extracted from The Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War Against Germany


The Build-Up for Overlord

By the end of 1943 it seemed reasonably certain that BOLERO would be completed on schedule and that the reserves of manpower, matériel, and supplies for ground combat would be more than enough for the OVERLORD operation. But suitable shipping, especially landing craft and crews trained in landing operations, were in critically short supply. Ultimately plans for amphibious operations both in the Pacific and in the Mediterranean had to be curtailed to provide more landing craft and to help ensure the success of OVERLORD. Moreover, British ports facing the Continent were of limited capacity, with their use further restricted by the heavy tides of the area. Lack of warehouse space and open storage areas immediately adjacent to these ports were also limiting factors, since speedy loading and turnaround of ships were essential. All major French ports had been turned into fortresses and their German garrisons had been ordered to defend them to the last man.

Thus the initial assault would have to be made from landing craft over open beaches, and only a fraction of the potential Allied power could be brought to bear at the landing points. Since preparations for an operation of this magnitude were too massive to conceal, only the exact time and the actual landing places would be a surprise. A great logistical race would begin at the instant the first troops went ashore, and would continue until it became clear that the immediate tactical operation was either a success or a failure. In this race the Germans would match land transportation against Allied water and air transportation, and would attempt to keep the railroads in operation and the highways open despite Allied air interdiction. Since the enemy could also bring combat units into the area by cross-country foot marches at night, Allied air superiority would not guarantee a complete isolation of the invasion sector, although strategic as well as tactical aircraft had this main mission in the last weeks before D-Day. At first all means of transport would be used by both contenders primarily for combat troops and their fighting equipment, but the need for supplies would mount rapidly as the concentration of troops in the area increased. The first days of the assault would undoubtedly involve very heavy combat, with rapid rates of consumption for all supplies.1

The British had constructed MULBERRIES-movable artificial ports of revolutionary design-so that even in the initial phase the Allies would be able to utilize a certain number of conventional


freighters, but landing craft would have to bear the brunt of the transport mission until French ports could be captured and put into operation. However large the reserves on hand in the United Kingdom, only men and matériel actually on the beachhead when the enemy counterattacked could influence the tactical situation. Before the enemy became strong enough to mount a major counteroffensive, the lodgment area had to become deep enough to place the beaches out of artillery range, and strong enough to prevent enemy reinforcements from piercing its defensive lines. This requirement implied a heavy emphasis on combat troops in the initial phase, and a continuous shuttle service by all available shipping over a period of several weeks. From staff planners it called for a careful distinction between the essential and the nonessential, with regard to both units and supplies, and a meticulous system of priorities for every item and every individual found to be essential for both the initial assault and the early build-up. If ordinary military standards for minimum supply were used, the operation would be impossible because of sheer inability to lift all the necessary combat units with their normal complements of vehicles, supplies, and support units.2

For guidance in their crucial selection of supplies and manpower, staff officers turned to lessons of recent comparable support operations. Quartermasters were sent to study the problems of amphibious, fast-moving, and attritional warfare, all three types of which had developed in the western Mediterranean, and to learn which solutions had been most successful. But of greater importance were the lessons carried back by quartermasters who had actually fought in North Africa, Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy and who had been part of a team which had grown in a single year from a small task force to a field army. Through these sources, the Quartermaster Service in the ETO was able to confirm much of its evolving field doctrine and to develop new points of emphasis.3

A knotty and unsolved problem was involved in logistical support for rapidly moving forces. Previous experience was mainly useful only in pointing out mistakes that should not be repeated. When the TORCH landings developed into a race for Tunis, the base sections echeloned along the North African coast were slow in recognizing the implications of the changed situation and the changed axis of advance. Deficiencies in coordination with one another, and with the combat units, were very conspicuous. Apparently army-level planners drew the moral that logistical headquarters were by nature cumbersome


and slow to respond, and that under certain circumstances the combat forces could get along without them. Based on this premise, HUSKY, the next Mediterranean operation, may be called an experiment in simplicity. The logistical organization was placed directly under the tactical commanders. The G-4 sections of Seventh U.S. Army and the subordinate Corps headquarters were given very limited missions. Their principal functions were to initiate and publish administrative paragraphs for the field orders, and then to act as liaison officers during the operation. Implementation of the entire logistical plan for the operation was entrusted to the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. This headquarters, with its organic amphibious transport units, was admirably equipped and trained to support the initial assault, but lacked the administrative machinery to supervise all the service units temporarily attached to it. With all attachments, the brigade numbered about 20,000 men for the Sicilian campaign, and although this number was rather scanty for support of a field army, the more serious deficiencies that emerged were not in actual numbers of service troops. A larger administrative staff was plainly needed. As the supply lines lengthened, the furious activity and final exhaustion of the brigade staff, and the comparative idleness of G-4's and technical service officers on army and corps staffs, became clearly evident. Apparently this organization was an attempt to achieve flexibility by reducing the size of the command structure, but Sicily was a large island, unlike the Pacific atolls where similar concepts had been successful. What was needed was a chain of subordinate logistical headquarters to ad minister intermediate depots along the supply pipeline, but regularly constituted units for this purpose were not yet available.4

Colonel McNamara, the II Corps quartermaster, was an interested and critical observer of the Sicilian operation. He was particularly irked by the role of passive onlooker forced on him by the HUSKY plan. Later, when he was appointed First Army quartermaster and participated in OVERLORD planning, he insisted upon both an adequate number of QM troops and upon an adequate organization to control them. Quartermaster troops for First Army, including assigned motor transport, numbered more than 22,000 men and were administered by three QM group headquarters (a new type of organization) and fourteen battalion headquarters. The army quartermaster could locate subheadquarters where they were needed and still maintain an intact organization close behind the combat troops.5

McNamara's solution applied only to the field-army-level organization: COMZ ETOUSA would have to build an organization to support several armies. In considering this aspect of the problem, the familiar QMC metaphor of spigot and pipeline quartermasters may be helpful. The COMZ ETOUSA plan provided that when the combat troops moved forward, ADSEC, the spigot organization, followed to serve them, but the pipeline already in place did not move; additional lengths of pipe were added to span the increased depth of the communications zone. Each length of


pipe represented an additional increment of service units, and each joint an additional SOS subheadquarters. But the intention was not for these units to settle down to improve their installations and organize the countryside like Pershing's superficially similar organization of 1917-18. As the armies advanced toward the northeast, newly acquired coastal bases on the left flank would pour in additional streams of supplies, so that constant readjustment and reorganization of the whole territorial supply organization would be necessary. Certainly this concept predicated a massive organization, but one that was flexible and not out of proportion to its mission. To operate efficiently, such an organization needed sound doctrine and thorough training; its size was an inevitable corollary of the amount of support it had to provide.6

The Command and Logistical Organization

Normal staff procedure in World War II required that insofar as possible an operation should be carried out by the same staff that had planned it. A major aspect of planning at the highest levels involved the activation of subordinate headquarters and the allocation of subsidiary planning responsibilities to them. The best proof of the essentially tentative and theoretical nature of ROUNDUP was the absence of a subordinate structure to implement it. OVERLORD, by contrast, speedily called into being an elaborate command and logistical network, and even the plan itself was subdivided as an aid to clarity in the necessary detailed planning. NEPTUNE was originally a security designation for papers which named the specific assault areas and the target date. By a natural extension, it came to be the code name for the assault phase of the operation.7

The operation would be conducted in three phases: in Phase I (D-Day to D Plus 14) one US corps and a British Army of two corps would hold off German attacks from the east while two other American corps captured Cherbourg; in Phase II (D plus 15 to D plus 40) one British and one Canadian army would defend to the east, one US army would face south, and another US army would capture the seaports of Brittany; in Phase III (D plus 41 to D plus 90), two Allied army groups controlling four armies would push eastward to the Seine, and southward to the Loire. Post-OVERLORD plans were revised so often, both before and after the landings, that no detailed description will be attempted. But one basic assumption was common to them all: the Germans would contest all major river crossings and attempt to hold every favorable terrain feature. The Allies would probably have to make a thirty-day pause at the Seine while supplies were built up for a further advance; possibly another pause at the Somme-Aisne line would be necessary. The advance to the Rhine would require a full year, at an average rate of less than two miles per day. This forecast was not an inflexible plan, but primarily a yardstick for computing requirements. It was conservative, even pessimistic, and the derived requirements


for combat units, replacements, and supplies were very high. This was, on the whole, an advantage; but all the forecasts contained one serious error. The expected slow rate of advance implied that there would be ample time to repair railroads and bridges and that there would be no unusual requirements for motor vehicles.8 An example of the influence of these studies upon specific plans was the COMZ action on a recommendation by the Transportation Corps during the BOLERO period. General Ross had estimated that 240 truck companies would be required, but the G-4 Section decided that 160 would be sufficient.9

General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in December 1943, and COSSAC was renamed Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, on 15 January 1944. Two days later ETOUSA and SOS ETOUSA were combined into one headquarters, now officially designated ETOUSA-SOS. Eisenhower retained the title of theater commander, but Lee as his deputy gradually assumed most of the administrative duties of a theater commander. Almost from the beginning, this headquarters was unofficially referred to as the Communications Zone, which became its official title on D-Day. Since Eisenhower moved many of the senior ETOUSA officers to his new SHAEF headquarters, Lee as deputy theater commander continued to operate with largely the same staff as before. One notable exception was Maj. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, chief of staff of both SHAEF and ETOUSA-SOS. But both Eisenhower and Smith as SHAEF officers would be physically absent from theater headquarters, an arrangement strongly reminiscent of the separation of BOLERO and ROUNDUP planning staffs in 1942.10

For ground combat troops, the next lower echelon was provided by an army group headquarters. Initially, British 21 Army Group commanded by General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery would direct all ground force operations in the beachhead. The 1st US Army Group (FUSAG) would become operational at a later stage. The senior US headquarters in the assault was First US Army (FUSA), commanded by Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley. Under the principle of separate national logistical systems, supply and administrative support would flow directly from COMZ to FUSA. In terms of geography, American bases in southwestern England would support US troops in the western part of the beachhead. This relationship would be largely retained even after an American army group headquarters was inserted into the command chain, since at army group level the G-4 and technical services staff had coordinating and supervising, rather than operating, functions. Subordinate to First Army were two corps headquarters, V and VII Corps; a third (XIX Corps) was to be added later. The eastern US objective was OMAHA Beach, directly adjacent to the lodgment of Second British Army, still farther to the east. Here V Corps would direct a landing by two divisions, supported by two


Engineer special brigades. In the west, slightly separated from the V Corps zone, VII Corps would direct the initial assault by one infantry division supported by one Engineer special brigade on UTAH Beach. The 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions, directly subordinate to First Army, were to land on drop zones inland from UTAH Beach before dawn of D-Day, and were then to come under the command of VII Corps. As the initial lodgment area was enlarged, more units and headquarters would be brought ashore until a conventional balanced force of combat and service troops was established. The airborne troops would be withdrawn during Phase II.

Plans for logistical support of the operation were worked out in even greater detail. During Phase I, COMZ would be represented on the Continent by an Advance Section (ADSEC). To ensure coordination of supply in the initial assault, ADSEC was to be directly subordinate to First Army during Phase I. In Phase II, First Army was to establish, a rear boundary, separating itself from ADSEC both organizationally and geographically. At this time ADSEC would become a normal area headquarters of service troops, differing from a base section only in that it was mobile, and thus able to maintain immediate contact and provide direct support for an advancing army. At the same time all service troops on the Continent not organic or permanently assigned to combat units would revert to ADSEC control, and ADSEC itself would come under the control of COMZ, exercised on the Continent by personnel of its Forward Echelon (FECZ). During Phase III (about D plus go), SHAEF and COMZ would become operational on the Continent; FECZ would be absorbed by COMZ, and COMZ as an independent headquarters of equal rank would assume responsibility for logistical support of 1st Army Group.

Specific and detailed planning by these new headquarters had to proceed by echelons-decisions at the higher levels were a necessary preliminary to the formulation of plans at lower levels. A very stringent security system known as BIGOT made informal liaison and exchange of ideas almost impossible. To save time, so that lower levels could go to work before higher level plans were completed and formally published, a system of formal liaison and interheadquarters briefings was instituted. Thus NEPTUNE, the initial plan for a combined assault by British and American armies, navies, and air forces, was published on 1 February 1944 by SHAEF. Members of the First Army Planning Group from Bristol had been in London since l9 December, and had assisted in preparing certain portions of this plan.11

ADSEC also prepared a separate plan for the period when it would be independent of First Army, especially for Phase II when it would be the senior logistical headquarters on the Continent. The main problems to be solved in this plan were how to accomplish an orderly transfer of service troops temporarily, attached to First Army, and how to select depot sites with an eye to their use in


later operations. During Phase II the axis of advance would be southwestward to enlarge the lodgment area, capture additional ports, and establish a major complex of US depots in the Rennes-Laval area. But the main thrust would eventually be toward the east and ADSEC would soon follow the armies in that direction, leaving the rear support areas to be administered by other logistical headquarters. ADSEC would receive support out of the administrative network it left behind but could not count on others to correct its mistakes and therefore planned this phase carefully and in detail. Because Allied bombing had destroyed most large warehouses, there would be no general depots. Thus the selection of depot sites was the separate responsibility of each ADSEC technical service section.

SOS also had a very active part in operational planning. SOS troops had to be trained and prepared; detailed plans had to be made to pack and crate all supplies for a sea voyage; all supplies and all troops had to be moved forward to marshaling areas, then to embarkation areas, and finally loaded on ships. Meanwhile, although stripped of troops and forced to activate additional base sections for service on the Continent, SOS had to keep the original base sections operating in the United Kingdom to fill the requisitions from units on the far shore, and to receive the torrent of supplies still arriving from the United States. SOS was a "going concern," whereas the other headquarters were waiting to become operational, and this meant that the main burden of actually implementing interstaff agreements fell on SOS. Naturally, this SOS responsibility was parceled out to a maximum extent among the technical services. The OCQM, the base section quartermasters, and the Quartermaster depot organizations were all vitally concerned. One particular difficulty was the extreme scarcity of Quartermaster units. Many would have to work in the depots until the last minute and then proceed directly to the marshaling areas for movement to the Continent. The marshaling areas themselves required large quartermaster staffs to provide a variety of services to the troops passing through.12

As might have been expected, the first requirement of the various new headquarters was personnel-initially staff personnel for planning, and later units, especially logistical units, to implement the plans. Littlejohn was called on for a large number of experienced, competent, senior officers to fill key posts. Colonel Zwicker became Quartermaster, ADSEC, in January 1944, and Col. John B. Franks, former DCQM, became Quartermaster, FECZ, during the next month. Many of the first units called for in connection with NEPTUNE were QM group or battalion headquarters, used initially as staff augmentations to help in the planning phase at army and corps levels. Here again the unit commanders had to be hand-picked to suit the tactical commanders, since they would also serve as special staff officers all through the operation. Littlejohn found that even superior officers of wide experience needed prolonged orientation in the peculiarities of the European theater before they could be used in key positions. Most of


these posts were filled by promoting junior officers who had demonstrated their capacity in the ETO. The vacancies thus created were easily filled. Littlejohn had obtained a special allocation of more than 300 second lieutenants from the Office of The Quartermaster General.13

Detailed Quartermaster Planning

Whatever the merits of the operational plans, they were completed late-even dangerously late-from the logistical point of view.14 In a more conventional and more favorable situation, the SOS technical services would first have helped the supply officers of the army group, armies, and air forces compute their requirements, based on operational plans; then, adding a reasonable amount for the needs of the SOS itself, planners could forward the total figures to the zone of interior as the estimated theater supply requirements for a future campaign. But since the necessary lead time for routine requisitions was three to four months, clearly a requirement of this magnitude could only be filled over a period of many months, or even years. BOLERO had filled this need for advance notice, but only in a very rough and general way. From a planner's point of view, BOLERO comprised a tentative and fluctuating troop basis, supported by a fluctuating and tentative level of authorized supply. Moreover, the trend of revisions in the troop basis was upward, and in the supply levels, downward.

With the inexorable time limitations in mind, the technical services could not wait for the completion of operational plans by newly activated headquarters. However meager the knowledge on which they acted, they still had to come to grips with the problem of detailed supply requirements, revise the crude BOLERO forecasts item by item, and make decisions that would probably be final.15 Three elements entered into every equation: the troop basis, the authorized days of supply, and the replacement factor for a specific item. The troop basis was not in the province of Quartermaster planners-they considered themselves fortunate if their information on the subject was fairly complete and up-to-date. Authorized days of supply were policy matters, decided at the highest War Department levels. Changes in this element of the supply equation were nonselective: they affected all items of a given class. Still, Littlejohn believed that recent reductions in the level of QM supply-particularly the drastic one of 20 January 1944-had been excessive. He drafted a letter to the War Department, which went out practically unaltered over the signature of


General Lee, recommending that this latest change be rescinded.16 There was no immediate reply, and Col. Ira K. Evans, the control officer in Overseas Supply Division, NYPE, writing on 11 March, warned Littlejohn that the response would probably be unfavorable: "It seems that they intend to be quite hard-boiled on this levels business. If the levels stick, then it seems to me that the only way in which you are going to get needed supplies is by complete revision of replacement factors. . . ."17 The same idea had already occurred to Littlejohn, as it probably would to any experienced supply officer, for the replacement factor is the third element of the supply equation, the one easiest to modify in the light of professional knowledge and experience. In fact, since the troop basis was still fluctuating and detailed operations plans were not available, detailed supply planning was largely concerned with correcting, refining, and applying replacement factors.

All the replacement data collected on previous American operations in World War II were available to the NEPTUNE planners, but Mediterranean experience was considered most nearly applicable, and was also most readily accessible. Littlejohn had maintained a regular correspondence with Middleswart at SOS NATOUSA and Sullivan at Fifth Army, and both these men had sent him copies of their more important reports to Washington. In the more leisurely atmosphere of the ETO in early 1943, staff members were able to collate and systematize this information, which was then returned to the Mediterranean theater in the form of the 100,000-man plan and related QM reference data.18 These were enthusiastically received in NATOUSA and prompted further correspondence with all the senior Mediterranean quartermasters. In the period November 1943-January 1944, revised printed editions of these studies were published in London.19 Littlejohn sent copies to all his contacts in active theaters, requesting comment, and received prompt replies, principally in tabular form, which were reproduced and distributed to the QM sections of all the headquarters engaged in NEPTUNE planning. Sullivan (the Fifth Army quartermaster) also made some general observations:

...We wish to reciprocate for the wonderful aid that your Basic Manual has been in the planning stages; without it we would have been sunk....I am sending you our maintenance studies for October 1943 through February 1944. Also we found that maintenance requirements on items such as shoe strings, BAR belts, socks wool light, command post tents, hospital tents, and meat cans should be revised upward; intrenching tools should be revised upwards to a very substantial degree....We have had rather a rich field experience in this operation and have compiled some data which may be valuable to others....20

Littlejohn sent this letter to Col. Max Brumbaugh, currently DCQM (London),


with the notation: "Please note the attached correspondence.... I want the maintenance factor problem brought [from Cheltenham] to London immediately and put into the Plans & Training Division, and some action obtained, so that we will at least be ahead of that gang of professors in the Quartermaster General's Office, instead of behind as at present."21 These papers illustrate a typical controversy between an overseas technical service and the zone of interior. Replacement factors were not merely statistical data based on observation; they were also policy matters. For example, approved theater replacement factors were used by NYPE in editing theater requisitions. The factors currently authorized for the ETO in 1943 were ample, and even excessive, for forces while they remained in the United Kingdom.22 They were based on experience of maneuvers and training, only slightly modified by the meager information on actual combat experience available when they were compiled. If combat operations experience in North Africa and Italy was pertinent, and Littlejohn emphatically believed that it was, the authorized factors were not combat factors at all, and were entirely inadequate for a cross-Channel attack and continental operations. He therefore forwarded his QM Service Reference Data to The Quartermaster General, and proposed to use them in computing and assembling stocks to support the assault forces.23 This proposal was received rather coolly in Washington. The statisticians Littlejohn referred to as "that gang of professors" had a viewpoint fundamentally different from that of a theater quartermaster. Analyzing the expenditures upon which the proposed new rates were based, they found special and nonrecurring issues lumped in with true replacement figures-the same practice they had objected to in connection with initial issues to BOLERO units a year before. They recommended that no changes be made in replacement and maintenance factors until actual combat of sufficient duration had demonstrated a permanent trend.24 This emphasis on long-range trends was natural, since the OQMG used replacement and maintenance factors primarily for long-range forecasting of procurement requirements for a global war effort.25 The OCQM, on the other hand, was primarily interested in meeting the specific demands of theater forces during combat. The thought will instantly occur that here were two staff agencies, compiling statistics for different purposes from different data, and yet trying to reconcile the results. Evans wrote that the War Department was "playing around with" the idea of allowing each theater to decide its own maintenance factors.26 It seems highly probable that


the idea had originated in his own office, where the troublesome factors had to be used daily in editing requisitions from overseas. But the proposal was not adopted at the time. Littlejohn's estimates later proved to be considerably more accurate than those of the OQMG, but they were still only estimates, and the OQMG had revised its factors as recently as 15 December.27 If a change were made at this point, actual continental campaign experience would require still more changes at a later date in the complicated and cumbersome US procurement program. There was much to be said for ASF's wait-and-see attitude, particularly since steps were being taken to increase the margin of safety for all supplies. On 26 April the War Department approved Lee's recommendation (actually initiated by Littlejohn) for an increase in the ETO level of supply, but for the preinvasion and NEPTUNE periods only-that is, through D plus 90.28

Another means of obtaining sufficient supplies for combat purposes was provided by PROCO (Projects for a Continental Operation) , a procedure instituted by ASF in June 1943. As originally conceived, this was a long-range production program to cover procurement of special items of major equipment required for OVERLORD but not provided for under current allowances or Tables of Equipment. Most of the items were Engineer or Transportation Corps responsibilities; the only applicable QMC items under this definition were materials-handling machinery. But the original PROCO projects ran into serious difficulties, largely because of the lateness of operational planning already mentioned. Meanwhile all the technical services had noted that PROCO provided a method of securing supplies for OVERLORD in excess of ordinary allowances and, since the requirements were nonrecurring, without disturbing the calculation of normal replacement factors. Moreover, PROCO supplies were not counted as part of the authorized theater level.29

The Quartermaster Corps, like other technical services in the ETO, adopted an interpretation of PROCO to cover all OVERLORD requirements in excess of ordinary allowances, and submitted projects accordingly. ASF immediately objected that this procedure made PROCO useless. On 18 September 1943 it advised the theater that most of the projects submitted were being reduced to ordinary requisitions.30 The theater replied that common items of supply had been included because the planned operation would require exceptional issues in excess of ordinary allowances. The War Department withdrew its objections and on 10 October announced that the ETO interpretation would be followed. Presumably ASF had viewed the original PROCO concept as a failure, and had decided to use the available administrative machinery for other purposes. PROCO thus became the vehicle for the acquisition of all supplies needed for Operation OVERLORD in excess of normal


allowances and outside authorized theater levels.31

Use of the PROCO procedure by the Quartermaster Corps is illustrated by the example of operational rations. The authorized theater level for C, K, and 10-in-1 rations combined was only eight days in the spring of 1944 This was hardly enough to supply the amphibious exercises before D-Day. Elaborate special preparations had to be made to support the assault forces. Quantities of B and operational rations had to be set aside months in advance so as to have them specially packed and ready for loading at the proper time. Another drain on reserves was caused by the rapid shifting of large bodies of troops across the United Kingdom just before D-Day. These movements involved last-minute exercises and rehearsals as well as the final staging for the assault. Transient troops consumed an unusually high proportion of operational rations. The fact that some other depot would be supplying fewer troops at the same time did not balance the situation because troops moved more rapidly from one depot area to another than did supplies. This meant that an unusually large proportion of stocks had to be held in depot reserves and could not be considered fully available to the whole theater. The temporary increase in theater ration levels from 45 to 60 days authorized for the mounting of Operation OVERLORD was not enough to meet these additional demands, especially as the 15-day increase was all in A rations. The Chief Quartermaster therefore requisitioned a special 15-day supply of combat rations, which was considered a PROCO project not charged against the theater ration level. The War Department agreed on condition that the additional rations would not permanently increase the theater level and that they would be absorbed within the first six months of the operation.32

Similar problems arose because of the special demands for tentage, field ranges, and other housekeeping equipment at the concentration, marshaling, and embarkation areas used in training for and mounting the operation. These supplies were also furnished under the PROCO procedure. Still a third category supplied through this procedure consisted of items of ordinary equipment needed during combat in quantities greatly exceeding regular allowances. A notable example was the entrenching tool, which, as experience in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy amply demonstrated, was required by each individual soldier as a means of digging his own shelter.33

Information received from General Sullivan, the Fifth Army quartermaster, convinced Littlejohn that War Department replacement factors for clothing were inadequate for combat. Since his own reference data had been rejected,


he submitted a rather large PROCO requisition (3,669 long tons) for extra quantities of regular clothing, basing his request largely upon NATOUSA factors. The War Department approved this project only to the extent of 33 percent, withholding approval of the balance until further study could be made. Ultimately, the remaining two-thirds was canceled by ASF because of production considerations. Meanwhile the need for this clothing had been partially met by increasing the over-all supply level. This experience developed in Littlejohn a distaste for special requisitions based upon the exigencies of combat. Henceforth, he was determined to procure his combat requirements by requesting a modification of regular replacement factors.34

The objectives of Quartermaster planning for OVERLORD were a 4-day reserve of all classes of supply by D plus 14, and a 14-day reserve by D plus 41 for all troops in the beachhead. Only the first (Phase 1) objective was a First Army responsibility, since after D plus 14 (Phase 11) ADSEC would relieve First Army of support for nonorganic units.35 These modest-sounding goals actually involved tremendous quantities of supplies because of the rapid troop buildup. The SHAEF G-4 Division estimated that to achieve them resupply would have to be maintained at 150 percent of daily consumption, and questioned whether this was possible.36

Special Supplies for the Assault

Combat Rations

Mediterranean experience had demonstrated both the advantages and the limitations of the various operational rations.37 Briefly stated, all of them were compact, fairly nutritious, waterproof, and resistant to rough handling. These features made them very convenient to transport and issue, and well-nigh indispensable for amphibious assaults and other periods of rapid movement or intense combat. On the other hand, they were not very palatable, and after a very few days became monotonous. Thereafter, loss of appetite rapidly led to malnutrition, loss of combat efficiency, and lowered morale. Technically qualified QMC officers were well aware of these disadvantages, and made plans to shift over to A or B rations at the earliest possible stage of each operation. But the major ETO problem in this field stemmed from the gigantic scale of the OVERLORD operation. MTOUSA had experienced repeated amphibious assaults and brief campaigns, with pauses in between. There was small prospect of such pauses on the Continent; it appeared likely that many of the combat troops and some of the close-support units would be continuously on the


move for months at a time. Such troops would receive the 10-in-1 ration, nutritionally the most satisfactory of the operational rations, plus whatever supplements of fresh foods could be sent forward to them under combat conditions.

The 10-in-1 ration was developed in the late summer of 1943, and when OVERLORD plans were being formulated it was still not completely tested in combat. It was essentially a simplified B ration for use in areas where the bulk-packed ordinary B ration could not be issued.38 Two major points of criticism were directed against the 1o-in-1 ration. Based on information furnished by OQMG, the new ration provided an average of 3,377 calories per man per day while the OCQM estimated that a combat soldier would require about 4,000 calories.39 Accordingly, the ETO proposed to issue one case of 10-in-1 to eight soldiers engaged in strenuous activity, or 1.25 rations per man per day. Littlejohn also felt that field conditions on the Continent made it mandatory to provide some means of heating the ration.40

During October 1943 a field test was held in the ETO in which the 10-in-1 ration was used both alone and with various combinations of supplements. A ration board, made up of Quartermaster and Medical officers, conducted this test and concluded that 500 calories per man per day should be added to the ration, that additional hot beverages should be provided, and that the ration pack should include heating facilities.41 The ETO proposal to requisition 10-in-1 rations on a basis of ten for eight men had been turned down by NYPE. The OCQM now proposed to achieve the increase in calories through a supplemental issue of the D ration chocolate bar.42

Though questioning whether the average soldier required as much as 4,000 calories, the OQMG had, in the interval between the original development of the ration and the end of 1943, raised the average content of the ration to 3,850 calories. It recognized the extra value of the heated ration but argued that the inclusion in each 10-in-1 pack of heat tablets or small stoves would be extremely wasteful. The ration would often be employed in situations where other sources of heat were available. The OQMG therefore planned to provide means of heating by making separate


issues of expendable supplies.43 By the end of 1943 the form and size of the various operational rations used in the ETO were well stabilized. When the tactical plans became firm enough to permit detailed supply planning, the OCQM and lower quartermaster echelons knew what rations they had to work with.

A major problem remaining with respect to all nonperishable rations was to make them palatable. As already noted, First US Army was the senior American headquarters in the assault, and Colonel McNamara was thus responsible for ration planning in the initial phase of operations. He regarded the 10-in-1 as superior to C and K rations in respect to both palatability and nutrition, but inferior to the B ration. He therefore planned to furnish the full B ration as early as possible and to as many troops as possible, using the combat rations only as long as transportation shortages and lack of handling facilities made this absolutely necessary. He also made plans for early supply of bread and perishables to augment the combat rations. This plan made it possible to issue whatever refrigerated food actually arrived in the forward areas, without waiting for the accumulation of balanced stocks necessary to issue an A ration.

Each individual was to carry one D and one K ration and four candle-type heat units on his person when disembarking, and each organization carried three C or K rations for its members. No unit was to draw rations until its third day ashore. During the first three days, maintenance and buildup rations would be shipped in the proportion of 60 percent C rations and 40 percent K rations. On D plus 4, 10-in-1 rations would begin to arrive, and on D plus 15, the first B rations, bread ingredients, and fresh coffee were scheduled. By the end of the first month, it was estimated, 50 percent of consumption would be B rations, 25 percent 10-in-1, and 25 percent C, D, and K rations.44 After D plus 15 fresh bread at the rate of eight ounces per ration would be available for 40 percent of the troops, and by D plus 30, enough perishable foods to provide a rough equivalent of the A ration for 40 percent of all personnel on the far shore.45

Hospitals were to be provided with the 5-in-1 until the B ration became available. This was augmented by a 25-in-1 hospital supplement pack containing sugar, cocoa, and coffee, and canned milk, soup, and fruit juices. Requisitions of the hospital supplement were to build up during the first eleven days to 25,000 rations per day, and of the 5-in-1


to 27,500 per day. These figures represent about 1.2 and 1.4 percent of anticipated troop strength respectively.46

Clothing and Equipment

The original date for D-Day was 1 May 1944, so that plans provided for troops to take the field in clothing suited to late spring in a temperate zone climate. The. First Army QM plan directed that all personnel go ashore in antigas protective clothing. The typical assault uniform was treated herringbone twill, either jacket and trousers or coverall, worn over untreated flannel olive drab shirt and woolen trousers. Less popular, but also worn by many of the men were impregnated woolen shirts and trousers. Since the weather would still be cool, the wool shirt and trousers would usually be worn with a jacket, either the 1941 Parsons type or the winter combat jacket. The Type III combat shoe was to be worn with protective socks and impregnated canvas leggings. Everyone wore untreated wool undershirts and drawers. The troops would carry, but not wear, protective hoods and gloves.47

An unmistakable lesson of Mediterranean combat was that too much clothing and equipment had been issued. The authorized allowance filled two barracks bags and weighed down the disembarking troops, who promptly abandoned most of it. All ETO headquarters were agreed that something should be done, but the final decision on specific items of equipment to be carried ashore by the assault troops was made by General Bradley, on the advice of his army quartermaster, Colonel McNamara.48 McNamara's concept centered on two main ideas: first, all troops should turn in their winter clothing to QM depots of SOS, which would reissue it on the Continent when needed; second, the combat troops in the assault should cut down their equipment to an absolute minimum. Troops of divisions, tank destroyer, field artillery, reconnaissance, and tank units fell into this category. The list of what they would wear and carry is very brief. (Table 8) They were directed to turn in all additional clothing and equipment at the nearest SOS Quartermaster installation on being alerted. Although the newly issued duffle bag was an improvement over the two barracks bags carried in North African operations, even this was judged too bulky for combat troops. Apart from items on their belts or in haversacks, they were to carry their equipment in a blanket roll on their organizational vehicles. Some troops in the first wave wore an assault jacket with six pockets to carry extra articles. Personal belongings, except items that could be carried in the pockets, were to be sent home or


Photo:  Preinvasion training

PREINVASION TRAINING. Combat engineers aboard an LCI show the minimal clothing and equipment
to be used for assault operations. Slapton Sands, Devon, England, May 1944.

to the QM Personal Effects Depot in Kansas City. In his account of the episode, McNamara notes that these instructions evoked considerable surprise. Some units ignored them entirely, and had to be relieved of their excess equipment in the staging areas.49

An analysis of Table 8 reveals that this was a very frugal allowance. In addition to such parade ground items as neckties, garrison caps, and serge coats, each man was to turn in two blankets, one wool undershirt, one pair of wool drawers, and a barracks bag. The men in the combat units category would also give up two cotton drawers and two cotton undershirts, one herringbone twill jacket and trousers, one wool olive drab shirt and trousers, a duffle bag, and a pair of leggings. Certain articles retained or added are also of interest. Every man would have a raincoat-a necessity in the wet climate of northern France. The direct issue of four heat tablets to each man indicated that the OQMG had turned down Littlejohn's urgent request that this item be included in the


(D-Day to D-plus 44) 

Items Worn by Individual
Items Carried by Individual
Number and Item Number and Item
1 Belt, web, waist 1 Bag, canvas, field, with stap and suspenders when authorized
1 Drawers, wool 1 Belt, cartrigde, pistol or BAR
1 Gloves, cotton, protectivea 1 Canteen
2 Handkerchiefs 1 Cover, canteen
1 Helmet, steel with liner 1 Cup, canteen
1 Hood, wool, protective 1 Haversack
1 Jacket, field, or jacket, combat, winter (when authorized) 1 Pack carrier
1 Leggings, canvas, protective 1 Pocket, magazine, double web or pocket, carbine
1 Shirt, flannel, protective 1 Pouch, first aid
1 Shoes, service, pair 2 Tags, identification, with necklace
1 Socks, wool, protective  
1 Trousers, wool, protective  
1 Undershirt, wool  
Items in Haversack or Field Pack
Items Carried in Blanket Rolls on
Vehicles of Assault Unitsb
Number and Item Number and Item
1 Can, meat 2 Blanket
1 Bottle halazone tablets 1 Can, meatd
2 Handkerchiefs 1 Drawers, cotton, short
4 Heat units-1½ oz. 1 Forkd
1 Insecticide, 2-oz. can 2 Handkerchiefs
1 Knife 1 Jacket, herringbone twillc
1 Raincoat 1 Knifed
3 Socks, wool, light, pairs 5 Pins, tent, shelter half
1 Socks, wool, protective 1 Shoes, service
1 Spoon 1 Suit, herringbone, twillc
Toilet articles 1 Tent, shelter half and pole
1 Towel, huck 1 Towel, bath
  1 Trousers, herringbone twillc
  1 Undershirt, cotton
a Items to be worn when and if ordered.
b Defined as divisions and tank destroyer, field artillery, reconnaissance, and tank units
c If herringbone twill protective clothing was worn, it would be worn over regular OD flannel shirts and OD woolen trousers. Each unit would be initially clothed in either OD protective or herringbone twill protective clothing.
d Not carried by assault troops
Source: Operation OVERLORD, First United States Army Plan, NEPTUNE, Annex 7, 25 February 1944.


operational ration. The insecticide and the halazone tablets used to purify drinking water were normal issues to men going into combat. Men as lightly equipped as the assault troops would need prompt and adequate maintenance, and this was provided by beach maintenance sets. (Appendix A)


Starting on D plus 4 and continuing for to days, these sets were very successful in replacing lost, worn-out, or expended items of clothing, equipage, and general supplies. Each set contained 75,000 man-days of Class II and IV supply, but only on a scale to re-equip the troops with the items they had carried ashore. To quote the First Army after action report: "The articles were essential rather than ornamental, and the factors were accurate."50 Here, then, was a combat-tested list of minimum requirements for an amphibious assault followed by two weeks of hard combat. While it is true that this scale of maintenance was adequate for a short time only, it represented a tremendous saving in supply and shipping space. As a specific instance, the per-man-per-day factor for this set was .3859 pounds, whereas the corresponding figure from earlier ETO planning tables was .8503 pounds.51 Each set, consisting of 422 waterproofed packages weighing an average of about 68 pounds, totaled almost 13 long tons and was loaded on 18 skids for faster handling during the initial phase. By D plus 14, a total of 61 sets was scheduled to arrive, and on that day this system of supply would be discontinued.52

From D plus 14 through D plus 41, a considerably larger variety of Class II and IV supplies would be furnished through follow-up maintenance sets.53 (See Appendix A) These sets, weighing 100 tons each, furnished replacement supplies for 450,000 man days. These packages were not assembled on skids. The additional articles were principally major nonexpendable items of equipment. The allowances of expendable supplies were considerably more generous, but the per-man-per-day factor was still only .485 pounds. By D plus 41 a total of 32 follow-up sets would be received in the beachhead. In general, the belief was that they were nearly as accurate as the factors for beach maintenance sets.54 Beginning on D plus 43, full-scale maintenance requirements would be met by conventional supply methods.55

Liquid Fuels

Planning for motor fuels and lubricants for vehicles of the assault force did not begin as promptly as planning for food and clothing. The division of responsibilities for POL was not determined until mid-1943, and definitive directives were not issued until December 1943. This unstable situation paralleled that in the United States, where the exact function of the SOS, the Army-Navy Petroleum Board, the Quartermaster Corps, the Transportation Corps, and the Corps of Engineers with respect to


liquid fuels for a time remained uncertain. When the situation clarified in the zone of interior, POL at the army level became a Quartermaster Corps responsibility.56 Parallel to developments in the Mediterranean theater, an Area Petroleum Board under General Lee came into being to represent all US military agencies in dealing with the British and the Washington Army-Navy Petroleum Board and to decide questions about importation, storage, and use of POL. On 26 July 1943 the Chief Quartermaster, ETO, was charged with establishing combat requirements and making plans for control, storage, and distribution of all POL for US forces on the Continent, except for items peculiar to the Army Air Forces.57

The chief problem facing Quartermaster Corps planners was determination of POL requirements for the assault and later operations on the Continent. Here the main obstacle was the absence of applicable data on which to base predictions of expenditures. Although planners could draw on British consumption figures for various campaigns since 1939 as well as on American experience in North Africa, Sicily, and the current campaign in southern Italy, they found that expenditure figures were not broken down in sufficient detail to be very useful. Moreover, such statistics could serve only as general rather than as specific guides. Basic factors in calculating requirements were the rate of consumption of each type of vehicle, the number of vehicles, and the so-called duration factor, which might more accurately have been called a mileage or distance factor. Vehicular consumption was the only factor in the equation that could be figured out with fair accuracy. The number-of-vehicles factor remained uncertain because the size and composition of the forces were subject to endless changes down to the last week before D-Day. Moreover, tactical commanders had discretion to modify the organization of their units for the assault and to decide how many organic vehicles would accompany the initial waves of the landing. Motor vehicles would be among the largest and most vulnerable items of equipment in the assault. No estimate of vehicle losses during the first days could be more than a guess. Given all these variables, the conventional procedure of adding together vehicle totals derived from T/O&E's was virtually useless. Consequently, in the QM Service Reference Data which Littlejohn sent to the OQMG in January 1944, POL requirements were computed on a pounds-per-man-per-day basis.58 This concept was predicated on the assumption that, in very large forces, the ratio of men to various types of vehicles would be fairly constant. It had already been adopted by Fifth Army in Italy.

The duration-of-operations factor was at once the most important and the most difficult to determine. It depended on the character and outcome of future


Typical Forcea-Combat Conditions

US Gallons
Lbs. (Gross)

Net Weight
(Lbs. Per Gallon)

(Per Net Long Ton)

(Per Gross Long Ton)

Gasoline (MT80)
Diesel Fuel
Engine Oils
Total POL

a Composition: 71 percent field forces, 8.7 percent Army Air Forces, 20.3 percent Services of Supply.
b Including fuel for powered equipment, cooking, and heating.

Sources: QM Service Reference Data, 1 Jan 44, II, 86; Littlejohn, ed., Passing in Review, ch. 18, an. B, Activities of the P&F Div, OCQM, by Col. Lyman R. Talbot and Lt. Col Claud Ettele.

operations, with all the attendant variables and uncertainties. Important unknown elements in the equation were weather, length and development of lines of communication, and duration and effectiveness of enemy resistance. In an operation as big as OVERLORD, these elements would probably vary from place to place within the combat area. They were imponderables which could be estimated only roughly.

In July 1942 the ETO Chief of Transportation, at that time charged with POL supply, estimated the duration factor at 150 miles per day.59 A year later-largely on the basis of experience in Tunisia-this figure had been much reduced. The British calculated an average vehicle range of fifty miles per day in combat and the OCQM substantially agreed.60 By the end of 1943 more information was available on the numbers and types of vehicles that were to be employed on the Continent, and Lt. Col. Claud Ettele, the OCQM POL statistician, was able to submit some preliminary figures. Official consumption rates were available for each type of vehicle, but he decided that 20 percent should be added to allow for partially worn-out motors and other unfavorable conditions. On that basis he arrived at an average daily consumption of 8 US gallons per wheeled vehicle, 24 per half-tracked vehicle, and 52 per full-tracked vehicle.61 Estimates of the composition of the force and its fuel-consuming equipment suggested an average consumption of 1.9081 gallons per man per day. (Table 9)

Although these figures were still only approximations they were accepted by the Engineers, the Transportation Corps, and the COMZ G-4 for planning purposes. They were based on a heterogeneous force, composed of 71 percent


field forces, 8.7 percent air force, and 20.3 percent SOS troops. If such a distribution did not materialize, consumption might be quite different, the estimates ranging from 2.10 gallons per man per day for field forces personnel alone to 1.14 gallons for SOS units. This meant that a variation in the composition of the force, all other factors remaining constant, could result in a difference of as much as 50 percent or more in POL consumption. Under the circumstances, refinements in estimating techniques meant relatively little. The OQMG questioned the validity of a 50-mile per day operational estimate, but approved a 20 percent allowance for age of vehicles and adverse conditions. Littlejohn pointed out that he had made no other allowance for loss from various causes, such as fire, leakage, pilfering, or enemy action. He contended that a rough rule-of-thumb estimate was likely to prove as accurate as a most carefully elaborated one.62

Even when tactical plans had matured to the point where the number and types of vehicles could be counted day by day, accuracy of consumption estimates could never be precise. Only as operations proceeded could estimates be brought into line with actual expenditures. In the end, planning was based on what appeared to be the best guess as to operational needs: 25 miles per day up to D Plus 15, 50 miles per day thereafter.63

Roughly estimated in terms of gallons per man per day, this amounted to an expenditure rising from about 100,000 gallons (360 long tons) on D plus 1 to 450,000 gallons (1,600 long tons) on D Plus 14. Moreover, these figures applied only to current requirements for ground operations. Total daily requirements including reserves would exceed 5,000 long tons by the latter date, and reach 7,350 tons by D plus 41.64

With such large quantities under consideration, the question of transportation was paramount. Experience in other theaters indicated that the ultimate solution lay in the movement of bulk gasoline by tanker ships, pipelines, tank cars, and tank trucks as far forward as the tactical situation would permit. Once a lodgment area had been secured and organized, responsibility for this rearward phase of the problem would be shared by the Engineers and the Transportation Corps.65 The Quartermaster Corps was entirely in accord with this arrangement. Its own POL units were trained and equipped to decant gasoline into five-gallon jerricans, and to move it forward as dry cargo to the combat units.66 But one major question remained unanswered. How soon could a


bulk system be placed in operation? For quartermasters this really meant: how long will jerricans, brought in over the beaches, remain the source of POL supply on the Continent?

The Engineers and the POL Section, G-4, were confident that bulk POL would be available on the Continent in sufficient quantities for all purposes by D plus 30, but the various Quartermaster organizations concerned decided to provide packaged supplies for current consumption and reserves through D plus go if possible. The required quantities were computed at approximately 275,000 long tons, and the limiting factor was the supply of jerricans. The decision finally reached was that packaged POL would be supplied in sufficient quantities to carry the entire force through D plus 41, in case the Engineer plan could not be carried out on schedule. Moreover, all available jerricans were to be filled before being transported across the Channel, and were to arrive during the first go days. Subdividing their responsibilities by phases, the various Quartermaster agencies requisitioned the following quantities of POL for delivery to QM depots in the United Kingdom:67

Long Tons (All Products)
D to D plus 14
QM First Army
D plus 15 to D plus 41
D plus 42 to D plus 90

Fifth Army experience in Italy indicated that combat units in action received 88 percent of their gasoline in five-gallon cans.68 This confirmed earlier British experience, demonstrating that the jerrican was a combat item of major importance and would have to be provided in adequate quantities. The determination of can requirements involved the consideration of two factors: the number of cans needed for initial equipment of vehicles and the number required to maintain forward distribution of gasoline. The first factor was relatively simple; it could be calculated from unit T/O&E's once the composition of the force was settled. The second factor depended on the time that would elapse between the issue of a full can and its return empty to the refilling point. This would determine the number of cans in circulation at any given time and the rate of loss through various causes. The loss factor could be calculated, though only roughly, on the basis of past experience. But the circulation factor, depending as it did on the character of the fighting, was subject to such wide variations as to defy advance calculations. Predictions of can requirements were as uncertain as estimates of gasoline requirements, and in defiance of logic came to be influenced by can production capacity as well.69


Estimates in August 1942, based on a cross-Channel operation around 1 April 1943, arrived at a can requirement of 6,000,000, including 400,000 to be used for water. The OCQM was still using this figure in November 1942, although there was a growing recognition that the five-gallon can would probably be used more extensively than had first been thought.70 By June 1943 strategic plans had greatly changed and can requirements had been completely revised. These were now calculated at 11,500,000 through the first quarter of 1944, the total quantity expected from British and United States sources. All but l,000,000 cans were being manufactured in the United Kingdom.71

This total appeared so high to the OQMG that it suspected the ETO of preparing to use its resources for the direct supply of other theaters, notably North Africa. But all 11,500,000 were intended for the ETO alone.72 This figure, which represented the maximum available supply for D-Day, was justified by estimates based on a to percent loss factor and a 7-day turnaround. British staff planners, meanwhile, using 15 percent for loss and 13-day turnaround, calculated that American requirements through 1944 would amount to nearer 20,000,000 cans. This estimate was rejected by the OCQM, partly because no such quantity could be procured within the time limits, but both calculations, while they could be refined ad infinitum, were admittedly uncertain.73 The final decision had to be made on the basis of the best judgment of those responsible. This is what Littlejohn meant when he wrote later to Brig. Gen. Wayne R. Allen, who, as general purchasing agent, had made all production arrangements with the British, "I wish to recall the day that you and I stood in London, threw our slide rules and computors out of the window, got down to facts, and estimated 15½ million jerricans as required to mount an operation on the Continent. This figure has been so accurate that it has been astounding."74

Special Arrangements for Support of the Beachhead

The authorized stock levels, supplemented by PROCO projects, furnished the Quartermaster Corps with necessary supplies, but the responsibility for moving these supplies to the Continent lay with the Transportation Corps. Since the availability of required items on the far shore would determine the success or failure of its mission, the ETO Quartermaster Service co-operated closely with the Transportation Corps in trying to make shipment plans successful. To facilitate the movement of supplies over open beaches and to protect supplies stored in the open, the decision was made early that all items for the assault


phase must be packed in containers which, if not completely waterproof, were at least reasonably impervious to water; also, as far as the divisibility of supplies permitted, all packages must be small and light enough to be moved without mechanical aids, too pounds gross per package being considered the maximum.75 The OCQM lacked labor, materials, and depot space for repacking in the United Kingdom and therefore requested that the OQMG give most careful attention to the requirement for waterproof packing.76 The OQMG eased this problem somewhat by developing waterproof laminated burlap tubing for use in repacking supplies that were not in acceptable containers.77 On hearing about this development the ETO Quartermaster Service immediately requested shipment of 15,000 yards of the tubing but reiterated its general requirements for amphibious packing.78

The flow of amphibiously packed supplies into the theater in itself created new problems. To have these supplies readily available when needed and to prevent their dissipation by issue for current consumption, depots in the United Kingdom were instructed to inventory amphibiously packed supplies separately from ordinary stocks and to keep them physically apart. This stipulation added substantially to the physical and bookkeeping burdens of the depots. Depot commanders and base section quartermasters complained that such special stock control was almost impossible because of constant addition of new items and also because of labor and space shortages. Furthermore, they alleged that the program was hindered by the difficulty of distinguishing between amphibious and ordinary varieties of packages and also by the poor quality of much of the special packing. Admitting the validity of such complaints, the DCQM maintained that the quality of amphibious packing would shortly improve and insisted that, despite the added effort, the segregation of amphibious stocks was indispensable to the rapid movement of these supplies once the details of the offensive operation were settled.79

To improve control of amphibious stocks and reduce demands on transportation, supply planners decided in January 1944 to concentrate them in depots G-35 at Bristol and G-40 at Barry, on either side of the Bristol Channel. This area was to be the center for US supply to the Continent in the early phases of OVERLORD, and these depots were selected as the major Quartermaster reserve installations for the first thirty days of the operation. To enable the two depots to perform this special mission, involving the storage and rapid dispatch


of over 28,000 tons of operational supplies, part of their responsibility for current supply had to be shifted to other depots.80

"Type loading" was another improved transportation technique. The Quartermaster Corps and other technical services cooperated with the Transportation Corps in developing this plan for loading supplies for direct shipment from the United States to the Continent without intermediate storage in the United Kingdom. The procedure involved loading the holds of ships with balanced lots of each supply category needed to support the assault forces at different operational stages. Items destined for the United Kingdom could be loaded on the decks of the transatlantic vessels, while special "bricks" of balanced supplies were stored in the holds. These were not unloaded in England but taken directly to the Continent as soon as the beachhead could receive them. The ETO technical services estimated that about 150,000 tons could be handled in this way and that the QMC share would be 40,000 to 50,000 dead-weight tons.81

The ultimate value of the type loading procedure depended on skillful selection of the supplies making up the bricks. The DCQM therefore calculated very carefully the needs of the assault force in the period between D Plus 31 and D plus go when the type-loaded cargoes would be available on the Continent. Two types of ration bricks were decided on, one for delivery from D plus 31 through D plus 60, containing 57 percent balanced B ration components, 23 percent 10-in-1, 10 percent C, and 10 percent K rations, plus supplementary D rations and heat units. The second type, for the period D plus 61 through D plus 90, contained 68 percent B rations, 14 percent 10-in-1, 9 percent C, and 9 percent K, plus D rations and heat units. Each brick weighed 500 tons; the first type contained 210,000 rations, the second 220,000. For clothing and equipage only one type of brick was provided. It contained a slightly more varied list of items than the followup maintenance sets, weighed 626 tons, and provided maintenance for 50,000 men for 30 days.82

To speed handling of supplies in the assault, the Transportation Corps proposed that they be loaded on skids for use in the phase immediately following the landing of the assault waves. This technique provided that a quantity of supplies-not more than 3,000 pounds because of the limited carrying and handling facilities of the vessels and vehicles involved-should be attached with metal straps to a wooden platform mounted on wooden runners, making it possible to treat the supplies as a unit rather than as individual packages. It will be recalled that skids had been used successfully in the invasion of Sicily. In October 1943 the OCQM agreed to co-operate in experiments to determine the usefulness of skidloads for


cross-Channel operations.83 Tests in the United Kingdom led the Transportation Corps to conclude that skidloads would make for more rapid handling, simplified control procedures, and better protection of supplies than was possible in moving separate packages. That service believed that the additional labor required to assemble the skidloads in the United Kingdom would be more than offset by the greater ease of handling on the beachhead.84 Quartermaster personnel, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic about skids.85 The DCQM, better acquainted than the Transportation Corps with depot labor and space problems, was particularly concerned about the unavoidable loss of cargo space-estimated at 25 percent-caused by the fact that large units could not be stowed aboard ship as advantageously as smaller separate packages. But recognizing that skidloads permitted faster handling (provided the essential fork-lift trucks, cranes, and winches were available as planned), it agreed to adopt the procedure.86

A conference in January 1944 between DCQM officers and Colonel McNamara resulted in the decision to use skidloads for packaged combat rations up to D plus 10. Clothing and equipage, in the form of beach maintenance sets, which were made up of tight bales and shoe boxes and therefore better adapted to strapping than ordinary packages, would also be loaded on skids until D plus 14. POL in cans and drums would be transported in skidloads after D plus 3. In all, 4,448 tons of rations, 386 tons of clothing and equipage, and over 16,000 tons of POL were involved.87

Experiments with various sizes and types of skidloads continued through the spring of 1944, but no change was made in the original decision to limit their weight to about 3,000 pounds so that the skids could be handled by cargo gear on small ships, and so that two skids would make a load for a DUKW or a 2½-ton truck.88 But when the proposal was made to extend the use of skidloads to D Plus 120, the OCQM objected. It felt that the additional drain on depot labor, facilities, and materials would not be justified once the special unloading problems of the initial assault phase had been overcome.89

Special arrangements for support of the airborne troops were limited in scope, since these troops were expected to link up with the seaborne forces very early. Like other assault troops, the parachutists packed blanket rolls to be


brought to them later on unit vehicles. As already noted, First Army's follow-up maintenance sets included special airborne Class II items. Since the organic airborne Quartermaster companies of the divisions were included in their seaborne echelons, supply support at the take-off airfields was provided by units of IX Air Force Service Command. The 2d QM Depot Supply Company had been earmarked for aerial resupply support, and its men packed supplies in canvas containers for parachute dropping. The XVIII Corps (Airborne) had arranged for five days of supply (packed) and three days (unpacked) for each division to be held at the takeoff airfields to cover any emergency. At dusk on D-Day gliders were to land reinforcements and supplies for the two divisions. Only one parachute resupply was planned-a daylight drop on D plus 1. This was automatic supply, to be landed on prearranged drop zones. Each division was to receive about 240 tons, to be dropped by the 50th and 52d Troop Carrier Wings.90

As the date for launching the cross-Channel assault approached, storage and distribution problems, already intensified by the accumulation of huge quantities of supplies, were further complicated by special preparations for supporting the forces on the far shore. Quartermaster tonnage arriving in the United Kingdom increased from 69,000 in January 1944 to 139,000 in May.91 Transportation Corps attempts to deal promptly with vastly increased imports led, unavoidably, to a partial breakdown of the expert handling procedures ETO had been accustomed to. There were complaints, reminiscent of early 1943, about the strain on depot operations as well as the need to re-sort and reshuffle misdirected supplies, but the improved efficiency of the Transportation Corps and the validity of the system of using sorting sheds were demonstrated by the steady decline in the proportion of interdepot shipments to total tonnage received.92 To achieve this improvement despite rapid unloading in ports and depots, road and rail congestion, and special embargoes on movement into southern England, required careful cooperation between British and American agencies.93

OCQM Plans for Use of Quartermaster Troops

Just as supply planning was carried on even before the detailed tactical plan for OVERLORD was worked out, so was planning for the use of Quartermaster troops. Organization and training of troop units took so long that they could not have been achieved in time had they not started long before final decisions were made on the cross-Channel assault. Personnel for Table of Organization units, the regular organizations which made up the great mass of the Quartermaster Service, involved the question of


the whole theater troop basis and the fluctuating QMC portion thereof. The total number of American troops coming to the United Kingdom at any given time was determined by the transportation available and by current commitments in other parts of the world. This figure was calculated at the highest levels of strategic planning and announced to the theater on appropriate occasions. The theater staff could do little to influence its size, but it could, in agreement with the War Department, establish priorities for the movement of units of different types within the planned totals.

The proportion of service troops in the whole force was subject to pressure arising from the high command's desire to build an effective fighting force as rapidly as possible and from the prevailing attitude of judging effectiveness largely by the number of troops available for direct combat with the enemy. That the full impact of a fighting force depended heavily upon the efficiency of its supply system was a fact which received inadequate recognition outside SOS ranks.94

When plans were being made for the buildup in the United Kingdom, the technical services had little to support their arguments for a given proportion of the troop basis. Such information on the support capability of specific Quartermaster units as existed in 1942 and 1943 was not derived from extensive combat experience in World War II and the OCQM often fell back on World War I observations which were not available in detail and were not strictly comparable. Even within SOS some of the other technical services could point out the greater technical proficiency required of their personnel, and make a stronger case for their units as essential in combat. Consequently, whenever pressure was exerted to reduce the SOS proportion of the troop list, the less skilled troops of Quartermaster Service suffered, and the miscellaneous personnel who were assigned to quartermaster duties in emergencies were rarely satisfactory.95

The first BOLERO plan of May 1942 provided that 53,000, or slightly more than 5 percent of the total force and 19 percent of the SOS, were to be Quartermaster troops. The second BOLERO plan of July 1942 increased the total United States forces expected in the United Kingdom by April 1943 to 1,147,000 but reduced the Quartermaster component to 39,000, or 15 percent of SOS and 3.5 percent of the whole force. This figure, the all-time low for the ETO Quartermaster Service, was far short of the 51,324 Quartermaster troops that the Chief Quartermaster considered essential for a force of this size.96 From the spring of 1943, when plans were drafted anew for the creation of a large striking force in Britain, the Quartermaster proportion


of American troops was alternately raised and lowered in successive revisions.97

In calculating the Quartermaster troop list the Chief Quartermaster was confronted with a two-fold problem: he had to provide quartermaster services for the troops involved in the prelanding buildup and also for the force ultimately to be engaged in the liberation of Europe. The War Department placed major emphasis on preparations for the assault, and directed the Chief Quartermaster to pattern his buildup force closely on the needs of the assault force. This task was made difficult both by the vagueness of the assault plans, which did not really begin to crystallize until six months before D-Day, and by the drawn-out period of the buildup, which put substantial numbers of troops and immense quantities of supplies in the United Kingdom long before the assault.

The interval between the arrival of Quartermaster units and the troops they were to support was always too short, and sometimes all troops arrived simultaneously.98 While ASF appreciated the importance of getting service troops to the theater ahead of the combat troops, the heavy demands from other theaters and the shortage of selectees made it impossible to carry out this policy.99 Since the OCQM had intended to use the same service units scheduled for OVERLORD to assist also in the final preparations for the assault, their delayed arrival threatened to disrupt the schedule of the mounting operation.100

The technical services tried to distribute their limited numbers so as to give the highest priority to support of the assault, but they were handicapped by the tardy development of definitive operational plans. Although service programs were based on the best available estimate of tactical plans, as late as April 1944 new tactical plans were being developed which called for a 50 percent rise in the rate of buildup and double the rate of advance scheduled by the technical services. These new plans necessarily caused a severe strain on scarce service personnel.101

A partial solution to the shortage of Quartermaster units was found in the employment of British and North Irish civilian labor, as already described, but most SOS demands had to be met by US troops. Quartermaster strength rose from just over 30,000 at the end of 1943 to more than 72,000 by the end of June 1944, but because of the rapid influx of other troops during the same period the Quartermaster proportion of military personnel rose only from about 4 percent to something less than 4.5 percent.102


These figures embraced all Quartermaster troops in the theater, those earmarked for tactical units as well as those permanently assigned to SOS. Eventually about 70 percent of these troops would be in the SOS and 30 percent in the field forces, but the situation in the United Kingdom prior to D-Day compelled the OCQM to delay assignments of Quartermaster troops to field forces and retain a high percentage for SOS functions. This was possible because the geographical intermingling of SOS and field force units, otherwise often disadvantageous, enabled most of the field troops to draw their support direct from SOS installations, without the use of their organic Quartermaster units. While the practice had some harmful effects on the coordination of training between the combat elements of the field forces and their organic Quartermaster units, it was often possible to postpone the actual assignment of the service units until the combat forces completed their training and braced themselves for the cross-Channel attack.

Quartermaster units were also shifted among organizations scheduled to reach the Continent at different times. Units destined, for example, for eventual assignment to Third Army, scheduled not to go into action until the end of July, were used by the Engineer special brigades or First Army units which participated in the first phase of the assault. In the same way service units earmarked for the Ninth Army were used temporarily by the Third Army pending activation of the former organization.103

The reassignment procedure did not always proceed smoothly. Planners agreed that the best trained and most experienced QM units would be turned over to organizations going into combat -the armies, corps, and divisions, the Engineer special brigades, and ADSEC. But it was precisely these units which the hard-pressed rear installations wanted most to keep. The OCQM tried to arrange transfers so as to do the least possible damage to the losing organizations, taking into account current and future operations and going so far as to suggest, as late as 15 April 1944, that valuable units assigned to First Army be permitted to remain at work in SOS installations and there be given whatever additional tactical training the army thought necessary. This careful juggling of unit assignments and reassignments complicated administration, but it allowed the OCQM some leeway in performing essential functions.104

Meanwhile, in an attempt to reduce the size and increase the flexibility of all service organizations, the Quartermaster Corps in the summer of 1943 had acquired several new types of administrative units.105 The need for such units to provide a system of subordinate logistical headquarters has already been noted. The newly authorized organizations were a revised headquarters and headquarters detachment, QM battalion, a similar mobile QM battalion headquarters, a QM group headquarters, and a headquarters and headquarters company,


QM base depot. The new battalion headquarters could each supervise and administer as many as ten Quartermaster companies. In theory, the battalion headquarters detachment (mobile) would administer mobile-type Quartermaster units, especially truck companies, but in many cases the two types of battalions were used interchangeably. They replaced headquarters of salvage, service, bakery, truck, and gasoline supply battalions, so that henceforth any QM battalion could be homogeneous or mixed. The strength of the two units was nearly the same: the battalion headquarters detachment contained 5 officers and 12 enlisted men; the mobile type had 2 more enlisted men. The group headquarters replaced various types of regiments; with to officers and 25 enlisted men, it could supervise and administer three or more QM battalions, irrespective of their type or functions. These battalions and groups were assigned to armies as well as to COMZ and the base sections.106

The headquarters and headquarters company, Quartermaster base depot, was also a new organization, authorized only since July 1943 These units were to be assigned within COMZ only; they were designed to provide administrative personnel for the Quartermaster section of a general depot or a major Quartermaster depot. Mediterranean experience indicated that such an organization was able to provide most of the Quartermaster staff of a base section headquarters, handling all inspections, training, local procurement, and supply control, as well as administering subordinate QMC units. These new organizations were capable of assuming responsibility for routine administrative detail, promoting a desirable degree of decentralization and reducing the burden of the OCQM and the base sections.107

The advantages of all these innovations in active operations were immediately evident to the OCQM, which had already proposed an organization along similar lines.108 That office asked permission to activate two headquarters and headquarters companies, QM base depot, without waiting for such units to be trained in the zone of interior. The stated purpose was to provide a suitable QM organization for Eastern and Western Base Sections when they followed combat troops across the Channel, and incidentally to convert casual personnel to T/O status.109

Attempts to secure the men to make up units of the new types by drawing on the SOS in the theater or direct from the zone of interior were only partly successful because of the theater personnel ceiling. The OCQM therefore resorted to breaking up or reducing one type of unit to get the "bodies" needed to activate or increase units of another type. For this purpose the large field bakery units


furnished a timely reservoir of manpower, thanks to the ability of the British to supply the Americans with some of their excellent labor-saving equipment. By disbanding 14 American bakery companies of 168 men each and activating l9 British-equipped bakery companies (mobile), the OCQM simultaneously raised the bread-baking capacity and obtained 756 men for use elsewhere.110 This procedure also accelerated the building up of the Quartermaster Service in the ETO, since the personnel credit came from companies due to arrive in October and November 1944, and the base depot headquarters units, using available non-T/O personnel, were to be activated immediately.111

To form new units and overcome the lag in shipment of QM troops from the zone of interior, Littlejohn arranged for the transfer to the Quartermaster Corps of 2,300 surplus replacements who had accumulated in the theater ground force replacement system by June 1944, and to these were added approximately 3,200 men obtained through a to percent reduction in basics in all types of Quartermaster units. The reduction made soldiers, even though relatively untrained available without depriving the losing units of their specialists. During the summer of 1944 a training program was inaugurated in the United Kingdom which processed these men into eighty-eight units, including group headquarters, fixed and mobile battalion headquarters, railhead companies, service companies, and a variety of composite units.112

Local activations, while helpful, were only a minor factor in the buildup of Quartermaster units. All planning for the use of Quartermaster troops had to be based on lists of units actually present, or definitely scheduled to arrive in the theater. (Table 10) Naturally, First Army, about to be committed in combat, had received a generous allocation, including troops to be transferred later to ADSEC and others on loan from SOS to be attached to the Engineer special brigades. In comparison, the meager allocation to Third Army is clearly evident. By the time Third Army was scheduled to become operational (about D plus 60), the hope was that troop arrivals from the United States would make up this deficit.

The Third Army requirements for QM units as shown in Table to present a typical Army-level QM organization in the European theater at the time. Such allocations varied slightly from army to army, in accordance with the desires of the individual army quartermaster and the current availability of units.113 The


2  JUNE 1944

Total in UK
First Army
Third Army
WD Authorized Allocation Per Army
QM Group Hq/HQ Det
QM Bn(M) HQ/HQ Det
QM Gas Sup Co
QM Dep Sup CO
QM Serv CO
QM Salv Coll CO
QM Salv Rep CO (SM)
QM Bkry CO (Spec)
QM Ldry CO (SM)
QM Sales CO
QM Refrig CO (M)
QM Fumig & Bath CO
QM Pet Prods Lab
a Includes Transportation Corps units (organization identical with that of QM Bn(M) HQ/HQ Det.
b ( ) represent SOS units attached to Field Forces.
c This was the OCOM estimate of requirements: Third Army's estimate was higher, especially for administrative units.
Sources: Chart, Personnel Div, OCQM SOS ETOUSA. 2 Jun 44. USFET QM 322. IRS, CQM to G-4 COMZ, 25 Jun 44, sub: QM Troop Basis for Third Army, Littlejohn Reading File, vol. XXV, item 60.

War Department was not directly consulted, and exercised only indirect control by imposing a numerical ceiling for all QMC personnel in the theater, irrespective of units. Littlejohn felt that the War Department scale of authorized unit allocations, unchanged since 1942, should be revised upward. First Army requirements were extraordinary, but even if the ETO scale as applied to Third Army was maintained, and several more armies were activated, the theater ceiling would have to be raised.114 This ETO scale was a direct result of Mediterranean experience, which had demonstrated that field armies needed a wide variety of Quartermaster units to provide direct support in the combat zone. McNamara later stated that the QM troop requirements for First Army which he had presented to Littlejohn in the fall of 1943 were equal to the number OCQM was then planning for the entire theater.115

Unlike Third Army, First Army had no transportation officer; motor transport units were directly under the army quartermaster. That was the way Bradley and McNamara had operated in the Mediterranean, and neither of them had any desire to entrust this important


function to what was, in late 1943, a new and inexperienced organization. Accordingly, 8 QM battalion headquarters (mobile), 34 QM truck companies, and 9 QM troop transport companies, all of which were actually Transportation Corps units, were assigned to the First Army quartermaster, and 7 more truck companies were attached to his command through D plus 14.116

Troop Training

While the buildup of Quartermaster forces in the United Kingdom was under way, the OCQM, in co-operation with SOS, the base sections, and the tactical commands, attempted to assure the readiness of Quartermaster units for OVERLORD. Two principal activities were involved: quartermaster operations with the tactical forces on the Continent, and quartermaster participation in mounting the assault. Cooperation with the field forces in training for active operations was a fundamental part of Quartermaster doctrine, although somewhat neglected in the ETO, where there was time for very little besides on-the-job training. Training with particular regard for anticipated tactical conditions and actual experience in working with specific field units were essentials that could not be omitted. Recognizing the importance of further field training, all echelons of command cooperated to create realistic operational situations. Thus as early as April 1943 supply of the 29th Division, stationed in southwestern England, was organized on a field basis, with distribution by daily train through railheads.117 Similarly, Quartermaster organizations assigned to First Army and ADSEC were attached to SOS installations where they engaged in activities closely resembling their assignments in the forthcoming operation and worked as much as possible with the units they would later serve. In the early spring of 1944, the First Army quartermaster assumed direct responsibility for training these units.118

To speed up the integration of new Quartermaster units into the theater organization, OCQM took the lead in working out systematic cooperation with SOS and the base sections for the reception and inspection of newly arrived units. Within ten days of a unit's arrival it was visited by a combined OCQM base section team which helped the commander orient himself and at the same time determined the status of his troops with respect to equipment and technical and basic training. Information thus collected enabled the OCQM and the base section to correct deficiencies much more rapidly. Early in 1944 Littlejohn decided that QM units needed active assistance in their training programs. He therefore arranged to lend one QM battalion headquarters to each base section for that purpose.119

Follow-through on the status of Quartermaster units was systematized in the Training Branch, OCQM London Office, in much the same way as central


control of the supply situation. A current report book was set up indicating for each unit the date of its arrival and its location, strength, training, and utilization. Changes in the book were made weekly on the basis of reports from base section quartermasters and OCQM observers. This information was summarized by a monthly analysis of the state of readiness of all Quartermaster units in the theater.120

Plans for the movement of supplies in OVERLORD were rehearsed in a series of field and amphibious exercises. These began with experiments and small-unit maneuvers in January 1944 and culminated in corps level dress rehearsals, including practically all units and equipment, in early May. The OCQM suggested a number of special tests, such as loading of clothing and equipage on skids, use of field ranges on landing craft, adequacy of the reserve stocks planned for transit areas, and the efficiency of the Type III shoe in an assault landing.121 Quartermaster observers at the exercises noted especially the handling of skidloads of Class II supplies, carrying their investigations as far back as the preparation of the special waterproof packages in the depots. Final procedures for packing and handling skidloads of the various types of supplies were arrived at only after much experimentation.122

The exercises, particularly the final ones preceding the assault, also tested the plans for the movement of troops. Quartermaster observers were particularly interested in the arrangements for supplying rations, clothing, equipage, and POL to units in transit. Unless the troops were already stationed near the south coast of England, they were first moved to concentration areas, where they received special equipment and lost certain administrative overhead not considered essential for the assault. A second move brought them to marshaling areas close to the embarkation points. There, final supplies were issued for the voyage, and the units were broken down into boatloads. Maintenance stocks were provided and ordinary housekeeping functions performed for troops in transit by the personnel attached to the camps. The mounting-out operation called into being a temporary but huge organization, largely for housekeeping purposes. The various districts of Southern Base Section bore the brunt of this responsibility, and since the functions were largely those of the Quartermaster Service, the Southern Base Section Quartermaster staff, headed by Col. Carroll R. Hutchins, was very actively engaged in supervision. But because of the shortage of QM units, personnel of every type were used, including, for example, the entire 5th Armored Division. The magnitude of the problem can be illustrated by a few statistics. About 60,000 men were required to establish and maintain


installations for the seaborne assault forces and perform services necessary to make them ready for sailing. To cook their meals, more than 4,500 new cooks were trained during the spring of 1944. Southern Base Section operated over 3,800 trucks to transport them and haul their supplies.123

With inexperienced personnel, repeated rehearsals were a necessity. The chief weaknesses of QM units were lack of detailed instructions and failure of subordinate commanders to understand their instructions. These shortcomings caused irregular supply procedures, ineffective use of field ranges, relatively poor ration preparation, and failure to provide a fully operative salvage organization, a defect which threatened to raise consumption of available equipment to alarming figures. As a result of these exercises, changes were initiated at all quartermaster levels to improve performance.124 Participation in the numerous exercises, especially the final ones which were on a very large scale, gave the Quartermaster units and their amateur assistants so many dry runs of their duties that the actual mounting of OVERLORD was in many respects little different from just another rehearsal.125

The tactical Quartermaster units participated actively in the amphibious training exercises. For example, units assigned or attached to the Engineer special brigades went to sea repeatedly in LST's, transferred to landing craft, received cargo brought ashore in DUKWs, transferred skidloads from DUKWs to trucks, and actually established Class I and III dumps near the beach. During Exercise TIGER, the last VII Corps rehearsal before D-Day, German E-boats intercepted a convoy off Portland in the early hours of 28 April. Two LST's containing troops of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, with the 3206th QM Service Company and the 557th QM Railhead Company attached, were sunk with great loss of life. The two QM units had over 300 casualties and had to be withdrawn from the NEPTUNE assault force. The disaster revealed serious deficiencies in command arrangements and emergency procedures.126

Although the QM units assigned or attached to the divisions, corps, and Engineer special brigades went through the great maneuvers with their respective tactical commands, the bulk of logistical support units for OVERLORD were concentrated directly under First Army and ADSEC. These were precisely the skilled cargo-handling units that were desperately needed in the U.K. depots and ports until the last minute, and only a few of them could be spared to participate in the exercises. Since these troops were not scheduled to land during the assault phase, their on-the-job training was appropriate to their future mission on the far shore.


Final Preparations for the Assault

As tactical troops assembled, preparatory to landing in Normandy, representatives of the OCQM and the First Army quartermaster took final steps to insure that all required quartermaster equipment would be on hand. Inspectors visited field force units to check the adequacy of their stocks. These visits showed that the tactical commanders had few if any criticisms of Quartermaster Service and in general had secured their full requirements. The few supply weaknesses were of minor significance and involved mainly items authorized after the initial organization of the units. Shortages of personal equipment were corrected by an elaborate system of showdown inspections and shortage reports, prescribed by the First Army quartermaster and issued to the troops as part of the Administrative Instructions Preliminary to Mounting.127

During the spring of 1944 Littlejohn demanded repeated surveys of the overall theater supply position of quartermaster items, and sent frequent reminders of the need for constant review of requirements to the various divisions of his office. Some shortages were found, but they involved primarily the possible reduction of theater stocks below safe maintenance levels rather than the absence of supplies for immediate issue. As the buildup approached its climax, contact between OCQM and the New York Port of Embarkation became practically continuous, both by message and by reciprocal visits of key officers. These efforts on both sides of the Atlantic enabled NYPE to ship all items requisitioned or furnish suitable substitutes.128

All services concerned in the staging Of OVERLORD through southwestern Britain realized the pressing need for flexibility and speed. To achieve these objectives, authorities decentralized responsibility among the districts of the Southern and Western Base Sections. Each district was provided with a technical staff capable of carrying out the staging activities assigned to it. Outloading of cargo, concentrated in the Bristol Channel ports, was handled largely by the XXIX District of Western Base Section. POL presented an especially difficult problem. The original BOLERO Plan had provided that POL would be shipped out from the same ports used by the combat troops. Repeated increases in the scale of OVERLORD soon made this arrangement impossible-the south coast ports had barely enough capacity for the troops and their vehicles. The POL depots were conveniently located to supply the basic loads of the departing vehicles, but this service was only a small portion of their responsibility. Most of the POL reserves would have to go by rail from the areas behind Southampton and Plymouth to ports in south Wales, moving diagonally across the main southward flow of outgoing traffic. The desired schedule amounted to about 4,000 tons


per day between D minus 30 and D plus 30, and bearing in mind the other tonnage requirements during the same period, the Petroleum and Fuel Division, OCQM, judged this to be impossible. Despite the fire hazards involved, the only solution was to move a portion of the POL to dumps near Llanelly, Port Talbot, and Sharpness before the rush of pre-D-Day traffic began. As much gasoline as possible was loaded on small coaster vessels, which then anchored in the outer harbors. Fortunately there were no accidents.129

Virtually all seaborne personnel were staged through XVIII and XIX Districts of Southern Base Section. During the staging, the districts could call on the base section and even on SOS headquarters for assistance, but while the troops were moving to the Channel the district was the hub of activity. The XIX District, covering Devonshire and Cornwall, the southwest corner of England, and staging a considerable part of the UTAH Beach invasion force, was fairly representative.130 In January 1944 it set up a planning and operations group of five officers to coordinate quartermaster district activities with respect to tests and operations. This group participated in the preinvasion exercises (the main training beach at Slapton Sands and the chief embarkation points for training were in its area) and moved smoothly into the mounting of OVERLORD. As the transit camps in XIX District filled up, the group acquired a field staff which expanded to a peak of 111 officers, 7 warrant officers, and 2,250 enlisted men. Organizationally, it consisted of all or parts of 3 QM battalion headquarters, 2 railhead companies, 2 refrigeration companies, 7 service companies, 3 bakery companies, 2 fumigation and bath companies, 3 laundry companies, and 2 graves registration companies. These organizations drew on the general depots in the district and supported the troops in the camps chiefly through three combination railheads and distribution points, each of which handled all classes of supply. Certain very special items were issued here, notably antiseasickness pills, insecticide powder, vomit bags, heating tablets, life belts, and antigas impregnite paste for shoes. The troops also drew a 7-day free issue of PX items-principally tobacco, candy, and razor blades.

Ration distribution was one of the most important QM functions of the districts. The inevitable difficulties of supplying large and constantly fluctuating numbers of men in scattered camps without extensive storage facilities were aggravated by General Bradley's determination to feed the transient troops a ration of the highest quality. When movement into the camps began, the troops were served the full ETO ration, including perishable meats and vegetables, fresh bread, and freshly roasted and ground coffee. Once the troops reached the marshaling areas and were briefed, maximum security measures were imposed. Since the men were now cut off from contact with British troops and civilians, the menu that had been somewhat modified out of respect for


Photo:  Setting up a POL dump

SETTING UP A POL DUMP on the beach during training exercises at Slapton Sands, April 1944.

British sensibilities no longer had any point. Thereafter, both in the cross-Channel assault and on the Continent, only American resources and American preferences affected the variety and quantity of food served. During the last phase of staging in XIX District, beginning on 24 May, a special menu was provided, containing such traditional. American favorites as steak, chicken, roast beef, and, for the first time since the early days of the ETO, white bread.131

Ironically, owing to inadequate sanitary facilities in overcrowded mess halls and the unaccustomed richness of the fare, limited outbreaks of digestive disturbances occurred, and because of unexpected arrivals and departures of troops, distribution points could not always furnish the special menu. Occasionally they were forced to issue 10-in-1 rations instead. Also, in the first phase of the embarkation, when the hour was of no consequence and full meals were served regardless of the time of day, there was a high wastage rate. But all obstacles considered, the feeding of


troops in transit was a superior accomplishment.132

The supply of Class II and IV items presented several problems. While the camps were being built, there were heavy demands both for maintenance of the construction troops and for supply of the camps. Requirements estimates generally exceeded actual needs and districts were thus easily able to meet most demands as they arose. But at times there were special requirements difficult of fulfillment, as when XIX District was notified on a Sunday afternoon that twenty-five 230-man camps would have to be erected and be ready to serve a meal by Tuesday at noon.

When the troops in transit began to go through the camps, other unforeseen demands arose. The mounting plan provided that the assault troops should be completely equipped before they left their home stations. For that reason clothing and equipment stocked for transient troops provided only minimum maintenance requirements for the short time the troops were expected to be in transit. But troops were often kept in marshaling areas longer than was anticipated and made unexpected demands. In addition, despite instructions, units sometimes arrived in the marshaling areas without their full equipment, expecting to fill out their allowances while in transit. Antigas impregnated clothing suddenly became very popular, reversing a two-year trend.

These demands were usually filled since there was no intention of penalizing errors by allowing the troops to proceed to the assault without necessary equipment. To meet this situation, ordinary supply routine was modified in XIX District, permitting the distribution points to deal directly with all accessible depots. In the Eastern and Western Base Sections, where airborne troops bound for the Cotentin Peninsula were being mounted, QM units supporting them were allowed to deal directly with any depot in the British Isles. Though these procedures caused inefficient use of transportation, they enabled all essential requirements to be filled.133

The most common criticism of the mounting operation concerned waste of food as well as clothing and equipment. Although some waste was unavoidable because of last-minute changes in plans, the chief cause was inability of QM officers to enforce supply discipline.134 Troops were inclined to use supplies freely, discard what they did not want wherever they might be, and leave policing of the staging area and the immense salvage problem to the stationary service troops. The high wastage rate was an important factor in the unexpectedly heavy demands for clothing and equipment. The local quartermasters, base section commanders, and


other high-ranking officers, repeatedly called attention to this fact. But with camp commanders generally lower in rank than commanders of units in transit, and with assault troops for NEPTUNE taking precedence over all others, little could be done to improve supply discipline. Even after D-Day, when troops passing through the camps were no longer under the same strain as the initial assault force, only slight improvement could be effected. Units left behind a mass of salvage that taxed U.K. facilities for months. To this mass was soon added the camp equipment that was no longer needed after mounting operations had been completed. As Littlejohn put it a week after D-Day, "we are confronted with the largest salvage problem in history."135

After the assault units left the docks and hards of southern England,136 they put themselves in the hands of the Navy. But, although the Navy fed the troops during the crossing and delivered them to the Normandy beaches, the Quartermaster Corps selected and provided food suitable for feeding troops at sea. The "sea passage menu" varied according to the facilities available on each type of vessel, but a special effort, in response to General Bradley's personal request, was made to provide bland and easily digestible foods to counteract seasickness and the emotional tension of preparing for combat. Before the crossing the Quartermaster Corps and the Navy had made detailed plans for special cooking facilities to avoid as far as possible feeding cold processed rations to the troops. But as it finally worked out, only the larger naval cargo and personnel vessels were able to serve the A ration; LST's used a modified B ration. These three types of ships carried most of the troops. The smaller landing craft, transporting 200 men or less, were furnished a 10-in-1 ration. All vessels carried a reserve of C and K rations lest cooking facilities be damaged in action. This precaution was fortunate since D-Day was postponed, and many ships were at sea more than a week.137

As the convoys moved toward the coast of Normandy on the night of 5-6 June, the Channel was smooth for the first time in several days, and many of the men were asleep. Even among their officers, few shared the forebodings of the senior logistical staff officers. Calculated wartime propaganda reminded them that they were backed by the most productive industrial system ever developed. They themselves had seen the loaded trucks and stacks of supplies along every road leading down to the embarkation points, and the huge fleet of vessels loaded down with supplies, top-heavy with their deckloads of vehicles. Logistical experts may have noted the relative scarcity of small landing craft, but only a few staff officers with extremely high security clearances


wondered about the effectiveness of the untried MULBERRIES. And yet the whole operation hinged on three things: the MULBERRIES, the landing craft, and the weather.

Security hid these doubts from the assault quartermasters, who checked over their reams of mimeographed instructions and pondered their personal responsibilities in the coming operation. The logistical skill of General Littlejohn and the tactical experience of Colonel McNamara did much to assure that Quartermaster plans covered every foreseeable contingency. Requisitions had been prepared in England to provide for each of the first ninety days on the Continent, and Standing Operating Procedures governing every quartermaster activity had been issued both to the participating Quartermaster units and to the combat units they were to support.138 Few service troops went ashore the first day; for most of them, there was nothing to do but wait.






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