Editorial: Marshall and Eisenhower
Only grain of comfort is that ‘big stick’ may not be put to use
By Ernie Pyle
Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
The engineering forces with our Army are trained and organized to a high degree, and engineering morale is proud and high.
Strange thing, it used to be the fashion to sort of sneer at the engineers, but that day has passed. Even the infantry takes off its hat to them – for not infrequently the engineers are actually out ahead of the infantry.
Before launching into many details of how the engineers work, I’ll explain how their organization is set up, for it will make it easier for you to understand their job. Each infantry division has a battalion of engineers which is actually part of that division and works and suffers with it. The battalion consists of four companies totaling around 800 men.
Sometimes all the companies are working in separate places with various infantry regiments. At other times, in mountainous country, when the whole division is strung out in a single line 20 miles or more long, the engineer companies keep leapfrogging each other, letting one company go into 24-hour reserve for a much-needed rest about every three days.
Behind these division engineers are what are called corps engineers. They are under control of the Second Army Corps and can be shifted anywhere at the corps’ command. Corps engineers follow up the division engineers, strengthening and smoothing the necessarily makeshift work of the division engineers.
Engineers mutual-esteem society
Capt. Ben Billups of Alamogordo, New Mexico, put it this way:
Our job is to clear the way for our division of roughly two thousand vehicles to move ahead just as quickly as possible. We are interested only in the division. If we were to build a temporary span across a blown bridge, and that span were to collapse one second after the last division truck had crossed, we would have done the theoretically perfect job. For we would have cleared the division, yet not wasted a minute of time doing more than we needed to do when we passed.
Then it is the corps engineers’ job to create a more permanent bridge for the supply convoys that will be following for days and weeks afterward.
Often there is jealousy and contempt between groups of similar types working under divisions and corps. But in the engineers, it is a sort of mutual-esteem society. Each respects and is proud of the other. The corps engineers are so good they are constantly at the heels of the division engineers, and a few times, with the division engineers 100% occupied with an especially difficult demolition, they’ve pushed ahead and tackled fresh demolitions themselves.
At first, particularly, all the officers of the engineers’ battalion were graduate engineers in civil life, but with the Army expanding so rapidly and professional experience running so thin, some young officers now assigned to the engineers have just come out of officers’ school and have little or no engineering experience.
Of the enlisted men. only a handful in each company ever had any construction experience. The rest are just run-of-the-mine – one-time clerks, butchers, cowpunchers. That little handful of experienced enlisted men carries the load and they are as vital as anything I know of in the Army.
Practically every man in an engineering company has to double in half a dozen brasses. Today he’ll be running a mine detector, tomorrow he’ll be a stonemason, next day a carpenter, and the day after a plain pick-and-shovel man. But unlike the common laborer at home, he’s picking and shoveling under fire about half the time.
In the Book of Organization, the duties of the engineers are manifold. But in the specialized warfare in Sicily many of their book duties just didn’t exist and their main work was concentrated down into four very vital categories: road building and bridge bypassing; clearing of minefields; finding and purifying water for the whole division; and providing the division with maps. The latter two don’t sound spectacular but, believe me, they’re important and I’ll tell you about them at length before this series ends.
Son of Detroit executive ‘tours’ with wife of captain
U.S. State Department (September 2, 1943)
|United States||United Kingdom|
|Admiral Leahy||Sir Alexander Cadogan|
From Leahy’s Diary:
By direction of the President conferred with Sir Alexander Cadogan, British Permanent Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in the British Embassy in connection with a proposal that General Eisenhower be authorized to sign for the Soviet [Union] his short terms for the surrender of Italy.
Cadogan informed me that on August 31st London had telegraphed to Moscow a request for authority to sign the short terms of surrender, that no reply has yet been received from Moscow, and that it does not appear practicable to take any further steps until a reply is received.
740.0011 Pacific War/3439
Washington, September 2, 1943. Strictly confidential
SUBJECT: FULLER CHINESE PARTICIPATION IN ALLIED WAR PLANS
Participants: Secretary of State Hull and the Foreign Minister of China, Dr. T. V. Soong
The Chinese Foreign Minister called at his request. I proceeded first to felicitate him on the splendid situation which developed at Quebec in relation to more recognition and more attention to the Far East in the war, including a plan to reopen the Burma Road. I said my felicitations go to him, the Generalissimo and Madam Chiang Kai-shek, who have labored so valiantly. Dr. Soong said that he planned to return home about the 20th of this month and that he would be pleased if I would bring him up to date on all matters relating to the war situation of interest to China and also any documents relating to the postwar situation. I replied that I would be only too glad to do so.
I then proceeded to give Dr. Soong the substance of our draft of a proposed Four Power interim or transition agreement. I need not repeat this analysis here. I said that very soon when some of its details were perfected and the matter was passed on by the President I would undertake to get a very confidential copy to him. I emphasized the supreme need for secrecy. He expressed his special gratification. He was also thankful to the State Department for the attention some of us have given to Chinese affairs and to the special requests of the Foreign Minister, during recent weeks in particular.
Dr. Soong then referred to his conversation with Mr. Lauchlin Currie some weeks ago about the 40,000 tons of munitions promised China by Canada and later revoked by Canada at the request of Mr. Currie. Dr. Soong thanked me for mentioning this to the President at Quebec and said that he followed this up with a talk with the President which was satisfactory.
Dr. Soong then brought up two requests of his Government heretofore made, one, for China to be represented on the Combined General Staff with her member located here in Washington, and also the standing request of China to become a member of the Munitions Commission. At his request I said I would be glad to mention them to the President and Mr. Churchill this week if I am given a chance. He was very appreciative in each instance.
Washington, 2 September 1943. Secret CCS 307/2
Reference: a. CCS 307/1
The Combined Administrative Committee has given careful consideration to the enclosed report of a subcommittee appointed to study CCS 307/1 and, in addition, has investigated and weighed other matters related to the general subject, particularly with respect to the feasibility of making timely preparations for the construction and placement of necessary artificial breakwaters. The Committee notes the contents of the report and is in general concurrence therewith.
Based on the report and on the additional study and investigation, the Committee arrives at the following conclusions:
a. The effectiveness of the Lilo breakwater has not been demonstrated to the extent necessary, and requires further test.
b. The Lilo breakwater is sufficiently promising to warrant the assembly of material and facilities for its manufacture.
c. The necessary material and facilities for the manufacture of Lilo are available in the British Isles, with the exception of 750,000 square yards of canvas duck and other equipment of an incidental nature.
d. The use of floating ships to form breakwaters is not considered promising, but certain advantages in mobility, quickness of assembly, elimination of towing difficulty, etc., warrant further test. These tests should include the use of ships alone and in combination with Lilos, which they might tow to any desired locality.
e. Liberty ships or others adaptable to the purpose are not readily available for OVERLORD except at the cost of other operations, although ships carrying cargo to the United Kingdom might be retained in that area for further and temporary use as breakwaters.
f. Such ships will require modification to the extent of providing heavy moorings forward and aft, and it is desirable that they be equipped with considerably increased anti-aircraft protection and with anti-submarine booms and nets.
g. The construction and use of concrete caissons for providing breakwaters in whole or in part is of promising feasibility. Observing, however, that to the Committee’s knowledge a caisson of greater depth than 30 feet has not yet been used, and that the time factor is of critical importance, the nature and extent of the operation, both from a technical as well as an operating point of view, limits full assurance as to success.
h. The material and labor for the necessary caissons is believed to be available in large measure in the British Isles. Caisson construction will therefore require the shipment from the United States, under low priority, of only the replacement material for certain material used and the minimum number of personnel, having regard for the shortage of shipping space for personnel.
i. The establishment of Lilo or caisson breakwaters within the time limits allowed by the operation involves tremendous towing, traffic and mooring problems and will require the employment of approximately 90 towing vessels. In considering the urgency of this operation the Committee believes that sufficient towing vessels can be made available by special effort in the British Isles and the United States. In view of the short period of employment and in view of the difficulties of overseas movement during the winter months, British vessels should be employed wherever available rather than vessels from the United States.
j. The determination of requirements for artificial harbors in such areas as the Southern Coast of France, the Western Coast of Burma, the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra is dependent upon logistical, topographical and hydrographical data which can be assembled only after definite areas have been fixed and logistical plans developed. In the opinion of the Committee it should be made the subject of a separate study.
a. The trials and development of Lilo breakwaters should be proceeded with on the highest priority as a British responsibility.
b. That in view of the time element, preliminary work and early manufacture of Lilo be carried out with materials now available in the British Isles and that shipments, as recommended by the subcommittee in Tab “C,” be made from the United States as soon as possible.
c. That the trials of floating ship breakwaters with special regard to moorings be proceeded with on the highest priority as a United States responsibility and that, if successful, consideration be given to using a combination of floating ships and Lilos.
d. That, depending upon the success of above tests, ships in the minimum number required be provided from available sources, and that study and allocation of shipping along these lines be commenced at once.
e. That 25 tugs and suitable towing vessels be now made available from the United States in addition to similar types now being built in the U.S. for the U.K. and that maximum effort be made to provide other necessary towing vessels from suitable types (YMS, ATR, AT, etc.) available in the British Isles. That any discrepancies be considered in further study as to their elimination.
f. That a suitable agency of [the] British government be immediately designated to carry out the entire program of constructing concrete caisson breakwaters for the OVERLORD operation; that this agency be ordered to proceed immediately with the designing, selection of sites, planning of construction program, assembling the construction equipment, acquiring material, and mobilizing the labor required for the complete program; that the actual work be begun as soon as possible and be carried out under the highest directive.
g. That preference be given to forming shallow water breakwaters of caissons and of such hulks as may be made locally available for the purpose.
h. That all agencies to perform work on the above lines be designated immediately and directed to proceed.
Washington, 2 September 1943. Most secret CCS 334
The following message has been received from the British Chiefs of Staff: Begins:
We have examined AVALANCHE plan in NAF 345 and it seems clear that result of operation will depend on comparative rate of buildup.
Our estimate of rate of German buildup is greater than that of AFHQ. For instance we estimate three Panzer Divisions and four and a half others by D plus 10 whereas AFHQ only estimate three Panzers and three others.
By D plus 7 we estimate German buildup equals ours and overtakes ours after that until by about D plus 17 they have margin of one and a third Divisions at least.
Impossible to assess exactly where German Divisions may be and how greatly concentration may be interrupted by BAYTOWN, by bombing or by action of Italians.
We cannot understand the limiting factors which appear to make the buildup of our own forces so painfully slow after the capture of Naples.
Result of our examination indicates overwhelming importance of straining every nerve to increase our own rate of buildup. Ends.
We agree that the buildup of our own forces after the capture of Naples does appear to be very slow indeed. It is to be hoped that in practice the figures given may well be improved upon. In any case General Eisenhower is clearly fully aware of the importance of the buildup being as rapid as possible, and no action at this end would seem to be called for.
|United States||United Kingdom|
|President Roosevelt||Prime Minister Churchill|
September 2, 1943, 11:30 p.m.
… President and P.M. in at 2330. Discussed coming meeting of US.–British & Russia as to place for it to be held. Talked generally and left at 2350.
F. H. GRAHAM
Washington, September 2, 1943. Secret Operational priority 6704.
From President Roosevelt and the Prime Minister to General Eisenhower, personal and secret.
Your NAF 346, 347, and 348.
We highly approve your decision to go on with AVALANCHE and to land an airborne division near Rome on the conditions indicated. We fully recognize that military consideration[s] must be dominant at this juncture.
Washington, September 2, 1943. Secret Operational priority
President and Prime Minister to Marshal Stalin, most secret and personal.
We have received from General C. a statement that the Italians accept and that he is coming to sign, but we do not know for certain whether this refers to the short military terms which you have already seen, or to the more comprehensive and complete terms in regard to which your readiness to sign was specifically indicated.
The military situation there is at once critical and hopeful. Our invasion of the mainland begins almost immediately, and the heavy blow called AVALANCHE will be struck in the next week or so. The difficulties of the Italian Government and people in extricating themselves from Hitler’s clutches may make a still more daring enterprise necessary, for which General Eisenhower will need as much Italian help as he can get. The Italian acceptance of the terms is largely based on the fact that we shall send an airborne division to Rome to enable them to hold off the Germans, who have gathered Panzer strength in that vicinity and who may replace the Badoglio Government with a Quisling administration probably under Farinacci. Matters are moving so fast there that we think General Eisenhower should have discretion not to delay settlement with the Italians for the sake of the differences between the short and long terms. It is clear that the short terms are included in the long terms that they proceed on the basis of unconditional surrender and Clause Ten in the short terms places the interpretation in the hands of the Allied Commander-in-Chief.
We are therefore assuming that you expect General Eisenhower to sign the short terms in your behalf if that be necessary to avoid the further journeying of General C to Rome and consequent delay and uncertainty affecting the military operations. We are of course anxious that the Italian unconditional surrender be to the Soviet Union as well as to Britain and the United States. The date of the surrender announcement must of course be fitted in with the military coup.
Völkischer Beobachter (September 3, 1943)
Von unserer Stockholmer Schriftleitung
AFHQ, North Africa (September 3, 1943)
Allied forces under the command of Gen. Eisenhower have continued their advance.
The British 8th Army, supported by Allied sea and airpower, attacked across the Strait of Messina early today, landing on the mainland of Italy.
The Pittsburgh Press (September 3, 1943)
British veterans seize bridgehead on shore of boot
By Reynolds Packard, United Press staff writer
Berne, Switzerland –
Advices from the Italian border today said German troops are hurriedly evacuating the tip of the Italian boot in fear that they will be cut off by further Allied landings on the peninsula.
Opening a second front in Europe, the British 8th Army today landed on the toe of the Italian boot near Reggio Calabria (1). Meanwhile, Flying Fortresses cut the Brenner Pass railway and bombed Bologna in northern Italy (2).
Allied HQ, North Africa –
The British 8th Army opened a second front on the continent of Europe today, swarming across the Strait of Messina aboard hundreds of invasion craft and landing on the toe of Italy.
Military sources in London said that the invasion force established a bridgehead on the extreme southwestern coast of Italy in the first few hours of fighting, but warned that heavy Axis resistance was still to be expected.
Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery’s veterans of the African and Sicilian campaigns blazed the Allied trail to the Axis-held continent, opening the Battle of Europe with a landing which a dispatch from Sicily said was made “not without difficulty.”
Allied paratroops have dropped behind several strong Axis coastal positions in South Italy, reports from the Italian frontier said today according to a Madrid dispatch. The reports said the invasion forces were advancing in the direction of vital railroad junctions.
The frontier advices also told of renewed peace demonstrations in all major Italian cities.
The amphibious assault was carried out under cover of tremendous land, sea and air bombardment. It was made across the narrow strait against the Italian beach in the regions of Reggio Calabria and Scilla.
Searchlights on the Italian coast tried to pick out targets for the Axis guns as the invasion fleet moved across the Strait, but they were dealt with quickly by the British Navy.
Mortars in the first wave of assault boats carpeted the landing zones with smoke shells, making the dark night even blacker and turning the Axis fire into a confusion of blasts instead of precision gunnery.
The warships maintained a deadly fire which knocked out some mainland guns before the first landing boars crammed with helmeted infantrymen and sappers crunched onto the beaches.
A Scottish pilot, returning from a flight over the new front, reported troops still pouring ashore from landing barges more than five hours after the initial assault.
The first Axis radio reports of the invasion said the Allies had landed on both sides of Reggio Calabria; that the landing forces was about a division strong.
Although a dispatch from 8th Army headquarters in Sicily said that “our first foothold in Europe has been established,” a spokesman emphasized the difficult nature of the landings and urged against any feeling that the attack would be a walkover.
The 8th Army veterans will probably meet more German troops in Italy than they ever have before, a headquarters commentator said.
Indicating that some delay might be expected in the issuance of an official account of the invasion, the spokesman said that the next communiqué would probably be issued at noon Saturday.
After Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had flown to a Sicilian invasion port for a final checkup with Gen. Montgomery and Gen. Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, British and Canadian troops struck out across the strait and hit the beaches before the mountainous Calabrian area at 4:30 a.m. CET (10:30 p.m. Thursday ET).
It was a moonless night, and only the stars were alight as the invasion force – “vast numbers” of men who had been streaming into the takeoff ports for 10 days – headed out over a sea that had been calm for more than a week.
Practically every man of the battle-tried force had landed on enemy soil before, and the invasion barges and Mosquito fleet were the same as those that carried the Allied force to Sicily.
Official reports of the invasion credited the land operations entirely to the 8th Army, making no mention of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s U.S. 7th Army which teamed with the 8th in the conquest of Sicily.
The communiqué announcing the landing was issued at 7:10 a.m. CET (1:10 a.m. ET) at Allied headquarters to a group of 50 Anglo-American correspondents summoned for a special announcement.
It consisted of only two paragraphs:
Allied forces under the command of Gen. Eisenhower have continued their advance.
The British 8th Army, supported by Allied sea and airpower, attacked across the Strait of Messina early today, landing on the mainland of Italy.
Allied land infantry mounted on the northeastern shore of Sicily and presumably the big guns of the Allied navies paved the way for the landings with a terrific bombardment of the Italian shore across the strait beginning shortly before dusk last night.
The rain of high explosives and armor-piercing shells knocked out one Axis artillery battery after another.
Overhead ranged clouds of Allied fighter-bombers that shuttled back and forth across southern Italy, blasting and strafing enemy troops and transport concentrations.
Then, some two hours before dawn, the first wave of assault boats moved out from Messina and the adjacent shoreline under the umbrella of planes and shells. Tensed in the blunt-bowed craft were thousands of British and Canadian shock troops, some of whom had waited more than three years for a chance to meet the enemy again on the continent of Europe.
As the boats grounded on the beaches opposite Messina, troops swarmed out with bayonets set. Successive waves of landing craft brought artillery and tanks.
Thus began the battle of Italy only 18 days after the Allies had completed the conquest of Sicily in a record 38-day campaign.
Some of the bitterest fighting of the war lay ahead. The mountainous terrain, ideal for defense, enables the German and Italian armies to rake the beaches below with murderous mortar and artillery fire.
Aerial reconnaissance indicated that the Axis command had moved the bulk of its forces north of Naples to prevent their entrapment by an Allied thrust across the Italian waist, but it was obvious that sizable and well-prepared rearguards had been left behind to make the best fight possible.
Besides Reggio Calabria and Scilla, other towns on the Italian tip opposite Sicily include San Giovanni, Villa and Pellaro, while elsewhere on the Calabrian Peninsula coast are the large towns of Crotone, Catanzaro and Cosenza. Reggio Calabria and San Giovanni were termini for a ferry line from Messina.
The Allied offensive to soften up the Italian mainland for invasion began in the final days of the Sicilian campaign and reached a climax Tuesday, when the 16-inch guns of the British battleships Rodney and Nelson along with the lesser armament of an escorting cruiser and nine destroyers sent 1,500 tons of shells crashing into the coastal defense batteries along the eastern shore of the Strait of Messina.
An Allied spokesman disclosed that even ground forces participated in the softening-up offensive. Commando units were revealed to have made several reconnaissance landings, during which they knocked out a number of enemy gun batteries.
One such commando landing was reported by the German radio to have occurred last Sunday southwest of Reggio Calabria. The broadcast claimed that all but 30 of the landing party of 400 troops were captured or killed. The survivors were said to have escaped into the mountains.
U.S. warships also participated in the bombardment of southern Italy by shelling the northern coast of the Italian toe.
But the brunt of the offensive fell on the Northwest African Air Forces, assisted by aircraft from the Allied Middle East Command.
Almost without respite, four-engined Flying Fortresses, Liberators and Halifaxes, Mitchell, Marauder and Baltimore medium bombers and Lightning, Warhawk and Spitfire fighter-bombers and fighters had bombed and strafed Italy from Reggio Calabria as far north as Bologna during the past month.
The thousands of tons of Allied bombs were believed to have completely disrupted all troop movements by railway in southern Italy. Traffic in the Italian toe was thrown into such chaos that the German and Italian commands were forced to resort to the use of barges to move troops and equipment around blocked rail lines.
Allied commanders had hinted at the impending invasion on at least two occasions in recent weeks.
Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery told the Canadian members of his 8th Army last night that they would soon be on the march again and Lt. Gen. Andrew McNaughton, commander of the Canadian forces overseas, also said they were being prepared for “future operations.”