The WWII 300th Combat Engineers

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Engineer recruitment poster

History of the 300th Combat Engineers, 1943 to 1945

By Brad Peters and Jan Ross

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The men of the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion served their country with courage and valor during the European Campaign of World War II. Their service may not have been the makings for movies and books but it was their service, and many other battalions like them, that made the Allied victory possible. The men of the 300th Engineers came from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma with a few from neighboring states. They came to the Army as draftees and volunteers at Camp White, Oregon, a few miles north of Medford, Oregon near the southern border of the state.

The mission of a combat engineer battalion was supporting infantry and armored divisions by clearing minefields and obstacles, building bridges and roads, laying minefields, building water purification stations, blowing bridges and roads and creating obstacles. They also were medics, cooks, communication specialists, map makers, reconnaissance experts, drivers, mechanics and clerks. In general, they supported the advances of U.S. forces while impeding enemy advances.

Combat engineers were trained as infantry and performed as infantry resulting in casualties. In addition to combat battalions, there were a number of other specialized engineer battalions with highly skilled engineers. General Service battalions were formed as pools of unskilled labor. In all, more than 600 engineer battalion-size units were formed during WWII.

The 300th Engineer Combat Battalion, like other engineer battalions, was made up of approximately 625 men. A battalion was made up of four companies; A, B, C and H&S (Headquarter and Service) Companies. Each company had a Commander (a Captain), First Sergeant, T5 Jeep Driver, Supply Staff Sergeant and Cook Staff Sergeant. Companies A, B and C were made up of three engineer platoons, each with about 44 men. The platoon included the First Lieutenant, Staff Sergeant, three Squad Sergeants, three Assistant Squad Corporals, a T5 jeep driver, a cook with driver, three squad truck drivers and a medic. The remaining men were Privates or Privates First Class including a machine gunner. Headquarters and Service supported the battalion by providing specialized services including; communication, water supply, map making, quartermaster, medic, and reconnaissance. Battalion Headquarters was comprised of the battalion commanding officer, a major or colonel, and his staff.

Commissioned officers at Tent City, Swindon, England
Commissioned officers at Tent City, Swindon, England. Left to right: Battalion Commander Maj. John Tucker, Lt. Orville Lutz, Capt. Gene Falvey, Lt. Henry Webendorfer, Lt. Lassen, and Lt. Kettler. Photo: Riel Crandall
H & S Co
H & S Co. Photo: Riel Crandall
Co. A
Co. A. Photo: Riel Crandall
Co. B
Co. B. Photo: Riel Crandall
Co. C
Co. C. Photo: Riel Crandall
Medics. Photo: Riel Crandall
Motor Pool and equipment
Motor Pool and equipment. Photo: Riel Crandall