A Different War:

Marines in Europe and North Africa

Marines in World War II
Commemorative Series


by Lieutenant Colonel Harry W. Edwards, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)

During their periods of training, the London Marines were taught how to climb cliffs using mountaineering techniques. Similar skills are elements of training undertaken by present-day Marines reconnaissance units. Photo courtesy of Col. Roy J. Batterton, USMC (ret).

A Different War:
Marines in Europe and North Africa

by Lieutenant Colonel Harry W. Edwards, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)

Britain's King George VI inspects the Marine detachment of Washington BB 56) on 7 June 1942. From left are: RAdm Robert C. Giffen, commanding Task Force 39; King George; Adm Harold R. Stark, special naval observer; and Capt Howard H. Benson, commander of the Washington. Commanding the Marine Detachment is Capt James D. Hittle, who retired as a brigadier general; commanding the 1st Platoon is 1stLt Jonas M. Platt, who retired as a major genera; commanding the 2d Platoon is 2dLt Robert Knox. Photo courtesy of the Admiral, London.

Shortly after the United States entered World War II, the Allies agreed that the European Theater would have priority in the war over the Pacific Theater. The Marine Corps' war was in the Pacific and all war plans regarding the employment of Marines reflected that. nevertheless, because the Marine Corps was part of the naval establishment, it had responsibility also for furnishing men to parts to the Navy assigned to the European and Mediterranean theaters and to the operations conducted there.




Research sources for this monograph were principally books and records on file at the Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard. Primary sources included: Muster rolls of Marine Corps units serving in the Atlantic Theater, 1941-1946, and the Marine Corps Personal Papers Collection, especially the paters of Gens Thomas Holcomb, Holland M. Smith, and Wallace M. Greene, Jr.; LtGens James P. Berkeley, Julian C. Smith, and George F. Good, Jr.; BGens Frank H. Schwable and James Roosevelt; and Col John H. Magruder. Also the Marine Corps Oral History Collection, especially the interviews with Gen Gerald C. Thomas; LtGens Robert O. Bare, James P. Berkely, George F. Good, Jr., John C. McQueen, Francis P. Mulcahy, and Julian C. Smith; MagJens August Larson, Omar T. Pfeiffer and Wood B. Kyle; and BGens Harold O. Deakin, Edward C. Dyer, and Frank C. Schwable. Also bibliography files on various Marine officers and enlisted personnel; a draft manuscript (1989) entitled, "Herringbone Cloak-G.I. Dagger, Marines of the OSS," by Maj Robert E. Mattingly, USMC; A Chronology of the U.S. Marine Corps 1935-1946; and Benis M. Frank and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol V, Victory and Occupation (Washington: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, HQMC (1969).

Another important source was valuable commentary to the author from: LtGen James P. Berkeley; MajGen Jack P. Juhan; BGens Homer C. Hutchinson, Jr., and Harold O. Deakin; Cols Roy T. Batterton, Jr., John B. Hudson, and Bruce T. Hemphill; Capt Herbert C. Merillat; and Chief Warrant Officer George V. Clark. Acknowledgments are also due for the valuable contributions of a former Marine officer, George O. Ludcke; and those of Mrs. Sheila Ackerland-Lobasco, the daughter of former Marine Col Francis M. Rogers.

The author is indebted to members of the staff of the Marine Corps and Navy Historical Centers fo assistance with the project.

About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel Harry W. Edwards, USMC (Ret), was in charge of the Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, from 1952-1055. He also served on the board of the Marine Corps Gazette and as an editor of the Old Breed News for the 1st Marine Division Association. In 1940 he graduated form the University of Minnesota and in May 1941 received his commission in the Marine Corps as a member of the 5th Reserve Officers Course. His 21 years of service included duty with the 1st, 2d, and 3d Marine Divisions. As a regimental staff officer with the 3d Marines, he participated in the amphibious landing on Bougainville in the Solomons, 1 November 1943. From 1944 to 1946, he commanded the Marine Detachment, American Embassy, in London. In the Korean War, 1951-1952, he commanded the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines. He was awarded a Bronze Star with Combat V. He taught in the Senior School at Quantico, and was a member of the Advance Base Problem Team 1955-1958. He served on the Joint Staff in Tokyo, Japan, 1958-1960, and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. he retired on 1 April 1962.

THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient of a Purple Heart.


Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)
Benis M. Frank

George C. MacGillivray

Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual Information
Specialist; Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services Technician

Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-0580


PCN 190 003125 00

Transcribed and formatted by Jeff Cerbie, for the HyperWar Foundation