Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Early WW2 training, US Army vs. USMC

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by scott livesey, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    31
    rereading about battle for Buna in late 1942 and can't help but see the differences between US army's poor performance at Buna and combined US Army and USMC performance at Guadalcanal. it can't just be the difference between an offensive(Buna) and defensive(Guadalcanal) battle. most marines landed at Guadalcanal less than a month after leaving the states, the 32nd div at Buna had been an organized unit in Australia for 6 to 7 months before being deployed to Buna area. was there that much difference between the training of USMC and army units? or was the difference in quality of officers and NCOs?
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    5,905
    Likes Received:
    870
    There’s the A team...and then there’s the rest...
    Sorry I don’t know the answer or even the person to give it...I would say that the Marines are very much better trained especially mentally. They also became Pacific specialists...
     
  3. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,365
    Likes Received:
    1,315
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    The US Army performed poorly early in the war, but after the debacle at Kasserine Pass the training program was overhauled and things got better. One thing that the USMC didn't have to deal with was the influx of draftees and National Guardsmen, many of whom didn't really want to be there. Maybe that had something to do with it, along with the poor initial training as well. I'm sure the title of this thread will attract the attention of USMCPrice, our resident expert on all things Army/USMC regarding "differences". He can expound on the subject matter more than I can.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  4. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    31
    32nd as far as i can tell had no draftees. National Guardsmen made up the Americal division which augmented then replaced 1st Marine div. on Guadalcanal and did a reasonable job. one of those "Just wondering.." kind of questions.
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,798
    Likes Received:
    655
    When the 32d ID was ordered to Australia on 25 March1942, it had just completed reorganization as a triangular division in February at Camp Claiborne, which disrupted the fundamental organization of many units. On top of that on 18 February the division's 107th Engineer Battalion departed for England as the advance party...the division was never originally intended for the Pacific. So the 114th Engineer Battalion was hastily substituted. The division was also badly understrength due to the triangularization, as many officers and men had been transferred to the 82d Infantry Division then forming at Camp Claiborne. Between 25 March and 10 April when it left for San Francisco, the division absorbed 3,000 raw replacements fresh out of basic, but was still short 1,800 officers and men. It reached Adelaide on 14 May, but then was transferred to Brisbane, the movement taking most of July. It had barely settled in when it was then ordered to New Guinea on 13 September and the first units flew in by air the next day.

    Essentially, from 1 February 1942 until 13 September 1943 the division did very little unit training higher than company and zero regimental or divisional exercises. It's organization and personnel repeatedly changed during that period. As its commanding general later said the division was "always getting ready to move, on the move, or getting settled after a move". The only training that occurred in Australia was defending Australia's coast against a Japanese attack. They spent no time training for the jungle they would fight in and had little or no idea of how the Japanese fought defensively.

    Then, when committed it was initially as two separate unsupported regiments with almost no artillery support, just a single howitzer was brought in. Of course the state of the 2d Battalion, 126th Infantry can only be imagined, since it started trekking over the Owen Stanley on 14 October and arrived at its assembly area on 20 November.
     
    Slipdigit likes this.
  6. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    475
    Location:
    The Old Dominion
    I doubt anyone really "wanted" to be there, be it Guadalcanal or Buna.
     
  7. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    31
    i think at the start of the war, there were lots of super gung ho volunteers who just wanted to kill the heathen Japanese(or whatever term they used. seems like a good topic for another post). i agree that after a couple of months in places like Guadalcanal or Buna, all the troops wanted to be almost anywhere else. many memoirs of WW2 i have read start with the writer enlisting so he can help defeat the enemy.
     
  8. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,365
    Likes Received:
    1,315
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    I agree with you 100% there, those areas were miserable enough just to be standing around in, much less being locked in mortal combat over. What I really meant was, that many of those men (draftees and federalized guardsmen) weren't all so "gung ho" about serving in uniform at the convenience of Uncle Sam.
     
  9. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    475
    Location:
    The Old Dominion
    I never knew anyone who was in or around Buna, but I knew quite a few folks who were at Guadalcanal at one time or another (for example, my father's first exposure to Guadalcanal was on 4 May1942; 11 months later he was back for a more extended stay . . . my faculty advisor in college was a young marine 2LT when he went ashore in August 1942 and was there until the division finally left . . . and certainly not the sum of those I have known to spend time there) and I've never heard a kind word said of the place or how anyone really wanted to be there . . . Japanese or no Japanese . . . just a really crappy place. Oh, my father, a professional, retired RAdm in 1971; faculty advisor stayed in the USMCR, retired a COL also in 1971.
     
    USMCPrice and A-58 like this.
  10. EKB

    EKB Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2018
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    40
    The training programs were in disarray at the time. As someone else suggested, there was more movement of troops than steps taken to insure battle readiness.

    The 14th Infantry Regiment had the most institutional knowledge of jungle operations. They were based in the Panama Canal Zone from 1920-1943, but the Army sent them to fight in Europe.

    The Panama Mobile Force started a jungle warfare school and the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion was there for eight months, to prepare for a landing on Martinque in the French Caribbean. Germany had a supply base there for U-boats, but the jump was aborted after the island was taken over by Free French forces. Instead of going to the Pacific to use their newfound skills, the Army transferred the 551st to Europe.

    The 7th Infantry Division was sent to the Mojave desert for three months to ready themselves for North Africa. When it was realized that troops were no longer needed in Tunisia, the Army moved them to Alaska where they fought through snow-covered mountains on Attu. They did get amphibious training first, but not in the type of weather and terrain that was in store for them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
    A-58 likes this.
  11. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    31
    Granted, both places are not pleasant. Back to original thought, were the marines just better trained and led? 1st Marine Division had existed just over a year before the unit landed on Guadalcanal. The 7th regiment was filled with the best troops and sent to Samoa. The Raider battalions and Parachute battalion both had their pick of the best men. 2nd regiment was supposed to fill in the gap, but only one battalion was landed in August.
    Or is it the difference between being offensive or defensive? Once the marines landed the perimeter was about the same size for the next four months and the biggest battles were defensive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    5,905
    Likes Received:
    870
    Crappy?...what made these places crappy?
     
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    445
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    Heat, humidity, unexploded ordnance everywhere, scorpions, snakes, spiders, crocodiles, mosquitoes, people trying to kill you............just to name a few :D
     
  14. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    31
    Beg your pardon, replaced cr**py with not pleasant.
     
  15. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    475
    Location:
    The Old Dominion
    "crappy"?? I suppose I could have used a more pithy, common anglo-saxon, word to describe things of a fecal nature, but I chose not to do so.
     
    USMCPrice, A-58 and JJWilson like this.
  16. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,365
    Likes Received:
    1,315
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Crappy is about the best way to describe the climates of such locations. The exact opposite of those regions would be the Aleutians, or on the Eastern Front in the wintertime. The deserts of North Africa wasn't exactly a picnic from what I gathered from my readings either. Extreme conditions such as those seems to always have a detrimental effect on the morale of the participants.
     
  17. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    5,905
    Likes Received:
    870
    Pffft...soft northern hemispherians...


    People live there you know...?
    Some would call it paradise...
     
    A-58 likes this.
  18. EKB

    EKB Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2018
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    40
    I would be inclined to blame Roosevelt and Curtin for the near disaster on New Guinea. They let the generals start military operations before they had a sound and functioning plan for logistics. They allowed the commitment of National Guard and Militia units that were in a poor state of readiness. And worse, the armed forces were fed in piecemeal while much heavy equipment never arrived at its destination.

    There is no stock answer to your questions about Marines vs. Army prewar generalship. The Marines had different arrangements for supply and movement because they were controlled by the Navy. That might have caused some big differences if the Marines on Guadalcanal traded places with Army troops on New Guinea.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  19. Joe Osman

    Joe Osman New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2019
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Army had not done any fighting after WWI. The Marines had in the "Banana Wars" and most of it was in the jungle, which was called bush fighting by the Marines. Most Marine company grade officers and above were veterans of the Banana Wars.

    Joe
     
  20. Joe Osman

    Joe Osman New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2019
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    There was hard fighting in the landings on Tulagi and Gavatu just off of Guadalcanal. But you are right in general about the offensive/defensive differences.

    Joe
     

Share This Page