THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT: ON BEACHHEAD AND BATTLEFRONT. By Lida Mayo. (1968, 1978, 1991; 523 pages, 25 tables, 4 charts, 69 illustrations, 8 maps, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 10-11.)
On Beachhead and Battlefront tells the evolving story of combat service support for items of ordnance equipment and ammunition. The volume concentrates on the European, Mediterranean, and Southwest Pacific Theaters of Operations, drawing a distinction among these theaters of war and the type of support demanded in each theater of operations. Other areas, such as the China-Burma-India Theater and the South Pacific, Caribbean, and Alaska, are mentioned only in passing or in how they support the main theaters of operations. The author provides rich combat service support contrasts and similarities between Pacific and European theaters. Beginning with the Army's first offensives in Burma, Papua, and North Africa, the narrative then follows the invasion of Europe beginning with Sicily, cumulating in victory in Europe. The story then returns to the Pacific to describe the invasions of New Guinea, the Philippines, and Okinawa. Ordnance support for both operational planning and execution are the central themes.
The author carefully begins each campaign with a brief military geographical overview, discusses the planning and conduct of ensuing operations, and then details the ordnance combat service support that was provided. Planning is first considered and then contrasted with execution. In each of the unfolding campaigns the author details the units and men conducting ordnance support, drawing extensively upon the detailed ordnance records down to unit level to give the reader a sense of the issues that might otherwise be lost.
The volume also details the organizational concept of support, pointing out the various echelons of support in each theater, but focusing on field army level and the support given to subordinate corps and divisions. In each case units, commanders, planners, and soldiers are mentioned with illustrations of their changing combat circumstance, and doctrinal issues of organization, levels of stockage, command, control, and communications are fully portrayed. The evolving ordnance organizational concept of support reflected the changing command and control needs of the various campaigns. The study thus contrasts the mobility and transport requirements for equipment coming into each theater and the demands placed on ordnance support under combat conditions. In each case maintenance support was effected as far forward as feasible.
This volume also evaluates U.S. equipment and compares it to Axis equipment, not only in quality and quantity, but the rapidity with which it was fielded. Further,
by detailing each successive campaign, this volume accents the continued improvisation and imagination generated by ordnance personnel. Towed sleds behind tanks in Italy, hedgerow cutting tanks in Normandy, and barge-mounted maintenance shops in the Philippines, all contributed to successful combat service support to the frontline soldier.
1. Ammunition support to the forces in the field (Chs. X, XV, XIX, XXI).
2. Maintenance support in mud, snow, sand, and jungle (Chs. V, XXI, XXIV).
3. Preparation for invasion (Ch. XIII).
4. Importance of early realistic combat assessment of maintenance and ammunition support (Chs. X, XI, XX).
5. Continued need for transportation by truck or water with attendant need for tires and major assemblies (Chs. V, VII, XII).
6. Continual equipment combat evaluation and improvement through improvisation and imaginative replacement by new equipment (Chs. XVII, XXIII).
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