, in the case of supplies and equipment the "amphibious phase" continues until all assault ships have been unloaded and these supplies have been moved into beach dumps or inland behind the assaulting troops.

  1. The theory behind prompt and efficient supply in the unloading phase of an amphibious operation is to consider the ships as mobile depots and to establish the usual (i.e. land-warfare) supply channels and procedures for maintaining supplies between ship and shore. The plan must be flexible enough to furnish supplies when and where needed by the attacking forces.

  2. The actual functioning of a proper supply system during this phase depends primarily on the following factors:

    1. Early activation of an adequate shore party and beach organization.

    2. Careful initial study of the contemplated objective, together with all factors affecting unloading.

      1. Careful initial loading of all ships so that all types of supplies and equipment in adequate quantities are readily available at all times in the holds.

      2. Provision for a controlled set-up during the unloading phase of the operation.

      3. Provision for the echelonment of supplies in depth from the line of departure outward toward the transport area.

      4. Provision for adequate communications between front lines, beaches, control vessels, transports, and cargo vessels.

      1. The establishment of a composite shore party capable, of performing independently its assigned mission accomplishes the following:

        1. Relieves the infantry battalion commander (a basic tactical unit) of the responsibility for shore party functions.

        2. Provides a decentralized organization that is highly flexible, operating as a special task organization in the chain of command.

        3. Places responsibility for planning, organization, training, and employment in the echelon (division) that is in the best position to accept this responsibility.

        4. Provides for a uniform method of planning, organization, training, and employment of shore parties from the highest to the lowest echelon participating in the operation.

        5. Visualizes a system for the controlled landing of supplies, equipment, and personnel in the early phases of the operations under a centralized group.

        6. Provides for the constant liaison and coordination with naval echelons in the chain of command.


        5. Individual.--Machines and techniques have been devised for the efficient handling of material in amphibious operations, but the basic element of this supply procedure is the individual. As a "strong back" in the labor element, or as a technician assigned to a mechanical function of the shore party, the individual must be made conscious of the relative importance of his duties to the success of the amphibious operation.

        6. Morale.--Nowhere is morale more susceptible to deterioration through a feeling of unimportance in the accomplishing of the big task, and nowhere is maintenance of morale more necessary than to the cooperative effort required in successful shore party procedure. Unlike the emotional surge of competition which contributes materially to the building and maintenance of morale among combat troops, the shore party worker must draw the will to perform his given tasks from a disciplined determination to do the job well despite hardship and reverses.

        7. Esprit.--The instillation in the individual of the military essential of pride in organization, will to cooperate, discipline, and loyalty are nowhere more important than in the shore party organization, where the accomplishment of its basic mission is largely dependent upon these elements of primary training. The individual and the group must be made conscious of their specialty and its importance to the success of the operation. The high degree of group proficiency necessary to the efficient performance of the shore party mission cannot be exaggerated and may adequately serve as a basis for pride in specialty and unit.

        8. Unity.--The components of the shore party are organized about a specially trained and equipped element providing a technical nucleus on which the task units may be formed. This basic element of each component may be adequately indoctrinated with a feeling of organizational solidarity, but when its entity has been diminished through the addition of reinforcing personnel, time and training are required to restore the unity and cohesion necessary to the efficient functioning of the group. Once a shore party organization has been activated, it should be retained intact through the phases of training and employment, performing its tasks as an integrated unit until the status of its mission precludes its further requirement.

        9. Leadership.--The standards of performance required of a shore party organization are in no respect below those demanded of other tactical or service groups, and officers known to lack characteristics of combat leadership should under

        no circumstances be considered as "good enough" for a shore party command. The qualities of initiative, determination, and aggressiveness so essential to accurate and effective decisions are preeminent requirements in the coordination and direction of a shore party organization. Experience in the field has proved that officers who are merely good administrators are not capable of satisfactorily leading a shore party. The shore party, as the key logistic instrument of amphibious supply, must be led by forceful officers aware of their responsibilities for keeping the flow of material going forward to the combat elements.


        1. One unit (platoon) from pioneer battalion, organic to the Marine division.

        2. One communication team from assault signal company, organic to the Marine division.

        3. One naval platoon (beach party) from assault transports (APA's, AP's) of the organization as an integrated and coordinated team.

        1. Reinforcing.--In order to effect an organization to discharge adequately the duties of the shore party team, additional personnel must be assigned the basic components. The strength of these reinforcing elements is dependent on the tactical and logistic requirements of the proposed operation and is arrived at after the commander has made a complete study of these requirements.

          Personnel for reinforcing elements should normally be assigned from support, garrison, and replacements units and, where expedient, from division service troops.

          The shore party should be brought to full reinforced strength sufficiently in advance of an operation to insure functioning. Efficient training with all reinforcing elements can usually be effected 30 to 45 days prior to embarkation. Reinforcing personnel and attached units should remain under

          shore party command until specifically detached by order of the senior landing force commander present.

        1. Combat records show that it is unusual for a division employed in the assault in an amphibious operation to utilize more than six battalion landing teams simultaneously. Three or four are ordinarily employed, and it is considered that the activation of six first-line shore party teams per division will give the necessary flexibility to meet practically any new situation.

        2. Shore party operations are of a continuing nature. Once established, the shore party team continues to operate a specific beach until all the assault shipping is unloaded, unless otherwise ordered by the landing force commander. The passage of serials in column through a beach area will thus continue for several days under the supervision of a stable directing and coordinating agency. In some types of operations shore parties of the assault division may have to participate in resupply and garrison shipping and unloading. Where this is the case shore parties must be so organized and equipped as to be able to perform this mission.

        3. First-line shore party teams utilizing the bulk of the special equipment of the pioneer battalions and the specialists who comprise the unit should be organized so as to bring the mass of the potential shore party effort to bear on the assault beaches early in the operation. Second-line provisional teams built around attached engineer or service units may be organized to meet possible situations. In general, first-line shore party teams should support assault landing teams of assault combat teams second-line shore party teams should support reserve landing teams of assault combat teams and only ship's platoons should be organized for the support of reserve combat teams and other nonassault elements.


        1. The unloading of ships, the movement of all supplies and equipment from ship to shore, the unloading of landing craft, and the establishment and segregation of supplies in beach dumps.

        2. Direction and control of boats and amphibious vehicular traffic in the vicinity of and across the beach and the control of motor transport traffic on beach road net.

        1. Establishes an information center for incoming troops and provides guides to inland installations.

        2. Keeps a situation map showing major dispositions and access routes.

        3. Establishes and marks beaches, dumps, and navigable channels to beach unloading areas marks hazards to navigation and where necessary, clears channels through natural or enemy-placed beach and underwater obstacles, including traps, barricades and mines.

        4. Retracts, salvages, and effects emergency repairs to boats, amphibious vehicles, and such equipment and vehicles as require emergency repair or maintenance prior to operation.

        5. Locates, constructs and maintains landing and unloading facilities, exit routes, beach road nets, parking areas, and such culverts, piers trestles, or allied construction as shall be construed as part of those facilities provides refuse disposal-areas and latrines in the beach areas, and maintains sanitary discipline.

        6. Maintains liaison through the shore party liaison section with the senior troop commander within the zone served.

        16. Security.--The shore party is responsible for the security of its beach area and, in the event of enemy attack, may employ all shore party elements in the defense of its beach. Tactical units, as indicated by operational considerations, may be attached for specific defensive measures and will remain under shore party command until relieved by competent authority. All tactical defense plans must be coordinated with the senior troop commander within the zone that the shore party serves. Specifically, the shore party is responsible for the maintenance of local security against enemy attacks, land-, air-, or water-borne the establishment and maintenance of air raid and gas alarm systems and the location and neutralization or marking of enemy mine fields or contaminated areas in the beach area.

        17. Evacuation.--The return of personnel to ships is a responsibility of the shore party, and all such movements, except those tactically required and specifically directed by higher landing force authority, will be controlled by the shore party. The shore party is responsible for the location and establishment of medical aid and collecting stations and prisoner of war stockades and the evacuation to ships of prisoners of war and casualties in accordance with standing operating procedures and operations orders.

        18. Communication.--The shore party is responsible for establishing and maintaining contact with all elements of the attack force, for providing information under the cognizance of the shore party, and for relaying and transmitting such information and orders as shall be routed expediently to the shore party for forwarding or dissemination. Specifically, the shore party is responsible for liaison and communication with naval attack forces and transport forces, and with landing forces ashore, including those on adjacent beaches.

        19. Special.--When specifically assigned by operations order, the shore party is responsible for the provision of technical and specialist services such as the supply of water, electricity, or designated repair and maintenance facilities not included in general responsibilities. Technical personnel or units, such as ordnance or engineer, attached to the shore party for this purpose are considered an organic part of the shore party organization unless otherwise designated and their employment, administration, and command procedure is like that of any normal component of the shore party.


        1. Specially organized and equipped personnel must be readily available as a trained nucleus around which amphibious military units may form the shore party team. As the beach party supplies a pool of naval personnel trained -in the performance of certain specialized naval tasks, the basic military shore party organization must furnish military personnel trained in the essential technical aspects of normal shore party procedure.

          The basic military shore party team elements are:

          1. For Marine units:

            1. One platoon from pioneer (shore party) company.

                1. One communication team (ASCO).
                1. One engineer company (combat).
                2. One communication team (ASCO).
                1. Labor.
                2. Engineers (specialists).
                3. Military police.
                4. Motor transport.
                5. Quartermaster.
                6. Ordnance.
                7. Amphibious vehicles.

                Figure 1.--Employment and organization of the military component of the shore party team.

                1. Headquarters platoon (forward echelon.--(a) Command and reconnaissance group.--The command section consists of two officers and two enlisted men--normally the assistant shore party team commander, the assistant beach-master, and one naval and one military enlisted man. This section is responsible for the establishment of the advance CP, the relaying of all requests for supplies from the liaison section to the control vessel, reporting on the suitability of the beach and landing areas for the unloading and movement of supplies, and the direction of activities of the reconnaissance section. The reconnaissance section consists of two military enlisted men (range markers) and four Navy enlisted men (hydro-graphic section). It establishes range flags in the center of the landing team beach, marks suitable landing points and hazards to navigation, selects and marks beach limits, and makes preliminary road-net and beach-dump reconnaissance.

                  1. Communication section.--The communication section is composed of four enlisted men (ASCO, military), equipped with radio (type TBX). This section is responsible for furnishing communication from beach to control vessel and for the operation of the beach end of the liaison section telephone communication net.

                  2. Liaison section.--The liaison section is composed of one officer and two enlisted men with sound-powered telephone and combat wire-laying equipment. This section is responsible for establishing wire communication from the beach to the landing team CP relaying requests in proper terminology and reporting the development of the tactical situation with respect to the landing time of the remainder of the shore party team. This section reverts to the control of the shore party team commander after the shore party team is set up and functioning normally.

                  1. Dump markers section.--The dump markers section consists of 12 military enlisted men. This section establishes unloading point and beach dump markers and performs special tasks as designated by the shore party team commander. Personnel are provided from the basic shore party team element.

                  2. Military police section.--The military police section consists of 12 military enlisted men from the

                      landing force military police organization. It directs all traffic in the beach areas, guards all dumps to prevent looting of supplies, guards prisoners and stragglers, and makes evacuations to ships as directed by the shore party team commander.

                2. Communication section (ASCO).--The communication section consists of one officer and 19 enlisted men, four of whom are employed in headquarters platoon, forward echelon. The section establishes communication seaward and on land, both inland and laterally, and provides shore party team communication facilities to higher and parallel echelons in adjacent areas. It provides an easily identified message center ashore and maintains all normal message center services, including information on the disposition of officers, units, and installations. It will provide radio communication for a ship-to-shore administrative net a shore party lateral net connecting shore party teams with the commanding officer, landing force, afloat or ashore a forward echelon command section net between the forward echelon command, afloat or ashore, and the control vessel a local shore party team net and a shore party team-landing team net to be established when tactical developments indicate its need. Insofar as possible, radio nets will be paralleled by visual communication facilities. Telephone communication to landing team and adjacent beaches is desirable during the early phase of a landing to supplement and parallel other communication services.

                3. Medical section.--The medical section consists of the beach party medical section, reinforced by three military enlisted men. This section sets up an aid station renders first aid to casualties coordinates evacuation of wounded, maintaining a record of name, rank, serial number, organization, and diagnosis and maintains proper litter blanket and splint exchange between ships and beach. Military personnel hereto attached are normally provided from the basic element of the shore party team element.

                  1. Pioneer section.--The pioneer section consists of one officer and 15 enlisted men and is responsible for the construction of beach roadways, latrines, and the prisoner of war stockade assists in the landing of vehicles operates cranes and tractors for unloading of boats decontaminates gassed areas assists in camouflaging dumps and installations performs demolitions missions and assists in the salvage of boats. Personnel is normally drawn from the basic shore party team.

                  2. Security section.--The security section consists of 18 enlisted men responsible for the establishment of local security in accordance with the orders of the shore party team commander.

                  1. Service platoon.--The service platoon varies in strength with tactical and logistic considerations but normally approximates four officers and 160 enlisted men (military). This platoon furnishes labor details for unloading supplies at the beach and beach dumps and is available to the shore party team commander for the performance of such tasks as may be required. The entire complement of this platoon is provided from shore party team reinforcing personnel.

                  2. Ship's platoon.--The ship's platoon normally consists of four officers, approximately 60 enlisted men (military), and naval personnel as indicated by requirements. Officer personnel is composed of the ship transport quartermaster, a troop transport quartermaster assigned from the landing force, and two officer assistants from embarking elements. The approximately 60 enlisted men are from the landing force and are included as an embarked element. Naval personnel will consist of winchmen, hatchtenders, and officers in a supervisory capacity as required and will be provided from the ship's complement. The ship's transport quartermaster has over-all responsibility for unloading his ship, the troop transport quartermaster assisting and providing liaison with the landing force logistic control organization. The ship's transport quartermaster maintains a complete record showing material landed, material on hand (including type and quantities), average time for unloading supplies, and approximate time of completion of unloading. Labor details for unloading are provided by the 60 enlisted men (military).

                  1. Command section.--Two commissioned line officers, designated as beachmaster and assistant in order of seniority, and two enlisted men constitute the command section. One officer and one enlisted man are included in each of the forward and rear echelons of the shore party team command. The beachmaster acts as assistant to the shore party team commanders and coordinates naval components of the shore party team. Except in the defense of the beach areas, or in cases of emergency, the shore party team commander is not authorized to direct the beachmaster to perform other than naval functions.

                  2. Hydrographic section.-- (1) The hydrographic section is composed of 18 enlisted men (naval) and a detachment of underwater demolitionists. Four of the enlisted detail are assigned to the forward echelon, shore party team, headquarters platoon.

                    1. This section is responsible for the following duties:

                      1. Keeping beach cleared of boats.
                      2. Making hydrographic reconnaissance.
                      3. Removing or marking underwater obstacles and obstacles to navigation.
                      4. Acting as stretcher bearers in evacuating casualties.
                      5. Furnishing relief boat crews.
                      1. Repairing boats and boat motors on the beach.
                      2. Assisting the hydrographic section in retracting boats.
                      3. Stripping abandoned boats of serviceable guns and equipment.
                      4. Assisting hydrographic section in evacuation of casualties.
                        1. Maintaining ship-to-shore communication.
                        2. Assisting the troop communication center as required.
                        3. Repairing and maintaining equipment.
                        4. Providing the beachmaster with local security.
                        5. The communication section of the naval beach party is provided by naval personnel in the shore party communication team and, in the normal employment, aids and augments the shore party communications team which functions directly under the shore party team commander.

                          1. Establishing beach evacuation station.
                          2. Operating beach aid station to care for beach casualties.

                              1. Providing transportation for all casualties from beach evacuation stations to boats.
                              2. Maintaining liaison with higher medical echelons responsible for medical supply and evacuation.
                              1. Shore party group headquarters.--This headquarters normally consists of four officers and approximately 10 enlisted men (military) and one officer and approximately three enlisted men (naval). Two officers and five enlisted men (military) compose the command section, with the senior officer designated as the shore party group commander and the junior officer as his executive. One of the officers and all enlisted men are normally provided by the basic military Shore party organization. This element is responsible for the control and coordination of the shore party group. One officer and several enlisted naval personnel are provided from the senior naval echelon to provide naval-military liaison and to coordinate the employment of the beach parties included in the shore party group organization. Where two or more shore party teams land on and utilize the same beach, the commanding officer of the shore party team first ashore will remain in command until the arrival of the shore party group commander.

                              1. Division shore party headquarters.--This headquarters normally consists of five officers and approximately 40 enlisted men (military), plus one officer and approximately five enlisted naval personnel. The command section is composed of three officers the 10 enlisted men (military), with the senior officer designated as division shore party commander and the remaining officers as executive assistants. This section controls and coordinates the employment of shore party groups operating the division's assigned beaches. Personnel are normally provided from the basic military shore party element. One officer (medical) and several enlisted men (medical) are assigned by the division surgeon from the division landing force as a medical section and are responsible for the coordination of division aid and evacuation. A detachment of one officer and 19 enlisted men from ASCO will form the communication section and is responsible for the coordination of shore party communication generally, and, specifically, for furnishing the division shore party with lateral, inland, and ship-to-shore communication. An officer and several enlisted men (naval) are included in a naval liaison section, are provided by the corresponding naval echelon, and are responsible for .liaison with naval elements and the coordination of all beach parties

                              2. Corps shore party headquarters.--This headquarters is normally composed of headquarters company, corps shore brigade, plus medical and communication sections provided from corps troops, and a naval liaison section provided by the corresponding naval echelon. The senior officer is normally designated corps shore party commander and is responsible for the control and coordination of two or more division shore parties. Size of the section composing the corps shore party is governed by requirements imposed.

                              3. The commanding officer of the shore party group and higher shore party echelons is normally designated by the division- or landing force commander and is preferably an engineer officer of field grade.

                              SECTION 7TRAINING

                              1. Basic shore party training (continuous unit training prior to the assignment of a specific objective).

                              2. Operational shore party training (carried out with all reinforcing elements for a minimum period of 1 month prior to embarkation for an operation).

                              1. Organization and capabilities of equipment.

                              2. Beach organization effect of the nature of the landing beach on the method of operation.

                              1. Use of beach markers and beach lights.

                              2. Demolition of beach and underwater obstacles.

                              3. Construction of temporary facilities--beach roadways, ramps, temporary piers, etc.

                              4. Unloading of supplies--use of various mechanical aids (sleds, pallets, special rigging methods).

                              5. Supervision of beach dumps--records of supplies landed, security, and camouflage.

                              6. Beach driving and traffic control.

                              7. Types of landing craft and conditions governing their use use of rubber boats.

                              8. Salvage of equipment and supplies.

                              9. Evacuation of casualties and handling of POW's.

                              10. Shore party communication plan.

                              11. Close-in beach defense measures knowledge of weapons.

                              12. Situation maps.

                              13. Stevedoring winch operations.

                              14. Intensive physical conditioning.

                                1. General training and physical conditioning.
                                2. Hydrographic, communication, boat repair, or medical.
                                3. Range practice.
                                4. Night landing problems.
                                1. Importance of terrain characteristics for security and operation.
                                2. Use of small arms.
                                3. Boat salvage methods.

                                the shore party for a specific operation. During: this time, intensive training should be carried out to the end that all men thoroughly understand their jobs. This training should be based on the specific conditions expected to be encountered after a careful study of all available information on the proposed landing beaches.

                                Practice landings should be made as nearly identical to the planned operation as security considerations and available facilities will permit. Experience has proved that such training will pay enormous dividends on D-day. This training should be climaxed by the final rehearsal in which all troops of the landing force participate.

                                The tendency to delay the assignment of reinforcing troops to the shore party to the extent that no time is available for consolidated training presents a hazard to the entire operation and inevitably results in untold confusion and lack of coordinated effort in the most critical phase of an amphibious landing.

                                SECTION 8SHORE PARTY STAFF PLANNING

                                1. Liaison with transport quartermasters is particularly important during the planning phase in order to assure shore party familiarity with loading and unloading plans, together with recognition of types of supplies and equipment and their markings.

                                2. Liaison must be established early with garrison force personnel in order to insure a smooth transition period between assault force unloading and the handling of subsequent resupply, either for assault or garrison forces.

                                3. Close liaison is necessary with engineer elements to insure coordination in the development of shore party facilities requiring work of an engineering nature.

                                1. In order to arrive at an intelligent plan for the proper organization and employment of shore parties for a particular operation, it is necessary that a thorough study be made of all factors affecting this organization and employment. This can best be done by making a "shore party estimate of the situation." In this estimate the following factors must be considered:

                                  1. Mission.--Statement of the mission of the shore party for the particular operation.

                                  2. Enemy activity and installations in the landing area.--Careful consideration must be given to the amount of resistance expected in the beach area by assault troops in order that the landing and control of early supplies may be anticipated, and arrangements for floating and mobile dumps in a "false beachhead" off shore may be made. Heavy enemy resistance in the beach area also affects the time of landing of various elements of the shore party.

                                    Enemy supply and transportation facilities in the beach area that may possibly be utilized must be considered, and plans made accordingly.

                                  3. Tactical considerations.--Tactical scheme of maneuver for the landing and subsequent schemes of maneuver inland.

                                  4. Other factors affecting organization and employment.--(a) Hydrographic conditions, weather, terrain conditions, soil conditions, and roads in the general landing area must be considered. These considerations are particularly important in that for operations involving reefs or swampy terrain inland from the beach, shore parties must be organized and employed somewhat differently than for operations over good beaches and good terrain inland.

                                    1. Troops available for shore party duties, in addition to basic personnel organic in pioneer battalions (replacements, part companies, depot companies, ammunition companies, and other garrison troops).

                                    2. Availability of shipping for transporting additional personnel and equipment for shore party functions.

                                    3. Amounts and types of supplies and equipment to be unloaded during the assault phase.

                                    4. Additional special equipment necessary and available for assistance in the unloading.

                                    5. Availability of civilian laborers in the landing area and consideration as to the possibility of their utilization during the assault phase.

                                    6. Consideration regarding the coordination with base development plans for subsequent unloading of re-supply and base development shipping. If plans visualize use of the shore party subsequent to unloading of assault shipping, shore parties must be well organized and equipped to handle supplies and equipment for long periods of time.

                                      1. Qualified assistant to shore party commander (preferably an engineer officer).
                                      2. Medical section.
                                      3. Naval liaison section (normally requested from the attack force staff).
                                      4. Garrison force liaison section.
                                      5. TQM section.
                                      6. Communication personnel.
                                      7. Clerical assistance.
                                      8. Corps shore party companies to augment division shore parties, if required.
                                      1. Assignment of additional troops from replacements and garrison force personnel to subordinate shore parties of the landing force.

                                      2. Assignment of additional special equipment to subordinate shore parties.

                                      3. Designation of the number of shore party teams (to operate landing team or equivalent beaches) to be activated by subordinate shore parties of the landing force.

                                      4. Provisions for early movement of personnel in (1) above to the location of subordinate landing force elements.

                                        The plan is based on the estimate and the details are worked out by the G-4 and the shore party commander, who in

                                    1. the process, maintains close liaison and participates in conferences with his opposite number in the naval chain of command.

                                      The plan may be issued in several different ways however, its issuance as an annex to the administrative plan is usually preferred.

                                      The plan should be simple, clear, concise, and flexible enough to meet changing situation.

                                      The shore party composition as outlined in this manual provides a flexible and decentralized type organization which further simplifies flexibility of the plan.

                                2. Landing force plan.--The plan issued by different echelons of command will vary only in the amount of detail contained therein.

                                  The highest landing force echelon in the operation normally issues a very general plan which contains information as to the shore parties' place in the over-all logistic and tactical plan, together with certain directives concerning organization and means of employment and control when the landing force takes over ashore.

                                3. The division plan.--The division logistics officer and shore party commander must begin work as soon as possible after receiving the landing force commander's activation order for the shore party. A division activation order must be promulgated and the basic and reinforcing elements must, where practicable, be billeted together and organized into teams and groups to fit the particular operation.

                                  In drawing up the plan for the shore party, the division logistics officer must make an estimate and maintain close liaison with the division operations officer, the logistics officer of the next higher echelon, and the naval transport group operations officer in order that the plan will be coordinated with and support the tactical plan, and be within the limits of the naval capabilities for landing the shore party and the equipment and supplies embarked.

                                  The shore party is the starting point of the system of supply ashore, and its functions are closely related to the supply plans as a whole. If transports are not properly combat loaded, shore parties cannot accomplish one of their primary objectives of expeditious unloading of the essential items of equipment and supplies required by the combat elements. These considerations are, of course, basic to the entire supply plan and are mentioned here since the quantity and method of loading directly affects the proper functioning of shore parties. Below appears a general form for a shore party plan:

                                  1. TITLE of each major grouping of shore party name and-rank of commander.

                                  2. LIST all other groupings with appropriate letter, as (c), (d), etc.

                                  1. OWN FORCES.

                                  2. HYDROGRAPHIC and terrain in beach area, general information.

                                  1. INSTRUCTIONS applicable to two or more units which are necessary for coordination, but do not properly belong in another subparagraph, such as--

                                  1. Control.
                                  2. Priorities of landing equipment.
                                  3. Reference to floating dumps.
                                  1. Special equipment needed and its employment.
                                  1. LOCATION of shore party command post.
                                  2. TIME used.

                                  1. The purpose of the shore party annex is to provide a means of amplifying the information and instructions pertaining to the shore party in the parent administration order (plan), without affecting the brevity or clarity of the latter. In the form given above, the shore party annex constitutes the complete operation order (plan) which would be issued by the shore party commander if it were not issued as an annex to a unit's administrative order.

                                  2. A task organization from the division level would normally include three shore party groups of two shore party teams each.

                                  3. Information of the general beach area over which landings are to be made that is of importance to shore party operations should be included in paragraph 1(c).

                                  4. Assignment of specific measures necessary for coordination of all shore party teams being employed is necessary.

                                  5. The plan is signed by the chief of staff.

                                  6. Appendices are numbered serially.

                                  7. Distribution is the same as for parent administration order.

                                  8. Authentication is by the logistics section.

                                  SECTION 9SHIP-TO-SHORE MOVEMENT OF SHORE PARTIES

                                  1. The division logistic control group is established aboard the transport group control vessel and consists of a representative of the division operations and logistics sections, division TQM section, communication personnel, and such other personnel as are necessary for the proper functioning of this group. It is desirable that the division shore party commander be embarked aboard this vessel.

                                    The division logistics officer's representative is the logistic control officer for the division and is responsible for early supply of troops ashore and for the landing of shore party teams and group headquarters as information from liaison and reconnaissance elements on the beach indicate beach suitability for these landings.

                                  2. The RCT logistic control groups are established aboard each transport division control vessel and consist of representatives of the division logistics sections, division TQM section, communication personnel, and such personnel as are desired by the RCT commander concerned. It is desirable that the group commander of the shore party group supporting the RCT be embarked aboard this vessel.

                                    The division logistics representative is the logistic control officer for the RCT and operates under direction of the division logistic control group. Request for early supply from troops on the beach and requests for the landing "on call" of support troops are normally handled directly without reference to division logistic control however, the landing of shore party teams and group headquarters are only directed after approval of division logistic control officer.

                                  Figure 2.--General organization of shore party, showing relationship with logistic control groups.

                                  1. Mobile dumps.--For immediate supply of assault troops, "mobile dumps" may be utilized. This involves the use of amphibious vehicles (LVT's, DUKW's) loaded with emergency on-call supplies which, depending on the tactical situation, may be maintained as part of the floating dump, may be maintained as part of beach dumps, or may even follow closely behind assault units as they push inland. In this connection, the watertight cargo trailer may be used to good advantage in conjunction with LVT's and DUKW's.

                                    Thus a running record of the disposition of cargo is maintained by logistic control groups. The coxswain, on arrival at his destination, hands over the remaining copy of the cargo ticket to the representative of the beach on which his boat is finally unloaded thus a record of supplies actually landed may be obtained.

                                  1. Form for cargo ticket:

                                    Date________Hour________Boat No.__________

                                    Ship from which cargo obtained____________

                                    Cargo_________________ ___________________

                                    ______________________ ___________________

                                    ______________________ ___________________

                                    DESIGNATION OF BEACH__________________CON-
                                    TROL VESSEL________ PRIORITY_______ A check
                                    mark here means "sent to beach on priority
                                    basis." If special delivery point desired, indicate
                                    here FOR__________________________________

                                    To be completed by control vessel.

                                    Reported traffic control AT: ______________

                                    Sent TO:____________________________________

                                  2. Floating dumps.--For early supply of assault troops, "floating dumps" are established in the vicinity of each control vessel. These "floating dumps" may be boat-type landing craft, pontoon barges, amphibious trailers, or amphibious vehicles, and they contain certain emergency on-call supplies and/or equipment in predetermined amounts.

                                    Requests for supplies prior to the landing of main elements of the shore party team are forwarded from shore party liaison officers (with each assault landing team) to shore party team forward echelon headquarters on the beach, thence to the proper control vessel for action.

                                  1. Provisions are made in the shore party plan for boating shore party teams, and for their time of arrival at control vessels. The number of teams boated initially will be dependent on the availability of boats, the number of beaches over which landings are contemplated, and the general tactical and logistic scheme of the operation as a whole.

                                  2. Shore party teams are ordered to beaches as designated by the logistic control groups. The time and place of landing is based on hydrographic, terrain, and tactical reports from forward echelons of the several shore party teams to the control vessels.

                                  3. Shore party group headquarters and division shore party headquarters normally embark aboard control vessels

                                    and are ordered ashore by the logistic control groups as necessary to control and coordinate the shore party teams when they are established and operating ashore.

                                  1. False beach.--When the existence of a barrier or fringing reef precludes the actual beaching of small craft, it has frequently been found desirable to utilize pontoon barges, floating in the vicinity of the reef line or the drying reef, as a boat unloading point, the remaining travel to beach dumps being accomplished after transferring boat cargo to amphibious craft capable of negotiating the reef and advancing to shore. In some situations, when tide condition provides sufficient depth of water, barges may be floated over the reef or shoal for further unloading on the beach.

                                  2. Floating cranes.--For expeditious handling of cargo in the transfer "false beach" area, there must be available adequate mechanical hoisting gear. (See figure 3.) For this purpose, mobile cranes may be mounted directly on the pontoon barge itself, or if more mobility is desired, cranes may be mounted in smaller craft.

                                  1. Piers and causeways.--The early installation of ramps, causeways, and piers of a temporary nature will result in a great increase in the rate of unloading. For such installations, standard Marine Corps temporary bridging equipment is available, as well as NL pontoon gear. Frequently the installation of a pier from the reef's edge to shore will be possible. Some sort of ramp will almost always be desirable for facilitating the unloading of LSTs.

                                  2. Palletization.--After a great deal of experimentation and combat experience, it is apparent that palletization of bulk cargo should be employed only after careful consideration of all factors pertinent to a specific operation, and never unless adequate mechanical equipment is available to handle palletized cargo. Without such mechanical equipment, valuable time will be wasted in breaking down pallet loads for manhandling. Special caution should be exercised when a reef transfer is required, since some time will be lost in making available at the proper place of transfer such hoisting devices as will be necessary to handle pallet loads.

                                    Only certain types of supplies lend themselves by nature to palletization, and practically never will more than about 70 percent palletization of such items be feasible. Normally, palletization should not exceed 50 percent appropriate items in combat leadings.

                                  Figure 4.--LST unloading directly on beach. Note ramp built out to facilitate vehicular access. (South Saipan, Marianas Islands.

                                  Figure 5.--Use of mobile hydraulic crane in unloading small amphibious craft. Note use of lines to stabilize crane in handling heavy loads. (Marines in the Marianas.)

                                  1. Use of beach sleds.--As a mechanical aid, the use of wooden beach sleds or metal toboggans fitted with a bridle for towing, will be found helpful. These are efficient only for short hauls, but by towing several sleds in tandem, the best efficiency of the prime mover may be obtained. (See figure 6.)

                                    Figure 6.--Use of beach sled to transport bulk cargo to beach dump. (Marines on training maneuvers.)

                                  2. Waterproofing of vehicles.--Depending on the va-wooden beach sleds or metal toboggans fitted with a bridle for eration should be given to the waterproofing of such vehicles and equipment as may be required to land prior to the installation of such beach facilities as will allow the landing of vehicles without danger of drowning out [sic!. Factors governing the decision as to number of vehicles to be waterproofed will include beach conditions, expected tactical situation, and types of landing craft to be utilized. It is to be remembered that provision must be made for removing the waterproofing material as soon as possible after landing, and for this reason it is desirable that no more vehicles be waterproofed than necessary to fit the conditions of the specific operation.

                                    Beach matting.--Rapid-laying type beach matting (pierced steel plank) is highly desirable for building beach roadway exits over beaches where deep sand or volcanic ash may be encountered. This assists greatly in the rapidity with which vehicles and other wheeled equipment can be cleared from the immediate beach area. Provisions should be made in unloading plans for the early landing of this type of equipment. (See figure 8.)

                                  Figure 8.--Use of pierced steel plank to form beach roadway. Some such material will usually be needed to provide sufficient bearing surface for vehicles. (Marines at Iwo Jima.)

                                  SECTION 10SHORE PARTY COMMUNICATION

                                  1. The control vessel common net provides lateral voice communication between all control vessels and is also guarded by the joint expeditionary force commander, attack force commander, transport group commanders, and transport group and division beachmasters.

                                  2. The transport division boat control net has the primary function its name implies. It is a very-high-frequency voice channel guarded by the transport division, each transport in the division, boat group and boat wave commanders, wave guides, and transport division and transport beach parties. After the initial landing is made, it is of considerable value in salvage operation and boat traffic control in the vicinity of the beach.

                                  Figure 9.--Shore party communication nets.

                                    A ship-to-shore administrative net is established by each transport division to provide relatively fast radiotelegraph communication between the transport division commander, each transport and hospital LST of the transport division, the transport division control vessel and transport and transport division beach parties.

                                    Visual circuits generally paralleling the ship-to-shore administrative net are established ashore by the beach parties for joint use with the corresponding shore party echelon. 43. Shore Party Communication.--The shore party's mission of providing logistic support for landing operations requires reconnaissance, liaison with supported units, and close tactical and administrative control of all shore party elements. (See figure 9.)

                                    Each of these requirements imposes special communication requirements. The communication agencies provided for each requirement are explained in succeeding paragraphs in the chronological order of their use in landing operations.

                                    44. Forward Echelon of Shore Party Team.--A forward echelon of each shore party team supporting an assault landing team lands with the reserve company of the landing team.

                                    It consists of command, reconnaissance, liaison, and communication sections.

                                    The time and place of landing the entire shore party team is decided by the division logistic control group on the basis of hydrographic, terrain, and tactical reports from the forward echelon.

                                    To provide means of transmitting these reports, the division shore party lateral net is established at the time the forward echelons land. It may be established for stations afloat several hours earlier. This net is guarded by shore party teams, shore party groups when ashore, all logistic control groups of the division, and by division headquarters. Medium- or high-frequency radiotelegraph transmission is employed, insuring fast and reliable communication up to 30 miles between all beaches and to the transport area. If desired and authorized, this high-frequency net may be paralleled by a voice very-high-frequency net, using man-pack sets obtained from a division or other pool of equipment.

                                    The liaison section of the forward echelon, upon landing, immediately proceeds to the command post of the supported landing team, installing a temporary telephone line from the radio station as it goes. An alternate means of communication for this liaison section may be established by assigning a portable radio set to the forward echelon communication section for operation on the landing team tactical net.

                                  The establishment of these two communication agencies permits the relay of requests from the landing team commander before the shore party team lands. The logistic control group can immediately act on such requests by ordering in preloaded landing craft or LVT's from a floating dump.

                                  45. Shore Party Team Ashore.--When the shore party team lands, the communication section is reinforced by additional personnel, heavier wire equipment, and additional radios.

                                  A message center is established to coordinate the various signal agencies, to encrypt messages when necessary, and to provide limited messenger service. The message center has general supervision over the agencies established by the beach party, and all communication facilities of the shore party team and beach party are operated for the best interests of both groups.

                                  The wire section establishes a switchboard and installs telephone lines to adjacent shore party teams and inland to the landing team. It provides local telephones for the shore party team commander, beachmaster, and to dumps as required.

                                  The radio section continues operation of the shore party lateral net, and establishes a local shore party net between the shore party team commander, the beachmaster, and the message center by means of small, hand-pack voice radios. This net permits the free movement within a radius of one-half mile of the beachmaster and shore party team commander without loss of control or contact.

                                  The radio-visual section of the beach party is by this time operating stations in the ship-to-shore administrative net and the transport division boat control net, thus providing alternate channels from the beach to the transports and control vessels. It has also established a visual station (searchlight) for communication seaward.

                                  It should be carefully noted, however, that requests for landing troops or supplies are not sent directly from the beach to the transports while controlled unloading is in effect. All such requests are sent to the appropriate logistic control group for action.

                                  46. Shore Party Group Ashore.--When the division logistic control group decides which landing team beach is best suited for development as the principal beach for support of a combat team, and when it appears that coordination of adjacent shore party teams by a headquarters ashore is needed, the control group will order the landing of the parent shore party group.

                                  The headquarters of the shore party group establishes itself at or near the headquarters of a shore party team. The shore party group may be reinforced by an additional shore party team at the principal beach, or it may rely entirely on the communication facilities of the shore party team already operating.

                                  In either case, the support relation of the shore party group is with the combat team rather than with the individual landing team.

                                  Direct wire communication with the combat team is established, and the lines previously installed between shore party teams and landing teams may be abandoned. As a supporting unit, the shore party has this responsibility.

                                  The shore party lateral net is continued, as are the agencies of the transport division beachmaster, who establishes his headquarters near that of the shore party group.

                                  The shore party group may provide an alternate means of communication with the combat team by establishing a station on the combat team command or tactical net.

                                  Lateral wire communication with adjacent shore party teams or groups is maintained and improved.

                                  47. Division Shore Party Ashore.--When coordination of shore party groups by a central headquarters ashore appears desirable, the division logistic control group will order the division shore party to land on the beach considered best suited for development as the principal division beach.

                                  The signal company detachment with the shore party headquarters establishes wire communication with shore party groups and independent shore party teams. Lateral lines between groups are maintained as alternate means. Wire communication with division is established as directed.

                                  The shore party lateral net is kept in operation, although shore party teams may no longer be required to guard it.

                                  Alternate means of communication seaward are kept in operation by the various beach parties, and the transport group beachmaster establishes his headquarters near that of the division shore party in order that all facilities may be jointly used.

                                  It is in this phase that normal division supply agencies commence taking over the dumps established just inland from the beach by the shore parties and regulate the issuing of supplies and equipment.

                                  48. Function of Landing Force Shore Party.--The landing force shore party, or shore brigade, may coordinate the landing of supplies over two or more division beaches similarly to the coordination exercised by the division shore party over the shore party groups.

                                  It is of particular value when the beach of one division is far superior to all other beaches for landing very heavy equipment, thus necessitating the joint use of that beach for landing some equipment of all divisions.

                                  It is also of importance in the transition to garrison responsibility for unloading supplies for all forces ashore Necessary communication is established as follows:

                                  1. Wire communication is obtained by consolidation of division shore party systems, with alternate channels through the landing force and division system.

                                  2. Radio communication is obtained by consolidating all division shore party lateral nets into a single landing force shore party command net, employing the frequency of one division.

                                  SECTION 11BEACH DUMPS AND MARKERS

                                  1. Priority for placing markers:

                                    1. Range flags, marking center of beach.
                                    2. Beach flank markers.
                                    3. Landing points.
                                    4. Dumps.
                                    1. Suitable landing points.

                                    2. Suitable egress from the beach.
                                    3. Convenient location with respect to dump areas.
                                      1. Ammunition.
                                      2. Rations.
                                      3. Gasoline and oil.
                                      4. Vehicles not in use.
                                      5. Water
                                      6. Miscellaneous supplies.
                                      1. Sufficient areas to disperse supplies and equipment.

                                      Figure 10.--Unloading point markers (6 feet square).

                                      Figure 11.--Beach markers (flank panels, 12 by 2½ feet).

                                        1. Convenient location to beach areas and near supply routes leading to combat supply echelons. Initial dumps, were practical, should not be over 200 yards inland.
                                        2. Accessibility of existing roads or road net to be established. (See figure 12.)
                                        3. Ease of camouflage and concealment.

                                        Figure 13.--Typical beach layout, showing supply installations and traffic circulation plan. Tentative dump sites are selected from photos and maps.

                                        Amphibious Warfare: World War Two and Beyond

                                        Amphibious warfare involves the movement of troops from sea to shore, and it takes many forms. With the development of airborne capability, Winston Churchill coined the phrase ‘‘triphibious warfare’’ to cover the integration of sea, land, and air forces, such as occurred on D-Day.

                                        However, amphibious operations are almost as old as recorded history. The British Isles had a long familiarity with amphibious maneuvers, extending back more than a millennium before 1944 the Vikings understood the concept perfectly, executing raids from their longships well before William the Conqueror crossed the English Channel to seize England in 1066.

                                        In the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, both Britain and America conducted amphibious operations, with varying degrees of success.

                                        U.S. forces were transported to Cuba during the brief war with Spain in 1898, and Britain’s unchallenged sea power enabled her to deliver armies anywhere on the globe, including India and South Africa. However, none of those operations was a true amphibious invasion, as D-Day students understand the concept, because these earlier landings were unopposed. A sterner test occurred in the Dardanelles in 1915, when British and Commonwealth troops assaulted Turkish positions at Gallipoli, resulting ultimately in a costly withdrawal.

                                        During the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S. Marine Corps, amphibious by its very nature, carefully studied the problems of modern seaborne assault. The marines developed a workable doctrine and laid the groundwork for equipment and techniques, though as of 1941 neither they nor the U.S. Navy had anything comparable to the Higgins Boat, which was developed by private enterprise.

                                        Axis Powers proved adept at amphibious operations in 1940–42, as Germany overwhelmed Norway while the Japanese conquered the Philippines and Malaya. Major Allied amphibious campaigns were conducted from 1942 onward, beginning with U.S. Marine Corps landings in the Solomon Islands and the Anglo-American invasion of French Morocco. American and British forces captured Sicily in 1943 and forced their way across beaches at Salerno and Anzio, Italy.

                                        The U.S. Marines remained the world’s leading practitioners of amphibious warfare, with an unbroken string of successes in the Central Pacific during 1943–44. However, the five (later six) marine divisions were fully committed against Japan and none were available for Europe, even had the

                                        U.S. Army’s generals been inclined to accept the ‘‘Leathernecks,’’ with whom a bitter rivalry dated from 1918. But based on North African and Mediterranean experience, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s joint command felt confident in achieving a successful lodgment on the French coast.

                                        The factors involved in Neptune-Overlord were no different than any recent triphibious operation, except for one aspect—scale. D-Day was the greatest undertaking of its kind outside the Pacific theater, exceeded even there only by the Okinawa operation in 1945. But all the elements were in place: reconnaissance and intelligence, beach selection, deception, training, landing craft, airpower, naval gunfire, and command and control. In that respect, the army proved it could rival the marines in ‘‘forcing a lodgment upon a hostile shore.’’

                                        This article is part of our larger selection of posts about the Normandy Invasion. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to D-Day.

                                        You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left.

                                        Amphibious Operations - History

                                        Amphibious operations

                                        The Asia Pacific regional security interests require the navies of this region to have the ability to respond comprehensively to political or military contingencies, which can arise with little or no warning. An amphibious capability provides the militaries with a range of political response options to apply military force, and project national power.

                                        Many countries in the region have recognized the need to augment their amphibious capability in the developing geopolitical environment in the Indian Ocean Region and South China Sea maritime challenges. Many ASEAN countries are now possess varying-sized, specialized amphibious ground forces equivalent to the US Marine Corps (USMC) or Russian Naval Infantry.

                                        This is no coincidence given that, because these formations are distinct from the army ground forces, maintaining them can be expensive. Moreover, the ships designed to give these forces mobility-large amphibious landing vessels-are also costly even though they feature comparatively less complex combat systems than those installed on warfighting assets.

                                        The long coasts of Asia&rsquos mainland, together with the numerous archipelagos throughout the Pacific Rim are ideal for amphibious warfare, the projection of land forces from the sea onto the shore, as history has shown.

                                        Early practice

                                        The magnitude of landing operations during World War II tends to give the impression that amphibious warfare is a relatively new type of military enterprise. Nevertheless, the earliest account of amphibious warfare dates back nearly 3,000 years.

                                        The ancient Greeks were the first to use amphibious techniques when attacking the city of Troy in Asia Minor, near Turkey. Greek soldiers crossed the Aegean Sea and stormed ashore on the beaches near Troy during the ten-year struggle to destroy the city. About 700 years after the Persians launched a waterborne attack against the Greeks, the first amphibious assault was probably made during the Persian Wars. At the Battle of Marathon in 490BC, the Persians established beachheads in their attempt to invade Greece. The Persians used ships with runways for unloading their war horses-the precursor of modern landing ships.

                                        Amphibious operations have been a critical tool for any military with ties to the sea. During the period between the two World Wars the US Navy and Marine Corps developed specialized amphibious warfare equipment and doctrine. New troop organizations, landing craft, amphibious tractors that could travel on water as well as land, and landing tactics were tested. Exercises emphasized the use of ship guns and even aircraft to provide close fire support of the assault troops. Combat loading techniques were developed so that ships could quickly unload the equipment required first in an amphibious landing, accepting some reductions in cargo stowage efficiency in return for improved assault capabilities.

                                        From 1937 (Sino-Japanese War) to 1950 (the Korean War) amphibious operations changed the Pacific Rim&rsquos political geography and history destroying the Japanese Empire and paving the way for the emergence of several new states in the region, following the end of European colonialism. Meanwhile, the nature of amphibious operations has changed significantly since the end of the Second World War and this has had a marked effect on the role of amphibious forces in the Asia-Pacific.

                                        Western naval powers, the chief proponents of amphibious warfare during the Second World War, began to amend their amphibious doctrine with the development of nuclear weapons which made the traditional accompanying large assemblies of ships witnessed during this conflict extremely vulnerable. Because of the threat from nuclear attack amphibious doctrines around the world began to emphasise greater dispersal and the delivery of the assault force from, or over, the horizon.

                                        This doctrinal requirement became even more important with the development of Anti-Ship Missiles (AShMs) in the years following the end of the Second World War. The proliferation of these weapons launched from aircraft, ships, submarines and even coast defence batteries made and continue to make the approach to the shore for the assault force hazardous. The problem becomes yet greater with the traditional threat of increasingly technologically sophisticated mines.

                                        As a consequence of the development of AShMs and the nuclear threat, amphibious warfare now has to be conducted by smaller, more sophisticated and versatile task groups.

                                        Landing craft continues to be an important means of deploying assault forces but at comparatively longer distances than those seen during the Second World War. Today, the United States Marine Corps opts for deploying from some 25 nautical miles (46 kilometres) beyond the shore. Rotary wing aircraft have proved another, and extremely effective, means of delivering men and supplies.

                                        Amphibious operations continue to retain their centrality in military plans and amphibious forces remain a potent and effective means of power projection. The size and lift capacity of amphibious warfare ships built in the post Cold War era , as well as their overall capability has markedly increased. Amphibious forces can be positioned, in advance, in international waters, within easy reach of the envisaged area of operation, and be in a position to execute assigned tasks at short notice.

                                        Combined effort

                                        Amphibious Operations is an attack launched from the sea by naval and ground forces embarked in ships and which involve landing on a hostile shore. Amphibious Operation is a complex operation that incorporates land, sea and air forces into one cohesive assault force and integrates them into a highly balanced, concentrated and tremendous combat power to defeat an enemy force entrenched ashore. A Heliborne operation may also be conducted to support an amphibious operation.

                                        An amphibious operation requires extensive air participation and is characterized by closely integrated efforts of forces trained, organized, and equipped for different combat functions. The complexity of amphibious operations and the vulnerability of forces engaged in these operations require an exceptional degree of unity of effort and operational coherence.

                                        The essential usefulness of an amphibious operation stems from its mobility and flexibility. The amphibious operation exploits the element of surprise and capitalizes on enemy weaknesses by projecting and applying combat power at the most advantageous location and time.

                                        The threat of an amphibious landing can induce enemies to divert forces, fix defensive positions, divert major resources to coastal defense, or disperse forces. Such a threat may result in the enemy making expensive and wasteful efforts in attempting to defend their coastlines. The salient requirement of an amphibious assault, which is the principal type of amphibious operation, is the necessity for swift, uninterrupted buildup of sufficient combat power ashore from an initial zero capability to full coordinated striking power as the attack progresses toward amphibious task force (ATF) final objectives.

                                        An amphibious operation is both similar and different in many ways to both land, naval and air operations. At its basic such operations include phases of strategic planning and preparation, operational transit to the intended theatre of operations, pre-landing rehearsal and disembarkation, troop landings, beachhead consolidation and conducting inland ground and air operations. Historically, within the scope of these phases a vital part of success was often based on the military logistics, naval gunfire and close air support. Another factor is the variety and quantity of specialized vehicles and equipment used by the landing forces that are designed for the specific needs of this type of operation.

                                        An amphibious operation is not the mere landing of an Army unit tasked with an in stride autonomous land operation. On the contrary it is a complex joint operation, launched from offshore, committing naval, land and possibly air forces, carried out on a hostile coast that might be hold by enemy forces.

                                        Amphibious tasks are essentially categorized as assault, demonstration, raid and withdrawal operations. These tasks could be undertaken in various scenarios including conventional war, defence of island territories, assistance to friendly littoral states in the region, peacekeeping and any other special operations necessitating employment of an amphibious force.

                                        Amphibious operations are generally conducted to established landing forces on a hostile shore to prosecute further combat operations, secure site for forward naval or air bases, decisively deny the enemy of the use of vital areas of facilities, conduct swift and unexpected incursion into hostile territory or inflict casualties and damage to enemy personnel and material and to gather vital information about the enemy activities and intentions.

                                        The complexity of amphibious operations and the vulnerability of amphibious forces demand unity of command in planning and execution. Reliable, secure and responsive communications are absolutely vital to effective command and control (C2) of an amphibious operation. The advantage of planning and working together would go a long way in achieving synergy which is the hall mark of joint operations.

                                        The conduct of landings from beyond enemy visual and radar range is a technique that employs maneuver warfare concepts such as surprise, operational speed, operational flexibility, and tactical mobility to achieve a tactical advantage over the enemy that can be decisively exploited while minimizing risk to assault shipping.

                                        A beachhead is a designated area on a hostile or potentially hostile shore which, when seized and held, ensures the continuous landing of troops and materiel and provides maneuver space requisite for subsequent projected operations ashore. It is the physical objective of an amphibious operation.

                                        The landing area is that part of the objective area within which the landing operations of an amphibious force are conducted. It includes the beach, the approaches to the beach, the transport areas, the fire support areas, the air occupied by close supporting aircraft, and the land included in the advance inland to the initial objective.

                                        A landing beach is that portion of a shoreline usually required for the landing of a battalion landing team. However, it may also be that portion of a shoreline constituting a tactical locality (such as the shore of a bay) over which a force larger or smaller than a battalion landing team may be landed.

                                        A Helicopter Landing Zone [HLZ] is a specified ground area for landing assault helicopters to embark or disembark troops and/or cargo. A landing zone may contain one or more landing sites.

                                        Security objectives

                                        India is a nation blessed with a geographically strategic position, a vast coastline and numerous island territories. However, along with protecting India&rsquos territories, Diasporas, and interests India&rsquos defence forces may need to render assistance to countries that are crucial to India&rsquos strategic and economic well being and also to further India&rsquos diplomatic foot print as directed by the government.

                                        Considering the distances at which the force may require to operate, it would be ideal for the force&rsquos composition to include all arms of the defence forces and be totally self sustaining. This would mean a composite force which would include constituent elements of the Army, Navy and Air force-troops, ships, and aircraft. The troops would require operating off ships for operations on land and thus need to be amphibious in nature.

                                        Historically, nations have used and maintained amphibious forces for policing, anti-piracy, enforcing a nation&rsquos policies, and humanitarian assistance. The earliest known instance of Indian involveme.nt in amphibious operations was as a part of the British assault at Tanga, German East Africa in 1914. India later successfully demonstrated its amphibious capabilities during Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka.

                                        India&rsquos current amphibious forces are a combination of the Indian Army and the Indian Navy. The Navy provides the platforms and towards this maintains a fleet of landing ships while the Indian Army provides the troops for amphibious operations. In 2008 India unveiled the joint doctrine for its amphibious operations. The doctrine is meant to serve as a guideline on how the armed forces intend to plan and conduct amphibious operations and achieve full synergistic effect of joint combat power.

                                        There are four recognised types of amphibious operations:

                                        Amphibious demonstration.

                                        An amphibious operation conducted for the purpose of deceiving the enemy by a show of force with the expectation of deluding the adversary into an unfavourable course of action.

                                        Amphibious raid.

                                        An amphibious operation involving the swift incursion into or temporary occupation of, an objective area followed by a planned withdrawal.

                                        Amphibious assault.

                                        The principal type of amphibious operation, which involves establishing a force on a hostile or potentially hostile shore.

                                        Amphibious withdrawal.

                                        An amphibious operation involving the extraction of forces by sea in naval ships or craft from a hostile or potentially hostile shore.

                                        In February 2009 the Indian Army re-raised 91 Infantry Brigade in amphibious role comprising of 3 infantry Battalions and a strength of 3,000 personnel. The soldiers have been drawn from the Sikh, Gorkhas and Madras regiments. The new amphibious brigade, is modelled on the lines of the Indian Navy&rsquos marine commandos and specialising in land and marine warfare. Experts see it as a necessary adjunct to meet India&rsquos security challenges.

                                        A well-planned and executed amphibious operation - basically a tri-service operation launched from the sea by carrying soldiers and their weaponry on a ship and affecting a landing on enemy shore - could change the course of a war.

                                        In February 2009 the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force jointly conducted the largest ever amphibious exercise codenamed &ldquoEXERCISE TROPEX-2009&rdquo at Madhavpur beach in Gujarat. This was the first time the joint doctrine on amphibious warfare of the Indian Armed Forces which was formulated last year was put into practice with its full scope. Tanks, armored personnel carriers and Infantry troops of 91 Infantry Brigade of the Sudarshan Chakra Corps participated in both stand-off and hard beaching modes.

                                        In today&rsquos world when countries are trying to develop cohesive and well trained forces for tackling issues which are of importance to those countries, an independent and well trained amphibious force may be the best method to further India&rsquos amphibious capabilities.

                                        The successful conduct of an amphibious operation is dependent to a major extent on the reconnaissance of the target beach. Therefore, to conduct any amphibious operation, it takes specialized training. This entails concepts of land warfare interwoven into the training curriculum, but more specifically the amphibious platforms as the departure point. Also, the force should be aware of the critical limitations of an amphibious operation like tidal patterns and withdrawal from the area of operations.

                                        India needs amphibious ships that are capable of dual role, both in war and peace. This would ensure that the entire spectrum of India&rsquos likely requirements-from strategic lift and prepositioning to humanitarian missions are capably handled. Considering the type of missions with which India&rsquos amphibious forces may be tasked, the platforms which could be of use to India include the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship (LHA), Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), Dock Landing Ship (LSD), and the LPD.

                                        Emerging forces

                                        India&rsquos security concerns are defined by a dynamic global security environment and the perception that South Asia region is of particular global security interest.

                                        While Asian navies benefited greatly from the US Navy&rsquos Second World War amphibious warfare construction program given the large numbers of surplus US vessels which were available to them after the conflict, these vessels are being now replaced by newer platforms which reflect current doctrines. The changes are also reinforced by the realization that amphibious warfare vessels are extremely valuable in supporting humanitarian relief operations. The trend in the Pacific Rim is away from the attack transport, LSD and LST vessels into a multirole platform with excellent command and control facilities which is capable of acting as a mini-base.

                                        The first stage is to give the LSD a helicopter deck for several aircraft enabling it to become a de facto dock landing platform (LPD). Examples of such designs include India&rsquos INS Jalashwa amphibious support ship and the Indonesian Navy&rsquos &lsquoMakassar&rsquo class of LPD.

                                        Amphibious capabilities in Asia Pacific maritime environment means more than mere operational modality: It needs to be grasped as a strategic imperative and a critical enabler for defense cooperation.

                                        Amphibious forces will feature prominently whether the objective is power projection, territorial defense, stabilization operations, humanitarian assistance or even internal security. The revival of regional interest in amphibious warfare has been somewhat lost in the noise over China&rsquos blue water ambitions and anti-access, area-denial strategy. Yet China has also been nurturing its amphibious forces.

                                        Japan and Australia are moving rapidly toward establishing an Army-based amphibious force that will give them independent mobile capability broadly analogous to a USMC Marine Expeditionary Unit. The geographic advantages are obvious, given the anchoring coverage they can provide within the first and second island chains. Both are treaty allies, train regularly alongside forward-deployed US Marine units and interact increasingly with each other.

                                        Japan is establishing dedicated amphibious forces to suit the needs of a dynamic defense posture, ostensibly aimed at security concerns in the remote southern isles including the disputed Senkaku Islands.

                                        China&rsquos People&rsquos Liberation Army (PLA) has been also bolstering its amphibious forces in recent years. The PLA Marine Corps is modernizing with new infantry equipment and amphibious fighting vehicles, supported by a burgeoning fleet of larger, more capable sealift assets. Indonesia&rsquos amphibious forces ambition can be seen as part of contingency measures against potential crises in the South China Sea, where it is trying to strengthen the defence around Natuna Islands.

                                        Recently, Myanmar reportedly began negotiations with Indonesia for the purchase of an unknown number of LPDs based on the Makassar class.

                                        Over the past couple of years there are signs of a renewed regional commitment to modernizing amphibious forces. As the region grapples with the foreseeable rise in incidences of natural calamities, acquiring amphibious platforms benefits collective security. In this sense, amphibious landing ships have become indispensable to the navies of developing countries in the region.

                                        The importance of air power to support over-the-horizon amphibious operations has led Western navies to expand the LPD concept by providing a flight deck extending along the whole length of the ship giving it the appearance of an aircraft carrier although such ships are often officially designated as Landing Helicopter Assault/LHA or Landing Helicopter Dock/LHD vessels.

                                        The future of amphibious warfare will be driven by the Western naval powers. The US Navy has invested substantially in improving its amphibious warfare capability with new ships.

                                        The US Navy also intends to replace the LCAC with the Ship-to-Shore-Connector (SSC) of which the first is scheduled to enter service in 2018.

                                        Amphibious Operations - History

                                        The success of the Guantanamo Bay operation and the very real possibility that the United States' new position in world affairs might lead to repetitions of essentially the same situation led high-level naval strategists to become interested in establishing a similar force on a permanent basis: a force capable of seizing and defending advanced bases which the fleet could utilize in the prosecution of naval war in distant waters--waters conceivably much more distant than the Caribbean. This in turn led to the setting up of a class in the fundamentals of advanced base work at Newport, Rhode Island in 12901. During the winter of 1902-1903 a Marine battalion engaged in advanced base defense exercises on the island of Culebra in the Caribbean in conjunction with the annual maneuvers of the fleet. Expeditionary services in Cuba and Panama prevented an immediate follow-up to this early base defense instruction, but in 1910 a permanent advanced base school was organized at New London, Connecticut. A year later it was moved to Philadelphia. 1

                                        By 1913 sufficient progress had been made in advanced base instruction to permit the formation of a permanent advanced base force. Made up of two regiments, one of coast artillery, mines, searchlights, engineers, communicators, and other specialists for fixed defense, and the other of infantry and field artillery for mobile defense, the advanced base force totalled about 1,750 officers and men. In January of 1914 it was reinforced by a small Marine Corps aviation detachment and joined the fleet for maneuvers at Culebra. But the analogy between advanced base training and the amphibious assault techniques that emerged in World War II is easily overdrawn. Prior to World War I the primary interest was in defense of a base against enemy attack. There was no serious contemplation of large-scale landings against heavily defended areas.

                                        This all but exclusive concern for the defense of bases was clearly borne out by the writing of Major Earl H. Ellis. Ellis, one of the most brilliant young Marine staff officers, was among the farsighted military thinkers who saw the prospect of war between the United States and Japan prior to World War I. Around 1913, he directed attention to the

                                        problems of a future Pacific conflict. To bring military force to bear against Japan, Ellis pointed out, the United States would have to project its fleet across the Pacific. To support these operations so far from home would require a system of outlying bases. Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, which were the most important of these, we already possessed. Their defense would be of utmost importance and would constitute the primary mission of the Marine advanced base force. Ellis discussed in considerable detail the troops which would be required and the tactics they should employ.

                                        In addition to the bases already in the possession of the United States, Ellis foresaw the need of acquiring others held by Japan. To the Marine Corps would fall the job of assaulting the enemy-held territory. Although he did not discuss the problems involved nor take up the tactics to be employed, Ellis foreshadowed the amphibious assault which was to be the primary mission of the Marine Corps in World War II. 3

                                        The infant Advance Base Force was diverted to other missions almost as soon as it was created. Hardly were the Culebra maneuvers of 1914 completed when the Marines were sent to Mexico for the seizure of Vera Cruz. The next year they went ashore in Haiti, and in 1916 unsettled conditions in Santo Domingo required the landing of Marines in that country. Expeditionary service in these two Caribbean republics was to constitute a heavy and continuing drain on Marine Corps resources which might otherwise have been devoted to advanced base activities.

                                        The expansion of the Marine Corps to about 73,000 officers and men during World War I served as a temporary stimulant to me Advance Base Force. In spite of the demands for manpower resulting from the sending of an expeditionary force to France, the Advance Base Force was maintained at full strength throughout the war. By the Armistice it numbered 6,297 officers and men. 4

                                        Ups and Downs of the Nineteen Twenties

                                        Marines returning from overseas late in 1919 picked up where they left off three years before. At Quantico the Advance Base Force, redesignated the Expeditionary Force in 1921, stood ready to occupy and defend an advanced base or to restore law and order in a Caribbean republic. In that year it included infantry, field artillery, signal, engineer, and chemical troops, and aircraft. A similar expeditionary force was planned for San Diego, but perennial personnel shortages prevented the stationing of more than one infantry regiment and one aircraft squadron there during the 1920's. 5

                                        Nothing seemed changed, but delegates of the Great Powers, meeting at Versailles to write the peace treaty ending World War I, had already taken an action which was to have far-reaching consequences for

                                        a future generation of Marines. In the general distribution of spoils, the former German island possessions in the central Pacific had been mandated to the Japanese. At one stroke the strategic balance in the Pacific was shifted radically in favor of Japan. That country now possessed a deep zone of island outposts. Fortified and supported by the Japanese fleet, they would constitute a serious obstacle to the advance of the United States Fleet across the Pacific.

                                        Earl Ellis was one of the first to recognize the significance of this strategic shift. In 1921 he modified his earlier ideas and submitted them in the form of Operations Plan 712, "Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia." In this plan Ellis stressed the necessity for seizing by assault the bases needed to project the Fleet across the Pacific. He envisioned the seizure of specific islands in the Marshall, Caroline, and Palau groups, some of which were actually taken by Marines in World War II. He went so far as to designate the size and type of units that would be necessary, the kind of landing craft they should use, the best time of day to effect the landing, and other details needed to insure the success of the plan. Twenty years later Marine Corps action was to bear the imprint of this thinking: To effect [an amphibious landing] in the face of enemy resistance requires careful training and preparation, to say the least and this along Marine lines. It is not enough that the troops be skilled infantry men or artillery men of high morale they must be skilled water men and jungle men who know it can be done--Marines with Marine training. 6

                                        The Commandant, Major General John A. Lejeune, and other high ranking Marines shared Ellis' views. "The seizure and occupation or destruction of enemy bases is another important function of the expeditionary force," he stated in a lecture before the Naval War College in 1923. "On both flanks of a fleet crossing the Pacific are numerous islands suitable for submarine and air bases. All should be mopped up as progress is made. . The maintenance, equipping and training of its expeditionary force so that it will be in instant readiness to support the Fleet in the event of war," he concluded, " deem to be the most important Marine Corps duty in time of peace." 7

                                        The 1920s, however, were not the most favorable years for training in amphibious operations. Appropriations for the armed services were slim, and the Navy, whose cooperation and support was necessary to carry out landing exercises, was more intent on preparing for fleet surface actions of the traditional type. Still, a limited amount of amphibious training was carried out in the first half of the decade.

                                        During the winter of 1922, a reinforced regiment of Marines participated in fleet maneuvers with the Atlantic Fleet. Their problems included the attack and defense of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the island of Culebra. In March of the following year, a detachment of Marines took part in a landing exercises at Panama, and a battalion of Marines and sailors practiced a landing on Cape Cod that summer.

                                        Panama and Culebra both witnessed landing exercises early in 1924, with a Marine regiment participating. This set of exercises was the high pointy of training

                                        reached in the twenties. It marked the advent of serious experimentation with adequate landing craft for troops and equipment. However, it was most notable for the great number of mistakes made in the course of the exercises, such as inadequate attacking forces, insufficient and unsuitable boats, lack of order among the landing party, superficial naval bombardment, and poor judgment in the stowage of supplies and equipment aboard the single transport used. 8

                                        The last landing exercise of the era was a joint Army-Navy affair held during the spring of 1925 in Hawaiian waters. It was actually an amphibious command post exercise, undertaken at the insistence of General Lejeune to prove to skeptical Army officers that the Marine Corps could plan and execute an amphibious operation of greater than brigade size. A force of 42,000 Marines was simulated, although only 1,500 actually participated. It ran more smoothly than had the previous exercise, but still was handicapped by a lack of adequate landing craft.[9

                                        Even this meager amphibious training came to an end after 1925. New commitments in Nicaragua, in China, and in the United States guarding the mails served to disperse the expeditionary forces. By 1928 the Commandant announced in his annual report that barely enough personnel were on hand at Quantico and San Diego to keep those bases in operation.[10

                                        Whatever the shortcomings of the work in amphibious doctrine and technique during the 1920's, the Marine Corps scored a major triumph when its special interest in the field became part of the official military policy of the United States. Joint Action of the Army and Navy, a directive issued by the Joint Board of the Army and Navy in 1927, stated that the Marine Corps would provide and maintain forces "for land operations in support of the fleet for the initial seizure and defense of advanced bases and for such limited auxiliary land operations as are essential to the prosecution of the naval campaign."

                                        Further, in outlining the tasks to be performed by the Army and Navy in "Landing Attacks Against Shore Objectives," this document firmly established the landing force role of the Marine Corps: "Marines organized as landing forces perform the same functions as above stated for the Army, and because of the constant association with naval units will be given special training in the conduct of landing operations."[11

                                        Activation of the Fleet Marine Force

                                        MARINES IN FRANCE IN WORLD WAR I, part of the 4th Marine Brigade of the 2d Infantry Division, prepare to move up to the front line trenches. (USMC 4967)

                                        BANDIT-HUNTING PATROL in Nicaragua in 1929 typifies Marine activities between the World Wars when the Corps served as a Caribbean riot squad. (USMC 515283)

                                        However significant the creation of the FMF may have been in terms of the future, its initial form was modest enough. The Commandant was obliged to report in August 1934 that the responsibility for maintaining ship's detachments and garrisons abroad, and performing essential

                                        "The Book" Comes Out

                                        With the creation of the FMF the Marine Corps had finally acquired the tactical structure necessary to carry out the primary war mission assigned to it by the Joint Board in 1927. The next order of business was to train the FMF for the execution of its mission.

                                        But the training could not be very effective without a textbook embodying the theory and practice of landing operations. no such manual existed in 1933. There was a general doctrine by the Joint Board issued in 1933, and, though it offered many sound definitions and suggested general solutions to problems, it lacked necessary detail.

                                        In November 1933, all classes at the Marine Corps Schools were suspended, and, under the guidance of Colonel Ellis B. Miller, Assistant Commandant of the Schools, both the faculty and students set to work to write a manual setting forth in detail the doctrines and techniques to be followed in both training and actual operations. Under the title, Tentative Manual for Landing Operations, it was issued in January 1934.

                                        On 1 August 1934 the title was changed to Manual for Naval Overseas Operations and some changes were effected in the text. A few months later this publication, now retitled Tentative Landing Operations Manual, was approved by the Chief of Naval Operations for "temporary use . as a guide for forces of the Navy and the Marine Corps conducting a landing against opposition." 15 In mimeographed form it was given relatively limited distribution within the Navy, but wide distribution within the Marine Corps. Comments were invited.

                                        The doctrine laid down in this remarkable document was destined to become the foundation of all amphibious thinking in the United States armed forces. The Navy accepted it as official doctrine in 1938 under the title of Fleet Training Publication 167, and in 1941 the War Department put the Navy text between Army covers and issued it as Field Manual 31-5.
                                        [See HyperWar for addtional doctrine publications on Amphibious Operations.]

                                        Remarkable as it was, the Marine amphibious doctrine was largely theory when it was first promulgated at Quantico in 1934. To put the theory into practice, major landing exercises were resumed. They were held each winter from 1935 through 1941 on the islands of Culebra and Vieques in conjunction with fleet exercises in the Caribbean, or on San Clemente off the California coast. A final exercise of the prewar period on a much larger scale than any previously attempted was held at the newly acquired Marine Corps base at New River, North Carolina, in the summer of 1941. These fleet landing exercises provided the practical experience by which details of landing operations were hammered out.

                                        In light of its importance, here might be as good a place as any to consider briefly the more basic aspects of this doctrine as conceived in the original manual and modified

                                        Command Relationships

                                        This basic difference between land and amphibious operations created a problem in command relationships which has plagued amphibious operations from earliest times. During the initial stage when only naval elements have the capability of reacting to enemy action it has been generally and logically agreed that the over-all command must be vested in the commander of the naval attack force. It has, however, not been so generally agreed in the past that once the landing force is established ashore and capable of exerting its combat power with primary reliance on its own weapons and tactics that the landing force commander should be freed to conduct the operations ashore as he sees fit.

                                        The authors of the Tentative Landing Operations Manual, writing in 1934, evidently did not foresee that this particular aspect of command relations presented a problem that required resolution. 16 They simply defined the "attack force" as all the forces necessary to conduct a landing operation and added that the attack force commander was to be the senior naval officer of the fleet units making up the attack force. His command was to consist of the landing force and several naval components, organized as task groups for the support of the landing. These included, among others, the fire support, transport, air, screening, antisubmarine, and reconnaissance groups. The commanders of the landing force and of the several naval task groups operated on the same level under the over-all command of the attack force commander throughout the operation.

                                        This initial command concept was destined to undergo a number of modifications and interpretations which will be discussed in this history as they occur. The first important change did not come about until toward the close of the Guadalcanal campaign. 17

                                        Naval Gunfire Support

                                        own history contains many examples of this technique, notably: two landing of U.S. troops in Canada during the War of 1812 (York and Niagara Peninsula, summer 1813) General Scott's landing at Vera Cruz in 1847 during the Mexican War several amphibious operations during the Civil War, e.g., Fort Fisher in 1865 and Guantanamo Bay during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

                                        However, the evolution of modern weapons posed difficult problems of a technical nature, and the much belabored Gallipoli operation seemed to indicate that these were insoluble. High-powered naval guns, with their flat trajectory and specialized armor-piercing ammunition, proved no true substitute for land-based field artillery, and much study and practice would be required to develop techniques which would make them even an acceptable substitute.

                                        Nevertheless, a rudimentary doctrine concerning naval gunfire support evolved during the years between 1935 and 1941. But it evolved slowly and none too clearly. Experimentation indicated that bombardment ammunition, with its surface burst, was better suited to fire missions against most land targets, while armor-piercing shells could be employed to good effect against concrete emplacements and masonry walls, The types of ships and guns best adapted to perform specific fire missions--close support, deep support, counterbattery, interdiction, etc.--were determined. And some progress was made in fire observation technique.

                                        Three types of observers were provided for: aerial, shipboard and, once the first waves had landed, shore fire control parties. For the greater part of this period the latter were made up of personnel of the firing ships, inexperienced in such work, untrained, and wholly unfamiliar with the tactical maneuvers of the troops they were supporting, Not until 1941 were trained Marine artillery officers with Marine radio crews substituted, the naval officers then serving in a liaison capacity.

                                        Other considerations of a naval nature served as further limiting factors on the NGF support concept. The necessity for the support ships to have a large proportion of armor-piercing projectiles readily available with which to fight a surface action on short notice restricted the accessibility of and limited the amount of bombardment shells carried. In turn, the probability of enemy air and submarine action once the target area became known caused much apprehension in naval minds and dictated the earliest possible departure of the firing ships from the objective. An example of this apprehension at work came to the fore early in the Guadalcanal campaign. 18

                                        Furthermore, tradition dies hard in any service. The traditional belief that warships exist for the sole purpose of fighting other warships dates far back in history, with one of its leading exponents the great Lord Nelson with his oft-quoted dictum: "A ship's a fool to fight a fort." This supposed vulnerability of surface vessels to shore-based artillery remained very much alive in the minds of naval planners. So they dictated that support ships should deliver their fires at maximum range while traveling at high speed and maneuvering radically--not exactly conducive to pin-point marksmanship. 19 In sum, these considerations, the starting concept of naval gunfire support with which we

                                        Area neutralization--that was the basic concept, with deliberate destruction fire ruled out. A blood bath would be required to expunge this from "The Book."

                                        Air Support

                                        Even the original Tentative Landing Operations Manual considered the vulnerable concentrations of troops in transports, landing boats, and on the beach and called for a three-to-one numerical superiority over the enemy in the air. Later, in FTP-167, the ratio was increased to four-to-one, primarily to wipe the enemy air threat out of the skies and secondarily to shatter the enemy's beachhead defense and to cut off his reinforcements.

                                        Considerable emphasis was placed, however, on direct assistance to the troops themselves. This included such supporting services as guiding the landing boats to the beach, laying smoke screens, and providing reconnaissance and spotting for naval gunfire and artillery. Most importantly, it included rendering direct fire support to the landing force until the artillery was ashore and ready to fire.

                                        For this air war, employment of Marine squadrons on carriers was considered ideal but, due to a limited number of carriers, was not always a practical possibility. Planners even considered moving Marine planes ashore in crates and assembling them, after the ground troops had seized an airfield.

                                        Hence, the Tentative Landing Operations Manual called for the Navy to carry most of the initial air battle. Marine pilots, however, might be employed with Navy air units. Actually, in order to exercise Marine air, most of the early training landing had to be scheduled within round trip flying distance of friendly air fields. Although by 1940 Marine carrier training operations were becoming routine, the heavy reliance upon Navy carrier air over Marine landing lasted throughout the war.

                                        As noted before, close coordination of air with ground received great emphasis in the Marine Corps. Even in Santo Domingo and Haiti and later in Nicaragua, Marine pilots reconnoitered, strafed, and bombed insurgent positions, dropped supplies to patrols, and evacuated wounded. The Tentative Landing Operations Manual incorporated this teamwork into its new amphibious doctrine, and the landing exercises of the late 30's developed aviation fire power as an important close ground support weapon. By 1939, Colonel Roy S. Geiger advocated and other Marine Corps leaders conceded that one of the greatest potentials of Marine aviation lay in this "close air support."

                                        The challenge became that of applying the fire power of Marine air, when needed,

                                        to destroy a specific enemy front line position without endangering nearby friendly troops.

                                        Refinement of this skilled technique as we know it today was slow because of many factors. There was so much for pilots to learn about rapidly developing military aviation that close air support had to take its place in the busy training syllabus after such basic drill as aerial tactics, air to air gunnery, strafing, bombing, navigation, carrier landings, and communications, and constant study of the latest in engineering, aerodynamics, and flight safety.

                                        Also, whenever newer, faster, and higher flying airplanes trickled into the Marine Corps in the lean thirties, they were found to be less adaptable for close coordination with ground troops than the slower, open cockpit planes which supported the patrol actions of Nicaragua.

                                        In Nicaragua the aviator in his open cockpit could idle his throttle so as to locate an enemy machine gun by its sound, but in the maneuvers of 1940 pilots flashing by in their enclosed cockpits found it difficult to see what was going on below or even to differentiate between friendly and "enemy" hills. 21 In Nicaragua, the Marine flier was most often an ex-infantryman, but 10 years later many of the new Navy-trained Marine aviators were fresh from college and knew little about ground tactics. The lack of a real enemy to look for, identify, and to shoot at hindered attempts at precision, especially since air-ground radio was not yet as reliable as the old slow but sure system where pilots read code messages from cloth panels laid on the ground or swooped down with weighted lines to snatch messages suspended between two poles.

                                        The main key to development of close air support lay in reliable communications to permit quick liaison and complete understanding between the pilot and the front line commander. Part of the solution lay in more exercises in air-ground coordination with emphasis on standardized and simplified air-ground communications and maps. By 1939 an aviator as an air liaison officer was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade Staff. While both artillery and naval gunfire, however, employed forward observers at front line positions, air support control was still being channeled slowly through regimental and brigade command posts. 22 In the same year one squadron sent up an air liaison officer in the rear seat of a scouting or bombing plane to keep abreast of the ground situation and to direct fighter or dive bomber pilots onto targets by means of radio. 23 This was better but not best.

                                        Meanwhile, war flamed up in Europe. Navy and Marine planners took note as the Germans drove around the Maginot Line with their special air-ground "armored packets" in which aviation teamed up with the fast, mobile ground elements to break up resistance. 24 By this time the Marines were working on the idea of placing

                                        The Ship-to-Shore Movement

                                        The ship-to-shore movement was visualized by the Tentative Landing Operations Manual in a manner which resembled closely a conventional attack in land warfare: artillery preparation, approach march, deployment, and assault by the infantry. It stressed that this movement was no simple ferrying operation but a vital and integral part of the attack itself and demanded a high order of tactical knowledge and skill.

                                        The two major problems in the ship-to-shore movement are the speedy debarkation of the assaulting troops and their equipment into the landing boats and the control and guiding of these craft to their assigned beaches. To facilitate the first, the Tentative Landing Operations Manual directed that each transport on which combat units were embarked should carry as a minimum sufficient boats to land a reinforced infantry battalion. 27 Thus each transport and its accompanying troops would be tactically self-sufficient for the assault landing, and the loss of one ship would not be a crippling blow. To expedite their debarkation the Marines generally went over the side via cargo nets rigged at several stations on the ship.

                                        To solve the second major problem in the ship-to-shore movement, that of controlling and guiding the landing craft to their proper beaches, the Tentative Landing Operations Manual provided for: (1) marking the line of departure with buoys or picket boats (2) a designated control vessel to lead each boat group from the rendezvous area to the line of departure, towing the boats in fog, smoke, or darkness, if necessary (3) wave and alternate wave guide boats (4) each boat to carry a signboard with its assigned letter and number indicating its proper position in the formation and (5) for a guide plane to lead the boat waves in.

                                        The system for the control of the ship-to-shore movement was still substantially the same as prescribed in the Tentative Landing Operations Manual when the Marines made their first amphibious landing of World War II at Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942.

                                        Combat Unit Loading

                                        practical in utilizing every cubic foot of cargo space available but prevents access to much of the cargo until the ship is unloaded.

                                        Highest priority items for combat unit loading vary somewhat with the nature and problems of a particular operation. Relative priorities must be worked out with minute care. The responsibility for handling this was given to a Marine officer designated transport quartermaster (TQM) aboard each amphibious assault ship. He had to know not only the weight and dimensions of each item of Marine gear carried but had to familiarize himself with the characteristics of the particular ship to which he was assigned: exact location and dimensions of all holds and storage spaces in terms of both cubic feet and deck space. This familiarity required at times accurate remeasurement of holds and loading spaces as modifications, not shown in the ship's plans, had often been made in the ship's internal structure. Initially, the Tentative Landing Operations Manual directed that the TQM should be an officer of the unit embarked, but such were the variations in ships that it subsequently proved more feasible to assign a Marine officer, thoroughly familiar with Marine gear, permanently to a particular ship with which he would become equally familiar through experience.

                                        Practical experience with combat loading between 1935 and 1941 generally confirmed the soundness of the doctrines set forth in the Tentative Landing Operations Manual. Application of these doctrines in the fleet landing exercises was limited, however, by several factors, chiefly the lack of suitable transports. In addition, an uncertainty at times as to ports of embarkation and dates of availability of ships sometimes entangled planning procedures. As a result, there was no ideal approximation of wartime combat loading.

                                        Shore Party

                                        One of the most serious problems encountered in early landing exercises was congestion on the beaches as men and supplies piled ashore. To keep such a situation reasonably in hand requires a high degree of control control difficult to achieve under such circumstances, even when the enemy remains only simulated. Assault troops must push inland with all speed not only to expand the beachhead, but also to make room for following units and equipment to land and to provide space in which personnel assigned strictly beach functions can operate.

                                        To solve this problem the Tentative Landing Operations Manual provided for a beach party, commanded by a naval officer called a beachmaster, and a shore party, a special task organization, commanded by an officer of the landing force. The beach party was assigned primarily naval functions, e.g., reconnaissance and marking of beaches, marking of hazards to navigation, control of boats, evacuation of casualties, and, in addition, the unloading of material of the landing force from the boats. The shore party was assigned such functions as control of stragglers and prisoners, selecting and marking of routes inland, movement of supplies and equipment off the beaches, and assignment of storage and bivouac areas in the vicinity of the beach. The composition and strength of the shore party were not set forth except for a statement that it would contain detachments from some or all of the following landing force units: medical, supply, working details, engineers,

                                        military police, communications, and chemical. The beach party and the shore party were independent of each other, but the Tentative Landing Operations Manual enjoined that the fullest cooperation be observed between the beachmaster and the shore party commander, and the personnel of their respective parties.

                                        It was not indicated from what source "working details" for the shore party would come, but in practice, since there was no other source, the policy of assigning units in reserve the responsibility for furnishing the labort details quickly developed. This in effect, however, temporarily deprived the commander of his reserve.

                                        No realistic test of the shore and beach party doctrine took place during the early fleet landing exercises. Although some material was landed on the beach, it generally consisted of rations and small quantities of ammunition and gasoline. Not until 1941 were adequate supplies available and the maneuvers on a large enough scale to provide a test of logistic procedures. The results were not encouraging. "In January of 1941 . the shore party for a brigade size landing . consisted of one elderly major and two small piles of ammunition boxes," wrote a Marine officer who "suffered" through those years. "The ship-to-shore movement of fuel was a nightmare. We had no force level transportation, [no] engineers and no supporting maintenance capability worthy of the name. In short, the combination of the parsimonious years and our own apathy had left us next to helpless where logistics were concerned." 29

                                        Major General H.M. Smith, the landing force commander at the New River exercise in the summer of 1941, reported that "considerable delay in the debarkation of troops and supplies was caused by lack of personnel in the Shore and Beach Parties. . Roughly, the supplies except for subsistence it was possible to land . were insufficient to sustain the forces engaged for more than three days." 30

                                        General Smith, who had a deep respect for logistics, was determined to correct these deficiencies. "It is evident," he reported to Rear Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, "that special service troops (labor) must be provided for these duties in order to prevent reduction of the fighting strength of battalion combat teams. . The present doctrine results in divided authority between shore party commanders." He recommended that "the beach and shore party commanders be consolidated into one unit, a Shore Party, under control of the landing force." 31

                                        Solution to the problem of divided authority came from a joint board of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers appointed by Admiral King. Its recommendations closely followed those of General Smith and were accepted in toto and published on 1 August 1942 and Change 2 to FTP 167. The principal changes were: (1) joining together of the beach and shore parties under the title Shore Party, as a component of the landing force (2) designating the beach party commander as the assistant to the shore party commander and his advisor on

                                        naval matters and (3) transferring the responsibility for unloading boats at the beach from the naval element to the landing force element of the shore party. 32

                                        Marine Corps Headquarters solved the labor force problem by adding a pioneer (shore party) battalion of 34 officers and 669 enlisted men to the marine division. 33 This change occurred on 10 January 1942, too late for the personnel concerned to gain practical experience in large-scale exercises in the techniques of handling vast quantities of supplies or to test the adequacy of the strength and organization provided. At Guadalcanal this lack came close to having serious consequences. 34

                                        General Smith was not content merely to submit his shore party recommendations to Admiral King. At his direction, the logistics staff of the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet prepared a detailed Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) covering all phases of logistics. Issued as Force General Order No. 7-42, SOP for Supply and Evacuation, it served as the basic guide to combat loading and shore party operations during the Guadalcanal operation. 35

                                        By 7 December 1941 the Marine Corps had made long strides towards amphibious preparedness. It had a doctrine which had been tested in maneuvers and found to be basically sound. Many of the errors in implementation had been recognized and corrected still others were awaiting remedial action when war broke out. But the simulated conditions of the maneuver ground were now to be abandoned. The Marines and their doctrine were now to submit to the ultimate test of war.

                                        Watch the video: Ships of the Imperial Japanese Army - Much Maru About Something (August 2022).