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Hellfish
04-30-2006, 05:45 PM
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NAVY & MARINE CORPS WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE COMMITTEE
A service of Navy Chief of Information Office
(703)695-3161/DSN 225-3161
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Marine Corps Raider Battalions

By Jack Gallant
WWII Committee

Then-Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson and almost 5,000
Marine Corps Raiders of World War II were legend in the South
Pacific.

Organized in January 1942 and disbanded just two years
later, the Raider battalions were developed as a Marine Corps
special mission force, based on the success of the British
commandos and Chinese guerrillas operating in northern China.

From Guadalcanal and the Makin Atoll to Bougainville and New
Georgia, lightly armed and intensely trained Raiders had a
three-fold mission: spearhead larger amphibious landings on
beaches thought to be inaccessible, conduct raids requiring
surprise and high speed, and operate as guerrilla units for
lengthy periods behind enemy lines.

Tested first during the Aug. 7, 1942, Guadalcanal landing,
Edsonžs Raiders, the 1st Raider Battalion, struck at Tulagi, an
island across the channel from the main landing force.

Ten days later a force of 221 from the 2nd Raider Battalion,
named "Carlsonžs Raiders" for its commanding officer, Lieutenant
Colonel Evans F. Carlson, landed from two submarines on
Butaritari Island, Makin Atoll. The raid inflicted heavy damage
and forced the Japanese to divert troops from reinforcing
Guadalcanal.

Edson and his Raiders, in conjunction with the Marinežs 1st
Parachute Battalion, left their mark on the Guadalcanal campaign
during the night of Sept. 13-14. The intense and vicious close
quarters fight is known as the Battle of Edsonžs Ridge or Bloody
Ridge. Among those decorated for heroism was Edson, who received
the Medal of Honor.

Refitted, rested and rearmed, the 2nd Raiders, again led by
Carlson, landed on a remote Guadalcanal beach and conducted their
famous "Thirty Days Behind the Lines" operation from Nov. 4 to
Dec. 4.

Moving up the Solomon Island chain after the capture of
Guadalcanal, the 4th Raider Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel
Michael S. Currin, slipped ashore on New Georgia in late June
1943. For two months the 4th Raiders and their colleagues from
the 1st Raider Battalion joined with other Marine and Army units
to fight a series of actions in the dense jungle and deep swamps.
Bairoko Harbor, New Georgia, in August 1943, was the final action
for these men as members of the 1st and 4th Raider battalions.

Bougainville, the largest of the Solomon Islands at nearly
30 miles wide and 125 miles long, was the assignment of the 2nd
and 3rd Raider battalions as they led the way for the Nov. 1
invasion.

The units led by Lieutenant Colonels Joseph S. McCaffery and
Fred S. Beans suffered heavy casualties during their more than
two months ashore on Bougainville as they fought beside Army and
Marine Corps troops. By mid-January the Raiders were withdrawn
from Bougainville, and less than a month later the elite Raider
battalions were disbanded.

The 1st, 3rd and 4th Raider battalions became the 1st, 2nd,
and 3rd battalions of 4th Marine Regiment when that regiment was
re-established on Feb. 1, 1944, bearing the name and honors of
the original 4th regiment lost in the Philippines in 1942. The
2nd Battalion became Weapons Company, 4th Marine Regiment.

The legacy of the short-lived Raider history lives on in the
perpetual memorial of the former USS Edson (DD-946), the
destroyer bearing the name of the first Marine Raider.
Twenty-two other U.S. Navy ships are named for men of the 1st
Raider Battalion who were killed in action.

Where They Fought:

1st Raider Battalion (designated on Feb. 16, 1942) was
commanded by Lt. Col. Merritt A. Edson.
Tulagi, Solomon Islands (Aug. 7-9, 1942)
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands (Aug. 10-Oct. 16, 1942)
New Georgia (July 5-Aug. 28, 1943)

2nd Raider Battalion (designated Feb. 19, 1942) was
commanded by Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson.
Midway Island (June 4-6, 1942)
Butaritari Island, Makin Atoll (Aug. 17-18, 1942)
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands (Nov. 4-Dec. 17, 1942)
Bougainville, Solomon Islands (Nov. 1, 1943-Jan. 12,
1944)

3rd Raider Battalion (designated Sept. 20, 1942) was
commanded by Lt. Col. Harry B. Liversedge.
Pavuvu, Russell Islands (Feb. 20-March 20, 1943)
Bougainville, Solomon Islands (Nov. 1, 1943-Jan. 12,
1944)

4th Raider Battalion (designated Oct. 23, 1942) was commanded
by Major James Roosevelt for 7 months, then Lt. Col. Michael S.
Currin took over in May 1943.
Vangunu Island (June 21-July 11, 1943)
New Georgia (July 18-Aug. 28, 1943)

Battalion strengths varied from 700 to 950 Marines.


SOURCES

Updegraph, Charles L. Jr. U.S. Marine Corps Special Units of
World War II. Washington D.C.: History and Museums Division,
1977.
Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington, D.C.


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Navy & Marine Corps World War II Commemorative Committee
Navy Office of Information (CHINFO)
The Pentagon, Room 2E352
Washington, DC 20350-1200
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http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/wwii/facts/mcraider.txt


Creating the Raiders


Two completely independent forces were responsible for the appearance of the raiders in early 1942. Several historians have fully traced one of these sets of circumstances, which began with the friendship developed between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Evans F. Carlson. As a result of his experiences in China, Carlson was convinced that guerrilla warfare was the wave of the future. One of his adherents in 1941 was Captain James Roosevelt, the president's son. At the same time, another presidential confidant, William J. Donovan, was pushing a similar theme. Donovan had been an Army hero in World War I and was now a senior advisor on intelligence matters. He wanted to create a guerrilla force that would infiltrate occupied territory and assist resistance groups. He made a formal proposal along these lines to President Roosevelt in December 1941. In January, the younger Roosevelt wrote to the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps and recommended creation of "a unit for purposes similar to the British Commandos and the Chinese Guerrillas".
These ideas were appealing at the time because the war was going badly for the Allies. The Germans had forced the British off the continent of Europe, and the Japanese were sweeping the United States and Britain from much of the Pacific. The military forces of the Allies were too weak to slug it out in conventional battles with the Axis powers, so guerrilla warfare and quick raids appeared to be viable alternatives. The British commandos had already conducted numerous forays against the European coastline, and Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill enthusiastically endorsed the concept to President Roosevelt. The Marine Commandant, Major General Thomas Holcomb, allegedly succumbed to this high-level pressure and organized the raider battalions, though he himself thought that any properly trained Marine unit could perform amphibious raids.
That scenario is mostly accurate, but it tells only half of the story. Two other men also were responsible for the genesis of the raiders. One was General Holland M. Smith. Although the Marine Corps Schools had created the first manual on amphibious operations in 1935, during the early days of World War II Smith faced the unenviable task of trying to convert that paper doctrine into reality. As a brigadier general he commanded the 1st Marine Brigade in Fleet Landing Exercise 6, which took place in the Caribbean in early 1940. There he discovered that several factors, to include the lack of adequate landing craft, made it impossible to rapidly build up combat power on a hostile shore. The initial assault elements would thus be vulnerable to counterattack and defeat while most of the amphibious force remained on board its transports.
As a partial response to this problem, Smith seized upon the newly developed destroyer transport. During FLEX 6, his plan called for the Manley (APD 1) to land a company of the 5th Marines via rubber boats at H-minus three hours (prior to dawn) at a point away from the primary assault beach. This force would advance inland, seize key terrain dominating the proposed beachhead, and thus protect the main landing from counterattack. A year later, during FLEX 7, Smith had three destroyer transports. He designated the three companies of the 7th Marines embarked on these ships as the Mobile Landing Group. During the exercise these units again made night landings to protect the main assault, or conducted diversionary attacks. Smith eventually crystallized his new ideas about amphibious operations. He envisioned making future assaults with three distinct echelons. The first wave would be composed of fast-moving forces that could seize key terrain prior to the main assault. This first element would consist of a parachute regiment, an air infantry regiment (glider borne troops), a light tank battalion, and at least one APD [high speed destroyer transport] battalion. With a relatively secure beachhead, the more ponderous combat units of the assault force would come ashore. The third echelon would consist of the reserve force and service units.
In the summer of 1941 Smith was nearly in a position to put these ideas into effect. He now commanded the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet (AFAF), which consisted of the 1st Marine Division and the Army's 1st Infantry Division. During maneuvers at the recently acquired Marine base at New River, North Carolina, Smith embarked the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, in six APDs and made it an independent command reporting directly to his headquarters. The operations plan further attached the Marine division's sole company of tanks and its single company of parachutists to the APD battalion. The general did not use this task force to lead the assault, but instead landed it on D plus 2 of the exercise, on a beach well in the rear of the enemy's lines. With all aviation assets working in direct support, the mobile force quickly moved inland, surprised and destroyed the enemy reserves, and took control of key lines of communication. Smith called it a "spearhead thrust around the hostile flank.
The AFAF commander had not randomly selected the lst Battalion, 5th Marines, for this role. In June 1941 he personally had picked Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. "Red Mike" Edson to command that battalion and had designated it to serve permanently with the Navy's APD squadron. Smith began to refer to Edson's outfit as the "light battalion" or the "APD battalion". When the 5th Marines and the other elements of the 1st Marine Division moved down to New River that fall, the 1st Battalion remained behind in Quantico with Force headquarters. Reports going to and from AFAF placed the battalion in a category separate from the rest of the division of which it was still technically a part. Lieutenant Colonel Gerald C. Thomas, the division operations officer, ruefully referred to the battalion as "the plaything of headquarters"
Edson's unit was unique in other ways. In a lengthy August 1941 report, the lieutenant colonel evaluated the organization and missions of his unit. He believed that the APD battalion would focus primarily on reconnaissance, raids, and other special operations-in his mind it was a waterborne version of the parachutists. In a similar fashion, the battalion would rely on speed and mobility, not firepower, as its tactical mainstay. Since the APDs could neither embark nor offload vehicles, that meant the battalion had to be entirely foot mobile once ashore, again like the parachutists. To achieve rapid movement, Edson recommended a new table of organization that made his force much lighter than other infantry battalions. He wanted to trade in his 81mm mortars and heavy machine guns for lighter models. There also would be fewer of these weapons, but they would have larger crews to carry the ammunition. Given the limitations of the APDS, each company would be smaller than its standard counterpart. There would be four rifle companies, a weapons company, and a headquarters company with a large demolitions platoon. The main assault craft would be 10-man rubber boats.
The only thing that kept Smith from formally removing the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, from the 1st Marine Division was the lack of troops to make the regiment whole again. As it was, many units of the division still existed only on paper in the fall of 1941. At the very beginning of 1942, with the United States now at war and recruits pouring into the Corps, Smith wrote the Major General Commandant and asked him to redesignate the battalion. On 7 January Edson received word that he now headed the 1st Separate Battalion.
A week later James Roosevelt wrote his letter to the Commandant about raid forces. On 14 January General Holcomb sought the reaction of his senior generals to the President's plan to place Donovan in charge of a Marine Corps version of the commandos. In his 20 January reply to the younger Roosevelt, the Major General Commandant pointed out that "the APD Battalion--- is organized, equipped, and trained for this duty, including in particular the use of rubber boats in night landings. "He expressed the hope that the Navy would make destroyer transports available on the West Coast in the near future to support organization of a second APD battalion there. Holcomb obviously intended to use Smith's new force as a convenient means to channel outside interference toward a useful end. His plan did not entirely work.
On 23 January the Navy leadership, undoubtedly in response to political pressure, directed the Pacific Fleet to put together a commando-type unit. The 2d Separate Battalion officially came to life on 4 February. To ensure that this new organization developed along proper lines, the Commandant ordered Edson to transfer a one-third slice of his unit to California as a cadre for the 2d Separate Battalion, which initially existed only on paper. Headquarters also adopted Red Mike's recommended tables of organization and promulgated them to both battalions. The only change was the addition of an 81mm mortar platoon (though there was no room on the ships of the APD squadron to accommodate the increase). Holcomb even offered to transfer Edson to the 2d Separate, but in the end the Commandant allowed the commanding general of the 2d Marine Division, Major General Charles F. B. Price, to place Major Carlson in charge. James Roosevelt became the executive officer of the unit. In mid-February, at Price's suggestion, the Major General Commandant redesignated his new organizations as Marine Raider Battalions. Edson's group became the 1st Raiders on 16 February; Carlson's outfit was redesignated to the 2d Raiders three days later.


http://www.usmarineraiders.org

RGRBOX
05-01-2006, 12:37 PM
Excellant story.. too bad they did away with them...

KEEPER0311
05-01-2006, 02:48 PM
Excellant story.. too bad they did away with them...
They are still around, although not in the same name. We've got the MEU (SOC) who have the similar missions of spear heading larger assualts, and Quick Raids.

RGRBOX
05-01-2006, 03:21 PM
They are still around, although not in the same name. We've got the MEU (SOC) who have the similar missions of spear heading larger assualts, and Quick Raids.

That's goos news, I need to read up more about the MEU (SOC). I had no idea what the SOC stood for except Spec Ops Capable. That said, it really didn't mean anything to me. Are all of the MEUs SOC or just certain ones..?

Hellfish
05-01-2006, 03:22 PM
True to an extent, but MEUs are temporary organizations. There's a kind of mythical aura about Raider units, IMHO, and their light infantry tactics that I don't know if regular Marine units (and MEUs) carry on. Raiders were designed specifically for light infantry operations, much like US Army Rangers, while modern Marine battalions tend to be jacks of all trade. I'm not advocating a return of Raider units and I do think the current Marine Corps is probably the best fighting organization in the world, but there is definately something special about these units. I am a bit dissappointed that the new MARSOC Regiment won't be adopting the Raider heritage, though.

Hellfish
05-01-2006, 03:25 PM
That's goos news, I need to read up more about the MEU (SOC). I had no idea what the SOC stood for except Spec Ops Capable. That said, it really didn't mean anything to me. Are all of the MEUs SOC or just certain ones..?

All MEU (SOC)s go through a certification phase before deployment. Something like 27 different missions they need to prove they're capable of, from TRAP to classic amphibious assault to NEO.

They're probably the most integrated warfighting units in history, with organic fixed wing, rotary wing, amphibious, armored, recon, SF, artillery, etc. units in a small deployable and versatile package.

RGRBOX
05-01-2006, 03:26 PM
All MEU (SOC)s go through a certification phase before deployment. Something like 27 different missions they need to prove they're capable of, from TRAP to classic amphibious assault to NEO.

They're probably the most integrated warfighting units in history, with organic fixed wing, rotary wing, amphibious, armored, recon, SF, artillery, etc. units in a small deployable and versatile package.

Almost sounds like the 82d AB... except for the amphib part.. but they are airborne..

Hellfish
05-01-2006, 03:29 PM
The 82nd doesn't have Harriers and M-1 tanks. :)

RGRBOX
05-01-2006, 06:12 PM
The 82nd doesn't have Harriers and M-1 tanks. :)

Your right, they have the USAF, and a 73rd Armor.

That't the thing about the Army, any unit can be added as a force mulitplier. and now that these Bde are changing over to BCTs they will have all of their assets included..

RGRBOX
05-01-2006, 06:13 PM
The Rgr Rgt could pull of the same missions, but they would need aditional support.. amphib, airborne, air assault etc.. all possible..

Hellfish
05-01-2006, 06:35 PM
3-73rd Armor was disbanded in 1994, Mike. :) 82nd hasn't had any armor since then.

RGRBOX
05-02-2006, 03:21 AM
3-73rd Armor was disbanded in 1994, Mike. :) 82nd hasn't had any armor since then.

Well that tells you the last time I was there.. Wait, I was there until 97. I never heard that... If you go to the 82d web page, then to the 4th Bde you will see the 4/73th AR Regt.

Mitch Rapp
05-02-2006, 08:22 AM
True to an extent, but MEUs are temporary organizations. There's a kind of mythical aura about Raider units, IMHO, and their light infantry tactics that I don't know if regular Marine units (and MEUs) carry on. Raiders were designed specifically for light infantry operations, much like US Army Rangers, while modern Marine battalions tend to be jacks of all trade. I'm not advocating a return of Raider units and I do think the current Marine Corps is probably the best fighting organization in the world, but there is definately something special about these units. I am a bit dissappointed that the new MARSOC Regiment won't be adopting the Raider heritage, though.

I thought Force Recon companies were their successors. And the scull on their patch tells all.

Hellfish
05-02-2006, 08:53 AM
Actually the 4th Marine Regiment is the official Marine unit descended from the Raiders.


The 1st, 3rd and 4th Raider battalions became the 1st, 2nd,
and 3rd battalions of 4th Marine Regiment when that regiment was
re-established on Feb. 1, 1944, bearing the name and honors of
the original 4th regiment lost in the Philippines in 1942. The
2nd Battalion became Weapons Company, 4th Marine Regiment.
And mike, thats 4-73 Cavalry now, not Armor. As part of the reorganization of the army every brigade has two combat and one cavalry battalions. 4-73 is the cavalry unit for 4th Brigade, but they're a light cav unit - no tanks, only a couple dozen humvees.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/3-73ar.htm

KEEPER0311
05-02-2006, 02:54 PM
All MEU (SOC)s go through a certification phase before deployment. Something like 27 different missions they need to prove they're capable of, from TRAP to classic amphibious assault to NEO.

They're probably the most integrated warfighting units in history, with organic fixed wing, rotary wing, amphibious, armored, recon, SF, artillery, etc. units in a small deployable and versatile package.
A good book to pick up about the MEU(SOC) is Marine, by Tom Clancy. All about how the MEU(SOC) works and equipment and gear they use, as well as the certification for them.
There are 3 MEU(SOC) on each coast and one on Oki. Units in the MEU(SOC) are drawn from units from all over the Corp.

RGRBOX
05-02-2006, 03:53 PM
Actually the 4th Marine Regiment is the official Marine unit descended from the Raiders.


And mike, thats 4-73 Cavalry now, not Armor. As part of the reorganization of the army every brigade has two combat and one cavalry battalions. 4-73 is the cavalry unit for 4th Brigade, but they're a light cav unit - no tanks, only a couple dozen humvees.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/3-73ar.htm

Damn.. it's all changing and it's almost impossible to keep up with it all..

What unit are you with or were you with Hellfish?

Hellfish
05-02-2006, 04:02 PM
On active duty 1-4 Infantry (Mech) at Hohenfels (Opfor). Guard 1-131 Inf (AAslt) and 1-178 Inf (AAslt).

Don't ask me to explain why I still care about all this useless information that I have. I didn't really like the Army (I had some fun times, of course, and met some great people but all in all it was just retarded) but I've got this weird fascination with it and knowing everything I can about it.

RGRBOX
05-02-2006, 04:08 PM
On active duty 1-4 Infantry (Mech) at Hohenfels (Opfor). Guard 1-131 Inf (AAslt) and 1-178 Inf (AAslt).

Your with 1/4 at the moment?? or in the Guard?? hell man if your in Europe we've got ot get together... I'm down in Switzerland. and I go up to Wurzburg a couple of times a year.. we should get to gether with 76er..

Hellfish
05-02-2006, 04:22 PM
No, I ETSed in 2001. I'm a contractor now (not the gun-toting kind). I was at 1-4 in '96-97. Nice offer, though! :)