This US Navy Mackinaw coat has ‘1st Beach Battalion’ stencil stamped on it’s lining – The Beach Battalions being the crack-units which stormed the beaches first, and then controlled the traffic of their ‘pop-up ports’ making it possible for the allies to advance inland – most notably on the beaches of Southern France in 1944. Oddly, there is virtually no official documentation recording the activity and accomplishments of the WWII Beach Battalions. A website, created and maintained by a few surviving members of the battalion, aims at it’s least, to make sure a semi-documented account of activities and achievements reserves it’s place in history. – www.1stbeachbattalion.org
“…but the landings were made and the beachheads established because the men of the “Immortal First” refused to accept temporary setbacks or defeat. When the first wave roared ashore and the boat ramps dropped our battalion was there. And got the job done. Not always according to the book. But done and done well.”
The following text is taken from ‘THE BEACH BOYS – A Narrative History of The First Naval Beach Battalion – Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet WWII’ by W.D. Vey and O.J. Elliot (2001). (click here for pdf version of the book).
‘Beach Battalions were a product of World War II. After Dunkirk, Crete and Corregidor, when it was determined that territory lost to the enemy could be regained only by storming the coasts of Europe and Africa, and the island beaches of the Pacific, concepts of modern warfare changed dramatically. High level planners concluded that they could put assault troops ashore from ships and planes, and that, landed in sufficient force, the infantry could fight its way inland. To stay there however, the infantry had to be supplied with food, weapons, clothing, ammunition, artillery, and tank support. Someone had to control the gigantic flow of material across the beaches while and after they had been assaulted, and to that end the concept of Naval Beach Battalions was born. Shore Parties were nothing new to the Navy. They had been around for years. Most were composed of members of the ship’s company, picked to go ashore to put down revolts, fight fires, give aid in time of disaster, etc., but, during a conflict such as the sea-to-land assaults of World War I, ship’s captains simply could not spare men from the crew for such duties. Accordingly, separate organizations, skilled in jobs related to amphibious warfare, were needed. And so, the Naval Beach Battalions were conceived…’
‘Headed by a Beachmaster and his Assistant, each platoon of a Beach Battalion was assigned signalmen, radiomen, medical personnel, hydrographic specialists, and boat repair experts. In a typical beach assault, the personnel of the beach battalion went ashore in one or more of the first three or four assault waves, scattering their equipment over the beach so that a single bomb or artillery shell would not destroy all of it. Digging their own slit trenches and foxholes on the beach, the men prepared as best they could for possible enemy counterattack while still setting up the beach as a simulated port for the onslaught of supplies, equipment and men soon to be landed in support of the initial assault troops already headed inland to their assigned objectives.’
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