IX Engineer Command

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:19 am 
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Over the past couple months there has been a discussion among a few of us about the Advanced SHAEF HQ codenamed SHELLBURST. I figured I'd move the discussion here to try and open it to others.

The main discussion has centered around the location of Eisenhower's first HQ on the continent. Some historians place the location at Jullouville, south of Granville at the southwest coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. There is another group that place Ike's first continental HQ at Tournières, about 12 miles WSW of Bayeux.

In my next post, I'll put my favorite source forward.

David

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:42 am 
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It seems to me that the issue is one of semantics and timing. We've talked about advanced headquarters/forward headquarters and July/August timeframes.

My favorite source actually lays out an answer to these questions. In 1954, the Office of the Chief of Military History (part of the Department of the Army) published a book entitled The Supreme Command. It was part of the series entitled United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations. The following quote comes in a section called Shifts in Locations of Supreme Headquarters...

Quote:
Shifts in Locations of Supreme Headquarters

The numerous command changes between June and October 1944 had been accompanied by almost as many shifts in the locations of Supreme Headquarters. It will be recalled that on D Day the main force of SHAEF was located at Bushy Park near London and General Eisenhower had a small advance command post--SHARPENER--near General Montgomery's headquarters at Portsmouth. Later in June the Supreme Commander decided to enlarge the forward headquarters at Portsmouth. On 1 July, a tented camp capable of housing 400 officers and 1,000 enlisted men was opened.36 Members from all the divisions of the headquarters were present, but G-2, G-3, and Secretary, General Staff, personnel predominated. Adequate telephone, teleprinter, and radio facilities kept the headquarters in close connection with the War Office, the War Department, and the army groups. Four daily flights in addition to the usual dispatch-rider letter service connected SHAEF Forward and SHAEF Main.

Plans made before D Day to establish SHAEF advance command posts near both U.S. and British army headquarters on the Continent were not fully carried out. On 7 August, however, General Eisenhower established a small advance headquarters, known as SHELLBURST, in a combined tent and trailer camp near Tournieres, twelve miles southwest of Bayeux.

By the time of the move to Tournieres, SHAEF officials were planning a move of the Forward Headquarters from Portsmouth to the Continent. The new headquarters was constructed on the grounds of La colonie scolaire de St. Ouen, a school on the outskirts of Jullouville. The largest building of the school housed the communications center, the War Room, and messes, as well as providing billets for female personnel. Offices were located in prefabricated huts, while officers and men were quartered in tents. The chief problem in establishing the headquarters was the installation of adequate communications for Supreme Headquarters at Jullouville, and for the nearby forward echelons of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force, the U.S. Strategic Air Forces, and the French command, which were located in and around Granville. Accommodations were provided initially at Jullouville for 1,500 officers and men, but they soon proved insufficient as signal units, supply detachments, and other groups needed by a large headquarters were brought in. While the general and special staff divisions at SHAEF Forward numbered only some 318 officers and 4713 enlisted men, the attached units ultimately pushed the total to 70 officers and 2,500 men. Movement to the new headquarters from Portsmouth began on 28 August, five parties coming by sea and air at staggered intervals. The small camp at Tournieres was integrated in Forward Headquarters while Main Headquarters remained for the time being at Bushy Park.

By the time Forward Headquarters of SHAEF opened at Jullouville, the tide of battle had shifted from Normandy to points beyond the Seine. The situation gave rise to the criticism that the Supreme Commander was too far removed from the front lines at one of the most critical parts of the battle. Almost as soon as he reached Jullouville, he ordered preparations made to move both Forward and Main echelons of Supreme Headquarters nearer the combat zone. He had previously emphasized that when a second move was made, the headquarters should be near a major communications center. On no condition, however, was it to be in a large city, particularly Paris, where there were "too many temptations to go night clubbing." Versailles was ultimately chosen as the new site. On 6 September, General Eisenhower, who was attempting to keep in touch with his commanders by jeep and plane, directed that his headquarters move forward as soon as it could without inconveniencing the 12th Army Group, which had its headquarters located in that vicinity. The move was to include all organizations located near Jullouville and Granville. As soon as possible, SHAEF Main was to be brought from the United Kingdom. The headquarters began its move from Normandy to Versailles on 15 September and opened there officially on the 20th.

Offices of the general staff divisions were established in the Trianon Palace Hotel near grounds of the Petit Trianon. Special staff sections were located in the Grandes Ecuries, and the Air Staff in the Petites Ecuries. Hotels Reservoir, Royale, and Vittel were also used. Enlisted men were billeted in Satory Camp, and officers in homes along the Seine between St. Cloud and St. Germain-en-Laye. New buildings had to be requisitioned continually as the number of assigned and attached units increased. General Vulliamy, the chief of the Signal Division, pointed out that within a week after the move the estimated figures were more than doubled.

In accordance with his policy of keeping a small advance headquarters as near as possible to the army groups, General Eisenhower in early September directed that a camp be built forward of Versailles. This headquarters was opened on 19 September at Gueux about seven miles northwest of Reims,just off the Laon highway. As in Normandy it consisted of a small staff installed in tents and trailers. Instead of an orchard, the men used the grounds and clubhouse belonging to the Athletic Club of Reims. General Eisenhower continued to use this advance site until 17 February 1945 when the forward echelon of SHAEF moved to Reims. He, of course, retained offices in Versailles and in London.

At the end of September, various echelons of SHAEF Main began their move from the United Kingdom to Versailles by air. The move was completed by 5 October. Rear Headquarters, SHAEF, consisting of approximately 1,500 officers and men, moved from Bushy Park to Bryanston Square in London on 9-10 October. A small contingent was located at Goodge Street Tunnel, which was now used as an underground storage place for important SHAEF records.


citation wrote:
United States Army in World War II
European Theater of Operations
The Supreme Command

Forrest C. Pogue

CMH Publication 7-1

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF MILITARY HISTORY
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1954

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 53-61717

Page 275


So it seems to me both groups are right ... it appears SHAEF had two Advanced HQ before the move to Versailles ... on a tent city and the other more permanent. Neither were in use for long.

Two side notes ... the location near Tournieres is a couple miles southeast of A-5 (Chippelle). I was at this location on 6 June 2004 for the 60th Anniversary of the landings. The two local communities had a small commemorative celebration. I took some pictures that I will try to get posted soon.

Also, in researching this, I have found references to a 1964 CBS News documentary with Walter Cronkite interviewing President Eisenhower on the 20th Anniversary of the D-Day landings. Supposedly, part of the show was shot at the location of SHELBURST. I am trying now to locate a copy of the documentary.

David

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