1st Engineer Special Brigade (Utah Beach)

James E. Wharton

Eugene M. Caffey
The 1st Engineer Amphibian Brigade was activated at Camp Edwards on 15 June 1942. Brigadier General Henry C. WOLFE was assigned as commander on 7 July 1942. The brigade trained until 15 July, when it was assigned to the Amphibious Training Command.
The brigade was pulled from the Amphibious Training Center early and sent to England to participate in Operation Sledgehammer, departing from the New York Port of Embarkation on 5 August, and arriving on 17 August. Elements of the brigade participated in the Operation Torch. Brigade headquarters departed Glasgow on 24 November, and landed in North Africa on 6 December. Brigadier General WOLFE became chief engineer at the Services of Supply on 22 February and Colonel R. L. BROWN of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment acted as commander.
Brigadier General WOLFE rejoined the brigade on 22 March 1943, but on 25 May he became S-3 at Allied Force Headquarters, and was replaced by Colonel Eugene M. CAFFEY. On 10 May 1943, the brigade was redesignated the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. The brigade then participated in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno on 9 September.
In November 1943, the headquarters of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, along with the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment, 201st Medical Battalion, 286th Signal Company, 262nd Amphibian Truck Battalion and 3497th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company, returned to England to participate in the invasion of Normandy. This nucleus of 3,346 men was built up to a strength of 15,000 men for Overlord.
During Exercise Tiger on 28 April, German E-Boats attacked a convoy of LSTs of the XI Amphibious Force carrying troops of the brigade. Two LSTs were sunk, and the brigade lost 413 men dead and 16 wounded. The exercise was observed by Lieutenant General Omar N. BRADLEY, who, unaware of the sinking of the LSTs, blamed the resulting poor performance of the brigade on Colonel CAFFEY, and had him temporarily replaced for the Normandy landings by Brigadier General James E. WHARTON.
The brigade participated in the D-Day landing on Utah Beach, and operated as Utah Beach Command until 23 October 1944
1st Engineer Special Brigade: Brigadier General James E. Wharton  [view folder] / Colonel Eugene M. Caffey  [view folder]
  Brigade Headquarters
  38th Engineer General Service Regiment (1st & 2nd Bn.):
  531st Engineer Shore Regiment:
  286th Joint Assault Signal Company:
  261th Medical Battalion: Lieutenant-Colonel Merle E. Smith  [view folder]
  24th Transportation Amphibious Truck Battalion:
    462nd Amphibian Truck Company:
    478th Amphibian Truck Company:
    479th Amphibian Truck Company:
  191st Ordnance Battalion:
    3497th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company:
    625th Ordnance Ammunition Company:
  244th Quatermaster Battalion:
  262nd Quatermaster Battalion:
  306th Quatermaster Battalion:
    556th Quartermaster Railhead Company:
    562nd Quartermaster Railhead Company:
    3939th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company:
  537th Quatermaster Battalion:
  577th Quatermaster Battalion:
    363rd Quartermaster Service Company:
    3207th Quartermaster Service Company:
    4144th Quartermaster Service Company:
  490th Quatermaster Port Battalion:
  518th Quatermaster Port Battalion:
  519th Quatermaster Port Battalion:
  2nd Naval Beach Battalion (attached): Commander John F. Curtin  [view folder]