Amphibious Warfare: First World War

1910 - USMC Advanced Base School established in New London

In response to the General Board's direction in 1900, the Marine Corps established a battalion for seizing and defending advanced naval bases in forward operating areas. These fortified advanced bases would shelter the Navy's fleet train of auxiliary support ships, which in turn would provide crucial support to the service's capital warships.

The Marine advanced base battalion, split between Newport, Rhode Island and Annapolis, Maryland, underwent instruction in the transportation of men, weapons, and equipment to temporary base areas and then fortifying the positions against enemy attacks. The battalion deployed to Culebra off Puerto Rico in 1902 to exercise these new capabilities. A Marine brigade stationed in the Philippines - a legacy of the U.S. seizure of the islands from Spain in 1898 and the subsequent Filipino insurgency - conducted similar advanced base drills in 1904 and 1907.
In the early 1900s, however, the training and equipping of the advanced base force was still somewhat ad hoc. Hence, by 1909 the General Board felt compelled to again urge the Department of the Navy to reinvigorate the advanced base force program. One result of this renewed push was the establishment in 1910 of an advanced base school in New London, Connecticut. Primarily a school for officers, the first class that convened in July of that year also included 40 enlisted Marines.

The school's curriculum emphasized three major areas - gun defense; mobile defense; mine defense; and the organization, supply, and transportation of advanced base units. The instruction for gun defense relied heavily on Navy publications, because naval guns in land emplacements would provide much of the firepower needed to defend advanced bases from seaborne attacks. Similarly, mobile defense instruction used Army field artillery and ordnance manuals. Marine officers were also sent to the Army Signal School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the Army School for Submarine Defenses to gain critical skills in communications and undersea harbor defense using mines.

The advanced base school remained in New London for approximately a year. In 1911, it moved to Philadelphia, where the Navy and Marine Corps were beginning to consolidate the units, arms, and equipment needed for advanced base duties with the Atlantic Fleet.

Sources:

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth J. Clifford, Progress and Purpose: A Developmental History of the United States Marine Corps, 1900-1970 (Washington, DC: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1973).

Graham A. Cosmas and Jack Shulimson, "The Culebra Maneuver and the Formation of the U.S. Marine Corps's Advanced Base Force," in Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett, USMC (ret.), ed., Assault from the Sea (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1983).

Allan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis: A History of the United States Marine Corps (New York: The Free Press, 1991).

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