The Amphibious Training Center was beset by numerous difficulties in the execution of its training mission, some of which continued until the Center was disbanded. Those which interfered most with the operation of the Center and with the quality of instruction offered to student units were the initial lack of doctrine concerning shore-to-shore operations, shortage of personnel, shortage of equipment, and the relationship between the Center and the Engineer Amphibian Brigades.
The training mission of the Center was aided considerably by the nature of the officer cadre assigned at activation. All the officers originally ordered to the Center had served with either the 1st, 3d or 9th Infantry Divisions, all of which had had some amphibious training under the jurisdiction of the Amphibious Corps Pacific Fleet or the Amphibious Corps Atlantic Fleet. Although the training given those three divisions was ship-to-shore, the experience gained by the officers during the training and the "poopsheets" they brought with them to the Amphibious Training Center were of great value in formulating the initial doctrine for shore-to-shore operations.
Yet the Amphibious Training Center found itself launched into a program of training with very little concrete doctrine or principles on which to base its activities. Army Ground Forces had been made responsible in March 1942 for the preparation and publication of doctrine on shore-to-shore operations. This responsibility was immediately delegated to the Amphibious Training Center.1 Tentative literature was prepared in the Training Division of Army Ground Forces to assist the Center in its task. This literature consisted of a paper entitled "Shore-to-shore Amphibious Operations and Training" written by Colonel Walker of Army Ground Forces, and "Cross-Water Raids" prepared by Major J. Y. Adams and edited and published by the Publications Branch, Requirements Division, Army Ground Forces. The Training Division, AGF, admitted that "both texts were prepared hastily to give the Amphibious Training Center something for immediate practical use.2
The status of doctrine for shore-to-shore operations was demonstrated on 3 June 1942, when the Command and General Staff School requested Army Ground Forces to furnish the latest information on that subject for incorporation into the instruction at Leavenworth. The School was informed that "the doctrine of shore-to-shore operations is now being studied and formulated."3 This was little more than a month before the Amphibious Training Center was scheduled to begin its first course of instruction.
Immediately upon reporting for duty with the Center on 17 June 1942, Colonel G. P. Lynch, the Operations Officer, was charged with the preparation of doctrines and principles for training and operations of the type contemplated. He was assisted by the Chiefs of the Administrative, Amphibious, and Commando Divisions, and by General Keating and the Executive Officer when they could spare the time. The result of their combined efforts was forwarded to Army Ground Forces on 27 June 1942, after the expenditure of
1. AGF Memo Slip (M/S) (S), Tng Div to G-3, 6 Jul 42,
sub: Doctrines and Principles of Amph Opns. AGF 353 (Amph) (S).
2. Memo of Col Lowell Rooks, Tng Div AGF for CG AGF.
3. C&GS Sch ltr (S) to CG AGF, 3 Jun 42, sub: Responsibility for Amph Tng and Opns. AGFE 353/10 (Amph) (S).
a considerable amount of time and energy which was desperately needed in the direction of preparations for the start of the first school on 15 July.4 Approval was received from Army Ground Forces to use these doctrines and principles temporarily; instructions were issued to plan for revision in the light of experience gained in training.5
The source of the personnel for the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion was at the same time fortunate and unfortunate from the standpoint of the training mission. The Battalion was activated on 15 June and was scheduled to start its first demonstrations of amphibious warfare on 15 July. It would have been desirable if all members of that organization had had previous amphibious training, but this was not the case. The officers and the enlisted cadre (key noncommissioned officers only) were drawn from the 1st, 3d and 9th Infantry Divisions, but the filler replacements were fresh from Replacement Training Centers. The officers and key noncommissioned officers had had amphibious training in their former units, but the bulk of the Battalion knew noticing about this type of warfare, and had to be trained from the beginning. This difficulty was resolved by the untiring efforts of officers and noncoms to train the remainder of the Battalion, a feat which they had accomplished satisfactorily by the time the second combat team of the 45th Division was ready for training.
Perhaps the greatest problem experienced by the Amphibious Training Center was the shortage of equipment and the difficulty of securing what was needed to conduct the training. This condition obtained throughout the activities of the Center, and was not satisfactorily settled before the Center was disbanded. All necessary equipment for the Center was supposed to be on hand on the date of its activation, but actually there was little at Camp Edwards with which to work on 15 June 1942.
On 13 June 1942, when the initial group of officers reported for duty at Camp Edwards, the Center headquarters building was entirely bare except for one folding table, one folding chair, and one staff sergeant. It was not until about two weeks later that sufficient furniture was available to furnish the desk space of the headquarters. Even then most of the personnel were working on small folding tables.
The building assigned to the Amphibious Division of the Center had been an officers' recreation building previously used by the 29th Division. When the Center moved into it there was a bar at one end of it and paper decorations from some party long forgotten were still hanging from the walls and ceiling.
Mess halts for the use of the 75th Composite Infantry Training Building were not in operation owing to lack of essential property such as dishes and cooking utensils. Officers and men of the initial cadre for the Battalion had to mess with one regiment of the 29th Division on a "guest" status.
Individual and organic equipment for the Battalion was not on hard when the full complement for the unit arrived, and was not procured until after the training of the 45th Division had started. This fact seriously hampered the training of the Battalion and made it necessary for the Center to borrow a full rifle battalion from the 45th Division to conduct demonstrations for the first student combat team. Procurement of equipment for the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion was delayed because the Supply Officer at Camp Edwards did not have it on hand and had to requisition it through normal supply channels.
4. ATC ltr (C) to CG AGE, 27 Jun 42, sub: Doctrines and
Principles of Amph Opns. ATC files. These doctrines were set forth in ATC
Tng Memo 2, 2 Jul 42, sub: Doctrines and Principles. See Appendix 10 (C).
5. Verbal statement of Gen Keating to Hist Off.
The procurement of individual and organic equipment for the Battalion was a relatively simple matter compared with the problem of securing necessary items of training equipment for the Center, because the Battalion was able to requisition on the basis of its regular rifle battalion Table of Equipment while the Center had no such basis upon which to operate. Supply agencies consistently refused to issue sorely needed equipment without such a basis even though they had it on hand in warehouses.
On 23 July 1942, Colonel P. T. Wolfe wrote a letter to Lt. Colonel H. R. Johnson, Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, requesting information regarding a requisition for training equipment which had been submitted to the post supply agencies at Carp Edwards on 30 June and which had not yet been filled.6 Colonel Wolfe stated that no action had been taken as yet although the requisition had been turned in about three weeks before. He said further that most of the articles requested were known to be an hand in the warehouses at Camp Edwards but that they could not be issued to the Center because it did not have a regular basis of issue for them. The supplies concerned included such items as rope (for the cargo-net towers), barbed wire and pickets (for training in crossing of beach obstacles), tools and lighting equipment (for the Commando Division tent on Washburn Island), demolition equipment (for Commando training), and drafting and duplicating equipment (for use of the Operaticus Office in publishing training literature). The situation indicated clearly how completely administrative red tape can ''tie up" essential training functions. The equipment was sorely needed on one side of Camp Edwards, but it had to remain unused on the other side because there was no Table of Equipment authorizing its issue.
The requisition which had been submitted on 30 June was traced Army Ground Forces at the request of Colonel Wolfe, and the Commanding General, Services of Supply, was requested to fill it as soon as possible.7 Further investigation elicited the information from the office of the Chief of Engineers that there wee no record of it on hand but that steps would be taken immediately to supply the items requested. The Amphibious Training Center was informed of this action on 13 August, but some of the items requested were not actually received until after the Center had moved to Carrabelle.
The lack of a regular basis of issue for supplies and equipment forced the Center to put in a "special" requisition for everything it needed. This meant that each requisition had to be forwarded to the chief of the supply agency for approval. That individual, in turn, had to get the approval of the Commanding General, Army Ground Forces. The loss of tine while requisitions were being bucked around through channels constituted a serious threat to the training mission of the Center.
Colonel Wolfe sized up the problem concretely in a memorandum he prepared for Colonel Keller of Army Ground Forces on 20 August 1942, in which he stated:
He cited the example of a requisition for fifty antitank mines which had been denied because the Center could not furnish any authority except the fact that the mines were needed for training.
The obvious solution to this difficulty would seen to have been the preparation of a basis of allowances for the school, and in fact such a basis had been requested verbally by officers of the Center in meetings with Army Ground Force representatives. The reason for failure to provide a Table of Basic Allowances was revealed in a telephone conversation between Lt. Colonel Ralph E. Doty of the Amphibious Training Center and Colonel Middleton of Army Ground Forces on 25 August 1942.9 Colonel Middleton phoned in regard to the memorandum Colonel Wolfe had submitted on 20 August and informed Colonel Doty that G-3 of Army Ground Forces did not want to set up a Table of Basic Allowances for the Center at that time because he felt that the needs of the Center were not yet sufficiently determined to reduce them to a Table of Allowances. G-3 preferred that the Center continue to submit special requisitions for the equipment it needed.
The need for a basis of issue for school equipment became increasingly apparent in the succeeding months of training at the Center. Finally on 18 September 1942, Army Ground Forces sent a letter to the Center in which it was stated that the Center had been in operation for several months and had gained knowledge and experience regarding its equipment needs.10 The Center was accordingly directed to prepare a list of item needed in order that their procurement might be expedited. The letter stated further that when the belief that equipment requirements had became sufficiently stabilized, a proposed Table of Basic Allowances was to be submitted. Through some unfortunate circumstance, possibly connected with the fact that the Center left Camp Edwards shortly after the date of the letter, the communication was not received.
A tracer letter was sent to the Center on 15 October and reply was made by first indorsement.11 Owing to incomplete infatuation contained in the tracer letter, the Center "missed the boat" in its reply and did not convey the desired information. The correspondence was returned by second indorsement from Army Ground Forces on 12 November 1942, with a slap on the wrist for the personnel of the Center. The second indorsement stated that since writing of the subject letter (the one on 18 September, requesting a list of equipment) the need for a Table of Equipment or a Table of Basic Allowances had become increasingly apparent. The "slap" was contained in this sentence:
9. Record of telephone conversation between Col Middleton
AGF and Lt Col Doty ATC, 25 Aug 42, sub: Supply Problems in ATC. AGF 475/9
10. AGF ltr 400 (Amphib) GNGDS to CG ATC, 18 Sep 42, sub: Equip for ATC.
through the offices of the chiefs of supply agencies in Headquarters, Services of Supply.12 An approved Table of Allowances was not received by the Center prior to its dissolution.
The effect of the equipment shortage on the training conducted by the Center was clearly stated in a report made by Major W. I. Kunzig, Chief of the Commando Division, to General Keating on 25 July 1942, a portion of which is quoted here:
From the viewpoint of the faculty officers of this commend the course of instruction as given to the Provisional Task Force was adequate, under the circumstances, and the results achieved were believed to be satisfactory. Numerous obstacles prevented the fullest accomplishment of the desired aims. Among these the lack of necessary equipment was dominant. Consistent reliance on improvisation was necessary. The schedule as originally planned could not be carried out in its entirety. Some deletions were necessary; for example, the course in "Use of the Compass" was omitted because the compasses ordered did not arrive. The course on aerial photos was omitted because it was decided the aerial photomaps available were not sufficiently clear enough to carry on a satisfactory course. Valuable training films could not be shown because the necessary altercating current could not be generated for the sound films; direct current was all that was available. In the course on demolitions dynamite had to be substituted for TNT which was not available. In some cases the chronological order of the schedule was altered because of the late arrival of equipment.13
On 13 July 1942, General Keating stated that he was very disappointed in the progress which had been made in the past twenty-five days toward preparation for the first school.14 He said that only fifty percent of the commissioned officers originally requested had actually reported for duty, although all had been ordered to report. His explanation of the discrepancy was that units from which the officers had been ordered had given them leave of absence upon release from their old stations and prior to their arrival at the Amphibious Training Center. This seriously delayed the preparations at the Center, and General Keating said that he felt, in that connection, that units should consult the commanding officer of the unit to which officers were ordered to report prior to giving then leave in order that problems of the type he was facing could be avoided.
At no time during the life of the Amphibious Training Center was the number of personnel allotted to it considered sufficient for the job it was required to do.
12. AGF ltr 475/61 (Amphib) GNRQT 3/30669 to CG SOS, 17
Feb 43, sub: Special List of Equip for the Hq and HqCo, and Opns and Tng
Unit Sec, ATC.
13. Ltr of Maj W. B. Kunzig to CO ATC, 25 Jul 42, sub: Rpt on Commando Tng of 45th Div Prov Task Force. AGF AG Records, 000.7, Binder No 1 (Amph) Publicity any Public Press.
14. Ltr of Col Keating to Col Nelson M. Walker, 13 Jul 42. AGF AG Records, 353 (Amph).
Lt. Colonel Williams of Army Ground Forces visited the Amphibious Trailing Center at Camp Edwards and made the following observations in a memorandum for General Lentz, Army Ground Forces:15
Colonel Williams submitted a similar report to the Chief of Staff, Army Ground Forces on 3 December 1942, after having visited the Center from 26 November to 30 November at its new home in Carrabelle.16 He reported that instruction was extemporized in many instances owing to the lack of sufficient officers to conduct the training, and cited the example of privates from the Center training groups of students the size of a rifle company. A shortage of transportation was also reported which resulted in drivers working until 7:30 or 8:00 o'clock every night. Colonel Williams said that the only critical comments he heard concerning the demonstrations conducted by the 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion "were based upon the fact that realism was destroyed because so few men were available to demonstrate a battalion landing team that the spectators were required to visualize one-man running ashore as a mortar squad or a rifle squad and much good instruction was lost." On the basis of his observations, he recommended that the demonstration battalion be increased in size by the addition of two rifle companies.
The fact that the personnel assigned to the Center were not sufficient for the mission at hand had long been recognized by General Keating, and on several occasions he had requestion [sic] addition personnel. He was particularly concerned about the contemplated expansion of the Center after its arrival at Carrabelle, and with that in mind he request on 4 September 1942 that twenty-three additional officers be assigned to the Center as instructors and special staff officers.17 Army Ground Forces informed General Keating that his request for additional personnel was disapproved because no expansion of the Center after its arrival at Carrabelle was contemplated by Ground Forces.
In December 1942, General Keating was directed by Army Ground Forces to prepare a proposed Table of Distribution for the Amphibious Training Center which would include
15. Memo of Lt Col Williams for Brig Gen John M. Lentz,
6 Oct 42, sub: A Discussion of Future Aspects of the ATC. AGF 353/1372
16. Memo of Lt Col Williams for CofS AGF, 3 Dec 42, sub: Rpt on Visit to ATC, 26-30 Nov 42. AGF 353/260 (ATC-AF).
17. Ltr (C) of CG ATC to CG AGF, 11 Sep 42, sub: Request for Add Pers. AGF 210.31 (Amph)(C).
his estimate of the personnel needed to conduct the training. The Tables were accordingly prepared and forwarded to Army Ground Forces with a fervent prayer that they would be approved and thus allow the Center to operate in the style to which it had always aspired.18 This prayer was never answered. General Keating requested a total of 104 officers, 2 warrant officers, and 335 enlisted men for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, plus a full rifle battalion for demonstration troops which would have contained about 30 officers and 900 enlisted men. When the Center was disbanded the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment contained 69 officers and 71 enlisted men and the Battalion had 26 officers and only about 600 enlisted men.
On the basis of the Tables prepared by General Keating, the Special Projects and Requirements Divisions of Army Ground Forces prepared a similar table and submitted both to Army Ground Forces for consideration.19 The table prepared by Army Ground Forces recommended a reduction of 19 officers and 38 enlisted men from the total submitted by General Keating. After consideration of both proposed tables, General McNair recommended to the War Department, on 20 January 1943, a total of 119 officers, 3 warrant officers, and 855 enlisted men (including the demonstration battalion) as the minimum requirements to train the 23,900 troops then undergoing training at Carrabelle.20 He was notified on 25 February 1943 that his request was approved, but that the allotment of officers and warrant officers would be delayed until the allocation as to rank and arm or service could be made.21
In the meantime, the Amphibious Training Center was operating with insufficient personnel and was wondering what had happened to the Tables of Distribution. On 24 February 1943, General Keating requested that delivery of the Tables to the Center be expedited in order that reorganization might be effected. He was informed by Army Ground Forces that reorganization of the Amphibious Training Center would be held up pending further instructions.22 This action was taken as a result of informal information from G-3 of the War Department (Colonel Adams) that amphibious training was to be taken over by the Navy.
On 13 March 1943, the distribution of grades and arm or service of officers for the Amphibious Training Center was published; it authorized an allotment of 118 officers and 3 warrant officers.23 This information was forwarded to General Keating with the statement that no actual increase in officers or warrant officers allotted to the Center would be made in accordance with the strength authorized by The Adjutant General pending further instructions from Army Ground Forces.
The action taken by higher headquarters in connection with the reorganization of the Amphibious Training Center was a distinct disappointment to General Keating for two
18. Ltr of Gen Keating to Gen McNair, 5 Jan 43. AGF 320.2
19. AGF M/S, G-3 to CofS, 12 Jan 43, sub: AGF 320.2 (Amph).
20. Ltr (R) 320.2/17 (Amph) GNGCT/00699 of CG AGF to CofS USA (Attn-G-3), 20 Jan 43, sub: Allotment of Pers to the ATC.
21. WD ltr AG 320.2 (1-20-43) PO-M to CG AGF, 25 Feb 43, sub: Almt of Pers for the ATC.
22. AGF M/S, G-3 to AG, 25 Feb 43, sub: Request to rush delivery of Tables of Distribution. AGF 341 (Amph).
23. AGF ltr AG 320.2 (1-20-43) PO-M-SPGAE to CG AGF, 13 Mar 43, sub: Almt of Pers to the ATC.
reasons. First, if the Center were to continue in operation, the problem of insufficient personnel would not be solved. Second, he had hoped to promote some of the enlisted men of the Center on the basis of the new allotment. He felt very strongly on this latter point because some of the enlisted men had been doing the work of officers in carrying on the training and he had been unable to promote them to noncommissioned officer grades because no allotment was authorized. When the allotment finally was authorized he was ordered to take no action on it. General Keating accordingly requested Army Ground Forces for permission to promote deserving enlisted men on the basis of the allotment authorized by The Adjutant General on that date. Authorizations to make the promotions was granted on 17 March, with the proviso that no additional personnel would be requisitioned to fill any vacancies created pending further instructions from Army Ground Forces.24
Such was the story of the personnel problem of the Amphibious Training Center. Like the supply problem, no satisfactory solution was reached before the Center was disbanded.
A third serious problem confronting the Amphibious Training Center concerned its relations with the Engineer Amphibian Brigades which provided the boats for use of the Center. The functioning of the Engineer Amphibian Brigades could make or break the Center because without adequate numbers of boats manned by efficient and highly trained crews, only limited training in amphibious operations could be conducted. It was conceded that the number of boats provided for use of the Center by the Engineer Brigades was inadequate to conduct the desired training, and it was also conceded by the War Department and Services of Supply that the crews were insufficiently trained.25
24. AGF ltr 320.2 (Amph) (2-13-43) to CG ATC, 17 Mar 43,
sub: Almt of Grades and Authorized Strengths.
25. WD memo WDGCT 353 (Amph) (8-28-42) for CG AGF, 19 Sep 42, sub: Availability of Engr Trs for the Atc.
The shortage of boats was caused not so much by any failure on the part of the Engineers but rather difficulties of production coupled with commitments of the United States to send boats to England. The lack of training of boat crews was a result of serious problems confronting the Engineer Amphibian Command. The Engineer Brigades were newly activated units—the 1st Brigade having been activated little more than month before the Amphibious Training Center started to function—and their training, as well as that of the Center, was hampered by the shortage of boats.
The Engineer Amphibian Command and the Brigades activated by it were under the jurisdiction of the Services of Supply, while the Amphibious Training Center was an Army Ground Forces installation. Possible difficulties arising from this anxious situation were anticipated on l3 June 1942, when Army Ground Forces outlined the situation to the War Department.26 The Deputy Chief of Staff of Ground Forces said at that time he fully expected commanders of the Engineer Amphibian Command and the Amphibious Training Center to cooperate in the accomplishment of the training mission, but he also suggested that the War Department issue a directive to insure that harmony would prevail. The reply of the War Department was noncommittal—namely, that issuance of such a directive was not favorably considered in the absence of definite proof of its necessity.27 Naturally no proof of necessity could be furnished since the Brigade and Center had not yet started to work together. The War Department said further that it expected that the commanders concerned would cooperate fully and that the issuance of a directive at that time might create suspicion and be equivalent to "borrowing trouble."
After working for almost one month with the Engineer Amphibian Command in the formulation of doctrines and principles regarding training and operational responsibilities, General Keating was still not satisfied with the cooperation between the two commends. On 13 June 1942, he stated that he was very much concerned about the lack of coordination between the General Staff, Army Ground Forces and Services of Suppler. He particularly wanted a directive which would clearly define the functions and responsibilities of both the Amphibious Training Center and the Engineer Amphibian Command.28 He stated further that there was full cooperation with the Engineers, but that both organizations were not certain as to where the functions of one left off and the other began. He felt that it was a case of the blind leading the blind.
The situation continued in status quo until after the Center arrived at Carrabelle. Following disbandment of the Center General Keating stated that the idea of two separate forces (Army Ground Forces and Armor Service Forces) working under the rule of mutual cooperation instead of unity of command was wrong.29
One of the problems anticipated actually occurred very early during the training of the 45th Division. This was the withdrawal by the Engineers of the Brigade which was working in conjunction with the Center on the training of the 45th Division. Only one combat team of that Division had been trained at the time the incident occurred, and training of the second combat team was just getting under way. General Keating commented:
26. Memo (R) 320.2/2 (Amphib) GNTRG of DCofS AGF for CofS
USA, 13 Jun 42, sub: Coordination of Amph Comds.
27. WD D/F WDGCT 353 (Amph) (6-13-42) to CG AGF, 13 Jun 42, sub: Coordination of Amph Comds.
28. Ltr of Gen Keating to Col Nelson M. Walker, 13 Jul 42. AGF AG Records, 353 (Amph).
29. Verbal statement of Gen Keating to Hist Off.
The same thing happened to a lesser extent when elements of the 2d Engineer Amphibian Brigade were alerted for overseas duty during the training of the 36th Division. General Keating reported by telephone to Army Ground Forces, and the old battle over the status of the Engineer Brigades was revived.
Army Ground Forces once again approached the War Department on the problem with is agreement:
30. Ltr of Gen Keating quoted in AGF memo (S) 210.4 (7-24-42)
GNGCT, CofS AGF to Col Nelson, 27 Jul 42, sub: Visit to ATC.
31. AGF memo (C) 320.2/22 (Engr) (8-28-42) for CofS USA, 28 Aug 42, sub: Availability of Engr Trs for the ATC.
32. Ibid, 2d ind, CofEngr to CG SOS, 7 Sep 42.
Owing to the shortage of equipment and inadequacy of training of Engineer Amphibian units, the assignment of such units to the Amphibious Training Center was not favorably considered.34 The War Department promised that when sufficient equipment was received and when the units of the Engineer Amphibian Commend reached a satisfactory state of training, the requested assignment would be made. In any event, when training started at Carrabelle, one boat and one shore battalion was promised for the duration of the training program.
While the above decision was being reached on the request of 28 August for the attachment of one boat and one shore battalion, Army Ground Forces reviewed the probable requirements for training at Carrabelle and decided that more would be needed at that station. Accordingly, on 20 September 1942, Army Ground Forces submitted another request to the War Department.35 The previous arguments were reiterated: (1) the policy of cooperation between the Engineer Amphibian Command and the Amphibious Training Center was unsatisfactory due to task force missions and training requirements of the Engineers; and (2) the mission of the Amphibious Training Center was such that it should have permanently assigned Engineer Amphibian units as school troops. The following recommendations were made: (1) that the 2d Engineer Amphibian Brigade be assigned to Army Ground Forces for reassignment to the Amphibious Training Center; and (2) that no calls be made on the Brigade for task force missions, except in case of emergency, until the Center completed its mission.
The 2d Brigade actually did accompany the Center on its move to Carrabelle, but was not assigned or attached to it. Shortly after arrival at the new station, the Brigade was ordered to overseas duty and the 3d Brigade, another newly activated unit, was substituted for it.
On 29 October 1942, G-3 of the War Department directed that the 3d Brigade be attached to the Amphibious Training Center at Carrabelle.36 The Brigade at that time was still at Camp Edwards. The order for the move of the Brigade to Carrabelle was issued by Services of Supply and contained the statement that upon arrival at Carrabelle the unit would be "attached for training" to the Amphibious Training Center. On 4 November, Army Ground Forces referred the matter to G-3 of the War Department, and requested that the order be changed to remove the ambiguity of the phrase "attached for training."37 War Department replied on 6 November:
The final round in the battle was fired by Army Ground Forces on 19 January 1943, when that headquarters recommended: (1) that the activation and training of Engineer Amphibian Brigades be made the responsibility of Army Ground Forces; and (2) that the Engineer Amphibian Command and all activities pertaining thereto be assigned to Army Ground Forces.39 These recommendations were made because Army Ground Forces felt that the Engineer Brigades were essentially combat units; they worked closely with ground forces; and their training and operation depended completely upon close association with combat organizations. Army Ground Forces pointed out further that the training responsibility for combat units or organizations closely associated with combat units had been placed upon Army Ground Forces by War Department Circular No. 59, 1942.
The War Department replied on 17 March 1943 that the problem presented in regard to the status of Engineer Amphibian Units was resolved by recent agreement between the Army and Navy with reference to amphibious training.40 That particular agreement "resolved" a number of problems for the Amphibious Training Center by the simple expedient of "dissolving" it.
The problems which confronted the Amphibious Training Center were the same throughout its existence—shortage of equipment, shortage of personnel, inadequate control over the boat-operating units, delay in essential construction, etc. The difficulties encountered at Carrabelle were no different from those met at Camp Edwards; they were merely the same ones on a somewhat increased scale. Essential construction had not yet been completed when the Center opened for business at Camp Edwards, and the same situation prevailed at Carrabelle. Supplies were difficult to obtain in both places. Personnel were overworked in both camps.
The difficulties were made more noticeable at Carrabelle, particularly as regards shortage of personnel and equipment, by the fact that the entire student division was trained concurrently at that station, whereas only one regimental combat team at a time was trained at Camp Edwards. This naturally meant that all problems of the Center were increased threefold. But there was little increase in facilities for meeting these enlarged responsibilities. The boat problem was eased somewhat by the provision of an entire Engineer Brigade, but still there were seldom more then enough boats to transport one regimental combat team at a time.
When the Center arrived at Carrabelle the new camp was still not completed and it began to look as though some of the essential construction would not be finished by the time the 38th Division arrived for training. The Post Theatre, which the Center needed to show training films to the student units, did not have the projection equipment installed although all of it was on hand. The Post Commander informed General Keating that the equipment could not be installed until the Army Motion Picture Service sent someone down to do it. Regulations prevented the installation of the projectors by anyone other than a representative of that Service. Investigation revealed that the personnel for the job had been selected but they were on a tour of other camps in the south and would arrive at Carrabelle on some indefinite date in their itinerary. The equipment was finally installed in time but General Keating and the Operations Officer has some anxious moments over it.
39. AGF memo 320.2 (Amph) for G-3 WD, 19 Jan 43, sub:
Status of Engr Amphibian Brigs.
40. WD memo WDGCT 353 (Amph) (1-19-43) for CGs AGF and SOS, 17 Mar 43, sub: Status of Engr Amph Brigs.
The area around the new camp was mostly jungle and there was no place where a unit the size of a regimental combat team could train. This fact necessitated the clearing in each combat team area of an area about 1000 yards square, which was only accomplished shortly before the arrival of the 38th Division after the expenditure of a considerable amount of money, time and effort.
Suitable beaches on which to train the student units in small fording craft were not available in each combat team area. Offshore sandbars and the extremely gentle slope of the sea floor rendered all but one beach practically useless. The District Engineer finally dredged out one suitable beach in each combat team area, at an estimated expense of $500,000.
The Carrabelle site was divided into four separate camps which spread over twenty miles of the Gulf Coast. One regimental combat team occupied each of three areas while Post Headquarters, the Center Headquarters, and the student division rear echelon occupied the fourth. The Engineer Brigade was located in Combat Team Area No. 3. This geographical separation made coordination difficult until sufficient telephone facilities were installed, and required much lateral movement of students along the coastline. There was only one suitable road through the camp which soon became very unsatisfactory as it broke down under the strain of the heavy traffic. Labor details had to be employed constantly to keep the road serviceable.
The Amphibious Training Center's answer to the problems with which it was confronted during its existence was improvisation and the application of ingenuity and untiring effort. When desired equipment was not available, either something else was substituted on a suitable facsimile was improvised. If sufficient personnel were not available to do a job, those who were available worked harder and longer until the task was completed.
At Camp Edwards and at Carrabelle sufficient boats were never available to allow all personnel of the student units to practice in boats at the same time, so mock-ups were built on dry land and students were trained in them. These improvisations were built the same size as the real boats and served as valuable training aids in teaching methods of loading and debarking. They did not arouse the same interest in the students as did the real boats, but they were an effective field expedient.
The shortage of boats also made it impossible to give vehicle drivers sufficient training in backing their vehicles into landing craft and practicing combinations of loads. The solution to this problem was to outline on the ground with logs, planks, scrap lumber, rope, or whatever was available, the inside dimensions of landing craft of various types. These "outline craft" were then used to train drivers. After drivers had become proficient on these training aids, they were taken down to the beach and given a short period of practice with actual craft so they could "get the hang of it" while the boat was in the water. Valuable training time for other personnel of the student units was saved by this method.
When it became apparent that a suitable school building could not be provided in time at Camp Edwards, a small recreation building was pressed into service as an expedient. Every sort of available material was utilized. Blackboards were installed (homemade with plywood and black paint) and the room was darkened for the showing of training films by covering the windows with cardboard and tar paper. The room was not all that was desired, but two division staffs were trained in it.
The school building provided at Carrabelle was no improvement. Fortunately, General Keating approached the contractors before the floor was laid and persuaded
them, after much argument, to slope it from rear to front to increase the visibility of students in the back of the room. This helped considerably, but the room was so long and narrow that it was almost impossible to make training charts large enough to be seen clearly from all points in it.
The Center's Engineer Officer drew up plans for a new school building which were submitted by General Keating with a request that construction be expedited on 9 November 1942. The building was not completed until after the Center was disbanded.
Endless examples of the improvisation of training aids could be cited, including the use of wooden rifles to teach basic positions in battle firing, use of dummy sticks of dynamite and dummy detonators to teach preparation of explosive charges, etc. Even moving boats and the rolling sea were improvised on dry land to teach firing of machine guns mounted in landing craft. The device used was a mock-up boat made of 2 x 4's and burlap and mounted on a jeep. The jeep then traversed a rolling roadway similar to the roller-coaster idea, which reproduced fairly accurately the motion of a boat in the water and afforded students manning the machine guns an opportunity to try their hand at firing on a simulated beachline from a simulated boat.
Sufficient personnel and equipment were never available to the demonstration battalion to portray accurately the appearance of a full battalion landing team. This problem was solved by the use of vari-colored flags representing different types of equipment and different tactical units. One man with a flag could then represent a mortar squad, a bulldozer, a 2 1/2-ton truck, or whatever was needed.
Demonstrations of a battalion team making a landing were given on dry ground owing to the shortage of boats and to the fact that student units could see more clearly the composition of boat teams. When the boat teams reached the imaginary shoreline after crossing the "water," the ramps on the "boats" were lowered and the men deployed across the simulated beach. The "ramps" were portrayed by two men holding a rifle about two feet off the ground in front of the members of the boat team. Debarkation from the boat was then demonstrated by men jumping over the rifle "ramp" and running across the beach.
When bleachers for seating classes outdoors were not available, personnel of the Center improvised them with logs, planks, and scrap lumber. Outdoor "classrooms" were provided in the same manner.
When office furniture and supplies were not available, the headquarters force of the Center either borrowed or built what was required. The 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion had no office supplies of any kind during the first two weeks of its existence, so pencils and paper were borrowed from the 29th Division and orders were written in longhand or packing-box desks.
The Special Training Division, when organized at Carrabelle, found itself in a similar situation. Major Hoskot, the Director, said that the office started out with nine officers, one field desk and an old apple crate for a chair. It developed that the apple crate was not needed because everyone was too busy to sit on it.
The story was the same from start to finish of the Amphibious Training Center—bickering and indecision in higher Headquarters; expansion of the training mission and objective without corresponding expansion of facilities; and attempts on the part of the Center to accomplish its mission with whatever means could be made available. Improvisation and plain Yankee ingenuity frequently saved the day.