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"Engineer Lessons from Sicily" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on engineering lessons learned in the Sicilian operations, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 37, November 4, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Some points learned from the Sicilian operations are briefly listed in the following:

a. Mechanical Equipment

(1) Division rear area operators of mechanical equipment require further training to bring them to a satisfactory standard of efficiency.

(2) Due to faulty waterproofing and minor mechanical defects some bulldozers were laid up for repairs as long as 24 hours.

(3) Blades should be fitted to all bulldozers before landing.

(4) To give sufficient night vision a window with a steel shutter which can be opened is required for armored bulldozers.

b. Beach Tracks

(1) Beach tracks must be wide enough to allow two way traffic, so that an exit is not blocked by one damaged vehicle.

(2) Fascine or corduroy mats must be provided to prevent the track from being torn up by tracked vehicles.

c. Engineer Reconnaissance

(1) Houses required for dressing stations and the like, must be thoroughly searched early for booby traps of which many may be expected.

(2) Enemy minefields must be more clearly marked, once their locations have been determined.

d. American Naval Pontoon Piers

(1) These piers were an undoubted success. They were used in two ways:

With both ends fixed. In this case the sea end is attached to a tank landing ship which is "flooded down" (bottom resting on sea bed) to form a stable pier to which incoming ships can tie up and unload. The shore end of the pontoon pier is also flooded to rest on the bottom to give a firm footing.

With the sea end free. In this case the pier has to be moved or swung to tie up with the incoming craft. Using this method it is essential to have a compressor available to blow out the water in the flooded pontoon at the shore end before the pier is moved.

(2) The surface of the ramps must be of a type that remains non-skid when wet.

e. Mine Detectors

It is stressed again that mine detectors (and radio sets) must be waterproofed to prevent them becoming unserviceable during landing.

f. Engineer Tools

All tools brought ashore must be in first class order to avoid, for example, heads of sledge hammers coming off.

g. Landing of Supplies

In some cases Bailey bridges, pipelines, and bulk fuel storage material were loaded with vital small parts missing. Loading of engineer supplies must be supervised by engineers.


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