The instruction offered by the Amphibious Training Center at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, although basically developed on the basis of that given at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, differed in several mayor respects. Particularly notable was the trend toward more intensified training of student units. All divisions of the Center had been constantly striving to increase the quality and quantity of the training given to student units, and their efforts met with more success at Carrabelle than they had at Edwards. The improvement was due in part to a slight increase in the number of instructors and in part to more adequate equipment which the Center had been slowly and painstakingly acquiring during the five months of its existence.
An Army Ground Forces training directive dated 24 October 1942, altered in some respects the mission and objective of the Amphibious Training Center.1 This directive was interpreted in a training program effective 15 November 1942, published by General Keating on 10 November.2 As outlined in this program, the mission of Center at Carrabelle was to teach, by academic and practical means, all phases of amphibious operations involving a shore-to-shore movement, and to outline the basic principles of ship-to-shore movements by lectures and conferences. The objective to be attained by each student division was the formation of a highly efficient, well-coordinated, hard-hitting, and fast-moving amphibious force, thoroughly qualified to act independently or in conjunction with other army troops and naval forces in a combined operation. The objective also included the mental and physical hardening of all officers and enlisted men for arduous field service and battle.
The instruction prescribed by the new training program was to emphasize loading and unloading landing craft quickly and quietly by day and night; boat discipline; boat formations and control of landing craft; organization and control of troops during loading and unloading operations; organization, tactical operation, and supply of combat teams, including the seizure of the beachhead and the advance inland to the division objective; crossing beach obstacles and defensive works; clearing the beach of obstacles, demolitions, etc., and the subsequent beach organization to support the operation; resupply; night operations; development of an effective intelligence system applicable to amphibious operations, including the employment of intelligence agencies and scouts of all units; development of an effective signal communication system peculiar to amphibious operations; the use of smoke for screening; the use of chemicals for contamination purposes; methods of decontamination; air-ground support; antiaircraft defense; swimming; camouflage; knife and bayonet fighting; judo; infiltration; battle firing; firing automatic weapons from landing craft; and combat in cities.3
The main emphasis was placed on discipline and control of individuals, boat crews, and boat formations; more thorough organization and planning for shore-to-shore operations; organization of the beach for supply functions; and proper use of signal
1. AGF ltr (S) 353/12 (Amph)(10-24-42) GNGCT, 24 Oct 42,
sub: Gen Dir—Shore-to-Shore Tng.
2. ATC Tng Memo 7, 10 Nov 42, sub: Tng Program Effective 15 Nov 42. Hist Off files.
communication facilities. The two maneuvers at Camp Edwards had shown that proficiency in these matters was essential to successful accomplishment of an amphibious mission.4
The requirement to train a Provisional Commando Task Force in each student division was dropped; substituted for it was battle inoculation and physical and mental hardening for am individuals. The street fighting phase of this hardening process was an innovation in amphibious training. The substitution of these new courses for commando training was in harmony with a general Army Ground Force policy to prefer measures calculated to condition all troops for combat over those aimed primarily at making "super-killers" out of a select few. General McNair was never strong on commando training as such. He favored only such features as could be worked into general training. Battle conditioning was played up throughout Army Ground Forces, beginning early in 1943.
Training of division staffs in ship-to-shore operations, which had been dropped at Camp Edwards by Army Ground Force directive, was included in the new directive for Carrabelle.5 This was probably due to the fact that developments in higher headquarters had indicated that the Navy was likely to take over amphibious training and operations in the near future, and it was therefore desired to prepare student units as much as possible for joint action with the Navy in Navy ships.
The organization of the student divisions at Carrabelle into lettered groupments for training followed the same system as that used at Camp Edwards, except that Groupment "F" was excluded because of discontinuance of commando training. The composition of Groupment "A" to "E" inclusive was the same.6
Camp Gordon Johnston was large enough to house simultaneously the entire student division reinforced, the Engineer Amphibian Brigade, the station complement, and the personnel of the Amphibious Training Center including the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion. There was sufficient ground space available to permit the training of an entire division at one time, and accordingly the previous system of training combat teams in succession was abandoned. Both student divisions at Carrabelle were trained as reinforced division units and not as separate combat teams.
The decision to train a whole reinforced division at one time necessitated considerable additional construction of training aids and caused a serious drain on the personnel and facilities of the Amphibious Training Center. But the new method worked out better from the standpoint of the student division because it gave the division commander and staff an opportunity to observe the training of all elements concurrently and thereby to draw conclusions regarding the relative efficiency of the various combat teams. It also obviated the former undesirable feature of leaving two combat teams relatively idle while the third was being trained.
To achieve the simultaneous training of the whole division, Camp Gordon Johnston was organized into three regimental combat team areas and a base camp area. The three combat teams of the division each had one area, while the division rear echelon, the station complement, and the Amphibious Training Center Headquarters occupied the base camp site. To facilitate basic amphibious instruction each of the three areas was provided with a large clearing containing two cargo net towers, four mock-up boats (at the base of the towers), and eight outline boats. Eight more mock-up boats were
5. AGE ltr (S) 353/12 (Amph)(10-24-42) GNGCT to CG ATC, 24 Oct 42, sub: Gen Dir - Shore-to-Shore Tng.
6. ATC Tng Memo 7, 10 Nov 42, sub: Tng Program Effective 15 Nov 42. Hist Off files.
located on the shoreline in each regimental camp. Each site also included a "special training area" containing an obstacle course; grenade and bayonet courses; areas for judo, knife and bayonet, hand-to-hand fighting, and demolitions training sites. A fourth area contained the same basic amphibious and special training aids for the use of the division special units not attached to combat teams. Facilities for swimming instruction were provided in each of the three combat team areas. Two swimming sites were fresh-water lakes and the third was on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the above, a fifth location contained facilities for the conduct of all courses involving the use of live ammunition—street fighting, infiltration course, battle firing, and firing from simulated landing craft.
The innovations in training at Carrabelle, insofar as the troops were concerned, were connected mainly with physical and mental hardening or "special training" as it was called by the Center. The new courses added were vigorous, exciting, and fur of "blood and thunder." They so engaged the interest of the troops that they very nearly overshadowed the amphibious features of the training offered.
The Bayonet and Knife course was similar to the one conducted at Camp Edwards for the Commandos, but was on a larger scale. It was designed primarily to condition troops physically and mentally for close combat and to teach new methods of handling knives and bayonets.
The Log Exercise course which the Commandos had used at Edwards was given to all troops as a conditioner and hardener.
Swimming instruction was provided for all troops not only because of the physical benefits to be derived from it but also to impart to men who had never learned to swim enough skill to enable them to save themselves in case a landing craft got shot out from under them during an amphibious operation. Advanced swimmers were given additional instruction in swimming with full combat equipment and in rescue techniques.
Each obstacle course consisted of seventeen obstacles, with an over-all length of 550 yards, and was capable of accommodating 125 men every forty minutes. Student familiar with obstacle courses in other camps frequently remarked that the one at Carrabelle was the toughest they had encountered.
The Grenade Course was not built along the lines of the standard practice course outlined in field manuals, but was designed to simulate battle conditions requiring the use of grenades.
The Judo Course had as its motto: "Kill or Be Killed," and was designed to teach he soldier how to kill with his bare hands and to condition him mentally for that gruesome task. The objective was to train dangerous fighters, confident of their ability to deal effectively with anything the enemy had to offer in unarmed combat, and to inculcate in the soldier an aggressive, offensive approach to battle.
The Infiltration Course, similar to others scattered throughout the country, had the objective of all battle inoculation courses—to simulate as closely as possible the noise, confusion, and danger of battle and to accustom the soldier to the shock and noise of nearby explosions and the whine of bullets over his head. The course at Carrabelle was 150 yards wide and 100 yards long. The troops crossed from one end to the other through a field littered with barbed wire obstacles, logs, stumps, shell
holes, and trenches, and traversed by the interlocking fire of six machine guns the trajectory of which cleared the ground by thirty inches.
The Boat Firing Course was built to simulate firing from small landing craft and consisted of mockup landing craft mounted on jeeps which traversed a rolling runway 150 yards long. Students manning machine guns mounted in the mock-ups fired at targets from 150 to 300 yards in extension of the runway. All machine gunners of the student divisions took this training.
The Battle Practice Course consisted of a number of targets at varying ranges and of varying degrees of visibility. It was designed to teach snap shooting at close quarters of the pistol, carbine, rifle, Browning automatic rifle, Thompson submachine gun, and light machine gun. All weapons were fired from the hip.
The Street-fighting Course was the pride and joy of the Training Center and of the students who worked on it. An abandoned logging village called Harbeson City was reconstructed by the Center to simulate a Nazi village. Live ammunition and large amounts of explosives were used in the training. Subjects taught on this site included wall scaling with and without ropes, combat on rooftops, special uses of grenades and small arms, use of booby traps, house searching, house-to-house advance, and combat in streets. Two days of instruction were given each infantry battalion, during which time each platoon solved a tactical problem in the village, using live ammunition.
All training in the special subjects outlined above was the responsibility of the Special Training Division which came into being upon the demise of the Commando Division. The new Division profited greatly from inheriting all the personnel and equipment of the Commandos. It first appeared as a part of the Center in the reorganization of 17 November 1942.7
Changes and innovations also appeared in the training afforded the division and the regimental and battalion staffs. These came about as a result of suggestions made by Lt. Colonel Lillard, Chief of the Academic Section at Camp Edwards. He had long sought to improve the staff training by reorganizing his section along general staff lines in order to permit more specialized instruction in Staff problems, but was unable to achieve the desired result in time to affect the training at Camp Edwards. Additional officers were given him at Carrabelle, and he reorganized the Academic Section into G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 sections with a small administrative staff. Ten officers in all comprised the section. The former name was dropped and "Staff Training Division" was substituted for it on 17 November.8
The most noticeable changes appeared in the school for regimental and battalion staffs. One additional day and several new subjects were added to the course. Conferences added included the functions of S-1, S-2, S-3 and S-4, in shore-to-shore operations, and more emphasis was placed on the practical work involved in subjects previously taught—preparation of orders, boat assignment tables, landing schedules, etc.9
7. ATC Staff Memo 5, 17 Nov 42, sub: Staff Doctrines and
Functions. Hist Off files.
9. 38th Inf Div Tng Schedule, 23 Nov to 21 Dee 42; Hq ATC, 16 Nov 42. Hist Off files.
The course of instruction for the division general and special staff of the 38th Division was more specialized and less general than that of the previous divisions, and was arranged more closely around the general staff sections. Conferences were considerably better owing to the presence of more instructors (thus allowing more time for preparation) and revisions and refinements based on past experience. A total of twenty-seven hours of conferences was provided, including these additions: beach organization in Combined Operations (British): intelligence and counter-intelligence functions in shore-to-shore operations; parachute troops in shore-to-shore operations; use of barrage balloons in amphibious warfare; and the functions of G-1. All British subjects previously taught, except beach organization and a general discussion of British Combined Operations, were dropped because only two British officers remained with the Center when it left Camp Edwards.10
The period from 15 October to 23 November was spent by the personnel of the Center in getting ready to train the 38th Infantry Division along the new lines indicated above. By the time the Division arrived, all immediately contemplated changes in the schedule and curriculum had been made and the necessary construction of training aids, with the exception of the Street-fighting Course, had been accomplished. This course was not completed and open for business until 19 December; as a result the 38th Division lost sixteen days of training on it.
Training of the 38th Division started on 23 November and ran through 19 December. The usual final division landing exercise was held on 17, 18, and 19 December. Throughout the training period, battalion landing groups within each combat team were rotated among basic amphibious training areas, exercises on the water using actual landing craft, and special training areas in order to assure maximum use of all training aids and boats.
The school for regimental and battalion staffs was held on the nights of 23, 24, and 25 November. The division general and special staff attended the school for selected officers and noncommissioned officers on those same three days, and then took a course of instruction under the Staff Training Division from 30 November through 10 December.
The division landing exercise which concluded the training of the 38th Division was, to say the least, very unfortunate. The exercise called for the movement of the division by water from a site near the town of Carrabelle to beaches on Peninsula Point and Lighthouse Point at the opposite end of the reservation—a total distance by the water route planned of about thirty-five miles. All preparations were made very much as before. The beaches were mined and wired, demolitions were planted, and the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion plus one rifle battalion from the 38th Division was designated as defending troops. Air support for the operation was furnished by the Third Air Force.
The problem got under way as planned, and the division did a good job of loading and embarking from the friendly shore at Carrabelle. By ten o'clock on the morning of D-day only about one battalion had landed on the hostile shore, and even that one did not land in the prescribed order or formation. One battalion landing group landed at a point approximately twenty miles up the coast from the designated beaches and attacked vigorously inland, unaware of the mistake. This group captured with no resistance the small town of Crawfordville, and only then did they realize their error. They accordingly marched about twenty-five miles overland to get back into the maneuver area. Other elements of the division landed at various times and places throughout the remainder of the day. The tactical problem was suspended for most of the first day in order to straighten out the tangle.11
11. Rpts of Obsrs, 38th Inf Div Maneuvers. Copy on file at Hq Tng Cen, ATC, U S Atlantic Fleet, N.0.B., Norfolk 11, Va.
Much valuable training was lost to the division on account of the failure to land them at the proper time on the right beaches. The difficulty was caused by the lack of proper navigation and control of landing craft by the Engineer Amphibian Brigade. General Keating was very much distressed over the incident because he had previously directed the Brigade, which was attached to the Center, to perfect its training along these lines.12
In order to remedy the defects noted and to give the 38th Division a chance to experience a successful landing, the problem was ordered repeated by direction of General Keating on 28, 29 and 30 December.13 The repeat performance went off much better, and the division benefited considerably more than it had from the maneuver the previous week.
Since the 3d Engineer Amphibian Brigade was attached to the Amphibious Training Center, General Keating was able for the first time to have a word in the training of the unit furnishing boats for use of the Center. This had not been possible at Camp Edwards because the Brigades were trained by the Engineer Amphibian Command. General Keating took full advantage of his opportunity in an attempt to correct errors and eliminate deficiencies which had been noted during the division exercises, particularly the one conducted by the 38th Infantry Division.14
He released the period from 31 December to 16 January 1943, inclusive, to the Commanding General of the 3d Brigade for training and directed that these subjects be stressed:
b. All functions of boat personnel during the embarkation phase—to include the organization for and control of boats during the embarkation phase.
c. Navigation—to include the use of all navigation aids.
d. Control of boats, and maintenance of boat formations during the crossing phase.
e. All functions of shore personnel during the landing phase—to include organization for assisting combat troops in landing; establishment of dumps; construction of the road net from beach to dumps; turn-arounds at dump sites; organization for placing supplies in dumps; and the development of a procedure for accounting for supplies delivered.
f. All functions of boat personnel during the landing phase—to include organization for control of incoming boats to insure that boats carrying heavy equipment and supplies land at the proper place on the beach; organization of a system for salvaging and reclaiming damaged boats and equipment; and the organization of a system for marking beaches to show channels, shoals, and obstructions.
g. Boat maintenance.
12. ATC Tng Memo 8, 10 Nov 42, sub: Tng Dir for 3d Engr
Amph Brig. Hist Off files.
13. ATC Tng Memo 16, 21 Dec 42, sub: Tng Program 22-30 Dec 42, 38th Inf Div and 3d Engr Amph Brig. Ibid.
14. ATC Tng Memo 22, 1 Jan 43, sub: Tng Dir for 3d Engr Amph Brig, 31 Dec 42 to 15 Jan 43. Ibid.
4 January. General Keating further stated that the 3d Brigade had a definite mission to perform and that he expected its successful accomplishment woolly be ''continually kept in mind." He suspended all holidays in the Brigade "until the desired proficiency is attained."15
The 38th Division general and special staff also reserved a little "post-maneuver" training under the Staff Training Division. On 22 December 1942, the staff school was reconvened for three hours spent in conferences designed to orient the staff in the special problems of ship-to-shore operations.
Training given the next student unit, the 28th Infantry Division, was little different from that given the 38th Division, except that by the time the 28th began its training the Center had its feet were firmly planted on the ground with the result that instruction was smoother and more polished. No additional courses were added for the troops of the 28th Division, but the fact that the street-fighting course was in full operation by the time they arrived enabled them to take full advantage of it, whereas the training of the 38th in this respect had been impaired by delay in construction.
One special course was added for selected personnel of the 28th Division and the 3d Engineer Amphibian Brigade. The students consisted of one officer from each of those two units, four enlisted men from each infantry battalion of the 28th Division, two section leaders and all riflemen of one platoon of the division reconnaissance troop, and eleven enlisted men from each regiment of the 3d Brigade. The purpose of the course was to train these selected personnel as amphibious scouts and to teach them to handle rubber boats and other smell landing craft in smooth or rough water; to land silently and secretly on all types of shores during daylight and at night to secure information or to guide friendly banding craft to designated beaches; to secure by stealth or by force necessary information on road nets, terrain and artificial obstacles, enemy dispositions, beach organization, currents, tides, channels of approach, artificial and natural under water obstacles, characteristics of the beach, limitations on landing personnel and heavy equipment, and other information requiring off-shore reconnaissance; and to develop a system of visual signals and signal communications to be used in communication with friendly forces.16
Training for this group ran from 11 February to 24 February 1943, during which time the students received instruction in scouting and patrolling, use of the compass, map reading, operation of boats, use of nautical charts, etc., and undertook practical work in physical hardening, swimming, and day and night reconnaissance exercises.17
The training of the 28th Division as a whole started on 28 January 1943, and was terminated by the landing exercise held on 6, 7 and 8 March. This division was trained with the same organization into groupments for training, and the same method of rotating battalions within each combat team area in order to take full advantage of all available training aids and boats as the 38th.18
16. ATC Tng Memo 10, 26 Jan 43, sub: Tng Dir for Amph Scout Tng. Hist Off files.
17. ATC The Memo 16, 10 Feb 43, sub: Revised Tng Schedule for Amph Scouts. Ibid.
18. ATC Tng Memo 5, 14 Jan 43, sub: Tng Schedule for 28th Inf Div. Ibid.
The school for the Division general and special staff was held from 4 February to 17 February. It included thirty-four hours of instruction in all. Courses added were intelligence agencies in shore-to-shore operations; intelligence and counterintelligence with the Engineer Amphibian Brigade; signal communications of the Engineer Amphibian Brigade; navigational control of the crossing; ship-to-shore operations, general; ship-to-shore operations, administrative planning; and conferences on recent landing operations (North Africa and Guadalcanal).19
In addition to the staff schools for the 28th Division, the Staff Training Division repeated most of its instruction twice during the periods 7-13 February and 17-23 February for the benefit of two groups of War Department General Staff officers who were sent to the Amphibious Training Center for indoctrination in shore-to-shore operations preparatory to overseas assignment.
The final exercise of the 28th Division was executed in a more satisfactory manner than any of the previous three. The results of additional training of the division staffs and the Engineer Amphibian Brigade in particular were making themselves felt. Embarkation was well carried out, the water crossing of the assault units was good, and the landing was better than it had been previously—at least most of the units hit the right beaches at approximately the right time.20
A severe electrical storm which came out of the Gulf of Mexico on the second night of the maneuver seriously disrupted the latter stages of the exercises. Landing craft were driven ashore, fourteen men were drowned, and the next morning the beaches for twenty miles along the coast were strewn with boats. There were not sufficient craft left afloat to move the reserve regimental combat team on the following day, and consequently that unit lost all benefit it might have derived from participation in the landing.
The resupply problem was played in the 28th Division exercise through the use of dummy stores which had been improvised by personnel of the Center and the Engineer Brigade, consisting mostly of old ammunition cases and fiber containers which had been filled with sand to approximate the weight of live ammunition. These supplies were also used in the problem of the 38th Division.
In addition to its principal task of training the two infantry divisions at Carrabelle, the Amphibious Training Center carried on some incidental training activities. Tests in connection with the use of Chemical Warfare units in shore-to-shore operations which had been started at Camp Edwards were continued on an increased scale at Carrabelle. The 78th Smoke Generator Company, which had started the work at Edwards, was ordered out for overseas assignment before the Center left that station and the 79th Smoke Generator Company was sent to Carrabelle to carry on the tests. This company worked in conjunction with the Amphibious Training Center and the Engineer Amphibian Brigade in determining tactics and technique of smoking hostile beaches to screen the approach of landing craft. Tests were also conducted using the 4.2" chemical mortar mounted in landing craft firing HE and white phosphorous projectiles onto the shore. The work was done under the direction of the Chemical Warfare Amphibious Project which
20. Rpts of Obsrs, 28th Inf Div Maneuvers. Copy on file at Hq, Tng Cen, ATC, U S Atlantic Fleet, N.O.B., Norfolk 11, Va.
was organized at Carrabelle on 5 November 1942 by the Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service on direction of the War Department.21 Companies of the 2d and 3d Chemical Battalions were rotated through the Center between 15 November 1942 and 10 March 1943, to participate in this training.
The 302d Coast Artillery Barrage Balloon Special Platoon was attached to the Center on 15 November 1942 from the Barrage Balloon Training Center at Camp Tyson, Tennessee, for the purpose of training and experimentation in amphibious operations. Activities of the platoon were directed by its commanding officer and by the coast artillery officer (Lt. Col. M. E. Thompson) on the special staff of the Center, and were carried out in conjunction with the 3d Brigade and the student divisions. Balloons were transported on landing craft to protect the forces during the water crossing, and after the landing was made they were set up on the beach to protect shore installations and beach supply dumps. But the electrical storm which interrupted the 28th Division maneuver destroyed all of them.
Two communications squadrons of the II Air Support Command were also trained at the Center in their functions with regard to air support of a shore-to-shore operation. The 6th Communication Squadron was trained from 6 December to 19 December 1942; and the 7th Communication Squadron was trained from 24 December 1942 to 21 March 1943. Both squadrons had an opportunity to participate in a division landing exercise and to provide communications for the air support of the landings.
The 377th Coast Artillery Battalion (AA) (AW) was trained from 14 January 1943 to 4 April 1943, in the tactics and technique of antiaircraft automatic weapons units in amphibious warfare. This unit also participated in the division exercises, furnishing protection of beach dumps and installations.
The 28th Infantry Division was the last reinforced division to be trained by the Amphibious Training Center. The uncertainty prevailing at the time when the training of that unit was completed made it appear improbable that any more units would be trained in the near future. In the middle of March the uncertainty was resolved when General Keating was informed by Army Ground Forces that the Center was to be disbanded.
Training was revived on a reduced scale in April, when three separate battalions were sent to the Center for basic amphibious training.22
To lay the basis for the execution of its mission, the Amphibious Training Center had, in June 1942, hastily formulated the doctrines and principles of amphibious operations which could be deduced from previous experience.23 Nine months spent in the planning, thought and activities involved in training four divisions had enriched this experience. The result was reflected in a new formulation of doctrines, published at Camp Gordon Johnston, 17 March 1943.24 A year later, after his further experience as commanding officer of the Force Headquarters Section (Army), of the Amphibious Training Command, U. S. Atlantic Fleet, General Keating stated that the doctrines set forth in
21. WD Dir. OPD 471.6 (6-3-42) CWS 660.2/131 (S).
22. See Chap. III.
23. See above, pp 46-48, and note 4, p 48.
24. ATC Tng Memo 23 (S), Cp Gordon Johnston, 17 Mar 43. See Appendix 11.
his Training Memorandum of 17 March 1943 "have governed all actual Amphibious operations to date and are surprisingly sound. If we were to re-write them, we would do so with hardly a change."25 A comparison of this document with the original Training Memorandum of 2 July 1942 provides a measure of what the Amphibious Training Center achieved in advancing the science of amphibious operations.
25. Ltr of Brig Gen Frank A. Keating to Lt Col K. R. Greenfield, Hq AGF Historian, 15 Mar 44.