1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

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Duncan_M
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1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Duncan_M » 25 May 2021 17:33

While trying to figure out why Clark opted for surprise night amphibious landing at Salerno with no naval pre-bombardment, I stumbled onto a secondary source from Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory.
...[Admiral Hewitt] highlighted certain points from a document prepared by Eisenhower's headquarters.

The Appreciation of Force 141...the document upon which the Highest Echelon Outline Plan was based stated...
It comes out that they believed that naval bombardment was unsuitable since their guns were designed for shore bombardment, that air was focused on air so they'd not be needed, and that airborne troops were the proper tool to use against shore defenses, while the amphibious assault troops relied on surprise and low light to land safely.

The details can be found here: https://books.google.com/books?id=0W3jA ... 22&f=false,

I am trying to figure out who exactly wrote/created this amphibious doctrine that believed naval bombardment was ineffective? Was it inspired by British or American thinking? Hewitt, of the US Navy, uses the term "the Army" often, is he only referring to the US Army? The British used a short bombardment at Salerno, so my guess its just in relation to the US Army.

If so, who exactly where the "experts" that believed naval bombardment was unnecessary in lieu of surprise night landings? Clark specifically? Bradley? Patton? Which staff officers? Was this pervasive across the US Army leadership as a whole at the time, just faulty doctrine?

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Sheldrake » 26 May 2021 00:20

Duncan_M wrote:
25 May 2021 17:33
While trying to figure out why Clark opted for surprise night amphibious landing at Salerno with no naval pre-bombardment, I stumbled onto a secondary source from Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory.
Omaha a Flawed Victory is based on the spurious argument that all would have been between in the ETO and MTO of the operations had been conducted in the same manner as in the PTO defined by the experts of amphibious operations the USMC....

It entirely misses the point that the PTO was a different theatre and different conditions applied. In the PTO the targets for invasion were islands that had been isolated by sea and air power. Enemy positions could be bombarded at leisure over several days until bunkers had been reduced to rubble. Europe was a land mass and enemy reserves could be rushed to the threatened point quickly. Surprise mattered in the MTO and ETO.

The tactics used for the landings in the MTO all relied on surprise more than firepower. Most were night landings. All landings succeeded. None were defeated in the surf. The difficulties at Salerno started when the German armour turned up.

Around 190,000 allied troops landed at Salerno. They suffered around 11,000 casualties (5K Us and 6 k British). By comparison the November 1943 landings at Tarawa cost the US around 3k marines out of 18k engaged in a three day battle and Saipan in June 1944 cost nearly 14k casualties out of 70k troops engaged.

Naval Gunfire is just artillery. It can't work magic, destroy unlocated enemy or do more than neutralise hardened positions.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 May 2021 01:26

Duncan_M wrote:
25 May 2021 17:33
I am trying to figure out who exactly wrote/created this amphibious doctrine that believed naval bombardment was ineffective? Was it inspired by British or American thinking? Hewitt, of the US Navy, uses the term "the Army" often, is he only referring to the US Army?
It was not "doctrine", it was the opposite of current doctrine. It was simply the position of Clark and Dawley, who as commanders of the landing force had final say.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 May 2021 03:12

Duncan_M wrote:
25 May 2021 17:33
...
I am trying to figure out who exactly wrote/created this amphibious doctrine that believed naval bombardment was ineffective?
As someone who had a career doing fire support in the USMC I might have a clue. Fire support of any sort depends on accurate location of actual enemy soldiers & weapons. Preparatory fires are tricky in this regard as you often don't have those accurate locations. Firing a lot of ammunition at a hill, town, beach or whatever looks cool & the indexperienced will think lots of damage was done. When compared to 'observed' fire support that is controlled & coordinated by a guy with eyes on target & within that last 500-1000 meters that is the killing zone preparatory fires are not all that. They are useful but when based on 'suspected' targets, and distant observation preparatory fires are not as effective as fires observed from close in.

So yes NGF is ineffective, and it is highly effective. It depends on the accuracy of your target location. I suspect Clarks or Dawleys thoughts on this originated from observing live fire support in prewar training, and was reinforced by observation the early US Mediterranean battles.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 May 2021 03:23

Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
The tactics used for the landings in the MTO all relied on surprise more than firepower. Most were night landings. All landings succeeded. None were defeated in the surf.
Technically Op RESERVIST was not defeated in the surf, but the landing force was defeated. Sorry, could not restrain myself from nitpicking that one.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 May 2021 03:27

Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
... The tactics used for the landings in the MTO all relied on surprise more than firepower. Most were night landings. All landings succeeded. None were defeated in the surf. The difficulties at Salerno started when the German armour turned up.
The decision to execute a airborne op @ Normandy four hours ahead of the beach assualt kinda blew surprise there.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Sheldrake » 26 May 2021 09:27

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 May 2021 03:27
Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
... The tactics used for the landings in the MTO all relied on surprise more than firepower. Most were night landings. All landings succeeded. None were defeated in the surf. The difficulties at Salerno started when the German armour turned up.
The decision to execute a airborne op @ Normandy four hours ahead of the beach assualt kinda blew surprise there.
Up to a point Lord Copper..

But Dieppe had already demonstrated that it would not be possible to achieve tactical surprise with a large scale landing on the Channel coast. Sprinkling paratroops and decoys across lower Normandy caused the Germans enough confusion to counter any loss of surprise. Indeed the timing pulled the German reserves in opposite directions to the assault beaches.

As you argued in post #4 NGS, like any other artillery needs to be directed at located targets. Like any other artillery NGS delivers temporary neutralisation and some level of destruction. But destruction requires accurate target location, lots of rounds and time to engage and destroy each target. E.g. three weeks preparation for the 1917 attacks on Vimy Ridge and Messines Ridge. The allies did not have the time or assets to systematically destroy the concrete fortifications on the Normandy beaches.

As Stephen Zaloga and I have argued, many of not most of the casualties at Omaha Beach were from the undetected batteries of the 352 Division.

The targets for the heavy ships in the Overlord NGS bombardment were the coastal batteries. This was effective. Using large calibre guns in the vicinity of the assault beaches risked creating craters that would impede disembarkation - and create hazards.

I doubt if a four hour artillery bombardment would have delivered a significantly greater level of neutralisation. The gap between the bombardment lifting and the arrival of troops on the objective was more important than the duration of the bombardment.

The PTO experience does not seem to have allowed the US to land unopposed, as the heavy casualties testify.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by EwenS » 26 May 2021 11:27

Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 09:27

The PTO experience does not seem to have allowed the US to land unopposed, as the heavy casualties testify.
Japanese tactics changed over time. In the landings in the Gilberts, Marshalls and Marianas they sought to defeat the US assault on the beach. As that hadn’t worked they developed a new tactic. Try to disrupt the US landing on the beach and then defend in depth further inland. The Americans first encountered this during the landings on Pelelieu in Sept 1944.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Duncan_M » 26 May 2021 14:50

Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
The tactics used for the landings in the MTO all relied on surprise more than firepower. Most were night landings. All landings succeeded. None were defeated in the surf. The difficulties at Salerno started when the German armour turned up.
The Salerno landing was a notorious cluster****. It was technically a success but nothing at all to take pride in. There was no tactical surprise (nor for Husky either). Night didn't help, assault forces were still being effectively engaged on the way to the shore, in fact they had to wait until day before the navy was actually able to support them. German armor was already present as the German division defending the beach was the 16th Panzer Division, who massed combined arms kampfgruppe a few miles behind the MLR at the beaches to counterattack. Difficulties at Salerno started before assault forces landed and were counterattacked with armor, they got shot the hell up during the approach and while making it ashore.

We know in hindsight that naval bombardment is necessary for a successful contested amphibious landing. My question is who the MTO in the Allied command structure in 1943 were considered subject matter experts on amphibious warfare who thought naval gunnery was unnecessary.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Duncan_M » 26 May 2021 14:52

Richard Anderson wrote:
26 May 2021 01:26
Duncan_M wrote:
25 May 2021 17:33
I am trying to figure out who exactly wrote/created this amphibious doctrine that believed naval bombardment was ineffective? Was it inspired by British or American thinking? Hewitt, of the US Navy, uses the term "the Army" often, is he only referring to the US Army?
It was not "doctrine", it was the opposite of current doctrine. It was simply the position of Clark and Dawley, who as commanders of the landing force had final say.
US Army defines doctrine as the "fundamental principles, with supporting tactics, techniques, procedures, and terms and. symbols, used for the conduct of operations and as a guide for actions of operating forces, and elements." If in 1943, AFHQ wrote a memo detailing exactly how to execute amphibious operations, that seems to be doctrine.

And were Clark and Dawley involved in the planning for the amphibious landing of Husky? They wrote that memo? I'm trying to find out who exactly, immediately after Husky, Hewitt was complaining about. Who was he referring to when describing "the Army"?
Last edited by Duncan_M on 26 May 2021 15:03, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Duncan_M » 26 May 2021 14:58

Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
Omaha a Flawed Victory is based on the spurious argument that all would have been between in the ETO and MTO of the operations had been conducted in the same manner as in the PTO defined by the experts of amphibious operations the USMC....

It entirely misses the point that the PTO was a different theatre and different conditions applied.
I'm confused by what you posted. I haven't read the full book (waiting on Amazon), but I did read the entire chapter, which dwelt over a total failure in joint support, specifically the Army purposely underutilizing the US Navy. The memo presented in the book, written in mid 1943 before Husky, was before most major amphibious attack (especially Tarawa, which wasn't until Nov 43). The only mention made of the Marines is that they relied on naval gunnery to support the amphibious landings, which at the time both the US and British Army apparently didn't, relying either on air strikes (though also accepting those would be limited or nonexistent), airborne drops (lol), but mostly on limited light and the element of surprise to negate defenses. The chapter said the US basically copied the British doctrine, and it wasn't until after Husky and Avalanche that they gave the navy more importance in the fire plans (though First Army still screwed up the fire plan for Omaha Beach especially).

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 May 2021 15:15

Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 09:27
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 May 2021 03:27
Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
... The tactics used for the landings in the MTO all relied on surprise more than firepower. Most were night landings. All landings succeeded. None were defeated in the surf. The difficulties at Salerno started when the German armour turned up.
The decision to execute a airborne op @ Normandy four hours ahead of the beach assualt kinda blew surprise there.
Up to a point Lord Copper..
Don't know what you are referring to here.
Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 09:27
As you argued in post #4 NGS, like any other artillery needs to be directed at located targets. Like any other artillery NGS delivers temporary neutralisation and some level of destruction. But destruction requires accurate target location, lots of rounds and time to engage and destroy each target. E.g. three weeks preparation for the 1917 attacks on Vimy Ridge and Messines Ridge. The allies did not have the time or assets to systematically destroy the concrete fortifications on the Normandy beaches.

As Stephen Zaloga and I have argued, many of not most of the casualties at Omaha Beach were from the undetected batteries of the 352 Division.

The targets for the heavy ships in the Overlord NGS bombardment were the coastal batteries. This was effective. Using large calibre guns in the vicinity of the assault beaches risked creating craters that would impede disembarkation - and create hazards.

I doubt if a four hour artillery bombardment would have delivered a significantly greater level of neutralisation. The gap between the bombardment lifting and the arrival of troops on the objective was more important than the duration of the bombardment.

The PTO experience does not seem to have allowed the US to land unopposed, as the heavy casualties testify.
I don't disagree with any of that. It all aligns with my point that preparatory fires usually lack the accuracy of target identification needed for effective Neutralization. That fire planners have a habit of cutting them off to soon, leaving a gap between the the preparatory fires & the assault is a related issue. No one likes to think about friendly fire casualties, but giving the defenders time to shake off the physical & psychological effects of a short preparatory fire does not work in that regard either.

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 May 2021 16:44

Duncan_M wrote:
26 May 2021 14:52
US Army defines doctrine as the "fundamental principles, with supporting tactics, techniques, procedures, and terms and. symbols, used for the conduct of operations and as a guide for actions of operating forces, and elements." If in 1943, AFHQ wrote a memo detailing exactly how to execute amphibious operations, that seems to be doctrine.
A "planning appreciation" is not doctrine, since, by definition it is specific to a particular operation, rather than a declaration of fundamental operating principles. The doctrine in question was War Department Basic Field Manual [FM 31-5] Landing Operations On Hostile Shores, 2 June 1941 and United States Navy Office of Naval Operations, Division of Fleet Training Landing Operations Doctrine, 1938. In the later, Paragraph 501 states, "Naval gunfire mission.--In amphibious operations, it is the mission of certain naval task groups to replace the landing force artillery in supporting the assaulting troops by fire on shore targets. That is, by delivering fire on enemy personnel, weapons, and other defensive installations, and on critical terrain features which may conceal undiscovered enemy positions, ship batteries enable the landing force first to land, then to advance, hold, or withdraw, with fewer casualties than would otherwise be possible. In some cases, effective naval gunfire may be the critical factor which determines success or failure." Problematically, the Army doctrine, which otherwise closely mirrored the Navy doctrine, does not include such a statement. However, such a statement, emphatically headed as "Necessity for Naval Gunfire Support" does appear in the revised November 1944 edition of FM 31-5, stating "a. In a landing attack, ground must be gained before field artillery can be emplaced to support the assaulting infantry. Two principal means of fire support are air operations and naval gunfire. Aviation will not be sufficient in quantity to meet all support requirements. Naval gunfire, including that from special support craft, is the major source of effective fire support. Need for naval gunfire does not cease when the light artillery is firing, as medium artillery usually is not available until later. b. Naval gunfire may be employed to augment normal artillery support during continued operations ashore if hydrographic conditions, terrain, and enemy sea and air actions permit."
And were Clark and Dawley involved in the planning for the amphibious landing of Husky? They wrote that memo? I'm trying to find out who exactly, immediately after Husky, Hewitt was complaining about. Who was he referring to when describing "the Army"?
HUSKY? Sorry, I thought we were talking AVALANCHE? Anyway, yes, they were in the case of AVALANCHE. It is inconceivable that the army and corps commander involved would be excluded from planning an operation involving the landing of their army and corps. They are specifically named by the Navy in the AVALANCHE Action Report. I haven't looked, but I suspect the same was the case with Patton and Bradley in HUSKY.
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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 May 2021 16:48

Duncan_M wrote:
26 May 2021 14:58
I'm confused by what you posted. I haven't read the full book (waiting on Amazon), but I did read the entire chapter, which dwelt over a total failure in joint support, specifically the Army purposely underutilizing the US Navy. The memo presented in the book, written in mid 1943 before Husky, was before most major amphibious attack (especially Tarawa, which wasn't until Nov 43). The only mention made of the Marines is that they relied on naval gunnery to support the amphibious landings, which at the time both the US and British Army apparently didn't, relying either on air strikes (though also accepting those would be limited or nonexistent), airborne drops (lol), but mostly on limited light and the element of surprise to negate defenses. The chapter said the US basically copied the British doctrine, and it wasn't until after Husky and Avalanche that they gave the navy more importance in the fire plans (though First Army still screwed up the fire plan for Omaha Beach especially).
No, they did not copy British doctrine, but they did adapt combined planning to accommodate British doctrine.

No, First Army did not "screw up" the fire plan on OMAHA.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: 1943 MTO Amphibious Fires Plan

Post by Sheldrake » 26 May 2021 23:14

Duncan_M wrote:
26 May 2021 14:58
Sheldrake wrote:
26 May 2021 00:20
Omaha a Flawed Victory is based on the spurious argument that all would have been between in the ETO and MTO of the operations had been conducted in the same manner as in the PTO defined by the experts of amphibious operations the USMC....

It entirely misses the point that the PTO was a different theatre and different conditions applied.
I'm confused by what you posted. I haven't read the full book (waiting on Amazon), but I did read the entire chapter, which dwelt over a total failure in joint support, specifically the Army purposely underutilizing the US Navy. The memo presented in the book, written in mid 1943 before Husky, was before most major amphibious attack (especially Tarawa, which wasn't until Nov 43). The only mention made of the Marines is that they relied on naval gunnery to support the amphibious landings, which at the time both the US and British Army apparently didn't, relying either on air strikes (though also accepting those would be limited or nonexistent), airborne drops (lol), but mostly on limited light and the element of surprise to negate defenses. The chapter said the US basically copied the British doctrine, and it wasn't until after Husky and Avalanche that they gave the navy more importance in the fire plans (though First Army still screwed up the fire plan for Omaha Beach especially).
Flawed Victory is a deeply flawed book.

It is worth reading the report of the ETOUSA Conference on Assault Landings held May-June 1943
https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... 273/rec/11
https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... 623/rec/26
This is an account of the British and American thinking on assault landings in advance of Op Overlord. It draws on all services from both nations - including the USMC. So many of the revisionist works focus on antagonism between the allies. Here is primary source material documentimng of international inter service teamwork and pooled thinking.
In part 1 PHase 1 Commodore Hughes Hallett RN gives a debrief on the lessons for Dieppe.
"Intensive preparations by means of air and sea bombardment are essential in order to soften the defences."

In part 2 G5_G2_Naval, of volume one Commander Strauss USN delivers a lecture on the naval aspects including fire support. He makes several points germane to this thread.
1. Destroyers are less than ideal as their guns are high velocity flat trajectory.
2. Battleships carry about 100 rounds per gun - enough for an hour's continuous firing. Cruisers carry 150 RPG enough for 90mins. So the idea of a four hour naval bombardment might present some logistic difficulties.
3. His opinion based o reading was that NGS could be delivered within 1000 yards by day and 2000 yards at night
4. NGS was not a panacea and could not be relied on to reduce specific shore targets - coastal batteries.

Major O Bare USMC lectured on the preparation of a US Army division for the landings in the Aleutian Islands. This included training army officers to act as Naval Gunfore spotters.

"Artillery officers attended a Naval Gunfire School, set up at Fort Ord, and later were given some practical experience in spotting and controlling Naval Gunfire.We had already trained, the previous autumn, 18 young ensigns as naval gunfire liaison officers; they had been given a very thorough course, not only in the naval gunfire phase but also in the ground phase." He also described work up exercises on the coats of California including support from battleships, destroyers and naval aircraft.

So NGS was a weapon to be considered by both British and US planners contemplating an assault landing. The idea of British or US Army ignoring naval gunnery is nonsense.

It may have been that at Avalanche the opening bombardment was dispensed with as the expectation was that they would be welcomed by cheering Italians, or that they had not identified the targets for bombardment.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 27 May 2021 00:29, edited 1 time in total.

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