Engineers at Normandy: From the TME Archives


NormandyCoastTo honor the the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, take a look back at one of the many roles military engineers played in the operation that changed history.

In the December 1944 issue of The Military Engineer (Vol. XXXVI, No. 230), Rear Adm. John J. Manning, CEC, USN, detailed the planning and construction of artificial harbors conceived so as “to permit uninterrupted use of the beaches from the initial day of the invasion until such time as existing developed ports could be captured and made operative.”

Engineers at D-DayWhile the artificial harbor constructed at Omaha Beach was destroyed by storm on June 19, the artificial harbor built at Gold Beach remained in operation for several months, serving as an essential logistics hub, transporting more than 4 million tons of supplies and over 2.5 million men and 500,000 vehicles.

……For further reading, in 1994, the Society of American Military Engineers and author Sid Berger published Breaching Fortress Europe, which recounted the story of U.S. Engineers on D-Day. Then U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Arthur Williams wrote in the book’s foreword:

If a landing of US forces on hostile shores should ever again be directed by higher authority, the lessons learned in the Normandy landings should be well understood by those who will be responsible for its planning and execution. For this reason alone I urge all military engineers, and especially those whose careers are just beginning, to read and profit from this exceptionally important and vividly presented story. It is the first and only truly comprehensive account of US Army engineer participation in the planning and successful assault on Normandy’s beaches. Its authenticity reflects the combat engineering experience of the author, who assaulted two hostile shores—Sicily and Italy—before leading his engineer platoon ashore on Utah Beach early on D-Day.


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