Engineer Special Brigade (United States)

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Engineer special brigade
1EngrBdeSSI.jpg
Engineer special brigade shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1942-46
Country United States
Branch Army
Motto "Put 'Em Across"

Engineer special brigades were amphibious forces of the United States Army developed during World War II. Initially designated engineer amphibian brigades, the first four brigades were redesignated ESBs in 1943.

Concept and development[edit]

At the onset of direct American involvement in World War II, it was obvious that the U.S. military would need a large strategic and tactical amphibious capability. In 1941, the United States' amphibious forces were divided into two corps: one Atlantic; one Pacific. Both amphibious corps were combined Army and Marine Corps commands, administered by the U.S. Navy. The Atlantic Corps consisted of the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division, and the Pacific Corps consisted of the 3rd Infantry Division and the 2nd Marine Division. As this set-up quickly proved itself unwieldy, the Joint Staff surprisingly appointed the U.S. Army, and not the Marine Corps, to develop doctrine for sustained amphibious operations. On May 20, 1942, the Army activated its Amphibious Training Command at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. Subsequently, the Army also activated the Engineer Amphibian Command.

Initially, the Amphibious Training Command (later, Amphibious Training Center) was tasked to train no fewer than 12 Army divisions (including 1 armored division) in amphibious operations. As the war progressed, the Marine Corps expanded to six divisions and the Army and the Navy began to fight over the procurement and assignment of landing craft and other amphibious assault equipment, resulting in the Army's decision to ultimately close the Amphibious Training Center. Per its agreement with the Navy, the Army continued to train Engineer Amphibian Brigades, for while the Marine Corps was adept at the initial waves of amphibious assaults, the Marine Corps had yet to create an effective doctrine concerning subsequent support waves. This task fell to the EABs.

Deployment and subordinate units[edit]

The 1st, 5th, and 6th Engineer Special Brigades were assigned to the European Theater of Operations, while the 2nd and 4th Engineer Special Brigades were assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations. The 3rd Engineer Special Brigade was assigned directly to the Amphibious Training Center; responsible for the training of various Army units in amphibious warfare until the dissolution of the Amphibious Training Center. It was then assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations. The 1st Engineer Special Brigade was the only ESB to fight in both theaters of the war.

The various subordinate engineer boat, engineer amphibian, and engineer shore regiments were all redesignated as engineer boat & shore regiments (EB&SR) by the end of the war.

1st Engineer Special Brigade[edit]

1st Engineer Special Brigade was activated on June 15, 1942, at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts as the 1st Engineer Amphibian Brigade. Due to necessity, it was pulled from the Amphibious Training Center early and sent to England, arriving in August 1942. In December of that year, it landed in North Africa, where it was redesignated the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, and subsequently participated in the assaults on Sicily and Italy. In December 1943, the 1st ESB returned to England. In 1944, under the command of James E. Wharton, the 1st ESB participated in the Invasion of Normandy (Utah Beach). The brigade operated as Utah Beach Command until October 23, 1944, when it began its transition to the Pacific Theater of Operations. It participated in the assault on Okinawa and was inactivated in Korea on February 18, 1946.

  • 531st Engineer Shore Regiment
  • 591st Engineer Boat Regiment
    • 2759th Engineer Combat Battalion

2nd Engineer Special Brigade[edit]

2nd Engineer Special Brigade was activated on June 20, 1942, at Camp Edwards, as the 2nd Engineer Amphibian Brigade. The brigade arrived in Australia on April 17, 1943, where it was redesignated an Engineer Special Brigade. It participated in the assault on Leyte on October 20, 1944, and returned to the United States on December 16, 1945. The 2nd ESB was deactivated the following year.

  • Brigade Headquarters
  • Medical Detachment
  • 532nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 542nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 562nd Engineer Boat Maintenance Battalion
    • 1458th-1460th Engineer Maintenance Companies
    • 1570th Engineer Heavy Equipment Shop Company
    • 1762nd Engineer Parts Supply Platoon
  • 262nd Medical Battalion
  • 162nd Ordnance Maintenance Company
  • 189th Quartermaster Supply Company
  • 287th Signal Company
  • 695th Truck Company
  • 3498th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
  • 5204th Transportation Corps Amphibious Truck Company
  • Support Battery (Provisional) 2nd ESB
  • 4116th Army Service Forces Band (should this be 416th ?)

3rd Engineer Special Brigade[edit]

Commanded for almost the entire war by David Ayres Depue Ogden, the 3rd Engineer Special Brigade was activated on August 6, 1942, at Camp Edwards, as the 3rd Engineer Amphibian Brigade. It was transferred to Fort Ord, California, where it was redesignated an Engineer Special Brigade. The 3rd ESB landed on New Guinea on February 24, 1944; Biak Island on September 30; and the Philippine Islands on July 24, 1945. It returned to the United States on December 20, 1945, and was inactivated two days later.

  • Brigade Headquarters
  • Medical Detachment
  • 533rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 543rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 593rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 563rd Engineer Boat Maintenance Battalion
    • HQ and HQ Detachment
    • 1461st-1463rd Engineer Maintenance Companies
    • 1571st Engineer Heavy Equipment Shop Company
    • 1763rd Engineer Parts Supply Platoon
  • 263rd Medical Battalion
  • 163rd Ordnance Maintenance Company
  • 198th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company
  • 288th Signal Company
  • 693rd Truck Company
  • 3499th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
  • 417th Army Service Forces Band

4th Engineer Special Brigade[edit]

4th Engineer Special Brigade was activated on February 1, 1943, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, as the 4th Engineer Amphibian Brigade. In 1943, the brigade was redesignated an Engineer Special Brigade and transitioned to Camp Stoneman, California. The 4th ESB arrived in New Guinea on May 18, 1944, and participated in the assaults on Morotai Island, Netherland East Indies (September 15, 1944) and Lingayen Gulf, Luzon (January 9, 1945). The brigade was inactivated in Japan on April 15, 1946.

  • Brigade Headquarters
  • Medical Detachment
  • 534th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 594th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
  • 564th Engineer Boat Maintenance Battalion
  • 264th Medical Battalion
  • 164th Ordnance Maintenance Company
  • 199th Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company
  • 289th Signal Company
  • 694th Truck Company
  • 3492nd Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
  • 4th Engineer Amphibian Brigade Band (August 1945 became 434th Army Service Forces Band attached to 6th Army)

5th Engineer Special Brigade[edit]

5th Engineer Special Brigade was formed from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1119th Engineer Combat Group on November 12, 1943, at Swansea, Wales. 5th ESB participated in the Invasion of Normandy (Omaha Beach) and operated Omaha Beach until November 19, 1944. On January 4, 1945, the brigade was transferred to the Seine section of Paris, where it supervised construction activities. It returned to the United States on July 11, 1945, and was inactivated at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, on October 20 of that year.

  • 37th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 336th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 348th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 151st Engineer Combat Battalion Note: arrived in France Jan 1945-Source US Army records-File 120 - 5th Engineer Special Brigade - p216

6th Engineer Special Brigade[edit]

6th Engineer Special Brigade was formed from HHC, 1116th Engineer Combat Group on May 15, 1944, in England. The brigade participated in the Invasion of Normandy (Omaha Beach) and operated Omaha Beach until Christmas Eve, 1944. 6th ESB moved into France on New Year's Day, 1945, and remained there until redeploying to the United States on July 14, 1945. The brigade arrived in the United States on July 23, 1945, and was inactivated at Camp Gordon Johnston on October 20 of that year.

  • 147th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 149th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 203rd Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 3205th Quartermaster Service Company

Sources[edit]

  • Baldwin, William C. (1985). "Amphibian Engineers in World War II", Engineer, 4.
  • Becker, Marshall O. (1946). The Amphibious Training Center. Washington, D.C.: Historical Section, Army Ground Forces.
  • Stanton, Shelby L. (2006). World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939-1946 (Revised Edition). Mechanicsburg: Stackpole.

External links[edit]