Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

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Sheldrake
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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Feb 2021 15:41

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Feb 2021 14:43
Sheldrake wrote:
26 Feb 2021 11:19
Outside the timescale of the OP, there was a pre-war combined arms amphibious exercise that is quite relevant. This was the first combined arms operation since Gallipoli.
There was a cross beach operation intended to depart of one of the Ypres attacks. Cant recall the name right now. The operation was canceled due to the failure of the attack near Ypres, but it was prepared & rehearsed.
Sheldrake wrote:
26 Feb 2021 11:19
...
Arguably the land commander and some troops had practiced an amphibious assault six years before D Day June 1944.
For centuries the English were doing littoral warfare as common operations and did it well. Then in the early 20th Century that ability evaporates. 300+ years of tradition forgotten. We see them painfully relearning even the basics. We see the US Army in similar neglect, forgetting their 19th Century experiences. Fortunately the USN kept its eye on that ball, despite negligible funds for development.
The British had conducted littoral operations for centuries, but the techniques had not been brought up to date - hence the lessons from the 1938 exercise.

There had been an planned operation called Operation Hush to outflank the Western Front with a division sized landing at Ostend supported by tanks. This was intended to be timed to coincide with the anticipated breakthrough at Ypres in Summer 1917. A bit like the end runs in Italy. As a co-incidence the formation picked for operation hush was the 1st Infantry Division who were spared from Op Hush but did land in Op Shingle at Anzio generation later. This was an imaginative operation and lots of thought had been give to tackling the problems of transporting a modern force and overcoming the obstacles exiting the beach. However, Anzio offers an example of what can go wrong...
There is a description of the preparations on the wikipedia article on the topic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Hush
The 1st Division Orbat is on this discussion board https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/246 ... nt-2875824
and more discussion here
https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/208 ... nt-2051807

One reason for the neglect of littoral operations between the wars was that after 1918 British Defence policy did not envisage Britain ever needing to mount an expeditionary force. There was no commitment to form a BEF until February 1939. As late as 1st November 1938, after Munich, Chamberlain announced that Britain would not introduce conscription in peacetime and were not going to equip and army on a continental scale. Neither the public and politicians wished to risk the losses of the Great War and decided that Britain would never again participate in a large scale land campaign in Europe. The army was to be professional, highly mechanized - and small. Many placed their faith in the indirect approach and proto-blitzkrieg championed by Liddell Hart. Others placed their faith in the deterrent value of strategic bombing. The air force and navy were given priority for funding, especially after the politicians became obsessed with the air threat to the UK.

The soldiers planned and organised the 1939 amphibious exercise were very aware that the army was likely to be drawn into any continental war, which is perhaps why they wanted to practice the operation.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Aber » 26 Feb 2021 16:04

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Feb 2021 14:43
There was a cross beach operation intended to depart of one of the Ypres attacks. Cant recall the name right now. The operation was canceled due to the failure of the attack near Ypres, but it was prepared & rehearsed.
This?
One scheme called for the landing of a division in three brigade-sized columns on a three-mile front between Nieuport and Ostend. The landing would be in conjunction with a land offensive from the Allied lines southeast of Dunkirk. The columns would land from three specially constructed pontoons measuring 540 ft by 30 ft. These pontoons would be pushed by pairs of Prince Rupert class monitors armed with 12-inch guns, with an additional 14-inch gun monitor in reserve. A 100 ft long wooden raft would be secured to the front of each pontoon with the aim of achieving a dry landing for the troops. Each pontoon would also carry three tanks, artillery, wagons, hand-carts and bicycles. The emphasis on transport showed that commanders appreciated that securing the beach was only the first stage of the operation prior to exploitation inland.
http://mural.maynoothuniversity.ie/7588/1/Speller.

Damn ninjas :lol:
Last edited by Aber on 26 Feb 2021 16:06, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Feb 2021 16:05

Sheldrake wrote:
26 Feb 2021 15:41
... One reason for the neglect of littoral operations between the wars was that after 1918 British Defence policy did not envisage Britain ever needing to mount an expeditionary force.
The USN did have War Plan ORANGE, which it took seriously, and the Banana Wars to keep its eye on the ball. & the Shanghai expedition of 1927 is a forgotten test of sea deployment. I'm unsure if the US Armys neglect was from lack of funds, or lack of interest. In either case there was a clear lack of participation in littoral warfare. The Coast Artillery was about it, and the Army declined to provide mobile CA batteries for defending expeditionary naval bases. The USN had to create its own Base Defense Battalions for that purpose. They also scrounged funds to create Expeditionary Brigades of Marine as the Army again declined to train any formations for that purpose. It was not until late 1939 the Army initiated serious amphibious training for combined operations. One wonders if the only important action the Army took interwar was to send Krueger & a fewer other officers to the navy schools for cross training.

Getting back to the Shanghai incident of 1927 & China in general. I wonder if the Brits were all that serious about enforcing their treaties with China. Doing so would have required plans and some preparation for a expeditionary force. Even with a friendly port its still deployment from the sea. & when securing coastal enclaves littoral operations are a given. Ditto since the the most important routes into Chinas interior were then rivers.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Aber » 26 Feb 2021 16:14

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Feb 2021 16:05
I wonder if the Brits were all that serious about enforcing their treaties with China. Doing so would have required plans and some preparation for a expeditionary force. Even with a friendly port its still deployment from the sea. & when securing coastal enclaves littoral operations are a given. Ditto since the the most important routes into Chinas interior were then rivers.
Some references in this paper

https://researchportal.port.ac.uk/porta ... _curse.pdf

eg
Instead the Admiralty believed, fairly accurately as it turned out, that Japanese expansionism would result in conflict with China, and that the Foreign Office could therefore persuade China to support British expeditionary forces. While any landings involved were not necessarily going to be made against opposition, they would have been significant undertakings, conducted 1,400 nautical miles from Singapore. Plans from 1928, reissued in 1933, further proposed that even if Hong Kong survived a Japanese assault, landing operations against prepared defences would have been required to secure vital advanced bases at Xiamen and Sandu’ao Bay

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Feb 2021 16:23

That suggests there was some thought by the Admiralty. Tho its focused on a Japanese war. Perhaps the idea of Chinese abrogation of the treaties was not entertained, or the Concessions were not thought worth the cost of another war with China?

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Aber » 26 Feb 2021 17:43

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Feb 2021 16:23
Perhaps the idea of Chinese abrogation of the treaties was not entertained, or the Concessions were not thought worth the cost of another war with China?
Some other details in the paper about small scale operations in China
In 1925, for example, one group of 300 pirates (including many ex-soldiers) near Guangzhou possessed four field guns and thirty Thompson submachine guns, in addition to rifles and handguns. As a result, landing operations against them were only authorised after significant planning had been undertaken, to try avoiding both the loss of men and potential diplomatic incidents that would stoke anti-British protests.

One significant anti-piracy raid in Daya Bay on 31 August 1927 provides a valuable case study. 475 servicemen were landed to destroy a pirate ‘nest’ and to kill or capture potential suspects. A constant overflight was maintained by aircraft from HMS Hermes and Kai Tak airfield to warn of approaching Revolutionary Army troops and avoid diplomatic incidents, while also intimidating potential adversaries.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Feb 2021 20:09

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Feb 2021 16:05
Getting back to the Shanghai incident of 1927 & China in general. I wonder if the Brits were all that serious about enforcing their treaties with China. Doing so would have required plans and some preparation for a expeditionary force. Even with a friendly port its still deployment from the sea. & when securing coastal enclaves littoral operations are a given. Ditto since the the most important routes into Chinas interior were then rivers.
The 1935 staff College selection examination set a question about a deployment to Shanghai but task was clearly envisaged as some form internal security operation as the examiners remarks were very critical of candidates who took too aggressive a stance.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Mar 2021 23:23

Skimming through the division histories I found mention of the 78th Inf Div doing amphib training as early as 1941. Not clear how thurough or realistic it was, but they were trying.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Aber » 11 Mar 2021 12:29

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Mar 2021 23:23
Skimming through the division histories I found mention of the 78th Inf Div doing amphib training as early as 1941. Not clear how thurough or realistic it was, but they were trying.
Given that the division was formed in May 1942, its complicated. :D

Its 36th Infantry Brigade
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/36th_Infa ... d_Kingdom)
was previously an Independent Brigade and its battalions (Royal West Kent, Royal East Kent) seem to match units being trained at Inveraray in summer 1941 listed in Post #12.

The 11th Infantry Brigade units (Lancashire Fusiliers, East Surrey Regiment, Northamptonshire Regiment) seem to match training there in Q1 1942.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Mar 2021 22:42

Hi Carl,

As Sheldrake says above, landing exercises by 9th Brigade took place under Brigadier Montgomery at Slapton Sands in South Devon in 1938.

See Page 5 (Anticipating War) of: https://www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/wp-co ... educed.pdf

The newspaper column in the sidebar on the left of the link also mentions a less successful landing exercise by 8th Brigade at Swanage in Dorset in 1936.

As both brigades were part of 3rd Division, one can't help but wonder whether this formation was in any way designated for amphibious operations.

In 1939 these brigades consisted of:

8th Infantry Brigade
1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment

9th Infantry Brigade
2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment
1st Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers
2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Mar 2021 02:52

Could be. The US Army picked back up at the amphib thing about 18 months later. Division size exercises were ordered and funded at the end of 1939. US 3rd Div executed one January 1940. A Major Mark Clark was the operations officer in the div G3 planning the exercise. Last large scale US Army amphib op had been sending a brigade to Vera Cruz in 1914 to relieve the Navy/Marines who had seized the place.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Mar 2021 03:08

Returning to the subject, there is evidence of some small effort to regain a amphibious assault or littoral warfare capability. I suspect the largest obstacle would be proper landing craft. Then recovering from several decades of trading and doctrinal neglect.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Sheldrake » 12 Mar 2021 10:31

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Mar 2021 22:42
As both brigades were part of 3rd Division, one can't help but wonder whether this formation was in any way designated for amphibious operations.
The 3rd Infantry Division - the iron division was a regular formation with a long history, Peninsular - Waterloo- Crimea - Mons - Le Cateau. It is currently the UKs only deployable mechanised division. I doubt if there was any long term assignment - that would imply there might have been a consistent policy or even a plan!

Geography may have helped. 9th Infantry Brigade was based in Portsmouth - one of the big naval bases, and 8th Brigade was also somewhere nearby. The other connection was Bernard Law Montgomery. He had the energy and interest to plan this exercise. He subsequently commanded 3rd Infantry Division with distinction in 1939-1940, and set the standard for post Dunkirk training by Home Forces. So 3 Div was an obvious choice as a spearhead or assault force. It was not automatically reserved for the cross channel assault. It had been assigned to take part in Op Husky and trained for the role. However, at the last moment 1st Canadian Division replaced it for political reasons.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Mar 2021 11:15

Hi Shreldrake,

Another problem was that divisions weren't together for long. Each regiment had two regular battalions, one of which was usually on an overseas posting in the Empire. They were rotated every few years, with the result that the OB of the few Home divisions was in continual flux. There was no guarantee that any of the battalions that took part in the landing exercises of 8th Brigade in 1936 were still with the brigade in 1939.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Amphib Training 1941 - 1942

Post by Aber » 12 Mar 2021 17:30

Sid Guttridge wrote:
12 Mar 2021 11:15
Another problem was that divisions weren't together for long.
From memory, did divisions really exist interwar?

I thought they pretty much existed on paper, and exercises above Brigade level were unusual?

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