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Engineer Corps Has Vital Task
In Modem Mechanized Warfare (This is the fifth of a series of articles dealing with the Army Service Forces and the all-encompassing role it is playing in the logistics of total war. The Star invites its readers behind the scenes of the world’s biggest business.) By Nelson M. Shepard. Science and invention have made modem warfare a mechanized operation. As a result the Corps of Engineers has become one of the most important branches of the Army. Tanks and trucks and planes must have roads and i«r.rttng fields to operate on. The Air Corps can be effective only to the extent that the engineers provide it with facilities. Without the engineers, not a gun could have been fired in France that June 6, 1944—not for many hours, perhaps days, after the landings on the Normandy beaches. And on that D day dawn—as it was in other invasions—it was the engineer who went along with the Navy to set off the fireworks, just a few minutes before the order wax given to “hit the beaches.” For it’s the engineer’s job to blast gaps through underwater barriers to enable the assault troops to get through. Putting ashore with the first waves, the engineers get their bulldozers into action, lay wire mesh over the sands or other treacherous terrain to permit the vehicles of war to move. They knock down bunkers, build roads, by-pas& destroyed bridges, clear paths through mine fields and generally set the tempo for the Army’s advance. Typical of the known and unknown engineer heroes of that Normandy D day were two bulldozer operators, since awarded the Army's Distinguished Serv ice Cross.- They were Pvt. Vinton W. Dove of 2647 Forty-first street N.W., Washington, and Pvt. William J. Shoe maker of Evansburg, Pa. Working in shifts with their bull dozers, they dragged scores of capsized vehicles onto the beaches, ignoring artil lery, mortar and machine-gun fire. Then they turned their attention to smashing Improvisation, the fact that we were in the midst of rebuilding from World War X and that the heavy equipment industry, under the stimulus of com petition, was developing a program of peacetime construction on a scale new even to the experience of this country. When we were bombed into war at Pearl Harbor we did not lack the means for speedy preparations. The Axis chiefs had counted on time being on their side because for years they had been planning, producing and preparing for war. But with the workpower of the world’s best construction equipment, we soon began to throw their time calcula tions out of gear. In time so short it amazed them, we The Corps of Engineers has been linked with official Washington for many years. Under the law, one of the District Commissioners must be an Army engineer officer. Until late years, some Army engineer officer has always been designated superintendent of public buildings and grounds in the District. Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant, 3d, who formerly held such office, is now chairman of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Port Belvoir, in nearby Virginia, has been a training center for thousands of engineer officers in this war. There, every phase of en gineer combat duty is rehearsed. Washington firms also have con tributed to the engineer program. The total value of contracts awarded by the Engineer Corps for supplies and construction in the Washington area during the 1944 fiscal year amounted to $8,250 184.19. airport was needed. French engineers for years had striven to build such a field but had been unable to complete one because Bone lies on a mud flat. For lack of adequate air defense it was feared the port would have to be closed. United States aviation engineers were given 14 days in which to build an airfield. The job was done on time. In the liberation of France the key ..— linn—.■ ——mi— w 'IIHwmSSktohMHMIHhmKNmPIIMHHi Typical engineer equipment shown in a landing operation on one of the Solomon Islands in cludes a crane, a fire truck, a bulldozer, a water distillation unit and construction materials. -—8iin»l Corps Photo. road blocks, filling in gaping antitank traps and helping clear a way for ad vancing troops. “Their courageous ac tions permitted vehicles and armor to move out in support of the infantry',” the citation revealed. Bulldozers Make History Some day, when the official history of this war is w'ritten, due credit will be given the bulldozer and the part it has played on every front—particularly in Pacific island warfare. In this mc*t mobile of wars, movement is the responsibility of the engineers. They build, they destroy, they fight— with the twofold purpose of aiding this movement of friendly troops, and im peding the movement of the enemy. They drop out of airplanes with demo lition equipment strapped to their backs. They clear the way, then move into battle to fight shoulder to shoulder with the infantry. Today the Engineer Corps is the largest of the technical services and has more uniformed personnel overseas than any other branch—arm or service— except the infantry and Air Corps. Among their other specialties, engi neers build and operate portable pipe lines which largely have taken over the bulk movement of fuels in combat zones. They fight fires and supply water where ever the Army goes, build and repair ports through which move the unending flow of supplies. The engineers handle a wide assortment of floating equipment including port repair ships, seagoing dredges, assault boats and pontoons. They also make millions of maps for the Army, without which planning is useless. men, too. they are in the camouflage business. They operate utilities, run sawmills and even generate gas. They are the earth-movers—moving dirt faster than it has ever been moved before. Their motto is "Essayons"—which means “Let's Try”—and there's nothing they won’t try, and accomplish. Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold is chief of engineers. In First World War In World War I, the engineers set new records in widening the scope of their activities. They repaired and maintained light and standard guage railroads, built roads and bridges, did general construction in Army areas, handled the water supply, produced maps, camouflage. They built new ship berths, storage and housing facilities. In the words of Gen. John J. Pershing: "Among the most notable achievements of the AEP was the work of our engineer troops. • • • The scientists said it couldn’t be done, but the damn fool engineers didn’t know that, so they went ahead and did it.” Now that the war is in its final stages, military construction is a problem pri marily for the overseas theaters of operation. It is possible now to reveal many of the miracles of engineering and construction performed since the Axis war makers made it imperative that the United States become the arsenal of democracy. The War Department's con struction program since June, 1940, in cluding more than 19,000 projects, rep resents the biggest building job in his tory. Begun by the Quartermaster Corps and transferred to the Corps of Engi neers late in 1941, this accomplishment is a tribute to all the agencies, indus tries and individuals that took part. Something the Axis Missed Nowhere was the faulty judgment of the Axis leaders in planning the war more pronounced than in the field of heavy construction equipment. They failed to take into account the Amer ican’s ready adaptability, his genius for built tremendous munition plants, huge airfields and troop cities. We completed the Atlantic sea bases leased from Great Britain and constructed supply routes over 56,000 miles to our overseas pos sessions and to those of the Allied nations. The century-old tradition of the Army Engineers for improvisations in emer gencies served them well, for time was the vital factor and speed the very heart of our preparedness program. A Good Head Start When defense construction became war construction after December 7, 1941, the basic requirements of our expanding Army were at least well on the way so that they could be completed in time and in proportion to the expansion of the personnel. The conclusive test of the Engineers’ preparations and advance construction may be judged in the light of our mili tary advances on far-flung battle fronts. When war did come, the needs of ord nance and air facilities were pushed ahead at top speed. From December 16, 1941, to March 15, 1942, more than $2,000,000,000 of new work was author ized and nearly $600,000,000 of It was already in place. By June, 1942, the tempo of performance had increased bo much that the value of completed work rose to the astounding figure of approxi mately $20,000,000 daily. Hammers wielded by American work ers were ringing . around the world. Never before in history had such activity been recorded. Within our own borders, more than $11,000,000,000 worth of con struction had gone as America plunged into an all-out war effort. American engineers, in war as in peace, have always been able to demon strate their ability to meet the unlooked for situation, to do the ‘‘impossible,” as Gen. Pershing reminded. Emergency Causeway When Col. Albert G. Matthews arrived at Port Moresby to command the Amer ican engineers working with the Australians, he was confronted with the emergency need of providing more dock facilities for supplies. The only ap parent solution was to dredge a larger area and build new docks. This seemed impossible because there were no large dredges within a thousand miles. Jap planes were making daily raids. In Moresby Bay, a half mile from the mainland, lay a small, flat island in fairly deep water. Col. Matthews had an idea. Prom one of the unloaded ships in the harbor he got earth-moving equipment, including three large bull dozers. The latter were put to work immediately, shoving dirt into the bay. Within 20 days a causeway connecting Port Moresby with the island was com pleted, despite frequent aerial attacks. The effect was that the island became a large circular dock and the causeway was used as the road over which trucks carried the landed cargoes ashore. The Japs never were able to blast this cause way out of the water and Port Moresby was kept supplied. On Attu, in the Aleutians, the Japs scratched for 11 months with their in ferior equipment to level a landing strip which American engineers could have built in 11 days. When Attu was taken the Jap air strip was still unfinished. The north coastline of Africa was ringed with landing fields within a few weeks after the Allied invasion. These fields crept forward like a barrage to intensify the sting of our air power by putting bases closer and ever closer to the Afrlka Korps. To defend the Port of Bone, a large to the Allied supply system was the port of Cherbourg. Here port construction and repair groups of the Army engineers gave a notable demonstration of their ready adaptability in taking advantage of every opportunity. Nazi demolitionists did & thorough job in Cherbourg. After the debris in the port area had been cleared, the en gineers faced one of the biggest jobs of the European campaign in rebuild ing the demolished docks and quays and building new dockside unloading facili ties to increase cargo tonnage. It was a tougher job than that necessitated at Naples. But within a comparatively short time, considering everything, the port of Cherbourg was made ready for the heaviest cargo-unloading operations it had ever known, even in peacetime. Many Big Jobs These are only a few of the many overseas war jobs the engineers are called upon to do. There are many others, all vital to the business of fight ing. Docks, port facilities, cantonments, hospitals and fortifications have been provided in every theater of operations. All overseas construction except Signal Corps lines is an engineer function. Engineers operate all light and power systems and all other utilities. They build pipelines to carry precious oil and gas to the combat lines. They clear landing beaches of enemy mines. They are expert in handling booby traps and in opening safe passageways for the infantry through the mine fields left by a retreating enemy. They operate flame throwers against pillboxes and concrete emplacements. When neces sary, too, they use their rifles like infantrymen. All these, and more, they perform as routine duties in the face of the enemy. jivery name Degins on a map—ana many are won and lost there. The engineers provide the maps for the gen erals who plan the operations and the soldiers who carry out these operations. Pilots must have maps so accurate that they can recognize in a split second the first things they see when they come out of the overcast. Artillery must have maps detailed enough to register in their mutually supporting batteries. Mapping the Beaches For the invasion of Prance, all Allied troop units had to be supplied with every detail they were required to know before landing on the beaches. The British admiralty was unable to supply charts that would guide our in vading soldiers right up onto the dry beaches. So, two years before D day, the Corps of Engineers started a minute study of every beach on the Atlantic coast of Prance. Little by little, they drew maps and made models of the beaches, starting Jn 5 feet of water and ending on dry land. They mapped the tides, estimated and set down the height and width of the surf. Those were the days when our news papers and the Berlin radio told of almost daily "Commando raids’’ along the coast. Many of these raids were made by engineers for the purpose of taking samples of the sand, or of the inland earth, and to obtain other first hand information with which to check their calculations and their maps. The number of maps needed for a huge invading army staggers the imagination. Say that 2,000,000 men took part in the invasion erf Europe. Our Army Map Service supplied them with 130 square feet of maps pgr soldier. To put it an other way, each soldier had received before the invasion the equivalent of between 40 and 50 road maps of a size Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold, chief of engineers. —Signal Corps Photo. such as oil companies give away to tour ists at home. There is hardly a type of map which one can think of for which war has not shown a need. In North Africa, maps showed the probable movements of sand dunes in certain seasons. Paratroopers carry maps which glow in the dark. Special maps show winds, air currents and thermal effects, the bearing strength of soils, even caves. The Quartermaster Corps is supplied maps keyed to the kind of clothing that should be issued in any month of the year in any part of the world. For the invasion of Sjpily, the geologists of the engineers had to prepare maps which were virtually divining rods, for they gave all “probable” water well sources.. Our commanders found them better than any information gained from the natives. The Great Map Hunt Maps being so important in modern war, one would think the Army would have been well supplied with all kinds. Not so. Twenty-four hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed, about all the in formation we could dig up on the many islands in the Pacific was a collection of maps and sketches, most of them a hun dred years old. In some cases the en gineer mapmakers had to go back to a book by Pere du Halde, published in Paris in 1735. Australia was virtually unmapped. For places like Truk, Tarawa and other South Pacific islands, about all we had was the memory of old shipmasters in this country and sketches by missionaries. Nor were matters much better in facilities for the physical. The Army's map-prints establishment at that time was tucked away in small quarters at the Army War College. Its few presses were sadly unequal to the prodigious job ahead. The British, early in 1942, sent over their No. 1 map man. Brig. Martin Hotine. He sat down with Col. Herbert B. Loper of our Engineers, Intelligence Branch, and the two of them worked out a mapping agreement covering the world. The British would handle the Eastern Hemisphere. The Americans would take care of the Western Hemi sphere. All maps would be standard. Then began a hunt for maps and map makers. It was the greatest map hunt in history, with thousands of individual collectors and owners of maps co-oper ating. The leading mapmakers were recruited and six months after Pearl Harbor the engineers' mapmaking ma chinery was set up to smash all produc tion records. (The next installment of the Army Service Forces series, which will ap pear in The Star next Sunday, deals with the activities of the Chemical Warfare Service.) Pack; Artillery Solves Problem. For Army in Jungle Warfare By Sergt. John L. Kent. Our big guns will not win the Pacific warl In the final showdown in the jungles of Indo-China and Malaya, we will not be able to use our large guns. Neither can we depend on mobility to assure victory. Here in the jungle the biggest gun is almost useless and the best tanks and fastest trucks get stuck in the bogs and swamps and juiMle underbrush. Firepower and mobility is winning the war in Europe. Our large guns, the 240-millimeter and 155-millimeter “Long Toms" ^nd the many smaller guns mounted on speedy weapon car riers and half-tracks are used to “soften up” and breach the enemy’s defenses. It was mobility and firepower which paved the way for Hitler’s suc cesses early in this war, and it was mobility and firepower which Sen. Patton used in his break-through from Normandy. Can’t Use Biggest Guns But in the jungle we can’t use our long-range artillery for we will only shatter trees, and we cannot attempt large-scale tank warfare for our tanks It it organized for service in mountain ous country, on narrow trails or in jungles where it is impossible for other types of artillery to move about. The 75-mm. Pack Howitzer The basic weapon of pack artillery is the 73-milllmeter pack Howitzer. It is an artillery piece which fills the gap between a mortar and a gun. The pack howitzer is so made that it can be taken apart into small pieces and car ried on the backs of mules or even in special packboards on the soldiers' backs. Next to its light weight and portability, which is an important con sideration in jungle warfare, is its ability to shoot a “high-angle” shell. The howitzer can operate at an angle as high as 45 degrees, tossing the 15 pound shells over the jungle trees and down upon the enemy. In ordinary field artillery guns, the shells are fired at the enemy and travel almost parallel to the surface of the ground. A shot fired by a field gun would hit the first tree in its way and be stopped before causing any damage to the enemy. The pack type howitzer has wooden wheels with steel rims which are much mules. These six-mule packs can be quickly unpacked and the howitzer set up to fire in a matter of minutes. Pack artillery battalions are com posed of batteries, each battery being equipped with four of these 75-mm. pack howitzers and the personnel to op erate it. In the jungle, efficiency depends to a large extent upon the ability of the per sonnel to pack the necessary material, equipment and cargo on the backs of animals and deliver them loaded at the proper place and at the proper time. This should be easy, you think, for given directions and the necessary time, there should be no reason why the troops should not arrive at the proper place on time. But the jungle is most unobliging. Although the men are alrdeay cavalry men and artillerymen, they must turn engineers in order to lead their mule train through the jungle. The impor tant thing is that it can be and is being done right now. This portable firepower can be transported where needed. It is our Army’s answer to the question of how to provide mobility and firepower to our troops fighting in the jungle. Moving big guns, like the 155-mm. rifle shown above, often presents insurmountable problems in jungle fighting. ■—Signal Corps Photos. % will be easy prey for .Tap snipers and flame throwers when they slow down due to the many jungle obstructions, or while the tankmen are waiting for the engineers to clear the way. It would seem that we are at a dis advantage. Not only have we never fought a long jungle w’ar, but we are fighting an army which is especially suited for jungle warfare. But many years ago the Army de veloped a weapon and a method by which firepower gnd mobility is re stored to our forces where the terrain does not permit the use of large guns. Our “secret weapon" for fighting the Jap in the juhgle Is our lightweight pack artillery. Pack artillery is field artillery in wnich the cannon, ammunition and supplies are carried on pack animals. lighter than the standard field howitzer's steel wheels with rubber tires. It weighs but 1,270 pounds and breaks down into packs to fit on backs of six as———■ 1 i ————E—B——WB—EBI These soldiers demonstrate the method of moving a 75 mm. howitzer by hand in New Guinea. It’s Not the Drinking, but What Is Causing It, That Needs Watching, Says Army Chief Psychiatrist By Miriam Ottenberg That young soldier with the battle ribbons, who puts his foot on the bar and orders a round of drinks, may be hiding a heap of uncertainty^behind his bold front. He and a lot of his friends, says the Army’s chief psychiatrist, Col. William C. Menninger, sense they are having difficulty in fitting into the civilian life around them and they’re looking for “outs.” That's why some of them turn to whisky. “They have forgotten what it’s like to be a civilian,” the psychiatrist ex plained. “They’re different men from the ones who went away. They've been places. They’ve' grown 10 years in 2. They’ve been so much closer to the throne on high than the people at home that there's an unbridgeable gap between the combat veterans and the civilians.” Soldier drinking, which is worrying many civilians, is just a symptom of the much bigger problem of “turning soldiers into civilians again,” Col. Men ninger declared. “The drinking in itself isn’t some thing we have to be alarmed about,” he contended. “Yes, there’s some extra drinking. Some youngsters who wouldn’t be drinking if they’d stayed in civilian life are drinking now. But we don’t have to assume this is going to lead to any marked increase in chronic alcohol ism. It can be a very temporary thing. Getting Them Readjusted "What we should be alarmed about— and do something about—is the problem of getting these men readjusted in their communities. Drinking for these men is like a fever in a pneumonia case. You don’t treat the fever. You treat what’s causing it. Most returning soldiers, he said, are restless. They’re not sure exactly what they want to do. Some soldiers coming back to civilian life can’t stand living at home any more. Some, particularly those who hadn’t been married long, don’t get along with their wives. Some of the men are wandering from town to town. Too restless to stay at any one job, said the psychiatrist, the men are “noundering”—and that’s when a few of them are turning to alcohol. But the main problem, he felt, was the difference that’s grown, up between sol diers and civilians. “It's like admixture of oil and water,” he explained. “It takes time to get an emulsion. I don’t think you can expect the average GI to be understood by ci vilians or to understand immediately the civilian’s role in the war. "When you consider that the combat soldier envies the job of the man at headquarters 15 miles behind the line and that one envies the one even fur ther back in communications, who, in turn, may resent the soldiers on this side of the ocean, you can imagine how the front-line soldier feels about civilians. The returning soldiers, Col. Menninger explained, can't harmonize what they left behind with what they find here. He said he had felt the sharpness of the contrast himself on a battle-front tour recently when he left the bitterly cold, rain-drenched front with its constant threat of death, and returned to Paris. It seemed almost unbelievable, he said, that there could be a place where he could sit down to a well-served meal with an orchestra playing softly in the background of an attractively decorated dining room. Nothing to Look Forward to "These men have been living and thinking and feeling for months in an environment where they have nothing to look forward to but another day and night of complete hell,” he pointed out. "Then they come home to find few outward aspects of war except longer lines waiting for seats in restaurants. They try to talk to their old friends but they find they can't put what they feel into words. They can’t explain how they felt when they saw their best friend with his head blown off. “A soldier gets a certain kind of feel ing that it’s impossible to convey. Be cause he can’t convey that feeling, he feels civilians don’t understand him. That just adds to his general feeling of not fitting. He may try to escape from that feeling by drinking.” At first, Col. Menninger explained, drinking might only be an expression of freedom. While he’s in the service, the psychiatrist pointed out, a soldier gets a few days off occasionally from a situa tion where he’s been close to the grind stone for a long time. The grindstone may simply be the discipline of Army life or it may be combat. "He has two or four or, if luck is with him, seven days when it doesn’t matter what time he gets in or where he goes. He comes to town looking for what the ordinary GI—or civilian—thinks of as a good time. He's crying for just the opposite of what he’s had to take.” Discovering Freedom When he comes back from combat with a month’s leave or is discharged from the Army, Col. Menninger went on, “he discovers again this strange new -thing called freedom." "For the first week, he rejoices in the fact there's no bugle to wake him up. Then he’s disconcerted because he wakes up at 6 a.m. anyhow. He’s been living in a certain way for a long time and he can't shake off those fetters of the Army routine. "After that first week or two if he doesn’t have some purpose, some plan, he’s going to begin to flounder. About that time, he may decide it would be easier not to live at home or even in the same community. He feels his wife and friends don’t understand him. He may team up with another veteran be cause they talk the same language. "If he’s ever done any drinking, he knows that in alcohol he will find an artificial exhilaration in which the world doesn't look the way it does when he’s sober.” Release From High Tension Men who have been living under high tension for months can’t be expected to settle down at once to quiet evenings at home or the monotony of a desk job, Col. Menninger pointed out, but if their restlessness continues, if they start drinking heavily, some one who cares what happens to them ought to step into the picture. “There’s no reason why a wife, mother or boss should assume the man is such a child that he can’t be talked to about his abnormal traits,” the psychiatrist declared. As a last resort, he suggested trying this sort of approach to the veteran: “I appreciate what you’ve done and what you’ve gone through, but now you can’t go on acting like a child. After all, if you’re ever going to get readjusted, you've got to make some effort to help yourself.” Sense of Insecurity Col. Menninger pointed out that an accepted explanation of chronic alco holism in civilians is that excessive drinking is closely tied up with a sense of insecurity. A soldier who feels he doesn’t fit at home because of the gap between sol dier and civilian life or because he can’t convey what he’s been through or be cause he’s restless and doesn’t dmow what to do with his new found freedom may feel uncertain enough, to utilise his infantile pattern of reaction and find solace in the whisky bottle, Col. Men ninger pointed out. For the very young soldiers, the psy chiatrist added, drinking may be, a gesture to express the masculinity they don’t always feel. “The soldier in the public eye is very much of a he-man.” commented Col. Menninger. He’s got to be. But if he's just a scared kid. he gets the illu sion that he's very much of a man by putting his foot on a bar.” • The Army doesn t have the authority to regulate drinking in a community where soldiers spend their leaves, but Army regulations. Col. Menninger pointed out, are very specific in consid* ering drinking misconduct. The Army doesn’t allow hard liquor on its posts. If a man drinks and gets hurt in an automobile accident, the Army considers the injury is not in curred in line of duty. Misconduct growing out of drinking may even be punished by court-martial. “The Army builds its regulations on the idea that drinking is simply not to happen, Col. Menninger explained ‘‘That’s not a matter of moral judg ment but of the soldier’s health and ef ficiency.” It’s Up to the Community Once a soldier gets out of uniform, the psychiatrist added, it’s up to the com munity to see he has some place to go besides a night club. He felt a soldier's girl friend could help. Right now, he pointed out, a lot of girls are drinking just to keep their sol dier boy friends company. Just like some of the very young soldiers, many of these girls wouldn’t ordinarily be drinking at that age. “Instead of going along to sit with a soldier in a dark comer of some beer joint,” the Army psychiatrist declared, “a girl can help a lot by diverting his attention to something else—dancing, fishing, bowling, any good substitute. “That’s the same treatment an intel ligent parent gives an infant. If a child is throwing a temper tantrum because he cant have a red wagon, you try to satisfy him with a set of blocks. You offer him a good substitute. Finding New Outlets On a larger scale, he pointed out, a community can do the same thing. He advocated an organized plan of pro viding recreational, vocational and ed ucational opportunities—“not just en tertainment but constructive opportuni ties for some other outlet than the escape they find in whisky.* One of this country’s major jobs, he predicted, will be turning soldiers into civilians again. Bars filled with sol diers and men wearing discharge but tons are an evidence of how difficult that job will be.