The first part of the training program for NEPTUNE, the establishment of the assault Training Center, was discussed in the last chapter. The second is the exercise phase. While troops selected for the invasion assault were training, both in their own areas and at the Assault Training Center, a large number of exercises were held to give the units actual experience in the type of work which they were to perform. The first major exercise, known as DUCK I, was held early in January 1944, and from then on there were almost continual exercises. They may be divided into three groups. The first were the early major exercises involving troops from several units working together on combined assault and supply problems. In these exercises the various phases of the invasion were covered, including mounting, landing and consolidation of the beachhead. The second group consisted of smaller exercises participated in by individual units training for their own particular phase of the invasion. The third group comprised the two dress-rehearsals, FABIUS I and TIGER, in which every


attempt was made to duplicate actual battle conditions, and in which the troop line-up was practically the same as for the invasion.

DUCK I was the first of the major exercises and probably the most important, since the flaws shown up by it greatly effected training and planning of the following exercises. Plans for DUCK I were discussed as early as mid-summer 1943, but the actual planning did not begin until early November. It was first conceived as a mounting exercise for Services of Supply, but ultimately was extended to other units so that it included all phases of an assault landing.*

* Exercise DUCK, Introductory Explanation, 11th Amphibious Force, no dated, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file DUCK (Non-Tac).

The actual decision to hold DUCK I was made 21 November 1943 at a meeting between representatives of V Corps, the Navy, Services of Supply headquarters, Southern Base Section headquarters, XIX District headquarters, the British Southern Command, and the British Southwestern District. It was agreed at the meeting that the exercise would interfere as little as possible with preparations for OVERLORD, and that areas reserved for OVERLORD facilities would not be used.* A beach

* Mounting of Exercise DUCK by SOS, Hq Southern Base Section,


SOS, ETOUSA, 26 Dec 43.

area, known as Slapton Sands, was selected because it was relatively remote from OVERLORD installations, was five miles south of Dartmouth in Devonshire in a thinly-populated area where the exercise would not interfere with normal civilian activity, and resembled to some degree the beachhead area in Normandy. The terrain was rugged and broken by many small ridges and drainage lines. There were no railroads and the road net was poor. Tides ranged from 10 to 14 feet, not as great as the Normandy tides, but sufficient to give practical experience to the beach engineers and the Navy. One disadvantage was that the beach was cut off from the mainland by a small lay or runnel about 90 feet wide and six to nine feet deep. The beaches were backed by cliffs which were difficult to ascend. In general, Slapton Sands more closely resembled OMAHA beach than UTAH.*

* Exercise DUCK, Introductory Explanation, 11th Amphibious Force, no date, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file DUCK (Non-Tac).

Troops participating in the exercise were to include a regimental landing team of the 29th Inf Div, built around the 175th Inf Regt, units of the 1st Eng Sp Brig, and various attachments including an IX Air Force beach party and a head-


quarters group of V Corps.* The commanding general of SOS,

* Plan of Movement for Exercise DUCK, Addendum No 2 to Transportation Annex to Adm O No 1, Adv Hq XIX Dist, Southern Base Sect, SOS, 21 Dec 43.

Lt Gen John C. H. Lee, was directed to provide installations, facilities, services, supplies and equipment replacements in coordination with V Corps, to process the participating units through assembly areas, and to load them on US Navy landing craft.* Lt Gen Lee delegated this responsibility to

* Memo, SOS ETOUSA, to Chiefs of Services and Staff Divisions, subj.: Exercise DUCK, AG 354.2 PCS, 5 Dec 43.

Col C. O. Thrasher, commanding officer of Southern Base Section, who further delegated it to Col Theodore Wyman Jr, commandant of XIX District in which the exercise was to be held. Col Wyman was assisted in planning and executing the SOS phase of the exercise by staff members detached from Southern Base Section headquarters.*

* Ltr, Hq SOS ETOUSA, to Chiefs of Supply Services SOS, subj: Exercise DUCK-Supplies and Equipment, AG 400 DUCK, 5 Dec 43; Mounting of Exercise DUCK by SOS, Hq Southern Base Section


SOS ETOUSA, 26 Dec 43.

Their mission was "to furnish necessary installations, equipment and supplies to move units from home stations to assembly areas, process units through assembly areas, embark units in order at priority as set forth by the task force commander, and return the units to their home stations."*

* FO No 1, Hq XIX Dist, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 11 Dec 43.

The exercise was broken into two phases, the first including the concentration, processing and embarkation of assault troops, and the second involving the actual assault.*

* Bulletin, Hq SOS ETOUSA, subj: Administrative Instructions for Visitors-Exercise DUCK, 17 Dec 43, in Hist Sect ETOUSA file DUCK (Non-Tac).

Following embarkation of the units, the 11th Amphibious Force was to move the troops from the embarkation point to the assault beach and, with the help of British naval units, protect the convoy from any attacks by German submarines and E-boats. Air protection and tactical assistance was to be


furnished by the Ninth Air Force.*

* History of Exercise DUCK, 314.7-48.1, prep by Capt Wood Gray, AC, Hist Sect, SOS ETOUSA, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file DUCK (Non-Tac).

Troops for the assault were located in the vicinity of Plymouth, Taunton, Barnstaple, and Lands End. They were to be embarked at Falmouth and Dartmouth. Following the embarkation of the troops which were to land at Slapton Sands, 28th Inf Div units, with attached troops, were to be processed to the embarkation points, but then were to return immediately to their stations.

The nucleus of Col Wyman's staff was gathered together the third week in November.* A major problem was the objection

* GO No 1, Adv Hq, XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 15 Dec 43; GO No 2, Adv Hq, XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 19 Dec 43.

of British military authorities to holding large-scale exercises on the south shore of England because of possible damage to "hard-standings"—areas capable of being used as vehicle parks—and thus hamper the mounting of the actual invasion. Many of these areas had turf surfaces, satisfactory for use


during a short time, but easily broken up. Once the turf was torn, the areas would turn quickly into quagmires. To overcome this, Col Wyman evolved the "sausage" plan, under which assembly areas were built around secondary paved roads. The roads were blocked off to all civilian traffic and were used as hard standings. The tens were located along the edge of the roads in wooded areas. Because of the shape of the areas on maps, they were nicknamed "sausages." The success of this plan not only made DUCK I and other exercises possible, but also demonstrated a quick way of supplementing NEPTUNE installations.*

* History of Exercise DUCK, op cit.

The first informal meeting of the DUCK I staff was held 24 November at XIX District headquarters near Taunton. It was decided that the exercise would be held in daylight because of safety factors and to facilitate observation. The following day Maj Gen Henry M. Gerow, commanding general of V Corps, accepted the SOS proposals, and development of the detailed plan, the construction of installations, and the assembling of supplies and personnel followed immediately. SOS activities in the first phase included planning, constructing and assembling troops and supplies, marrying the various auxiliary units to combat teams, processing troops


from concentration areas through marshalling areas, movement from marshalling areas to hards, loading the landing craft at the hards, preparation, loading and dispatch of coasters, protection of evacuated villages from assault fire, transportation and feeding of troops on their return from the assault area, and transporting them to their home stations. A total of 553 officers and 9,603 enlisted men were required to perform the SOS functions in the exercise, and SOS man-days totaled 250,000.*

* Mounting of Exercise DUCK by SOS, Hq Southern Base Section, SOS, ETOUSA, 26 Dec 43.

The following assault troops and vehicles participated in DUCK I:

  Troops Vehicles
175th Regimental Landing Team



29th Div Hq and attached troops


1st Engineer Special Brigade



IX Air Force party



Adv Hq V Corps



56th Signal Battalion





* Plan of Movement for Exercise DUCK, Addendum No 2 to Transportation Annex to Adm O No 1, Adv Hq XIX Dist, Southern Base Sec, SOS, ETOUSA, 21 Dec 43.


Five camp areas were set aside for the exercise. Four of them, A, B, C and D, were located in the Falmouth-Helsoton-Redruth-Lanviet-St Austell-Turo area, and the fifth, Camp Area E, was located at Lupton House, East Dartmouth. Each area contained 14 camps and parking space for 1000 vehicles, except Camp E which had four camps and parking space for 200 vehicles. Each of the camps had 39 pyramidal tents, a mess tent, and a kitchen, and accommodated 200 task force troops and 30 SOS maintenance troops.*

* Ibid.

Originally, D Day was supposed to be 3 January, but later the date was changed to 4 January. On D minus 10, 24 December, loading of four coasters began at Bristol, and this included a large percentage of skid-loaded supplies, including ammunition, rations and gasoline. This method of loading was designed as an experiment and was closely followed. It was not approved, except for a few specialized types of supplies.* Movement of troops and vehicles to the assembly

* Memo for Gen Weaver, Field Deputy Comdr, O of Chief of Transportation, Hq SOS ETOUSA, 21 Dec 44. The four coasters were outloaded as follows: DK-10 at Newport, 381.14 long tons;


DK-20 at Newport, 573.28 long tons; DK-30 at Avonmouth, 535.94 long tons; DK-40 at Avonmouth, 445,69 long tons.

areas began D minus 8, 26 December. During the following two days every unit had a false alert to test its readiness for embarkation, and the actual loading of LCTs began D minus 6, 28 December. LSTs began loading D minus 4, 31 December, and LCI(L)s on D minus 3, 1 January. It was at this time that the date was changed, and H Hour was definitely set for 1000 hours 4 January.*

* Instructions for Observers for Exercise DUCK, Hq SOS ETOUSA, 24 Dec 43; Minutes of Meeting 1 Jan 44 at XIX Dist Hq, Hq XIX District, Southern Base Section, AG file 579, undated.

The convoy was made up of the following craft:

175th Regimental Landing Team
29th Inf Hq & atchd troops
1st Engineer Special Brigade
Ninth Air Force Party
Adv Hq V Corps    
56 Sig Bn          


In addition, 57 LCMs loaded at East Dartmouth with a tank battalion which was assumed to land during the assault. This,


however, was simulated and no tanks were used in the exercise.*

* Plan of Movement for Exercise DUCK, Addendum No 2 to Transportation Annex to Adm O No 1, Adv Hq XIX Dist, Southern Base Sec, SOS, ETOUSA, 21 Dec 43.

The 14 LCTs staged at Dartmouth 3 January and were joined during the night by the other craft. Four British destroyers, three LCTs equipped with 105-m howitzers, and several other fire support craft guarded the convoy.* As

* Annex E to Operation Order A-43, Task Force One-Two-Three, 11th Amphibious Force, serial; 0023 11th PHIB/A4-3(3), 26 Dec 43.

the assault troops cleared the concentration areas, 28th Div troops moved in, and 26,400 tactical troops in all were processed.*

* History of Exercise DUCK, 314.7-48.1, prep by Capt Wood Gray AC, Hist Sect, SOS ETOUSA, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file DUCK (Non-Tac).

The assault phase of the exercise went largely according to schedule. There was a simulated bombardment of the beach


prior to H Hour, and at 1000 hours the first units came ashore. Assumed enemy defenses included 14 pillboxes, each with at least two machine guns, and eight machine guns in open emplacements. The southern part of one beach was assumed to have been mined. Three four-gun batteries of 105-mm howitzers and one two-gun 150-mm howitzers assumed to be behind the beach. There were anti-aircraft batteries, and one enemy airfield. Enemy capabilities included limited air, submarine and small surface-craft action, a defense at the beach line, a secondary defense along hastily prepared cliff lines, an armored attack by elements of one panzer division by H plus 3 hours, another by two tanks battalions and one armored infantry regimental combat team at H plus 8 hours, and a third by a maximum of four infantry regimental combat teams after D plus 1.

Landings were not entirely according to plan, and some craft came ashore in the wrong wave, but by and large the landings were smooth. The lay, or runnel, caused a great deal of trouble, since bridging equipment failed to arrive in time. As the men went ashore, they assaulted the simulated pillboxes, blew them up, made their way inland and established defenses. High priority commitments prevented the Ninth Air Force from sending planes to simulate air cover or enemy opposition.* The 1st Eng Sp Brig units began to land a H

* Critique, Exercise DUCK I, held at Hq V Corps 12 Jan 44,


Hq V Corps, 28 Jan 44.

plus 25 minutes. They demined the one beach, cleared the other, and set up three supply beaches. Beach exits were established and unloading activities begun. In the afternoon of D Day the coasters arrived and were unloaded by dukws and landing craft.* Dumps were established inland, and a number

* Operation Order A-43, DUCK, Task Force One-Two-Three, 11th Amphibious Force, 26 Dec 43.

of supply experiments were tried out. The Chemical Warfare Service tested new mobile decontamination equipment loading methods. The engineers tried out methods of track laying to improve beach roads, tested amphibiously packed items, and carefully checked new waterproofing techniques. Quartermaster units continued their experiments with palletized loadings, and the Signal Corps set up a new system of loud speakers for giving orders to troops and trucks in congested areas. Skid loading of signal equipment and amphibious packing were also tested.*

* Memo, to Field Deputy Comdr, subj: Supply Services participation in DUCK, Hq SOS ETOUSA, 11 Dec 43.


The exercise lasted two days, and then the troops were returned to their own stations by XIX District, under the same plans as were used for concentration but worked in reverse. The observers finished their note-taking, and began a series of critiques to discover the good and bad points of the exercise. Most important were two discussions held at XIX District headquarters 20 and 26 January, and one held at V Corps headquarters 12 January. The following major criticisms were made:*

* Except where otherwise noted, these criticisms are compiled from the following sources: Consolidated Report of General Staff, Exercise DUCK, to: Commandant XIX District, from: Adv Hq XIX Dist, Southern Base Sections, SOS ETOUSA, AG 319.1, 9 Jan 44; Minutes of a Critique on Exercise DUCK held in Room 1, Hq XIX Dist, at 1000 hours 20 Jan 44, undated, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file DUCK (Non-Tac); Critique, Exercise DUCK I, held at Hq V Corps, 12 Jan 44, Hq V Corps, 28 Jan 44.

Navy: Liaison in general needed improvement, particularly in regard to provisioning of craft. In general, naval participation could not be judged, since the Navy had a very limited resources to draw upon for the exercise. Craft commanders, particularly of LSTs, did not appreciate the necessity of beaching at the proper points, and coordination


between Army and Navy was generally lacking.

Air Force: The Air Force was unable to participate until D plus 1 when a few reconnaissance missions were flown. Air force supply troops were landed on the beach from different craft and had difficulty in reassembling.

Planning: Planning suffered because of the distance between planning agencies, and also because a planning staff was gotten together very hurriedly. A combined planning group, centrally located, was suggested for future exercises. Phasing of planning was bad; for example, the embarkation plan was finished late and held up other phases of the operation.

Mounting: Better prepackaging of freight, an improved transportation flexibility and an improved conservation of transportation was called for. Movement of troops and supplies was slow, but it was evident that it could easily be stepped up in the future.

Assault: Misplacing of craft in waves resulted in confusion. Movement was slow, and Maj Gen Gerow doubted if any of the men landed on one of the beaches would have gotten off alive. Troops bunched together under simulated fire. Troops were overloaded with equipment and seemed to be road-bound.

Traffic: Some vehicles were landed unloaded; others were overloaded. There was confusion over the inability of the road net to provide for the flow of troops and supplies.


Traffic signs were insufficient, and there was poor mud discipline. Vehicles frequently were lined bumper to bumper, and traffic control was poor. A six-mile--per-hour convoy speed slowed traffic up too much, and its abolition was advocated. Sufficient beach exits were not opened.

Communications: Wire discipline was poor. Signal Corps troops had to set 400 telephone poles and string 250 miles of cable in a very short time, and they did not have the facilities to do a good job. Signal communications in general were hampered by lack of equipment.

Petrol: Topping off gasoline tanks at the hards (filling the tanks to the top just before the vehicle was driven on the ship) slowed up loading and was unnecessary. Gas supply companies were not equipped with containers to dispense oil and were unable to perform properly. Fire protection for gasoline distribution points and dumps was insufficient.

Security: Security was very bad. Camouflage of assembly areas was very poor. Radio silence was consistently violated. A radio intelligence section, without previous knowledge of the situation, obtained a complete battle order of the participating units, the composition of the naval forces, the call signs of the command and alternate command ships, the location of a cannon company platoon, the time Corps headquarters landed, and a list of the ships remaining off the beach overnight.


Beach Group: The inexperience of many 1st Brigade units was clearly demonstrated. A report by the Brigade commanding officer, Colonel Eugene M Caffey, stated:

The most significant thing observed in DUCK was the lack of basic training and of organization and direction in the units. They evidenced the same weakness before and during Sicily and again in Italy. Until they are given a chance to build up their internal structure by concentrating on their own concerns, it is not believed that the units of the Brigade will ever perform as they will be expected too and as they must.*

* Ltr, CO 1st Engr Sp Brig, to CG FUSA, subj: Condition of 1st Engineer Special Brigade, 16 Jan 44.

The average time taken by the units to unload LCTs on the beach was ten hours instead of the five hours desired, and there was a lack of control over the unloading areas.*

* Report, Comdr Task Unit 123.3.2 to Comdr TF 123, subj: Narrative Report of Operation DUCK, 15 Jan 44.

Great difficulty was experienced in following loading priorities, and copies of final manifest and stowage plans or hatched lists for unloading failed to arrive.*

* Summary of Reports of Coaster TQMs, 1st Engr Sp Brig, 21 Jan 44.


But in spite of these deficiencies, there were many things on the credit side of the book. Exercise DUCK went off very smoothly for a first attempt. Loading was particularly good, and it was found that loading time had been greatly overestimated. The marshalling system worked so well that it formed the basis for the NEPTUNE marshalling system. And above all, the assault troops were beginning to master their new amphibious techniques.


Immediately following the critiques of DUCK I, plans were begun for exercises DUCK II and DUCK III. One result of DUCK I critiques was the establishing of the planning group on a permanent basis. Its first conference was held 25 January in the war room of XIX District headquarters, and planning was begun immediately. On 6 February final details were arranged by a planning group staff conference attended by representatives of the 29th Div and the Navy. It was decided to hold two exercises, DUCK II from 7 February, and DUCK III from 23 February to 1 March.*

* Report of Planning and Operation—Operation DUCK II, Hq XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 24 Feb 44.

These two exercises were entirely training exercises,


designed to give experience to the other two combat teams of the 29th Inf Div and to the remaining units of the 1st Eng Sp Brig which had not participated in DUCK I. They were modeled on DUCK I, following it in most respects but attempting to avoid its mistakes. DUCK II was to include the 116th Regimental Landing Team of the 29th Div, and the 1st Bn of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment, together with other 1st Brigade elements and attached V Corps units. DUCK III was to include the 115th Regimental Landing Team of the 29th Div sand 1st Brigade elements. Small tank and tank destroyer units were to be used for the first time.*

* Ltr, First US Army, to: CO 1st Engr Sp Brig, subj: 29th Division Regimental Landing Team Exercises, 30 Jan 44; Ltr, First US Army, to: CO 1st Engr Sp Brig, subj: Participation of 1st Engineer Special Brigade in Exercise DUCK II, 2 Mar 44.

During the night of 6 and 7 February, administrative orders for the first exercise were published and on 7 February the movement tables were published. On the same days, casual housekeeping personnel was ordered to report to sector headquarters, and 9 February, G-3 and G-4 staffs went to the area to coordinate final arrangements between the Navy, the task force and SOS. Movement of the task force personnel into the assembly area began 9 February with the 1st Brigade personnel


moving into Lupton House. The following day, personnel of tanks and tank-destroyer units moved into sub-camps 1, 2 and 3 in camp Z. Other units moved direct from their home stations to the hards. Loading was completed by 2400 hours 12 February. The assault was made 14 February and lasted for two days.

In general, the principal problems encountered were those met in DUCK I. They included the difficulties of the navy in placing designated craft at the proper hard, the lack of realization on the part of the craft commanders that they were responsible for embarkation and for debarkation at the proper points, the lack of road signs, and difficulties in coordination between the services.* In most ways the exercise

* Report of Planning and Operation—Exercise DUCK II, Hq XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 24 Feb 44.

went off more evenly than DUCK I, and observation planes reported that camouflage organized by the services were excellent, although concealment of field forces was still bad and would have to be improved in the invasion.*

* Ltr, Hq, O of the Chief Engr, Hq ETOUSA, to: CO Troops Division, subj: Camouflage Situation DUCK II—Embarkation Phase, 17 Feb 44.


DUCK III followed the same general pattern with D Day taking place 29 February. The interval between DUCK II and DUCK III was not sufficient to permit rectification of mistakes in the first exercise. It should be emphasized that the arrangement of units in the three exercises discussed did not follow the NEPTUNE pattern. At the time they were planned, that pattern was not known. Eventually the 29th Div was supported by the 6th Eng Sp Brig rather than the 1st Brigade which was placed in support of the 4th Inf Div.*

* Directive, Exercise DUCK III, Hq 29th Inf Div, to: CO 115th CT, 7 Feb 44.


The largest of the exercises prior to the rehearsals, FABIUS I and TIGER, was FOX, which was decided upon by the V Corps Planning Board early in February. It was the only major exercise which paralleled the plans for NEPTUNE, and in a way, it constituted a rehearsal for exercise FABIUS I, itself the rehearsal for the assault on Omaha Beach.

The exercise was ordered by V Corps headquarters on 7 February 1944 and was to take place the first half of March.*

* Ltr, Hq V Corps, to: CG First US Army, subj: V Corps Amphibious


Training Exercise FOX, 7 Feb 44.

Detailed planning, however, was held up so that it could parallel planning for NEPTUNE, and little work was done until the publication of First Army's Operation Plan NEPTUNE, 15 February. As a result, planning for FOX was late, and the exercise suffered to some extent. There appears to have been a tendency to regard it as a training exercise rather than as a test of amphibious techniques. The critiques of observers usually begin with such phrases as, "there were many difficulties and deficiencies which will be cleared up in the next exercise [Fabius I] where there will be more time for adequate planning."

FOX was held at Slapton Sands 9-10 March 1944. The marshalling was accomplished by XVIII District and involved entirely new personnel and camps. The whole marshalling plan, however, was worked out according to the doctrine established in the three DUCK exercises. The assault pattern was similar to the NEPTUNE plan for the Omaha Beach assault. Units involved were the 16th RCT of the 1st Inf Div and the 116th RCT of the 29th Inf Div, working under control of 1st Inf Div headquarters which, in turn, was under a headquarters group from V Corps.* The two combat teams were supported by

* Directive and Plan for Exercise FOX, Hq V Corps, 21 Feb 44.


units of the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group. The 37th Eng C Bn of the 5th Eng Sp Brig supported the 16th RCT, and the 149th Eng C Bn of the 6th Eng Sp Brig supported the 116th RCT. Each of the two engineer combat battalions was reinforced with dukw companies, truck companies, medical and signal detachments, quartermaster troops and port troops to comprise a battalion beach party.*

* FO No 1, Prov Engr Sp Brig Gp, 28 Feb 44.

The units began their movement to marshalling areas near Bradford Downs, Winterborne Abbas and Kingston Russel in the Dorset district prior to 1 March.* There were some

* Movement O No 1, Hq 1st Inf Div, 26 Feb 44.

difficulties in the marshalling camps because of insufficient time given XVIII District to ready the areas for transient troops, and construction was still going on while the troops were arriving. Embarkation began 7 March and continued through D Day, 9 March. Plymouth, Weymouth, Dartmouth and Portland were the ports used by the convoy which consisted of 6 APAs, 21 LSTs, 22 LCI(L)s, and 49 LCTs, in addition to LCVPs and salvage craft.* Seven Quartermaster truck companies were

* Memo to Craft Commanding Officers, Hq 1st Inf Div, 4 Mar 44:


Annex B to Opn O L-44, 11th Amphibious Force, Fast Force One-Two-Five, 11th PHIB/A4-3(3), 3 Mar 44.

involved, using the normal convoy system 7 March, and then resorting to a shuttle service the last two days.* A total of

* Memo, Hq XVIII Dist, to: Lt Col Shoup, MTO, Regional Tpn O, subj: Motor Transport Officer's Report-Exercise FOX, 16 Mar 44.

16,923 persons and 1908 vehicles were processed through the marshalling areas and embarked on Naval craft.*

* Report on Units Embarked, Marshalling Area Hq, XVIII District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, undated; in Hist Sec ETOUSA File FOX (Non-Tac).

The H Hour craft assembled and left for the Slapton Sands area the night before D Day, escorted by five British destroyers and with the air cover by the Royal Air Force and the Ninth US Air Force.* The assault plan was similar to the Omaha

* Opn O L-44, 11th Amphibious Force, Task Force One-Two-Five, 11th PHIB/A4-3(3) serial: 00215, Annex K, 3 Mar 44.

phase of NEPTUNE, with the British landing on the left and the Americans on the right, buy the only portion of the plan


actually carried out involved the American left flank. The 16th RCT of the 1st Inf Div landed on the right and the 116th RCT of the 29th Inf Div landed on the left, reversing the actual Normandy landings. For the purpose of planning, the 18th RCT of the 1st Div was assumed to land at H plus 2 hours, and the 26th RCT of the 1st Div on D plus 1. The 115th RCT was assumed to land D Day with the 759th Tk Bn. The two combat teams which actually landed came ashore with two battalions abreast and one in reserve.*

* Appendix No 2 to Administrative Details-Exercise FOX, Hq 1st Inf Div, 5 Mar 44; FO No 3, 1st Inf Div, 28 Feb 44, p. 1.

Assault landings were satisfactory, and there was naval gunfire support with live ammunition. Critiques agreed, however, that the buildup and consolidation of the beachhead suffered from hasty planning and preparation. The comparatively green 5th and 6th Engineer Special Brigades fell behind their schedule, and there was considerable confusion among the assault units.* The following weak spots were noted by umpires

* Minutes: Meeting at Hants and Dorset Conference Hut, 20 Mar 44, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file FOX (Non-Tac).

and special observers:


Mounting: Lack of experience on the part of camp personnel was apparent, but camp operation improved as troops gained experiences. There was insufficient time to prepare camps, only two and a half days on an average, prior to the reception of transients. Because of the improvement shown, static personnel trained in the exercise were earmarked for future operations.* Mess sanitation in the camps was poor, and, on

* Consolidated Report of Umpires, Phase I, Exercise FOX, Hq Southern Base Section, 5 Apr 44.

the advice of umpires and observers, cooking schools were organized, kitchens were reequipped, and new mess sanitation requirements were adopted.* The transportation standing

* Ltr, Hq Southern Base Section, AG 370.2, to: Commandant XVIII District, subj: Comments on Marshalling Areas, 23 Mar 44.

operating procedure was found to be too complicated. There were too many forms and too much supervision by military police. Four hours were allocated to loading each LST, but it was found possible to do the job in two hours.*

* Memo for Commandant XVIII District, Hq Southern Base Section, 24 Mar 44.


Assault: Available critiques fail to give complete details of assault results, but they indicate that the assault suffered from lack of coordination between the Navy and the Army, and between various headquarters. This was partially caused by lack of time.*

* Ltr, Hq XVIII Dist, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, AG 319.1, to: Chief of Planning Hq XVIII District, subj: Adjutant's Report on Exercise FOX, 17 Mar 44.

Security: Security was spotty. Camouflage was poor, and control within marshalling camps was not good. Telephone warnings on air raids and on enemy use of gas was very bad, and measures were taken to move up more comprehensive emergency communications in future exercises and in NEPTUNE.*

* Ltr, Hq SOS ETOUSA, to: CG Southern Base Section, subj: Observations During Exercise FOX, AG 354.2 OpGD, 7 Apr 44. See also Consolidated Report of Umpires, Phase I, Exercise FOX, Hq Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 5 Apr 44.

Beach Group: Major criticisms centered about the operations of the beach engineers and the establishment of the beach port. It was found that there were too few loading points for the number of craft involved. There was poor


coordination between the beachmaster and coasters, resulting in the delayed arrival of supplies on the beach. Unloading equipment on the coasters was in poor condition, and coaster captains had no orders. There was no contact between the beach group and Naval control headquarters for several hours. Beach communications were poor, and there were no communication between the beach headquarters and the dumps until D plus 1. Wire teams laid their lines during the night because of the delay in bringing equipment ashore. Twenty dukws had been allocated to each coaster for unloading, and it was found that ten were sufficient to do the job. Later waves of troops came ashore in the wrong order, creating confusion. For example, medical clearing personnel came in a t H plus 2 hours, but could do no work until their equipment arrived at H plus 11 hours.

There were bright spots as well. For example, 15 dukws were brought ashore preloaded with balanced loads of ammunition for emergency issue, and this proved so satisfactory that it was incorporated in plan NEPTUNE. Water-proofing was carried further than in any previous exercise, and all vehicles were waterproofed and then dewaterproofed after landing. New methods and compounds were used and proved satisfactory.*

* Information on Operation FOX, 6th Engr Sp Brig, 18 Mar 44; Memorandum, Prov Engr Sp Brig Gp, 22 Mar 44; Report to CofS


on Action Taken as the Result of Reports on Exercise FOX, Chief Opns Div, Prov Engr Sp Brig Gp, no date; Annex No 4 to FO No. 33, Hq 1st Inf Div, 24 Feb 44.


The three DUCK exercises and FOX involved assault units scheduled to land on Omaha Beach, with the exception of the 1st Eng Sp Brig, a Utah Beach unit. The only major invasion assault unit which did not participated in one or more of these exercises was the 4th Inf Div, which was to make the initial landings on Utah Beach. It was anticipated that the Utah assault would be somewhat easier than the Omaha landings because enemy defenses were more scattered, and Plan NEPTUNE called for a powerful supporting attack by airborne units prior to H Hour.

Nevertheless, the 4th Inf Div and the 1st Eng Sp Brig which was to support it and establish Utah Beach, underwent a series of seven exercises beginning 13 March and ending 30 March. These were designed to give experience to all 4th Div assault units and to the D Day elements of the 1st Eng Sp Brig. Four of these exercises were battalion landing team tests, two were regimental combat team tests, and one was a combined test for two regimental combat teams plus a large beach party. The exercises were as follows:


MUSKRAT I: This exercise was held 13-23 March by the 12th Inf Regt, which embarked at Plymouth on three APAs (transports) which moved to the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. There the regimental combat team participated in battalion landing team exercises.

MUSKRAT II: Held 24-26 March by the 12th Inf Regt reinforced by a 1st Eng Sp Brig detachment, this was really a continuation of MUSKRAT I, and involved a continuation of the landing exercises in Scotland at the battalion team level.

OTTER I: This exercise was held 15-18 March by the 3d Bn of Combat Team 8, reinforced. It consisted of a day of instruction and two daylight assault landings in the Slapton Sands area. The exercise mounted from Dartmouth.

OTTER II: Based on the same plan as OTTER I, this exercise was held 19-22 March by the 1st Bn of Combat Team 8. The 2d Bn had been designated the reserve battalion for NEPTUNE and did not engage in a separate exercise.

MINK I: Held 15-18 March at Slapton Sands by the 1st Bn of the 22d RCT, this exercise followed the same plan as that used in the OTTER exercises.

MINK II: Held 19-22 March by the 2d Bn of the 22d RCT, this exercises also followed the OTTER plan. The 3d Bn of the 22d RCT was to be in reserve for NEPTUNE and no exercise was held for it.*


* There is much less material available for these 4th Div exercises than for the DUCK and FOX exercises. Most complete files are those of the 4th Div and the 1st ESB, both of which have either been forwarded to AG, War Department, Washington, or are in the possession of the issuing headquarters in the United States. These brief accounts are based on information contained in Hist Sec ETOUSA file Exercises (Non-Tac), or in AG ETOUSA file 322 (Exercises) 1944.

Beaver: This exercise was held 27-30 March by the 8th and 22d Inf RCTs, reinforced by a 1st Eng Sp Brig detachment, two companies of the 1106th Eng Gp, the 502d Paratroop Inf, and the Ninth Air Force. XIX District of the Southern Base Section mounted the operation, following the plan and facilities it used in the DUCK exercises. Marshalling and embarkation areas were located in the Brixham-Plymouth district, and Slapton Sands was used as the assault area. Group 2 of the 11th Amphibious Force provided the lift, protected the assault convoy and supported the landing. The previous exercises had been ordered by VII Corps headquarters but had been almost entirely carried out by the 4th Div. BEAVER, however, found the VII Crops an active participant.

Disembarkation and the beach assault went according to plan. The assault units secured a bridgehead and made a rapid


advance inland. Following the D Day advance, the units were resupplied and reorganized for extended operations. About 1,800 tons of supplies were unloaded from two coasters, and as a part of the exercise, the combat units were resupplied with ammunition the night of D Day.*

* Memo, Director Hq VII Corps, subj: Exercise BEAVER, signed Mason J Young, Col COE, Asst Director, 20 Mar 44; Adm O No 1, Planning Group Hq XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 20 Mar 44; Movement Tables, Planning Group Hq XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 20 Mar 44; Operation O No 1-44, Group 2, 11th Amphibious Force, Task Force One-Two-Six, undated.

Brief mention may be made of other assault exercises held in the United Kingdom by units which, strictly speaking, do not come within the scope of this study. There were a number of artillery exercises beginning with EXCELSIOR I, 5 December 1944 [sic]. This was the first in a series of six EXCELSIOR exercises, all run by the British, but with American units participating. The 29th Inf Div artillery and the 1st Div artillery participated in EXCELSIOR I and EXCELSIOR II, the latter held 19 December 1943. These exercises were for artillery commanders and their staffs at the School of Artillery, and involved the building up of a fire plan for


the artillery of a Corps.*

* AG ETOUSA Record File 354.2, Vol I, No. 76, ETO 1943. Dates for the other EXCELSIOR exercises were: EXCELSIOR III, 5-9 Jan 44; EXCELSIOR IV, 19-23 Jan 44; EXCELSIOR V, 2-6 Feb 44; EXCELSIOR VI, 16-20 Feb 44.

More important from the standpoint of training was CRIMSON II, held 19-20 March on the Merrival Range at Slapton Sands. This exercise involved all artillery anti-aircraft and tank destroyer units in V Corps. The Corps was assumed to have landed at Slapton Sands and driven the enemy northwest, and artillery concentrations were called for on the enemy locations.* Other large artillery exercises were HAWK I and

* See Hist Sec ETOUSA file CRIMSON II (Non-Tac) for brief summary. Original documents not available.

HAWK II, involving firing by VIII Corps artillery on Sennybridge Range at Breco, South Wales. The first was held 14-18 May and the second 19-23 May. They did not have a direct bearing on Operation NEPTUNE.*

* AG ETOUSA file 354.2 HAWK, Vol I 1944.


Both airborne and Ninth Air Force units also had their invasion rehearsals. The 82d Abn Div sponsored CURVEBALL I and II on 27 April and 6 May respectively., At the same time, the 101st Abn Div was holding small exercises, and the two divisions combined their efforts 11 May to hold Exercise EAGLE in the Hungerford-Newbury area. This exercise involved an attack by airborne, seaborne and naval forces, the latter two assumed, on the coast of an occupied country. the 82d and 101st Abn Divs, transported by the IX Troop Carrier Command, played the part of the attackers, and the 28th Inf Div assumed the role of the enemy. The paratroopers dropped by night and glider troops landed the following day.*

* See ETOUSA G-3 Training File EAGLE.

The Ninth Air Force's rehearsal, called BOOMERANG, was held 19-30 April with more than 5,000 ground force troops taking part. The problem was for these troops to marshall, process and embark, then to set up air force dumps and other supply installations on a hostile shore. The XVIII District of Southern Base Section and the 1317th Engineer General Service Regiment were the housekeeping troops.*

* Ltr, US Army Trans Corps, Sector Hq, Area C, to: Hq Mar-


shalling Area C TC, subj: Exercise BOOMERANG, 25 Apr 44; also letters titles as above 17 Apr 44, 18 Apr 44, 24 Apr 44; Alert Order BOOMERANG, Hq XVIII District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, to: CG 1317th Engr GS Regt, 10 Apr 44; Ltr, Sector Hq, Area C, to: Col Matthews PDTO, subj: Ninth Air Force Exercise Boomerang, 8 Apr 44.


During the period when the assault and combined exercises were being held, a number of smaller, more specialized exercises were taking place. Some were so small that they were not even named. Others were important, either because of their size, or because of their experimental nature. The principal exercises follow:

Marshalling Exercises:

CHEVROLET: This mounting exercise, held 25 February to 1 March, was designed to train troops and supply staffs in the loading out of supplies from the United Kingdom for a continental operation, to train Chemical Warfare Service troops in screening an harbor and beach area by using chemical and generator smoke, and to test the feasibility of extended operations in a completely smoked harbor and beach. It was carried out at Port Talbot in the Port Eynon area. Principal troops were from the 5th Eng Sp Brig. The plan was drawn and carried out


by Headquarters, XIX District.*

* See ETOUSA G-3 Training File CHEVROLET.

JEEP: Although this mounting exercise was not designed to test NEPTUNE plans or to train NEPTUNE units, it was closely watched and its results influenced later exercises held in England. It was held 5 March to 31 March by XV Corps and Northern Ireland Base Section to give Corps troops training for future overseas movement operations. The 38th Inf Combat Team of the 2d Inf Div moved from its stations in Northern Ireland to Belfast and went through all administrative details of marshalling and embarking. Personnel and vehicles did not embark in ships, but went as far as the quays, waited 30 minutes to simulate loading, and then returned. The men went up a dummy gangplank on the quay, went down another, and thus finished their participation in the exercise. From this training experiment emerged a number of recommendations on procedures and the use of forms which later were adopted for NEPTUNE.*

* Summary JEEP, prep by Hist Sec ETOUSA, undated, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file JEEP (Non-Tac); Administrative O No 1, Exercise JEEP, Northern Ireland Base Sect, 11 Mar 44; Exhibit "C" to Monthly Report of 7th Port, Exercise Jeep, Hq 7th Port


April 44.

JALOPY: This mounting exercise was similar to JEEP and involved the movement of the 10th Inf Combat Team, the 121st Inf Regt and other units from their home stations in Northern Ireland to Belfast and return. Techniques devised in JEEP were tested and improvements made.*

* See ETOUSA G-3 Training File JALOPY.

Loading Exercises:

The 1st, 5th and 6th Eng Sp Brigs, and various SOS units under XVIII and XIX Districts conducted a number of exercises designed to test loading methods. The results of these tests, coupled with the application of techniques evolved in the major exercises, led to the establishment of the cargo loading and unloading system devised for NEPTUNE in which cargo was so stowed that it could be unloaded into dukws and ferrycraft by the use of nets. Skid loading was used only for certain specialized supplies, such as some types of ammunition.

NUDGER, the first exercise of this type, was held 7 December 1943 by SOS and Canadian units at Southampton. It included loading of two LSTs to determine the time taken to load the craft in daylight and in darkness, then to determine turn-around times. The exercise was more important because of


the question it raised than because of any results obtained. The times determined later were nullified by quicker methods devised in other exercises.*

* Chief Umpire's Report, Exercise NUDGER, DAQMG (M), South Coast Ports, 13 Dec 43, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file NUDGER (Non-Tac).

SNIPE was held 27-29 February 1944 and was a combined loading and engineer exercise held in the Port-Eynon and Port Talbot Area. There is little information on this exercise in the European Theater, but the 1st Engr Sp Brig participated. GULL, a similar exercise, was held 15-18 March and included the loading and landing of personnel and vehicles from an LST.*

* Most complete SNIPE records are in the 1st Engr Sp Brig training file, now in the United States.

CELLOPHANE, held 28 April in the Orwigh Bay area, was an SOS exercise designed to demonstrate skid loading techniques to First US Army. It was mounted by XXIX District and included the loading of skidloads and loose cargo to coasters at ports, offloading from coasters into dukws and LCTs, transferring from dukws to trucks at beach transfer points, discharging direct from dukws to dumps, offloading LCTs to trucks, and


discharging trucks at dumps. The exercise showed that mechanical equipment, such as fork lifts and depot tractors, would not be required for stowing skidloads in holds of coasters, but its use would speed up loading to some extent. It also demonstrated that fork lifts would not be needed for offloading skidloads from holds of coasters and ships, but that equipment would be required to transfer skidloads from dukws to trucks at transfer points. Exercise CELLOPHANE pointed the way to beach transfer points as they eventually were used on Omaha and Utah Beaches, although this point was not appreciated at the time.*

* Ltr, Hq SOS ETOUSA, to: CO Western Base Section, subj: Exercise CELLOPHANE, AG 354.2 OpGD, 15 Apr 44; Instructions for Exercise CELLOPHANE, Hq XXIX District, WBS SOS, 23 Apr 44; Report on Exercise CELLOPHANE, Hq XXIX district, WBS SOS, 29 Apr 44.

In addition to these exercises, a number of small exercises were run off by the engr sp brigs, including CARGO I, II and III, and TONNAGE I, II and III. Each of these problems involved one battalion and consisted of passing 2000 tons of supplies over Pentewan Beach and then reloading.*

* Ltr, CO 1st Engr Sp Brig, to CG First US Army, subj: Cargo


Handling—Training of 1st Engr Sp Brig, 25 Jan 44.

Medical Exercises:

Two exercises were held involving medical troops. The first, CRACKSHOT, was held 19-25 February by Southern Base Section to give hospitals in England practice in admitting and discharging large numbers of patients, and to determine the best methods of processing the wounded in the United Kingdom. No invasion units were involved. The second, SPLINT, was held 12 April and was a casualty evacuation exercise held at Pentewan Beach involving units from the 2d Naval Beach Battalion, the 1st Engr Sp Brig, shipborne medical personnel, and the US Naval Advanced Amphibious Training Sub-Base at Fowey. The purpose was to develop efficient methods of evacuating beachhead casualties under battle conditions, and LSTs, LCI(L)s, LCTs, LCMs and LCVPs were used.*

* Summary SPLINT, Hist Sec ETOUSA file SPLINT (Non-Tac).

Signal Exercises

Two Signal Corps exercises were also held. SPANDU, the first, was held 4 April and was a combined test of radio communications by First Army, the Second British Army, the First Canadian Army, and 21 Army Group.* The second was


* Ltr, Hq 21 Army Gp, to: First US Army, subj: Exercise SPANDU, 27 Mar 44.

PIGEON, held 7-10 May. This involved the 4th Inf Div, the 50th Signal Bn, the 1st Engr Sp Brig, the 90th Inf Div, the Ninth Air Force, and Group Two of the 11th Amphibious Force. PIGEON was the communications rehearsal for the Utah Beach operations.*

* FO No 1, Adv Hq VII Corps, 5 May 44.


The three DUCK exercises were planned before the alignment of troops for NEPTUNE had been decided, but thereafter all major exercises followed the NEPTUNE pattern and led logically to the invasion itself. Exercise FOX involved the units which were to assault Omaha Beach. Exercise BEAVER involved the units which were to assault Utah Beach. These, in turn, led to the two great rehearsals for the invasion, FABIUS and TIGER. Plan NEPTUNE called for the establishment on D Day of two beachheads, one extending continuously from the Caen area to Isigny and including the three British beaches and Omaha beach; the second comprising only the Utah beach area. It was expected that the two beachheads would be joined in


two or three days, but the first assaults were to be quite separate.

All British, Canadian and American units scheduled to assault the Caen-Isigny area were to participate in the FABIUS exercises which were broken into six parts, four British and two American. The Utah beachhead, being considered to some extent a separate operation, called for a separate rehearsal. This was known as Exercise TIGER and was held 22-30 April under the direction of VII Corps.

Tentative high-level planning for TIGER began early in February, but definite instructions were not issued until 1 April when First US Army, acting under instructions of 21 Army Group, ordered VII Corps and SOS to prepare for the exercise to be held late in the month.* It was to involve

* Ltr, Hq First US Army, to: CG ETOUSA, subj: Exercises TIGER and FABIUS I, 1 Apr 44, file 353 (D) First US Army.

all three regimental landing teams of the 4th Inf Div. These were to be mounted in areas K and L in Plymouth and East Dartmouth. Two were to be loaded from the Dartmouth-Brixham-Torquay area and one from Plymouth. The 1st Engr Sp Brig was to be in direct support, and mounting was to be undertaken by XIX District following the DUCK-BEAVER formula, but with measures taken to correct errors and deficiencies shown up


in the earlier exercises. The assault was to be made in the Slapton Sands area, and Group 2 of the 11th Amphibious Force was to provide the lift.*

* Administrative Order No 1, Planning Group, Hq XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 18 Apr 44.

The planned assault on Utah Beach included extensive airborne operations by the 101st and 82d Abn Divs. Because the planes necessary to duplicate the D Day operation were not available, and because it was impossible to overcome technical difficulties in dropping airborne troops at Slapton Sands, the employment of these two divisions was to be on a limited scale. Four hours before H Hour troops of the 101st Abn Div were to arrive in the Slapton Sands area by truck and simulate an airborne landing. This force was to include all troops who would normally operate with Force U on D Day and D plus 1. Participation of the 82d Abn Div was to be more limited, with only token troops participating. On D plus 1 these token troops were to simulate a landing and join the 101st Abn Div. In all, 25,000 men and 2,750 vehicles were to be embarked.*

* Chronology TIGER, Hist Sec ETOUSA, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file TIGER (Non-Tac); FO No 1, Hq VII Corps, 7 Apr 44; Ltr, Hq


VII Corps, to: CG First US Army, subj: Amphibious Exercise TIGER, 5 Apr 44; Memo, Hq Southern Base Section, subj: Exercise TIGER, file 353 (Pl & Ord Br), 3 Apr 44.

The exercise lasted nine days, with six given over to mounting and embarkation. Troops entered the marshalling areas beginning 22 April, and D Day was 28 April. There was considerable delay in distributing plans and orders, and the result was a certain amount of improvisation, although the marshalling camps were not greatly affected. However, loading tables, in some cases, had to be rewritten during the exercise, and many of the naval craft arrived at their hards very late. This resulted in traffic jams and confusion.*

* Reports of Inspection—Exercise TIGER, Chief Inspector Section, XIX District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, to: Comdt XIX District, 29 Apr 44, file AF 333.9 (Ch/T); Resume of TC Activities During TIGER, Transportation Office, XIX District, to: District Comdt, XIX District, 29 Apr 44.

The actual landings were favored by good weather, and the exercise proceeded according to plan. Assault troops went ashore after a pre-H Hour naval bombardment of the simulated enemy defenses, reduced the pillboxes, cut through wire entanglements, and made their way inland to join the


elements of the 101st Abn Div which had arrived previously. As in previous exercises, the greatest deficiency noted was the failure of many combat soldiers to take adequate cover.*

* Camouflage Report, Exercise TIGER, Hq Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, to: Comdt XIX District, 8 May 44, in AF file 461 (Engrs).

At the same time elements of the 1st Engr Sp Brig went ashore, swept minefields, opened up beach exits, laid tracked roads, and established dumps. Unloading activities began D Day and were closely watched by representatives of SOS and First Army. The latter headquarters had ordered a total of 2,200 tons of supplies unloaded the first two days. On the first tide D Day, two LCTs each with 200 tons of supplies, were unloaded over the high-water mark. On the second tide, two coasters, with 1,500 tons of supplies, were unloaded, and on D plus 1, six LBVs, preloaded with 50 tons of supplies each, were unloaded. Again experiments were carried out with skid-loaded supplies.*

* Ltr, Hq First US Army, to: CG ETOUSA, subj: Exercises TIGER and FABIUS I, 1 Apr 44, AG file 353 (D).

The skidloading again proved acceptable for certain


classes of supplies, and following the exercise, skid loading of some types of ammunition was ordered for Operation NEPTUNE to expedite discharge of critical items.*

* Memo, Deputy CofS ETOUSA, to: CG Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 10 May 44, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file TIGER (Non-Tac).

TIGER—The E-Boat Attack

During the buildup phase of TIGER, eight LSTs in a convoy were caught by German E-boats which torpedoed and sank two, causing a loss of life greater than that later suffered by the assault troops during initial attack on Utah Beach. The final account of this incident must take into account naval records not available in the European Theater, but Army records indicate that the following took place.

During the night of 27-28 April, eight LSTs in convoy T-4 were proceeding at about five knots per hour off Portland. The craft were scheduled to participate in the buildup phase of the exercise. They had travelled [sic] almost due east of their points of departure, Plymouth and Dartmouth, had turned around, and were proceeding westerly toward Bruxham [sic]. They were loaded with troops of the 1st Engr Sp Brig, the 4th Div, and VII Corps. Presumably the LSTs were escorted by one corvette, but this vessel does not seem to have been in the vicinity


during the action. The night was dark but clear, with no moon. At least one LST was equipped with radar and reported that two unknown vessels were approaching, but it was assumed that these were craft belonging to the convoy.

Times given for the attack vary between 0130 hours and 0204 hours 28 April. The attackers, believed to have been E-boats, were never positively identified, and it is not known whether the two picked up by the radar constituted the whole enemy force. LST 507, the first attacked, was hit by several torpedoes which failed to explode, then was set afire by a direct torpedo hit. Another struck five minutes later. The enemy craft straffed [sic] the decks with machine guns, and fired on men who had jumped into the water. LST 507 began to settle.

About the same time, LST 531 was hit and set afire. Flares were seen to drop, but LST officers did not know whether the planes were enemy or Allied. Some survivors stated that they heard anti-aircraft fire, but there is no evidence of bombs being dropped. LST 511 was struck twice by torpedos [sic] which failed to explode.

About 0210, LST 289 was hit by a torpedo which destroyed the crew's quarters, the rudder and the rear guns. The commanding officer of the 478th Amphibian Truck Company (TC), a 1st Brigade unit, suggested to LST officers that the vessel's ramp be put down and personnel be taken off in the


company's dukws. This plan was considered but abandoned when flooding was brought under control. LCVPs were put over the side to steer the LST, and it made Dartmouth under its own power at 1430 hours.

Other LSTs put on full speed and escaped, although LST 515, according to Army records, turned and picked up some survivors several hours later. LSTs 507 and 531 continued to burn and settle. Deck guns were not manned, although some shots were fired by Navy personnel. The craft burned for about two hours, LST 531 sank, but the exact time is uncertain. At 0400 a British destroyer arrived and picked up survivors. Its captain ordered that LST 5-7, which had settled until only its bow was above water, be sunk. The enemy did not suffer any known casualties or damage.

Most of the casualties were from LST 531. There were only 290 survivors of 744 soldiers and 282 sailors. Aboard LST 507 there were 13 dead and 22 wounded. The 1st Brigade suffered most heavily in the action with 413 dead and 16 wounded. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company was virtually wiped out. Of 251 officers and men, 201 were killed or wounded. The 557th Quartermaster Railhead Company also had heavy losses, 69 casualties in all. A complete list of casualties is not available, but Army records, possibly not complete, state that 749 were killed and mor than 300 either insured or suffering from severe exposures.*


* Brigade History (draft), 1st Engr Sp Brig, Appendix A, 28 Jul 44; Cable CR 1032, Hq ETOUSA to Hq First US Army, 29 Apr 44, in ETO AG file 354.2; Report of Enemy Action, Hq Sub Area "V", to: CO, Hq D Marshalling Area, 30 Apr 44; Ltr, 306th QM Bn, to: CG 1st Engr Sp Brig, subj: Report of Action by the Enemy, 25 Jun 44; Ltr, CO 478th Amphibian Truck Co (TC), to: CG 1st Engr Sp Brig, subj: Report of Events Aboard LST 289 on 28 April 1944, 1 May 44; Ltr, CO 462d Amphibian Truck Co (TC), to: CG 1st Engr Sp Brig, subj: Report of Enemy Action, 28 April 1944, 1 May 44. The following table of 1st Brigade casualties was compiled by the Brigade and checked by a representative of Historical Section ETOUSA from unit casualty reports:

Organization KIA WIA MIA* Total
Hq 1st Engr Sp Brig
531st Engr Shore Regt
3206th QM Sv Co
3207th QM Sv Co
607th Graves Reg Co
462d Amph Trk Co
478th Amph Trk Co
306th QM Bn
556th QM Rhd Co
557th QM Rhd Co
625th Ord Co
33d Chem Decon Co
1605th Engr Map Depot Det

* Status of all men MIA changed to KIA 8 July 1944.

The E-boat attack disclosed a number of deficiencies which


were rectified for the invasion. Among them were the following:

(1) Lifebelts issued were of the self-inflating type. In many cases they were improperly used. Some belts contained defective inflating capsules or none at all. Contents of others had been discharged, either intentionally or by accident. In marshalling areas before the invasion, troops were impressed with the necessity of retaining the capsules, and were well briefed in the use of the life belts.

(2) The general alarm system aboard the LSTs was not generally understood, although instructions were posted and non-commissioned officers were instructed to brief the men. This, however, did not result in any loss of life, since the men had up to a half hour to reach the deck and there was no difficulty in getting there.

(3) Only two of six lifeboats on LST 507 were lowered. On some of the boats, release pins were bent by the concussion and had to be forced. Of the boats that got into the water, one, with a capacity of 40 to 60 men, was occupied by 80 to 100, and capsized. Drills aboard invasion craft helped to minimize this danger.

Individuals on the LSTs reacted in different ways. According to survivors, some even managed to keep their sense of humor and lept over the rail shouting, "Dry run!" Other men though at first that it was all a part of the problem.


In general, discipline on deck was poor, due in part to the fact that the loudspeaker systems were put out of order by the explosions and no commands could be given over them. Some men lost valuable time searching for their duffle bags. In some cases there was panic, and men went over the side before the order to abandon ship was given, and were strafed by the E-boats' machine guns fire. Col Eugene M Caffey, 1st Brigade commanding officer, later commented, "Officers and NCOs cannot expect their men to remain cool when they themselves seem to go completely crazy."*

* Report, Interrogation of Survivors, S-2, 1st Engr Sp Brig, no date; Memorandum, 1st Engr Sp Brig, to all Brigade units, 14 May 44.

The unfortunate sinking of the LSTs greatly marred the buildup and supply phases of the exercise, reducing the beach party practically to its assault phase elements. Survivors were warned to keep all details a secret, and no account was released until after the invasion. Critiques of the mounting and assault indicate that results otherwise were fairly satisfactory, although there was a tendency on the part of officers and men to treat TIGER as another problem in a long series. By this time exercises had become routine, practicularly [sic] for the 1st Brigade, which had taken part in 15


exercises from January through April. Observers reported that many officers were inclined to dismiss shortcomings as unimportant, and to feel that when the invasion took place, deficiencies shown in TIGER and other exercises would no longer exist.

Mounting, in particular, showed great improvement, particularly in regard to the operation of the camps. There were a few flaws; such as lack of sufficient briefing tents, and the fact that a large shipment of jerricans had just arrived with each can painted yellow so that it was easily seen from the air. Security in the camps was improved, although a lack of uniformity in the pass system was criticized. Camouflage was better than in previous exercises, and signal installations were found to be adequate.*

* Report, Hq Southern Base Section, to: Comdt XIX District, subj: Camouflage Report—Exercise TIGER, 8 May 44, in AG ETOUSA file 461 (Engrs); Consolidated Umpires' Report Phase I Exercise TIGER, Hq Southern Base Section, 6 May 44; Report of Inspection—Exercise TIGER, Chief Inspector Section, XIX District, to: Comdt XIX District, 29 Apr 44, in AG ETOUSA file 333.9 (Ch/T).

During the period 1-18 May, units which had lost heavily in personnel and equipment during TIGER and the E-boat attack


were re-equipped and replacements were secured. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company, which had bewen practically wiped out, was replaced by the 363d Quartermaster Service Company, and the 557th Quartermaster Railhead Company, which had lost very heavily, was replaced by the 562d Quartermaster Railhead Company.*

* Brigade History (draft), 1st Engr Sp Brig, 28 Jul 44, par 18.


The six FABIUS exercises, which together constituted the greatest amphibious exercise in history, immediately followed TIGER. While TIGER concerned only Force "U," the units which were to assault Utah Beach, FABIUS included all of the other four invasion assault forces and the two major buildup forces which were to invade France. Only two of forces, however, included American troops. FABIUS may be considered as six separate exercises as follows:

FABIUS I was the rehearsal for Assault Force "O," those elements of the 1st US Inf Div, the 29th US Inf Div, the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, and attached units, which were to assault Omaha Beach under the command of V Corps. This force marshalled in area D, embarked from the Portland-Weymouth area, and landed at Slapton Sands.

FABIUS II was the rehearsal for Assault Force "G," elements


of the British 50 Inf Div and attached units, which were to assault Gold Beach. This force marshalled in areas C and B, embarked from Southhampton and Lymington, and landed on Hayling Island.

FABIUS III was the rehearsal for Assault Force "J." elements of the Canadian 3 Inf Div and attached units, which were to assault June [i.e., Juno] Beach. This force marshalled in areas A and C, embarked from Southhampton and Grosport, and landed at Bracklesham Bay.

FABIUS IX [i.e., IV] was the rehearsal for Assault Force "S," elements of the British 3 Inf Div and attached units which were to assault Sword Beach. This force marshalled in area A and in the British Southeast Command area, embarked from Frosport [sic] and Portsmouth, and landed near Littlehampton.

FABIUS V was a marshalling exercise for British units in the initial buildup forces for Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. It concerned that part of the force leaving from the Thames Estuary and from east coast ports.

FABIUS VI was a marshalling exercise for Force "B," together with British units leaving from southern ports. The American buildup force used about half of marshalling area D and the ports of Portland and Weymouth. The British buildup force used about half of marshalling area C and the port of Southhampton.*

* Exercise FABIUS Administrative Instructions No 1, 21, (Br)


Southern Command, SC Z/19512/Q Ops, 21 Apr 44, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file FABIUS (Non-Tac).

FABIUS I, II, III and IV were carried out simultaneously under the direction of 21st Army Group. They began on 23 April and ended 7 May. During the period 23-26 April, residues were detached and briefing was carried out. Marshalling began 27 April and craft were loaded 29 April and 1 May. D Day was originally scheduled for 2 May, but was postponed one day after the marshalling began. FABIUS V and VI were scheduled to be held 4-6 May, but due to the postponement of the other exercises, did not actually end until 7 May. Coordination between the six exercises was on a high level, and planning for them was carried on separately by the various commands concerned. Consequently this account concerns only the two American exercises, FABIUS I and FABIUS VI.*

* Instruction No 1, Exercise FABIUS, 21 Army Gp, undated, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file FABIUS (Non-Tac).

FABIUS, like TIGER, had little of the experiment in its make-up. D Day was only a month away, and most units participating in the exercise were to return, not to their home stations, but to the marshalling areas, there to await the actual invasion. No longer was there time for drastic revisions


in plan or for retraining units. Minor deficiencies could be corrected, but FABIUS was primarily an exercise to give the troops experience in their tasks and to give the invasion machinery a chance to function as a whole before it would be called upon to perform its primary invasion. Every effort was made to duplicate the conditions to be met on the Normandy beaches, and planning orders called for the exercise to resemble NEPTUNE "as closely as limitations of equipment and facilities will permit."* Approximately 25,000 troops

* Ltr, Hq V Corps, to CG 1st US Inf Div, subj: Amphibious Exercise FABIUS I, 28 Mar 44.

were processed through the marshalling areas, embarked, landed [on] Slapton Sands, and then returned to the marshalling areas to await D Day.*

* Secret Extract of Minutes of Staff Conference 0900 Hours 18 March 1944, Hq Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, 18 Mar 44, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file FABIUS (Non-Tac).

Units participating included the 16th and 18th regimental landing teams of the 1st Inf Div, the 116th regimental landing team of the 29th Inf Div, the 347th and 348th Engr C Bns of the


5th Engr Sp Brig, the 149th Engr C Bn of the 6th Engr Sp Brig, the 741st and 743d Tk Bns, and the 2d and 5th Ranger Bns, and other units attached either to the infantry divisions or to the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group. The overall plan was drafted by First Army headquarters, but the more detailed planning began with V Corps and continued through the various units to battalion level.*

* FO No 34, Hq 1st US Inf Div, Reg No ZA-74, 6 Apr 44. The arrangement of the various units into landing teams and beach groups was exactly the same as for NEPTUNE and is not discussed here. It may be found under the chapter on the invasion of Omaha Beach.

The tactical plan followed NEPTUNE closely. After a preliminary air and naval bombardment, the former simulated, two battalions of DD tanks were to land at H Hour, followed by the first wave of infantry. Landing Team 16 was to land on the left and Landing Team 116 on the right. Engineers were to follow immediately, blow underwater obstacles, open up beach exits, and demine suspected areas. At H plus 3 hours, landing team 18 was to land and join the other teams in an attack inland. Three Ranger companies were to land at Blackpool Beach approximately two miles north of Slapton Sands to destroy enemy artillery installations, precisely as


Rangers were to land at Point du Hoe in Normandy. Another company was to land on the right flank of the regular assault beach, while other Rangers were to be landed with the infantry and were to make their way to the right to relieve the flanking company. Additional troops were to pour ashore, establish the beach, unload cargo, establish dumps, and set up supply installations.*

* Ibid, pp 1-3. See also Annex 13, Engineer Special Brigade Operations Plan, and Annex 9, Tank Employment Plan.

Strictly speaking, the movement of the units into the marshalling camps was a portion of Operation NEPTUNE, since the troops returned there after FABIUS, and this movement will be discussed under the chapter on Mounting. In general, the movement was smooth and operation of the camps encountered no outstanding difficulties. Embarkation also went according to plan with the two 1st Div combat teams loading at Weymouth and Poole and the 116th landing team loading at Portland.*

* Ltr, Hq First US Army, to: CG ETOUSA, subj: Exercises TIGER and FABIUS I, file 353 (D), 1 Apr 44.

There were 168 craft in the convoy in addition to support vessels. Included were 100 LCTs, 8 LCT(A)s, 21 LCI(L)s,


23 LST(S)s, 3 LSI(H)s, 2 LSI(L)s, 3 XAPs, 4 APAs, and 1 LSH.*

* Assignment of Ships and Craft in Force "O", Hq 1st US Inf Div, Reg No ZA-162, 22 Apr 44.

With most of the craft loaded, D Day for all FABIUS exercises was postponed for 24 hours by 21 Army Group because of unfavorable weather.*

* Msg, Hq BUCO, to: SW Comd, 021135B May 44; Msg, Hq 21 Army Group, to: SW Comd, 031400B May 44; Staff Memorandum, Prov Engr Sp Brig Gp, 2 May 44.

The assault was launched on schedule. The convoy approached behind minesweepers and marshalled about 10 miles offshore. A bombardment group of craft laid down fire on simulated enemy defenses ashore, and gunfire support craft gave protection. DD tanks of the 741st and 743d
Tk Bn were launched 3000 yards from shore and assaulted the beach at H Hour. These tanks did not leave the water's edge in the exercise. After the preliminary phase, they proceeded under their own power to Torcross and withdrew from the assault. Normal tanks which were loaded on LCT(A)s were so placed as to be able to fire when the craft were approaching the beach. Later, they were


landed by normal means.*

* Operation Order No 2-44, Western Naval Task Force, Assault Force "O" (TF One-Two-Four), 11th PHIB/A4-3(1)(a), serial 00556, 24 Apr 44, in Hist Sec ETOUSA file FABIUS (Non-Tac).

As the 16th and 116th CTs made their way inland, the 18th CT was landed together with engineer troops. Four beaches were opened, and their designations were the same as the designations of the Normandy beaches. The 37th Battalion Beach Group, landed on Easy Red Beach, opened two beach exit roads; the 149th Battalion Beach Group, landing on Easy Green and Dog Red Beaches, opened two beach exists, and the 348th Battalion Beach Group, landing on Fox Green Beach, took over the operation of one beach exit. Some engineer units, including the headquarters of the 5th and 6th Brigades and the Engineer Special Brigade Group, took part in the exercise but did not make the sea voyage. They moved by motor to Slapton Sands and set up their installations after the initial assault.

Token supplies were landed by the engineers. On the first tide two LCTs, each loaded with 200 tons of emergency supplies, were unloaded over the high water mark, and on the second tide, 1500 tons of supplies were unloaded by dukws and LCTs from coasters. On D plus 1, six LBVs, each with 50 tons of supplies, were unloaded. The supplies included


considerable engineering equipment such as treadway bridging, somerfeld track, coir matting and chespaling which was used to build and improve beach roads.*

* Ltr, Hq First US Army, to: CG ETOUSA, subj: Exercises TIGER and FABIUS I, file 353 (D), 1 Apr 44.

FABIUS I showed up additional flaws in operations, and wherever possible, these were corrected before the invasion, although time was running out. Deficiencies in the operations of the beach engineers, emphasized in the critiques, included the following:

Traffic and Personnel: Personnel embarkation rosters were not picked up from incoming ships, and their form reports of personnel passed across the beaches were not received. Military police were not loaded in time to control traffic, and there were not enough military police for all important posts. Signs to direct traffic were not available early enough, and military police had not been sufficiently briefed on the operation. Vehicles were allowed to bunch on the beach while awaiting their assignments, thus presenting profitable targets for enemy artillery and planes.

Supplies: Unloading tallies were not maintained and consequently accurate situation reports could not be maintained. Dukws generally were loaded too light, loads


averaging about two tons. While this was the rated capacity of the amphibians, trials had shown that they were capable of carrying up to five tons without difficulty. There were too many dukws for the number of coasters, and unloading of coasters was delayed because of failure to return cargo nets from the beach.

Signal: Telephone lines were put of commission much of the time due to lack of care in laying wire. Signal personnel were not landed in time to perform their job. The communications section of one company did not come ashore until after the company had been operation for several hours.

Medical: Clearing station personnel of both brigades and the 5th Brigade's clearing station equipment were late in arriving, hampering both treatment and evacuation.

Dump Operations: Signs were posted very late, and there was little uniformity. Trucks thus had difficulty in locating the dumps. Dump reports generally were very poor.

While every attempt was made to rectify these conditions prior to the invasion, the difficulty of so doing in the brief time available is shown by the fact that most of the criticisms later were applied to operations during the initial phase of NEPTUNE.*

* Memo, Prov Engr Sp Brig Gp, subj: Comments on Exercise FABIUS I and CPX SWAN, 10 May 44. Command post exercise SWAN was


that part of FABIUS involving operations of headquarters, Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group.

FABIUS VI, held in the marshalling and embarkation area 4-6 May while the Force "O" units were participating in the assault phase of FABIUS I at Slapton Sands, was designed particularly to test the organization for calling forward and marshalling buildup units. The troops actually marshalled comprised about 50% of the first three days's buildup scheduled to move through Portland and Southampton for NEPTUNE. Included were units of the 2d Armd Div, the 9th Inf Div and the 187th FA Bn. Troops were called forward to the embarkation hards, but they did not load on craft or ships. After completing this movement, units returned to their home stations. Approximately 35,000 men and 5,000 vehicles were processed through marshalling area "D."*

* Ltr, Hq Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA, subj: Exercise FABIUS VI, 2 Apr 44, file 381 (Pl & Orders); ltr, First US Army, subj: Exercise FABIUS VI, reg no 10-13-4, 13 Apr 44, file 353 (C).

The movement was relatively smooth, although there was some traffic congestion and not enough military police to properly patrol the roads and direct traffic. It was found


that the speed limit of 12 miles per hour which was imposed on all convoys was too slow. Sanitation in marshalling camps was criticized, and there was some overcrowding, with up to 12 men in each pyramidal tent. In some cases, units of company size were divided between two camps, and battalions and companies were so split that command control was lost. But none of these deficiencies was serious and all were corrected before NEPTUNE began. As the units completed their move to the hards and began the trip to their home stations, the units from FABIUS I returned from the assault area and reentered the camps, to remain there until called upon to embark for the invasion of France.*

* Criticisms of FABIUS VI did not concern the units marshalled but the operation of the marshalling camps. See Critique of Exercises FABIUS VI, Hq Ninth Inf Div, to CG Southern Base Section, 8 May 44; Memo, subj: FABIUS, Hq 2d Armored Div, 11 May 44. For the marshalling plan outline, see Administrative O No 2, FABIUS VI, Hq XVIII District, Southern Base Section, SOS ETOUSA 25 Apr 44.