ENGINEER SPECIAL BRIGADE ________________
Having given some thought to the problems of getting the troops ashore in
amphibious landings, in 1942 the Army began to organize what it originally
called "Engineer~Special~Brigades," later redesignated "Engineer
Amphibious Brigades." These were large formations (7,400 men) which were
designed to get the troops from the transports to the beach, and then off
the beach. On paper, and usually in practice, one Engineer Amphibious
Brigade supported one assault division.
Engineer Amphibious Brigades had three "Boat and Shore"
regiments, each with two battalions -- one of landing craft, and the other
of troops specially trained and equipped to unload men and equipment from
the landing craft to the beach. In addition, these brigades had a small
artillery detachment, two ordnance companies (to provide on-the-spot
repair of equipment), a maintenance battalion, a quartermaster battalion,
an amtrack company (to help move supplies thither and yon on the beach),
and a medical battalion, trained not only in caring for the troops but in
evacuating them from beach.
The Army had raised six Engineer~Special~Brigades in
1942, including two overseas in Britain before the Navy called them an
infringement on its prerogatives. After some negotiation, the Navy agreed
to let the Army keep the brigades already in existence, but to expand its
own beach and shore activities, while the Army agreed not to raise any
more Engineer Special Brigades.
The Engineer Amphibious Brigades were enormously
valuable in all the landings in the European Theater, but their true value
became obvious in the Southwest Pacific Area where they were involved in
every cross-beach operation between New Guinea and the Philippines.
The 2d ESB is also credited with being the first to use
use rockets during an amphibious assault and ashore. They
rigged DUKW's and, later, trucks and LVT's (buffaloes) with rocket
launchers, which were first employed in support of General MacArthur's
forces in New Guinea in October, 1943.