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From the Introduction:

"Activitated 15 December 1941 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the 649th Engineer Battalion was assigned to the First Army and placed under the technical direction of the Chief of Engineers. In an Army the size of ours the activation of a battalion causes only the slightest ripple on the pool of available manpower. It's just another battalion with a number and that's as far as it goes. But this book isn't about numbers; you can find numbers in an arithmetic book. This is the story of a group of men and we'd like to tell you from whence they came.

At its inception, the battalion comprised three companies, viz: Headquarters and Service, including Photomapping; B, the Reproduction company; A, the Survey company. Today H. & S. company includes Survey, not Photomapping, and Photomapping is now A company. We would only confuse you if we were to tell you this, so we won't say anything more about it. We'll keep it simple and talk about the origin of the three companies as originally formed.

The official record says: "Companies A and E of the inactivated 44th Engineer General Service Regiment provided the enlisted personnel for the Headquarters and Service (Photomapping) and B (Reproduction) companies, respectively." That's a fair statement and one easy to comprehend. H. & S. company sprang from A company of the old 44th and B company came from E company of that outfit. Simple, what?

Let's go a little further into that record. We quote: "A thirty-nine man enlisted cadre supplied by the 29th Engineer .Topographic Battalion formed the technical nucleus for the Reproduction company." Ah, there you are. Thought the War Department was a bit daffy, didn't you? Well, some of us came from a Topo outfit and it's a darn good thing we did. Thirty-nine men from the 29th. Brother, those boys earned their dough.

Company A (Survey), (we're in the record again), was inherited in its entirety from the inactivated company D of the 30th Engineer Topographic Battalion. Now we're really getting down to cases. There's a whole company that was in the work before they came to the 649th. We were not all "basics," you see. We had a fair chance, from the beginning, to become an outstanding unit in the service of our country.

Unfortunately; the record didn't cover the origin of all the officers. It merely says: "The assignment of the commanding and commissioned officers was marked by the prevalence of officers from the 30th Engineer Topographic Battalion." There's the 30th again. They'll just have to bask in our reflected glory for they did furnish the nucleus of an outfit that stayed overseas.

Though the majority of us came from New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, all sections of the country are represented in our ranks, and practically all the states. What better beginning can a battalion in this man's army have?"

Publication Date



Franz Burda




United States Army, World War 1939-1945, Regimental histories, 649th Engineer Battalion, Corps of Engineers


Military History

649th engineer battalion

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