Home Links Photo Galleries Stories, Memories Back to Documents List Site Map

Combat Engineers in WWII
What Did They Do?

The following is provided courtesy of Marion J. Chard - VI Corps Combat Engineers
Thank you, Marion!

Who They Were and What They Did...

I am asked all the time, "What did combat engineers do?" Here is a brief, yet concise picture of "our boys" and the part they played in the war.

By WWII the Army Corps of Engineers had almost 150 years of experience in national wars and non-military civil works projects. But when faced with the events in Europe in the spring of 1940, it became necessary for the engineers to adapt to the ever-changing technology and the new tactics employed by the German Army. This was made easier at this point in time by Congress' appropriation of more funds for our national defense that allowed the army along with the engineers to expand their growth and prepare for a new and accelerated kind of warfare.

The primary mission of combat engineers is to KEEP THE ARMIES MOVING TO ATTACK, AND IMPEDING THE ENEMY. The engineers' functions included, but weren't limited to:

Bridge (mobile, floating, fixed), rail, & road construction, maintenance and yes, destruction/demolition!
River crossings by ponton/raft, motor-powered assault boats

Port & harbor rehabilitation (clearing, re-opening)

Landing & maintaining a beachhead on a hostile shore

This includes:
    laying beach roads for vehicles
    unloading/loading supplies, vehicles & personnel from transports & liberty ships
Specialized work on camouflage

Water supply and sanitation
Map production
Maintenance of vehicles
Mine warfare (laying and removing/diffusing)

Administrative work necessary to support combat forces
Establishing & maintaining supply/ammunition dumps
Building barracks, depots, and similar structures
To function as infantry when and where needed
Rescue & road patrols, bridge and road reconnaissance
Clearing of rubble, debris/wreckage & entanglements/obstructions