Chapter XIV
Movements and Distribution: Port Discharge and Clearance

(1) Planning and Controlling Movements

Movement problems rather than serious supply shortages dominated the logistic support of U.S. forces in the last few months of operations. The problem of movements went beyond the provision of adequate transportation. It involved the proper integration and co-ordination of several closely related factors such as port discharge, port clearance, and depot operations. The importance of movement control was never more evident than in early 1945, when the theater's supply organization faced the task of building up forward supply stocks for the resumption of the offensive, reducing the large supply backlog accumulating at the continental ports, and, in addition, handling the tonnages involved in the recently adopted program aimed at clearing the U.K. depots.

No effective co-ordination of movements was achieved in 1944. Some "programing" of movements was started in September, but it was largely confined to the daily allocation of tonnages designed to satisfy the minimum requirements of the armies. It did not provide an integrated plan for the efficient utilization of all types of transportation or for the matching of movements with combat zone requirements and with depot receiving and outloading capacities. Until the end of the year supply movements were either directed by the COMZ G-4 or were decentralized to the various COMZ sections, the "technical supervision" of the Transportation Corps being construed in its narrowest sense. Commanders of the sections had almost complete control over shipments originating in their own commands, and any instruction on freight movements coming from the Communications Zone had to be processed through time-consuming command channels. To the extent that the G-4 Section of the Communications Zone issued detailed instructions to the section commanders it had become an operating agency, a development which General Somervell criticized as contrary to sound command and staff doctrine.

The defects of this procedure became particularly noticeable late in the fall when the capacity of the transportation system began to exceed the barest maintenance needs of the armies and it became possible to build up forward stocks. Shipments


Map 8
Movement Program
March 1945

were frequently made without regard for the capacity of depots or of particular rail lines, with resulting congestion at some points and inefficient utilization of facilities at others. "The essence of movement control," as one member of General Ross' staff remarked, "is to limit movements to the capacity of the ‘bottlenecks' of the system and to press constantly for the elimination of such bottlenecks." Under existing practice the chief of transportation obviously could not effectively co-ordinate freight traffic in the theater because the Freight Branch of the Movements Division, Office, Chief of Transportation, was restricted largely to an advisory role. The Transportation Service was particularly handicapped so long as section commanders were free to use movement capacity left over after the G-4's priority allocations had been met, for this often resulted in shipments to depots already overburdened.1

The need for better integration of movements was eventually recognized, and in December 1944 the COMZ G-4 and the chief of transportation agreed on the first step in overhauling the existing system. All movements thereafter were to be "programed" a month in advance, taking into account the requirements and the capacities of both transportation and depots. Preparation of the monthly movement plan was carried out roughly as follows: The COMZ G-4 first consolidated all data on the supplies available for movement from the ports and allocated tonnages to the technical services. The latter in turn proposed a program for the movement of their allocated tonnages to the desired destinations. The G-4, after reviewing and consolidating these requests, forwarded them to the chief of transportation. He, after estimating transport capabilities, then recommended a specific movement plan for port clearance and shipments to depots, specifying the points of origin, daily tonnages by class of supply, destinations, and the types of transport--rail, water, or motor--to be used. The G-4, after final approval, then published the plan as the Monthly Movements Program on the 25th of the month preceding that in which it was to be effective. Although issued in the form of a directive, the program was intended to serve mainly as a guide and was subject to change. The first program, worked out under the direction of Col. Hugh A. Murrill, chief of the Control and Planning Division, Office, Chief of Transportation, went into effect on 1 January 1945.2 (A typical Monthly Movements Program, that for March, is shown graphically on Map 8.)

In essence the movements plan attempted to accommodate the requirements of the services to movement capabilities and schedule all forward movements in such a way as to make the most economic use of transport facilities. The new procedure properly went beyond the integration of inland transport and depot reception facilities. The Transportation Corps also allocated shipping to the ports in such a way as to economize on land transportation and prevent wasteful back-hauling. Early in February


the chief of transportation elaborated on this by instituting shipping allocation meetings for the purpose of preallocating supplies to their final depot destinations.

The adoption of the new system was undoubtedly a step in the right direction from the point of view of the Transportation Corps. In outlining the new procedure the COMZ commander emphasized that the success of the new procedure would depend on the channeling of all supply movement matters through the chief of transportation, who was to control the program through his Freight Branch.3 Base section commanders no longer were free to ship wherever and in whatever volume they desired. Furthermore, planning movements a full month in advance permitted some flexibility in the use of transportation and in making necessary adjustments.

The Monthly Movements Program nevertheless proved an imperfect instrument of control and only partially fulfilled its purpose. Six weeks after the inauguration of the first program General Burpee, commander of the 2d Military Railway Service, complained that the services were ordering the shipment of supplies which the depots were unable to accept. Moreover, some depots had been established without consideration of rail trackage.4 General Robinson who had accompanied General Somervell to the theater and had remained to help organize the ETOUSA Control Division, noted that the movement plans thus far had been based less on a determination of the armies' needs than on a desire to clear the ports, with the result that supplies were being shipped forward regardless of the need for them in the forward areas.5

The implication was that requirements in the forward areas were being subordinated to the convenience of movement facilities. Moreover, as originally established, the movements program provided for no control of inter-depot movements, the curtailment of which became increasingly necessary as freight cars began to accumulate at forward depots in the final months of operations. The authority to handle such situations by embargoing shipments remained in the hands of the COMZ G-4. The chief of transportation could request such stoppages, but effective control over movements was partially nullified by the necessity to process requests through command channels, which precluded timely action. In March the G-4 finally agreed to a compromise solution which provided that all nonprogramed movements should be cleared through the Freight Branch of the Movements Division, Office, Chief of Transportation, which was to co-ordinate such movements with the G-4. In another concession the Office, Chief of Transportation, was granted authority to impose embargoes without awaiting confirmation from the G-4. The Transportation Corps thus moved another step nearer the goal


it had long sought--complete control over military freight traffic.

The monthly movements program undoubtedly represented an improvement over the relatively un-co-ordinated movements of 1944, for it ensured a more efficient use of all line-of-communications facilities and consequently a more orderly flow of supplies. But the Transportation Corps' control proved inadequate in the final months, for, as will be seen, it was unable even by use of the embargo to halt the accumulation of freight cars under load in the forward areas and serious congestion at other points.6

(2) Discharge and Clearance

While limiting factors of one kind or another plagued the logistic support of U.S. forces until the very end of hostilities, port discharge capacity had ceased to be one of them. Discharge targets were not consistently met in the last three or four months of operations, but this resulted mainly from restrictions forced by the inability to clear the ports and not by the lack of unloading capacity.

By the end of January 1945 all the major ports--the 4th at Cherbourg and Granville, the 6th at Marseille, the 5th and 13th at Antwerp, the 16th at Le Havre, and the 11th at Rouen--had become seasoned organizations and were demonstrating increasing efficiency in their operations. At Antwerp, for example, the speed of discharge in tons per ship per day rose from 456 in December 1944 to 1,100 in the final two months of hostilities; at Cherbourg the unloading rate increased from 384 in the earlier period to 716 in March and April; Marseille achieved a daily discharge rate of 910 tons per ship in the final months.7

The average daily discharge of 43,800 tons in January had reflected a slight drop owing to the embargoes on forward movements imposed during the Ardennes battle. In February daily unloadings at the continental ports, including those of southern France, rose to 53,100 tons, but still fell short of the target of 58,200. In March the ports more than met the target of 53,375 announced in the monthly movements program with a daily average of nearly 60,000 tons, and in April the ports continued to outdo themselves with average unloadings of 63,000 tons per day against a target of 54,000. (See Table 4 for monthly discharge figures.) They chalked up their peak performance on 13 April, when discharges exceeded 77,000 tons. Planned coal imports in the last few months ranged from 8,000 tons to 10,000 tons per day and bulk POL imports from 14,000 to 18,000 tons.8

All the ports continued to make improvements in their discharge facilities during the winter. But few major reconstruction projects were undertaken to enlarge unloading capacity. Only one


new port--Ghent--was placed in operation.

Cherbourg, whose discharge had been pushed to an average of 14,300 tons per day in November, had a gradually diminishing role after the opening of Antwerp. Its discharge target was set at 7,000 tons in January, raised to 10,350 the next month, and then lowered to 7,600 tons in March and to less than 3,000 tons in April. These targets were usually met and often bettered. On 11 April a small enemy party from the Channel Islands landed on the west coast of the Cotentin with the intention of blowing a bridge on the main rail line and thus disrupting clearance of the port, but the attempt was defeated by an alert defense. By V-E Day Cherbourg had handled upwards of 2,600,000 tons of general cargo in addition to locomotives, rolling stock, vehicles, and bulk POL.9

Granville continued to operate as a subport of Cherbourg confining its operations almost exclusively to the unloading of coal. Its performance was erratic, and daily discharges averaged only about 1,500 tons in the last months. On 9 March the tranquillity and boredom of the port was suddenly broken by a surprise raid by an enemy force from the Channel Islands. Striking shortly after midnight, the well-armed party, estimated to have a strength of about 150 men, succeeded in completely surprising the port command, causing about eighty casualties and inflicting fairly heavy damage on port facilities and coasters. The Granville raid led to the general reorganization and tightening up of local defenses in all the rear areas of the Communications Zone. Granville was turned over to the French at the end of April.10 Its discharge record is summarized in Table 3.

The port of Marseille averaged about 13,500 tons per day in February, March, and April, although unloadings exceeded 19,000 tons on three occasions, and on one of these--15 March--topped the 21,000-ton mark. The capacity of the port was actually estimated to be about 24,000 tons, but the limited rail net of the Rhône valley consistently prevented full utilization of Marseille's facilities. Late in February General Somervell expressed concern over this failure to take advantage of Marseille's surplus. But in the final months of operations there was ample port discharge capacity on shorter lines of communications, making it uneconomic to use Cherbourg or Marseille any more than necessary. Even vehicle ships, many of which had been assigned to Marseille, could now be provided berths and assembly facilities at the northern ports, nearer the ultimate destination of the equipment. Limitations of inland transport rather than discharge capacity determined the selection of ports.11

Neither Le Havre nor Rouen ranked with Cherbourg, Marseille, or Antwerp in capacity or performance. Nevertheless, they helped meet a desperate need for discharge capacity on shorter hauls, particularly in the fall of 1944, and Le


Havre eventually handled large numbers of troops, first as a port of debarkation and later as a port of embarkation in the redeployment of ETOUSA forces after V-E Day. Le Havre averaged less than 6,000 tons per day in the last three months. Three fourths of its tonnage was brought ashore via lighters rather than by direct quayside unloading. At Rouen flood conditions on the Seine seriously hampered port operations. Barge movements, on which the port was heavily dependent for clearance, were completely halted for three weeks in February, and unloadings were kept down to 4,000 tons per day. In March and April the port averaged about 7,500 tons.12

The port of Ghent, which had been captured by British forces in September, was not brought into use until late in January, An inland port, Ghent had access to the sea by means of the twenty-mile Terneuzen Canal and the mouth of the Schelde. Like Antwerp, therefore, its use was denied until the enemy was cleared from Walcheren and the Beveland Peninsula in November. Ghent ranked as the second port of Belgium, and before the war had been counted among the ten busiest ports in western Europe. An extensive canal system connected it with Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp, and Liège. Damage to the port was not extensive. The main obstacles to rapid restoration were several destroyed bridges over the canal, damaged lock gates, sunken vessels, and the fact that some cranes had been removed. The harbor was also badly silted and had to be dredged to accommodate deep-draft vessels. British forces started repairing the port in December.

Ghent had not figured seriously in early COMZ port planning. In mid-January, however, U.S. and British officials agreed on a plan for its joint use, the main thought being that it would serve as a standby to Antwerp in case operations at the latter were interrupted. The arrangements were very similar to those made for Antwerp. A port executive committee was appointed to decide on allocations of space, the joint use of certain facilities, and so on. Initially the port's capacity was divided to allow a discharge of 5,000 tons per day for the British and 7,500 tons for the Americans. The 17th Port, then operating the Bristol Channel ports, was assigned the mission of working the U.S. sector.

Ghent had been used almost exclusively by barges, coasters, and small freighters, and there was doubt at first as to whether ocean-going ships could be accommodated. The first ship to enter on 23 January was a Liberty, however, whose 57-foot beam barely cleared the Terneuzen locks, and the port thereafter handled both Liberties and coasters regularly. Some ships had to be lightened by discharge to barges at Terneuzen, at the entrance to the canal, before they could proceed to the port. Ghent unloaded only about 2,500 tons per day in the first month of operations, but it more than doubled that record in March, and discharged an average of 9,300 tons in the final month before V-E Day.13


Antwerp, with tension relieved by the cessation of V-bomb attacks in March, gained in efficiency in the final months and by V-E Day was accounting for fully one third of all the general cargo discharged on the Continent. Operations there illustrated most pointedly how the problem of clearance rather than that of unloading capacity had come to dominate port operations on the Continent. Antwerp had felt the effect of the embargo on forward movements imposed during the Ardennes counteroffensive because of the shortage of intransit and depot storage facilities in the area, and was almost immediately forced to decelerate its unloading. Large quantities of supplies nevertheless began to accumulate there and in other port areas as well. At the beginning of February the backlogs at the various ports totaled 373,000 tons. An additional 312,000 tons lay in ships awaiting discharge.

Beginning in February monthly movements plans took cognizance of this trend, and deliberately set port-clearance targets higher than discharge targets. In February, for example, the chief of transportation established a clearance goal of 59,800 tons per day as against a discharge target of 58,200. Some progress in this program was made that month, when daily movements out of the port averaged 59,344 tons and unloadings averaged 57,000. At the end of February port backlogs totaled 294,000 tons, and supplies awaiting discharge totaled 225,000 tons. Antwerp alone accounted for 128,000 tons of cargo in port storage.

For the next two months plans called for a further reduction of port backlogs. The March plan set a clearance target of 59,800 tons per day as against a discharge rate of 53,375, and the April plan a clearance of 61,000 tons per day as against unloadings of 53,000. Cherbourg, for example, was given a discharge goal of less than 3,000 tons in the hope of reducing its port stocks. But little or no progress was made in March, for discharges generally exceeded the established targets, in part because of the program of accelerated shipments from the U.K. depots, and thus nullified whatever gains were realized in clearance. Toward the end of the month the program was completely disrupted when Allied forces, after crossing the Rhine, lunged forward in the final drive into central Germany. The support of combat elements over rapidly extending lines of communications necessitated the withdrawal of more and more transport from port clearance operations. The ABC Haul, operating out of Antwerp since late in November, was suspended on 26 March, for example, and its trucks were transferred for use in the forward areas. At the end of March port backlogs had risen to 300,000 tons.

Discharges meanwhile continued to rise, averaging 63,000 tons per day in April, with the inevitable result that supplies continued to pile up in the ports. By the end of April port backlogs exceeded 400,000 tons.14 The accumulation at Antwerp alone accounted for 70 percent of the lag in clearance, supplies in intransit storage there rising from 96,000 tons at the end of March to 283,000 tons at the end of April. At that time, with Antwerp's discharges rising to 25,000 tons per day, SHAEF stepped



in and directed that 5,000 empty freight cars be transferred to the port from France and Belgium at the rate of 500 per day. The first of these cars arrived on 2 May. But the backlog continued to grow for a few more weeks. On 23 May Antwerp's quays and sheds held 340,000 tons of supplies. At that time the ABC Haul resumed operations, and clearance finally began to match imports.15

Failure to clear the ports could be attributed largely to the inadequacies of the depot system. The lack of depots, properly echeloned in depth, was listed by both Lutes and Somervell as one of the major deficiencies of ETOUSA's logistic structure. Like most limiting factors, its effect echoed in several directions. Inadequate reception capacity in the forward areas affected rail transportation by immobilizing freight cars, and this in turn threatened to hold port discharge down and to force embargoes on base depots.16 Lack of depot capacity also tended to perpetuate the maldistribution of theater stocks, too large a portion of which was consistently held in rear areas.

By far the most serious difficulties were on the northern lines of communications. The focal point of the trouble was in the Antwerp area. As shown


earlier,17 the Communications Zone had not at first appreciated the need for base depot facilities in the Antwerp area and had acquired only minimum storage facilities there. The lack of such base depot space meant that all cargo had to be dispatched whether it was needed in the forward areas or not, and a needless expenditure of transportation and tying up of rolling stock often resulted.18

The Ardennes counteroffensive forced the issue of providing additional space for U.S. forces in Belgium, and the Lutes and Somervell criticisms on the depot problem in general gave additional urgency to the problem in January and February. But progress was extremely slow. Early in March the COMZ Control Division, reporting on the progress on the Somervell recommendations, noted that only in the Dijon-Nancy area had intermediate depot sites been selected and a few depots placed in operation. At that time no base depots had yet been provided to serve the ports of Le Havre or Rouen.

Late in March the Communications Zone issued a plan for an echeloned depot structure, providing for issue, filler, base, and key depots as recommended by the ASF commander. The scheme called for issue depots (in the Advance Section) which were to move forward in the rear of the armies, filler depots (normally in intermediate section) which were to hold the main portions of theater stocks and replenish the issue depots, key depots for the storage and issue of certain items requiring centralized control, and base depots (normally in base sections) which were to receive and classify supplies cleared from the ports and to store excess theater stocks. The Communications Zone made some progress in carrying out this program, although the depots which it established often performed missions other than those intended. By mid-April it had established base depots for Le Havre and Rouen, and also for Ghent and Antwerp. At Le Havre most of the port storage was simply converted to base depot operations. Additional filler depots were established at Toul and Metz. Early in April the Advance Section turned over most of its installations to Oise Intermediate and Channel Base Sections. From that time the Advance Section had no real depots, since the Communications Zone exercised no area control east of the Rhine. The improvements of March and April undoubtedly eased the depot problem, but the attempt to establish an adequate structure was belated, and it was never completed as conceived.19

(3) Shipping

The elimination of the port discharge bottleneck meanwhile had been followed by marked progress in the solution of two closely related problems--the shipping tie-up, and the transfer of supply stocks from the United Kingdom to the Continent. The shipping backlog, which had mounted to 233 vessels in November, had already been substantially reduced by the end of the year. The War Department nevertheless continued to pare the theater's requests for sailings


until early in February, when for the first time the number of ships being worked in the ports exceeded the number awaiting discharge. At the end of February, with less than one hundred idle ships in the theater, General Ross felt that ETOUSA was finally "out of the woods" on both discharges and forward deliveries. Within another month the bank of ships had fallen to fifty-seven.

General Somervell had noted the improvement with satisfaction and, with his confidence in the accuracy of the theater's estimates of shipping requirements restored, agreed to schedule future sailings as requested by the theater. The surplus port capacity promised to provide a much needed flexibility to the entire supply reception procedure, for it made possible the allocation of ships to the ports best adapted to the handling of particular types of supply, and nearest their ultimate destination, thus shortening both the line-of-communications hauls and the turnaround time for shipping.20

Late in March the requirements of U.S. forces beyond the Rhine began to draw transportation away from the port clearance operations, and this in turn threatened to limit discharge. In fact, tactical developments beyond the Rhine quickly caused reverberations along the lines of communications all the way back to the depots in the zone of interior. On 1 April General Gilland, the COMZ G-4, informed the New York Port that serious congestion had already developed in the base areas and notified him that additional withdrawals of trucks from port clearance might force a reduction in the sailings from the United States in order to prevent the formation of another backlog of shipping. The G-4 was giving advance warning that he might soon ask that convoys be phased back by five days, or possibly ten. Setting back the sailing of a convoy by five days would temporarily relieve the northern ports from handling about 60,000 long tons of cargo.

The New York Port was willing to postpone sailings as long as necessary, but asked for a fifteen-day notice so that the flow of cargo into the port could be adjusted to prevent the same kind of congestion which the theater G-4 was attempting to prevent in the continental ports. On 3 April the theater requested a five-day deferment of convoys scheduled for May arrival except for certain loads of vehicles, ammunition, bombs, rail cars, and locomotives.21

Apart from this expedient, which was designed as an accommodation to a temporary limiting factor, arrangements had long since been made to adjust the flow of supplies to the requirements of the posthostilities period. In October 1944 the War Department had directed the theater to mark all requisitions to indicate whether, upon the cessation of hostilities, they were to be filled and shipped or canceled. Requisitions marked STO (for stop) were to be automatically canceled with the arrival of V-E Day, and those marked SHP (for ship) were to be filled and dispatched.


Many items, for which the need would continue after the end of the fighting, such as rations, packing and crating materials, medical supplies, and post exchange items, were to be arbitrarily marked SHP.

Early in April 1945 General Lord, anticipating an early end of hostilities, proposed an immediate review of scheduled shipments with the thought of cutting back the flow of supplies even before the end of hostilities. If the theater waited until V-E Day, he pointed out, large quantities of supplies would still be in the pipeline and would continue to arrive at continental ports. Prompt action would prevent the accumulation of unneeded supplies and also facilitate redeployment. He asked the G-4 to consider the advisability of asking the New York Port to halt immediately the loading of all supplies marked STO for thirty days. Supplies already in the pipeline, he figured, would easily maintain theater levels until 1 May, and if V-E Day was declared by 10 May the embargo would become permanent and no further action would be necessary. This course of action would have substantially reduced shipments of such items as tanks, ammunition, and artillery, and chemical, engineer, and Transportation Corps supplies, including much special project equipment. General Lord also directed that requisitions thereafter be based on post-V-E-Day consumption requirements and specified that zone of interior replacement factors be used in all computations.22

The G-4 was much less sanguine about the likelihood of an early V-E Day. Estimates of the SHAEF staff, he said, did not support such a view. SHAEF had opposed any cutbacks in ammunition requirements, even suggested the possibility that large-scale fighting might still be in progress "at this time next year." General Gilland therefore opposed an embargo. Meanwhile he listed the plans which the various supply services had made to reduce shipments from the zone of interior, although most of these entailed no cuts until V-E Day.23

The theater made a few cancellations in this period, but it followed a conservative course. Most of its requests were for deferments, with "holds" on most supplies to prevent their diversion elsewhere. The result was mounting congestion in the New York Port, which repeatedly called for more specific cancellations. In mid-April the theater agreed to the release of forty fast ammunition vessels which were needed elsewhere, but it did not cancel ammunition shipments. On 25 April, however, on the urging of the War Department that the theater again review its requisitions in the light of the current tactical situation, SHAEF finally approved a reduction in ammunition shipments from 6,300 tons per day to 4,500 tons in the period 15 May-15 June.

The War Department continued to prod the theater for cancellations in the final weeks, pointing out that its requisitions for ordnance, engineer, medical, and signal supplies far exceeded consumption rates. Finally, on 5 May, only


three days before the end, the ETOUSA G-3 asked that all shipments marked STO which were consigned to the European theater be canceled. These cancellations were estimated to involve about 1,280,000 tons of supplies. All STO supplies in zone of interior filler depots or at the port awaiting loading at the time of the cancellation were returned to base depots; all such cargo already stowed on vessels was allowed to go forward, but was eventually returned to the United States; STO items which had already been unloaded in the theater were kept segregated at ports and base depots and were ordered returned on the first available shipping. On 8 May the COMZ G-4 imposed an embargo on inland movement of such cargo, and ordered the supply services to furnish shipping instructions for its return to the United States. STO-marked supplies in the United Kingdom, whether in ports or depots, were likewise ordered shipped back to the United States. Shortly after V-E Day, the G-4 reported that seventy-five ships had either been returned to the United States intact or reloaded and returned under the STO procedure.24

The rapid express shipping service known as REX, inaugurated in January in accordance with General Lutes' proposal, had only a brief usefulness. ETOUSA made its first request for shipments under the REX procedure on 20 January. More than half of the first requisition, totaling about 35,000 long tons, consisted of ordnance equipment, the bulk of it comprising special purpose vehicles. ETOUSA and the New York Port immediately disagreed on the method of stowing REX supplies and on the distribution of such cargo between different types of ships. More important, it soon became apparent that the theater and War Department held conflicting concepts of the use to be made of the new shipping service. Included in the first requisition were such items as chaplains' flags, folding organs, hymnals, Purple Heart medals, and alarm clocks. Technically such items probably came within the category of supplies to which the Communications Zone itself had restricted the use of REX procedure--that is "items . . . for which there is an established and urgent requirement by the Armies"--for they had been consistently included in the armies' "critical items" list, "the shortage of which is likely to affect operations." To the War Department, however, the inclusion of such items was in clear violation of the intended purpose of REX, at least as conceived by General Lutes, the ASF, and the New York Port, and the War Department quickly enjoined the theater to exercise more care in its selection of items and to impose some restraint on its requisitioning agencies. General Lutes left no doubt in the minds of theater officials that the REX procedure was being abused, pointing out that supply chiefs had been allowed to request express shipments for more and more items which could not possibly be legitimately considered critical.

Early in February the New York Port spelled out in somewhat clearer language


the ground rules governing the use of REX, specifying that the procedure be limited to items immediately required for front-line combat operations, and, so far as practicable, to packaged supplies. Under these terms the first REX shipments left the United States late in March and arrived in the theater early in April. Approximately 120,000 long tons of REX cargo, 90 percent of it consisting of ordnance and signal supplies, were delivered to the theater before V-E Day, when the system was discontinued. A small amount of REX cargo, made up primarily of spare parts and medical supplies, went to Europe by air.25

(4) BOLERO in Reverse

The clearance of U.S. supplies from depots in the United Kingdom in accordance with the Reverse BOLERO or RHUMBA plan had been frustrated time and again. As early as July 1944 General Marshall, foreseeing a possible tendency on the part of theater officials to requisition supplies directly from the United States once they possessed ports on the Continent, enjoined the theater commander to "roll up the rear" as quickly as possible by first using up supplies available in the United Kingdom. This would save shipping and also simplify the liquidation of the American establishment in Britain at the end of the war. The War Department subsequently made clear, however, that it did not want an indiscriminate mass transfer of supply stocks to the Continent, for there was no point in moving stocks to the Continent which were not needed there. This might actually result in double handling in case they later had to be returned to the zone of interior.

General Eisenhower assured the Chief of Staff that all requisitions to the War Department would be critically examined and that all supplies usable on the Continent would be transferred from the United Kingdom as rapidly as possible.26 Plans at the time provided that U.S. stocks in Britain should be reduced to 1,500,000 tons by 1 August 1944, and to 870,000 tons by 1 December.

The planned reduction lagged from the start. On 1 August the level of supplies in the United Kingdom stood at nearly 2,000,000 tons. On 1 December there still were 1,750,000 tons of supplies in U.S. depots in Britain, double the planned level. Failure to draw down the U.K. stocks were attributable in part to the fact that substantial tonnages--averaging about 275,000 tons per month--continued to arrive in the United Kingdom throughout the fall because of the limited capacity of the continental ports. Equally important, however, was the poor turnaround rate of coasters, which handled most of the cross-Channel traffic. An analysis of the performance of sixty-three coasters in the period 22 October-4 November, for example, revealed that the average round trip required 22.5 days against a planned 9.6. Selective discharge, the inability to clear the ports of Le Havre and Rouen, where


many of the coasters were unloaded, bad weather, and extended lay-ups for repair contributed in varying degree to the poor record. There was some improvement during the winter, but performance was erratic, and at the end of February 1945 the turnaround time still averaged 17.5 days.27

Early in October, in an attempt to meet some of the more critical supply shortages on the Continent, the Communications Zone inaugurated a cross-Channel express service similar to the Red Ball procedure used in the early days of the invasion.28 Three LST's were reserved for expedited shipments from the United Kingdom to Le Havre. But this service involved only small tonnages and made no dent on the large supply stocks in U.K. depots.

The clearance program finally got a major shot in the arm as a result of the January visit of General Somervell, who was highly critical of the failure to reduce the U.K. stocks. January itself proved to be one of the poorest months, for supply transfers that month came to only 154,000 tons as compared with 258,000 in November and 200,000 in December. General Lord at the time directed the chief of transportation to give his personal attention to the problem and to plan for the daily shipment of 7,500 tons to the Continent. A few days later, on 1 February, General Lee made known that he desired the substantial closing out of the U.K. depots by the end of May, and asked for the movement of 300,000 tons per month for four months to meet that goal. His U.K. Base Section commander, General Vaughan, doubted whether more than half that amount could be moved to the Continent and estimated that about 1,000,000 tons would either be left on the ground or later shipped to other places. Moreover, the shipment of 300,000 tons per month, he pointed out, would not result in a net reduction of stocks by that amount, for supplies were continuing to arrive in England.29

In any case General Lee's program, which required the shipment of 10,000 tons per day, necessitated the acquisition of additional shipping. Available at the time were twelve Hog Islanders30 (which had been substituted earlier for Liberties for cross-Channel use), with a capacity of about 2,000 tons per day, and coasters with an effective lift of 3,200 tons per day. To make up the deficit the chief of transportation asked for thirty-six Liberty ships. His plan called for the bulk of the shipments (7,000 tons) to discharge at Ghent, and the remainder (3,000 tons) at Rouen. In support of the program the G-4 again directed the supply services not to requisition items from the United States which were known to exist in U.K. depots.31

February saw only a partial implementation of the plan, owing in part to the fact that the War Shipping Administration allocated only seventeen of the thirty-six Liberties requested, and in part to the shortage of British labor in the depots. The result was that only


180,000 tons were outloaded. Before the end of the month, however, additional coasters and Liberties were made available. Also, General Ross agreed to leave in the United Kingdom ten port battalions which had been scheduled for transfer to the Continent.32 As a result, March dispatches rose to 330,000 tons. The high rate of shipments continued in April, when 392,000 tons were moved. Despite this improvement, U.K. stocks still exceeded 1,000,000 tons on V-E Day.

Late in April the Communications Zone had planned to step up the clearance program still further to 450,000 tons per month. But this goal was beyond the available lift, which could not be augmented. In fact, such a program hardly squared with the findings of the supply services in late April that only 550,000 tons of the supplies still in the United Kingdom could be used on the Continent. General Hughes, who had long served as a trouble shooter for the theater commander, got the impression from a personal survey that, contrary to the policy enunciated in the summer of 1944, supplies were being shipped that were not needed on the Continent.33

Shortly after V-E Day the COMZ chief of staff, General Larkin, placed an embargo on the shipment of all supplies except those for which there was an essential need on the Continent. This list initially included packing and crating materials and equipment needed for redeployment, rations, POL, coal, and vehicles, and later, civil affairs, American Red Cross, and special service supplies. The May and June shipments to the Continent totaled 270,000 and 150,000 tons, respectively. Earlier an embargo had been placed on shipments of certain supplies from the United States to the United Kingdom, the results of which became apparent in May, when receipts in the United Kingdom fell from an average 150,000 tons to 90,000. Discharges in June dropped to 35,000. At the end of September 1945 there still were slightly more than 500,000 tons of U.S. supplies in U.K. depots.34


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1. Rpt to Ross by Movs Div OCofT, quoted at length in Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VII, Ch. II, 60-61.

2. The southern line of communications was not included in movement plans until March.

3. Ltr, Lee to Gen and Special Stf Secs and Sec Comdrs, 23 Jan 45, sub: Procedure for the Control of Supply Movs on the Continent, EUCOM 400/1 Procedures for the Control of Supply Movements.

4. Conf on Transportation in COMZ in Burpee's Office, 15 Feb 45, EUCOM 337 Confs Gen, III.

5. Memo, Robinson and Col Charles R. Broshous, Chief Control Div COMZ, for Lee, 8 Mar 45, sub: Program [sic] Made On Items in Somervell's Memo of 24 Jan 45, EUCOM 400.192 Misc, Rpts, VII.

6. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, Ch. II, 58, 114, and VII, Ch. II, 64-67; COMZ G-4 History, II, 47.

7. All discharge figures are exclusive of bulk POL, coal, and vehicles. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, V (October-December 1944), App., Chart 14, VI (January-March 1945), App., Chart 14, and VII (April-June 1945), App., Chart 14.

8. Ltrs, Col Page, COMZ G-4 Plans Div, to CG COMZ, 17 Feb and 7 Mar 45, sub: Estimate of COMZ Supply Situation (Rpts 1 and 2), Tab A to Plans for Opn of COMZ Through Jun 45, no signature, EUCOM 381 Projected Operations of COMZ ETOUSA, 14 Mar 45; Supply Movement Program for March and April, 26 Feb and 25 Mar 45, respectively, EUCOM 400.22 Shipments Gen, 1944-45; SHAEF G-4 War Diary/Jnl.

9. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, Chs. III, 12-20, and VII, Pt. I, 113-14.

10. Ibid., VI, Ch. III, 2-4, 22.

11. SHAEF G-4 War Diary/Jnl; Ltrs, Somervell to Lee, 26 Feb 45, and Lee to Somervell, 9 Mar 45, EUCOM 800 Rivers, Harbors, and Waterways, II; Hist Rpt of TC ETO VI, Chs. III, 36-37, 45, and VII, Pt. I, 116.

12. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, Chs. III, 49, 119-20, 132, and VII, Pt. I, 120, 221.

13. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, Chs. III, 136-42, 146-48, and VII, Pt. I, 263; Hist Rpt 11, Port Construction and Repair, OCE ETO, pp. 45-49; SHAEF G-4 War Diary/Jnl.

14. G-4 Confs, SHAEF, beginning 24 Mar 45, 12 A Gp Supply Misc, No. 133.

15. Ltrs, Page to CG COMZ, 17 Feb and 7 Mar 45, sub: Estimates of COMZ Supply Situation (Rpts 1 and 2); Supply Movement Programs for March and April, 26 Feb and 25 Mar 45, respectively, EUCOM 400.22 Shipments Gen, 1944-45; Hist of TC ETO, VI, Chs. VI, 8-9, 17-18, and VII, Pt. I, 18, 169, 263; Comd and Stf Conf, COMZ, 5 Mar 45, EUCOM 337/3 Confs, Staff Weekly, I; SHAEF G-4 War Diary/Jnl.

16. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, Ch. II, 142n.

17. See above, Ch. VI, Sec. 2.

18. Ltr, Larkin to Gen Graham, MGA 21 A Gp, 26 Mar 45, EUCOM 323.3 Depots.

19. COMZ G-4 History, IV, 115, 145-47, 151-52; Mechanics of Supply in Fast Moving Situations, Gen Bd Rpt 27, pp. 38-41.

20. Comd and Stf Conf Notes, Hq COMZ, 23 Feb 45, EUCOM 337/3 Confs, Staff Weekly, I; Ltr, Lord for Lee to Somervell, 17 Feb 45, and Ltr, Somervell to Lee, 23 Feb 45, both in ASF 200.02 DCofS, S/C and Control Div, A47-6; Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, OCofT, 144.

21. COMZ G-4 History, I, 145-49.

22. Ltr, Lord to G-4, 6 Apr 45, sub: Reduction of Shipments to ETO, EUCOM 400.22 Shipments General 1944, II.

23. Memo, G-4 for CofS, 8 Apr 45, sub: Reduction of Shipments to ETO, EUCOM 400.22 Shipments General 1944, II.

24. Cbl EX-35274, G-4 ETO to SHAEF, 20 Apr 45, and Cbl FWD-19863, SHAEF to ETO Ordnance, 25 Apr 45, ETO Adm 402 (ETO Cbls); Cbl WARX-71085, AGWAR to Lee, 21 Apr 45, SHAEF AG 400.22-1 Allocation of Tonnages--Policy, No. 2; COMZ G-4 History, I, 150-60.

25. Teletype Conf, Lutes (in Washington) with Heileman (in Paris), 27 Jan 45, ASF 319.1 ETO Transportation (Tel Convs), No. 1 1944-45; COMZ G-4 History, I, 131-43.

26. Ltr, Marshall to Eisenhower, 1 Jul 44, SHAEF SGS 400.3/1 Supply Problems of Allied Advance; Memo, Lee for Chiefs of Supply Svs, 7 Jul 44, sub: OVERLORD Tonnage Allocs, SHAEF G-4 Supplies General; Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 20 Jul 44, OPD Exec Office File 9.

27. COMZ G-4 History, I, 119-22, 127.

28. See Logistical Support I, 309-10.

29. Comd and Stf Confs, COMZ, 9 and 23 Feb 45, EUCOM 337/3 Confs, Staff Weekly 1944, I.

30. The World War I equivalent of the Liberty ship, built in large numbers at Hog Island, Philadelphia.

31. COMZ G-4 History, I, 117-18.

32. Hist Rpt of TC ETO, VI, Ch. II, 65T.

33. Memo, Hughes for Larkin, 25 Apr 45, and Ltr, Larkin to Hughes, 9 May 45, EUCOM 400.22 Shipments General 1944.

34. COMZ G-4 History, I, 118-19, 122, 128.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation