THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS: THE WAR AGAINST GERMANY. By Alfred M. Beck, Abe Bortz, Charles W. Lynch, Lida Mayo, and Ralph F. Weld. (1985;608 pages, 5 charts, 30 maps, 88 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 10-22.)
This volume parallels the preceding one, treating the Army Corps of Engineers in the Mediterranean and European theaters. There Army engineers were called upon to provide their traditional combat missions in offensive and defensive ground operations as well as the construction support needed to develop the logistical structure to sustain those operations. But the requirements of modern war against powerful foes demanded that they played new and innovative roles, such as in amphibious operations, airfield development for tactical and strategic air forces, aerial photography and mapping, and port reconstruction and repair.
While constructing the support and training base for American forces in the United Kingdom, U.S. Army engineers were severely tested during combat operations in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. New tactical bridging equipment, such as the Bailey and treadway bridges, were successfully employed as were new heavy construction equipment, such as Caterpillar tractors and LeTourneau scrapers, which provided American engineers with a significant advantage over their opposing counterparts. First encountered in Tunisia, the German adeptness at mine warfare was a serious challenge which the combat engineers never completely overcame through the remainder of the war. In this area, as in others, technology could not replace the human skills of the individual engineer.
This volume records the slow and methodical operations of the Italian campaign which placed a high premium on the more traditional skills of the combat engineer --laying and clearing minefields, building and assaulting field fortifications,
and developing and maintaining supply lines. Siege operations against a dug-in enemy in mountainous terrain, in which engineers played a critical role, replaced mobile warfare for months on end. In such operations, base development and the buildup of supplies were of importance to each forward leap and often determined the actual timing for each movement.
During the Normandy Campaign of 1944, Army engineer efforts supported the initial lodgment and then the ensuing war of movement: clearing mines, conducting assault river crossings, erecting temporary tactical bridges, and rebuilding roads, airfields, and railways. Bridging, in fact, proved critical to the war in northern Europe due to the many rivers, canals, and lesser water courses that characterized the terrain. Allied progress often depended on the rapidity with which engineers could repair existing highway and rail spans, construct new ones, and replace critical assault bridging with more permanent structures.
Also treated are engineers efforts to assist the military government in restoring basic services throughout liberated western Europe and newly occupied Germany and to build and maintain the logistical infrastructure that supported the permanent American forces stationed there.
l. Role of engineers in the United Kingdom, 1942 (Ch. III).
2. Preparation and conduct of amphibious operations by engineer units (Chs. IV, VI, VII, XIV, XV, XVI, XXIII).
3. Siege operations in Europe (Chs. XVII, XIX).
4. Petroleum, oil, and lubricant operations and doctrine (Chs. V, XI, XIII, XX).
5. Organization of engineer units (Chs. II, IV, XIV, XVIII).
6. Mine warfare in Tunisia and Europe (Chs. V, IX, X, XIV, XVII).
7. Preparation, planning, and conduct for D-day (Chs. XIII-XVI).
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