Thursday, December 16, 2010

Color photograph of 1st Engineer Special Brigade

I believe this is the only color photo in existence showing troops from the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. It was sent to me by my friend David, a fellow WWII researcher. This photograph was snapped on Utah Beach, Normandy sometime in the first few weeks after the invasion. Note the barrage balloons floating above the supply ships in the background. German fighter-bombers continued sporadic attacks on the beach throughout June. Those balloons deterred low-level attacks. Speaking of which, check out my articles about the sinking of the SS Charles Morgan. My grandfather's company was onboard when it was bombed on June 10, 1944. By July, the air attacks stopped, making the balloons unnecessary.

The smiling soldier holding the letter is a technician, 5th grade (note the shoulder patch). This was the same rank held by my grandfather at the time. I think the most interesting thing to see in this color photo is the blue helmet marking. The arc scene on all my black and white photos seems to be white. The 519th Port Battalion veterans all assured me it was blue, which is born out in this image. The troops attached to 1st ESB all had this marking.

The port battalions attached to the 5th and 6th Engineer Special brigades (on Omaha Beach) had helmets with white arcs and the blue and yellow amphibious insignia painted underneath. See image below:

This black and white photo was sent to me by Charles Morris. Charles served in the 284th Port Company, which was attached to the 6th Engineer Special Brigade for the Omaha Beach invasion. The men stand in front of a scratch-built shelter made from discarding packing boards. The shot was taken on Omaha Beach in June, 1944.

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