CHAPTER VI DEVELOPMENT OF CAPTURED PORTS Planning for the first three captured ports, with code names, Watson, Drummond and Chatsworth, was accomplished by COMLANCRAB11thPHIB carrying out the directives of COMNAVEU. This was organized under DREW units, with functional component planning system as follows: DREW One Watson (Cherbourg) DREW Two Drummond (Granville) DREW Two Chatsworth (St. Malo) DREW One and DREW Two were formed from personnel available in the United Kingdom, supplemented by a minimum of personnel sent over from the United States. Drew Units One and Two were assembled at United States Naval Base No. II, Rosneath, Scotland, and made preparations for the movement to France. One company of Seabees from the 28th Construction Battalion was assigned to each Drew Unit. No Drew Unit was assigned to captured Port No. 3, as this designation was later given to the beach at Omaha. Drew Units Four, Five and Six were formed in the United States and were assigned one-half of the 69th Construction Battalion, the 114th Construction Battalion and one-half of the 30th Special Battalion. For these Drew Units, equipment and materials required in functional component planning were shipped from the United States with, or soon after the departure of the Drew organizations and Construction Battalion forces. Drew Units were assigned as follows: DREW Four Malvern (Brest) DREW Five Durley (Lorient) DREW Six Chastity (Quiberon Bay) A schedule was established merely for planning purposes, for the movement of materials, the making available of personnel and the arranging for cargo space in connection with the entry into captured ports as follows: 1. Watson ( Cherbourg ) D plus 11. 2. Drummond ( Granville ) D plus 30. 2b. Chatsworth ( St. Malo ) D plus 30. 3. Omaha D-Day 4. Malvern ( Brest ) D plus 55. 5. Durley ( Lorient ) D plus 55. 6. Chastity ( Quiberon Bay) D plus 47. After the consolidation of forces at Omaha and Utah Beaches, Army forces moved to close off the Normandy Peninsula between Isigny and Havre de St. Germain, after the completion of which the advance on Cherbourg, Captured Port No. 1, was begun. CHERBOURG A U. S. Naval reconnaissance party, made up from personnel of DREW One, and the 146th Battalion, consisting of 9 officers and 16 enlisted men, moved forward with the Army units and entered Cherbourg on 26 June, 1944, the date of capture of that port. The reconnaissance party quickly completed its work in reconnoitering the town and investigating the possible locations for naval establishments. An advanced construction party consisting of 7 officers and 165 men of the 28th Battalion arrived in Cherbourg on 5 July 1944 and one additional group consisting of 8 officers and 150 men of the 146th Battalion arrived. The 146th Battalion had previously been assigned the planning and construction of P.O.L. facilities in all captured ports. Work was begun immediately on facilities for 200 officers and 800 enlisted men, COMUSBASFRANCE and other naval activities required for the operation of the Port of Cherbourg. A complete list of all projects is shown in Appendix B-3. The office of the 25th U. S. Naval Construction Regiment was moved from Plymouth, Devonshire, England to Cherbourg on 12 July 1944; with the advanced Regimental Headquarters proceeding from Omaha Beach and joining headquarters on 14 July. The remainder of the 28th Battalion arrived on 14 July. The maintenance of Public Works was assigned the 114th Battalion upon its arrival in Cherbourg on 11 August; thus making available the 28th Battalion for development work in other captured ports. GRANVILLE Reconnaissance parties were formed from personnel of DREW Two, the 28th Battalion and the 25th Regiment for Granville and St. Malo. The Granville party departed Cherbourg on 31 July to effect naval reconnaissance of the city and to select structures and sites for the location of naval facilities within that town, arriving Granville the same day. The City of Granville, with a normal population of 10,000, lies on the west side of the Cotentin Peninsula, on the south side of the Point de Roc. The city proper had been left practically intact by the enemy, but the port facilities had been heavily damaged by demolition. The local gas and electrical systems were in operating condition, but the sources of electric power was beyond enemy lines and the transmission lines had been destroyed. The two 10-inch water mains feeding the city had been cut in one place by demolition. No other damage to the water system was evident. The reconnaissance was completed on 2 August. The advanced work party, consisting of one officer and 31 men of the 28th Battalion began construction of facilities on 8 August 1944, completed them on 31 August 1944. A list of facilities provided is shown in Appendix B-4. On 2 August, the advance section of the Granville party departed for the purpose of accomplishing reconnaissance of St. Malo. This advance section included members of Drew Two and the 28th Battalion. About seven miles west of Ponterson, the party unexpectedly encountered the enemy. In the engagement that resulted, casualties were sustained and the party withdrew with the aid of the Sixth U. S. Armored Division. No Seabee casualties were suffered. The Granville reconnaissance party, having completed its work on 3 August, returned to Cherbourg. ST. MALO The St. Malo reconnaissance party was formed from personnel of Drew Two, 28th Battalion and the 25th Regiment and proceeded to the vicinity of Vergancy, where the party remained until 12 August at which time it moved on to Concale. As the Army anticipated the use of Concale as a minor port of operations, Naval facilities were selected for necessary Naval personnel, consisting of 11 officers and 45 men. The reconnaissance party then proceeded, on 14 August , to St. Malo which was still under fire from enemy batteries located on the islands offshore. In general, the town of St. Malo suffered extensive damage, with the basins, quais, locks and gates having been largely demolished throughout the harbor. Buildings in the harbor areas were generally demolished. The water and power systems were substantially intact, with a minimum number of lines requiring replacing; the water and power plant were capable of being operated with minimum of repair. No naval facilities were selected as the Army had advised that the Port of St. Malo had been abandoned for use by the U. S. Army, who were now considering Morlaix. BREST, LORIENT, ST. NAZAIRE, QUIBERON BAY: Reconnaissance parties were formed from the 25th Regimental Staff, Drew Four and the 28th Battalion to proceed to Brest. Similar parties were formed from Drew Five, the 114th Battalion and the 25th Regiment for St. Nazaire and Lorient; personnel from Drew Six, the 69th Battalion and the 25th Regiment for Quiberon Bay. The reconnaissance parties for St. Nazaire, Quiberon Bay, Brest and Lorient departed Cherbourg and remained in the field as shown below; returning to Cherbourg, without completing the reconnaissance, when it was determined that the facilities planned would not be required: St. Nazaire From 16 August to 9 September 1944. Quiberon Bay From 19 August to 1 September 1944. Brest From 5 August to 5 September 1944. Lorient From 7 August to 12 September 1944. NANTES The Nantes reconnaissance party, consisting of ten officers and 42 men, proceeded to Nantes on 16 August, arriving the following day. The city of Nantes, with a normal population of 400,000, lies on the north side of the Loire River. The city had been left intact except for the area lying along the river and the island - the former had been heavily damaged by Allied aircraft and the latter by German artillery and demolition. The local gas and electric distribution systems were in operating condition. No coal was available for the operation of the gas generating plant, and the water plant had been wrecked during the Allied bombing. Adequate quarters for all contemplated naval personnel, 50 officers and 400 men, were available in existing buildings. Reconnaissance was completed on 22 August - the party being dissolved at that time. A construction party, consisting of 6 officers and 255 men of the 114th Battalion was ordered and completed all work required. List of facilities provided at Nantes is shown in Appendix B-5. MORLAIX The St. Malo reconnaissance party then proceeded to survey the town of Morlaix to locate facilities for Naval activities. Morlaix, a town of about 10,000 population, was in excellent condition; there being very little evidence of German demolition or other enemy damage. The town lies at the inshore end of a long narrow bay. Although the bay dries out at low tide, at high tide LCT's and coasters can proceed up to the city where a set of locks is located. Naval requirements included only a warehouse and officers at the port and such facilities were to be located at Carentic, at the mouth of the bay, about eight miles from Morlaix. One officer and thirty men of the 28th Construction Battalion arrived Carentic on the 21 August, completing work on 15 September. LE HAVRE On 6 September 1944, a reconnaissance party consisting of 20 officers and 70 men from Drew One, 28th Battalion and the 25th Regiment, proceeded to Le Havre for the purpose of making a reconnaissance of the city and selecting facilities within the town to be used as a Naval Advanced Base, Naval Supply facility and headquarters for COMUSBASFRANCE. The city of Le Havre has a normal population of 170,000, with about 40,000 living in the town at this time. In general, the entire port was badly damaged, with a majority of the quai walls collapsed by bombing or demolition, and all locks rendered inoperative. The commercial section of the town lying immediately beyond the port was badly damaged by Allied bombing. The water systems remained intact, except for local damage to mains. The power system was placed in operation and the electricity was supplied form an auxiliary station within seven days after occupancy of the port. Adequate billets, offices and storage facilities were made available in the area. Reconnaissance was completed on 16 September. The advance construction party consisting of seven officers and 400 men of the 28th Battalion arrived in Le Havre on 17 September 1944 and was later reinforced by the remainder of the Battalion and began construction of the facilities required. In order to develop the cargo handling capacity of the port as quickly as possible, a floating pontoon wharf 1700 feet long was constructed, to provide berths for five Liberty ships. Two Bailey Bridges were used for the shore connection, and pile clusters were driven to provide breast moorings for ships, and in addition to hold the wharf in place. To provide berths for seven additional Liberty ships, pontoon floats were constructed and installed in two of the larger basins of the port, for which gates had been repaired, and provided with a shore connection consisting of one 2 x 12 pontoon section for each lane of traffic. The 114th Battalion relieved the 28th Battalion of maintenance of Public Works on 23 October and all construction on 22 November. A list of facilities provided is shown in Appendix B-6. CALAIS A reconnaissance party, consisting of 5 officers and 14 enlisted men was formed from personnel from U. S. Naval Advance Base, Le Havre, the 28th Battalion and the 25th Regiment and proceeded to Calais. The city of Calais was found to have suffered considerable damage from bombings, shelling and street fighting. The northern area of the city had been entirely leveled, with the waterfront suffering considerable damage. No usable buildings were available on the waterfront. Water and power systems had been badly damaged, but could be made operative within ten days. Reconnaissance was completed and the personnel returned on 8 October and work was immediately begun by a party of three officers and 73 men from the 28th Battalion, Le Havre, constructing facilities for 35 officers and 100 enlisted men. These facilities were completed and were later abandoned due to change of plans regarding use of the port facilities. A list of facilities provided is shown on Appendix B-7. ROUEN To meet the requirements of the operation of the Port of Rouen, limited housing facilities were provided during October 1944 for officers and enlisted personnel. PERSONNEL SUMMARY Accommodations were provided for U. S. Naval personnel in France as follows: COMUSBASFRANCE BASE TOTAL Off. Men Off. Men Off. Men Cherbourg 200 800 300 2000 500 2500 Granville 15 50 15 50 Nantes 70 500 70 500 Morlaix 50 200 50 200 Le Havre 150 300 200 2000 350 2300 Calais 25 150 25 150 Rouen 15 50 Paris* 80 200 ------------ Total Officers 1105 Total Enlisted Personnel 5950 * Facilities provided for COMNAVFORFRANCE which included renovation of administrative buildings and quarters. PUBLIC WORKS MAINTENANCE On 17 November three Naval Construction Battalion Maintenance Units were formed and assigned as follows, relieving the 114th Construction Battalion of maintenance duties: Strength Location CBMU 627 5 Officers 250 Men Cherbourg CBMU 628 10 Officers 350 Men Le Havre CBMU 629 5 Officers 200 Men Le Havre (Temp. duty) The principal activities of these units consists of the following: (a) Maintenance and operation of Public Works, utilities and distribution systems, etc. (b) Necessary construction and rehabilitation of naval facilities. (c) Operation, maintenance and repair of Rhino Ferries, pontoon floats and wharves. (d) Operation of Seabee Construction and Materials Depot. (e) Operation of a Transportation Pool and repair facility to service and repair vehicles and construction equipment. (f) Telephonic communication and maintenance crew.* *For Le Havre only. PONTOON TRAINING CREWS ON TEMPORARY DUTY WITH U. S. ARMY On 17 November 1944, four pontoon training crews were formed from the 114th Naval Construction Battalion and ordered for duty with CBMU 629 for further assignment to U. S. Navy LCBP task units assigned to the 12th Army for the purpose of assisting the Army in making crossings of the Rhine and other rivers in enemy territory. Each detachment was made up of one officer and six enlisted men and were assigned as follows: Assigned to For service with Detachment No. 1 CTU 125.20.1 First Army Detachment No. 2 CTU 125.20.2 Seventh Army Detachment No. 3 CTU 125.20.3 Ninth Army Detachment No. 4 (Reserved for further assignment) The detachments were outfitted, provided transportation, equipment and tools, and departed from Le Havre on 26 November.
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