WASHINGTON, June 6, 1944 (UP) - A war department report from "a front line town" on the coast of England said today that the jump off of Allied troops for the invasion of Europe "began in a small way" from that point.
"First, several advance parties of the assault troops marched into the landing stages of this port, clambered aboard the blunt-nosed assault craft and a little later climbed on the larger craft swinging at anchor farther out in the harbor," the report said.
"Second, gangs of service troops began loading the rations that sustained the task force while seaborne between England and the European continent.
"An officer said that there were enough rations put aboard LCI's to last eight days, plus one day of emergency combat rations."
None of the food loaded by the service troops was intended for use on the beaches after the assault troops land. For the first day of land operations, each soldier was issued one day's emergency rations. After that time, field kitchens will be in operation, and hot food served, the war department promised.
These final preparations were carried out "very quietly and without tension" by the army and navy, "almost under the noses of the civilian populace of this town without attracting the slightest bit of attention," the army dispatch said.
The report said that the assembly areas along the British coastline were changed into marshalling areas beginning Sunday and troops were briefed as to their exact missions and reshuffled from battalions into "craft loads" ready to move at a moment's notice.
During this time, the marshalling point was attacked by German aircraft. The results of the enemy action were "comparatively minor," the report said.
For a week before the jump-off, the troops were billeted in the town and closely restricted to quarters. They were ordered not to talk to civilians or to unbriefed soldiers.
Another report from the European headquarters revealed that U.S. troops were relieved of their overcoats, their money and "practically everything else except their arms and ammunition" before they jumped off for the invasion of Europe.
"You are going to have a nice holiday by the seaside," the troops were told by their officers jokingly. "You won't have any KP or fatigue details or training or anything. Just relax."
Before they set out for the coast of France, the troops learned to say "Halt! Put up your hands!" in German, and "Which way is the Boche?"
The assault units were not assembled by divisions, regiments, battalions and companies as such, but by craft loads, the department said. This was necessary so that they could be assembled in Europe for the attack in their normal tactical formations.
The headquarters' report described each man as "a walking arsenal."
"Besides his 80 rounds of Garand rifle ammunition, each soldier carried three grenades, placed in an extra canteen carrier attached to the rifle belt," the report said.
"Some were armed with Springfields which had grenade launchers, some had Browning automatic rifles, others had bazookas, flame-throwers, TNT pole charges, and all the other equipment necessary to reduce fortified positions.
"They can't stop us," one sergeant said. "We've got more fire power than anybody ever heard of before."
Still another report released by the war department said 125 million maps had been prepared so that the invasion forces could "know exactly where they were going" after they landed.
The making of these maps was "one of the most elaborate projects of the war" and depended largely on aerial photography and "thousands of tiny pieces of information smuggled out under the noses of the Germans," the department said.
"In war, maps are as important as food; you can't travel without them," the headquarters report explained. "They have to be accurate, and strange as it may seem, before the war no usable maps of Europe existed."
There were plenty of maps, but they were out of date; they showed roads and buildings that no longer existed, and they failed to show many terrain features.