The training program to be followed in the training of the 45th Infantry Division at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, was published on 8 July 1942, and became effective 15 July when the first class started. The mission of the Center was "to train division staff officers, combat team staff officers, and elements of division and attached troops in independent and Joint amphibious shore-to-shore and commando operations.''1
Each division trained was broken down into groupments and trained by echelons. Groupment "A" was composed of the division general and special staff; "B" was regimental combat team number one; "C" was combat team number two; "D" was combat team number three; "E" was all other division units not assigned to Groupment "B" to "D" inclusive; and "F" was the provisional commando task force to be organized from elements of each division.
Groupment "A" consisted of all officers assigned to G-2, G-3, and G-4, and the Division Automotive Officer, Engineer Officer, Ordnance Officer, Signal Officer, Surgeon, and Quartermaster. In addition to these a representative group of the Division Artillery Commander was attached. This Groupment in the 45th Division was trained under the direct supervision of the Administrative Section of the Amphibious Division of the Center and the objective assigned was the development of a highly efficient general and special staff trained in all matters pertaining to tactical, administrative, and logistical planning of shore-to-shore operations.
Groupments "B", "C", and "D" each were to consist of one infantry regiment, one field artillery battalion (105 mm how), one combat engineer company, one collecting company from the division medical battalion, and such armored, antiaircraft, signal, and tank destroyer units, etc., as might be attached. These groupments were trained under the direct supervision of the Tactical Section of the Amphibious Division, and the objective assigned was to develop in each division regimental combat teams which would be well coordinated, fast moving, and efficient in all phases of shore-to-shore and commando operations.
Groupment "E" consisted of the Headquarters and Military Police Company of the division; Signal Company; Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery; Medium Artillery Battalion; Engineer Battalion, less Companies A, B, and C; Quartermaster Battalion; Medical Battalion, less collecting companies; Reconnaissance Troop; and any attached units. The Basic Training Section of the Amphibious Division was given the responsibility of supervising the training of the groupment, and the objective assigned was the training of the above units to play their respective parts in shore-to-shore operations in a highly coordinated and efficient manner. This Groupment was broken down into three subgroupments, one each of which went through the training concurrently with Groupments "B", "C", and "D".
Groupment "F", the Provisional Commando Task Force, consisted of a group of selected individuals forming those combat and service elements usually found in a commando organization. Its composition consisted of a Commanding Officer and Staff; one infantry rifle company; a detachment from the intelligence and reconnaissance platoon of Regimental Headquarters Company; one infantry battalion medical section; one infantry antitank platoon; one 81 mm mortar platoon; one engineer platoon; one infantry
1. ATC Tng Memo 3, 8 Jul 42, sub: Tng Program effective 15 Jul 42. Hist Off files.
battalion communication platoon; one infantry antitank mine platoon; and one infantry battalion ammunition and pioneer platoon. The Chief of the Commando Division was responsible for the training, and the objective assigned was to develop a highly efficient commando force in each infantry division, and to teach the division and subordinate unit staffs the principles, doctrine, and tactics applicable to commando operations.
A ten-day period of training was allotted to each combat team, ten days for the Provisional Commando Task Force, and ten days for the division general and special staff. The first three days of the training period for each combat team were devoted to a school for three selected officers and three noncommissioned officers from each company, battery, or similar organization; and am available regimental and battalion staff officers. In this three-day period the selected personnel were given a concentrated course of amphibious training to prepare them to conduct the training of their units for the remainder of the period. The last seven days consisted of training conducted by this group and directed and supervised by officers of the Amphibious Training Center. The first day of training for the division general and special staff was the same as that for the selected officers and noncoms, consisting mainly of an introduction to amphibious warfare, while the remainder of their training period was devoted to staff functions. The Commando Force trained separately since its subjects were more specialized and distinct in nature.
The Center began training of the first regimental combat team and the Provisional Commando Task Force of the 45th Division along the lines outlined above on 15 July 1942. The first period ran from that date until 25 July; the second from 28 July to 6 August; and the third from 10 August to 20 August. The staff course was held between 28 July and 7 August, running concurrently with the training of the second regimental combat team.
The subjects included in the training of the regimental combat teams were basic and were designed primarily to enable the students to handle themselves and their equipment in an amphibious operation and to acquaint them with the landing craft they would use and with the functions and operations of the Engineer Amphibian units which would transport them. Subjects covered in the first three-day school period for selected officers and noncommissioned officers were a general orientation; doctrines and principles of amphibious operations; compositions of boat teams and boat waves; proper method of wearing equipment; scaling of cargo nets; lowering of light organic equipment and weapons from piers into landing craft; methods of embarking into and debarking from landing craft; loading and unloading of trucks, artillery, and other heavy equipment; crossing barbed wire and clearing beaches of obstacles and mines; operation of boats; and practical work in day and night landing exercises. During the three-day period while the officers and noncoms were receiving their instruction, the remaining personnel of the combat team were undergoing rigorous physical training consisting primarily of road marches and swimming
The officers and noncoms who were trained during those three days then took over their units and trained them in the subjects which they had learned. This training consisted almost entirely of practical work supervised by personnel of the Center and conducted in accordance with schedules publisher by the Center. Lengthy conferences were avoided because of ate shortage of time for practice.
The training of the Commando Force was not periodized but ran continuously for ten days, all personnel being trainer together. All instruction was given by personnel of the Commando Division assisted upon request by the officers and noncoms of the student units in the conduct of the practical cork. The Commando course was designed primarily to harden the students physically, perfect basic training so vital to the success of
raider operations, teach tactics and techniques of hand-to-hand combat and self defense, and teach the tactics of raiding forces. The subjects covered in the first school were conditioning exercises consisting of obstacle courses; bayonet, grenade, and hand-to-hand fighting methods; use of the compass; map reading; military sketching; message writing; aerial photograph reading; mine techniques, demolitions; knots and lashings; crossing barbed wire and beach obstacles; operating and disabling motor vehicles and weapons; preparation of personnel for commando raids; reconnaissance patrol techniques; booby traps; operation of personnel at night; technique of rubber boat operation; technique of embarking and debarking from landing craft; boat formations; interrogation of prisoners; planning for and conduct of raids; and practical work in the form of night raids to secure information and destroy "hostile" installations. The Commando Division was materially assisted in its training by Major Woodcock, a British officer who has been a member of the British No. l Commando force and had participated in several raids on the French coast.
The School for the division general and special staff, hurriedly prepared began on 28 July and terminated on 7 August. The course attempted to point out the peculiar staff problems raised in amphibious operations and to indicate a solution of them. Instruction was in the form of conferences, practical work on map exercises, and planning for the division maneuver which ended the training period for the 45th Division. Eighteen hours of conferences were held and one day was allotted for solution of the map exercise. School was restricted to four-hour sessions in the morning in order to give the division staff an opportunity to carry on administrative duties and supervise the training of the combat teams.
Conferences offered by the Center staff in the first school included a general orientation; theory of tactical amphibious shore-to-shore operations; doctrines and principles of amphibious operations; organization and functions of the Engineer Amphibian Brigade; detailed planning for commando raids, including the solution of a map problem; supply problems; operation of the Engineer shore regiment; medical evacuation system in amphibious operations; British combined operations; defenses on the French coast; function of division service elements in shore-to-shore operations; antiaircraft defense in amphibious warfare; role of British armored units; air operations; naval support; combat engineer missions; proposed smoke screening operations; British communication system; and amphibious training of the 1st Infantry Division (training film). In addition to the conferences a map exercise was prepared by the Center and solved by the students. The student solution and the Center solution were then compared and discussed.
Instructors for the staff school were provided from the personnel of the Center, officers of the Engineer Amphibian Command, and British officers on duty with the Center. Major Berald E. Woodcock (No. l Commando), Major Phillip R. Drew (Suffolk Regiment), Major Fleming (Royal Armoured Corps), Lt. P. R. G. Worth (Royal Navy), and Major E. T. Thompson (Royal Corps of Signals) were the British officers who lectured in the first school.
The training of the 45th Infantry Division was terminated with a three-day amphibious exercise which had been proposed by the Center and planned and executed by the division. The exercise involved a tactical situation concerned with the assumed occupation by German forces of Martha's Vineyard, and island in Vineyard Sound off the south shores of Cape Cod. The task of the division was to invade the island, drive out the German forces and secure the island with its airfield as a base for further operations against German forces occupying Nantucket Island. All planning for the execution of this mission was done by the division, regimental, and battalion staffs of the 45th Division. Special Staff officers of the Center were made available to the division staff for consultation in the solution of special problems.
The problem was as realistic as possible within the limitations imposed by safety requirements, availability of troops and equipment, and lack of sufficient boats. The beaches on Martha's Vineyard were extensively wired and covered with beach obstacles. Demolitions were planted on the beaches and inland to be exploded during the landing to simulate naval gunfire support, artillery fire, and land mines. The island was defended by the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion, but the number of troops available in that unit was small, which resulted in the use of flags and umpires to represent the enemy on a part of the island.
One company of parachute infantry from Fort Bragg took part in the exercise in conjunction with the division. Its mission was to Jump at E-hour and capture the airfield, which it did in moderately good order.
The Provisional Commando Task Force was employed under direction of the division staff with the mission of landing by boat to assist the parachute infantry in the capture of the airfield. Actually the Commandos arrived first and had the situation fairly well in hand by the tome the parachutists landed.
Considerable realism in the problem was lost owing to scarcity of boats. Those available could carry only one full regimental combat team, the Commando Task Force, and token representations of the remaining two combat teams and the division rear echelon. This necessitated turning the exercise into a combined maneuver and command post exercise. The shortage of boats also seriously curtailed the play of the supply problem, which the personnel of the Canter considered to be one of the most important points to be brought cue by the maneuver.
Further realism was lost owing to the small maneuver area available on the island. The restrictions of space necessitated the imposition of arbitrary phase lines in order to prevent the troops from progressing too far in too short a time. The resultant arbitrary halting of the advance of the combat elements tended to make them lose interest in the problem.
Despite the numerous handicaps the exercise wee carried out successfully on 18, 19 and 20 August, amid loud explosions, smoke screens, dropping parachutists, and the roar of landing craft motors.
The lessons learned from the execution of the maneuver did not reflect unfavorably upon the Amphibious Training Center. Most of the mistakes made in the conduct of it resulted from ignoring the doctrines of the Center or from improper execution of them. The majority of the unfavorable comments of observers were directed toward irregularities caused by violation of basic training principles on the part of individuals of the Division—such things as using lights and smoking in the open at night, bunching of individuals, poor road discipline, improper camouflage, etc., which of course were not the responsibility of the Center.2
The Engineer boat and shore units came in for their share of unfavorable comment as well. Their failure to land units on the designated beaches in the prescribed formation at the proper time indicated a lack of thorough training on their part.3
The exercise was of great value to all participating units and to the Center as well. As a result of it, the Center resolved to place more emphasis on discipline and basic training of individuals; the necessity of thorough, intensive, and exhaustive planning for amphibious operations on the part of unit staffs; and the necessity for complete coordination and accurate timing among all elements of a combined assault force.
The brief period between the completion of training of the 45th Division and the start of the next school for the 36th Division was spent in improving the instruction offered by the Center, particularly in regard to the staff school. The map exercise was revised and additional conferences were scheduled, raising the total from eighteen hours to twenty-two hours, with one additional day provided for solution of the map exercise.
Conferences added to the staff curriculum included types and characteristics of small landing craft; functions and operations of the Engineer boat regiment; organization of boat teams, boat waves, and the battalion landing group; loading and unloading heavy equipment and vehicles; functions and operations of an Engineer shore company; wearing of equipment, scaling cargo nets, lashing and lowering equipment into boats; embarking and debarking boat teams; signal communication within regiment and battalion in shore-to-shore operations; battalion landing group in an assault on a hostile shore; British infantry battalion in combined operations; British Engineers in combined operations; use of field, antiaircraft, and antitank artillery in combined operations; effect of hydrographic and meteorological conditions on selection of D-day and H-hour; operation of Engineer boat battalion; naval gunfire support in shore-to-shore operations; organization of the air force (with reference to amphibious warfare); air-ground support in shore-to-shore operations; British air-ground support; use of paratroops; artillery and tank destroyer units in shore-to-shore operations; combat engineers in amphibious warfare; signal communications; and administrative planning.4 The field was considerably broadened by the addition of these subjects, and the new schedule included more extended consideration of amphibious warfare in its relation to arms, services, and staff sections. Basic subjects previously taught only to the troops (cargo-net scaling, lowering equipment, etc.) were included to resolve some of the difficulties observed in the 45th Division exercise with regard to the functions of individual soldiers. Additional training was given regimental and battalion staffs in
2. Rpts of Obsrs, 45th Inf Div Maneuver. Cpy on file at
Hq, Tng Cen, ATC, U S Atlantic Fleet, Norfolk Va.
4. ATC Tng Memo 4, 3 Sep 42, sub: Tng Dir. Hist Off files.
night classes in preparation of boat assignment tables and landing schedules for a battalion landing group, and preparation of regimental and battalion field orders for shore-to-shore operations.
In order to give the selected officers and noncommissioned officers a better picture of an amphibious operation and thus increase their interest in the instruction—thereby heightening the value of the training they would give their own troops—certain additions were made to the schedule of instruction for the regimental combat teams. The new subjects included: types and characteristics of small landing craft; organization of the Engineer Amphibian Brigade; functions and operations of Engineer boat and shore regiments; British combined operations; theory of shore-to-shore operations; methods of handling supplies; operations and functions of an Engineer shore company; System of medical evacuation in amphibious operations; and signal communications within the regiment and battalion. This revision was another indication of the trend toward improvement and extension of the training offered by the Center.
The changes in the curriculum of the Commando Division were more in the direction of extension of training than addition of new subjects. More practical work was undertaken, especially in the conduct of night problems involving use of maps and compasses, use of demolitions, techniques of employing and removing antitank and antipersonnel mines, etc. The conditioning courses were augmented by speed marches and instruction in the use of the toggle rope (a short rope with an eye-splice in one end and a wooden handle on the other, extensively used by the British Commandos for wall scaling, improvising bridges, garroting the enemy). A System of hardening (involving log exercises calisthenics with a log about ten feet long and eight inches in diameter) developed by the British was also added.
The training of the 36th Division was conducted in the same manner as that of the 45th except for the extensions and improvements listed. The period allotted to the first regimental combat team ran from 24 August to 13 September, the second from 5 September to 16 September, and the third from 18 September to 4 October. The Division staff school was in session from 5 September to 21 September, with the period from 23 September to 4 October allotted for the preparation and planning for, and the conduct of, the final division exercise. The Commando course ran from 5 September to 16 September.
The final exercise of the 36th Division was more satisfactory than that of the 45th Division. The problem and plan of execution were basically the same for both exercises, but the extensions in the training schedule were reflected in better performance of the maneuver by the 36th Division. More boats were available than previously, and by careful employment of them and shuttling them between assault and reserve battalions, the whole division was able to participate. The supply problem suffered this time, too, but not quite so badly as before.
The lessons learned from the execution of this second maneuver were the same as those learned from the 45th Division exercise—necessity for more accurate planning, better timing and coordination, more discipline on the part of troops, and the need for further training in navigation and boat operation on the part of the Engineer Amphibian units.5
All training at Camp Edwards was conducted at Washburn Island and on the beaches surrounding it, except for the staff school which was held on the post at Edwards and the final exercise which was held on Martha's Vineyard. All training was were concentrated in that area in order to reduce the necessity of excessive travel by the students.
5. Rpts of Obsrs, 36th Inf Div Maneuver. Copy on file at Hq Tng Cen, ATC, U S Atlantic Fleet, N.O.B., Norfolk 11, Va.
Training aids for the basic amphibious subjects consisted of cargo-net towers, mock-up boats, outline boats, barbed wire entanglements, and actual landing craft furnished by the Engineers. The Cargo-net towers were structures forty feet high and twenty feet square which represented piers from which troops might load into landing craft when embarking on a shore-to-shore operation. Rope nets were suspended on two sides of these structures and were used to teach the technique of loading from piers into boats. In some cases a good deal of patient instruction was necessary to overcome acrophobia in some individuals. The mock-up and outline boats were dry-land representations of landing craft used to teach methods of embarking, loading, and debarking. The barbed wire entanglements were erected to teach methods of crossing obstacles of a type likely to be encountered on a hostile shore.
The Commando installations were located in a separate camp about eight hundred yards from the main installations on Washburn Island and were separated therefrom by the waters of Waquoit Bay. The Commando camp contained only the barest essentials for physical comfort, which was intended as a part of the hardening training but was also a matter of necessity owing to lack of time to construct housing facilities. Student units bivouacked in shelter tents, messed in the open, and used open-pit latrines.
Training aids available at the Commando camp included an obstacle course, grenade Course, bayonet course, demolitions course, mines, booby-traps, a Commando Efficiency Course, and speed march courses. All the facilities, with the exception of prepared mines, booby-traps, and demolitions, were built by the Commando Division with the aid of the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion.
The Commando Efficiency Course, which is probably the only one of the aids listed which needs explanation, was a course designed to test the proficiency of the students in the type of warfare being taught them. Students were put through the test, graded, and rated according to their accomplishments. Briefly, the course was a circuitous route through the woods and underbrush on which the soldier being tested was confronted at unexpected turns in the trail with dummies representing the enemy in various conditions of activity and hostility. The aim was to test the reaction of the soldier, on the basis of the training he had received, to unexpected situations similar to those he might meet in combat. His intestinal fortitude was also tested by one of the situations put before him—at one turn in the trail the soldier met a realistic-looking dummy under circumstances that indicated the best method of disposing of this particular enemy was to bayonet him. If the soldier reacted properly and used his bayonet he got blood sprayed over him from a bladder in the dummy's stomach. The blood was real (pig blood secured from a slaughterhouse) and some soldiers were considerably shaken by the sight of it:
The training conducted at Camp Edwards was as thorough and complete as could be expected under the circumstances outlined in Chapter V, and the student divisions seemed to be fairly well satisfied with it. Everyone connected with the Amphibious Training Center freely admitted that there was room for improvement, and better things were expected when the Center moved to Carrabelle.