To fulfill its assigned mission of training twelve divisions in shore-to-shore amphibious operations by 1 February 1943, Army Ground Forces activated the Amphibious Training Center (known as the Amphibious Training Command on date of activation, but later redesignated "Center.").1 The effective date of activation was 20 May 1942, but work along the lines contemplated had been progressing for over a month before that date.2
On 9 April 1942, Colonel (later Brig. Gen.) Frank A. Keating, Chief of Staff of the 2d Division, was ordered to Army Ground Forces to advise during the early days of the Amphibious Training Center, and particularly to assist the site board which was investigating possible locations for the proposed training centers.
The general plan was to establish three amphibious training centers, located at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; Carrabelle, Florida; and Fort Lewis, Washington. Divisions were to be rotated through these centers to receive shore-to-shore training. It was contemplated that training would begin at Camp Edwards on 15 July, at Carrabelle when the camp was completed, and at Fort Lewis on a date contingent upon the future situation.3
After one week's duty at Army Ground Forces, General Keating returned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas and was ordered forty-eight hours later to join the site board at Fort Myer, Va., to inspect proposed training locations. The board visited sites in the vicinity of Fort Myer, Va., and Everglades, Venice, and Carrabelle, Florida. Sites in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana were not visited because the reports from the Area Engineers in those localities had all been distinctly unfavorable.
The board's instructions provided that the site chosen was to possess, as nearly as possible, four basic features: (l) an island well off shore (preferably about ten miles out from favorable landing beaches; (2) a large sheltered body of water for basic small-boat training convenient to a camp or bivouac area; (3) a coastal strip approximately twenty miles long with a maximum number of good landing beaches (each beach to be about one mile in length); and (4) suitable terrain adjacent to the beaches (hinterland) to a depth of approximately eight to ten miles for training troops in the establishment of a divisional beachhead.
None of the sites visited possessed all of the features desired, but the board felt that Carrabelle approached most nearly the basic requirements. General Keating was not in favor of it because of the undesirable nature of the beaches and maneuver areas, and the Surgeon General considered it unhealthful. The Carrabelle site was nevertheless approved, chiefly because no others appeared to be available and the urgent need for expediting amphibious training to meet the requires of XXX plan outweighed sanitary considerations and the lack of certain desired features in the Carrabelle site.4
1. WD Memo W220-3-42, 24 Oct 42.
2. AGF ltr (R) to CO ATC, 22 May 42, sub: Amph Tng Comd. AGF 353/1 (Amph)(R).
3. AGF ltr (S) to CO ATC, 12 Jun 42, sub: Gen Dir - Shore-to-Shore Tng. AGF 353/12 (Amph)(S).
4. Memo (S) WDGCT 353 of Brig Gen H. R. Bull ACofS G-3 WD for CofS USA, 9 May 42, sub: Orgn and Tng of Amph Forces. 353 (Amph)(S).
The War Department ordered initiation of construction at Carrabelle at the earliest practicable date, and in the meantime amphibious training began on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with utilization of Waquoit Bay near Camp Edwards as more or less of a stop-gap until Carrabelle could be completed.4a
On 3 June 1942, General Keating was again placed on temporary duty at Army Ground Forces. His first job was to prepare rough sketches of the desired location of buildings and installations in the Carrabelle area. He also made plans for starting training at Camp Edwards on 15 July. He proposed the organization of the Amphibious Training Center and arranged with Army Ground Forces for procuring the necessary officer and enlisted personnel.
The chronology of the activation procedure of the Amphibious Training Center was somewhat confused. Plans were being formulated and action was being taken on oral orders as early as April 1942, although the organization did not exist as such until 20 May. Even after official activation on the latter date the center remained on the inactive list until 15 June. General Keating had been placed in command of the unit on the date of its official activation, but he had no command and no personnel until his arrival at Camp Edwards on 15 June 1942. Prior to that date everything was in the formative stage and existed mainly on paper. This somewhat anomalous situation was dictated by the exigencies of the situation and the need for expediting the required training in preparation for the XXX Plan.
The Amphibious Training Center began functioning as a going organization at Camp Edwards on 15 June 1942.5
The initial mission and objectives for the Center were as follows: (1) to produce divisions ready for combat in a shore-to-shore operation; (2) to accustom army personnel to landing craft and to teach the technique of embarking and debarking personnel and equipment; (3) to train divisional and lower commanders and staffs in their duties in the entire chronological sequence of a shore-to-shore operation, to include the preparation of plans and orders, the assembly in bivouac, the preparations for embarkation, the crossing, the assault of the beaches and subsequent operations inland; (4) to establish a course of instruction in over-water "Commando" raids; (5) means permitting, to terminate each divisional training period with a full scale division maneuver, supported by aircraft; (6) using as a guide tentative texts prepared by Army Ground Forces, to "proceed with the necessary revision and elaboration based upon the information which will flow to you from Great Britain and which you will gain by practical experience . . . record the tactical doctrine of shore-to-shore operations, as it applies to a division and is a necessary background for training, based upon the data furnished you from abroad and from this Headquarters and submit it through this headquarters for War Department approval"; (7) maintain close liaison with the Engineer Amphibian Command; (8) represent Headquarters Army Ground Forces in perfecting arrangements for the reception and bivouacking of the first division to be trained; (9) make plans to proceed to Carrabelle with a part of the staff and demonstration unit when the situation as to boats and construction dictates; (10) make tentative plans to provide instructional personnel for Fort Lewis. In compliance with the War Department Directive to Army Ground Forces, on 22 May 1942, training in ship-to-shore operations was also included in the initial mission of the Amphibious Training Center
4a. Brig Gen Frank A. Keating, "Narrative" (development
of Amphibious Training Center; copy of this document is in Appendix 7.
5. AGF ltr (S) 353/12 (Amph) (6-12-42) GNTRG to CC ATC, 12 Jun 42, sub: Gen Dir - Shore-to-Shore Tng.
The unsettled status of amphibious training in higher headquarters soon resulted in changes of the mission. These changes continued to occur throughout the life of the Center.
The first occurred on 25 June 1942. On that date the responsibility of the Army Ground Forces was altered by the deletion of the phrase ". . . and, if facilities permit, ship-to-shore movements." This of course resulted in a revision of the directive of 12 June to the Amphibious Training Center. The War Department desired that training in ship-to-shore movements be disregarded for the time being. It was stated that the scope of training at the Army centers "might be extended at same later time if facilities permitted and the situation indicated that such extension would be desirable. It was not the intent of the War Department to include any ship-to-shore training at this time." The mission of the Amphibious Training Center was on that date defined as including shore-to-shore training only.6
The objective, if not the mission, of the Amphibious Training Center was altered even before the first training period got under way. This change, like the others, came as a result of the unsettled status of amphibious training. The decision was made in higher headquarters. The initial objective was to train twelve divisions by 1 February 1943, but on 1 July 1942, the War Department reduced this to five divlelons.7 The directive ordering this reduction revealed the indefinite status of amphibious training in higher headquarters in the statement that as yet there was no agreement with the Navy regarding the operation of landing craft in the XXX Plan. This change of objective did not noticeably affect the activities of the Amphibious Training Center.
The War Department modified the objective again on 25 September 1942.8 On that date the previous requirement to train five divisions in shore-to-shore operations by 1 February 1943 was rescinded. This would seem to indicate that there was no further need for the Amphibious Training Center, but an indefinite objective was substituted. The new requirement was that a pool of five divisions trained in shore-to-shore movement be maintained. The pool was to be created "as soon as practicable" and was to be maintained at a level of five divisions plus required non-divisional units. This change, like the previous one, had no noticeable effect on the activities of the Amphibious Training Center.
The mission was altered still further on 24 October 1942 when the instructions contained in the "General Directive - Shore-to-Shore Training" of 12 June were rescinded.9 The new directive revealed that the Center was giving more concrete expression to broader objectives originally stated in the 12 June directive. Whereas the latter had specified a broad series of functions as comprehensive as those of a service school, the 24 October directive, profiting by experience and improved facilities, put these on a practical working basis. The new directive prescribed the following: (1) inauguration of training as soon as practicable at Carrabelle, Florida,
6. AGF ltr (S) 353/15 (Amph) GNTRG to CO ATC, 25 Jun 42,
sub: Mission Amphibious Training Command.
7. WD memo (S) WDGCT 353 Amph (7-1-42) of G-3 WD for CG AGF, 1 Jul 42, sub: Orgn and Tng of Amph Forces. AGF 353/ (Amph)(S).
8. WD memo (S) WDGCT 353/41 Amph (9-25-42) of G-3 WD for CG AGF, 25 Sep 42, sub: Orgn and Tng of Amph Forces.
9. AGE ltr (S) 353/12 (Amph) (10-24-42) to CG ATC, 24 Oct 42, sub: Gen Dir - Shore-to-Shore Tng.
for such divisions and non-divisional units as might be directed; (2) allotment of a period of one month for the training of each division; (3) instruction partly by Amphibious Training Center staff and troops and partly by exercises prepared by the Center and executed by the troop units training; (4) echeloned training to take advantage of the entire one-month period where facilities would not permit the simultaneous amphibious training of all units; (5) direction of training toward: (a) ultimate proficiency of divisions and non-divisional units in amphibious operations, (b) physical and mental hardening of all indivisible, and (c) combat in cities; (6) Amphibious training to emphasize: (a) use of landing craft stressing loading, unloading, formations, control, and boat discipline (b) organization and tactics of combat teams, (c) clearing of beach obstacles, (d) beach organization—the development and advance inland, (e) night operations, (f) use of intelligence agencies and development of an intelligence system under conditions peculiar to amphibious operations, (g) supply, (h) signal communications, (i) chemical warfare, (j.) air-ground support, (k) antiaircraft defense; (7) termination of training by a night-landing problem of sufficient duration to require establishment of supply dumps on the beach and forwarding of supplies to units on the beachhead line; (8) inclusion in the training of such elements of ship-to-shore training as facilities at Carrabelle permit, in order to simplify later training under the Navy which it was contemplated units would receive after the shore-to-shore work at Carrabelle.
This change in mission required some readjustments in the Amphibious Training Center, both in organization and curriculum. Battle training for all individuals was substituted for the requirement to train provisional Commando task forces. Greater emphasis was placed on amphibious training in problems peculiar to unit staffs, And the whole field of training was broadened from the original concept of basic training for individuals in amphibious technique to training for all echelons in both technique and tactics.
The Amphibious Training Center was growing up from a small unit and individual training organization to something more nearly comparable to a well-established service school. Its mission after 24 October 1942 was much broader than it had been when it was assigned its first task on 12 June 1942, even though the number of divisions to be trained had been considerably reduced. The effect of these changes in mission on the organization and training policy of the Amphibious Training Center will appear in later chapters.