Command and Organization--and the Assignment of Planning Responsibilities, January-June 1944
One result of the increasing tempo of invasion planning in the fall and winter of 1943-44 was that decisions on command and organization took a more definite turn. Efforts had continued throughout 1943 to work out a satisfactory delineation of authority in supply and administration, but the repeated reorganizations had left the problem far from solved. Merged with this struggle late in the year was the need to work out a command and organizational arrangement for the cross-Channel invasion both on the national and Allied levels, and to assign responsibilities for the detailed planning of the operation. These problems were closely related, since the necessity for an adequate command structure for continental operations had a direct bearing on the duties and authority of the SOS and its relationship to other commands. The efforts of the SOS to improve its position eventually culminated in the consolidation of its headquarters with that of ETOUSA. To understand how this came about it is necessary to see first how the major commands of the theater developed after the planning for OVERLORD began in earnest.
(1) Formation of the Major Commands
In August 1943 ETOUSA had three major subordinate commands: the Eighth Air Force (air forces), the V Corps (ground forces), and the Services of Supply (service forces).1 The Eighth Air Force was already carrying on operations against the enemy. The SOS had long been active in the field of administration and supply, and its importance was naturally enhanced by the accelerated build-up which now began in preparation for the cross-Channel operation. The V Corps continued to serve as the highest ground force headquarters in the theater.
As the various planning and training organizations were formed, it became important to develop a ground force command for the assault, and plans for a
higher headquarters began to take form early in the year. The knowledge that the British were intending to organize an army headquarters during the summer influenced these plans. General Andrews recommended that the Americans do the same, partly to help promote the deception that an Allied attack was being planned for 1943. General Devers pushed the idea further when he assumed command, asking that Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, then commanding the II Corps in Sicily, be sent to the United Kingdom to replace General Hartle, and also asking that an army commander be assigned to initiate planning for the invasion operation.2
The idea received further impetus in July when the British proceeded with the skeleton organization of their entire ground force command for OVERLORD, activating two armies and the 21 Army Group. In notifying General Devers of this development General Morgan suggested that the Americans also create a skeletonized army group headquarters in addition to an army headquarters. Anticipating approval of the OVERLORD plan in the following month he believed that these headquarters should be established so that they would familiarize themselves with their duties, prepare to undertake detailed planning for the invasion, and eventually take over command of the operation.
General Devers was in accord with this idea and again urged it on the War Department, but without immediate success. Action was finally forthcoming after the Quebec Conference. General Bradley was relieved of his command in the Mediterranean early in September and, after conferences in Washington, arrived in the United Kingdom early the next month. He immediately undertook the organization of both an army and an army group headquarters. Within the month both were activated, the 1st U.S. Army Group (FUSAG) at Bryanston Square, London, and the First U.S. Army (FUSA) at Bristol. After the latter took over operational control of all ground forces in the United Kingdom from V Corps on 23 October, all ground force troops were assigned to First Army rather than V Corps for administration and training. Included in the change was the Assault Training Center, which was the most active agency training U.S. troops for the D-Day assault.3 General Bradley exercised command of both First Army and 1st Army Group.
The relationship of the army and army group vis-à-vis ETOUSA and SOS was to be a matter of considerable confusion, and produced many conflicts over responsibilities and authority in both the planning and execution of the continental operation. The problem was to come to a head later in the year when the whole subject of command and organization in the theater came up for review. Meanwhile 1st Army Group devoted itself mainly to planning with 21 Army Group, while First Army assumed the position of over-all U.S. field force headquarters in the United Kingdom, although it was also to have planning functions connected with its operational mission. The air forces in the United Kingdom also expanded in size and evolved a command organization in anticipation of the OVERLORD operation. For a long time the Eighth Air Force acted as the highest air force headquarters in the theater, paralleling the V Corps as the highest ground force command. It recovered more quickly than the ground
forces from the losses to TORCH, and developed rapidly during 1943. By August it was carrying on a full-scale air war against Germany. The emphasis within the Eighth from the start was on bombing, and its operations were carried on in close collaboration with the British, though no combined command was set up for the purpose.
Aside from the question of a combined command for strategic bombing, the projected invasion of the Continent raised the problem of an air command for close support of ground operations. Experience in North Africa had indicated that the air forces in a theater should be divided into strategic and tactical commands, and General Arnold in August 1943 recommended such a division of the ETOUSA air forces. General Eaker had already foreseen the desirability of this arrangement and had organized the VIII Air Support Command to operate alongside the VIII Bomber Command, both of them under his command.
The matter of separate air commands for tactical and strategic purposes became prominent within a few weeks as a result of the decision of the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Quebec Conference to set up a tactical air command on the Allied level. The U.S. tactical air forces were to be considerably augmented for the cross-Channel operation, and General Arnold at this time decided to send Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton and the headquarters of the Ninth Air Force, which he then commanded in the Middle East, to the United Kingdom to form the U.S. command component of the tactical air forces for OVERLORD. The headquarters of the Ninth actually moved to the United Kingdom in September and October, and General Brereton arrived early in October to take command. Tactical air units previously assigned to the VIII Air Support Command were now assigned to the Ninth, and with the aid of personnel transferred from the Eighth Air Force the Ninth began planning and carrying out preinvasion operations in the United Kingdom.4 In order to coordinate the work of the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces and to keep control of both in the hands of General Eaker, an over-all U.S. air command known as the United States Army Air Forces in the United Kingdom (USAAFUK) was set up.
This new headquarters was almost identical with the old Eighth Air Force, and the VIII Bomber Command eventually became for the most part the new Eighth Air Force. Furthermore, the general staff of USAAFUK for the moment at least was the same as that of the Eighth Air Force, and its special staff the same as that of the VIII Air Force Service Command. The struggle over control of supply and administration at theater level had been largely duplicated within the air forces, and the same transition had taken place as within Headquarters, ETOUSA. In October 1943 the functions of the A-4, Eighth Air Force (corresponding to G-4, ETOUSA) had been transferred to the Commanding General, VIII Air Force Service Command (corresponding to the Commanding General, SOS), and the special staff sections of the Eighth Air Force were placed under the service command. Called the VIII Air Force Service Command, the organization in effect
became an over-all air service command and a part of USAAFUK. As in the theater command, therefore, the desire to concentrate all administrative and supply services in one command, and the adaptation to continental operational conditions in anticipation of the invasion, had an inevitable influence on the organization and control of the U.S. air forces.5
Equally important as a factor in shaping the organization of ETOUSA and its major commands was the development of the top Allied command for OVERLORD. The principle of unified command in each area of operations had been agreed upon even before the United States entered the war, and the idea had already been carried out in Southeast Asia and North Africa. The question of such a combined command for the European operation was broached as early as July 1942. But there was no urgency about the matter at the time, nor was there agreement on the powers and functions of such a command. The subject was again discussed at Casablanca in January 1943, and, while a supreme commander was not designated, the principle was definitely agreed to. Shortly thereafter the first step was taken in the creation of such a command with the establishment of a provisional staff (COSSAC) pending his appointment. The main questions that remained in 1943 were those of naming the commander, defining his powers, and determining the organization of the Allied forces under him.
The organization of the major combined commands which were to function under the Supreme Commander actually preceded his appointment. Three major commands were organized during the summer and fall of 1943. These were the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (tactical air forces), the 21 Army Group (ground forces), and the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force (naval forces). The air and naval commands were decided on at the Quebec Conference and were organized while the choice of the supreme commander was still being discussed. In fact, the development of an air command had begun in June 1943, when Air Chief Marshal Portal of the RAF proposed to General Devers that a tactical air commander be chosen and his powers defined. Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory was already tentatively slated for the position, and at the Quebec Conference he was definitely named to command the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF) in OVERLORD. COSSAC's directive in November defining the commander in chief's powers gave Leigh-Mallory control over all the Allied tactical air forces supporting the invasion. These were to consist of the RAF Tactical Command and the U.S. Ninth Air Force. Administrative control of the latter remained with USAAFUK. Efforts on the part of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff to have the strategic air forces placed under an Allied command met with opposition from the British, and a decision on this problem was postponed.6
An over-all naval command was also decided on at the Quebec Conference. Since the bulk of the naval forces in OVERLORD were to be British, it was a foregone conclusion that the naval commander would also be British. Admiral Ramsay was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Allied Naval Expeditionary Force (ANCXF), in October with complete command of the naval forces in the operation under the Supreme Commander.
Operational control of U.S. naval forces thus passed from ETOUSA to the Allied command. As with the air forces, administration and supply remained with national agencies.7
The Allied ground force command differed from the naval and air commands in that it was to be only temporary. In November 1943, 21 Army Group was finally designated as the over-all ground command, but it was decided that the commander-in-chief of 21 Army Group would be in command of Allied ground forces only during the early stages of OVERLORD, or until such time as the buildup of American forces warranted the introduction of a U.S. army group as an over-all ground command for American forces. Thereafter the ground forces were to operate under their respective national commanders, subject of course to the Supreme Commander, who was to exercise direct command on the ground. Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery was designated commander-in-chief of 21 Army Group and took command late in December.
Fundamental to the whole problem of Allied command and organization and coloring all the deliberations over it was the question of whether the Supreme Commander should be British or American. While Prime Minister Churchill had laid down the principle at Casablanca that the nation having the preponderance of forces should also have the command, a final decision on the choice of a commander was not to be made till late in the year. Because the British had had more operational experience than the Americans, and because they were more active in the planning carried on by COSSAC, there was a strong tendency at first to assume that the Supreme Commander would be British. All early thinking in ETOUSA on the subject was predicated on this assumption, and in attempting to work out a suitable theater command and organization in anticipation of the eventual creation of an Allied command General Devers was constantly on guard lest a command be set up in such a way as to endanger American interests.
General Devers' guiding principle was what he called the Pershing Principle of 1917, the essence of which was that the integrity of U.S. forces should be preserved. One outstanding example of this thinking can be seen in his insistence that the Supreme Commander should not report to the Combined Chiefs through the British Chiefs of Staff, which was a feature of some of the early proposals on a combined command. General Andrews had insisted earlier that this would be detrimental to U.S. interests, especially if the Supreme Commander were British. The central feature of General Devers' later proposals was the assurance that the senior U.S. officer in the theater should retain enough power to protect American interests. Without knowing what the nationality of the Supreme Commander would be, he felt that the senior U.S. commander in the theater should command the U.S. field forces and at the same time continue as Commanding General, ETOUSA, for in the latter position he would have a direct channel of communication with the U,S. Chiefs of Staff and would be on a level with the British Chiefs of Staff. Devers also suggested that the Commanding General, ETOUSA, delegate all nonoperational matters to a deputy commander in London so that when his field headquarters was established
the theater headquarters would be his rear echelon under his deputy.
Most of these proposals were carried out in ETOUSA organization, although they were based at this time on the assumption that the Supreme Commander would be British. Drafts and redrafts of papers outlining the proposed command setup continued to be passed about all through the summer and fall of 1943. The problem of nationality was decided at Quebec in August; the actual choice of General Eisenhower as Supreme Commander was finally made in the course of the Cairo-Tehran Conferences early in December. General Eisenhower arrived in England to take command of Allied forces on 16 January 1944, his headquarters being designated Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, or SHAEF.
The establishment of the combined air, ground, and naval commands thus antedated the creation of an over-all Supreme Command, although SHAEF had a predecessor in the COSSAC organization which formed the nucleus of the new headquarters. COSSAC had been originally established mainly as a planning staff. As the combined commands began to take shape in the fall of 1943, it began to assume more and more of the characteristics of a supreme headquarters organization. In September it changed from a purely planning agency to an executive one and began to issue directives to the recently named air and naval commanders on their responsibilities in the coming invasion. Basic directives on OVERLORD planning were issued at the end of November. By mid-January 1944 COSSAC had served its purpose, and with the arrival of the Supreme Commander it was transformed into the Supreme Headquarters.8
The formation of the 1st U.S. Army Group and the various components of the Allied command was to have a decisive impact on theater headquarters organization. The assumption of an increasing share of both the planning and operational responsibilities by COSSAC and the combined commands gradually reduced ETOUSA's role. ETOUSA's planning function was definitely on the wane. The G-5 Plans Section was discontinued in October and its chief, General Barker, was permanently transferred to COSSAC. The new combined commands stripped ETOUSA of other officers in order to meet the increasing rank and ability requirements for their American components. Over-all control of planning for the ground forces was delegated to 21 Army Group in November, and the position of 1st Army Group and First Army was also prescribed by COSSAC.
(2) Consolidation of ETOUSA and SOS
The lines of operational control were also rapidly being withdrawn from ETOUSA. Theoretically ETOUSA was to retain operational control of all U.S. units until the Supreme Commander received his directive in February 1944. But real control was rapidly slipping away to the Allied commands. First the naval command was withdrawn, and in mid-December the operational control of the Ninth Air Force also passed from it. The transfer of over-all control of U.S. forces from a strictly American command to an Allied command raised an obvious question: what was to be done with the organization
Headquarters, ETOUSA, and what was to be the command role of its commanding general? There remained the field of supply and administration, which was to be left under national commanders. Furthermore, it was generally felt that some over-all U.S. headquarters should be maintained. The question of whether this headquarters should be ETOUSA was complicated by the introduction of the 1st Army Group, for it was assumed by some that the army group would become an over-all American GHQ, replacing ETOUSA.
General Marshall made known his conception of what the eventual theater organization should be in a letter to the ETOUSA commander in September. In it he laid down the principle that there should be a continuing over-all U.S. headquarters, although he did not definitely settle whether it was to be Headquarters, ETOUSA, or an American GHQ set up on the Continent. Further, the letter seemed specific in designating the army group as subordinate to ETOUSA or the GHQ, but the idea continued to persist in some ETOUSA circles that 1st Army Group eventually might become the GHQ. In any event it appears that the formation of any U.S. headquarters was to await the naming of the Supreme Commander. But by the time General Eisenhower arrived in the United Kingdom steps were already under way to form the ETOUSA-SOS headquarters, which was maintained as theater headquarters.
The new 1st Army Group's pretensions in the field of supply and administration had further complicated the whole question of theater organization. General Bradley had taken command of 1st Army Group on the assumption that his organization was to take over direction of all planning for the operation, logistical as well as tactical. This was bound to produce a conflict with the SOS over the control of supply and administrative support of the armies, a conflict which carried over into the period of active operations on the Continent.9
For the time being ETOUSA resolved the dispute by delineating the planning responsibilities. It charged 1st Army Group with all planning for operations on the Continent by U.S. forces other than air, including administrative planning. The Commanding General, SOS, was instructed to initiate such planning as was required by 1st Army Group, First Army, and the U.S. air forces for the logistical support of operations, and the SOS was also charged with planning the mounting of the operation. One point at least was settled in the field of administrative planning in these developments of October and November: 1st Army Group was to control planning by the SOS for the operation, but ETOUSA outranked 1st Army Group and could review the latter's plan.
There now began an interplay among the various staffs involved in the command developments of late 1943--1st Army Group, ETOUSA, and the SOS--as to the disposition of the theater's functions. Both SOS and the 1st Army Group appeared desirous of taking over as many of these functions as possible. Apparently visualizing the declining role of Headquarters, ETOUSA, General Devers requested the assignment as commanding general of 1st Army Group for himself, suggesting at the same time that supply and administration of the theater could be controlled most effectively by the army group. But General Devers did not receive this command. Upon General Eisenhower's
appointment as theater commander in December, Devers was given command of the North African theater and left the United Kingdom early in January. Had he been given command of the army group it might have developed along the lines he indicated.
With the impending transfer of tactical functions to the Allied command the future of ETOUSA headquarters seemed to depend on its role in the field of supply and administration. But it was also obvious that in the administrative field ETOUSA soon would only be duplicating SOS functions, or would be relegated to a relatively minor position vis-à-vis the army group if over-all control of supply were turned over to the latter. That ETOUSA should continue to duplicate the activities of the SOS was obviously inadvisable. The main question to be resolved, therefore, was whether there should be an over-all control of supply and administration from a theater headquarters with a deputy commander for supply and administration, or from the field force headquarters--in essence, whether SOS or army group should exercise the control. It seems almost inconceivable now that the transfer of these functions should have been contemplated. The SOS had carried on most of the supply planning which had been done for OVERLORD, and was at the time the main agency carrying on active supply and administrative activities in the theater. Nevertheless there were at this time three possible solutions to the question of future theater organization and the fate of Headquarters, ETOUSA: General Devers' conception, with 1st Army Group as the main headquarters; the formation of an over-all GHQ; and the continuation of a theater headquarters by consolidation with the SOS.
The commanding general of ETOUSA was still in a position to decide what the future organization was to be, and it was the last solution which was to win out--a consolidated ETOUSA-SOS, with the over-all direction of supply and administration from that headquarters. Confronted with the loss of its tactical functions, the ETOUSA staff naturally preferred what amounted to absorption by the SOS to delegation of most supply and administrative functions to the army group.
The final solution was not arrived at as directly as logic seemed to dictate. But it was crystal clear in all minds that the organization known as ETOUSA was soon to lose all tactical functions, concerning both planning and operations; and it became increasingly clear to all that the ETOUSA and SOS headquarters were maintaining many officers doing approximately the same work and producing a great deal of delay and confusion in staff channels. The division of functions and duplication of work were acutely summarized by the ETOUSA adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Ralph Pulsifer. In a memorandum to the chief of staff in November, he pointed out that of the six major responsibilities of the theater commander the SOS was performing two, First Army one, 1st Army Group another, and the remainder were divided between SOS and ETOUSA with "exceedingly indistinct lines of demarcation." In discharging the divided responsibilities the SOS was using some 750 officers and ETOUSA 400.10 An indication of the trend of thinking is provided by the fact that some ETOUSA staff officers who had previously opposed consolidation now began to urge it.
During the closing weeks of 1943 the staffs of SOS, ETOUSA, and 1st Army Group all considered the problem of division of functions in the theater, and numerous memorandums were written and many conferences held on the subject. An increasing number of voices began to argue for consolidation. One of the most cogent summaries of the problem was presented by Brig. Gen. Henry B. Lewis, the adjutant general of 1st Army Group, in a memorandum to the G-1 of the same headquarters on 16 December:
There are two separate headquarters (ETO and SOS) with the same special staff. Although certain services are placed under the SOS, they remain ETO staff sections. The CG, SOS, is responsible for the coordination, supervision, operational control and direction of these services, but he cannot issue instructions in the name of the theater commander to accomplish these duties. He is authorized to issue instructions which will not "affect command responsibilities of commanders." This appears to be a confusing and meaningless gesture since all military instructions affect command responsibilities. As a result, observation indicates that often instructions are prepared by a service, approved by the CG, SOS, and sent to ETO. There they may be approved and returned for issue by SOS, or issued by ETO itself. On the other hand they may be revised in ETO with or without concurrence of the service concerned or Headquarters, SOS, or simply disapproved. Informal correspondence (carrier sheet) on detailed operation is conducted between SOS staff and services, and between ETO and SOS staffs, as well as through command channels, entailing delay, by-passing and duplication. Such procedure appears to indicate a faulty division of responsibility between the two headquarters.11
The plans which were offered as solutions to the problem reveal clearly that a new conflict in the field of supply and administration was growing up to replace the old one between ETOUSA and the SOS. These two headquarters now appeared agreed that consolidation had become necessary, but they felt that the new headquarters should be the over-all coordinating agency in theater supply and administration and not subordinate to 1st Army Group or a GHQ, as the army group plans proposed. The feeling of 1st Army Group was that complete control of supply in the combat zone should be turned over to the field force headquarters and that the SOS (later the Communications Zone) should not be superior to it in administrative matters. This conflict was to continue throughout the history of the theater.
For the time being the proponents of a combined ETOUSA-SOS won out, and the plan of reorganization as finally carried out favored ETOUSA-SOS as a higher headquarters than 1st Army Group. The plan was worked out in detail while General Devers was still commanding the theater, but General Eisenhower had been kept fully advised on the proposed consolidation through General Smith, who had preceded the Supreme Commander to London, and it was finally made with his complete knowledge and approval.12 The reorganization was announced on 17 January, the day after Eisenhower's assumption of command. (Chart 5)
The general order announcing consolidation of the two headquarters appointed General Lee deputy commander of the theater for supply and administration in addition to his duties as Commanding General, SOS. As SOS commander his
CHART 5--ETOUSA'S ORGANIZATION AFTER THE CONSOLIDATION OF 17 JANUARY 1944
duties included command of the Communications Zone, successor to SOS upon the commencement of operations, and continued operation of administration and supply for U.S. forces in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. To fulfill these duties General Lee was authorized to act in the name of the theater commander in all appropriate matters. General Smith, whom General Eisenhower had brought with him as chief of staff of SHAEF, was also named chief of staff of ETOUSA, while Colonel Lord was named ETOUSA deputy chief of staff in addition to his duties as chief of staff of SOS. The reorganization consolidated the separate staffs of ETOUSA and SOS into one theater staff with the customary general and special staff sections, thus eliminating the duplication of work in the two headquarters on supply and administrative problems.13
The consolidation resulted in an interesting and somewhat complicated organization. While the two headquarters were officially consolidated, the fiction was kept up of the existence of two separate headquarters. As Commanding General, SOS, General Lee published general orders, circulars, and directives to SOS installations (mainly the base sections). As deputy commander of the theater he issued directives applying to the theater as a whole. Of particular significance was the authority which the SOS now possessed to issue its administrative instructions in ETOUSA circulars without infringing on the sovereignty of other commands, as it had in the past. And while there no longer were two headquarters, staff officers now acted in a dual capacity--for both ETOUSA and the SOS.14
Temporarily at least, the consolidation settled the position of ETOUSA-SOS as the over-all U.S. administrative headquarters in the ETO, though the possibility still remained that an American GHQ at SHAEF might take over administrative functions once continental operations began. As it turned out, the January settlement endured. The decision to continue the already existing ETOUSA headquarters as the highest U.S. echelon in the theater was an important one and gave continuity to the administrative setup, though in the end it was to place the theater headquarters in a somewhat peculiar position. Theoretically the consolidation placed the new headquarters and General Lee as the deputy theater commander in a position to control all supply and administration in the theater, and to this extent it was a triumph for General Lee's ideas on centralization of those functions. But the fact that this theater headquarters consisted almost entirely of officers from the old SOS staff also left it in the position of being a headquarters coordinate with the 1st Army Group and the air forces, and the latter resented looking to it as a higher headquarters. Furthermore, being physically separated from the theater commander, who was resident at SHAEF, the old ETOUSA-SOS group was to have some difficulty in asserting its authority, for ground and air commanders were inclined to look to SHAEF as the next highest command echelon. Although the consolidation thus brought new complications in its train, the old conflict between ETOUSA and the SOS had ended and the theater entered a new period. While the transformation was in part the culmination of the struggle dating from the origins of the theater, the formation of the
Allied high command had finally forced a complete alteration in the nature and functions of the theater command, which was now to be subordinate to Supreme Headquarters. The SOS component of the new headquarters had at the same time achieved what it had always regarded as its rightful position and function.15
A concomitant to this reorganization of ETOUSA was the almost simultaneous transformation of COSSAC into SHAEF on 15 January 1944. Four weeks later, on 12 February, General Eisenhower received the formal directive on his duties as Supreme Commander. This climactic development of the Allied high command had a profound effect on the position of ETOUSA headquarters, since from this point onward SHAEF was to exercise control of all tactical planning and operations, except for strategic bombing. It left ETOUSA headquarters in a position quite different from the one it had had for the past year and a half. Fundamental to the new setup was the fact that the official ETOUSA headquarters was not in practice the headquarters of the theater commander, General Eisenhower, who resided at SHAEF. And while the ETOUSA general and special staffs were in theory his staffs, they actually were General Lee's, and they functioned for him in the supply and administrative field. General Eisenhower could of course call on them directly for advice, but he normally operated on the Allied level at SHAEF and therefore operated mainly through the SHAEF staff. The many high-ranking U.S. officers on this staff, organized on the principle of opposite numbers, tended to drift into what ETOUSA thought was its territory. The theater commander was at SHAEF and the major decisions were made there. For U.S. forces, SHAEF in some ways, especially on tactical matters, supplanted the old theater headquarters.16
In the field of supply and administration General Eisenhower had delegated his functions to General Lee as the deputy theater commander. ETOUSA-SOS also remained the theater commander's vehicle of communications with the War Department on administrative matters, and the authorizing agency for the activation of all American commands which were to operate under SHAEF. It was the one U.S. organization not under the command control of SHAEF, but it was nevertheless under the control of General Eisenhower as theater commander.
If this setup is difficult to understand, some consolation may perhaps be derived from the knowledge that it was not always completely understood by the people involved in it and that in practice it often became somewhat difficult to operate. After the invasion there was a tendency for SHAEF to assume more and more the aspect of an American theater headquarters as well as an Allied one, and for General Lee's headquarters gradually to become a purely Communications Zone headquarters. But during the preparatory phase, from January to June, the consolidated ETOUSA-SOS headquarters was definitely the theater headquarters, supreme in the supply and administrative field under the direction of the deputy theater commander.
Certain wrinkles had to be ironed out before the consolidated ETOUSA-SOS headquarters could function smoothly. The two staffs had to be integrated, for example, At first the general staff of the new headquarters contained a mixture of
ETOUSA and SOS officers. There were some changes in the next few months, however, and the consolidated headquarters then achieved a stability in personnel which it had not previously enjoyed, for there had been constant shifting in the preceding year. The special staff had already been functioning for the most part under the SOS and continued without important changes. For the first time the integrated general staff could be set up in closer accord with standard staff organization and procedures as set down in army manuals. Proper coordination of functions had been impossible under the old organization where they were divided between two or more headquarters. The new consolidated arrangement proved a much more satisfactory one for handling the supply and administrative affairs of the theater, and in the United Kingdom at least the central command for supply and administration appeared a sound and logical arrangement. The larger problem to be faced was that of transferring this organization to the Continent and adapting it to conditions where the field forces were operating in combat.17
One other reorganization and the activation of an additional combat command must be considered to complete the treatment of the U.S. command structure as it stood at the end of January 1944. Concurrently with the theater reorganization the air forces underwent a very similar transformation. When General Eisenhower went to the United Kingdom in January, the need had arisen for an over-all strategic bombing command to control operations from both the United Kingdom and Italy. A command known as the United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) was formed, made up of the Eighth Air Force in England (now under Maj. Gen. James H. Doolittle) and the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean (Maj. Gen. Nathan F. Twining). USSTAF also took over administrative control of the Ninth, and thus completely replaced the headquarters known as USAAFUK. Command of the new over-all U.S. air organization went to Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz, who had served as top airman in the Mediterranean and whom General Eisenhower had taken with him to the United Kingdom. General Eaker went to North Africa with General Devers. USSTAF now became the top command of the American air forces in the theater, controlling the Eighth for operations and administration, the Ninth for administration, and the Fifteenth for operations. The Fifteenth maintained its own administrative organization in the North African theater. General Eisenhower, as Supreme Commander, had control of all the Allied tactical air forces through the AEAF, but he did not yet have control over strategic bombing and its coordination with the land forces for OVERLORD, although as theater commander he of course controlled USSTAF. The strategic bombing campaign (Operation POINTBLANK) was still being directed through the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
Within the over-all air force command a division of function between supply and operations was now effected comparable to the changes at the ETOUSA level. The VIII Air Force Service Command had been in much the same position with relation to the Eighth Air Force and USAAFUK as the SOS had been with relation to ETOUSA. Brig. Gen. Hugh J. Knerr, the commander of the Air Service Command, had been striving for the same type of organization which General Lee
had been seeking for the SOS. Like General Lee, he had already succeeded in transferring the A-4 and special staff sections from USAAFUK to the Air Service Command, and he now succeeded in bringing about a centralization of supply and administrative function similar to that effected in ETOUSA-SOS. Headquarters, USSTAF, was now organized under two deputy commanding generals, one for operations and one for administration and logistics, the latter position being held by General Knerr. Like General Lee, General Knerr continued in a dual position, as deputy commanding general of USSTAF (for administration and logistics) and as commanding general of the Air Service Command. The VIII Air Force Service Command headquarters, which had also served as the Air Service Command headquarters for USAAFUK, now served as the headquarters for the USSTAF Air Service Command.18
Meanwhile, another major combat command was to be added to the U.S. organizational structure. American ground force organization in January included only the 1st Army Group and the First Army. In order to complete the headquarters necessary for the invasion it was necessary to introduce another army headquarters into the United Kingdom, since 1st Army Group was scheduled to control two U.S. armies when it became operational. This second army headquarters was the Third U.S. Army (TUSA), which was constituted late in January at Knutsford in Western Base Section under the command of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton. The haste with which the Third Army was activated was indicative of the speed with which new divisions were pouring in, and of the need for an additional army headquarters to administer them as well as to initiate planning for the operations in which it was scheduled to take part when 1st Army Group became operational. Third Army was soon busily at work under the supervision of the army group. With its activation the combat command organization of U.S. forces for OVERLORD was virtually complete.19
One of the major factors in the evolution of the organizational structure for OVERLORD was the growing necessity to assign command responsibilities and get on with the detailed planning for the operation. By the end of January 1944 the command plan at the top Allied and national levels was almost complete, although important additions and changes were made later. On the tactical side the Supreme Command (SHAEF), through its subcommands AEAF, ANCXF, and 21 Army Group, was to exercise complete control of the operation with the one exception of strategic bombing. General Eisenhower desired that strategic bombing also be brought under his control in order to coordinate it with ground operations in OVERLORD. Although he met with some opposition in this endeavor he was finally given command of the strategic air forces in April.20
(3) Assignment of Command and Planning Responsibilities
In the meantime COSSAC had also worked out the method by which the tactical command would operate in the succeeding stages of continental operations. Plans made in November 1943 provided for joint responsibility for planning and operations by the commanders in chief of
AEAF, ANCXF, and 21 Army Group (usually known as the joint commanders), and provided that the initial assault was to be carried out under the command of the First U.S. Army, with the necessary British or Canadian units attached. A British army was to become operational when British units had been sufficiently built up, at which time the 21 Army Group was to take over control of the operation. When the number of U.S. forces justified the introduction of a second American army headquarters, 1st Army Group was to assume active direction of U.S. forces, responsible directly to SHAEF.
This plan was later amended and amplified in several respects. The increase in the size of the assaulting forces eliminated the stage during which the First U.S. Army was to control the operation. A second command directive in January stipulated that a British army headquarters would be operational from the beginning, controlling its own troops, with command of the two armies resting with 21 Army Group. The 1st Army Group was to take over active direction of American forces when the build-up justified the introduction of a second American army headquarters. In general these were the command lines as they eventually were followed.21
Fixing the command lines in administrative matters was more difficult. SHAEF first outlined them in detail in a letter of instructions to the joint commanders in March. In accordance with tactical command arrangements, 21 Army Group was charged with command of all ground forces engaged in the operation until such time as the Supreme Command assigned an area of responsibility to the 1st U.S. Army Group. In this initial period the First U.S. Army and the necessary service troops organized as an advance communications zone section were to be attached to 21 Army Group, and 1st U.S. Army Group was to furnish a staff to the British army group to provide for their administration. The Commander-in-Chief, 21 Army Group, was to have over-all direction of the line of communications until 1st Army Group was allotted an area, and was responsible for the logistic support of all the forces under his command. The initial development of the American communications zone22 was therefore to be under the 21 Army Group.
There were to be three stages in the evolution of command. The 21 Army Group was to be the directing ground force headquarters in the first two phases. In the first or assault phase, however, the First U.S. Army and the Second British Army were to operate somewhat independently and handle their own logistic affairs. In the second phase the 21 Army Group was to take active control of tactical operations and of administrative and supply operations, exercising control of the latter through the attached staffs of 1st Army Group and the deputy commander of the Communications Zone. In the third phase the 1st Army Group was to be allotted an area of responsibility and SHAEF was to assume active direction of the two army groups.23
The assignment of planning responsibilities generally corresponded to the division of command described above, although this proved more difficult in the administrative field than in the operational. Since administrative matters were to be handled as far as possible through national agencies,
they involved ETOUSA command channels as well as SHAEF. Administrative planning for the combat zone obviously belonged with the headquarters responsible for such a zone, but there still remained the question of the communications zone and of over-all administrative planning for the U.S. zone as a whole, which was the responsibility of ETOUSA. Complicating the whole problem was General Lee's dual position as deputy theater commander and commander of the SOS.
At the Allied level SHAEF acted as the over-all coordinating headquarters, determining interservice and inter-Allied administrative policy, but leaving the detailed implementation of its decisions to its subcommands and national agencies. It was to allocate material resources in short supply, coordinate policies on requisitioning and purchasing, determine policy on petroleum supply, coordinate movement and shipping, and in general determine Allied administrative and logistic policy. COSSAC had already laid down policy on planning in these various fields in the fall of 1943.24
A more active and direct role in administrative planning was to be played by SHAEF's ground force subcommand, 21 Army Group. As the highest ground force command in the early stages of the operation, 21 Army Group was also the highest administrative headquarters for U.S. forces. It discharged its responsibilities in administrative matters by delegating certain functions to 1st Army Group and the First Army in planning for the various stages of the operation. First Army, as the highest U.S. headquarters on the Continent initially, was to be in undisputed charge of planning and operations, including the logistical, for the first two or three weeks on the Continent. Planning in administrative matters from that time forward was the responsibility of the 1st Army Group, which was to supervise the planning by the SOS for the early development of the communications zone.
ETOUSA-SOS had to be brought into the picture, since it was to be responsible for the detailed development of the communications zone and over-all logistical planning for maintenance of all U.S. forces. ETOUSA-SOS had enormous responsibilities in connection with the forthcoming operation. It was already operational in a sense that the ground forces were not, for it was deeply engaged in the logistic build-up in the United Kingdom, receiving and stockpiling supplies, operating ports, railways, and depots, quartering troops, and performing a multitude of other administrative duties. The SOS was also given the task of mounting the invasion force in southern England--that is, marshaling troops, moving them to the embarkation points, and loading them. Once the operation was launched, the SOS had to provide support from the United Kingdom for all U.S. forces on the Continent and arrange for continued support from the United Kingdom, the United States, and other sources. At the same time it had to be prepared to move from the United Kingdom to the Continent and organize the lines of communications there without interruption in its normal services. Fitting this ETOUSA-SOS organization into the planning setup of 1st Army Group and 21 Army Group and defining its future role on the Continent proved to be one of the biggest organizational and command problems still remaining.
GENERAL MOSES, G-4 of the 1st (later the 12th) Army Group.
The SOS was to be redesignated Communications Zone upon the launching of the invasion. The change denoted the shift from operating what was essentially an extension of the zone of interior in the United Kingdom to providing logistical support for combat operations on the Continent. Toward the end of February the term Communications Zone, or COMZ, came into increasing use in reference to the SOS, although the redesignation was not official until the time of the invasion. The new name actually appeared on letterheads as early as 21 February and came into general use at that time without benefit of christening through official orders.
While 21 Army Group was responsible for the final coordination of planning for the combined forces, it delegated the planning task for U.S. forces to 1st Army Group, the highest American field force headquarters. In mid-January COSSAC instructed the army group to attach a U.S. administrative staff to 21 Army Group headquarters to accomplish this planning and to carry out the administration of U.S. forces under 21 Army Group control. Shortly thereafter Brig. Gen. Raymond G. Moses, the 1st Army Group G-4, was designated Deputy Major General of Administration, 21 Army Group, and took the entire 1st Army Group G-4 Section with him to General Montgomery's headquarters, where the U.S. staff was to work closely with its opposite number, the British administrative staff.
ETOUSA-SOS representation was not immediately provided for, and General Lee therefore urged immediate assignment of an SOS liaison group to this staff, stating that full logistical support could be provided and coordination of communications zone activities with those of the armies could be insured only by cooperating closely during the planning period. Since the mission of the U.S. staff at 21 Army Group was one of coordination rather than detailed planning, and since the army, air, and communications zone commanders were to draw up their own administrative and logistical plans, it was initially felt at 1st Army Group that a small representation by the SOS at 21 Army Group would be enough to resolve any problems arising between the headquarters. It soon developed, however, that mere representation and liaison would not suffice to coordinate the planning of the various organizations. Early in February Generals Lee, Bradley, Smith, and Colonel Lord conferred at SHAEF and reached a decision on the matter of SOS participation in the planning at 21 Army Group. SHAEF issued a directive on 9 February which not only specified the
part which the SOS was to have in the planning at 21 Army Group, but also defined for the first time the command relationship between 1st Army Group and the Communications Zone, a subject of considerable controversy for some time thereafter. For this reason the directive is a basic document in any consideration of the U.S. administrative command organization.
In it SHAEF stated that General Lee, as deputy theater commander, was ex officio chief U.S. administrative officer and as such was available to SHAEF on all U.S. administrative matters. More important for the future administrative organization, a planning staff from ETOUSA-SOS was to be attached to 21 Army Group for the initial planning of the communications zone. General Lee was to designate a deputy commander of the communications zone with an adequate staff to plan, develop, and operate the U.S. communications zone on the Continent. This staff was to remain attached to 21 Army Group until such time as an area of responsibility on the Continent was assigned to 1st Army Group by the Supreme Commander. At that time the Communications Zone was to be attached to the 1st Army Group headquarters. Eventually, when the Supreme Commander established an advance echelon of the theater headquarters on the Continent, the deputy commander of the Communications Zone and his staff were to come under the command of Headquarters, ETOUSA.25
The SHAEF directive was the charter for the activation of a new organization known as Forward Echelon, Communications Zone (FECOMZ). The creation of Forward Echelon was dictated in part by the need for an agency which could plan the development of the communications zone on the Continent and coordinate that planning with the top U.S. and Allied field force headquarters. In part it was dictated by the command requirements of OVERLORD, which called for an executive agency to assume active direction of the communications zone's development and operations until Headquarters, Communications Zone, itself could move to the Continent. Its role on the Continent was eventually altered by events, but in planning the development of the communications zone Forward Echelon was to make an important contribution to Operation OVERLORD.
(4) Forward Echelon, Communications Zone (FECOMZ)
Forward Echelon was already in being when SHAEF issued its directive on 9 February. ETOUSA had activated the organization two days before, and General Lee had chosen Col. Frank M. Albrecht, who had been in charge of U.S. logistical planning with the Norfolk House group in 1943, to organize the group. Colonel Albrecht gathered the personnel for the new staff and within ten days got planning under way at his headquarters in the John Lewis Building on Oxford Street, London. A month later, on 14 March 1944, a Deputy Commander, Communications Zone, was appointed as required by the SHAEF directive, the assignment going to Brig. Gen. Harry B. Vaughan, Jr., commanding general of Western Base Section.26 Colonel Albrecht
was officially appointed chief of staff of Forward Echelon and continued to be an active director of the new staff's planning activities.
As a planning echelon of ETOUSA-SOS, Forward Echelon was organized with staff sections paralleling those of its parent headquarters. In effect it consisted of the planning echelon of the SOS, its staff comprising the planners from each of the SOS staff sections. Throughout its history, furthermore, it was inseparably associated with the ETOUSA-SOS headquarters, not only drawing on its staff for personnel, but utilizing ETOUSA-SOS agencies wherever feasible, and carrying out its planning in closest consultation with and with constant aid from the ETOUSA-SOS staff sections. It eventually had a strength of approximately 460 officers and men.27 Although it was not intended to be a separate command, Forward Echelon was set up to act as an operating echelon of Headquarters, Communications Zone, when the time came to assume direction of the communications zone on the Continent.
The duties of Forward Echelon were further outlined in a letter from the SOS commander on 21 February. In general, its mission was to perform and supervise both planning and operations in connection with communications zone activities for the entire OVERLORD period in close consultation with the 21 Army Group and 1st Army Group administrative staffs. Its tasks varied, however, in the three stages through which the development of administrative responsibilities were expected to pass. In Phase I--D Day to D plus 15 or 20--the First U.S. Army was to have complete tactical and administrative control in the U.S. zone on the Continent, with an Advance Section of the Communications Zone attached to provide its logistic support. In Phase II--D plus 15 to 41--the Advance Section was to be detached from the army and independently was to undertake the initial development of the communications zone. In both these phases Forward Echelon was to be engaged mainly in supervising the work of the Advance Section. It was to assume direct control and operation of communications zone activities in Phase III--D plus 41 to 90--and was responsible for the detailed planning of supply operations for that period. Forward Echelon was to plan only for the communications zone; 1st Army Group was responsible for the combat zone.
The division of the OVERLORD period into three phases was determined basically by estimates on the progress of the operation. D plus 15 or 20, marking the end of Phase I, was the approximate date at which the planners calculated that it would no longer be convenient or desirable for First Army to control logistic operations in the base area, and the date at which Advance Section should therefore begin to organize the communications zone. By D plus 41 the build-up of U.S. forces on the Continent and the advance inland were scheduled to have progressed sufficiently to warrant the introduction of a second army and an army group headquarters. In addition, the lodgment by that time was expected to be large enough to require the forward displacement of the Advance Section and the introduction of a base section to take over the port areas. The Forward Echelon of the Communications Zone would then have to be established as a supervisory headquarters. D plus 90 was the date by which the
OVERLORD operation was to have been completed, and the earliest date by which it was thought feasible to move either SHAEF or the COMZ headquarters to the Continent.
Since ETOUSA-SOS contemplated that Forward Echelon would eventually move to the Continent and supervise communications zone activities there, it was established in physically separate headquarters, placed under a general officer, and attached to Headquarters, 21 Army Group, where it was to work with the 1st Army Group administrative staff. With the establishment of the 1st Army Group and FECOMZ staffs at 21 Army Group the U.S. forces received the representation which they needed at the highest Allied ground force headquarters for the coordination of logistical and tactical plans in the period of 21 Army Group control.
It was characteristic of the entire history of the theater that directives on command and organization always seemed to fall short of clear-cut definitions of responsibility and authority, leaving much room for contention. True to form, the establishment of the 1st Army Group and COMZ staff organizations at 21 Army Group immediately resulted in disputes over their relationship during the planning period and also over their command relationship after the Communications Zone became operative on the Continent. The latter problem in particular was to be in doubt for some time, partly because of the different concepts which the two headquarters held regarding their roles and authority, and partly because of conflicting interpretations of the SHAEF directive of 9 February. The theater's complicated and unprecedented command arrangements, growing out of General Eisenhower's dual role and the position of the various Allied commands, and to a lesser degree personal ambitions and distrust, contributed to this conflict.
Fundamentally, the issue throughout was clear: who was to be responsible for over-all coordination of logistic support, both in planning and actual operations? Forward Echelon, as a creature of the consolidated ETOUSA-SOS headquarters reflected the ETOUSA point of view and tended to assert the over-all position of the theater headquarters. Forward Echelon was conceived of as independent and paramount in its own field (that is, planning for the communications zone) at 21 Army Group and not subject to the supervision of 1st Army Group. General Lee outlined this view in a draft letter to the deputy commanding general, stating that the relationship between the latter's headquarters and 1st Army Group was to be one of mutual cooperation and coordination, and that ETOUSA was responsible for supervising the staff branches and services of subordinate organizations, including 1st Army Group. Lee toned down this claim somewhat in the final version of this letter, admitting that the staff section of 1st Army Group at 21 Army Group headquarters was to exercise the required over-all general staff coordination between activities in the army areas and activities in the communications zone. He stated nevertheless that in order to provide for suitable channels of technical supervision in the theater as a whole the special staffs of 1st Army Group and Forward Echelon should carry out normal special staff functions in the army area and communications zone respectively.28
The halfhearted recognition of 1st Army Group's over-all coordinating position
did not satisfy the field forces. General Bradley, commanding 1st Army Group, believed it vital for the highest field force headquarters on the Continent to retain control of the communications zone in the interim period between the date on which 21 Army Group relinquished control and the time SHAEF arrived to take over-all command. The SHAEF directive had not been entirely clear on this point. It appeared to establish the army group's position clearly by stating that the Communications Zone would be attached to 1st Army Group when the latter was assigned an appropriate tactical command. But the directive went on to say that the deputy commander of the Communications Zone would come under the command of Headquarters, ETOUSA, when the Supreme Commander established an advance echelon of the latter on the Continent. General Bradley was not satisfied with the wording of the directive, fearing that the term, "advance echelon of ETO," might mean a forward echelon of the ETOUSA-SOS headquarters of General Lee. He believed the directive might therefore be interpreted to mean that the establishment of a small advance echelon of that headquarters (such as FECOMZ, presumably) on the Continent would be sufficient justification for removal of control of the communications zone from the commanding general, 1st Army Group, thereby depriving him of the necessary means of coordinating all ground forces in the U.S. sector before another commander was prepared to take over such functions.
The army group commander promptly sought clarification of this matter from the SHAEF chief of staff, General Smith, stating that it was his understanding that the Communications Zone was to be attached to 1st Army Group when the commanding general of 21 Army Group relinquished command of U.S. forces, and that the Communications Zone would be detached from the army group only when the Supreme Commander himself assumed direct command of the ground forces on the Continent. General Smith assured him that his understanding was correct and that by "advance echelon of ETO" the directive meant an advance echelon of SHAEF. It seemed clear, then, that 1st Army Group would direct the activities of the Communications Zone until General Eisenhower himself assumed command on the Continent. However, the problem of the command relationship of 1st Army Group vis-à-vis Communications Zone was not put to rest with this assurance. The issue was to be raised again, and the organization FECOMZ was always regarded with some suspicion by the field force headquarters.29
There were continuing causes for apprehension on the part of 1st Army Group regarding the Communications Zone's pretensions to power. When General Vaughan was appointed deputy commanding general of that organization in March a new directive was issued defining the mission of the Forward Echelon but making no mention of the 1st Army Group attachment or the relationship between the two staffs. It merely stated that Forward Echelon would be responsible for the initial planning and development of the Communications Zone under the direction of the commander-in-chief of 21 Army Group, and announced definitely that, when an army rear boundary was drawn by the First Army, Forward
Echelon would actually assume command of the Communications Zone on the Continent for the period it was attached to 21 Army Group. This wording again appeared to imply that Forward Echelon and the 1st Army Group staff at 21 Army Group headquarters were coordinate attachments, one for the Communications Zone and one for the field forces, with 1st Army Group exercising no supervision over the former. Some of the COMZ staff even conceived of Forward Echelon as a separate command and wanted it activated provisionally as a separate headquarters. General Lee, however, preferred the arrangement whereby Forward Echelon was to be a branch of his own headquarters. As such it would have authority to issue orders in his name and, as a part of Headquarters, Communications Zone, a subcommand of ETOUSA, it would in the eyes of the Communications Zone at least enjoy equality with 1st Army Group. It was actually possible to conceive of the Forward Echelon as a headquarters even higher than 1st Army Group if viewed from General Lee's position as deputy theater commander. If such an exaggerated interpretation was accepted, Forward Echelon would be in a position to exercise even fuller powers in controlling the whole administrative organization on the Continent.
Whatever thoughts General Lee may have held about separate command status for Forward Echelon, the idea persisted in some quarters that it did have such status, and SHAEF later had to correct this mistaken notion. It clarified the organization's position by stating that the headquarters was purely and simply what its name implied--a forward echelon of General Lee's COMZ headquarters--and that General Vaughan, its chief, was not the commanding general of FECOMZ, but deputy commanding general of the Communications Zone.30
In retrospect the entire conflict takes on the appearance of a storm in a teacup. At the time, however, the points at issue had an urgent importance, particularly to the field forces, which lacked confidence in the Services of Supply and were anxious to insure that their interests would be protected so far as administrative support was concerned. Fortunately, the differences did not prevent Forward Echelon from getting on with its main task, and by early March the staff was busy with the preparation of the over-all COMZ plan of development.
Equally important as Forward Echelon in the planning of the continental communications zone and, as it turned out, of much greater importance in its operations, was the organization known as the Advance Section (ADSEC). The concept of an advance section (as distinguished from a base section), organized to follow the armies, develop the lines of communications, take over rear-area supply problems, and coordinate these activities with the Communications Zone headquarters, was well established in field service regulations, and the need for such an organization was confirmed by recent experience in North Africa and Italy. North African experience had shown that base sections could support armies only when the supply lines were not too long. The OVERLORD operation, if successful, would result in extended lines of communications. It
(5) Advance Section, Communications Zone (ADSEC)
GENERAL PLANK, Commanding General, ADSEC. (Photograph taken in 1945.)
would therefore be necessary at an early stage to create another section between the army and base section to provide close support.
Experience in Italy had taught additional lessons. In the invasion of the peninsula an advance section had been organized and attached to the Fifth U.S. Army until the situation was stabilized at the Volturno River. But when this advance section became Peninsular Base Section and reverted to Allied headquarters (AFHQ) control the same old difficulties arose. Again the agency capable of making decisions on matters of supply was too far from the army it was intended to support. Other difficulties arose from the fact that the agency responsible for supply operations was not the one which had done the logistical planning. When a tactical headquarters handled planning for an extended operation, it tended to neglect certain logistic aspects, such as the build-up of reserves and construction materials, in favor of maintenance tonnages. Thus, the supply agency taking over from the army after the initial phase of the operation might find that it did not have the necessary supplies and equipment. This experience dictated that the service agency which was to take over support of an army must participate directly in the planning in order to assure well-coordinated and adequate logistical support.
In keeping with this principle, COSSAC directed the establishment of an advance section in December 1943, and the organization was provisionally established under the command of Col. Ewart G. Plank, Eastern Base Section commander, at the end of the year. The official activation of Headquarters, Advance Section, followed on 7 February 1944, and the staff shortly thereafter moved to Bristol to facilitate close cooperation with the First Army. In the interim period a party of officers designated for the new staff visited Italy and North Africa to gather information on base section operations in the Mediterranean area.31
The initial mission of the Advance Section was to move onto the Continent with First Army in the earliest stages and successively take over army supply dumps, roads, ports, beach maintenance areas, and railways, operating the supply installations in the rear of the combat zone until the communications zone was established. Until such time as an army rear boundary would be drawn, estimated to be between D plus 15 and 20, Advance Section
was to be attached to First Army. By such attachment the Advance Section would thus be directly associated with the agency it was to supply and with which it was necessary to coordinate planning.
Once the Advance Section was detached from the army, it was to perform its normal missions as the most advanced regional organization of the Communications Zone. It was to take over area as well as supply responsibility immediately to the rear of the army, organizing the ground as it was relinquished by the armies, subsequently moving forward in the wake of the armies to organize new areas, and turning over territory, facilities, and installations in the rear to newly activated base or intermediate sections as they followed onto the Continent. In short, the Advance Section was to be what its name suggested, an advance subcommand of the Communications Zone in close support of the combat forces, providing them an immediate source of supply.
The Advance Section's planning tasks were determined by its responsibilities in the three phases of OVERLORD'S command development: preparing for the support of First Army during the period of attachment to that organization (to D plus 15); carrying out all communications zone functions from the time the army rear boundary was drawn until the Forward Echelon took command of operations (D plus 15 to 41); and planning for the subsequent period when it was to operate, along with other base sections, under the Forward Echelon of Headquarters, Communications Zone. In defining the Advance Section's mission, however, a problem arose over the division of function with Forward Echelon, since both were to be active in planning the initial development of the communications zone on the Continent. There was no question of conflicting authority or responsibility in the first phase of operations. It was clear that in this period there would be no COMZ command operating on the Continent, for First Army, with Advance Section attached, was to be entirely responsible for all supply and administration. In the second phase, however--from the time an army rear boundary was drawn until a second army and another base section were introduced and 1st Army Group became operational--Advance Section was to be the operative Communications Zone on the Continent. For this period (D plus 15 to 41) it was obvious that Advance Section would have to write detailed plans. But Forward Echelon had been charged with over-all development of the communications zone and, according to the directive of 21 January which defined its mission, was to supervise the planning and operations of the Advance Section in this period.
Delineating the areas of planning responsibilities between the two headquarters was the subject of much correspondence and many conferences from late February through April. The answers to most of Advance Section's questions were finally provided by a FECOMZ memorandum in mid-April, after Forward Echelon had worked out planning and operational procedures with 21 Army Group, 1st Army Group, and ETOUSA-SOS. First Army, as the command which was to be in complete control of operations and supply in Phase I, was to assemble tonnage and supply requirements for all U.S. forces, including field forces, air forces, and the Navy, and submit them to ETOUSA for implementation. Thereafter 1st Army Group was to be the top U.S. field headquarters on the Continent, determining
and assembling over-all tonnages and supply requirements. In the stage between the drawing of an army rear boundary and the time that 1st Army Group itself assumed an active role on the Continent (D plus 15 to 41), 1st Army Group was to arrange for implementation of its requirements with ETOUSA through Advance Section. It was in this period (Phase II) that Advance Section was to have its heaviest responsibilities, for as the sole subcommand of the Communications Zone on the far shore it was to be charged with the actual operation of the communications zone facilities on the Continent. Advance Section was to develop detailed plans for this stage, therefore, with Forward Echelon exercising supervision. The latter's command role in this stage was not yet determined. However, it was to arrange for the build-up of the communications zone and the introduction of additional base sections, just as 1st Army Group was to arrange for the build-up of the combat zone and the introduction of additional armies.32
In Phase III (D plus 41 to 90), 1st Army Group was to continue to assemble the over-all tonnage requirements but was to implement them through Forward Echelon rather than Advance Section, since Forward Echelon was to have active control of the communications zone in that period. Advance Section was to begin its role as one of the subcommands of the Communications Zone on D plus 41, moving forward with the armies, relinquishing territory and installations in the rear to other COMZ sections. While Forward Echelon was to command the Communications Zone in this period, it was to be subordinate to 1st Army Group. Neither General Lee's nor General Eisenhower's headquarters was expected to move to the Continent till D plus 90, at which time the Communications Zone and 1st Army Group were to become coordinate commands responsible to the Supreme Commander. The Advance Section and Forward Echelon thus shared responsibility for the initial development of the communications zone, with Advance Section accomplishing detailed planning for its operations under the latter's supervision, and Forward Echelon developing detailed plans for its assumption of COMZ command after D plus 41.33
Advance Section had already started on its task when Forward Echelon entered the field, but it needed direction from above. Forward Echelon was the only agency other than the SOS itself where decisions could be made, since it was the agency responsible for the over-all development of the communications zone. It began to supervise ADSEC planning toward the end of February. The Advance Section's initial need was to prepare for its operations while it was attached to First Army, however, and its planning from the start was closely related to that of First Army. Forward Echelon concerned itself mainly with the problem of over-all development of the communications zone--particularly after D plus 41 --review and coordination of plans of the Advance Section and other COMZ sections, and executive arrangements with 1st and 21 Army Groups to implement plans.34
The whole U.S. administrative setup, as regards planning responsibilities, was somewhat complicated to say the least. At the risk of some repetition it may be well to recapitulate the arrangements as they stood in mid-April. On the highest Allied command level SHAEF planned the overall administration of all forces involved in OVERLORD, controlling inter-Allied and interservice matters and exercising control over supply of items (for example, petroleum) that required over-all coordination at the highest level. Most of its administrative planning responsibilities were delegated to lower commands. The 21 Army Group was made responsible for over-all planning for the entire lodgment during the period when it was the highest ground force headquarters on the Continent, or until the 1st Army Group was assigned an area of responsibility.
The 21 Army Group in turn delegated its planning responsibilities for U.S. forces to the First Army and the 1st Army Group. To First Army went the responsibility for coordinating all U.S. forces in the initial assault, including air and naval forces. The 1st Army Group was charged with preparing plans for the employment of units other than First Army troops after D plus 15, and with responsibility for planning by the Deputy Commander, Communications Zone, for the initial development of the communications zone on the Continent. Forward Echelon was to write the over-all outline plan for the communications zone (to D plus 90); Advance Section was to be responsible for its own phase of operations as the Communications Zone on the Continent (D plus 15 to 41), and also for its role in direct support of the armies thereafter. Other COMZ sections were assigned responsibilities for planning their portions of the communications zone. ETOUSA-COMZ was to remain as a rear echelon in the United Kingdom to handle supply requisitioning, to mount U.S. forces in Operation OVERLORD, and to prepare standard service doctrine for all U.S. forces in the theater.35
The delineation of planning responsibilities was fairly clear by mid-April, and the bulk of the various plans began to appear in April and May, although First Army issued its plan in February. On 1 April, 21 Army Group published broad instructions on the administration of the entire zone, and a few weeks later the U.S. administrative staff at 21 Army Group issued a similar outline administrative plan adapting the army group plan to the U.S. zone. The ADSEC plan, covering its own part in operations from D Day to D plus 41, was published on 30 April. The over-all U.S. COMZ plan, covering the development of the communications zone to D plus 90, was issued by FECOMZ on 14 May. Finally, ETOUSA issued a general plan for the administrative support
of U.S. forces from the United Kingdom in the form of a standing operating procedure (SOP), the first of a series which was to be issued by the highest U.S. administrative headquarters governing the over-all supply and administration of U.S. forces. Except for the ETOUSA SOP, all these plans were the result of coordination by the various headquarters concerned under the general supervision of 21 Army Group headquarters. Despite the many agencies involved, the planning seems to have been fairly well coordinated, and, taken together, the plans gave a relatively complete picture of the projected administrative organization on the Continent.36
In addition to organization and planning at the staff level (Forward Echelon) and planning for the initial development of the communications zone (Advance Section), plans had gone forward to create the Communications Zone's other subcommands on the continent--the base sections which were to take over territory surrendered by the Advance Section as it displaced forward following the armies. Planning the expansion of the continental administrative organization was also under the supervision of Forward Echelon.
(6) Continental Base Sections
Under a plan known as Reverse BOLERO or ORELOB (later renamed RHUMBA) it was contemplated that most of the U.S. logistic machinery would be transferred to the Continent, so that American troops and supplies could enter France directly from the United States. This meant disbanding the base sections in the United Kingdom, replacing them with a single U.K. base section, and forming base section organizations on the Continent. One of the difficulties in carrying out this program was to form the new base sections for continental missions before SOS troops could be relieved of their duties in the United Kingdom. The rapid influx of troops and supplies into the United Kingdom kept most of the SOS troops occupied with routine service of supply functions such as port and depot operations. In the weeks just preceding D Day and for several months thereafter they were to have the additional task of handling the outflow of troops and supplies from the United Kingdom. The same men had to be used on all these activities, and there was no increase in the SOS troop allotment for carrying them out concurrently.
Diverting troops to prepare for continental operations was obviously difficult under these circumstances, and it was clear that complete base section headquarters staffs with their full complements of troops could not be constituted and assembled in advance of the operation. The general procedure, therefore, was to form only the nuclei of base section organizations in the United Kingdom, taking a commanding officer from one of the existing U.K. sections to head a planning group, and giving it an assigned task on the Continent. Troops were assigned to the new base section, although the transfer to the new headquarters was in many instances simply a paper transaction, for they continued for the most part to perform SOS functions in the United Kingdom within the existing U.K. base sections until the time came for their movement to the far shore. The commanding officers of the new sections exercised supervision over the training of these troops for their future missions, but their training was carried on through the base sections in which they
were still functioning, and the newly activated sections remained skeleton headquarters organizations, the intention being to flesh them out with operating troop units as it became necessary on the Continent.
This procedure was worked out first for ADSEC troops, and then followed later in the formation of other base sections. By D Day planning was being carried on as vigorously as possible for the administrative setup on the Continent, though only two section headquarters in addition to Advance Section had been activated by that time and they were simply given numerical designations--Base Section No. 1 and Base Section No. 2.
Planning for the mission of Base Section No. 1 began several months before its official activation. Troops for the new section were to be provided through the deactivation of Eastern Base Section. Organization of the new headquarters was given increasing attention in March 1944, when Eastern Base Section made plans to disband by consolidating all five of its districts into one, which was to be incorporated into Western Base Section as a single district. This step was in line with the Reverse BOLERO program which contemplated the gradual closing out of the U.K. installations and contracting the entire administrative organization there.
Eastern Base Section was finally deactivated at the end of April and became District VIII of Western Base Section. Men no longer needed to operate district headquarters were immediately transferred to Base Section No. 1, newly activated on 1 May under the command of Col. Roy W. Grower, the former commander of Eastern Base. This new base section was to be held in readiness in the United Kingdom and called forward to the Continent shortly after an army rear boundary was drawn. The Advance Section was to release to this organization the Rennes-Laval-Châteaubriant area in eastern Brittany as soon as it was feasible, and when the armies turned northeastward the new command was to take over all of Brittany. In accordance with this assigned mission Base Section No. 1 developed a detailed plan for its operations in the Brittany area.37
The change in the axis of communications from north-south to east-west, expected to take place about D plus 41, was to be an important turning point in continental developments. It was at approximately this date that a second army and the 1st Army Group were to become operational, and that the Forward Echelon of the Communications Zone was to assume control of the communications zone on the Continent.
With the development of the Brittany area and the change in direction of the lines of communications the Advance Section was to displace to a position on the west-east line of advance, relinquishing to still another base section the responsibility for command and operation of the Cotentin area. Early in May it was suggested that a skeleton headquarters should be formed for this purpose with personnel drawn from the Western and Northern Ireland Base Sections, and later additions from Southern Base Section. This union of forces was not carried out entirely as planned, for the diminishing activities in Northern Ireland Base Section made both its commanding general and the necessary staff and headquarters troops available for the new organization. Late in May the headquarters of a second base section was
formed in Northern Ireland and was officially activated as Base Section No. 2 on 1 June under the command of General Collins, the former commander of Northern Ireland Base. Its mission was to prepare for the assumption of command and operational control of the Cotentin area when relinquished by the Advance Section. Northern Ireland Base Section was disbanded on 15 June and, like Eastern Base Section, became a district of Western Base.
In formulating the plans for the continental base section organization Colonel Albrecht, chief of staff of the Forward Echelon, suggested that a third base section be formed and also recommended that Central Base Section (then comprising the London area) prepare for a continental mission. These proposals raised the problem of finding sufficient personnel in the existing U.K. sections to staff the new headquarters and arranging for their transfer without marring the efficiency of the U.K. organizations. Both Western and Southern Base Sections were too preoccupied with the build-up and mounting tasks to surrender personnel for such a purpose. Nevertheless, the first steps were taken to organize an additional section to serve as an intermediate section between the base and advance sections, handling communications, transportation, and supplies and operating certain fixed installations. A planning staff was recruited, but its mission remained indeterminate, and the activation of an additional headquarters had to be postponed till after D Day. Nevertheless the framework of the continental administrative structure was already clear, providing for several port area base sections, an intermediate section, and an advance section, extending from the ports to the army rear boundaries.38
The mounting of OVERLORD was a tremendous undertaking in itself. For the most part this responsibility involved no change in the administrative organization beyond that already made by the January consolidation of ETOUSA with SOS, for the new combined headquarters furnished a centralized and integrated apparatus to carry it out. ETOUSA delegated its responsibilities in this field to First Army and the SOS. The two headquarters had to coordinate their work closely, both in the planning and operational stages. First Army was responsible for handling the movement of troops, embarkation, and allotment of supplies, and the SOS was responsible for maintaining all camps and installations in the American sector of southern England and providing transportation. In the mounting phase the SOS was to act as housekeeper for First Army, carrying out the mounting arrangements through the base sections and technical services. Since the base sections were most directly involved in the mounting, their commanders were designated as representatives of the Commanding General, SOS, to deal directly with each other and with First Army commander and his representatives on matters of administrative facilities and installations, such as the location, construction, and operation of marshaling, assembly, and transit areas, roads, and communications facilities. The various base section mounting plans appeared in March 1944. Their execution involved a multitude of other responsibilities which are described in a later chapter.39
The determination of the command structure for U.S. forces continued to occupy the attention of the SHAEF and ETOUSA staffs until the very eve of OVERLORD. Most of the problems of command revolved around the question of Forward Echelon's position and the question of the future role of the ETOUSA-COMZ headquarters.
(7) Final Command Arrangements
From the question of what role Forward Echelon was to play on the Continent there developed one of the most irksome problems in the whole complicated history of U.S. command and organization. The 1st Army Group had definitely been charged by 21 Army Group with supervising Forward Echelon's planning of the initial development of the communications zone, and it was clear that the COMZ plan as finally written was subject to review by the 1st Army Group administrative staff. Forward Echelon persisted nevertheless in regarding itself as an attachment to 21 Army Group coordinate with rather than subordinate to the 1st Army Group attachment. To complicate matters, 1st Army Group had granted authority to Forward Echelon to draw up the plans for certain detailed implementation of the 1st Army Group administrative staff's over-all plan which applied to the whole U.S. sector rather than solely to the communications zone. Forward Echelon had decided to have these matters published in ETOUSA SOP'S. The 1st Army Group requested that all proposed publications on administrative plans and instructions applying to the whole sector be submitted to it for review. The request seemed clearly within its authority in view of the fact that it had been charged with responsibility for coordinating administrative planning and arrangements for all U.S. forces on the Continent after First Army relinquished control. Since ETOUSA was actually a higher headquarters, however, it did not consider 1st Army Group's comments binding.
This incident illustrated pointedly the vague division of planning functions between the two headquarters, and revealed a weak link in the whole U.S. command and organizational structure for OVERLORD. The 1st Army Group was clearly the headquarters for the control of U.S. forces in the Allied line of command. ETOUSA, however, was outside that Allied line of command and as an administrative headquarters exercised certain powers independently. Forward Echelon, an echelon of Headquarters, ETOUSA, also represented the consolidated ETOUSA-SOS staff since the COMZ commander, General Lee, was also Deputy Commanding General, ETOUSA.40
Closely related to this problem in the planning stage was the matter of Forward Echelon's future role on the Continent. It will be recalled that Forward Echelon was to supervise the initial development of the communications zone. In Phase II--D plus 15 to 41--when Advance Section was the sole Communications Zone section on the Continent, Forward Echelon was not to exercise any active control, according to the original plans. It was to remain as a staff attached to 21 Army Group, acting in an advisory capacity on COMZ matters. Not until the third phase, when 1st Army Group became operational, was it to assume active direction of the Communications Zone. Late in April, however, Forward Echelon again brought the question of its future role into prominence
when it attempted to change the plan for Phase II. It now proposed that it should take over direct control of the Communications Zone once an army rear boundary was drawn (at D plus 15), thereby eliminating the period when Advance Section would be the highest administrative headquarters on the Continent.41
The suggested alteration in the command plan naturally produced some consternation in Advance Section and First Army, for it conflicted with earlier commitments to First Army that no intermediate headquarters would be established between the army and Advance Section before the introduction of a second base section. The ADSEC commander, General Plank, promptly sought an explanation. General Lord,42 the COMZ chief of staff, proposed as a workable solution that Forward Echelon be established in Phase II, as the COMZ commander desired, but that it exercise only "supervision and coordination" over Advance Section, and not enter command channels or supply requisition channels. This attempt to reconcile the opposing desires of the Communications Zone and ADSEC-First Army had all the earmarks of earlier directives; it was vague in its demarcation of authority and was bound to lead to conflicting interpretation when the test of actual operations came. For the moment the issue was not clarified, and the relationship of Forward Echelon and Advance Section was left up in the air, although there seems to have been no doubt in the minds of the FECOMZ staff members from this point on that they would assume full supervision and control of all COMZ activities at the time an army rear boundary was drawn.
The issue of Forward Echelon's role on the Continent in the second phase received some clarification by mid-May, when the COMZ plan was released. The plan (issued by Forward Echelon) substantially confirmed the scheme for planning and development of the communications zone in three phases as outlined earlier. The idea that Forward Echelon would become an intermediate headquarters between First Army and Advance Section and that it would assume control of the Communications Zone in Phase II was apparently abandoned. The plan succinctly stated that when an army rear boundary was drawn Forward Echelon would "exercise staff supervision" for the Commander-in-Chief, 21 Army Group, over the operations of Advance Section. Forward Echelon was to assume full supervision and operational control of all COMZ activities only after Advance Section and a second COMZ section became contiguous. When 1st Army Group was allotted an area of responsibility on the Continent, Forward Echelon was to be detached from 21 Army Group and attached to 1st Army Group. It finally appeared settled, therefore, that in Phase II this highly controversial headquarters was to be, as General Lord had proposed, a staff supervisory agency, operating with 21 Army Group.
This conception was once more underlined late in May as a result of an attempt by General Moses, the 1st Army Group G-4 and chief of the U.S. administrative staff at 21 Army Group, to reopen the whole matter with a new interpretation of Forward Echelon's position, denying Forward Echelon a place on the 21 Army Group staff. General Moses' views were
rejected, but ETOUSA now definitely abandoned any pretension that Forward Echelon would command Advance Section while the latter was the sole section on the Continent. In a letter to General Moses ETOUSA expressly stated that the Forward Echelon would act as a staff of 21 Army Group for COMZ matters and exercise general technical supervision over the sections. Following this reply to General Moses a new directive was issued to Forward Echelon officially stating these views.
Even this interpretation of the role of Forward Echelon was only temporarily accepted for, as will be seen from later developments on the Continent, it was not acceptable to 1st Army Group. The command arrangement was inherently a difficult one, and the question of the relative authority of the deputy theater commander for supply and administration (General Lee) and the commander of the field forces (General Bradley) was still only vaguely answered. Shortly before D Day General Eisenhower himself stepped in and attempted to lay down a modus operandi for the two headquarters. In a letter to General Lee written on 26 May and published by ETOUSA on 1 June the theater commander specified that the Commanding General, 1st Army Group, in making recommendations concerning the priority of shipment, assignment, and utilization of field forces, and concerning the allocation of supplies and equipment to units of the field forces, was to deal directly with the deputy theater commander. Any disagreements on matters of conflicting interest were to be referred to the theater commander for decision. In short, an attempt was being made to render workable by cooperation and coordination a command arrangement in which authority could not be precisely defined.43
To anticipate a bit, the relative status of the FECOMZ and 1st Army Group attachments at General Montgomery's headquarters was debated once more after D Day, and agreement was reached once and for all at the end of June. The agreement gave the 1st Army Group staff under General Moses primary responsibility for coordinating the administration of U.S. forces as between the field forces on the one hand and the service forces on the other, but specified that the FECOMZ attachment was to be consulted exclusively on matters applying solely to the communications zone, and recognized the FECOMZ attachment as the staff agency responsible for dealing directly with the various COMZ sections.44
Meanwhile an attempt was also made to reconcile the views held by the ETOUSA-COMZ staff and the U.S. component of SHAEF regarding the evolution of the top American command on the Continent. Linked with the concept of Forward Echelon as the controlling headquarters for the Communications Zone on the Continent in the second phase was the idea that Forward Echelon would eventually merge into an ETOUSA-COMZ headquarters to take the place of the existing ETOUSA-SOS headquarters in the United Kingdom. Headquarters, Communications Zone, envisaged the old ETOUSA-SOS as being allowed to die, with ETOUSA-COMZ taking its place to operate in the same way. Forward Echelon, according to this view, would actually be the vanguard of Headquarters, ETOUSA-COMZ, on the Continent, though it would not be officially considered as the theater headquarters until the
Supreme Commander established SHAEF headquarters there. While the ETOUSA-COMZ group visualized a transfer to the Continent of the basic setup existing in the United Kingdom, the SHAEF group felt that the existing ETOUSA headquarters should become merely a Communications Zone headquarters. Thus the tendency, mentioned earlier, for the American staff at SHAEF to assume some of the aspects of a theater headquarters found open expression as the time came to clarify the command and organizational structure for continental operations. This development had been a product of the ETOUSA-SOS consolidation and the transformation of COSSAC into an Allied command. The result of these conflicting contentions was to be a compromise representing something of the views of both the ETOUSA-COMZ and SHAEF groups.
General Crawford, the SHAEF G-4, presented the SHAEF staff's views to General Lee in a draft proposal on 28 May. Among the salient features of Crawford's proposal was the provision, already accepted in earlier plans, that the Communications Zone was to be placed under 1st Army Group during the transitional stage before SHAEF moved to the Continent. But the controversial feature of the proposal was the provision that SHAEF should take over the functions of the theater headquarters in the final command setup both in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. The theater commander, according to this plan, was to delegate much of his administrative authority to the major subcommands--1st Army Group, the Ninth Air Force, and Communications Zone. Such powers as he retained would be exercised from his own headquarters at SHAEF rather than from General Lee's headquarters, which up to that time had been the real theater headquarters; and SHAEF's rear echelon in the United Kingdom was to exercise such theater functions in the United Kingdom as the theater commander retained under his control. Crawford further suggested that the office of deputy theater commander be eliminated, that Headquarters, ETOUSA, as it then existed be disbanded, and that as many of its personnel as were required to perform the administrative functions of the U.S. theater be transferred to SHAEF. The remainder of the staff would be available for transfer to 1st Army Group or the Communications Zone. All communications with the War Department were to be channeled through the theater commander at SHAEF, not through the ETOUSA headquarters, where General Lee had handled this burden through the planning period.45
The reception that this proposal received at General Lee's headquarters can well be imagined. To the ETOUSA-COMZ staff and the chiefs of services it meant a reversion to the same setup that had existed before ETOUSA and SOS were consolidated. Recalling the difficulties of 1943, most of the service chiefs felt that the separation of COMZ headquarters, where they were based, from the theater headquarters at SHAEF would put them in a situation much like the one they had unhappily known at Cheltenham. Such a setup could lead to the same kind of unfortunate conflict as existed in World War I when the American GHQ (corresponding to theater headquarters) had persisted in maintaining its superiority over the SOS (corresponding to the Communications Zone) in supply and administration and thus frustrated all attempts to
centralize control over these activities.46
The ETOUSA-COMZ staff saw many reasons why the proposed solution was not feasible. Among them was the enormous amount of routine administrative matters, comprising 90 percent of the theater's correspondence with the War Department, which would have to be handled at SHAEF headquarters. The objection was also raised, with doubtful justification, that an Allied headquarters would have jurisdiction over purely U.S. matters while the British War Office would continue to handle its own administrative affairs.
Since a decision on the whole matter rested ultimately with the theater commander, General Lee formally presented his own views to General Eisenhower in an attempt to demonstrate what he conceived to be the basic unsoundness of General Crawford's proposal. In a lengthy, vigorously stated analysis of the whole problem of command he characterized the proposal as "so diametrically opposed" to the views of the Supreme Commander, and "so far reaching in its application" that he doubted whether General Eisenhower or his chief of staff, General Smith, had given it careful consideration and were fully aware of its implications. General Lee's basic argument rested on a principle which he had expounded persistently ever since his arrival in the theater, and which had found partial implementation in the consolidation of January: "Control and responsibility for the logistical support of all combat forces must be established at the highest U.S. level."47 This he considered a basic principle, and a major lesson from World War I experience. Control of purely U.S. administrative matters, he contended, was not feasible in an Allied organization unless there was a distinct separation between Allied staffs. The complexity and magnitude of the U.S. administrative organization precluded Allied staff integration. By way of illustration he pointed to the great volume of communications processed by the Signal Service within the theater and to the War Department--something over 1,700,000 words per day--dealing chiefly with logistic matters, and to the complexity in programing, requisitioning, transportation, storage, stock control, and issue of approximately 700,000 different items of supply.48
In General Lee's view the best way to accomplish the administrative support of all U.S. forces, using the minimum number of headquarters and conserving the already trained staff and technical officers and enlisted personnel, was to maintain the combined ETOUSA and SOS staffs as the U.S. administrative headquarters, reporting directly to the theater commander as at present. He implied that this arrangement
had worked very satisfactorily; indeed, the only difficulty to date had occurred when the SHAEF staff had attempted to occupy itself with purely U.S. administrative matters.
General Eisenhower's decisions on the matter of the organization of U.S. forces in OVERLORD were made known in a final directive to the major American subcommands on 6 June. General Lee's representations on the subject apparently weighed heavily with the Supreme Commander, for the final directive met many of the objections which the SOS chief had raised. In some respects, however, it may well be viewed as a compromise between the two views involved.
For purposes of delineating the command the directive divided the operation roughly according to the stages outlined in the COMZ plan. (Chart 6) During the first stage 21 Army Group was to command all Allied ground forces on the Continent, with a U.S. staff attached for the administration of U.S. troops under 21 Army Group's command. The bulk of U.S. forces, including Advance Section, was to be attached to First Army, the highest field command in this phase. The theater commander would delegate to the commanding general of First Army, "such authority and responsibility as may be practicable or desirable." Ninth Air Force was to be under the operational control of the AEAF, and under the administrative control of USSTAF. The SOS was to be redesignated the Communications Zone, and the theater chiefs of services were to be located at COMZ headquarters. Otherwise the existing U.K. organization was to be unchanged.
During the transition, or second, stage the 21 Army Group was to continue as the highest Allied ground force command on the Continent. In this period, however, the bulk of the 1st Army Group attachment to 21 Army Group was to be gradually withdrawn and the COMZ attachment, FECOMZ, completely withdrawn. Third Army would move to the Continent, and at the end of this period 1st Army Group was to be assigned an area of responsibility and assume control of the two American armies. All responsibilities previously delegated to First Army would then pass to the army group. At the same time the Communications Zone would also be extended to the Continent, and the control of Advance Section would pass from First Army to the Communications Zone. At that time General Lee would be relieved of his responsibilities as deputy theater commander. The U.K. organization was gradually to be reduced in strength. With these changes the final stage would be reached, when the more or less permanent command setup would come into operation. An advance headquarters of SHAEF would move to the Continent at that time and would assume over-all control of the ground forces, working through General Bradley as commander in chief of the Central Group of Armies (1st Army Group), and through Field Marshal Montgomery as the commander-in-chief of the Northern Group of Armies (21 Army Group). The Communications Zone would then come under the direct control of General Eisenhower as theater commander.
The directive also announced the theater commander's intention to delegate "all possible authority and responsibility" to his subordinate commanders: the Commander in Chief, Central Group of Armies; the Commanding General, Ninth Air Force; the Commanding General, USSTAF; and the Commanding General,
CHART 6--PLANNED COMMAND ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERLORD
Communications Zone. Over such theater functions as he would personally retain he would exercise control through the U.S. element of SHAEF. But, and this was important, the COMZ headquarters was to remain the channel of communication for the theater commander to the War Department "except for those matters reserved by the Theater Commander to himself." In the United Kingdom, in accord with the liquidation program, the base sections were to be consolidated into one U.K. Base under the commanding general of the Communications Zone.
The directive was actually something of a compromise that gave concessions both to the SHAEF and 1st Army Group staff and to the ETOUSA-SOS group. For one thing, it appeared to have clearly and definitely accorded to Forward Echelon the desired and long-argued position as a staff coordinate with 1st Army Group at the 21 Army Group. Further, it did not provide that the communications zone would come under 1st Army Group in the transitional stage, but that it would come under the immediate control of Headquarters, Communications Zone, when Advance Section was detached from First Army. However, the Communications Zone's relationship to 1st Army Group was not entirely clarified even at this time, for 1st Army Group was to inherit all the authority previously delegated to First Army, including control of the supply and administrative support. There was still room for contention, therefore, that the communications zone would be under 1st Army Group until SHAEF arrived on the Continent. It seemed that this issue would forever elude a clear-cut solution.
Another decision that seemed unfavorable to the ETOUSA group was the termination of General Lee's position as deputy theater commander in this period. The theater chiefs of services were to remain resident at his headquarters, however, and his headquarters was to remain responsible for carrying on all routine administrative correspondence with the War Department. Actually, the functions and responsibilities of General Lee's headquarters remained the same, and the change in General Lee's position had little effect on the existing responsibilities and channels of command.
Some matters were still left in doubt. One question which might very logically arise concerned the actual location of theater headquarters. Was it at SHAEF with the theater commander, or at Headquarters, Communications Zone, where the general and special staffs of the theater resided? Apparently it was divided between the two. As was to be expected, General Lee continued to regard his headquarters as theater headquarters for some time to come, although it tended to become more definitely a COMZ headquarters instead. It might be defined legally as a COMZ headquarters charged with the performance of certain theater functions. This division of function was unique and was to call for further clarification shortly after the launching of the invasion.
Despite these deficiencies, which loom large because of the controversy they caused, the command setup for U.S. and Allied forces was well outlined by the date of the invasion. On 1 June General Eisenhower had issued a final directive outlining the command arrangements on the Allied level, but this contained no basic change, Also, on 18 May, General Bradley had at last been officially designated as commanding general of both 1st Army Group and First Army, with Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges as his deputy, the
obvious intention being that Hodges should take over First Army when the army group became operational. The fulfillment of these plans which had been so long in the making was finally undertaken on 6 June, when the transfer of the U.S. organization from the United Kingdom to the Continent was begun. The operation on the Continent was soon to measure the wisdom of the command and organizational arrangements and test the work of the planners.49
In the final months during which the command and organizational problems were threshed out and detailed tactical and logistic plans were written, military preparations reached an unprecedented tempo in the United Kingdom. Even the smallest hamlets and rural lanes did not escape the feverish activity that characterized the operations of every depot and training area as well as of the various headquarters. A prodigious stocking of supplies and equipment took place in these months, evoking the comment that the British Isles were so weighted down with the munitions of war that they were kept from sinking only by the buoyant action of the barrage balloons which floated above the principal ports and military installations. The increasing industry was particularly noticeable in London, where the relatively subdued atmosphere of the first half of 1943 gave way to an almost frantic activity in the winter and spring of 1944. All roads led to London, for within this metropolitan area and on its fringes lay most of the principal headquarters, including those of ETOUSA-SOS; the 1st Army Group; Forward Echelon, COMZ; SHAEF; USSTAF; AEAF; and also the top British headquarters. London was therefore the nerve center of U.S. Army activity in the United Kingdom; and the Central Base Section, comprising about 700 square miles, had a larger concentration of important personnel, a greater variety of installations, and probably more problems per square foot than any other area in Britain.
The London area witnessed a tremendous growth, the strength of Central Base Section rising from about 1,000 U.S. troops in May 1942 to 30,000 in the month preceding the invasion. Nearly 10,000 of the personnel on duty in the Central Base Section were assigned to the ETOUSA-SOS headquarters.50 In addition, London was the principal leave center in the United Kingdom, ministering to the wants of a transient population half as large as its assigned strength. U.S. forces had gradually taken over more and more accommodations in the crowded metropolitan area. In April 1942 they had occupied less than 100,000 square feet of office space, plus an officers' mess, a sales store, a garage, and several small troop billets. By May 1944, in addition to 33 officers' billets (including 24 hotels) and 300 buildings used for troop accommodations, they occupied approximately 2,500,000 square feet of space in offices, depots, garages, and shops, and a variety of installations such as post exchanges, messes, a detention barracks, a gymnasium, and clinics and dispensaries.51
One of the most remarkable of the U.S. installations in London was the fabulous Consolidated Officers Mess at Grosvenor House on Park Lane, only a few blocks from theater headquarters on Grosvenor Square. Occupying the Great Ball Room
STOCKING SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT. 155-mm. guns and other artillery, above. Gravity rollers moving supplies in a quartermaster warehouse, below.
INVASION EQUIPMENT. Combat vehicles, including tanks, half-tracks, and tracked landing vehicles (LVT's) at Tidworth, above. Signal communications cables covering a field at Depot G-22, Moreton-on-Lugg, Herefordshire, below.
of this large West End hotel, "Willow Run," as it was quickly dubbed, had been opened in December 1943 to accommodate the growing number of officers assigned to duty in London. Operated cafeteria style, with a capacity of 26 servings per minute and seating nearly 1,000 officers at a time, "Willow Run" ably lived up to its name and was a marvel of efficiency to every officer assigned to duty in the London area. Its eventual efficiency gave little evidence of the trials and tribulations which attended its opening. The payroll problem connected with its British civilian staff of between 400 and 500 was tremendous in itself, and the services of a French chef were early dispensed with when it was found that his spirit was crushed by the prospect of serving the contents of the C Ration can. The mess was eventually able to serve between 6,000 and 7,000 meals per day.52
While the Americans used facilities in various parts of London, the center of U.S. activity continued to be Grosvenor Square, the greater part of the buildings on three of its sides eventually being taken over. Most of the billets of the London command were located within walking distance of the theater headquarters. In nearby Hyde Park American servicemen and British civilians found mutual amusement, the Americans in listening to the daily harangues of the lunatic fringe at the Marble Arch corner, and the Londoners of the West End in "talking it up" at an American noon-hour softball game played in the shadows of the antiaircraft rocket batteries.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (4) * Next Chapter (6)
1. There were two other commands directly under Headquarters, ETOUSA, but of less importance to this discussion--the Iceland Base Command and the American School Center.
2. Organization and Command, I, 270-71.
3. Ibid., I, 271-78.
4. At the same time, the VIII Air Force Service Command was divided to form a mobile air service command for the Ninth. Brig. Gen. Hugh J. Knerr remained in command of the VIII AFSC, and Maj. Gen. Henry J. F. Miller was named to command the IX Air Service Command.
5. Organization and Command, I, 279-86.
6. Ibid., I, 295-99.
7. Ibid., I, 299-300.
8. Organization and Command, I, 286-300. The development of the Allied command structure and the selection of the Supreme Commander are treated more comprehensively in Pogue, The Supreme Command.
9. Organization and Command, I, 306-11.
10. Memo, Pulsifer for Brig Gen David Barr, 17 Nov 43, as cited in Organization and Command, I, 320.
11. Memo, Gen Lewis, AG FUSAG, for G-1 FUSAG, 16 Dec 43, sub: Proposal for Realignment of Adm Procedure in this Theater, as cited in Organization and Command, I, 322.
12. Interv with Gen Barker, OCMH.
13. Organization and Command, II, 1-3
14. Ibid., II, 4-5.
15. Ibid., I, 328.
16. Ibid., II, 8.
17. Organization and Command, II, 18-20.
18. Ibid., II, 21-25.
19. Ibid., II, 40-43.
20. Organization and Command, II, 28-29.
21. Ibid., II, 29-32.
22. All the territory in the theater outside of the combat zone--that is, back of the army rear boundary.
23. Organization and Command, II, 32-35.
24. Ltr, Col Frank M. Albrecht to OCMH, 29 Jun 51.
25. Organization and Command, II, 44-50. The directive under discussion, Ltr, SHAEF to Chiefs of all Divs SHAEF, 9 Feb 44, is quoted in full on page 50.
26. Not to be confused with Maj. Gen. Harry H. Vaughan, who later served as military aide to President Truman.
27. Interv with Col Albrecht, 5 Jul 51, OCMH.
28. Organization and Command, II, 50-56; Interv with Gen Moses, 13 Aug 51.
29. Ibid., II, 50-52.
30. Ibid., II, 53-60; Organization and Functions of the Communications Zone, Gen Bd Rpt 127, p. 14.
31. Operations History of the Advance Section, COM Z ETOUSA, prep by Hist Sec ADSEC, 1945, mimeo, p. 2, OCMH; Organization and Functions of the Communications Zone, Gen Bd Rpt 127, p. 32.
32. Organization and Command, II, 61-66.
33. Ibid., II, 66.
34. Ibid., II, 67. The General Board Report on the organization and functions of the Communications Zone questions the advisability of granting ADSEC such wide planning responsibilities. Since ADSEC had to establish supply facilities and construct installations on the Continent it necessarily had to prepare plans therefor. On the other hand, the report points out, the chiefs of services had previously worked out detailed supply requirements and coordinated plans for the operations and were the only agencies possessing the necessary over-all knowledge essential for working out plans with the combat echelons. In practice both FECOMZ and ADSEC were heavily dependent on the service chiefs in the preparation of supply requirements and plans, and the General Board suggests that it would have been better to give the COMZ staff responsibility and authority for making them in the first place. This would have kept the responsibility for supply plans continuously in one headquarters instead of passing it successively from First Army to ADSEC to FECOMZ to COMZ. In addition to providing continuity and eliminating an echelon of coordination, the report asserts, it would have placed negotiations directly in the hands of a strong, well-informed staff capable of dealing with the armies and army group on an equal basis. It admits, however, that it was necessary to keep ADSEC fully informed of all plans as a basis for operations. Gen Bd Rpt 127, p. 35.
35. Organization and Command, II, 68-69.
36. Ibid., II, 70-71.
37. Organization and Command, II, 84-88.
38. Ibid., II, 84-92.
39. Ibid., II, 37; NEPTUNE: Training for and Mounting the Operation and the Artificial Ports, Pt. VI of the Logistical and Administrative History of the ETO, Hist Div USFET, 1946, MS, I, 123-25, OCMH.
40. Organization and Command, II, 72-74.
41. Ibid., II, 74-75; Interv with Albrecht, 5 Jul 51.
42. Plank was promoted to brigadier general on 24 February 1944; Lord was promoted to brigadier general on 22 February 1944.
43. Organization and Command, II, 76-83
44. Ibid., II, 130-32.
45. Organization and Command, II, 76, 110-12.
46. The whole long struggle in the ETO was in fact strikingly similar to that of 1917-18. At that time the headquarters were separated, the GHQ at Chaumont and the Line of Communications or LOC (later called the SOS) at Tours, with all the wasteful use of personnel and duplication of effort which characterized administrative and logistical operations in the ETO in its first year and a half. Until February 1918 the chiefs of services, then called bureau chiefs, actually resided at General Pershing's headquarters, the GHQ through which all communications with the War Department were routed, and where the G-4 insisted on passing on all SOS requests. Not until July 1918 was the SOS finally authorized to deal directly with the War Department on supply and administrative matters. See Johnson Hagood, The Services of Supply: A Memoir of the Great War (Boston, 1927), and James G. Harbord, The American Army in France, 1917-1919 (Boston, 1936).
47. Ltr, Lee to Eisenhower, 29 May 44, as cited in Organization and Command, II, 114.
48. This is a conservative figure. It is estimated that the supply services handle between 800,000 and 1,000,000 Class II and IV items alone, exclusive of air force items. The Sears, Roebuck catalogue, by comparison, lists approximately 100,000 separate articles.
49. Organization and Command, II, 112-31.
50. ETO Progress Rpt XCIX (12 Jun 44), Statistics Sec ETO SGS, ETO Adm 429; History of the Central Base Section, Station List, ETO Adm 587A.
51. History of Central Base Section.