Rivalry At Normandy – National Review Online (“…deep-seeded rivalry between the Army and Marines was in full bloom…”)

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.June 4, 2004 8:51 A.M.

Sixty-years-ago, along a 60-mile stretch of France’s Normandy coastline, a combined force of American, British, and Canadian soldiers began streaming ashore as German artillery, mortar, machine-gun, and rifle fire ripped into their ranks.

The mission of the Allied force was to kick down the door of Nazi Germany’s Fortress Europe, and then launch a drive toward the heart of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.Overseen by American Gen. Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, the operation was–and remains to this day–the largest amphibious assault in history.

Since then, the question has often been raised as to why the U.S. Marine Corps did not play a leading role in the landings. After all, the Corps’s raison d’être was amphibious warfare. Marines had been perfecting the art of the amphibious assault since the 1920’s, and between 1942 and 1944, they had put their skills to practical use at places like Guadalcanal, Makin, Bougainville, and Tarawa, in the Pacific.In the Atlantic, Marines had trained Army forces for seaborne landings prior to the North African campaign in 1942, and then made landings during the same. Marines trained Army forces for the Sicilian-Italian landings in 1943.

Marine Corps amphibious experts were on Ike’s staff. And most Normandy-bound Army units were in fact instructed by Marines prior to the 1944 invasion.

So why didn’t U.S. Marines storm the French coast with their Army counterparts?First, the Marine Corps was then–as it has always been–much smaller than the Army. During World War II, the Corps swelled to a force comprising six divisions, whereas the Army expanded to 89 divisions. The Corps’ resources were stretched thin, and much of its efforts were focused on the fighting in the Pacific.Second, a deep-seeded rivalry between the Army and Marines was in full bloom:

Its origins stretching back to World War I; the defining period of the modern Marine Corps.Following the 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood France, in which Marines played a leading role, newspapers in the U.S. credited much of the success of the American Expeditionary Force to the Marines. This occurred at the expense of deserving Army units even when referring to actions in which Marines did not participate.

In one instance, a number of newspapers covering the fighting at the Marne River bridges at Chateau-Thierry a few days prior to the Battle of Belleau Wood published headlines that read “Germans stopped at Chateau-Thierry with help of God and a few Marines.” The headlines contributed to the Corps’ already legendary reputation, and the Army was justifiably incensed. The Germans in fact had been stopped at Chateau-Thierry by the U.S. Army’s 7th machinegun battalion.Army leaders–including Generals George C. Marshall, Eisenhower, and Omar N. Bradley–were determined not to be upstaged by Marines, again.

Thus, when America entered World War II in late 1941, the Marine Corps was deliberately excluded from large-scale participation in the European theater. And when the largest amphibious operation in history was launched, it was for all intents and purposes an Army show.In the wee hours of June 6, 1944…..


via Rivalry At Normandy – National Review Online.

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About Gunny G

GnySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952--'72 PC: History, Poly-Tiks, Military, Stories, Controversial, Unusual, Humorous, etc.... "Simplify...y'know!"
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3 Responses to Rivalry At Normandy – National Review Online (“…deep-seeded rivalry between the Army and Marines was in full bloom…”)

  1. Gunny G says:

    For related info…see my piece…Gunny G; Notes: on USMC Politics…etc…..


    Semper Watching!
    Dick G


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