extracted from The Signal Corps: The Outcome


The Signal Corps in the ETO to Mid-1944

The Allied landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944 climaxed long months of planning and concentrated supply effort. The first build-up of men and equipment in England for a cross-Channel attack against the Continent had been drained away to North Africa in late 1942, and it had been necessary to build again. It took a great deal of time to construct and develop a system of depots, equip the invading forces, and plan an adequate communications network. Thousands of signal details had to be coordinated, integrated, and perfected.

Signal Corps preparations for the invasion rested principally in the hands of the signal staffs of two separate headquarters. In their disparate yet intermingled relationships and functions, these headquarters staffs typified the dual function of the Signal Corps as a supply service and as a highly specialized technical service invaluable to the exercise of command.1 The Signal Service of the European Theater of Operations of the United States Army was concerned primarily with matters of supply and administration for the U.S. Army in Europe, whereas the Signal Section of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force was responsible primarily for signal matters as they applied to the integration of British and American forces and to the tactical and strategic control of those forces. This distinction greatly oversimplifies what were actually very complex, confused, and often bitterly contested areas of responsibility.2 And it does not take into account the numerous subordinate or coordinate organizations that existed in the theater or the loss or addition of functions from time to time. Nevertheless, with due allowance for such factors, the signal responsibilities of the theater did divide roughly into the two areas noted.

The signal organizations of both ETOUSA and SHAEF owed much to their predecessor organizations in the United Kingdom, the Special Observer Group, which dated from mid-1941, and its successor, the United States Army Forces in the British Isles. The signal officer of both SPOBS and USAFBI was Colonel Matejka.3 Matejka's energetic efforts established the Signal Corps as "probably the first of the technical services to acquire


Photo:  General Rumbough


practical working experience in the United Kingdom."4 Seven days after his arrival in late May 1941, Colonel Matejka conferred with Col. Courtenay W. Fladgate, Deputy Director Signals, British War Ministry, and inaugurated a cooperative relationship that proved to be exceedingly valuable.5 In the months that followed, Matejka visited various British communications installations and the General Post Office (GPO) Telecommunications Division, which controlled telegraph and telephone facilities in England; arranged details for the accommodation of Electronics Training Group (ETG) students from the United States to be trained in British schools and installations; and made many valuable contacts with British officers and officials.6 By the time the United States entered the war, the Signal Corps had already established informal relationships and working arrangements with the British that paid handsome dividends later.

Invasion Plans and Preparations
The Signal Service, ETOUSA SOS

ETOUSA was the top American headquarters in the theater, but it occupied a peculiar position as almost purely administrative and supply headquarters. Throughout 1942 and 1943 its functions and those of the theater Services of Supply were difficult to separate or define. Under a succession of arrangements, Brig. Gen. William S. Rumbough doubled as the theater's chief signal officer on the special staff of the theater commander and as SOS chief signal officer on the special staff of Maj. Gen. John C. H. Lee, theater SOS commander. After the establishment early in 1944 of SHAEF as the Allied command responsible for directing operations, the ETOUSA and SOS staffs were combined on 17 January into a single ETOUSA SOS staff serving under General Lee. The ETOUSA SOS organization was the one US


organization not under the command control of SHAEF, though it remained under General Eisenhower as US theater commander. While the theater chiefs of services remained available to the theater commander for direct consultation, they were specifically placed under the supervision of General Lee in his capacity as deputy theater commander for supply and administration as well as commanding general of SOS.7 The complicated command structure in the theater left the theater responsibilities of the chief signal officer clear and unchanged through the various reorganizations, but it did create problems as to the precise manner and exact channels for accomplishing his mission.8

Essentially, the mission of the chief signal officer in the ETO was to provide communications for the Army while the buildup was in progress, to supply signal equipment for all the installations and headquarters and for the troops of the invading army, to arrange for the equipment required for fixed signal installations on the Continent in the wake of the invasion, and to keep replenishing the supply of signal equipment throughout the period of operation.9 Stated thus, it constituted a large order. Yet this outline of the mission does not begin to suggest the complexities and problems with which Rumbough contended throughout the campaign.

General Rumbough and his initial staff arrived in England in June 1942, when ETOUSA was first activated.10 Since the chiefs of the technical services were to operate under the Commanding General, SOS, General Rumbough moved to Cheltenham when General Lee established SOS headquarters there in July. Matejka remained in London as the Signal Corps representative at the theater headquarters.11 When Matejka became chief signal officer of AFHQ in North Africa late in 1942, Col. Reginald P. Lyman took over the London office, serving in that capacity until he became signal officer of the newly organized 1st United States Army Group (FUSAG) in October 1943- Meanwhile General Rumbough and his staff at Cheltenham were free to concentrate upon the important SOS matters incident to the troop buildup in the United Kingdom: signal supply, provision of communications for incoming troops and for SOS and other US headquarters installations, and signal plans and training for American units, which were beginning to arrive in considerable numbers. This organizational arrangement lasted until 21 March 1943, when the signal sections of Headquarters, ETO, and Headquarters, SOS, were merged.12

Even then, Rumbough maintained offices both in London and at Cheltenham-offices designated as the Basic Planning Echelon and the Operations Echelon, respectively. The senior officer in each echelon, Colonel Lyman in London and Col. Alfred M. Shearer at Cheltenham, served as deputy chief signal


officers.13 On 1 April General Rumbough transferred his principal office from Cheltenham to London and in October concentrated in London all signal duties except supply and administrative responsibilities primarily associated with U.K. operations. In July Colonel Shearer became deputy chief signal officer for ETOUSA and SOS, a position he held until the war in Europe ended.14 The final organizational rearrangement in January 194415 simplified the channels of command for all the technical service chiefs, including the chief signal officer.16

The SOS headquarters organization in Europe followed the headquarters pattern in Washington. The United Kingdom was divided into zones for the receipt of cargo and into base sections for administration. The base sections, roughly comparable to the old corps areas in the zone of interior, possessed "virtually complete control over personnel and depot operations," but the technical services chiefs retained "technical control" of their services in the base sections through representatives on the base section staffs.17 The base section commander controlled personnel and installations within his area, administered the depots, allotted space in them, and stored and issued the supplies. He was responsible also for maintenance and salvage operations. The chiefs of the services exercised their technical supervision by maintaining approved stock levels, requisitioning and purchasing the supplies, and outlining and supervising the various procedural policies.18

The American forces in England increased rapidly in the first six months of 1942. Soon their headquarters occupied not only the main portion of the building at 20 Grosvenor Square, London, in which it was housed originally, but also several other nearby buildings.19 Each required its own telephone switchboard and interconnecting trunk lines. By October 1942 American forces in the vicinity of Grosvenor Square were using four switchboards, which handled 12,000 calls per day; one-third of these required interswitchboard trunking, which seriously impaired the efficiency of the system. Meanwhile ETOUSA officers searched for new quarters for the badly overcrowded signal center. The subbasement of the Selfridge department store annex, a nearly bombproof steel and concrete structure on Duke Street, offered enough space to accommodate both the Army and the Navy communications centers. Nearly bombproof in this case meant safe from anything but a direct bomb hit. On 19 December the signal center moved to the Duke Street location. About the same time that construction started on the Duke Street center (with a new central switchboard among other refinements) , the British Government offered a section of a public air raid shelter that was nearing completion.


The shelter, a series of tunnels one hundred feet under the Goodge Street underground station, offered a completely bombproof location. Here the British GPO and the Signal Service, ETOUSA, installed an emergency communications center, housing Army and Navy message centers and equipment rooms, the GPO radio, the British code room, and an emergency switchboard. The center was completed in March 1943.20

The signal center and the entire communications system serving the various United States Army headquarters grew to amazing proportions. The Signal Service, ETOUSA, made use of the existing British communications system as much as possible. The British GPO also furnished large quantities of telephone and teletypewriter materials. By D-day, 980 telephone switchboards and 15 teletypewriter switchboards served the various headquarters in the British Isles. The telephone switchboards had more than 1,200 positions. That is to say, more than 1,200 telephone operators sat at the 980 boards, endlessly plugging and unplugging the connections to 32,000 telephones. The same number of telephones could service an American city the size of prewar Spokane, Albany, Duluth, or Chattanooga. An average of 8,500,000 calls a month went over the system.21 A network Of 300 teletypewriter machines connected US installations in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Extensive as the wire system was, a few well-placed bombs or a bit of careful sabotage might well have created havoc. To guard against such a contingency, the Signal Service installed emergency radio nets. The stations, though labeled emergency, operated constantly since, had they been left inactive until an emergency arose, their sudden appearance on the air would have told the enemy that a communications emergency did indeed exist. The stations were therefore on the air all the time, and, except for persons with a reason to know, none could tell whether the messages transmitted were real or dummy traffic.22

Many messages are too bulky, too secret, or of a nature that makes it physically impossible to transmit them by electrical means. For these, the Signal Service, ETOUSA, organized and operated a GHQ messenger service. It began in 1942 when a few men with several small trucks organized a local delivery service. Within a year the duty required the services of the whole 979th Motor Messenger Company. By train, motor vehicle, boat, and airplane, the messengers hurried about, traveling as many as 375,000 miles monthly to the ports, the base commands, and the many headquarters. In May 1944, on the eve of the invasion, the messenger service carried 2,904,298 messages.23


To broadcast entertainment and educational programs to the American troops in the United Kingdom, the Signal Service installed a network of fifty low-powered transmitting stations. Operated by the Special Services Division and the Office of War Information (OWI), this American Forces Network supplied the troops with a steady diet of music and information.24

As the invasion date drew near, ETOUSA signalmen rushed additional radio facilities to completion to serve the needs of the tactical forces. They installed a 40-kilowatt single sideband transmitter at Lingfield, Surrey, and the receiver station at Swanley Junction, Essex. These facilities provided one voice and three radioteletypewriter channels to the United States. The US terminal was operated by the Long Lines Department, American Telephone and Telegraph Company. For operation with AFHQ in Caserta, a 1-kilowatt station was constructed. Two 50-kilowatt power units were installed for use in the event of loss of commercial power. In May the Signal Corps built a central radio control room to control all radio stations within the United Kingdom. The center was equipped with broadcast and facsimile transmission facilities. Late in the month, signalmen completed antrac VHF (radio relay) stations at Middle Wallop and on the Isle of Wight. These would provide cross-Channel facilities between the US First Army on the far shore and the IX Tactical Air Command at Middle Wallop. Multichannel connections were installed to the London GHQ that would permit General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery to speak directly to Headquarters, First US Army (FUSA) , in France. Facsimile adapters were connected to each set of this circuit to permit the transmission and reception of reconnaissance photographs in support of FUSA. Still another radio station, one of 3 kilowatts, was built to provide high-speed International Morse, facsimile, and broadcast facilities to the Continent.25

The heavy task of providing signal equipment for all the using units in the ETO fell to the Supply Division, ETOUSA. This division, through its various branches, planned the ETO signal supply program; received, stored, accounted for, issued, and shipped or delivered all signal property in the United Kingdom (except certain Air Forces items and photographic supplies) ; installed, maintained, repaired, and salvaged signal equipment; and procured or purchased signal items furnished by Allied governments through the reciprocal aid program in the European area.26

The story of the Supply Division's struggles to fulfill its mission is one of "trial, hard work, and constant perseverance."27 From the first small group of supply officers who journeyed from London to Cheltenham in July 1942 to put the signal supply service into operation, all but one man went to Africa in the winter of 1942 or moved up to key positions on the signal staff or in the base sections.28 Before July 1942, the only


signal depot in the theater had been the one at Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, operated by the 203d Signal Depot Company.29 That month five new signal depots opened. The 204th Signal Depot Company, spread thin, operated all of them until 1943, when the 208th and 216th Signal Depot Companies arrived in the theater to share the work.30 By December 1943 the Signal Corps had eleven depots-nine were section depots and two were branch depots.

There were signal sections at G-16, Wem, midway between Birmingham and Liverpool; at G-18, Sudbury, northwest of Birmingham; G-22, Moretonon-Lugg, 30 miles northwest of Gloucester; G-25, Ashchurch, 8 miles north of Cheltenham; G-40, Barry, 7 miles southwest of Cardiff; G-45, Thatcham, southwest of Reading; G-47, Westbury, 21 miles southeast of Bristol; and G-50, Taunton, 45 miles southwest of Bristol. G-55, Lockerly (Salisbury) , was added to the list soon after the first of the year. The two branch depots were S-800, Bury St. Edmonds, 27 miles northwest of Ipswich; and S-810, Crossgar, 18 miles southeast of Belfast, Northern Ireland.31

Still another signal depot activity embraced the base repair shop at Depot O-640, the main Ordnance depot at Tidworth, which installed radio sets in tanks and armored vehicles. In December 1943, the Signal Corps set up a storage and issue section at Tidworth to work more closely with Ordnance. Ordnance allotted the Signal Corps 30,000 square feet of space to store and issue the vehicular radio sets. All together, the Signal Corps by early 1944 had 600,000 square feet of covered storage space, almost l,000,000 square feet of open space, and was handling approximately 2,500 tons of signal equipment and supplies each week.32

As in the United States, the signal depots in the United Kingdom specialized to some extent. For example, Sudbury handled common items of signal equipment for the AAF; Wem and Barry stockpiled operational supplies; Moreton-on-Lugg stored and distributed bulk table of basic allowances (T/BA) equipment shipped in advance of troops; and Thatcham stored project equipment for fixed installations, such as pole line equipment, radio plants, and communications systems.33

Until May 1943, troops and equipment were shipped to the theater at the same time, organizational equipment being force marked. This arrangement was never popular with supply men. Troops sailed on transports; equipment was loaded on slower cargo vessels. Thus the time and place of arrivals of troops and equipment varied widely, and marrying up the troops and their organizational equipment meant expending an inordinate


amount of time and effort.34 Sometimes the delay was so great that equipment marked for one unit had to be given to another unit in order to avoid loss of valuable training time. At times some units received two issues while others got none. In any case, since the Signal Corps did not handle directly the organizational equipment records for the various units, it became virtually impossible for the Signal Supply Division to ascertain at all times just what items were in the theater, which units had their organizational equipment, and what items a unit needed to complete its equipment list.35

In mid-May 1943, the entire supply picture brightened with the introduction of the "bulk shipment" plan.36 Under the new system, organizational equipment was shipped in bulk a month in advance of the troops for whom it was intended, according to the over-all troop basis for the period. In general the new plan worked very well. The base section signal officer was alerted ahead of time as to just which units were coming, the date of their arrival, and where they would be stationed. When a unit's advance party arrived, each signal officer received requisitions showing him just where to go to collect the equipment for his unit. Ideally, by the time a division had been in England a week, it would have 90 percent of its equipment, and in two or three weeks it would have 98 percent of it, all that it was likely to receive since there were always on Signal Corps tables a few items of newly developed equipment that had not yet been manufactured.37

Throughout the war, in nearly every theater, signal supply officers complained bitterly about the War Department policy permitting newly standardized items to appear on TOE'S months before they were actually available even in limited quantities. The Signal Corps tried to overcome the irritating problem by keeping the overseas commands informed in advance as to just what new items were planned and when they would be available.38 In the ETO, theater instructions specified that newly standardized items should not be requisitioned or reported as shortages, but the ruling was almost impossible to enforce and still more difficult to explain to the various G-4's. The most plausible explanation for including such items in the first place was the requirement that they must be listed on current TOE'S before funds could be obligated to procure the items.39

Although the advance shipment plan simplified supply distribution, for a time it operated to deplete the meager maintenance stocks in the United Kingdom. Stocks were just beginning to recover from the inroads made to fill equipment shortages for units destined for North Africa in late 1942. In September 1943 a theater cable to Washington warned that, of all equipment in the ETO, Signal Corps items were the most critical


since they were not arriving in accordance with the shipment plan contemplated by the War Department, and depot stocks were virtually exhausted.40

Meanwhile, in the zone of interior the commanding general of the Air Service Command (ASC) at Patterson Field, Ohio, charged that large stocks of Signal Corps ground equipment had been built up in the United Kingdom and that issues of ground signal equipment items for units ordered into the United Kingdom ought to be greatly reduced. He added that such a reduction would permit the Signal Corps to catch up on the production of critical items that were behind schedule.41 Presumably he had in mind production of signal items for the Army Air Forces.

The Chief Signal Officer at once sent two officers, Col. Byron A. Falk and Lt. Col. Caleb Orr, to the ETO to make a firsthand survey.42 Falk and Orr spent three months checking depot stocks, records, and methods. Their survey covered controlled and critical items used by the AGF and the AAF as well as other important classes of items in short supply in the theater. The officers also visited troop units, both air and ground, to find out what signal items the troops had. Their findings indicated that the theater records were accurate, the back-order system excellent, and the requirements correctly computed. In fact, Orr reported that the system of record keeping in the ETO was better than that of any supply system he had surveyed in the United States. Yet the records of the New York Port of Embarkation (NYPOE) showed large quantities of signal material shipped to the ETO for which there was no accounting. Theater supply men blamed this almost wholly upon the diversion of supplies to North Africa. During that campaign, many ships loaded with cargo that NYPOE records showed as having been received in the British Isles, actually were diverted to North Africa in mid-voyage.43

Signal supply matters improved as a result of the Falk-Orr report. The NYPOE agreed to accept the accuracy of the theater monthly status reports and to fill requisitions without editing as quickly as material became available. Within two months, stocks on hand in the theater increased rapidly, although part of the rapid rise resulted from War Department action elevating the theater to the highest possible priority.44

"Operational project" planning received special attention during 1943 and early 1944. Operational projects provided advance procurement information months before a specific operation was mounted so that the required material could be manufactured and shipped. Ordinary tables of equipment were tailored for average situations. They did not cover such items as construction material for housing, port and dock facilities, fixed plant communications


equipment, and many other kinds of material needed in vast quantities. Procuring such special equipment took a long time, often eighteen to twenty-four months. Yet supply planning officers could not estimate the materials needed for a given operation until the operational plan was in existence, and operational planning lagged notoriously. Actually, the War Department itself did not inaugurate the operational project system until the summer of 1943.45

The Signal Service, ETOUSA, set up a Projects Division, which soon broadened its scope of activity to become the Plans Division.46 Typical Signal Corps projects included provision for all the fixed wire plant and equipment in the advanced theater of operations; material to install and maintain a communications system for railroad control in the continental operation; enough signal equipment to last from D-day through D plus 240 for the Corps of Engineers, for the Chemical Warfare Service, for the Ordnance Department, and for the Army Air Forces; radio equipment for the signal intelligence service network; a pool of 1,000 FM SCR-610 radios as insurance against enemy AM jamming during the assault phase; and many others. Operational projects provided (over and above T/BA allotments) thousands of miles of assault wire; public address systems for beach operations; waterproof bags for vehicular and portable radio sets; teletypewriters by the hundreds; package-type carrier telephone apparatus; a whole wire communication system for the Tactical Air Force; mine detectors; cryptographic material; telephone central-office sets for six major signal centers; complete radio stations; and stockpiles of many, many other things.47

Special jobs fell to the Chief Signal Officer, ETOUSA. Many of them, such as the operation of the photographic service, were very important. Combat photography, one of the more glamorous duties, was only one phase of the photographic mission. The Army Pictorial Division, established in the theater headquarters in June 1942, soon grew to a size comparable to many independent agencies. It operated service laboratories, a supply section, a motor pool, a carpenter shop, a camera maintenance and repair shop, training facilities, a photographic news bureau, base section training film libraries, and other special services. During the two years of preparation for the invasion, the Army Pictorial Division turned Out 85,000 negatives and 1,300,000 still picture prints. It also found, to its dismay, that the US Army was filled with amateur photographers, whose pictures all had to be censored to be sure that they did not innocently reveal military secrets. To accomplish the censoring job, the Army Pictorial Division perforce had to process the films. By April 1944 the Signal Corps, in an average week, was processing 7,000 rolls of amateur film and making 70,000 prints. V-mail, too, was a Signal Corps responsibility or, rather, that portion of it that required photographic service. The Signal Corps used the British Kodak plant to capacity and processed the surplus itself. By D-day the volume of outgoing V-mail letters rose to 13,000,000 monthly. Approximately


Photo:  Wacs operating a radio-telephoto transmitter

transmitter in England.  

the same number was received in the theater.48

ETOUSA's signal responsibilities ranged over such divergent matters as exercising operational control of signal intelligence and reworking the electrical systems of jeeps to make it possible for the military police to install two-way radios. This last was a vital necessity in a London jam-packed with pleasure-bent American GI's on passes. ETOUSA's personnel included crystal-grinding teams to grind the millions of crystals needed for the thousands of radio sets stockpiled for the invasion and Wacs to take charge of many communications duties. General Rumbough wanted Wacs even if getting them meant cutting down on the number of enlisted men available for signal duty in the theater.49 The Signal Corps arranged for pigeons (53 lofts, 4,500 pigeons, furnished by the British) and for floating telephone poles to the Continent; it was also concerned with the supply of batteries to the armies, and with the supply of spare parts.50

The Signal Division, SHAEF

By early 1943, signal officers on the staffs of various organizations already in the theater-ETOUSA, Naval Forces in Europe (COMNAVEU), and the British Admiralty, War Office, and Air Ministry-had already done a great deal of valuable spadework.51 A plan had been developed for the full use of communications facilities existing within the United Kingdom. For example, communications posts and radio stations had been built along the southern coast of England as part of the British Defense Telecommunications Network (DTN).52 Thus, a good deal of preliminary signal planning was already under way by 26 April 1943 when a combined British and American staff charged with framing a basic plan for the invasion began work at Norfolk House in St. James Square, London, under the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander.


Photo:  General Lanahan


General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander on 14 January 1944, and COSSAC became Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force. A British signal officer, Maj. Gen. C. H. H. Vulliamy, headed the SHAEF Signal Division. His deputy was Brig. Gen. Francis H. Lanahan, Jr., of the US Army Signal Corps. Roughly half of the division personnel were British and half were American.53 Similarly, the signal units that provided the communications for SHAEF were divided between the two allies. The 5th Headquarters Signals was British; the 3118th Signal Service Battalion, American. For the important message center duty with the 3118th, the Theaters Branch of the OCSigO in Washington selected experienced men from the 17th Signal Service Company, the unit that operated the War Department's own message center in the Pentagon.54

From 11 August 1943 until General Vulliamy arrived on 26 October, General Lanahan acted as the Chief Signal Officer, SHAEF. Lanahan would in fact become the Chief Signal Officer, SHAEF, in March 1945, when Vulliamy departed for India. Lanahan had already organized the Signal Division, which by early 1944 included many prominent Signal Corps officers.55 The Signal Division was made up of British and American Army officers only, there being too few competent communications planning officers on the Air and Navy staffs, either British or American, to spare any for full-time work with the SHAEF Signal Division. Yet the signal plan for the invasion had to be fully coordinated among the services; indeed, it had to be coordinated as no other signal scheme had ever been. A multitude of items of organization and procedure awaited clarification. "Communications by their very nature cannot be kept in water-tight compartments, and act independently within each service."56 The Combined Signal Board (CSB) was set up in October 1943 to accomplish the necessary high-level coordination. With General Vulliamy serving as the chairman, the board brought together signal officers of the Allied navies, the Allied air forces, ETOUSA, the 21 Army Group, and 1st Army Group.57 The CSB did, in fact,


provide a satisfactory solution. General Lanahan described it as outstanding for its "spirit of cooperation and willingness to compromise."58

Communications for SHAEF, both for its own headquarters and for connections to other commands, soon consumed enormous facilities, taking over telephone and telegraph circuits of the General Post Office and adding new circuits, especially radio to Washington. One of the main problems, when telegraph and telephone requirements first came under consideration in August 1943, was to find a bombproof site large enough to accommodate the SHAEF signal center. The British Air Ministry agreed to provide underground accommodations, and considerable work was done at the site before the Air Ministry reversed its decision. Wire facilities serving Headquarters, ETOUSA, were already installed in the south end of a tunnel of the underground railway station at Goodge Street, and the SHAEF signal center found a home in the north end of the tunnel. The GPO installed a 16-position switchboard, four positions of which were modified for use as a cross-Channel VHF radio switchboard, and a 70-line teleprinter switchboard connected to various headquarters and service organizations.59

SHAEF grew so fast that not all of its staff could be accommodated at Norfolk House. By January 1944, part of the Signal Division spilled over into a makeshift building at Portland Court, twenty minutes away, and for a time signal planning suffered because of the separation of that staff. Resumption of German bombings in late winter forced SHAEF to move out of London altogether. The new location at Bushy Park, Teddington, near Hampton Court, on the southwest edge of greater London, brought all the Signal Division together again in March.60 Bushy Park was already headquarters for the US Eighth Air Force, which made its switchboard (code name WIDEWING) available to SHAEF until other facilities could be installed. The WIDEWING camp grew "incredibly quickly, using collapsible hutting which they [the Americans] seemed to be able to fit together to provide any size or shape of building required," commented Brigadier Lionel H. Harris, a British member of the Signal Division and chief of its Telecommunications Section.61 He added that the signal offices were more substantial and better protected from blast, a fortunate circumstance since otherwise they would have been flattened instead of merely bent, later on, by the near miss of a flying bomb.

SHAEF telephone facilities at Bushy Park at first were a 20-position board. By May the 20 operators had increased to 30. There were 24 teleprinters. Additional line facilities connected wireless links that could be brought under remote control either from the Goodge Street North signal center or from Bushy Park. A conference telephone system served the meteorological staffs of the combined services-the British Admiralty, the Air Ministry, the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force, Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF), and SHAEF-by way of the Goodge Street center. Private wires connected the SHAEF


War Room with each of the British and American air forces.62

SHAEF was plentifully supplied with radio facilities. They included the use of existing War Office, Air Ministry, and Admiralty circuits to Algiers and GPO channels to Washington.63 Manual and automatic wireless rooms were installed both at the Bushy Park and Goodge Street North signal centers. There were transmitting stations at Lingfield and Wimbledon Common, and a receiving station at Eyenesford, south of London, with remote control lines terminating at Goodge Street North. Emergency control facilities at the signal centers at Goodge Street South (the emergency signal center for ETOUSA) and at Duke Street (the normal signal center for ETOUSA) gave assurance that SHAEF stations could be controlled from these centers if necessary.64 Radioteletypewriter and radiotelephone circuits from SHAEF to AFHQ at Algiers and a radioteletypewriter circuit from SHAEF to AFHQ at Caserta opened shortly before D-day. The US Strategic Air Force already had in use a radioteletypewriter conference system that enabled typed conferences to be held with Washington and with Algiers, and the system was made available to SHAEF. Traffic facilities for the press were also readied before D-day.65

Some of the more important decisions of the CSB standardized the time basis and time expressions in messages throughout the theater; ordained a simple single-call procedure , for all ground force radio communications; established telephone priorities; assigned cross-Channel cable and VHF radio circuits; and allocated radio frequencies. Time after time the members met to deal with problems concerning wire and cable, radio and radar, siting procedures, security and countermeasures, radio ships and cable ships, air and boat messenger service, codes and ciphers, air warnings, signal troops, training, communications for the assault forces, for the navies, for the air fleets, and for the press, speech scramblers for telephone talk, and much more besides.66 Fortunately, by then a great fund of information had accumulated from experience in operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and on the islands of the Pacific. In retrospect, signal planners were describing North Africa as "a small dress rehearsal for the great undertaking that was to follow."67 The scale of communications , for OVERLORD was perhaps twenty-five times greater than it had been for TORCH.

Of the many tasks confronting the signal planners, the most difficult was to evolve a workable plan of frequency allocation. It is never easy to develop an effective system to meet the needs of a large force-naval, air, ground, and service-in a combined operation. The difficulties multiply when several nations are concerned, for there are differences in types of transmission and frequency bands of the transmitters to consider. A minor mitigation in OVERLORD lay in the


fact that the two nations involved spoke a common language and employed common procedures. An existing British system furnished the basis for the plan ultimately adopted.68

Invasion plans called for a concentration of about 90,000 transmitters within a limited area of land, sea, and sky. Complicating the allocation problem further were the rapidly increasing numbers of new radar devices, the many radios and radars used by the bombing and fighter defense forces, the powerful radio and radar jamming transmitters, and the radio and radar navigational aids of both air and sea craft. The CSB set aside the frequencies that the British Government required to meet its minimum needs, earmarked certain other frequencies serving essential war purposes, and then allotted frequencies in blocks based upon a study of bids submitted by the prospective users.69 As expected, the using forces bid for several times as many frequencies as were available. The frequencies most in demand lay in the crowded high-frequency bands. In fact, the Radio Frequency Committee of the CSB received Moo requests for channels between 1.5 and 8 megacycles from the 6 major services and from no less than 2; contributing agencies, including the press and psychological warfare. The frequencies between 2 and 8 megacycles were overbid 400 percent, and in the 2- to 5-megacycle band the bids amounted to seven times the number the spectrum could provide.70 Working out a means of providing thousands of frequency packets, or channels, within tight limits without chaotic interference was a feat bordering upon the impossible. Brigadier Harris described the job as "rather like taking two selected octaves of a piano and putting in as many notes as was possible, without adjacent ones being so closely alike as to be indistinguishable."71 General Lanahan, too, fell back on musical comparisons-frequency allocation, he said, would yield either orchestration in the air, or cacophony. "We were attempting to assemble the greatest ether orchestra in history, and the planning would determine whether the orchestra produced music and messages, or chaos and confusion."72

If the plan were to work, all commands would have to practice maximum economy in sharing their frequencies and in employing only the minimum power output at the transmitters. By December 1943 the Radio Frequency Committee of the CSB had agreed upon a tentative allocation, and the grinding of the necessary myriads of crystals began. But by February 1944 it became apparent that the AEAF required more frequencies. Over the strenuous objection of General Vulliamy and the signal staff,73 the committee took frequencies from the ground forces and reduced the already narrow separation of channels in the 1- to 5-megacycle band from five


kilocycles to four. That meant grinding more crystals, and on extremely short notice, for it was 10 May when the revised frequency allocation list was issued. But in this specialty the Signal Corps had become proficient, even to the point where what had once been a most exacting laboratory technique was now transported into the field, and mobile crystal grinding teams were at hand. The task of providing crystals by the thousands, meticulously prepared, emphasized the one drawback to their use. Nevertheless, the American decision to use crystal-controlled mobile FM radio greatly simplified the job of frequency control in the jam-packed spectrum of sky over Europe from D-day on.

By D-day the Signal Division of SHAEF had laboriously turned out twenty-one signal instructions, section by section, complete with appendixes, charts, maps, and equipment lists galore.74 The signal instructions assigned responsibilities and laid down policies in general and in detail. Codes and ciphers furnished one example. The Combined Assault Code was to be used for all messages between headquarters engaged in an initial landing operation; the Combined Field Code, for all combined traffic where no other combined cipher was held; the Combined Strip Cipher, to supplement the Combined Cipher Machine. However, for the great bulk of heavy headquarters traffic, the Combined Cipher Machine system would assure secrecy on teletypewriter circuits, whether wire or radio. There were also joint and intraservice codes and ciphers, special purpose codes and ciphers (a radiotelephone code called Slidex, a map reference code, an air support control code, an air warning code, and so on) with rules for their use, together with many details on their security and on action to be taken if a system were compromised.

The now universally employed cipher machines, both British and American, formed the basis of the cipher systems of the Allies.75 The traffic loads, totaling astronomical numbers of words or 5-letter cipher groups, could have been dispatched efficiently in no other way. In the weeks just before the invasion, ETOUSA headquarters traffic climbed to a daily average of from 1.5 million to 2 million groups.76 Such a mass of words could not have been enciphered and deciphered by hand, by cryptographic clerks converting letter by letter using such slow, arduous devices as strip boards, unless great delay could be tolerated and unless very large numbers of message center personnel could be provided. Of course neither could the one be tolerated nor the other provided. The automatic cipher machine was the solution. Moreover, it was much more secure, as well as mechanically precise. The German Radio Intelligence Service-the counterpart of the US Signal Intelligence Service-admitted, after prolonged efforts to crack the Allied machine cipher systems, that they were unbreakable. German cryptanalysts succeeded, of course, in breaking many less secure systems, such as the Haglin, or M-209, though the individual


intercepts could generally not be read for some hours or days, quite enough time when temporary concealment was all the Allies expected. The Slidex code had been broken soon after the Germans first intercepted the traffic during maneuvers in southern England in March 1944.77

Speed and mass were the key words in the Army message centers in those greatest of all signal preparations to date. Mass communication was in fact the goal, commensurate with the total wars of the 20th century. The Allies readied huge quantities of short- and medium-range radio sets, of wire-line stores for combat use by battalions, companies, and platoons. There were tens of thousands of sets waterproofed, their batteries fresh and fully charged; hundreds of thousands of miles of assault and field wire, enough for the 5 divisions by land and the 3 by air in the D-day assault, enough for the 16 divisions that would be in Normandy within five days, enough for the million men who would be ashore in three weeks, enough and plenty to spare for the losses in battle.78 But the focus of SHAEF signal planning centered on the massive traffic loads of the headquarters-the millions of words telephoned and teletyped, whether by wire or by radio, or by both integrated into one system-accomplished even in the fleeting conditions of a military camp and as handily as in the well-established civilian communications system of a large modern metropolis.

Large armies on Normandy beachheads would require heavy duty communications lines back to England, and that meant, traditionally, submarine cable, and now more recently, radio channels in VHF. There were also, of course, numbers of Morse HF radio stations set up for headquarters use, but each station provided only one channel. Multichannel facilities had to be obtained The British provided cable and cable ships and also most of the initial supply of VHF radio. A number of British AM multichannel VHF systems were readied on the Isle of Wight to link up with companion sets whose crews followed hard upon the assault troops to the high ground beyond the GOLD and JUNO Beaches. Meanwhile, British cable ships stood by to unreel their coils between Southbourne and the Normandy beach near Longues as soon as the enemy could be pushed back and the sea lanes swept free of mines.79

A very important contribution to SHAEF signal planning derived from the signal staffs of the US 1st Army Group and the British 21 Army Group. FUSAG was organized in October 1943.80 Its signal officer was Colonel Lyman until April 1944, when Col. Garland


C. Black was assigned.81 Since FUSAG was expected to remain nonoperational until enough American forces reached the Continent to put an additional American field army into operation, the principal planning burden for the early stages of the invasion actually rested with the US First Army. A battle-hardened group of thirty-eight officers, drawn from the old II Corps of the North African campaign, comprised the heart of the FUSA staff. Among them was the hard-driving signal officer, Colonel Williams.82 In the winter of 1943-44 Colonel Williams learned during a visit from General Colton, chief of research and development activities in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in Washington, that the new FM multichannel radio relay, or antrac, system was ready.83

This was exciting news. Colonel Williams of course was familiar with the radio relay that the Signal Corps had used earlier in the Mediterranean operations. That nonstandard equipment, improvised from Motorola FM police radios, had provided only a single circuit. The Signal Corps' new AN/TRC-3 and 4 sets provided for speech circuits or four teletypewriter circuits for each speech channel as desired. The new sets could also transmit pictures and sketches by means of facsimile equipment and could be connected directly into the telephone and teletypewriter circuits at either end.84

With General Bradley's quick authorization, Colonel Williams immediately requisitioned all the antrac equipment that the Signal Corps could have ready by mid-1944: about twenty-one 100 mile radio carrier systems, each consisting of 2 terminal sets and 3 intermediate relay sets to be placed 25 miles apart, plus 100-percent backup spares. He hoped to use the antrac to parallel his wire systems from First Army to rear echelon, to each corps, to lateral armies, and to the air support command.85

In March 1944 the Signal Corps shipped several complete 100-mile ANA TRC-1, 3, and 4 systems, with spare parts and auxiliary operating components, to the United Kingdom. No one in the theater knew how to assemble or operate the sets. The 980th Signal Service Company, specially trained on antrac equipment in the United States, had


not yet arrived in the ETO. In April the Signal Corps dispatched two of its civilian laboratory engineers as technical observers to introduce the equipment in the theater, help install it, and train operators for it. "Observers" was a misnomer. Amory H. Waite and Victor J. Colaguori, assigned to the Technical Liaison Division of the Chief Signal Officer, ETOUSA, at once went to work under Colonel Williams and his supply officer, Lt. Col. Elmer L. Littell.86

First Waite and Colaguori had to find the sets. Several had gone to the bottom en route. The remaining sets, in lots of 188 boxes per set, were scattered in various supply dumps and warehouses from London to Wales. Once the sets were located, the engineers began assembling them and instructing officers and men in their use, which was complex, demanding a knowledge of carrier telephone and telegraph principles as well as those of VHF radio. Day and night the components of antraccarrier terminals, both telephone and telegraph, facsimile, VHF antennas, coaxial cable, and power supplies-were their meat and drink. Waite and Colaguori worked ceaselessly with the 175th Signal Repair Company's officers and men (Capt. Herman E. Gabel, 1st Lts. Haynes and Keremetsis, T/Sgts. Richard Fullerton and George Wright, and others) who volunteered their time every night after the daily routine of the signal repair company to work till three or four in the morning. When the equipment assemblage of the first system was completed, Waite and Colaguori gave short training courses to men of the 17th Signal Operations Battalion, FUSA, and to signalmen of FUSA's V, VII, and XIX Corps, demonstrating and giving detailed instruction to officers and men who soon would be depending upon it to a degree few communications men had hitherto dreamed.87

As the invasion date drew near, First Army's G-2 sought Colonel Williams' advice on the problem of getting aerial reconnaissance photographs from the beach to the headquarters of the IX Tactical Air Command at Middle Wallop, England, to help the airmen flying support missions.88 The signal officer of the IX Tactical Air Command was Colonel Garland, with whom General Rumbough bracketed Colonel Williams for credit in inaugurating antrac in the


ETO. Williams had been assigned a squadron of twenty-one light liaison aircraft for messenger work, but they could not be equipped with IFF (identification, friend or foe) radar recognition equipment, and without it Williams was afraid to let them fly the English Channel. Antrac, of course, could transmit facsimile pictures. But would the radiations, planned only for 25-mile jumps, be able to span the eighty-three miles to the far shore? Waite said he believed they could. One facsimile channel and an emergency circuit into Combined Headquarters at Portsmouth would suffice at first, to be followed by multichannel operation as soon as possible.

With a deadline of four hours in which to draft complete plans for the installation and get the project under way, engineers from ETOUSA's Technical Liaison and Communications Divisions met on the Isle of Wight with British officers from the Royal Corps of Signals to pick a site. Waite and Colaguori feared that the signal might fade somewhat, since line-of-sight to the Normandy shore was not possible. The radiations would have to bend considerably over the curvature of the earth, even though the installations would be on high ground. The civilian engineers had made tests over a longer path in a comparable location in Maine with excellent results, but the fact that this circuit was to be General Eisenhower's only telephone link to FUSA made careful decisions necessary. One terminal set they placed on a hill near Middle Wallop. The pivotal relay assemblage was readied for St. Catherine's Hill on the Isle of Wight, with one receiver-transmitter pair facing north toward Middle Wallop, the other pair facing southeast toward France.89

In his supply planning, Colonel Williams asked for a much greater quantity of signal items than the usual "type" field army would require. The initial assault into Normandy would be made without the benefit of the normal army supply system installations close in the rear; for weeks First Army might have to depend on the supplies it carried with it. In any event, Williams had learned in Sicily that a campaign in which a rapid breakout developed swallowed up signal supplies at a rate enormously greater than War Department calculations allowed.90

Washington supply officers were in fact appalled at First Army's signal list, not so much by the quantity as by the nature of the items requested. Almost all were in short supply. For example, from one list of 70 items, 29 were in the "critical" category, 9 were "most critical," and 12 were "practically nonexistent." Eventually Williams got most of what he asked for. First Army's signal equipment ran to 4,400 tons, whereas US armies following in First Army's wake used about 3,300 tons.91

Signal Corps troops for the invasion constituted, all in all, the largest gathering of signalmen yet assembled for combat. FUSA's Signal Corps men alone totaled 13,420 men, including three joint assault signal companies (JASCO's) , the recently devised units containing both Army and Navy


communicators.92 Besides these troops, the FUSA list included 11 division signal companies, 2 of them airborne and 2 serving with armored divisions; 3 signal battalions; a signal operations battalion and a signal operations company; 3 construction battalions and 2 separate construction companies; a photographic company; a repair company; a depot company; a radio intelligence company; a pigeon company; and a number of smaller detachments, some American and some British.93 Among these were traffic analysis units, an air liaison squadron, a signal intelligence supply unit, and an enemy equipment intelligence service (EEIS) detachment.94 In addition, the troop list included three companies designated as signal service companies that actually were special units to perform signal intelligence functions at corps level. These troops Colonel Williams asked for because his North African and Sicilian experience had convinced him of the urgent need for them, even though War Department tables did not provide for such units. He received them only after "endless wrangling and arguing."95

The Invasion

As the vessels bearing thousands of Allied troops moved out into the channel on the night of 5-6 June 1944, complete radio silence blanketed the armada. While the ships proceeded in darkness over the sea, huge air fleets of the troop carrier commands flew in the inky blackness overhead. But the blackness was as daylight to the eyes of radar. An American microwave early warning (MEW) radar at Start Point in Devon viewed the whole panorama of the invasion through the night.96

Radar for the Airborne Assault

From the electronics point of view, the assault of the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions in advance of the VII Corps landings on UTAH Beach was very successful.97 This was true even though many of the paratroopers were widely scattered in the drops. The mishaps resulted from circumstances having nothing


to do with the electronic devices employed; all performed well.

Five and one-half hours before the beach assault began, a score of Pathfinder planes from the IX Troop Carrier Command flew to Normandy guided by British Gee navigational aids and using ASV (air-to-surface vessel) radars, such as the SCR-717, to scan the terrain below.98 Aboard the Pathfinders were paratroopers carrying Eureka beacons, AN/PPN-1, and signal lights to mark the designated drop zones to guide the troop carriers that would come after them. Cloud and fog obscured the landscape; not even the trained Pathfinders could locate all of the exact areas chosen for the drops.99 The paratroopers drifted to earth in the Normandy fields and orchards, set out the light signals, and switched on their Eurekas. In two zones west of the Merderet River, Pathfinder teams found enemy units disturbingly near. The Americans dared show no lights; the Eurekas had to suffice.100

Half an hour later the great fleets of the Troop Carrier Command approached, their Rebeccas (AN/APN2's) interrogating and receiving pulsed responses from the Eurekas on the ground, guiding the pilots to the drop zones. Enemy flak over Normandy had dispersed the troop carriers' tight formations; the main drops were generally scattered, but the carriers hit three drop zones exactly. Of 800 planes, only 20 were lost. Of the 512 aircraft and gliders that followed in successive waves, bearing additional troops, weapons, vehicles, and medical and signal units, only 8 were lost.101 Ninety-five percent of all airborne troops dropped used information from the AN/APN-2 beacons; 25 percent dropped guided by radar alone, with no help at all from signal lights.102 Afterward the top commanders agreed that "the principal causes of the dispersed drop pattern were cloud formations, flak and faulty navigation by some of the pilots."103

Despite the fact that, to the consternation of Signal Corps supply officers and installation crews, neither maintenance parts nor test sets IE-56 had arrived in England before D-day, all the American Rebecca-Eureka radar beacons had functioned properly. They emitted their responses as the Rebecca interrogators aboard the carrier planes approached within twenty miles. Only one Rebecca failed, AAF reported. Nor did the enemy jam the sets. If he had, the Allies would have been prepared with an alternate device employing microwaves since the Pathfinder troops carried down with


them a number of the very new radar beacons, AN/UPW. These were similar to Eurekas but operated on much higher frequencies in the S, or 10 centimeter, band, which responded to the radiations of the standard AI (airborne interception) and ASV microwave radars and gave visible indication on their oscilloscopes, just as the Eurekas did for the Rebeccas at much lower frequencies. As the carrier fleets came over the ground beacons, they flew at 500 to 600 feet elevation, determined by the low-level radar altimeter, AN/APN-1, and their paratroopers chuted into the darkness with a dropping accuracy of approximately plus or minus 400 yards. All together, it was by far a much better drop than previous ventures, in Sicily for example. It was the radar devices that made the difference in Normandy.104

The first Signal Corps troops to land in France were 28 men of the 101st Airborne Signal Company, who jumped with the division headquarters group and troops of the 3d Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry in the early morning darkness.105 Of the 28, 21 dropped in the designated zone; the other 7, some 25 miles distant.106 The men recovered only 4 of the 27 equipment bundles dropped; in them were 2 radios. The signalmen fought as infantrymen with the elements of the 501st, who marched on Pouppeville and captured it.107

Meanwhile other signalmen of the 101st also were engaged in combat. Making their preparations for the invasion, the men had remodeled one of the powerful long-range SCR-499's, mounting it in a 1/4-ton trailer, which could be towed by a jeep.108 With the radio set crowded into one glider and the jeep into another, the men took off in the first flight of gliders from England. Four miles from the take-off point, the glider containing the jeep and its crew dropped. The other glider got away safely and landed under enemy fire. The signalmen unloaded the radio, hailed a passing jeep, and towed the set to the spot at Hiesville designated as division headquarters. They arrived while the men who had preceded them were fighting at Pouppeville. About 1800, the men got through to England with their first radio contact.109 This SCR-499 did yeoman duty on D-day and for the rest of the first week of the invasion, serving the two airborne divisions as their link to England.


The 82d Airborne Signal Company, dropping by parachute with the troops of the 82d Airborne Division at various locations in the vicinity of Ste. Mère-Eglise or coming in by glider, lost many men and much equipment. The radio section was seriously hampered-out of 6 high-powered sets sent into the combat zone, only one survived glider crash landings. Likewise, out of 13 low-powered sets brought in, only one was usable. In the first few days, a small wire platoon of 13 men struggled heroically to provide wire communications to regiments and 20-odd organizations and attached units, besides operating switchboards at division headquarters. The magnitude of the task can be measured by the fact that a wire platoon serving a 3-regiment division ordinarily numbered 94 officers and men.110

Radio Countermeasures for the Invasion

Not all the Allied radio and radar emanations on the night preceding D-day were intended to direct and coordinate the operations of the invaders. A very considerable proportion of them sought to blind or deceive the enemy's eyes of radar and to deafen or deceive his ears of radio. It was especially necessary to jam his radars-in effect, to blind him during the crucial hours before the Allies established a beachhead. German confidence in Festung Europa rested heavily upon radar sets. The enemy had erected hundreds, of a dozen types, along the coasts, especially of course along the beaches facing England from Dieppe to the tip of the Cherbourg peninsula. On one stretch the Germans had concentrated so many sets that there was one for each mile and a half of coast line.111

On the Allies' side of the Channel, radio countermeasure (RCM) plans, both to strike blind all radars in areas where the attack was coming and to create the appearance of a major attack where in fact only small deceptive forces were to operate, had long occupied the Allies. The planning required the most extensive cooperative action-British, American, Army, Navy. Through it all the Signal Corps played an important part, especially toward furnishing Signal Corps equipment, whatever the craft in which it was mounted or whatever the service responsible for operating it.112 In the RCM planning for the invasion of Normandy, the British had predominated, "in view of the greater operational experience and resources of the RAF and to a lesser extent of the RN," as a British report put it.113 American plans generally conformed to British proposals.


Jammers, both British and American, of many sizes and types, were marshaled to make utmost use of their capabilities. A thorough effort had already been made to bomb or shoot up all enemy stations, but not all the efforts of Ferret planes, photo missions, and espionage could pinpoint each of the many enemy radars for the bombers' attention. For the invasion, therefore, Allied planes and ships carrying RCM equipment sought to jam every enemy radar station that had escaped destruction. During the night before D-day, eight Royal Air Force craft and four American B-17's patrolled high over the south coast of England and the northwest French coast, operating Mandrel spot jammers (AN/APT3's) tuned to the low frequencies of the enemy search radars, blinding them so that they could not see the vast air armadas forming over England and heading toward Normandy.

At H minus 7, before the leading elements of the invasion fleet came within range of German sea search detectors ashore, Allied shipborne radar jammers were switched on to blind the German scopes. When within range of enemy artillery on the beaches, the Allied crews retuned their jammers, moving from the frequencies of German search sets to the frequencies of their gun-laying radars, so as to disrupt radar-aided artillery fire against the invading ships. According to plan, some 240 low-power sets (AN/APQ-2's, or Rugs) aboard light landing craft formed the inshore screen. Offshore, 60 medium-power RCM sets operated from mine sweepers and destroyers. At sea, aboard cruisers and battleships, 120 high-power jammers added their bit to the electronic screen.

This was the RCM onslaught, along the main front from the sea, up to H-hour itself. Thereafter, certain ships were appointed to take over RCM control, their specialized crews listening for enemy radar and directing the jamming of it, using care not to interfere with the Allies' own radars, set up by this time on the beaches to watch for enemy planes and then direct gunfire. There was little jamming from land. England was too far away, except for basing the tremendous Tuba, or ground Cigar, one of which, set up near Brighton, was prepared to transmit in the 38- to 42-megacycle band with sufficient power to jam German aircraft communications across the Channel. There were available for the same purpose some airborne Cigar sets as well. The Allies also used some airborne jammers against the German long-range search Freyas.114

The invasion RCM was not by any means wholly direct jamming along the invasion front. A very valuable portion was deceptive radar measures staged in areas where there was to be no invasion. Radar, though a most potent weapon, could not only be jammed into blinded uselessness, but, ironically, could also be converted into a dangerous liability. RCM could be made deceptive, so manipulated as to produce target indications on an enemy's scope that would lead him into thinking large attacking forces were coming where there were none. Toward this end two diversions of a few ships and aircraft equipped to


perpetrate RCM deception moved out-one from Dover toward Calais and the other from Newhaven toward Boulogne. Their jammers, together with quantities of aluminum foil (Chaff) dropped from low-flying planes, gave the impression of a huge fleet. Further plausibility was lent by a few launches towing balloons that carried radar reflectors. Some of the diversion vessels also carried sonic equipment, another electronic innovation in World War II. Sonic equipment consisted of nothing more than stentorian loud-speakers, powered by large amplifiers and made articulate by record players, whose records or recorded tape emitted sounds that gave every indication of an approaching armada. In the sky the British employed Moonshine, metal foil kitelike reflectors that, when towed or released by a few aircraft, gave a radar picture of swarms of invading warplanes. All this RCM feint worked especially well on the eastern flank, causing the enemy to fire on the fake armada and to send out E-boats on the surface and fighter planes in the air. As the German fighters circled vainly in the night sky above Calais, wasting valuable time and energy, the real invasion moved, free from air attack at least, onto the invasion beaches from SWORD to OMAHA. Thereafter, the RCM offensive did not have to be maintained as long or as intensely as planned, for enemy resistance in the realms of air and radar fast fell away.115

Communication on the Beaches

Troops of the U.S. V Corps landed on OMAHA Beach on D-day meeting the fire of the German 352d Division. Losses of equipment were heavy. The 116th Infantry lost three-quarters of its radio sets that morning, destroyed or waterlogged, and command control suffered proportionately in that sector.116 The 2d Platoon of the 294th joint Assault Signal Company landed with elements of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion at OMAHA Beach during the first hour of the assault. These signalmen, well trained in amphibious operations, were capable of carrying more than average loads of equipment safely, but their vehicles were unloaded in deep water where they had stalled and were hit by enemy fire. Nevertheless, the men managed to get most of their hand-carried items ashore and turned them over to infantry troops and shore fire control parties that had lost their communications equipment in the fury and tumult of the landings. With the remaining wire equipment and salvaged bits of wire picked up from the beaches, the JASCO men, still under fire, set up a skeletal wire system. This was the only communications system on the beach until noon of D-day, when the 1st and 3d Platoons landed, bringing with them enough equipment to replace some of the losses suffered by the 2d Platoon. A detachment of the 293d joint Assault Signal Company, which followed the 294th ashore,


lost one-third of its vehicles and half of its radio equipment when a shell struck the landing craft while it was still 350 yards offshore. Soon after landing, the men had a wire communications net under way (their D-day mission was to provide each element of the 6th Engineer Special Brigade with communications) and had established radio contact with the 116th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) by means of an SCR-300. At UTAH Beach, where the going was easier, the 286th joint Assault Signal Company got ashore quickly and soon had wire communications functioning satisfactorily. The failure to get an SCR-193 ashore, however, left a gap in radio communication between the shore and the VII Corps' headquarters ship, the USS Bayfield, a gap the Navy fortunately plugged.117

During the initial assaults, the congestion in the water and on the beaches forced the abandonment of a plan for the JASCO's to lay field wire between headquarters ships and the troops on the beach; therefore radio became of the utmost importance.118 However, the JASCO's spread their wire networks from 500 yards to a mile along the shore of the Cotentin peninsula and extended them from 5 to 12 miles inland. The biggest problem was to connect the forces on OMAHA and UTAH Beaches, which was done initially by radio link, then by laying spiral-four cable.

The 1st Signal Company, serving the 1st Infantry Division, was divided into six main groups for separate loadings on separate ships. The first group of four officers and seventy-five men, landing at H plus go, met heavy mortar, artillery, and machine gun fire and set up its first radio sets less than five feet from the water's edge. The sets communicated successfully with the regimental headquarters ashore and the division headquarters afloat. Later, when the machine gun nests had been cleared, the wire teams began laying their lines.119

According to the signal plan, an advance detachment of the 56th Signal Battalion attached to the 1st Infantry Division was to go ashore on OMAHA Beach at noon on D-day to install and operate V Corps' headquarters communications. However, only one wire team got ashore on schedule. The men faced a formidable task, more burdensome still because the wire team of the 29th Infantry Division had also failed to get ashore. There was little to work with; constant and heavy enemy fire harassed the men. They managed to install and maintain wire communications for both divisions and the beach-three point-to-point circuits that they kept in operation with a fair degree of success. No switchboard was available until the afternoon of D plus 1 when the rest of the advance detachment finally got ashore.120

Near evening on D-day the signal


officer of the 29th Division, Lt. Col. Gordon B. Cauble, and his signal headquarters detachment landed from an LCVP (landing craft, vehicle and personnel). They carried ashore two SCR-609's. As yet no communications net had been established on the battleswept beach. The Signal Corps men of the 29th Division had been scattered aboard various vessels and were unable to follow their signal plan. Cauble and his men set up their 609's at the division command post in a rock quarry several hundred feet back from the beach. While running in a wire from a telephone line just laid on the beach, they succeeded in making radio contacts with a number of other adjacent units. "But it was D plus 2 before we really got our planned communication system established," Cauble later said. And even after they had located themselves in the cellar of a nearby chateau and after equipment and men began to accrue, communications remained a nightmare until American troops slackened the pace of their drive inland and wire lines caught up with them. "Wire communication was excellent by the fifth day," according to Cauble, "and after that, radio was not used in the higher echelons."121

At UTAH Beach, VII Corps communications lay in the capable hands of the veteran 50th Signal Battalion.122 The battalion came ashore with the early waves of infantry at H plus 90. Of the various radio, message center, and wire teams, the forward section of the message center platoon under Lt. Alexius H. McAtee probably encountered the most frustrations. Prematurely landed in water so deep that most of their equipment was washed away, the men struggled ashore through heavy shelling and began operations as best they could. Battalion message center teams processed radio messages by flashlight throughout the night and in the morning initiated a "hitch-hike" messenger service to the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, since all message center vehicles had been washed away in landing.123 Other advance elements of the 50th promptly set up radio communications for VII Corps headquarters and from corps to the 4th Infantry Division, the 82d and foist Airborne Divisions, the Ninth Air Force, and the headquarters ships lying offshore.

Soon after H-hour, British and American ground radars went ashore. The American sets were LW's (light warning) such as the SCR-602'S, SLC's (searchlight control) such as the SCR-268's, and the microwave sets such as the gun layer SCR-584.124 They later included the huge 60-ton MEW radar, one of which landed on D plus 10. On the American beaches the initial air defense system included both American and British radars-at OMAHA, for example, a British GCI (ground controlled interception radar) and LW's of the American 555th Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion. They began landing late in the afternoon of D-day amid the litter on


the sands while mortar and small arms fire continued to wound many of the men and severely damage some of the vehicles. The men moved the equipment over the beach and into the shelter of a draw east of St. Laurent-sur-Mer. By early the next morning the 555th Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion had its LW radars on the air and was reporting aircraft.125 The few German planes that attacked the beaches found a hot and ready welcome.

All the radars were well prepared for the landings, however wild the surf and high the tide. One SCR-584 trailer van, which had failed to reach land, was discovered completely waterproof and airtight floating in the Channel. Towed to land and opened, it was found dry and ready to operate.126 The 215th Signal Depot Company dried out, repaired, and reissued another set recovered from a sunken landing craft.127

Thus, despite all obstacles, men and equipment reached the beaches and beyond. The various networks rapidly went into operation: army, corps, and division command and point-to-point radio nets; regimental combat team radioteletypewriter and wire teletypewriter nets; separate telephone, teletypewriter, and radio nets for army and corps radio intelligence companies, including circuits to the G-2 of the headquarters served, and a cross-Channel net used jointly by the army company and the Signal Intelligence Service, ETOUSA. Naval signal detachments established a beachmaster's boat control net and a beach net. During the assault the station on the FUSA headquarters ship entered two 21 Army Group command nets and established three FUSA command nets. The first of these included the corps headquarters and the Plymouth Signal Center; the second, an antiaircraft brigade and miscellaneous FUSA units; and the third, three engineer special brigades. Naval shore fire control nets also were in operation during the assault landings and till as late as the battle near Carentan and during the attack on Cherbourg. Forward troops made excellent use of FM radio. There were some disappointments, however. For example, the invasion plans had called for forty-four public address systems for use in the beach landings, but none had been received by 5 June and only sixteen were en route.128

Except in the worst of the battleswept sectors, OMAHA communications were remarkably good. Radios and radars, large and small, got ashore and into operation without serious difficulties other than those imposed by the enemy. Radio frequencies were kept well in hand, with one exception. A powerful transmitter broke in upon the high frequency bands soon after D-day and caused considerable consternation. When it was found to be a commercial Press Wireless station broadcasting from the US sector directly to New York, a suitable frequency was assigned to it.129


All together in the month of June, eighty-five complaints of interference in HF radio channels came to the Signal Division of SHAEF. All were corrected except three, whose sources of interference could not be discovered.130 All in all the tremendously complex frequency plan for OVERLORD had succeeded well.

As in every invasion in the ETO since TORCH, communications ships played a basic role. Aboard the FUSA headquarters ship, the USS Achernar, a 50-man contingent from the 6th Signal Center Team and the 17th Signal Operations Battalion handled the communications center. The USS Bayfield served as the headquarters ship for VII Corps. Also present was the "Lucky" Ancon, overhauled after her brush with German bombs off Salerno.131 The ship provided the communications headquarters of the V Corps under signal officer Col. Haskell H. Cleaves. Radio nets aboard these headquarters ships furnished communications between echelons of FUSA headquarters, both afloat and ashore in the initial days, as well as communications back to the army rear echelon in England.132 The headquarters ships hovered off the beaches for five days until the command post of FUSA was safely in operation. Then the men who had operated the centers disembarked and reported for duty to the 17th Signal Operations Battalion.

The lodgment in Normandy secure, cable connections with England became established. Brigadier Harris and his American deputy, Col. William C. Henry of the Signal Corps, presided over the laying of the first cable from Southbourne, England, to the Normandy beach near Longues, a task completed on to June. The second cable, started soon after and parallel to the first, encountered ill fortune when the British cable ship Monarch was shot up by enemy gunfire on D plus 8. A Signal Corps photographer aboard her had been photographing the operation but his film was lost in the riddled chart room. By 17 June a second cable spanned the Channel and, with the aid of the first, assured large-scale communications. Hardly had the two vital lines been completed when ships dragging their anchors fouled and snapped both cables during the great storm of 2o June (D plus 14). Not till 24 June and 28 June were the broken ends of the first and second cables, respectively, picked up, miles of new cable spliced in, and the circuits restored.133

Radio Relay

Meanwhile, both the British and the American version of the new and tremendously significant innovation, multichannel radio relay, maintained heavy traffic loads. The equipment had been installed and put into operation much sooner than the cables. Moreover, it remained unaffected by the vagaries of the storms and hazards of the sea.

The American version of the


equipment-the antracs-performed with spectacular success. Among the many persons who waited out the first anxious hours of the invasion were the two civilian engineers, Waite and Colaguori. Some days earlier, it had been determined that one of the civilians "would have the rather doubtful privilege of going into France on D-day or shortly thereafter. A coin was tossed, two out of three, and Mr. Colaguori won." As Colaguori prepared his equipment and truck and drove to the docks, officers and men of ETOUSA's Technical Liaison Division helped Waite with the installation on the Isle of Wight, atop the hill called St. Catherine's. On St. Catherine's crest the British (and US Navy, using British AM sets) had already placed the several terminals of the British VHF radio links intended to reach the British GOLD and JUNO Beaches.

On the rounded grassy summit of St. Catherine's stand the ruins of an ancient tower. A watchtower centuries old, it had witnessed signals before, for it had been used as a station for signaling the approach of enemy ships, including, on one renowned occasion, the Spanish Armada. More recently, the ruins had served as a landfall for the German air fleets. Now, as a final touch in this mixture of the hoary remote and fantastic new, the Signal Corps men installed the paraphernalia of the first antrac in Europe.

On D-day Waite and members of the 980th Signal Company, specially trained on the AN/TRC-4 and newly arrived in the United Kingdom, began a long and anxious watch. "We could see the ships by the hundreds heading for France at our very feet almost," said Waite, "and others coming back . . . shell fire and bomb explosions were always audible and at night the distant red flashes. . . . One day passed, and then another. A British circuit came in first, much to my regret since 1 naturally wanted our boys to land first."

Fighting was heaviest at OMAHA. Colaguori, embarked on an LST with a unit of the engineers, could not get ashore throughout D-day. That night he succeeded, but it was many hours more before he could advance four hundred yards to the bluffs, where the fighting continued hotly.

Back on St. Catherine's hill, the Signal Corps men waited and worried. For seventy-two anxious hours they had no word from any American unit. Then at last, fourteen minutes past one o'clock on the afternoon of 8 June, they saw the indicator rise on the receiver meter, adjusted their equipment, and heard with complete clarity: "Hello, B for Bobbie; this is V for Victor." Waite, as soon as he could answer, replied with strict propriety, according to SOP: "Hello, V for Victor; this is B for Bobbie." Then with less propriety, "Where in hell have you been?" "What d'ya mean where have we been?" expostulated Colaguori at OMAHA Beach, "We've been through hell," punctuated by the nearby explosion of a German 88 shell, which the listeners in England heard clearly. Exchange of messages then began. Late that afternoon the first facsimile transmission passed over the complete length of the 125-mile relay from Middle Wallop to OMAHA Beach. Three or four days later, the headquarters of the First US Army went ashore with carrier equipment, which immediately used the full potential of the antrac link as a


Photo:  First ANTRAC station in Europe, on St. Catherine's Hill, Isle of Wight


channel carrier system.134 Scores and hundreds would follow as the demand for antracs reached a crescendo.

Lt. Col. John Hessel, formerly a civilian engineer at the Laboratories, now in Signal Corps uniform and serving in the Technical Liaison Division, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ETOUSA, wrote triumphantly to a fellow engineer officer, Maj. William S. Marks, Jr., who was still serving in the Monmouth laboratories:

You will be glad to know that Victor went with Colonel Williams at a very early date and that cross-channel communication was established on the AN/TRC-1 on D plus 2 at 1314 hours.... The circuit has been in continuous operation without fading except for two periods of not more than one minute each. The general opinion seems to be that this is the most reliable cross-channel circuit yet put into operation

These remarks bore a 14 June date. A continuation, dated 20 June, adds: "Information has just been received that Colonel Williams has been decorated by General Bradley for the conspicuous success of his communications. The last report received is that the circuit is still on 24-hour-per-day operation and carrying capacity traffic with no failure and no breakdown."135


The British sets on St. Catherine's worked well except during the warm parts of the day, when they faded out because of their AM characteristics. The American FM gear, on the other hand, did not lose modulation when signal strength weakened a bit during the midday hours. At such times, the American set provided cueing for the British to their installations at Caen.136

Facsimile transmission, too, received high praise. Photo reconnaissance planes took the pictures and flew them back to Middle Wallop for developing and identifying. Seven minutes after they were put on the facsimile machine on the Middle Wallop antrac, they had been received on OMAHA Beach and were being rushed to the gun control officer. The gunners had a continuing picture of enemy gun emplacements, tanks, and other targets concealed behind hedgerows, buildings, and terrain. Facsimile equipment transmitted typewritten material, line drawings, and photographs with equal ease.137

General Rumbough greeted the antracs enthusiastically. "This operation," he reported to General Ingles, "marks an important milestone in military radio communication. Tactical field radio equipment has been successfully integrated with wire line and terminal equipment to form a system comparable in reliability and traffic capacity to allwire systems."138

Pigeons also landed on D-day, about five hundred of them. They were used to carry ammunition status reports, undeveloped film, and emergency messages. Communications by other means were so good, however, that the pigeon messengers were not used extensively.139

Communications for the Press

"Press communications," said General Lanahan, "is one of the most difficult problems facing an Army involved in modern mobile warfare."140 Arrangements for press communications had occupied a large place in SHAEF signal planning, especially since it was well understood that President Franklin D. Roosevelt took a personal interest in communications for the press. To bolster the planning, Lanahan had obtained the services of Col. David Sarnoff, in civil life the president of RCA, to head the SHAEF section dealing with communications facilities for public relations matters.141

The generally unsatisfactory arrangements for press communications in the North African invasion clearly indicated


that a better plan must be provided for OVERLORD. In North Africa, the special broadcasting detachment organized to expedite press traffic back to the United States had been unable to perform its mission satisfactorily. The group of ten officers and twenty enlisted men was too small and, lacking its own communications equipment, had to depend on other organizations to handle the traffic. As a result, traffic was delayed, sometimes as long as several days.142

For OVERLORD, SHAEF on 29 December 1943 activated the provisional 6808th Publicity and Psychological Warfare Service Battalion.143 Its mission, in addition to handling psychological warfare matters, was to house, feed, transport, and provide communications for the small army of war correspondents accredited to the US armies for the operation.144 The battalion was made up of hand-picked men from units already in the theater, plus specially selected personnel sent from the United States. Mobile radio broadcasting companies, originally called signal combat propaganda companies, were absorbed by the battalion. On 8 March 1944 the battalion was reorganized under TOE 3046 as the 72d Publicity Service Battalion.145

A communications platoon of 106 men was provided in order to operate a one-kilowatt radio station and its associated terminal equipment, which would provide circuits to England, from which point the traffic would be relayed to the United States over commercial channels. Divided into four teams-a group of 15 men for each of the two American armies, First and Third, another group of 33 to remain in London, and a fourth team of 43 men assigned to 1St US Army Group (later to 12th Army Group) -the platoon was slated to handle all press traffic for the US armies on the Continent during the first sixty days of the operation. Two selected commercial companies, Press Wireless and Mackay Radio and Telegraph, would then establish circuits from the Continent direct to the United States.146 Press Wireless was to become operational on D plus 60; Mackay, on D plus 90.

Press Wireless men and equipment landed in England a month before D-Day, and Mackay crews arrived on the scene two weeks later. Press Wireless had brought along not only a 15-kilowatt transmitter but also a spare 400-watt transmitter just in case it might be needed to key the larger transmitter remotely. Meanwhile, Lt. Col. James B. Smith, the Signal Corps officer who served as communications officer of the Publicity and Psychological Warfare Section of FUSAG, was eaten up by worry-his 1-kilowatt transmitter (SCR-399) and its associated equipment had not arrived. Without it, the 72d Publicity Service Battalion would be helpless to move the press traffic according to plan. When he confided his worries to the Press Wireless crew, they offered him the use of their spare 400-watt transmitter until his SCR-399 arrived.147


Smith countered by asking if the Press Wireless organization would be willing to take their 400-watt transmitter to France and operate it directly to the United States, if such an arrangement could be made. The Press Wireless men "jumped at the chance to give it a try."148 They believed that their transmitter could reach the United States directly and that it would be able to operate for as long as two hours a day. After that, they thought, it could easily work back to England, from whence traffic could be relayed.

Smith set about "selling" his somewhat unorthodox plan. Journeying to Bristol to confer with First Army's Colonel Williams, Smith explained the plan and added that he would require some additional items of signal equipment to complete the station. Colonel Williams had only one question. Would it work? Assured that it would, he agreed and ordered his supply officer to give Smith the needed items to complete the station. They were in Smith's hands that same day.149

At higher headquarters, Smith encountered more scepticism. Many officers were of the opinion that the arrangement would not work. Then the problem of frequencies arose. A SHAEF frequency assignment officer agreed to wire the United States asking for a frequency assignment for the Press Wireless transmitter, and two days later a message from the United States arrived assigning the frequencies. Unfortunately, in his letter to SHAEF asking for the frequency assignment, Smith had neglected to mention that it was for a commercial circuit, and SHAEF assumed that the circuit was to be operated by the Army. Thus the frequencies assigned were not commercia1.150

Certainly no news event in history created more interest than the official announcement on 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy. While the world waited anxiously for news, the twenty-seven selected war correspondents who had accompanied the First Army struggled to get their dispatches written, approved by the censors, and sent.151 In the American sector, the press radio circuits proved a sad disappointment. Six men of the communications platoon from the 72d Publicity Service Battalion landed about H plus 8. They carried with them a British 76 set, which they were to operate back to the base group in England until such time as the rest of the men could land with their SCR-399. The British set proved unsatisfactory for this purpose.152 Furthermore, the scheduled Navy dispatch boat courier service to take press dispatches back to England failed to materialize until a week after D-day. For the first five days the airplanes and ships evacuating the wounded carried press copy back to the United Kingdom.153 In addition, the Army carried a limited amount of press traffic over its operational circuits.

The Press Wireless transmitter was landed on the beaches of Normandy, in the First Army sector, on D plus


6. Testing out the equipment, the Press Wireless crew sent out the prearranged call letters-SWIF (Somewhere in France) -using none of the four frequencies that had been assigned for the circuit, but rather another commercial frequency that the company had used in transmitting from Paris to the United States before the war. To the amazement of all the technicians who had doubted that the 400-watt transmitter could span the ocean effectively, the Press Wireless receiving station in Long Island, New York, responded immediately, reporting perfect reception.154

Meanwhile Colonel Williams was under siege from the frustrated war correspondents, who demanded the use of Army circuits to file their press copy since the facilities the Army had provided for the press had not proved usable. Williams "did not propose to bog down (his) circuits to England with thousands of words of press material."155 Since he was not authorized to permit Press Wireless to begin operating until SHAEF gave the word, pressure built up. Finally, after consulting G-2, who assured him that anything passed by G-2 censors could be sent, Williams told the Press Wireless team to go ahead. Press copy started streaming direct to the United States.

At SHAEF consternation reigned. Not only had the press transmitter opened without official sanction, it was also operating on an unauthorized frequency. Unable to get an official explanation, SHAEF sent a peremptory order to First Army to close down the transmitter. Williams complied.156 Then, in his own words, "All hell broke loose on my head." Eventually the furious complaints of all the news agencies and their correspondents carried the day, and the Press Wireless transmitter was permitted to begin operation again. As it turned out, transmission was good for sixteen hours a day rather than the two hours a day originally thought possible. As the SHAEF Signal Section ruefully remarked in a staff study prepared some months after the incident, "Although no known harm was done [by the unauthorized transmission] the potential danger of such occurrences to operations was great."157

On D plus 16, the powerful SCR-399 originally intended for the 72d Publicity Service Battalion arrived on the Continent and at once established contact with the United Kingdom. This circuit could have handled a maximum of 600,000 words daily, but it was used very little. For one thing, "the PRO was unaware of the establishment of the circuit or the capacity of traffic it might have handled."158 For another, the commercial medium of transmission, more familiar to the newsmen, was transmitting directly to the United States. For the first ten days even the British press correspondents filed their copy with Press Wireless, which transmitted it to the United States and then back to the United Kingdom. After that the military established a teleprinter circuit from the beachhead back to the 72d's


Photo:  Technicians operate a record player during an overseas broadcast

(above) during an overseas broadcast. Newsmen at work in an improvised press wireless room (below).

Photo:  Newsmen at work in an improvised press wireless room


base group in London to permit the British correspondents to send their dispatches to London by direct circuit. Another SCR-399, modified for voice broadcast to London, received fairly heavy use since it provided the only means available for this purpose. When Third Army became operational, in August 1944, it too demanded a direct press circuit back to the United States. The Mackay commercial service provided this circuit. The 2d Army Group Communications Team had accompanied Third Army to the Continent, bringing along an SCR-399 for transmitting press copy to London. When the breakout came, Third Army began moving so fast that there was no possibility of putting in a teleprinter circuit from Third Army headquarters back to London. Thus the SCR-399 became the only means of getting press copy direct to London.159


On D-day the combat photographers' movie and still picture cameras covered every facet of the landings. The cameramen of FUSA's 165th Signal Photographic Company were mostly photographic specialists who had received their training at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. The company commander, Capt. Herman Wall, had spent months preceding D-day training his men for the part they were to play in the invasion. He had arranged to send back early photographs of the invasion by carrier pigeon, and three boxes of birds accompanied the photographers who embarked early on the morning of D-day in an LCVP. The first pictures Wall sent back to England by carrier pigeon in the early morning hours. About 1030, as his craft approached the beach, he released a second bird carrying other negatives of the approach. About 1130 the LCVP beached, and the men started ashore. For nearly an hour Wall and his men photographed activities on their section of the landing area. Then, as they started down the beach in another direction, Wall was hit and badly wounded. For nearly three hours Wall and other wounded men lay in the field of fire where no one could come to their assistance. Finally a DUKW maneuvered close enough to permit men to risk coming in to get the wounded. Aboard a British boat, the men received medical attention. A section of Wall's leg that was badly mutilated had to be amputated.160

The Leica camera Wall had been using still hung about his neck. A ship's officer removed it, but Wall protested vigorously, insisting that the exposed film it contained was extremely important and that he could not be separated from the film until it was delivered safely into the hands of the proper authorities. In his own words: "In fact, I created such a fuss that the camera, with film, was returned." The next day an Army Pictorial Service representative picked up the film from the hospital in England where Wall was being treated. When the film was processed, it contained thirty-five perfect negatives of excellent quality, the first to be received


Photo:  Invasion picture taken by Captain Wall


of the actual landings. Within a few hours they were on their way to Washington by radiophoto transmission.161

Detachment P of the 290th Signal Photographic Company hit OMAHA Beach with the 5th Engineers Special Brigade. Lt. George Steck, his two enlisted still photographers, and two motion picture cameramen started their photographic record as dawn broke on D-day. The first assault wave had already left the ship in the predawn darkness, but the photographers dared not use even a single flash bulb lest it alert the German defenders on shore. When daylight came, they started grinding out their invasion picture record, photographing the engineers waiting to go into battle. Their cameras caught the poignant vignettes of war-men checking their equipment, men saying goodbye to their friends, and the first casualties being brought back to the ship.


First came five half-drowned crewmen from a tank that had been sunk going in with the first assault wave. Then the wounded from the beach started coming back. The boats carrying them were unloaded, then filled with the men going in with the second assault wave. The photographers climbed down into one of the pitching LCT's162 (landing craft, tank).

It was late afternoon before the Germans were driven far enough back to let the engineers begin their work. Cruising in through a mine field, the LCT landed and the cameramen started taking their pictures-of German 88's hitting the water, casting up huge plumes of spray; of medical corpsmen working ceaselessly administering aid to the wounded; of men who had been killed even before they reached the shore; of the first groups of German prisoners; of the American soldiers methodically working their way forward toward the enemy. When night fell, the photographers captioned their pictures and sought a boat going to England, a boat to carry these first films back.163

When morning came, it was possible to see the first threads of the great cocoon that was the beachhead taking shape. Amid the scenes of destruction there was also purposeful activity-LCT's being unloaded, roads being built, bulldozers busy everywhere. By midafternoon the unfolding drama of the beachhead being cleared and transformed into a supply base was emerging. Beach track was being laid and the multitude of German mines were being cleared away. Boats of every sort, crammed with supplies, were coming to the beaches. Communications were being set up. The backbreaking work of the supply forces, the long and tedious job of consolidation, had begun.164


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