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World War II recruiting poster for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

An Engineer Combat Battalion was a designation for a battalion strength combat engineering unit in the U.S. Army, most prevalent during World War II. They are a component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Also known as "Combat Engineer Battalions" (CEB), they were typically divided into four companies: A, B, C, and Headquarters and Service (H&S).

Best known for pontoon bridge construction, their duties also included serving as sappers deploying and deactivating explosive charges and unexploded munitions, mapmaking, camouflage, and a wide variety of construction services supporting frontline troops. They were also required to serve as infantry when needed.

Combat Engineers played important roles in numerous World War II battles, especially breaching the heavily fortified Seigfried Line protecting the German border and numerous defensive lines established by the Wehrmacht in Italy, including the Gustav Line. Among the most familiar for their heroism and contributions to establishing key bridgeheads in the European Theater was at the Ludendorff Bridge at the Battle of Remagen.

Their construction equivalent U.S. Navy Seabees played a crucial role establishing beachheads and airstrips in the Pacific Command's island hopping strategy of defeating Japan.

Capabilities[]

Combat Engineers ferried infantry and special forces troops in craft such as this M2 assault boat boat in Europe in World War II

Infantry support bridge over the Saar River erected by 289th Combat Engineers at Volklingen, Germany

A WWII era combat engineer battalion had possessed both combat and combat support capabilities. These included, but were not limited to:[1]

  • Bridge (mobile, floating, fixed), rail, & road construction and maintenance
  • Conducting river crossings by pontoon/raft, motor-powered assault boats
  • Demolition
  • Placing/de-arming munitions, including mines
  • Port & harbor maintenance and rehabilitation, including beachheads:
  • Laying roads and unloading/loading supplies, vehicles & personnel from transport and cargo ships
  • Camouflage
  • Water supply and sanitation
  • Map production
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Establishing/maintaining supply and ammunition dumps
  • Building barracks, depots, and similar structures
  • Rescue & road patrols, bridge and road reconnaissance
  • Clearing of debris and wreckage
  • Serving as infantry when needed

US units[]

Pontoon bridge built by the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion across the Rhine, downstream from the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen

Combat Engineer Battalions in the U.S. military include:

See also[]

References[]

  1. What Did Combat Engineers Do? 327th Engineer Combat Battalion list

External links[]

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