D-Day Conneaut will hosts the US Assault Training Center
(ATC) on Friday August 19 from 1-4 PM.
All Allied military reenactors are welcome and encouraged to
The ATC will include assault boat team composition and
roles. Reenactors with specialized weapons (BAR, Bazooka, 30
cal) are invited to bring them. Teams will practice
embarkation and disembarkation, as well as initial
deployment—first on dry land with mock ups of the landing
craft and then on the boats to be used in the landing.
Because of safety restrictions, teams disembarking from the
boats are limited to 18 men.
Reenactors participating in the ATC should adopt the dress
specified in the “uniform of the day” under appearance
guidelines. Officers, NCOs and enlisted men are all invited
to participate and to serve as “riflemen” or “heavy weapons”
to get the experience of using the D-Day landing tactics.
THE ASSAULT TRAINING
The purpose of the Assault Training Center (ATC) was to
develop and design means for a successful landing in
Normandy. A “Special Doctrine Board” was set up to work out
the best way of landing. The Board used lessons learned from
other theaters, as well as experimentation in equipment and
techniques. Though the techniques used in the Normandy
landings can be tracked to various military basis in the US,
additional practice in the theater of war, under specific
conditions, was imperative.
The ATC was established in southern England (near Plymouth)
in 1943 and had two main purposes: test and develop methods
of landing in France and train up to regimental sized units
in those methods. Modeled after the British amphibious
school at Inverray, certain tactics were shared between the
schools though each had its own approach to certain
circumstances and tactical problems. The US Army selected
Wollacomble Beach in Devon as the specific site of the ATC.
The US ATC specifically tried different ways to land
personnel, tanks and vehicles; different organizations of
landing teams; different types of equipment and explosives;
and different timetables for landing units.
At the ATC, American engineers constructed dummy landing
craft on shore to teach the men how to embark and disembark
from the various models. These were also useful in
determining how to fit the most men and equipment in the
small craft. Also, engineers constructed assault lanes where
troops could work their way inland through a series of
Training at the ATC began with individual skills like how to
use a pole charge, Bangalore torpedoes, other specialized
equipment, and how to embark/disembark from landing craft.
During practice, landings troops boarded landing craft at
southern end of Saunton Sands. In fact, most of the
demolition experiments and individual training were carried
out at Saunton Sands. Troops practiced techniques such as
leaving the confines of landing craft using a mock up of the
outline. Once proficient on dry land, boat teams would
progress to the more difficult task of using real boats.
Training progressed through small unit operations, company
level operations, and battalion level operations,
culminating with full regimental landings at Woolacombe
Sands. Regiments participated for 3-4 weeks then graduated
to larger landing exercised (beyond the regimental level) at
other facilities at Slapton Sands.
It was assumed that the invasion would be performed by
regimental combat teams—an infantry regiment rounded out
with combined arms and attached units (armor, artillery,
engineer, medical) all reporting to the regimental
commander. Each regimental combat team was broken down into
battalion landing teams – each also self contained. The
invasion plan called for one battalion landing team for each
beach sector (2000 yards).
In particular, the ATC helped refine assault boat teams and
the complement of weaponry that accompanied each assault and
ASSAULT BOAT TEAMS
After much study it was decided that the best method for
assault boat teams would be to reorganize only one regiment
of the three in an infantry division for the assault. Once
ashore, the assault regiment would change back into a
standard infantry regiment configuration as soon as
possible. Additionally, because landing craft might get
scattered or sunk, it was important that each craft carry
the men and equipment needed to provide each team with the
tools it needed to breach the fortifications of the Atlantic
Wall– from this concept, the idea of the infantry assault
team or assault boat team was born.
The primary factor in the organization of an assault boat
team was the capacity of LCVP – 30 men. Three standard rifle
companies were organized into 6 assault boat teams, with the
heavy weapons section being organized into 5 support boat
teams. This was rounded out with one command boat team.
The ATC was disbanded on 26 May 1944 – planning and training
was at an end and it was time for preparations for the
invasion to being.