U.S. Marine Parachute Battalion HQ Company (1942-43)

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following is an overview of the organization of the U.S. Marine Corps' Parachute Battalion Headquarters Company from July 1942 to February 1943. This is the organization that would have been effective during the time of the Battle of Guadalcanal. The HQ Company was the command and logistics component of the Parachute Battalion, also containing a demolitions platoon.

Each Marine Division was authorized a Parachute Battalion under the D-100 Marine Division. After late 1942, the Parachute Battalions were transferred to the I Marine Amphibious Corps and were grouped into the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

  3. Sources

paramarine HQ company 1942-01.png

Organization

  • Type: Marine Airborne Headquarters Company

  • Origin: U.S. Marine Corps (United States)

  • Time Frame (Battles): July 1942 to February 1943 (Guadalcanal)

  • Personnel: 8 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers and 96 Enlisted

Battalion Headquarters (7 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, 26 Enlisted)

​→ Headquarters Section

  • 1× Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun and 1 M1911A1 pistol

  • 1× Executive Officer, Major, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun and 1 M1911A1 pistol

  • 1× Battalion S-3 (Plans & Training), Captain, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Battalion S-4 (Quartermaster), Captain, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Battalion S-1 (Adjutant)*, Lieutenant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Battalion S-2 (Intelligence), Lieutenant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Communication Officer, Lieutenant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Battalion Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Chief Cook, Chief Cook (Sergeant), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Assistant Cook, Assistant Cook (PFC), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 2× Other Duty Marines, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 2× Radiotelephone Operators, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

* Also commanded the Company Headquarters.

​→ Communication Section

  • 1× Communication Chief, Technical Sergeant (Gunnery Sergeant), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Radio Electrician (Mechanical), Staff Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Message Center Chief, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Radio Repairman, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Message Center Clerk, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Radioman, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 3× Radio Operators, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

​→ Intelligence Section

  • 1× Section Chief, Platoon Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Intelligence Sergeant, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Intelligence Clerk, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Chief Scout, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 3× Scouts, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Draftsman, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Recorder and Clerk, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Other Duty Marine, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

​→ Maintenance and Supply Section

  • 1× Battalion Parachute Officer, Gunner (Warrant Officer), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Quartermaster Clerk, Warrant Officer, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Quartermaster Sergeant, Quartermaster Sergeant (Master Gunnery Sergeant), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Chief Rigger, Technical Sergeant (Gunnery Sergeant), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Clerical Quartermaster, Staff Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Clerical Quartermaster, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Armorer, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Motor Mechanic, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Rigger, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× General Mechanic, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 6× Truck Drivers, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 8× Supply Marines, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)
     

  • Vehicles: 

    • 1× 1/4-ton Truck (Jeep)

    • 1× 1-ton Cargo Truck

    • 1× 2 1/2-ton Truck

HQ Company Headquarters (15 Enlisted)

  • 1× Company Commander*, Lieutenant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× First Sergeant, First Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Mess Staff Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Supply and Property Sergeant, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Company Clerk, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Field Cook, Field Cook (Corporal), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Assistant Cook, Assistant Cook (PFC), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Field Music Corporal, Field Music Corporal (Corporal), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Field Music First Class, Field Music First Class (PFC), armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Barber, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 1× Cobbler, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

  • 5× Other Duty Marines, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun (not jump qualified)

* Also the Battalion S-1 (Adjutant)

Demolition Platoon (1 Officer, 33 Enlisted)

​→ Platoon HQ

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Lieutenant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 2× Other Duty Marines, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

​→ 3× Demolition Squads

  • 1× Squad Leader, Sergeant, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 1× Assistant Squad Leader, Corporal, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 2× Machine Gunners, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M1941 Johnson light machine gun*

  • 2× Assistant Machine Gunners, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

  • 4× Demolition Marines, Private/Private First Class, armed with 1 M55 Reising submachine gun

* M1919A4 machine gun authorized in lieu of M1941 Johnson if unavailable.

 
 

Discussion

The Headquarters Company was the command and logistics element of the U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Battalion, with its 3 Parachute Companies being the battalion's close combat elements. It was further subdivided into the Battalion Headquarters, the Company Headquarters, and the Demolition Platoon.

The Battalion Headquarters contained the core command and staff officers of the battalion, along with cooks, maintenance/supply, communications, and intelligence personnel. However, many were not jump qualified before February 1943, with the command officers and staff, communications and intelligence section, riggers and some other key personnel being jump qualified. In the Maintenance and Supply Section (where all the battalion's modest complement of 1 Jeep, 1 Deuce-and-a-Half truck, and 1 1-ton truck were housed) only two personnel, one being a Marine Gunner (Warrant Officer), were jump qualified. The Battalion Sergeant Major was not jump qualified at this time.

No personnel in the HQ Company Headquarters were jump qualified with the exception of its commander who also acted as the Battalion S-1 (Adjutant) and was housed in the Battalion HQ. This subunit included more cooks and mess personnel, a barber, cobbler, clerk, and musicians for the Battalion HQ itself. It also had its own First Sergeant.

The battalion's Demolition Platoon was perhaps the element that most set it apart from the Army's Parachute Battalions. It consisted of a Platoon Headquarters and 3 Demolition Squads (enough to attach one squad per company), manned entirely by jump qualified personnel. While the Army Parachute Battalion HQ had its own LMG Platoon and 81mm Mortar Platoon which the Marine equivalent lacked and the Marine battalion didn't have a regiment to receive reinforcements from at the time, the Army did not have a demolition platoon. This was perhaps due to the difference in the application of Army and Marine parachute forces. While the Army parachute battalions typically acted in the context of their regiment as a part of division- or corps-sized operations, Marine parachute forces would operate at a much smaller scale. With an emphasis on raiding and guerilla tactics, battalions and even companies were designed to operate more independently for extended periods of time and to destroy infrastructure. Given that they were never used for airborne operations in combat and their close cooperation with the Marine Raiders, an amphibious raiding force, these secondary missions that required demolitions experts became a more integral part of the paramarines' mission. However, due to the mobilization of the 1st Marine Division in preparation for Guadalcanal (the Demolition Platoon was a July 1942 TO&E addition) and the heavy casualties the battalion took during that battle, it is unlikely the Demolition Platoon saw great combat use before 1943.

Sources

 

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

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