Where the Marines in Europe in WWII?

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by dbltap, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    The Marines were used in the Pacific for the obvious reason that they were the experts in amphibious warfare and beach landings, which were a lot more common in the Pacific theater than in the ETO. There were Marine advisers to Eisenhower for the amphibious operations in Africa and Europe, but not combat troops.

  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Actually this may have been one of the biggest blunders by Ike and the US Army. Simple Arrogance.

    By 1943 Marines were going ashore against fortified beaches without getting their feet wet, had naval gunfire support down to a science, and naval close air support almost there too.

    The Navy dutifully sent Combat experienced Marines to SHAEF to help Ike plan for Overlord....and they were IGNORED. In fact, it was even worse than that, no record of them briefing anybody other than low level liason officers.

    The reason? Every body KNEW our strategy was "Germany First," so by logical extension, we had the "A" team in Europe.

    What was POSSIBLE to be learned from the "B" Team?

    How about LVTs? Not only LVTs but ARMORED LVTs already in service.

    How about a MINIMUM of 12 hours heavy naval bombardment, not 2?

    How about that the USAAF anywhere but New Guinea had already proven inept at truly CLOSE air support? And that Heavy bombers can only work long BEFORE troops are in the water?

    A lot of those dead GIs in the water off Utah and Omaha should have made it ashore, IF only those Marines didn't have to "cool their heels" at Shaef.

    And yes, many individual marines were "seconded"m to the OSS and served in France, many of whom went back to the Corps after the war.

  3. Polish, I think you have to think of the timeline:
    August 1942 the Marines land at Guadalcanal. This landing had little opposition and was done by a single division. The Invasion of North Arica by U.S. Army and British forces was already being planned as a multi-division landing. In November 1942 the North African landings put Five U.S. divisions plus a British division and additional units ashore in three major landings, Casablanca, Oran and Algiers. I'm sure some lessons could have been learned from the Marines, and it would have been wise to take all information they could have provided.

    So at the end of 1942 the U.S. Army had MORE experience in opposed amphibious landings than the Marines!

    August 1943 the U.S. and British Armies execute another multi-division amphibious invasion of Sicily. September 1943 U.S. and British Armies invade Southern Italy from the sea, with another multidivisional force. October/November 1943 the U.S. Marines in a single division invasion begin to move up the Solomon Islands in an attack on Bougainville. Latter in November 1943 the Marines land at Tarawa, and the U.S. Army lands at Makin Island.

    January 1944 the U.S. and British Army perform another multidivisional seaborne landing at Anzio in Italy.

    By the time of the Normandy landings in June 1944 the U.S. Army had experience in 4 multidivisional landings in North Africa, and Italy. In addition they had several amphibious operations in the Pacific theater of operation. The Marine Corp at that point in time had several single divisional size and smaller amphibious operations.

    As I said before there were lessons that the Army could have learned from the Marines. But at the time of the Normandy landings in June 1944 the Army had just as much if not more experience in amphibious ops as the Marines.

    The Army divisions that landed in the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in 1942 did in fact recieve some amphibious training from the U.S. Marine Corp.
  4. Gooseman

    Gooseman New Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    San Diego
    I agree with this, however there is a lot more to it. A big reason is politics. After WWI, with downsizing of the whole military, the army, the navy, and many politicians were trying to de-activate the Marine Corps. It was thought that they were not needed, and many higher ups in the army and many politicians resented the Marine Corps role in WWI. After the battle of Belleau Wood, newspapers around the world featured headlines stating not that the US saved paris, or America saves France, but the United States Marine Corps saves France. The Corps had been born as a part of the navy, but for years before WWI, Marines had been expeditionary fighters in places such as China and South America. Many senior marine officers and SNCO's went to WWI already combat proven, and Belleau Wood solidified the Marine Corps reputation as a superior fighting force. After the war, higher ups in the Corps foresaw conflict in the pacific, and mastering those amphibious tactics was a way to ensure the survival of the Corps. The Army did not want the Marine Corps in Europe again. Marines still have a large amphibious role today, however there has been more of a shift in recent years to back to an expeditionary fighting force.
  5. wpage

    wpage Active Member

    Aug 25, 2009
    Typically Marines lead the way for the army to occupy...
  6. You do know that the Navy is the senior service don't you. Don't lose any sleep over it though, we love you anyway.
  7. petesusn

    petesusn Member

    Yea, that's telling them Grump. Don't worry, I've got your back shipmate.

    22 years U.S. Navy Retired
  8. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2009
    Simla, Colorado
    There were no major Maine Corps forces used in Europe in WW2. The Maines were primarily used in the Pacific. The Marines did a fantastic job in WW1, but the mission they performed was more appropriate to the Army.

    Think about it - the Marines were typically expected to be a quick reaction force to overwhelm an enemy if possible, or to plug the gap until the Army could be put in place against a major force.

    As great as they were (and are) if they had been inserted against - say Rommel's Africa Corps with his heavy armor and infantry - I don't think the Marines would have had much of a chance. Of course they would have put up a heck of a scrap. The Army is designed more for that kind of fighting than the lighter, more mobile Marine Corps.

    Island operations against the Japanese was a mission perfectly suited to the Corps. They were mobile enough to go quickly from island to island. Those smaller islands did not lend themselves well to heavy armor or infantry for the Japanese.
  9. Old Grump the Navy is the senior service only if you are in Great Britain! :)

    Order of seniority of the AMERICAN ARMED FORCES.

    1. U.S. Army birth date 14 June 1775. And many of the American militia units that fought in the American Revolutionary War can trace their roots back well before this.

    2. U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard traces its beginings to the formation of the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790.

    3. U.S. Navy birth date May 1798. O.K. I can already hear you guys who wore those funny paints say no it was October 13th 1775. That Navy was disbanded after the Revolutionary War. A new Navy was established on May 1798. Even if you Navy guys go with the October 13th 1775 date the Navy would be number two in seniority.

    4. U.S. Marine Corps, birth date July 1798. Same deal as the Navy, the Marines were eliminated after the American Revolutionary War. They had origanly been established on November 10th 1775. So depending on how you score it they are either the 3rd or 4th in seniority.

    5. U.S. Air Force. Established September 18th 1947 as an independent service. Can trace its roots back to the Army Air Forces, Army Air Corp and Army Signal Corps..
  10. From 1784 to 1787 there was no standing army because it had been disbanded. A little break in the chain there you forgot about. The official birthdate is still October 13, 1775. From 1783 to 1797, America's armed maritime service was the Revenue Cutter Service. It might have stayed that way if it hadn't been for the Barbary pirates which caused congress to authorize the building of 6 ships. Congress had tried to appease the pirates with payments but you know you just can't trust pirates. Shippers of most nations are making the same mistake today by legitimizing piracy with ransom payments.

    Doesn't make any difference, none of our forces would be worth much without the others. We all do what we do best.
  11. Regardless of what birth dates we go with, original or "rebirth" the Army comes out as the senior service.

    The mistake being made regarding the modern pirates isn't just being made by the shippers, it is being made by the governments of the world! The Obama administration could easily under international law could sove this problem. But you also have to blame GWB administration.

    Under international law there is a right to defend you ships in transit in international law. A small detachment of service men on a feighteer with .50 caliber M2 machine guns could cut the small boats the pirates use in half.

    There is an international force of Navies now patroling to stop the pirates. But to me they are a little slow on the trigger.

    I agree 100%, the armed services need each other.
  12. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    According to some Marines, there was no need for any Army troops at all. Or airmen. Or sailors. Or support troops. Or tanks, airplanes or ships. In fact there was no need for any Marines except for the two who would have done the job in the ETO and the PTO with nothing but Springfield rifles and bayonets. (Yes, one Marine could have done it, but not soon enough, what with travel time.)

    That is true, isn't? Would a Marine stretch the truth?

  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    That sums up very well the role of Marines in the European-North African area in WWII.

    Actually, at the time of Pearl Harbor, the Marines were not the experts in amphibious operations that they later became. Prior to WWII, the Marines were lightly equipped and intended only as a landing party; at best they would hold a small piece of territory which could be used to land Army forces. The landing ships and landing craft the Marines would later use didn't exist, and most Marine landings up to that time were from ordinary ships' boats.

    While experiments had been conducted in the 1930's, the true landing craft was not well developed until 1943. At the time of the Guadalcanal invasion in August 1942, only the LCM and LVT were available in any numbers and the LCM, while it carried tanks, had no bow ramp (actually a Japanese invention).

    But landing craft and landing ships were rapidly developed and built in large numbers, and by mid-1943 the Marines had full fighting and staying capability. They had tanks, heavy artillery and close air support (primarily Navy and Marine), plus support from naval guns when and where feasible.

    I have often made fun of Marine mythology, but there were no myths involved in what the Marines did in the Pacific. The fighting was hard and brutal and the Marines were heros in every meaning of that word. They deserve the respect of all Americans.

    On a lighter note, someone on another site said the Marines had no artillery or air support. I pointed out that they did have integral Marine support in those areas, plus the U.S. armed forces fight as a team and that Marines could, when necessary, call for Army, Navy, or Air Force support, and receive it. A poster, who claimed to have served in the USMC in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam (!!) stated that only the panty-waist Army soldiers needed artillery or air cover and that Marines took those Pacific islands by fixing bayonets and charging. What silly nonsense! I hope that by the time the "three-war Marine" graduates from high school, he might have learned better.

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
  14. corsair

    corsair Member

    Mar 27, 2009
    If anyone has encountered combat anywhere, I'm sure that they cannot forget all thier brothers in all branches of the U S Military, as all being part in some way enabling them to return to our USA. The Navy bobarding the beaches, the air support before and after the landing,the Army contending with enemy forces in another part of the world and our Coast Guard protecting the perimeter of the USA, all working in unison to forbid the enemy his goal. Also, I have not ever met a REMF I didn't appreciate.JMHO
    Semper Fidelis
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