Carl White


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.