Chapter XII
The Logistic Structure Under Scrutiny

(1) The Communications Zone and the Field Commands

Not until February 1945 did the European theater fully recover from the logistic depression that had started in September. The deficiency in transportation, which had originally ushered in this period of hard times, and the port problem appeared well on the way toward elimination by late November with the improvement in rail operations and the opening of Antwerp. But other difficulties took their place. The displacement of the main logistic base northeastward, involving among other things a shift of service troops and rolling stock, brought new dislocations in the form of saturation of forward depots and congestion on the rail lines. Equally important, serious supply shortages gripped the theater during the fall. Taken together these difficulties made December the most crisis-ridden month of the war.

Late in November the accumulation of actual and prospective difficulties led General Eisenhower to ask Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell to make Lt. Gen. LeRoy Lutes, Director of Operations, ASF, available for an on-the-ground survey of the theater's supply situation. Somervell agreed, and on 5 December General Lutes, accompanied by five other officers, flew to Paris to study the theater's difficulties. The party remained in the theater until 12 January. At that time General Somervell himself went to the theater for a briefer visit, returning to the War Department later in the month. Between them, Lutes and Somervell and their aides performed much the same type of mission they had carried out in the spring of 1944. By the time of their departure they had made a searching analysis of the theater's administrative structure and its operating methods.

Lutes' initial impression was favorable. After the first talks at theater headquarters he reported that the COMZ staff had matured noticeably since his last visit to the theater and that he found it a much more professional organization. General Smith, the SHAEF chief of staff, tended to confirm this impression, asserting that "no one could say that supply here has failed." Both he and General Crawford, the G-4, told Lutes that they believed the supply situation was now in hand and that the armies could be supported in the offensives planned for mid-December, although both were worried about the current congestion on the rail lines east of Paris. Lutes was to alter his impressions within the next few weeks, and


both he and Somervell eventually found much to criticize in the theater's logistic structure.1

The Lutes and Somervell observations fell into two broad categories: (1) Those concerning the general lack of confidence in the Communications Zone which was widely prevalent in the field commands, and (2) those concerning the shortcomings in logistic management, or what might be termed the field of business administration in supply.

Lack of confidence in the Communications Zone was hardly a new phenomenon. Suspicions engendered by the differences over organization and planning in the U.K. period had never subsided,2 and relations between the Communications Zone and the field commands were never completely cordial. Part of the mistrust undoubtedly stemmed from the traditional and probably unpreventable feeling that rear area troops were better supplied than those at the front, particularly in such items as clothing and food. The sudden famine in the more popular brands of cigarettes in the combat zone in November, brought about by distributional difficulties, was but one of several examples of COMZ indifference and inefficiency, in the view of the front-line soldier, which confirmed this attitude. However unwarranted such feelings may have been, the field commands never were completely satisfied that the Communications Zone appreciated the urgency of their needs or showed the proper zeal in meeting them. They made little attempt to conceal their suspicions, and on occasion voiced their dissatisfaction openly to the COMZ staff, condemning what they referred to as the "lethargy and smugness" of some of its members.3 It is noteworthy that dissatisfaction with the service elements never reached such proportions on the southern line of communications.

The attitudes of the field commands varied, undoubtedly reflecting in some degree their training in the understanding of supply problems. First Army had always been the most outspoken in its criticism of the Communications Zone. General Hodges himself was intolerant of any supply deficiency and, according to Lutes, the least disposed to make any attempt to understand logistic problems. General Patton frankly stated that he trusted no one to the rear of the Advance Section and usually planned his operations in partial defiance of supply difficulties, making the most of available resources. Lutes believed that of the army commanders Simpson had the best understanding of supply. Perhaps because of this the Ninth Army commander did not expect miracles and trusted in the Communications Zone to support him. General Bradley was credited with being logistically minded, although conservative and disposed to make doubly sure of his supply by asking for large reserves, as he did in the case of ammunition. The field commanders in the 12th Army Group were unanimous in expressing confidence in the ADSEC commander, General Plank,


who had always maintained the closest liaison with the combat commands and who apparently had to their satisfaction instilled in his entire command an urgency about meeting the needs of the combat forces. General Somervell felt that this "spirit of urgency" was lacking at other echelons of the Communications Zone and suspected that the lack of it was sensed by the armies and was one of the major sources of the distrust expressed by them. He emphasized this strongly at a staff conference in January, pointing out that the Communications Zone existed for one purpose alone--serving the combat forces--and that it must convince the field commands that it appreciated this. "A lack of confidence or antagonism," as Somervell put it, "has no place in a situation of that kind. I do not care who is right or who is wrong, the point is that we have to satisfy our customers and do so in a way which pleases them."4

As in the past, some of the difficulties could be attributed to a clash of personalities. This had been most evident in the relations between the Communications Zone and Supreme Headquarters, for the relations between Generals Lee and Crawford had never been completely free of strain. That the dealings between the two headquarters had improved some over the months was attributed largely to the diplomacy of Lee's chief of staff, General Lord, who personally conducted much of the business with SHAEF and also handled many of the complaints from the field.5

More important than any personality differences, and the source of at least some of the distrust between the field and service forces, was the continued dissatisfaction with the command structure as it affected supply. Although technically General Lee no longer held the title of deputy theater commander, his position had not really changed. While he himself no longer legally wore two hats, his staff did, for it doubled as the COMZ and ETOUSA staff. It had a dual role, therefore, and the army group commanders could not help feeling that it could not be counted on to give the desired priority to the demands of the combat forces where such demands conflicted with those of rear area troops. The thought that the Communications Zone, a command co-equal with the army groups, might be passing on the validity of their requests was particularly distasteful to them. They strongly suspected, in fact, that the COMZ-ETOUSA staff had been responsible for the "arbitrary" paring down of their recommended replacement and expenditure factors and was therefore responsible for the current shortages in ammunition and such items as radios and tanks.

The basic difficulty with the arrangement was likewise illustrated in the problem of allocating supplies between the two army groups. It appeared logical that theater headquarters should make such allocations. But the field commands considered the COMZ-ETOUSA staff a doubtful authority for that purpose and


preferred to look to the U.S. element at SHAEF for such decisions. Most of them would have preferred a setup which had been proposed several times before--that is, a strictly American GHQ, separate from SHAEF and primarily tactical in nature, but equipped to give over-all direction to the logistic effort as well.6

(2) Expediting Supply Deliveries

At the time of General Lutes' arrival early in December the theater's two most pressing problems were (1) the serious supply shortages, notably in ammunition, tanks, tires, general purpose vehicles, and field wire, and (2) its inability to handle, particularly in the forward areas, the large tonnages which the ports were now able to discharge and the railways to move forward. General Lutes was able to give immediate and material assistance on the former. As a top-ranking official of the ASF assessing the theater's situation at first hand he was in a position to add great weight to the theater's requests. While confirmation of the theater's needs should not have been necessary, General Lutes nevertheless was invaluable in obtaining additional releases, particularly of such items as tanks and trucks.

But additional allocations and releases could solve only part of the problem, for they promised to meet the theater's demands in only a limited number of items. It was estimated that production in the United States was falling short of demands in about 600 major items procured by the ASF, and there was little prospect of raising the output of most of these within the next six months. The only means by which supply to the combat zone could be increased in the near future, therefore, was by accelerating the flow of supplies already available or becoming available--that is, by shortening the delivery time of supplies already in the pipeline or coming off production lines. A time analysis of recent ammunition shipments had revealed that an average of 46 days elapsed between the date on which ammunition arrived in the theater and the date on which it was finally laid down in forward depots--23 days awaiting discharge in U.K. and continental waters, 15 days in actual unloading, and 8 days in movement from shipside to forward depots. Movement from U.S. depots to the theater required approximately 50 days. Total pipeline time from zone of interior depots to combat zone consequently averaged nearly 100 days.

The time consumed in waiting in European waters was already being cut, and theater officials estimated that both unloading and intransit time could also be reduced by special handling. The result would be a saving of as much as thirty days, or 65 percent of the pipeline time previously required within the theater. General Lutes believed that time consumed in shipment from U.S. depots to the theater could also be materially reduced by both special handling and speeded shipments. He pointed out that for each ten days that the pipeline could be shortened and kept shortened for critical items, an additional ten days of


production could be made available in the combat zone. This he believed would be of substantial assistance to the theater, at least in the immediate future. General Lutes proposed that a major saving in time could be made in this portion of the pipeline by the inauguration of an express shipping service, using either fast unescorted vessels or small fast convoys. The War Department had already undertaken to expedite the shipment of certain critical types of ammunition via fast freighter. Lutes now proposed that this service be expanded to include other highly critical items of supply in order to meet the theater's most urgent needs in the next few months. He also suggested that the delivery of other important supplies could be improved by a more careful selectivity in loading and by special handling. Greater selectivity in the loading of ships would prevent high priority items from being buried in slow-moving cargo, as had often occurred in the past.

General Somervell approved the idea of a rapid shipping service on 1 January and laid down the ground rules which were to govern its use. A few days later General Stratton, the COMZ G-4, in turn announced to the theater supply services the establishment of the rapid express service, known as REX, explaining its purpose and prescribing the conditions and procedures which were to govern its use.7 To complement this service and thus ensure the most expeditious handling of high priority supplies throughout the supply pipeline General Lutes meanwhile had proposed to theater officials that a fast rail service be established between the ports and forward depots to handle small tonnages of urgently needed items. Such a service, known as the "Toot Sweet Express," was also established in January.8

(3) Supply Planning Procedures

The critical supply shortages of December had again called attention to two or three other aspects of theater logistics which had long been of direct concern to the War Department. From the point of view of the ASF the theater's tardy planning reflected a lack of appreciation of the time factor involved in procurement. Both the Communications Zone and the 12th Army Group were found to be remiss in this regard. General Lutes saw no evidence of planning by the army group beyond April 1945. Plans which extended barely four months forward really constituted nothing but current plans so far as supply was concerned and corresponded roughly to the time required to fill requisitions and deliver supplies from existing stocks in the United States. They made no allowance for any lead time involved in special procurement. Forward planning had to be projected a minimum of nine to twelve months in advance, Lutes pointed out, for items the need for which the ASF could not foresee.9


Closely related was the matter of the theater's requisitioning practices. War Department circulars had long since prescribed the ground rules governing requisitioning by the theaters, and had specified a form designed to provide an accurate monthly picture of the theater's stock position and to facilitate the editing of the theater's requests. The theater's failure to follow the prescribed procedures had long complicated the editing job at the New York Port, accounting for at least some of the delays of which the theater so frequently complained. It undoubtedly explained why the War Department and the theater were so often at odds over the quantities of supplies ETOUSA was entitled to. Early in 1945 ASF officers assigned to the COMZ staff made a thorough examination of the requisitioning practices of the theater's supply services and reported an utter lack of an adequate or uniform system of computing requirements. As a result, their analysis showed, the theater was requisitioning improper quantities of supplies.

The principal shortcoming of the theater's practices, and one which all the services shared, was the failure to provide the New York Port with the data it needed to edit requisitions intelligently as to quantity--that is, stock status data as to quantities of supplies "on hand," "due in," and "due out," and the additional information needed to determine the theater's "requisitioning objective."10 The services should have included as due in, for example, quantities requisitioned on the New York Port although not yet delivered, quantities expected from other theaters, expected deliveries from local procurement, and also salvaged or reclaimed items returned to depot stocks. But the services followed no standard procedure in such reporting.

The same lack of uniformity was apparent in the troop bases which the services used to calculate requirements, and in the order and shipping time they used. Manpower figures frequently varied, depending in part on the troop basis used, and in part on conflicting totals of Allied military personnel, displaced persons, civilians, and prisoners of war. Order and shipping times ranged from 60 to 124 days, and a study of actual shipments revealed that the time between the submission of a requisition and the first deliveries of supplies in COMZ depots ranged from a minimum of 47 days in the case of medical supplies to a maximum of 145 days in the case of quartermaster supplies. The corresponding figures for the delivery of 75 percent of the supplies against a particular requisition were 60 and 234 days respectively.

Although the War Department had frequently called the theater's attention to irregularities in requisitioning methods, the theater apparently had never made a serious effort to enforce the rules. In February, inspired by the findings


of ASF officials, ETOUSA finally moved to standardize its entire requisitioning procedure in line with long-standing War Department wishes, defining specifically what supplies were to be included as on hand, due in, and due out, and eventually settling on a single order and shipping time of 120 days. The new procedure became effective on 1 April. Like several other measures, therefore, its adoption was too late to have any effect on logistical support before the end of hostilities.11

Differences over the theater's requisitioning habits inevitably involved the problem of replacement and consumption factors. Accurate maintenance factors were obviously important to the theater, since they were intended to ensure that supply was adequate to meet the ups and downs of combat requirements over a long period; they were equally important to the War Department, since they played a large part in determining future production. It was desirable that in the long run they coincide with actual needs, no more and no less.

The theater had complained repeatedly about the difficulties of getting prompt consideration of its recommendations for revisions of replacement factors, and chafed at the endless War Department requests for "justification." In despair at the interminable delays, it sometimes proceeded to requisition supplies on the basis of its recommended factors without waiting for approval. The War Department, its procurement program under frequent scrutiny by Congressional committees, was understandably cautious in authorizing upward revisions. Moreover, it suspected that the purpose of replacement factors was not universally understood in the theater, and that recommended revisions frequently reflected only fragmentary and short-term experiential data rather than long-term trends. Again and again the War Department held the theater's requests to be unsupported by experience. As an example, Somervell pointed out as late as March 1945 that the theater had asked for a replacement factor of 25 percent for the 4.2-inch mortar, whereas average monthly losses over a period of five months had not exceeded 10 percent.

ASF officials considered their misgivings confirmed when they found that, as in the case of requisitioning, the ETOUSA supply service had no uniform policy in determining revisions of replacement factors. During his visit to the theater early in 1945, therefore, General Somervell asked for a comprehensive review of maintenance factors. The COMZ G-4 thereupon assigned an officer with the necessary technical qualifications to study the problem and maintain liaison with the supply services. The latter in turn assigned men whose main duty it was to review and revise replacement factors. The review of replacement factors was a slow process, however, and the War Department continued to hold up approval of theater recommendations which were not backed by adequate justification based on consumption experience. Not until late in April did the ASF indicate satisfaction


with the reports being submitted by the theater.12

(4) The Depot System and Records Keeping

Meanwhile General Lutes had also begun to examine problems of distribution within the theater. The congestion on the railways and in the forward depots which had developed at the very time of his arrival early in December tended to highlight certain basic deficiencies in the theater's logistic structure, particularly with regard to its depot system, movement planning and control, and requisitioning and stock control practices.

Both Lutes and Somervell regarded the lack of adequate depots properly echeloned in depth as the greatest single weakness in the theater supply structure. The absence of intermediate depots meant that disproportionately large portions of its supplies continued to be stocked in base and forward areas. Although the Communications Zone had made some progress in moving stocks forward, approximately half of all the supplies in the Communications Zone still lay in Normandy and Brittany in mid-December.13

The lack of intermediate depots

LT. GEN. BREHON B. SOMERVELL (right), arriving at an airfield with Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee, is met by Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers (left), 16 January 1945.

would not have been so serious had there been a system of true base depots. But a large portion of the supplies in the port areas really lay in huge dumps, in which no facilities for segregation or classification existed, and in which the exercise of any degree of selectivity in forward shipments was therefore extremely difficult. The attempt to move some of these large stocks forward as


transportation improved during the fall, and to clear some of the rising port backlogs, led to huge bulk shipments in December which the forward depots were unprepared to handle.

Theater officials had actually planned a depot structure along more orthodox lines. The existing structure's lack of resemblance to original plans they attributed in large part to the effects of operations in August and September. The speed of the advance and the resulting absorption of transport in the movement of the barest essentials had precluded the planned build-up of stocks at Rennes, Le Mans, and Chartres. In fact, supply installations at those places never developed into true intermediate depots, and were quickly relegated to the role of local issue depots, in which capacity they served for the remainder of the war.14

The shape which the depot system ultimately took reflected in large measure the tactical thinking and the prevailing optimism of the late summer. In the expectation that Allied forces would continue the drive to and beyond the Rhine, SHAEF instructed the Communications Zone not to build large depots in the Paris area. The Communications Zone therefore decided to forego the establishment of sizable intermediate depots and to build up large installations in the Advance Section instead. The principle of depth consequently gave way to the desire to be in the best possible position to exploit an early break-through to the Rhine.15

With the bogging down of operations late in September the Communications Zone made plans to establish intermediate depots in the Reims, Soissons, and Paris areas. For many weeks, however, shipments to those areas were on a negligible scale. Throughout the month of October all available transport was absorbed in the build-up of army and ADSEC stocks in preparation for the November offensive. No true base depots were established either. When such installations were proposed for Le Havre and Rouen in October, the chiefs of the supply services protested that they possessed insufficient personnel to man them. They also feared that the establishment of such depots would result in a relaxation in the efforts to keep the ports cleared.16

Early December therefore found the theater lacking adequate base and intermediate depots and its supply stocks poorly distributed. This could be attributed in part to decisions made in a period of greater optimism, in part to the fact that the day-to-day needs of the theater, including the necessary buildup for planned offensives, had absorbed all the energies of the Communications Zone throughout October and November and had precluded any major adjustment designed to effect a proper echelonment in depth of the theater's supplies. The poor distribution of supplies was well illustrated early in December when Third Army requisitioned 7,000 rounds of 155-mm. smoke shells


which it required for a river crossing, only to find that half of them would have to be trucked from a dump at OMAHA Beach, involving a round trip of about 800 miles.17 The inadequacies of the depot system--particularly the lack of intermediate installations--were even more pointedly demonstrated when the enemy's December counteroffensive endangered the heavy concentrations of supplies in the forward areas.

Meanwhile, the absence of true base depots with an efficient stock records system meant that no selectivity in shipments could be exercised. The ports themselves frequently had to serve as retailers, although they were never intended to segregate and classify supplies. In December and January, with emphasis being placed on port clearance, huge quantities were forwarded in bulk to whatever depots could receive them and with little regard for actual needs in the forward areas. Under these circumstances high priority items often were lost in the shuffle. It was partly because of this that Lutes had recommended a red ball railway service between the ports and advance depots.

The heavy movements of January removed all doubts about the Communications Zone's ability to forward large tonnages. Its main problem now, as both Lutes and Somervell emphasized, was in exercising the necessary selectivity in its shipments. The prerequisite for this was the organization of base depots capable of receiving, sorting, and classifying supplies in such a way that they could be located and identified for selective forwarding.18

An adequate depot system was but one link in the logistic chain, albeit a vitally important one. Inseparably a part of the structure and essential to its efficient functioning were such things as movements planning and control, stock records keeping, requisitioning procedures, and documentation. Lutes and Somervell pointed out shortcomings in all of these fields. As will be shown later in detail, movements planning did not ensure the most efficient use of all the means of transportation in the theater, and failed to co-ordinate transportation with the capacities of the depots. No detailed plans had been made at all, Lutes found, for the transfer of supplies from Normandy Base Section to the Oise Intermediate and Advance Sections in the fall when the improvement in transportation made possible a drawing down of the large base dumps. Such plans would have entailed a study of the local labor needed to unload freight cars, and of depot capacities in the forward areas, and should have prevented the current congestion on the railways east of Paris and the tie-up of loaded rail cars in forward depots. Somervell felt, moreover, that the control of movements should be more centralized and should be vested in the transportation service,


the agency responsible for actual transport operations.19

Sound stock records, documentation, and requisitioning procedures were basic essentials of the logistic structure if supply officials expected to know at all times what supplies were on hand and where they were located, and to ensure that they arrived at their proper destination. All these procedures began to give trouble from the very start of continental operations. Pressure to unload supplies and get them across the beaches in the early months often required the entire effort of service personnel and left little time for keeping proper records. Accurate records keeping was further complicated in the early stages, when First Army was in complete command on the Continent, by the habit of army units of drawing supplies from dumps without submitting proper requisitions. Many such outloadings never became a matter of record, and consequently were not reflected in matériel status reports, which determined the quantities the theater might requisition from the zone of interior.

After First Army relinquished control of the rear areas Communications Zone ordered the services to inventory all dumps and depots. But the practices of the various services were anything but uniform, and the accuracy of stock records was widely doubted by the armies, which frequently discovered supplies in rear area depots which the Communications Zone denied existed. The documentation of shipments was likewise deficient, in part because it did not allow requisitioning agencies to identify shipments with specific requisitions, and in part because it often resulted in the diversion of supplies and their delivery to the wrong destination. The chief signal officer of the Communications Zone, for example, found it advisable to place one of his officers aboard every signal supply train to ensure its arrival at the intended destination.

The theater's internal requisitioning SOP's had, like some of the other administrative procedures, been a casualty of the pursuit period, and their corruption had contributed immeasurably to the supply difficulties of the fall months. SOP 7, the basic supply operating guide, had provided that the armies should draw the bulk of their needs from the Advance Section on the assumption that balanced stocks of supplies would be maintained in ADSEC depots. Unfilled portions of requisitions were to be extracted to base section depots supporting the Advance Section. But the developments of August and September had gradually rendered this procedure unworkable. The inability to maintain balanced stocks in the Advance Section soon led to the bypassing of that organization and the submission of more and more requisitions directly to the headquarters of the Communications Zone. The scattered location of dumps and the shortage of transport encouraged this trend toward the centralized handling of supply requests.

This development, plus the ineffectual stock control system, inadequate signal communications, and poor documentation


of shipments created an exasperating uncertainty as to the fate of requisitions. In effect, many were pigeonholed through the inability of the Communications Zone to fill them, and the armies frequently were left in doubt as to when, if ever, they would be filled. Late in September the Communications Zone instituted a system of "back ordering" which was intended to keep the armies better informed as to when they could expect delivery of past requisitions. But questions as to the priority which such supplies should have for lift and poor communications continued to beset the system.

Within the armies, meanwhile, there was no uniformity of attitude toward back-ordered supplies. The First Army, for example, continued to requisition previously ordered supplies on the assumption that back orders would not be filled. The other armies made varying allowances in their requests for the eventual delivery of back-ordered items.20 Occasional freaks in supply, such as the appearance of a carload of anvils in an army depot, only heightened the misgivings of the field commands. On the other hand, reports of bungling sometimes proved wildly exaggerated. A "carload of pianos," appearing at the front in mid-winter, for example, and reported to the Communications Zone with considerable indignation, turned out on investigation to be a long-delayed shipment of field organs, for which space had suddenly been found when more urgently needed supplies were unavailable for movement.21

The Communications Zone made repeated attempts to improve the backordering system, and these efforts eventually had some success. However, backlogs of orders had become so confused that the theater finally asked the armies to cancel all outstanding requisitions and to submit new consolidated requisitions for items they still needed. Early in December the Communications Zone abandoned the old daily requisition for Class II and IV supplies, which had allowed insufficient time for orderly posting and back-ordering and had needlessly multiplied bookkeeping, and instituted instead a ten-day requisitioning period. By February the build-up of stocks in ADSEC depots had improved sufficiently to permit the armies to requisition directly on the Advance Section, as originally intended.22

(5) Expedients

The shortcomings of the Communications Zone's management procedures were only too accurately reflected in the practices which the field commands resorted to in self-defense. Impatient with the long delays in getting requisitions filled and with the unauthorized diversions


along the lines of communications, the armies sought various ways, some of them extra-legal, to ensure themselves against the uncertainties of supply. Most of the field commands, for example, padded their requisitions and attempted to build larger reserves than were desirable from the point of view of mobility as a cushion against unpredictable deliveries. Some resorted to requisitioning practices which were clearly contrary to existing SOP's. In the period of tonnages allocations, for example, the Communications Zone had specified that requisitions be processed through command channels so that the G-4's could exercise a more effective control. But many army service chiefs circumvented this channel and requisitioned directly through the technical services.

In October the irregularities in requisitioning were finally aired in the course of an official investigation of First Army engineer's practices, with result that the theater commander ordered the First Army not to honor requisitions which were improperly processed and routed. Both First Army and the 12th Army Group protested the ruling. In any case, the abolition of tonnage allocations in December permitted a return to the procedures originally laid down in SOP's--that is, requisitioning through supply service channels, as the armies preferred.23

The uncertainties of supply manifested themselves in still other ways. By October, for example, the armies had made it a common practice to employ expediters to hand carry their requisitions to Paris and to follow shipments through to final delivery. Many a service chief in the field commands, despairing of getting a requisition filled via the prescribed channels, sent personal representatives to COMZ headquarters to learn first hand about shipments long overdue and presumed lost. This practice had reached its extremes in the First Army, whose ordnance officer alone employed about one hundred men as field agents to follow through on ordnance requisitions to ensure the delivery of supplies. In General Somervell's opinion, this was the severest indictment that could be made of the Communications Zone, for it indicated that its entire logistic management was faulty.

The Communications Zone strongly denied the armies' need for such expediters, particularly by ordnance, which had one of the better stock control records in the theater. General Somervell nevertheless felt that the use of such "bloodhounds" reflected seriously on the Communications Zone's performance.24


Somervell's criticisms on this score focused attention on a corollary practice of the armies--the sending of their own trucks to pick up supplies in the rear. Many an army service chief had come to the same conclusion as the surgeon of the First Army, who, finding that delivery via rail required from three to five weeks, decided that the only way to get quick delivery of highly critical items was to dispatch trucks directly to Paris. Early in October the Communications Zone had objected to this "foraging to the rear" and had instructed the base sections not to make issues directly to army units. Its inability to meet army needs with its own transportation, however, led it to cancel this restriction early in November. Later in the month the Communications Zone modified the stand further, and asked the armies not to send its trucks into the rear areas without prior clearance with the Communications Zone.

The practice of sending both expediters and trucks nevertheless continued, and General Somervell's criticisms in January led the COMZ G-4 to reconsider the entire problem. Brig. Gen. Morris W. Gilland, the new G-4, took a strong stand against allowing any agents in the rear areas, insisting that they tended to confuse and upset orthodox and businesslike supply procedures rather than to facilitate deliveries. He recommended, however, that no restriction be placed on the dispatch of army transportation to the rear in emergencies, for transportation available to the Communications Zone was not adequate to satisfy all demands for high priority movements. In mid-March the Communications Zone, confident that its transportation and operating procedures had improved sufficiently to meet all future demands, asked that both practices be stopped. Neither personnel nor equipment was henceforth to be sent into the Communications Zone to pick up supplies except by mutual agreement.25

The Communications Zone was aware of many of the weaknesses which ASF officials noted upon their arrival in the theater and had made efforts to correct the deficiencies in some fields. Both Lutes and Somervell had recognized, moreover, that the theater's difficulties were at least in part attributable to circumstances beyond its control--mainly the forced growth of the Communications Zone caused by the sudden extension of the lines of communications in August and September. The Communications Zone simply had not yet overcome some of the disruptions which had attended the assumption of tasks beyond its capabilities.

On the other hand, both ASF officers felt that the Communications Zone's staff work had been below the desired standard and that it had failed to give


sufficient attention to the details of logistic management mentioned above. Too often, in their judgment, the Communications Zone had let things drift, with the result that it was constantly rushing to put out fires which it should have had the foresight to prevent. This was clearly demonstrated in the necessity to rush service troops from the base areas to forward depots when it was found that the latter could not handle the increased flow of supplies late in the fall.

General Lutes had undertaken his mission to ETOUSA with some trepidation, realizing that the COMZ staff, to whom General Lee was intensely loyal, was a "tight corporation," sensitive to criticism. But, as he explained to the COMZ commander on his arrival, he felt obliged to determine whether any of the supply deficiencies in Europe could be laid to failures in the United States, and to ensure that the field commands, whose complaints had reached the War Department, did not blame the ASF for deficiencies for which the theater was responsible.26

Lee himself never ceased to be a controversial figure. General Eisenhower, like others on the SHAEF staff, was aware of the attitude of the field commands toward the Communications Zone and continued to have misgivings about the supply organization of the theater. Despite this uneasiness, the Supreme Commander chose not to make a change in the COMZ command in view of the lack of sufficient evidence of specific failures. Lee was probably unaware of many of the procedural deficiencies, for he was not normally concerned with the details of logistic administration. In any event the COMZ commander had a reputation for attaching more importance to the outward appearance than to the substance of things. He tended to underplay the "several small deficiencies in supply methods" which Lutes and Somervell had discovered, and to emphasize the "basic soundness" of the Communications Zone's organization and operating procedures.27 To the field commands this attitude, plus his personal unpopularity, unfortunately tended to magnify the inefficiencies of the Communications Zone.

Both Lutes and Somervell were determined that the "several small deficiencies" should be corrected. SHAEF supported them in this resolve and asked the Communications Zone to make periodic reports on its progress on the Lutes and Somervell recommendations. General Lord submitted the first report on 23 January and continued to make weekly reports until early in March. Meanwhile General Somervell also insisted that the Communications Zone re-establish a Control Division within its headquarters to regularize reporting procedures and to keep the commanding general informed on the progress made toward the various objectives. On Lee's own suggestion, Somervell designated Brig. Gen. Clinton F. Robinson, who had accompanied the ASF commander on his visit, to organize the division.

Robinson worked hard at his assignment, and eventually reported that the COMZ staff had achieved a much more professional standard in its work. Early


in February these efforts were aided when General Gilland came up from the disbanded Southern Line of Communications to become the new G-4. General Gilland brought with him several members of the SOLOC G-4 Division, including his deputy, Col. R. W. Colglazier, his chief of plans, Col. Carter Page, and his chief of operations, Col. Charles Cobb. Carrying out the Lutes and Somervell recommendations was not easy, for there were many limiting factors and conflicting demands. But the Communications Zone made a conscientious effort to overcome its earlier difficulties and made substantial progress in this effort in the final months of the war.28


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (XI) * Next Chapter (XIII)


1. Ltr, Somervell to Lee, 1 Dec 44, Ltr, Lutes to Somervell, 7 Dec 44, and Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 8 Dec 44, all in Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944.

2. See Logistical Support I, 264-68.

3. Memo, Col James MacCormack, Chief Mov Br G-4 12 A Gp, for Moses, 1 Dec 44, 12 A Gp G-4 Letters and Memos Assorted, 1944.

4. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 17 Dec 44, sub: Preliminary Rpt, and Ltr, Somervell to Lutes, 27 Dec 44, in Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944; COMZ Stf and Comd Conf, 19 Jan 45, EUCOM 337/3 Confs Staff Weekly I.

5. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 8 Dec 44, sub: Rpt, and Ltr, Lutes to Somervell, 7 Dec 44, both in Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944.

6. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 17 Dec 44, Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 24 Jan 45, sub: Final Rpt on Visit to the ETO, and Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 8 Dec 44, sub: Rpt, all in Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944; Memo, Maj J. R. Greenwood, OPD Observer for Hull, 6 Dec 44, OPD 919.1 Sec. VIII, Case 2.

7. See Chapter XIV, Section 3, below, for the later history of REX. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 23 Dec 44, sub: Supply of Critical Items to Combat Theater, Cbl WARX-84997, Somervell to Lutes and Lee, 1 Jan 45, and Memo, Stratton for Chiefs of Svs COMZ, 5 Jan 45, sub: Rapid Express Shipping Sv, all in Hq ASF Official Rpt, Mission to ETO, 4 Dec 44-13 Jan 45; Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 17 Dec 44; COMZ G-4 History, I, 131-36.

8. See below, Chapter XV, Sec. 1.

9. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 17 Dec 44, sub: Preliminary Rpt, Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944; Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 24 Jan 45, sub: Final Rpt on Visit to the ETO, and Memo, Lutes for Eisenhower, 25 Dec 44, sub: Rpt on Supply Situation--Northern France, both in Hq ASF Official Report, Mission to ETO; Somervell's remarks at Comd and Stf Conf, COMZ, 25 Jan 45, Hq ASF ETO 1945, Somervell files.

10. The requisitioning objective is the total quantity of an item authorized to be on hand and on order in the theater. Quantitatively it represents the sum of the maximum level of supplies and the order and shipping time.

11. Ltr, Robinson to Somervell, 19 Mar 45, ASF 400.312 SAFE DCofS, SC, and Control Div, Drawer 2103; COMZ G-4 History, IV, 178-201.

12. Ltr, Robinson to Somervell, 19 Mar 45, Memo, Brig Gen T. M. Osborne, Dir of Rqmts and Stock Control Div, for Lutes, 27 Mar 45, Hq ASF 400.312 SAFE DCofS, SC, and Control Div; Ltr, Hq ETO to CG ASF, 9 Apr 45, sub: Necessity for Prompt Rev of WD Repl Factors, with 1st Ind, 21 Apr 45, EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services, and Equipment (Policy), VII.

13. Memo, Lutes for Eisenhower, 25 Dec 44, sub: Rpt on Supply Situation--Northern France; for weekly figures on distribution of supplies see also Summaries of Br Chiefs' Mtgs, COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, ETO Adm 145C.

14. COMZ G-4 History, II, 3.

15. Memo, Lutes for Eisenhower, 25 Dec 44; COMZ G-4 History, IV, 90, and Memo, Lord for Eisenhower, 2 Jan 45, sub: Comments on Rpt on Supply Situation--Northern France, EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services and Equipment (Policy), VI; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, Bk. I, p. 163.

16. COMZ G-4 History, II, 4, 39-40.

17. Memo, Col Lee A. Denson for Lutes, 11 Dec 44, sub: Ammo Supply ETO, Hq ASF Official Report, Mission to ETO.

18. Final Rpt of Chief Engr, ETO, I, 200-01, 215-19; COMZ G-4 History, II, 10-11; Stf and Comd Conf COMZ, 19 Jan 45, EUCOM 337/3 Confs Staff Weekly; Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 24 Jan 45, sub: Final Rpt on Visit to ETO, Hq ASF Official Report, Mission to ETO.

19. Memo, Lutes for Eisenhower, 8 Dec 44, sub: Rpt, Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944; Memo, Somervell for Lee, 24 Jan 45, SHAEF G-4 319.1 Rpt--Gen Somervell, 1945, 1. See Ch. XIV, below.

20. TWX EX-62723, Lee to Secs, 6 Oct 44, Memo, Hass for Moses, 3 Nov 44, sub: Backlog Shipments, Ltr, 12 A Gp to COMZ, 28 Oct 44, sub: Requisitioning and Mov of Supplies, Memo, Hass for Moses, 12 Nov 44, sub: Policy for Handling Requisitions, Memo Hass for Moses, 19 Nov 44, sub: Backlog Shipments, Ltr, 12 A Gp to Armies, 26 Nov 44, sub: Rpts of Back-Ordered Items, with 1st Ind, FUSA, 3 Dec 44, and Memo, TUSA, for 12 A G-4, 6 Dec 44, all in 12 A Gp Supplies--Backlog and Requisition, No. 128, Gen Bd Rpt 110, App. 5.

21. Intervs with Col Alvin Viney, Deputy Comdr ADSEC, 24 Feb 50, and Lord, 9 Aug 51.

22. Memo, Lord for Crawford, 31 Jan 45, sub: Gen Lutes' Memorandum to Supreme Commander dated 25 Dec 44, EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services, and Equipment (Policy), VI; COMZ G-4 History, IV, 85, 103; Gen Bd Rpt 27, pp. 64-68.

23. Memo, Stratton for CofS COMZ, 4 Oct 44, sub: Investigation of the Inspector General of Diversion of Supplies, Ltr, Col James H. Day to CG ETO, 20 Oct 44, sub: Rpt of Investigation of Unauthorized Acts in Filling Requisitions, Ltr, CG ETO to CG FUSA, 8 Nov 44, sub: Rpt of Investigation of Unauthorized Acts in Filling Requisitions, with 2d Ind, FUSA, 28 Nov 44, 3d Ind, TUSAG, 2 Dec 44, and 44th Ind, ETO to 12 A Gp, 13 Dec 44, all in 12 A Gp 400.312 Requisition for Supplies, II, Gen Bd Rpt 110, p. 9.

24. Memo, Lutes for Eisenhower, 25 Dec 44, sub: Rpt on Supply Situation--Northern France; Memo, Somervell for Lee, 24 Jan 45; Stf and Comd Conf, COMZ, 19 Jan 45; Memo, Lord for Eisenhower, 2 Jan 45, sub: Comments on 'Rpt of Supply Situation--Northern France'; COMZ G-4 History, I, 2-21, II, 21; History of Normandy Base Section, pp. 82-83, ETO Adm; TUSA AAR, II, Sig, 13; Rpt, Day to CG ETO, 20 Oct 44, sub: Rpt of Investigation 12 A Gp 400.312 Requisitions for Supplies, II; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, Bk. IV, p. 155.

25. Ltr, COMZ to Normandy Base Sec, 5 Oct 44, sub: Third U.S. Army Trucks in Rear Areas, Ltr, COMZ to Normandy Base Sec, 3 Nov 44, sub: Issue of Engr Supplies to Army Units, with 1st Ind, n.d., Ltr, COMZ to Base Sec Comdrs, 26 Nov 44, sub: Army Trucks in Rear Areas, Ltr, Gilland to CofS, 25 Feb 45, sub: Dispatch of Trucks and Pers From Armies to Rear Areas, Ltr, Lee to Sec Comdrs and Supply Sv Chiefs, 18 Mar 45, sub: Supply and Transportation to the Armies, Ltr, Lee to A Gps, 18 Mar 45, Ltr, 12 A Gp to Armies, 31 Mar 45, sub: Forward Mov of Supplies, and Ltr, 6 A Gp to Armies, 31 Mar 45, sub: Supply and Transportation to the Armies, all in EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services, and Equipment, VI-VII; COMZ G-4 History, IV, 220.

26. Memos, Lutes for Somervell, 20 and 22 Dec 44, Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944.

27. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 31 Dec 44, Hq ASF European Theater--Last Half 1944.

28. Ltrs, Robinson to Somervell, 7, 16, and 25 Mar 45, and Ltr, Somervell to Robinson, 12 Mar 45, both in Hq ASF 321 European Theater, A47-81; Memo, Robinson for Lee, 8 Mar 45, Program (sic) Made on Items in Gen Somervell's Memorandum of 24 Jan 45, EUCOM 400.192 Miscellaneous Reports, VII; Memo, Vissering for Current Opns Sec G-4 SHAEF for Current Opns Br, 25 Jan 45, sub: Gen Lutes' Memo to Supreme Comdr, and Ltrs, Crawford to Smith, 8, 15, and 25 Feb 45, sub: Weekly Rpt on Maj Gen Lutes' Memo Dated 25 Dec 44, all in SHAEF G-4 319.1 Reports on Gen Lutes, I; Ltr, Somervell to Styer, 17 Jan 45, Hq ASF 201 Styer, A47-81. See EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services, and Equipment (Policy), VI, for weekly reports by Lord to SAC, 23 January to 26 February 1945.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation