The Port Discharge and Shipping Problems
(1) The Port Problem as Affected by the Pursuit
In the course of the endless calculations involved in the logistic planning for OVERLORD, an exasperated staff officer summed up his frustrations over the port problem in a parody of the invasion plan known as "Operation OVERBOARD." "The general principle," he wrote, "is that the number of divisions required to capture the number of ports required to maintain those divisions is always greater than the number of divisions those ports can maintain."
Logistic planners had ample reason to suspect that this statement contained an element of truth. From the start, port discharge capacity had been the major single cause for concern in the planning of OVERLORD. Logistic planners had predicted a deficit beginning at D plus 120, even assuming that operations proceeded as scheduled. In this matter, certainly, they were not excessively conservative, for their fears were to be largely realized. In the search for adequate port discharge capacity in the summer and fall of 1944 they eventually gave consideration to approximately thirty-five French and Belgian ports and beaches.
In July the port discharge problem appeared to constitute the very root of future supply difficulties.1 Plans had provided that by the end of that month U.S. forces should be supported in part through Cherbourg and the Normandy beaches and minor ports, and in part through St. Malo and Quiberon Bay in Brittany. At the time of the breakout late in July, however, Cherbourg had been in operation only a few days, nearly 90 percent of all U.S. supply support was still coming in via the beaches, and the total U.S. discharge on the Continent averaged only 20,000 to 25,000 tons per day as against previously estimated requirements of about 30,000.
The deficiency had not been immediately serious because requirements had not been as large as predicted. But weather was expected to close out the beaches in late September, and the delay in capturing the Brittany ports was already a fact. An even more serious deficit therefore loomed ahead than was originally predicted. Before the end of July, the planners had already taken steps to compensate for this expected loss
by projecting an increase in the capacity of Cherbourg and the minor Normandy ports and by seeking a larger allotment of coasters so that small ports could be used to fuller advantage. They also considered opening the smaller Brittany ports, which had not seriously entered into the original plans.
Nothing had happened thus far to alter the previous conviction that both Brest and Quiberon Bay were absolutely essential for the support of American forces. While doubts had already arisen as to the feasibility of developing Quiberon Bay, mainly because of the towing problem in the fall, it was still expected at the end of July that the Brittany area would be developed as originally intended.
The effect which the pursuit was to have on the port discharge problem was not immediately apparent. In the first half of August neither SHAEF nor COMZ planners contemplated major changes in port development plans. The Communications Zone reaffirmed its intention of pushing the Quiberon Bay project vigorously. It also advocated doubling the planned capacity of Brest and, in addition, opening the Loire ports (Nantes and St. Nazaire) as soon as resources permitted.2
In the last two weeks of August confidence that Brest and Quiberon Bay could be relied on to meet U.S. port needs finally began to wane. The continued delay in the capture of the main Brittany ports, coupled with the knowledge that bad weather would soon render the beaches unusable, prompted logistic planners to resume the search for alternate port discharge capacity to meet at least the interim requirements until the major Brittany ports could be opened. The capture of Le Havre and Rouen did not yet appear imminent. Consequently attention once again turned to the smaller Brittany ports, which had received only sporadic consideration in the past. On 25 August the Communications Zone decided to go ahead with the development of Morlaix, St. Brieuc, St. Malo, and Cancale, and at the same time issued instructions to the base section commander to develop the port of Granville on the west Normandy coast. A target of 20,000 tons total capacity was set for the five ports, three of which were scheduled to meet their goals within the next ten days.3
The decision to open these minor ports hardly dispelled the growing anxiety over the port situation. Meeting port discharge requirements was not a simple matter of adding up the total capacity of every little inlet along the coast and balancing this against the total tonnages it was desired to import. Port capacity not only had to be adequate in quantity but of the kind suitable for handling various types of shipping and cargo. On paper the Allies had sufficient port capacity to handle all the imports scheduled for the next few weeks. But they were actually very short of capacity of the type suitable to handle the unloading of such commodities as coal, boxed vehicles, and heavy lifts. In the first two or three months of operations this was not a
major problem. All vehicles, for example, were brought across the Channel assembled in MT ships,4 LST's, or LCT's. This was possible because the stowage factor on so short a voyage was relatively unimportant, the vital thing being to achieve the fastest possible turnaround. Beginning in September, however, a larger and larger portion of U.S. supplies was scheduled to come directly from the United States, loaded so as to reduce broken stowage to a minimum and thus use space more economically. Such a schedule meant that practically every Liberty ship coming from the United States would contain either boxed vehicles or other heavy lifts.
Naturally it was desirable that such awkward loads be discharged at ports where suitable shore cranes were available. In August the only port in Allied hands which possessed facilities even partially adapted to handling such cargo was Cherbourg, and it was obvious that that port lacked sufficient capacity to handle all the shipping coming directly from the United States. In fact, proposals to handle heavy troop movements through Cherbourg (again because of Brest's unavailability) already threatened to cut into the limited cargo-handling capacity of that port. It was inevitable that some boxed vehicles and other awkward loads would have to be received at the beaches and minor ports, where the handling of such cargo would be extremely difficult.5 But eventually the major portion of U.S. port discharge requirements could be met only through the development of the larger deepwater ports. The capture of such facilities had already been delayed, and anxiety increased at the end of August as to the condition in which ports such as Brest and Lorient would be found if and when they were finally captured.6
Tactical developments within the next week radically altered the entire outlook on the port situation, and eventually led to a recasting of the entire port development program. On 4 September British forces captured the great port of Antwerp with most of its facilities intact. On 12 September the stubbornly defended and badly damaged port of Le Havre, 225 miles to the rear, also fell to British troops. Rouen had been occupied on 30 August.
Preinvasion planning had accepted it as essential from the logistic point of view that both Le Havre and Rouen should be captured and used. In fact, it contemplated that a crossing of the lower Seine and seizure of these ports would be the first operation attempted after the capture of the lodgment area. The purpose in seizing the Seine ports, however, was not to serve U.S. needs, but to relieve the British forces from dependence on the beaches. U.S. lines of communication were to be based on Cherbourg and Brittany. It was not until much later that the transfer of Le Havre to the Americans was contemplated.7
The delay in capturing Brest and the
unexpected early seizure of both the Seine ports and Antwerp changed all this. The advantages which these ports offered over those of Brittany were obvious, and logistic planners had turned their attention to them as a possible solution of the discharge problem as soon as their capture appeared probable. On 3 September Col. William Whipple noted that it would be unprofitable for U.S. forces to devote their resources to the development of the geographically remote Brittany ports if the Seine ports, which were 200 miles farther forward on the line of communications, could be developed instead. Every 5,000 tons discharged at Le Havre rather than the South Brittany ports, he observed, would save an equivalent of seventy truck companies.8
Antwerp had still greater advantages, even when compared with the Cherbourg line of communications. It was only 65 miles from Liège, while Cherbourg was more than 400 miles from that advance depot area. Even Nancy, the forward depot area on the Third Army line of communications, was only 250 miles by rail from Antwerp, but more than 400 miles from Cherbourg. The matter of rail lines was particularly important because the rail capacity from Cherbourg and the beaches was only about 10,000 tons per day as against a discharge rate of 20,000, with the result that motor transportation bore a heavy transportation burden at great cost to equipment. In terms of the forces supportable it was estimated that only 21 divisions could be provided with daily maintenance on the Cherbourg route (6 of them by motor transport), while 54 could be similarly supported via the northern line of communications (all of them by rail). In effect, therefore, the effort required to support a division via Antwerp would be only one third that required to transport a division via Cherbourg. Contrasted with both the Brittany and Normandy areas, moreover, Antwerp was virtually undamaged and possessed unmatched cargo-handling facilities.9
For a moment, at least, the capture of Antwerp dissipated the darkest cloud on the logistical horizon, thus contributing to the otherwise unbounded optimism of these early September days. Logistic planners at COMZ headquarters were so encouraged that they were ready to abandon not only the Brittany ports, but the Seine ports as well, and advocated concentrating all efforts on the Belgian and Dutch ports. The condition of Brest (which had not yet been captured), they argued, did not warrant development for cargo discharge, and the long rail haul would place a serious strain on the transportation system. Except in emergency, the value of the smaller ports did not justify the expenditure of manpower and equipment to develop their relatively small capacity. Le Havre, they observed, was badly damaged, and its development to major capacity could not be accomplished for the period in which its use was required. Weighing these disadvantages against the realization that the Belgian and Dutch ports had more than ample capacity for both British and American forces, COMZ officials decided to place a bid with SHAEF for allocation
of a portion of the Antwerp facilities.10
The initial enthusiasm for a complete shift to Antwerp as the answer to port discharge needs was soon tempered by more sober realization concerning both the speed with which the new port capacity might become available and the current plight of the Allied forces. The Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief, Expeditionary Force, immediately gave warning that both Antwerp and Rotterdam were highly vulnerable to blocking and mining, and that if the enemy was successful in these operations no estimate could be made of the time it would take to open these ports.11 The Allies needed additional capacity immediately; the pursuit was at its height, and maintenance of the armies was stretched to the limit. All transportation was fully committed, and port clearance was already largely sacrificed for the sake of line-of-communications hauling. Meanwhile port discharge had shown no improvement, averaging only 25,000 tons per day. "Altogether," Lt. Gen. Sir Humfrey M. Gale, the chief administrative officer of SHAEF, concluded, "the administrative situation remained grim."12
Logistic officers at SHAEF, consequently, did not share the view that Antwerp would immediately meet all the Allies' needs for port discharge, although they agreed that at least some of the Brittany projects could be canceled. As early as 3 September the Logistical Plans Branch had recommended that the South Brittany ports be abandoned.13 On the 7th SHAEF announced that neither Nantes, St. Nazaire, nor Lorient would be developed, and also decided finally that the much-debated Quiberon Bay project would be abandoned.14
While attention thus definitely shifted from Brittany, no final decisions had yet been made regarding either Brest or the ports which had just been uncovered. In view of the great changes which tactical developments had brought about, necessitating a recasting of port plans, General Lee on 14 September summarized the entire port situation for the Supreme Commander and offered his recommendations for meeting future requirements. General Lee's analysis led him to conclude that the development of Brest as well as the other western ports to the tonnages originally planned was no longer sound. Le Havre, he noted, was reported to be seriously damaged, making it unlikely that large tonnage capacity could be developed there in the near future. In his opinion, moreover, its location did not materially shorten the lines of communication. He believed it advisable, therefore, to carry out only a limited development of Le Havre as an interim port with a capacity of between 8,000 and 10,000 tons per day, and to do this as rapidly as possible with a minimum expenditure of reconstruction effort.
General Lee voiced the now generally accepted opinion that the bulk of Allied
port requirements would eventually be provided by the north coast ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam. Their capacity, it was agreed, was more than sufficient to meet both British and U.S. needs, and, because of their location, would also alleviate the desperate transportation problem. Lee therefore recommended that port development be limited to Cherbourg, Le Havre, and the north coast ports. Even Cherbourg, he advised, should not be developed beyond the 20,000-ton capacity it was expected to achieve by early October because of the heavy demands on both rail and motor transport which the use of that port entailed.15
Supreme headquarters concurred in these recommendations with one exception. It was not yet ready to abandon Brest in view of the need for reception facilities to handle the accelerated flow of divisions. Furthermore, the condition of the port was unknown even at this time, for it was still in enemy hands. SHAEF for the moment therefore directed that Brest should be developed to the extent needed to receive troops and their organizational equipment, and left to General Lee's discretion which of the smaller ports should be kept open.16
On 27 September the COMZ commander outlined these decisions to his staff and section commanders: In the Normandy area Cherbourg was to continue as the major point of intake and was planned to receive the maximum tonnage in both cargo and POL which it could handle pending the availability of Antwerp. Grandcamp-les-Bains was to be closed, but the other minor ports of Normandy--Barfleur, St. Vaast-la-Hougue, and Isigny--were to continue working on second priority for coasters until Antwerp developed a satisfactory discharge, and Port-en-Bessin was to continue the intake of POL. The beaches were to continue to operate at maximum capacity, although discharge was expected to drop to 10,000 tons per day at OMAHA and 4,000 tons at UTAH in October. The extent to which Brest was to be utilized was still undetermined and was to be decided after its capture on the basis of a survey by representatives of Brittany Base Section, the Navy, the chief engineer, and chief of transportation. St. Brieuc and Granville were to continue their development for the reception of coal. Morlaix was to develop its maximum unloading capacity from Liberty anchorage, but in a reversal of the plans made late in August both St. Malo and Cancale were now eliminated and actually never operated on U.S. account. The Seine ports were still thought of as providing only interim relief, with Le Havre scheduled to develop a capacity of about 8,500 tons and Rouen 3,000. Plans for the north coast area were of necessity somewhat less specific, but they were made at this time to share the use of Ostend with the British for the import of POL, to survey both Calais and Boulogne with a view to assigning one or both to U.S. forces, and to reconnoiter the coast northeast of Le Havre for suitable beaches at which LST's might be offloaded.
The most important project of all was the development of Antwerp as the major joint U.S. British port on the Continent.17 Antwerp was now almost universally looked upon as the early solution to the most fundamental logistic problem facing the Allies. It was contemplated that there should be a gradual closing down of activity in the ports farther to the rear as Antwerp's capacity developed. The extent to which the ports in the rear were to be developed and used from now on was therefore predicated on the progress in bringing Antwerp into operation.
Pending the development of new capacity, meanwhile, supply officials were faced with the hard fact that in the immediate future the port situation would continue to deteriorate. Port discharge had improved slightly in the third week of September, averaging nearly 37,000 tons per day. But in the following week it dropped to less than 28,000 tons, and for another full month was to average barely 25,000 as against the originally estimated requirement of 38,500.18
The drop in performance at the end of September was caused in part by inclement weather, which hampered operations at the beaches.19 But discharge had also fallen off at Cherbourg because of the handling of troop convoys with organizational equipment, which put an additional strain on the port's facilities and out into normal unloading.20 It had always been planned that Brest should handle the reception of personnel and organizational equipment. But the report of the survey group sent to examine Brest upon its capture on 25 September finally confirmed the fears which had been held regarding that port's condition. The report disclosed that extreme demolitions, mining, and damage to quay facilities had rendered the port useless and estimated that even limited unloading of cargo and troops would not be possible for seventy-five days.21 In view of the more urgent commitments to clear and rehabilitate Le Havre and Rouen, Brest was now given the lowest priority,22 and was eventually abandoned altogether.
At the end of September, therefore, the port situation remained grave. All hopes now centered on Antwerp, the opening of which, as the Supreme Commander had recently noted, would have "the effect of a blood transfusion" on the entire maintenance situation.23 His concern, which was widely shared, was expressed in a memo to the Chief of Staff at this time. "As you know," he said, "I am terribly anxious about Antwerp, not only the capture of its approaches, but the getting of the port to working instantaneously thereafter."24 Antwerp
had already been in Allied hands for four weeks. It was thought at the time of its capture that it would surely be in operation some time in October. At the end of September General Moses, the 12th Army Group G-4 made an estimate which proved far more realistic when he suggested that it would be better not to plan on the port's opening until 1 December.25
(2) The Beaches and Minor Ports of Normandy
One of the outstanding features of logistic support in the first six months of operations was the unexpected extent to which U.S. supplies and personnel were funneled through the Normandy ports. OVERLORD plans had envisaged the Normandy area primarily as an interim base pending the development of Brittany. Since the beaches were expected to have a short-lived usefulness and Cherbourg a relatively small capacity, a maximum discharge of less than 26,000 tons per day was counted on for the Normandy beaches and ports.26 This maximum was to be attained at about D plus 90, at which time Normandy's facilities were to account for about 55 percent of the total U.S. port capacity on the Continent. Discharge through the Normandy ports was scheduled to decline to about 13,000 tons per day and account for only 30 percent of the total intake by early November.
At D plus 90 (4 September) the daily discharge was actually averaging upwards of 28,000 long tons and frequently exceeding 30,000 tons despite the fact that MULBERRY A, the artificial port at OMAHA Beach had been abandoned. Except for relatively minor unloadings across the beaches at St. Michel-en-Grève in Brittany, Normandy's facilities comprised the entire discharge capacity available to U.S. forces on the Continent. Early in November (D plus 150), despite the virtual cessation of operations at the beaches, the intake through the Normandy ports still averaged about 17,000 long tons per day and accounted for 63 percent of the total U.S. discharge.
The performance of the Normandy ports in terms of percentage of total discharge is explained by the failure to develop the Brittany area. Their performance in terms of tons discharged is explained first by the unexpected capacity of the open beaches, and second, by the development of Cherbourg to a capacity far beyond that contemplated in plans.
The capacity of the beaches proved a godsend in view of the delayed opening of Cherbourg. In the first seven weeks they constituted practically the only intake capacity on the continent. After the opening of Cherbourg and the development of other port capacity the relative importance of the beaches naturally declined. Nevertheless they continued to account for a significant percentage of the personnel, vehicles, and cargo brought to the Continent until the end of October. After the big storm in June operations at the beaches settled down to a normal routine. Both beaches were soon operating as well-organized ports and, except for occasional bad weather which halted or slowed down operations for brief periods, enjoyed relative stability.
TROOPS DEBARKING ON TO A CAUSEWAY at OMAHA Beach, 4 August 1944.
The establishment of beach transfer points, improvements in the road networks, the landing of additional truck companies, and the general improvement in unloading and clearance methods brought increased discharge and movement of supplies, with the result that targets were consistently exceeded. In the week after the storm both beaches surpassed all previous performance, OMAHA averaging 13,000 tons as against a target of 10,000, and UTAH averaging 7,200 tons compared with its goal of 5,700.27
Unloading continued at a good rate in July, although fog and high winds again interfered in the period from the 20th to the 23d. On the last day of the month an all-time high of 25,853 tons was unloaded at the two beaches, OMAHA handling 15,834 tons, 158 percent of its target, and UTAH discharging 10,019 tons, 175 percent of its rated capacity. This record was almost duplicated on the following day, when 25,303 tons were offloaded, and again on 8 August, when 25,563 tons were brought ashore.
The landing of personnel kept pace, although the record was more erratic. The largest number of personnel debarkations at OMAHA Beach, except in the initial assault, had taken place on 23 June, when 24,425 men came ashore. That day also established a record for combined debarkations at the two beaches, totaling 30,916. OMAHA nearly equaled this performance again on 23 July, when 24,068 men went ashore.
UTAH's record was achieved on 19 July, when it handled 22,780 men. These performances were exceptional, of course, but the 10,000-mark was reached frequently in the first three months.
July was also a good month for vehicle discharge, the two beaches handling a total of slightly more than 100,000 vehicles of all types for an average of 3,283 per day. OMAHA's best single day came on 5 July, when it received 3,837; the highest discharge rate was achieved at UTAH on 25 July, when a total of 4,256 was passed ashore.28
Another storm struck the beaches on the night of 1 August and cut deeply into the unloading rate on the 2d and 3d. But the two beaches quickly resumed normal operations on 4 August. In fact, the demonstrated capacity of the beaches in July led supply officials to raise the tonnage target of UTAH from 5,700 to 10,000 tons per day, and that of OMAHA from 10,000 to 15,000 tons. Raising the tonnage targets provided new goals for the beach organizations, but did not affect the rated capacity of the beaches. UTAH met its new target the very next day--6 August--with a discharge of 10,500 tons, and two days later achieved the best performance of the entire period of its operations by unloading 11,577 tons. Thereafter UTAH met its new target only once--on 29 September, when it handled 10,612 tons. OMAHA exceeded its new goal on 9 and 10 August, and again on four successive days from 17 to 20 August. On 25 August it set a record for discharge over either beach of 16,078 tons.
Many factors affected the discharge record of the beaches. Shortages of transportation often restricted discharge at first, and the improved performance in July could be attributed in large part to the provision of additional trucks. Congestion in the dumps also proved a limiting factor. Late in July an inspection of a Class V dump behind UTAH Beach revealed 100 loaded trucks standing idle in the sorting and receiving bays for lack of adequate personnel to handle and store the ammunition. According to one estimate this resulted in a 30 to 40 percent loss in efficiency in dukw operations and a reduction of 25 percent in tonnage discharged. Early in August the assignment of additional troops to the dumps and improvements in supply handling methods at least temporarily eliminated this bottleneck. But the attainment of perfect balance between the various functions and facilities involved in the unloading of a ship, movement over a beach, and clearance to a dump under the unpredictables prevailing in Normandy was next to impossible and was achieved for only short periods, if at all.29
September was still a good month at the beaches, although the discharge record did not quite equal that of July and August. Heavy seas restricted operations on the 2d and 3d, and on 7 September rough weather again interfered with unloading for a while. A more serious interruption occurred a few days later, when a storm cut rather deeply into the discharge rate for three days beginning on the 11th. Finally, high seas and fog again hampered operations, particularly at OMAHA, toward the end of the month.
BULLDOZER STUCK IN THE THICK MUD on a road near Marigny, France, July 1944.
On the whole, however, unloadings in September exceeded expectations, and the restrictions on discharge were caused as much by the unavailability of loaded craft and by shortages in trucks, dukws, ferry craft, and men, as by bad weather. The last two days of September saw substantial tonnages discharged at both beaches, totaling 20,933 tons on the 29th and 18,575 on the 30th.
But 1 October marked the beginning of a definite decline from which the beaches never recovered. As before, factors other than the weather contributed to the falling off in discharge, notably the problem of vehicles. It became increasingly difficult to keep adequate numbers of dukws in operation. Most of them had been running continuously since the early days of the landings and were being deadlined for repairs an increasing percentage of the time. The availability of trucks was always unpredictable, and early in October a substantial withdrawal of vehicles to bolster the Red Ball Express led to a downward revision in the tonnage goals for both beaches, the OMAHA target reverting to the original 10,000 tons and UTAH's to 4,000.
The most serious limiting factor by this time was the weather. The fog and storms of August and September had interfered with operations for only short periods, and, with one exception, had never closed down all activity at the beaches, despite the tendency of the beach organizations to report "all operations stopped" in these periods. The unloading
of beached coasters had usually continued, and full advantage was taken of temporary breaks in the weather, so that substantial unloadings were registered even during the storm periods. In October, however, conditions were consistently bad, bringing operations to a complete halt four times at UTAH Beach and twice at OMAHA. On the last day of the month both beaches for the first time reported no discharge whatever, and for the entire month unloading at the two beaches averaged only 6,243 tons per day.
Bad weather also made clearance more and more difficult, for rain fell practically every day and turned the roads behind the beaches into quagmires. Most roads were poorly drained and required constant maintenance. The problem of mud had actually begun to give trouble much earlier. By the first of October it had reached serious proportions. Clay also accumulated on metaled roads, causing drivers to spin their wheels and puncture tires as they broke through to the hard, rough foundations.
By the end of October it was obvious that the beaches were nearing the end of their usefulness. At that time the Navy withdrew its ferry craft from UTAH, leaving the unloading entirely to dukws. Within another two weeks it did the same at OMAHA. Conditions deteriorated steadily in these weeks, and unloading finally came to an end on 13 November at UTAH, and on 19 November at OMAHA, after 167 days of operation.30 In the final three weeks the scale of activity dropped rapidly, discharge totaling only a few thousand tons.
Fortunately it was possible to operate
TABLE 1--BEACH DISCHARGES: 1 JULY-17 NOVEMBER 1944a
[Long Tons Weekly]b
a For June 1944 figures see Logistical Support I, 416.
b Vehicles and bulk POL not included.
Source: NEPTUNE: Training for and Mounting the Operation, Part VI, Vol. II, 175-78.
the beaches considerably longer than originally expected, and their over-all record was a spectacular one. In the twenty-four weeks of their operation they received approximately 2,000,000 long tons of cargo, which constituted about 55 percent of the total tonnage brought onto the Continent up to that time. In addition, they had discharged 287,500 vehicles and debarked 1,602,000 men.31 Table 1 summarizes the tonnages discharged by week.
The official demise of the beach organizations
did not come until 4 December, when the OMAHA Beach Command was finally dissolved. Several administrative changes had taken place which had altered somewhat the shape and status of the beach organizations since their arrival in the first days of the invasion. In the main, they reflected the evolution of the Communications Zone's organization on the Continent. On 7 August the OMAHA Beach Command, the 1st, 5th, and 6th Engineer Special Brigades, and key assigned and attached units were released from assignment to First Army and were temporarily assigned to the Advance Section, to which they had been attached in mid-June. Within another week they were assigned to the Normandy Base Section, which assumed control of the Normandy area. The engineer brigades and attached units in the OMAHA area had already been organized into the OMAHA Beach Command, and the UTAH area was now similarly organized into the UTAH Beach Command, although the brigades retained their original identity.
In September the areas controlled by the beach commands were enlarged, and a final expansion took place in October when Normandy Base Section was subdivided into districts, the OMAHA and UTAH Commands respectively becoming OMAHA and UTAH districts under the reorganization. As the headquarters of COMZ subdivisions the original brigade organizations had thus assumed roles far removed from the specialized functions they had been trained for, and the change was not universally welcomed. First Brigade troops in particular were somewhat resentful, for as experts in amphibious operations they had half-expected to move on to the Pacific, and they did not relish their rear-echelon service role.32
Another administrative change, effected in August, had little importance in the over-all organization of the beaches, but had its significance for the troop units involved. On 14 August the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment (of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade) was reorganized and redesignated the 1186th Engineer Combat Group. In effect, this change ended the Army's recognition of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment as a specialized organization trained for amphibious work, and also ended the recognition of this unit as one with an unusual record of achievement. The 531st had participated in four invasions and consisted of veterans with a professional pride in their organization and their specialty. The change consequently brought an inevitable letdown in morale. Officers and men alike felt they had lost their distinctive identity.33
In summarizing the operations at OMAHA and UTAH it is appropriate to include a note on the British MULBERRY at Arromanches-les-Bains since that installation operated on U.S. account for about a month. MULBERRY B was operated by British forces throughout the summer and was of unquestioned importance as a source of discharge capacity because of the delay in capturing suitable ports. Early in August the British Chiefs of Staff, encouraged by the favorable developments following the breakout, questioned the future value and importance of the MULBERRY in view of the prospects for the early capture
of Brest, which, they suggested, might permit the transfer of Cherbourg to the British in the near future.34
This proposal found little support at Supreme Headquarters, where it was pointed out that the requirement for Liberty ship discharge facilities made it imperative that the Arromanches MULBERRY be employed to maximum capacity as long as the weather permitted.35 In fact SHAEF officials were already concerned over the slow progress being made in winterizing the MULBERRY, which involved strengthening the existing units and emplacing additional caissons (known as PHOENIXES) then under construction in the United Kingdom.36 Early in September General Gale, the SHAEF chief administrative officer, once more emphasized the urgency of this program, pointing out that the Allies had not gained a single Liberty ship berth since the capture of Cherbourg more than two months earlier. He expressed the belief that the MULBERRY might still "save our lives."37
Disagreement nevertheless persisted over the advisability of attempting to extend the life of MULBERRY B. In September the capture of Antwerp and Le Havre raised hopes that the discharge shortage might soon be eliminated. Furthermore, winterization was costly. The British Chiefs of Staff, when they first questioned the future value of the MULBERRY, had noted that the construction of additional PHOENIXES required the use of dockyards badly needed for the repair of damaged shipping. Movements and transportation officers at 21 Army Group pointed out that the continued use of the port entailed considerable work on the roads, which were beginning to break up, and noted that winterization would not guarantee a port throughout the winter.38 So desparate was the need for discharge capacity, however, that the expenditure of effort was considered justified and was therefore permitted to continue.39
By mid-October MULBERRY B had assumed more importance to the Americans than to the British, for it had been decided to discharge U.S. Liberties there. The first unloading of U.S. ships had actually begun on the 13th.40 The port was definitely a wasting asset now, and 21 Army Group was anxious to withdraw personnel and floating equipment for use in the Belgian ports. In view of the bad condition of the roads back of the port and the limited capacity of the railway which came to within about twelve miles of the beach, the sole value which the MULBERRY now had even for U.S. forces was that it relieved the shipping backlog which had developed off the coast. The Communications Zone
was inclined to agree on the low value of the MULBERRY, and favored a proposal to use the newly constructed PHOENIXES at Le Havre, where they could be used to greater advantage, in part because clearance would be directly by rail.
On 16 October the whole matter of the MULBERRY's future was reconsidered at a meeting at SHAEF over which General Gale presided. The conference recommended that winterization be abandoned. Five PHOENIXES then en route to the port were to be installed; but no more blockships were to be sunk off Arromanches, and ten of the new PHOENIXES were to be sent to Le Havre, the remainder being held in the United Kingdom as a reserve. The unloading of cargo at MULBERRY B was to continue until 31 October, and MT ships were to be accepted as long as conditions permitted. Except for the salvaging of removable equipment, the port would be left to disintegrate after the end of October. The SHAEF Chief of Staff approved these recommendoantions 18 October.41
The rapid deterioration at OMAHA and UTAH in the last half of October, coupled with the fact that Le Havre and Rouen were developing much more slowly than had been expected, compelled the Communications Zone to make the most of the British MULBERRY. Unloading of Liberties necessitated the use of pierheads and entailed a risk of losing part of the WHALE bridging making up the pier at Arromanches in case bad weather suddenly broke up the port. In view of the requirement for the maximum possible discharge of cargo, however, Maj. Gen. Robert W. Crawford, the SHAEF G-4 believed the risk justified, and he recommended on 2 November that certain bridging equipment be left at Arromanches.42 One pier and pierhead were left for U.S. use, therefore, and the unloading of U.S. cargo continued for a few more weeks.43 The entire matter of winterization was reconsidered again early in November, Admiral Sir Bertram H. Ramsay recommending that winterization be continued because experiments with the PHOENIXES at Le Havre had not gone well.44 But the earlier decision stood firm, and MULBERRY B ceased operating on 19 November, the same day on which discharge at OMAHA Beach came to an end.
The cargo which U.S. forces received through the British MULBERRY was actually negligible in quantity, for the total intake in the five-week period was a bare 20,000 tons, consisting chiefly of ammunition from ships lightened at OMAHA.45
Meanwhile, the smaller Normandy ports made their contribution to the total tonnage discharged on the Continent, although it was rather short-lived and small in terms of the total cargo unloaded. Grandcamp, Isigny, Barfleur, St. Vaast, and Carentan were all tidal
ports which were practically useless at low water; in addition, Carentan was a locked harbor at the end of an eight- to ten-mile long channel connecting it with the sea, and Isigny was also several miles inland. None could accommodate deep-draft vessels and their use was therefore restricted to receiving coasters. OVERLORD plans had contemplated the development of these ports, with the exception of Carentan, to a combined capacity of less than 3,000 tons.
All five ports were found in good condition, except for mines, roadblocks, sunken craft, barbed wire, and other obstructions. The removal of sunken vessels and the cleanup of the debris was largely completed by the first of July, and rehabilitation was continued to develop the planned capacities of the ports. Grandcamp and Isigny were the first to be captured and began to receive cargo on 23 and 24 June, respectively. St. Vaast discharged its first supplies on 9 July, and Carentan and Barfleur opened on the 25th and 26th.
Up to the time of the breakout the cargo discharged by these small ports totaled 48,343 long tons, the equivalent of about three good days at the beaches. All these ports were capable of greater development, however, and the targets for both Grandcamp and Isigny had already been raised at the end of June. Late in July port plans were completely re-examined in view of the threatened deficit in discharge capacity, and the decision was made to develop the minor ports to their maximum capacity, then estimated at 17,000 tons per day.46
At Barfleur and Carentan the additional work which the new targets entailed was completed in the first week of August, raising the capacity of the former from 1,000 to 2,500 tons, and giving the latter a capacity of 4,000 tons. ADSEC engineers also carried out additional rehabilitation at Grandcamp, Isigny, and St. Vaast, except for the dredging which was necessary to the development of their full capacity. Since these harbors dried out at low tide, a dredge capable of resting on the bottom was required. Such a vessel--the French bucket dredge Divette--was found in the British sector, was towed to Isigny, and after some repairs began dredging the silt from that port.47 A few days of operation, however, revealed that craft could not enter the harbor while the dredge was working. This, plus the prospect that Cherbourg would soon be handling large tonnages, led to the cancellation of the entire program for the three ports, leaving them somewhat short of their maximum development.48
Failure to develop these ports to their full capacity actually entailed no loss, for at no time in the course of their operations did their combined discharge equal their rated capacity of 12,000 tons. The utilization of these ports depended entirely on the availability of barges and small coasters, which were forced to handle a much greater portion of the tonnage than planned because of the long delay in developing deepwater berths for the direct discharge of Liberty ships. A variety of difficulties plagued
the operations of the minor ports, the chief of which was the fact that they were all tidal. In some cases, particularly during the low neap tides, it was necessary to lighten even coasters before they could enter.
Plans for the use of Carentan proved the most unrealistic. The long narrow channel which separated that port from open water was particularly troublesome. In July three vessels either sank or ran aground in this channel through various causes.49 A succession of such difficulties finally led to the conclusion that the operation of that port was more trouble than it was worth. Carentan consequently had a short life as a cargo port, discharging for a period of only seven days, from 25 to 31 July. Its total intake for that single week amounted to a mere 2,114 tons for an average of about 300 per day, far short of its rated capacity of between 2,000 and 4,000 tons.
While Carentan made the poorest showing, none of Normandy's minor ports met their targets even for short periods. Only one, St. Vaast, achieved an average of more than 1,000 tons. (Table 2) All five ports had ceased operating by mid-October, and were turned back to the French on 9 November.50 Taken together, the five ports discharged a grand total of 330,600 long tons, comprising 10 percent of all the cargo offloaded on the Continent up to mid-October. Their performance was of course overshadowed from the beginning by that of the beaches, and was later put completely in the shade by the
TABLE 2--DISCHARGE PERFORMANCE OF NORMANDY'S MINOR PORTS
|Port||Date opened||Date closed||Days operated||Total tons discharged||Average daily discharge|
|Grandcamp||23 June||19 September||88||58,382||675|
|Isigny||24 June||15 October||114||85,431||740|
|St. Vaast||9 July||16 October||100||117,185||1,172|
|Carentan||25 July||31 July||7||2,114||300|
|Barfleur||26 July||16 October||84||67,491||803|
development of Cherbourg's capacity. Their tonnage record, however, like that of the airlift during the pursuit, is hardly a fair measure of their value, which was considerable when viewed in the light of the desperate shortage of discharge capacity at the time.
(3) The Role of Cherbourg
Considering that the port problem dominated logistic planning for OVERLORD and involved such meticulous preparations it is ironic that the actual development of port capacity should have proceeded so differently from that planned. This was first evident at the beaches, which fortunately revealed potentialities far beyond expectations and remained in operation longer than anticipated. Performance at the minor ports roughly matched the pre-D-Day estimates, although it fell short of the goals set for them after their capture. Meanwhile, the port of Cherbourg also played a far different role in the logistic support of U.S. forces from what had been expected.
As the only large port in the area of the landings Cherbourg was the first
major objective of the U.S. forces in the Normandy landings and was scheduled for early capture and rehabilitation. But Cherbourg, which in peacetime was primarily a passenger port and naval base, was expected to develop a capacity of less than 9,000 tons and to bear a sizable portion of the discharge burden for only a short time. Contrary to these plans, and despite the delay in capturing the port and bringing it into operation, Cherbourg achieved a discharge rate more than double the goal originally set, and until Antwerp was finally brought into operation was the mainstay of the port system supporting U.S. forces.
On the day of its capture late in June there was little indication of the great role that Cherbourg was to have, for the picture which the harbor presented when the last major resistance in the arsenal area collapsed was discouraging indeed. As a port Cherbourg had been destroyed with Teutonic thoroughness. Reconnaissance of the harbor, which began before the last resistance ended, showed that 95 percent of the existing quayage capable of handling deep-draft shipping was destroyed; many of the harbor buildings, particularly in the arsenal area, were demolished; and dozens of sunken ships and smaller craft, ranging from a 550-foot whaler to tiny fishing boats, blocked the entrance channels leading to the various basins and docks. In addition, native Frenchmen and captured prisoners told of wholesale mining of the harbor. Adolph Hitler himself appeared well satisfied with the way in which his naval commandant at Cherbourg had carried out his mission, commending Konteradmiral Walther Hennecke for his "exemplary destruction" of the harbor.51
The scale of demolitions at Cherbourg was actually no greater than anticipated, but the opening of the port within a period of three days of capture, as originally scheduled, was clearly out of the question. Some conception of the problems which confronted both Army and Navy units at Cherbourg may be gained by a brief survey of the damage and obstructions in the main port areas, beginning at the eastern end of the Petite Rade, or inner roadstead, and proceeding clockwise around the harbor. (Map 4) The eastern end of the port was the least-developed area. There the terraces known as the Reclamation and the Terre Plein simply formed anchorage for shallow-draft vessels and had suffered little damage. The masonry sea walls there were intact, although they were heavily fortified and backed by tank traps and roadblocks. Just west of the Terre Plein, however, some of the worst demolitions on the entire port were found at the quays forming the great deepwater Darse Transatlantique. This dock, built by the Germans between 1923 and 1935 as a World War I reparation, was 800 feet wide and 2,000 feet long. Forming the eastern side of the dock was the Quai de Normandie, which had not been completed, about 1,000 feet of it consisting of unfilled caissons. Before the demolitions one crawler crane and five large gantry cranes weighing about thirty tons
The Port of Cherbourg
The Port of Cherbourg
had been tipped into the water and the quay walls then blown in on top of them. Forming the western side of the Darse was the new Quai de France, a modern wharf capable of berthing the largest ocean liners and including the pride of the city, the fine Gare Maritime, where passengers could alight from transatlantique liners and under the same roof board streamlined trains for Paris. Demolitions here followed the same pattern as at the adjacent Quai de Normandie, although there was much more to destroy. More than 15,000 cubic yards of caisson masonry had been blown from 2,000 feet of the quay wall into the Darse. The railway station, a reinforced concrete building 787 feet long, while not totally destroyed, was badly damaged, and its utilities, such as the heating plant and electric control apparatus, were completely demolished.
Immediately to the west of the great pier forming the Quai de France and the Gare Maritime a channel led directly south into a tidal basin and wet dock--the Avant Port de Commerce and the Bassin à Flot--lying in the very heart of the city. No damage had been inflicted on the innermost Bassin à Flot, but in the Avant Port the eastside Quai de l'Ancien Arsenal was entirely in ruins, and a swing bridge known as the Pont Tournant, which spanned the channel between the two basins and was on the principal artery connecting the two halves of the city, had been wrecked, half of it lying in the channel and the other half mined. Together with the installations surrounding the Darse Transatlantique this area formed the commercial part of the port.
To the west lay the Nouvelle Plage, a 400-yard beach, and beyond it a seaplane Base. The Nouvelle Plage, since it contained no man-made installations, suffered no damage, although it had been fortified with barbed wire and fences. At the seaplane base, however, all hangars and other buildings were wrecked, and all cranes had been blown into the harbor.
Off the western side of the Petite Rade lay the most elaborate installations of the entire port--the arsenal and naval dockyard, containing both tidal and nontidal basins and drydocks, workshops, barracks, and storage facilities. Destruction to buildings was particularly widespread in this area, some of it caused by Allied air attacks in the preceding years. All drydock gates were wrecked, every bridge except one was demolished, including a retractable railway bridge, and all portal cranes had been blown up. Where facilities remained standing they had been prepared for demolition by 500-pound bombs. Only quay walls were intact in this entire area.
Forming the northwest edge of the Petite Rade was the Quai Homet, a berth which apparently had been used by coal coasters. This quay had been cratered in nine places and the explosions had thrown much of the wall out of line. Finally, the Digue du Homet, the 1,100-yard mole which formed the western breakwater of the Petite Rade, had also been systematically demolished. The Digue du Hornet carried both railway tracks and oil lines and was quayed on the port side. All these facilities were unusable, for the breakwater was blown out on the quay side at eleven places, and in two additional places had craters more than a hundred feet long extending
the full seventy-foot width of the mole. Opposite the Digue du Homet the eastern breakwater, known as the Jetée des Flamands, had no value so far as cargo discharge was concerned and was untouched.52
The cratered and crumbling quays, the toppled cranes, the blown bridges, and the demolished buildings represented only the most evident damage to the port. Intelligence had already revealed that the black waters of the Petite Rade and the various basins had been rendered treacherous by hundreds of mines, and the first reconnaissance disclosed that every passage or channel in the harbor was blocked by sunken ships. These mines and ships, as it turned out, proved to be the chief obstacles delaying the opening of the port. A complete catalog of the ships, cranes, and other miscellaneous wreckage with which the harbor floor was strewn cannot be detailed here, but a few examples will illustrate the extent to which the various channels were blocked.
The principal sinkings had taken place in the entrance channels leading to the Darse Transatlantique, the Port de Commerce, and the arsenal area. The Darse Transatlantique, for example, was completely blocked off to any deep-draft vessels by two large ships which had been sunk across its entrance. One was a 550-foot whaler of 7,000 to 8,000 tons, the Solglint, which lay on its side with its bow against the north end of the Quai de Normandie. The other was a rotted coaster, the 325-foot Granlieu, which completed the closure of the Darse's entrance, extending across to the tip of the Quai de France.
In the Avant Port de Commerce and the Bassin à Flot about a dozen small craft had been sunk. These presented no serious trouble and were removed by floating cranes. But in the channel leading to these basins lay sixteen vessels which denied entrance to the Port de Commerce to everything but small craft, such as barges. The major obstacle was a large coaster, the Normand, the other fifteen consisting of old tugs of various sizes.
The arsenal area had by far the largest concentration of sunken vessels. The entrance to the first basin--the Avant Port--was effectively blocked by two barges and an old German-built submarine lifting vessel of about 1,000 tons. Floating the latter proved impossible, so that eventually it was necessary to cut up the vessel and remove it piecemeal, a task which required almost four weeks. In the Avant Port itself lay eight other vessels, the larger ones at the entrances to the inner basins--the Bassin Napoléon III to the west, and the Bassin Charles X to the north. One of the sunken barges in the Avant Port carried a deadly cargo of sixty-five to seventy contact, magnetic, and acoustic mines, each of which had to be gingerly removed by divers. Additional vessels had been sunk in the passages which led to the inner basins--a large trawler in the passage leading to the Bassin Napoléon III, and five vessels in that leading to the Bassin Charles X. The latter contained an additional eight craft, including a 110-ton floating crane, and the Bassin Napoléon III was littered with another fifteen barges, tugs, and trawlers, which denied access to the
DESTRUCTION AT CHERBOURG. Gare Maritime, left. Note damage left of pier and the Normand, right, blocking entrance to the Avant Port de Commerce. Right, the Solglint sunk off the Quai de Normandie.
quays. The passage connecting the two inner basins was completely blocked by four craft and a demolished swing bridge. Since this passage was too narrow to be of much service no attempt was made to clear it.
These sinkings constituted the bulk of those obviously calculated to render the port unusable, but there were many other craft scattered about the harbor. An armed trawler had been sunk in the big battleship drydock in the northwest corner of the Petite Rade, and several trucks had also been dumped into the dock; two barges and three large tugs had been sunk alongside the Digue de Homet; a coaster and ten-ton floating crane lay to one side of the Nouvelle Plage; and the small basins at the southern end of the arsenal area, particularly the Bassin des Subsistances, were cluttered with motor launches, barges, trawlers, tugs, and floating cranes.53
The clearance of some of this wreckage was obviously one of the first steps required to bring the port into operation. This task could get under way as soon as agreement was reached on the order in which various sections of the port should be rehabilitated. Navy salvage officers and Army engineer and transportation officers had entered the port on the day of its capture and after a quick reconnaissance established priorities on 28 June for the reconstruction of certain areas. In every case both salvage by the Navy and shore reconstruction work by the Army engineers were required to permit the start of discharge operations. Almost all salvage operations,
DESTRUCTION AT CHERBOURG. Wrecked hangars at seaplane base, left. Right, partially sunken craft and demolished swing bridge in the narrow passage to Bassin Charles X, naval arsenal area.
however, required the use of lifting craft, pontons, or large floating cranes, and none of these could be brought in until the approaches to the various quays and channels were clear of mines. Mine clearance consequently took precedence over even the removal of obstacles.
The enemy had done as masterful a job in mining the harbor as he had in demolishing its onshore facilities and sinking obstacles in the approaches. According to Commodore William A. Sullivan, an experienced salvage officer who surveyed the port upon its capture, the mine-sweeping problem which it created was the most complicated yet encountered in any harbor clearance work. Various types of magnetic, acoustic, contact, and "Katy" mines were uncovered, either by sweeping operations or through accidents to shipping. The first three types were already well known and were found in both the outer and inner roadsteads and entrances thereto, in the arsenal basins, and in the Darse Transatlantique. The Katy mine was new, however, and proved the most troublesome. Normal mine-sweeping would not set it off, for it was usually planted in the growth of the harbor floor. Most of the Katies were sown in the shallow anchorage of Querqueville Bay at the western end of the Grande Rade or outer roadstead, and just off the Reclamation area at the eastern end of the Petite Rade.
Virtually no part of the harbor was clear, although the mining of the harbor apparently had been far from completed, as evidenced by the sunken barge in one of the arsenal basins that contained the mines. Twenty-four carloads were eventually removed from the debris in
the Gare Maritime. A narrow lane had been left free inside the central outer breakwater--the Grand Digue--from the western entrance to a point opposite the entrance to the Petite Rade. Starting with this slender opening, sweeping operations got under way on 30 June, the day after the enemy finally surrendered the forts on the outer breakwater. Both U.S. and British vessels participated in the clearance operations, all under the direction of Commander John B. G. Temple of the Royal Navy. A large, roughly rectangular anchorage in the Grande Rade was cleared first, and the sweepers then moved into the Petite Rade and Darse Transatlantique. Lack of maneuver space hampered operations throughout, and before the dangerous work was completed ten vessels, including three mine sweepers, were sunk by mines and three others were damaged. Most of the casualties were attributed to the unfamiliar Katy mine, which vessels "sat on" and detonated when anchoring or moving about at low tide. Contrary to all expectations mine clearance proved the major factor in delaying the opening of the port, and eventually required more than three and one half months to complete.54
The start of discharge operations did not of course await the completion of the demining task. Naval salvage work and Army engineer construction started immediately to ready for cargo reception four areas of the port which had been named in the priority program on 28 June: (1) the Nouvelle Plage, suitable for dukws; (2) the Bassin à Flot or wet basin of the commercial port, for barge discharge; (3) the Reclamation area, for railway rolling stock and LST's; and (4) the Digue du Homet, for Liberty ships and seatrains.
Salvage work actually got under way simultaneously with demining operations where it could be undertaken without the benefit of lifting craft, pontons, and cranes. In many cases it was found possible to raise undamaged vessels simply by pumping the water out of them and then floating them away. Others were patched at low water and then floated at high tide. In this way four of the sixteen vessels blocking the entrance to the Port de Commerce were removed before the arrival of the heavier salvage equipment, and would have permitted access to the inner basins within a week of the port's capture had it not been for the delay in mine clearance. No attempt was made to remove the biggest obstacle in the channel, the large coaster Normand, which lay on its port side at right angles to the west side of the Gare Maritime. Its starboard side was approximately level with the pier of the Gare, and therefore provided a perfect foundation for a pier at which small coasters could unload.
Similar use was made of the two vessels which had been sunk across the entrance to the Darse Transatlantique. The whaler Solglint lay on its starboard side at right angles to the Quai de Normandie, its port side level with the latter's deck and thus forming an excellent foundation for an additional pier. Only its superstructure was removed so that Liberty ships could moor on both sides. The coaster Granlieu was utilized in the same way, but had to be moved since it rested between the stern of the sunken
Solglint and the northeast corner of the Quai de France, completely blocking the entrance to the Darse. Approximately seventy-five tons of concrete from the demolished buildings of the Gare Maritime lay atop the Granlieu and had to be removed first. Then, by the use of compressed air and tows, the Granlieu was swung out in a 90-degree arc so that it formed a continuation of the quay. An army tug promptly sank in the exact spot from which the coaster had been moved, but it was raised within a few days. On 18 September, eleven weeks after the port's capture and seventy-six days later than planned, the entrance to the Darse was finally clear.
Clearance of the arsenal area also started, beginning with the removal of the submarine lifting craft and barges blocking the entrance to the Avant Port. Obstacles were literally piled one on top of another in this area, and floating cranes and lifting craft eventually removed forty tugs, barges, and cranes from the three basins. The arsenal area, like the Darse Transatlantique, was low on the salvage priority list, and it was not until 7 September, sixty-six days after the capture of the port, that the first Liberty ship could be brought into the Bassin Napoléon III, and 21 September before the first Liberty could dock in the Bassin Charles X. The salvage task at Cherbourg was finally completed on 29 September.55
The development of shore facilities had proceeded simultaneously with salvage operations under priorities designed to open as quickly as possible those areas of the port which could receive cargo with the least delay. In accordance with the priorities established on 28 June, work immediately started on the Nouvelle Plage, the Bassin à Flot, the Digue du Homet, and the Reclamation area for the reception of various types of craft, ranging from dukws to Liberty ships. The establishment of priorities was designed to get work under way immediately and did not constitute a detailed plan for the port's reconstruction. The ADSEC engineer worked out such a plan in the succeeding days and presented it to the theater engineer on 4 July. Two days later it was approved by the commanding general of the Communications Zone.
The plan's most striking feature was the doubling of the original discharge target for Cherbourg, raising it from 8,800 tons to 17,000 tons per day. Most of the additional capacity was to be provided by the construction of marginal wharves along the undamaged Terre Plein and Reclamation area and sea walls, and by the construction of "fingers" for additional Liberty berths along the Digue du Homet and along the Quai de France and Quai de Normandie. Within a few weeks the growing concern over the port situation led to the realization that Cherbourg in all probability would have to bear an even larger portion of the port discharge burden. On 24 July, in the first major amendment to the development plan, the port's reception capacity was raised another 4,000 tons, to 21,800, by the decision to develop more fully the quays in the Darse Transatlantique and by a greater development of the arsenal area than was originally contemplated.
Reconstruction had started under the
MARGINAL WHARF CONSTRUCTION along the Terre Plein, Cherbourg, 24 July 1944.
direction of the 1056th Engineer Port Construction and Repair (PC&R) Group. The main working force consisted of several engineer general and special service regiments, although a variety of specialist units, such as engineer dump truck companies, engineer fire fighting platoons, bomb disposal squads, and port repair ships were also attached. An advance party of the 1056th PC&R Group, including its commander, Col. James B. Cress, arrived at Cherbourg on 27 June, and on the following day began work on the Nouvelle Plage and the commercial port.
Development of the Nouvelle Plage was not a complicated or elaborate reconstruction job, since this beach was simply to be converted into a landing point for dukws and LCT's. Except for barbed wire and other scattered debris there was no heavy wreckage to clear. Engineers blasted three exits in the sea wall, graded the beach, and built three concrete roads. This work was completed in eight days, and would have permitted the reception of cargo had it been safe to bring ships into the harbor. Not until 14 July, however, were the western ends of the outer and inner roadsteads declared free of mines. Finally on 16 July four Liberty ships loaded with construction supplies and vehicles needed in the rehabilitation of the port entered the harbor and anchored in the Grande Rade. Late that afternoon a dukw driven by Pvt. Charles I. Willis of the 821st Amphibious Truck Company brought the first load of supplies, consisting of Signal Corps wire,
LAYING RAILWAY TRACKS for reception of supplies, Bassin à Flot, Cherbourg, 13 July 1944.
to the Nouvelle Plage, where a crane transferred the cargo to a waiting truck driven by Pvt. William G. O'Hair of the 3884th Quartermaster Truck Company (Transportation Corps). A few minutes later the first supplies discharged at Cherbourg were on their way to a depot five miles south of the city. Port operations were finally under way.56
Additional construction carried out at the Nouvelle Plage during the next month, consisting mainly of a concrete loading platform and a ramp similar to the hards built in the United Kingdom, brought the beach's dukw discharge capacity to a rated 2,000 tons per day. Most of this work was carried out by the 342d Engineer General Service Regiment, using captured enemy supplies.57
Less than twenty-four hours after the first cargo arrived at the Nouvelle Plage unloading also began in the Bassin à Flot, or wet basin of the commercial port. The heaviest damage in this area had been to the eastern quay of the Avant Port de Commerce (the Quai de l'Ancien Arsenal) and to the Pont Tournant, which bridged the channel between the two basins. The demolished swing bridge could not be salvaged, and was quickly cut up with torches. In its place engineers improvised a retractable bridge, using Bailey bridging and an electric hoist.
Before attempting to restore the badly demolished eastern quay, engineers constructed a paved LST ramp in the northeast corner of the Avant Port so that railway rolling stock could be brought ashore there. Two railway tracks were laid to accommodate two LST's at the same time. But the basin was found to be too small and too crowded with barge traffic to permit maneuvering LST's, and the facilities were never used for the purpose intended.
Late in August attention shifted to the eastern quay, the Quai de l'Ancien Arsenal, where the concrete pile wharf had been completely demolished. After the removal of much of the debris this quay was reconstructed, part of it of concrete and steel, and the remainder of timber. The Avant Port eventually could accommodate 8 barges and the Bassin à Flot 13 barges and 6 coasters. Together the two basins had a capacity of about 2,000 tons per day.
The seaplane base, where a concrete ramp, or hard, already existed, provided facilities similar to those at the Nouvelle Plage. The ramp there was simply widened considerably and its craters were filled. In addition, rail lines were built down to the water's edge so that rolling stock could be discharged directly from LST's. When completed the seaplane base was wide enough to accommodate six LST's discharging simultaneously, and could also be used for dukws. Similar accommodations were constructed in the Reclamation area, at the eastern end of the harbor. A concrete sea wall was first removed there, and a concrete apron 80 feet by 270 feet was then laid, wide enough to accommodate six LST's. Three berths were intended for the discharge of vehicles, and three for railway rolling stock, for which purpose rail lines were laid to the water's edge. The first delivery of rolling stock at this point was made by converted LST's on 31 July.
One of the most profitable and ambitious construction projects was carried out in the basin bounded by the Reclamation area, the Terre Plein, and the Quai de Normandie. This area had never been developed for unloading operations, and its sea walls were undamaged, although a few craters along the terrace had to be filled and pillboxes removed. Once this was accomplished a timber platform forty-two feet wide was built on wood piles directly over and straddling the sea wall to form a wharf at which barges could discharge. When completed this platform extended along all three sides of the basin and was 4,200 feet long. It could accommodate forty-one barges at a time, and was served by fifty-two stiff-leg derricks, which could transfer cargo directly to railway cars. At low tide barges dried out in this area.
Rehabilitation of the northwest corner of the harbor, namely the Digue du Homet and Quai Homet, had been given high priority, and work began there within a week of the port's capture. The Digue du Homet was particularly valuable, for it promised to provide badly needed deepwater berths for Liberty ships, which could discharge directly to the rail lines running the entire length of the mole, and also berths for train ferries bringing in locomotives and rolling stock. The Digue itself was badly cratered and in two places completely breached, permitting the water to flow through. The first priority was to fill
these craters and clear away the debris. This was completed in four days, after which the repair of the railway was undertaken. Since the quay side of the Digue had an underwater shelf, engineers constructed five pile and timber platforms to serve as unloading wharves for Liberty ships. Later they filled in the gaps between them to create a continuous quay along 2,700 feet of the 3,300-foot mole. The first Liberty ship docked at one of the platforms on 9 August.
At the shore end of the Digue a portion of the Quai Homet was selected as a pierhead to accommodate the Twickenham Ferry, a British train ferry specially built to carry locomotives and rolling stock. Two berths were provided, one of them consisting of a "seat" which could accommodate a ramp lowered into position by the ferry, permitting rolling stock to roll from the ferry to the quay, and the other providing a site where locomotives could be lifted from the ferry to the quay by means of an overhead crane which was part of the vessel itself. The Twickenham made its first delivery--several 65-ton diesel electric locomotives and other rolling stock--on 29 July, all of the stock being unloaded by means of the overhead crane.
Early rehabilitation plans had not provided for any substantial development of the arsenal area. Upon the port's capture, however, ADSEC engineers immediately included the arsenal in their reconstruction plan and counted on this area to provide at least one fourth of the port's total capacity. Contrasted with other sections of the harbor, the quay walls in the arsenal area were undamaged, which meant that this area could receive ships as soon as the basins were demined and cleared of the many vessels and cranes which littered the waters. Additional berths were provided by constructing timber trestles across the various openings, such as submarine and shipbuilding pens and drydocks, and by bridging boat slips with standard timber piling wharf to provide continuous quays. In this way the arsenal area eventually provided berths for eleven Liberty ships and five coasters. It was 7 September, however, before the first Liberty could enter the arsenal area, and 21 September before the Bassin Charles X could discharge a deep-draft ship.
Last of the port areas to come into operation was the Darse Transatlantique. This was the most modern and best-developed area of the port, but was also one of the most thoroughly demolished. The Gare Maritime, for example, was almost completely useless, and tremendous quantities of debris had to be removed before the adjoining quay could be reconstructed. Utilization of the Quai de France and of the Quai de Normandie on the other side of the Darse entailed tremendous engineer construction projects. At both quays reconstruction proceeded in two phases. T-head ramps at Liberty hatch spacing were first constructed, and standard pile timber wharf was then filled in to form continuous quays. The full length of the Quai de France--2,000 lineal feet--was reconstructed in this way, providing berths for four Liberties when completed. At the Quai de Normandie not only the original quay was rebuilt, but the caissons of the uncompleted extension were leveled off and the gaps bridged to form an additional 1,200 feet of quay. This work went on round the
SEATRAIN UNLOADING A GONDOLA onto rail lines laid to the water's edge, Cherbourg, August 1944.
clock for eleven weeks, and when completed provided six Liberty berths.58
Port reconstruction, mine clearance, salvage, and cargo discharge had gone on simultaneously throughout the summer. In the course of this work the reconstruction plan and discharge target for the port had been amended still further. In mid-August the commander of the PC&R Group submitted plans which would have increased the port's capacity another 10,000 tons--from 21,800 to 31,900--by the construction of a PHOENIX pier, a fuller development of the arsenal, and further extensions to the Quai de France and Quai de Normandie. But these projects were found to be infeasible for one reason or another. Early in September a less ambitious proposal was made, calling for the development of Cherbourg's capacity to 26,650 tons with a minimum of additional construction. This proposal underwent further modifications in the course of its examination. The principal feature of the plan finally adopted and carried out was the addition of marginal wharves for two Liberty ships on either side of the battleship drydock off the Quai Homet. This was to bring the total capacity of the port to 28,300 tons through the provision of berths for 28 Liberty ships, 14 LST's, 75 barges, 13 coasters, 2 train ferries, and 1 tanker (the latter at the Digue de Querqueville).59
Target dates had been established in July for bringing the various areas of the port into operation, and a goal of 20,000 tons capacity had been set for development by the middle of September. Rehabilitation consistently fell short of these targets, in many cases because of delays in mine clearance and removal of sunken obstacles. Operations at the Nouvelle Plage, for example, which were scheduled to begin on 9 July, did not get under way until a week later. Barges and coasters were to start discharging in the Bassin à Flot on 26 July, but it was 11 August before coasters could enter. Use of the tanker berth at the Digue de Querqueville was postponed more than two weeks with the result that it was 25 July, the date of the breakout at St. Lô, before the POL Major System could come into operation. Similarly, use of the Twickenham Ferry berths at the Quai Homet began two weeks later than planned.
Deep-draft cargo ship berths were the last to come into operation. Not until 9 August, nineteen days later than planned, was the first Liberty ship berth--at the Digue du Homet--ready to begin discharge. In the arsenal area it was another full month before Liberties could berth in the Bassin Napoléon III, and 21 September before the Bassin Charles X was ready. The delay in opening the Darse Transatlantique to deep-draft vessels illustrated most pointedly of all how effective the enemy's mining and demolitions had been in denying the Allies the use of the port. Plans initially called for the completion of two Liberty berths there by 26 July. But the Darse was not even clear of mines until 21 August, and an access channel was not opened until 18 September. The
first Liberty ship finally berthed in the Darse on 8 October.60
The port fell considerably short of its goal of 20,000 tons by mid-September. At that time the rehabilitation was reported 75 percent complete. But the uncompleted 25 percent consisted of all-important Liberty berthing, or "alongside berths," where cargo could be transferred directly to waiting trucks or freight cars. Only five Liberty berths were then available. The port did not reach its projected development of 28,300 tons for another three months. As late as mid-November seven of the planned Liberty berths had still not opened. Planned facilities were essentially complete by 15 December, but even at that date two berths in the Darse Transatlantique were not in full use because of difficulties in dredging to the required depth.
The port had easily surpassed the discharge targets established before D Day. By the first week in August, three weeks after the start of operations, it was discharging approximately 6,000 tons per day. By mid-September it was handling double this volume. Port operations reached a plateau at that time, and for a full month thereafter Cherbourg's performance was uneven, at times exceeding 15,000 tons and occasionally dropping to 6,000 and 8,000.
Despite elaborate plans and preparations, the inauguration of discharge operations at Cherbourg, as at the beaches, was attended by many difficulties. Operations went through a considerable shakedown period before they became routine. The operation of Cherbourg was the responsibility of the 4th Major Port (Transportation Corps), which had operated the Mersey River ports around Liverpool, under the command of Colonel Sibley. It was originally intended that there should be a single command in the Cherbourg area, including the operation of the port and the administration of the surrounding area. For about two weeks, however, Colonel Sibley was left free to reconnoiter the port and organize it for discharge operations, and the administration of the area was assumed by the deputy commander of the Advance Section, Col. Claude H. Chorpening. On 11 July the original command plan went into effect: Colonel Chorpening left Cherbourg and Colonel Sibley was designated the commander of the newly created Area No. I of the Advance Section. This arrangement was short-lived. Because of the tremendous engineering task which lay ahead, the decision was made only a few days later to separate the functions of port operations and area command. On 21 July, as related earlier, Colonel Wyman took over the Cherbourg Provisional Command, Colonel Sibley reverted to his more limited role as commander of the 4th Port.61
On 25 July Colonel Sibley's organization was augmented by the attachment of the 12th Port (Col. August H. Schroeder), which moved up from St. Vaast. Colonel Sibley used the personnel of this headquarters mainly to form a Provisional Port Troop Command Headquarters to handle training, administration, and discipline of the six port battalions and other attached units which
then comprised the 4th Port organization.62
The operation of a port requires the same high degree of synchronization and balancing of capacities as do other logistic activities. All steps in funneling supplies through a port are closely linked, and each is a potential bottleneck. The lack of sufficient cranes, for example, can render dozens of ships idle. Cherbourg had its share of such hitches before it became a smoothly run port. Many of them were almost exact duplicates of the early troubles at the beaches.
The proper co-ordination of Army and Navy functions, for example, was worked out only after considerable trial and error. Bringing a vessel into the port was a Navy responsibility, and as often as possible the Army's wishes were followed in determining a vessel's berth. Port officials wanted craft carrying suitable dukw cargo anchored in the Petite Rade, for example, to avoid long hauls from the outer roadstead. In many cases shore facilities left no choice as to the berthing of a vessel. But communications and liaison were faulty at first, and port officers often were unaware of the arrival of a vessel until it was about to be berthed. The logical remedy was to station port representatives in the office of the Naval Harbor Master, whence information on arriving vessels was telephoned to the appropriate port officials.
A more basic difficulty, one which had also plagued operations at the beaches, was the lack of information as to when ships were to arrive and what cargo they carried. Such information was needed so that sufficient numbers of port battalion personnel could be provided for hatch operations, so that freight cars or trucks could be spotted for the prompt clearance of quays, so that the proper cargo-handling equipment, such as cranes, could be provided, and so that technical service representatives could alert depots and dumps for the reception of supplies. Part of the difficulty arose over the failure of manifests to arrive in time. At first the port normally received information on scheduled arrivals from the Advance Section. But many vessels appeared in the crowded harbor before any news of their arrival was received, and consequently no preparation for handling them was made. Shortly after discharge operations started the port refused entry to one of these "ghost" ships only to find that it carried top priority cargo. Lacking manifests and stowage plans, port personnel frequently had to board vessels to determine what they carried and how it was stowed. Naval officials, who were in direct communication with London, were in the best position to have advance information on future arrivals. Again, but only after some trial and error, the problem was partially resolved by maintaining constant liaison with the Naval Harbor Master.63
Discharge operations were made difficult by the initial lack of deepwater berths. Until such facilities were available all ships had to anchor in the roadstead and discharge to lighters (dukws and barges) for movement to the beaches or the basins of the commercial port, where supplies were transferred to trucks or freight cars. Because of the double handling involved, such operations were
costly in labor and equipment, and in time. Moreover, the volume of cargo which could be handled in this way was always limited. Dukws had a rated capacity of only two and one half tons, although as in the case of the 2½-ton truck orders were given in mid-August to overload by 100 percent.64 But the dukw was still suitable for only relatively small items and packaged goods. Barges had greater capacity, but could not handle the most awkward equipment.
Lighterage operations called for the closest planning and supervision to make the best possible use of the available tugboats, barges, and port battalion personnel. Dukws could go ashore at the Nouvelle Plage at all times, but barges had to be tied to stake boats in the harbor and await favorable tide conditions, for they could be towed into the basins of the commercial port and later to the Terre Plein area only during a few hours at high tide. The control of tugs and of hatch operations under this type of unloading was difficult, since adequate communications were initially found wanting. Both the Navy's blinker system and the use of a shuttle boat were too slow and inefficient for this purpose. The answer was finally found in the use of a small Signal Corps radio which had been designed for combat but which was found to be excellent for the control of all offshore activities. Two systems were installed, one for the control of tugs and one for hatch operations.
Lighterage operations also suffered more from the hazards of weather than did ship-to-shore discharge. Bad weather frequently prevented dukws and barges from venturing out into the harbor, and during one storm on 21 August a 30-ton floating crane and two car ferries, each with a barge, were beached by high winds.
All these handicaps indicated an urgent need for deepwater berths, for only by direct ship-to-shore operations could relatively uninterrupted discharge be assured and the largest volume of tonnage handled.65
A variety of other difficulties plagued the early operations of the port. There were shortages of all kinds initially--of tugs, barges, cranes, and of all types of gear. The 4th Port's gear had been loaded on twelve ships in the United Kingdom and was scheduled to be brought in at Cherbourg. Instead the vessels were sent to UTAH Beach, where much of the heavier gear was unloaded and later had to be searched. Its arrival in Cherbourg was delayed considerably. Hatch crews repeatedly lacked ropes, slings, nets, or other unloading gear. In an effort to keep them supplied, three dukws cruised about the harbor at first, taking gear from vessel to vessel. Much of the equipment was lost when ships left the port without returning it.
Most serious of the equipment problems was the shortage of cranes. Crane operation had been handled largely by civilian workers in the United Kingdom, and inadequate numbers of military personnel had been trained for the continental ports. An intensive training program had to be initiated on the spot, conducted by two sergeants who had had experience in the United Kingdom. Operation of the cranes by inexperienced workers took its toll in damaged equipment,
just as it did in the case of motor transport operations, and the shortage of spare parts and skilled mechanics contributed to the prolonged deadlining of equipment. In this way, for example, a $15,000 Koehring crane vitally needed in port operations was deadlined for three weeks because of a broken water pump valued at $2.00. At times as many as half of all the assigned cranes were inoperative from such causes.66
Achieving a satisfactory discharge rate was only half the problem at Cherbourg. At least equally important in the long run was the problem of port clearance, for it was this aspect of Cherbourg's operations which proved to be the factor preventing the maximum utilization of the port's intake capacity. In one sense a port represents the narrow neck of an hourglass. Thousands of tons of supply converge upon it from the sea and must be passed through this defile and then distributed to dumps and depots. Within the port itself two principal operations are involved--the unloading of ships and the loading of freight cars and trucks. Adequate discharge facilities must be available if the maximum tonnage is to be received and if ships are to be emptied promptly and not allowed to stand idle in the harbor. Equally vital, however, are the complementary facilities required to dispatch cargo from the port in order to keep quays clear. Essentially this means that ample transportation must be available, and an adequate depot structure provided to receive the cargo.
It was desirable that clearance be accomplished by rail, for rail transport was more economical than motor transport and capable of handling much larger tonnages. Plans had of course been made to rehabilitate the existing railway facilities at Cherbourg. Damage to them had been fairly extensive, but no greater than expected. Just south of the city a 400-foot tunnel on the main Cherbourg-Paris trunk line had been blown shut, and between this tunnel and the Gare de l'Etat in the city the switches and frogs had been systematically destroyed. A roundhouse just south of Cherbourg was also largely demolished, mainly as the result of friendly artillery fire.
Within the port itself there were only about fifteen miles of trackage, branching out from the Gare de l'Etat to serve the Digue du Homet, the arsenal area, the Gare Maritime, the Amiot Aircraft Works, and the Bassin à Flot. The worst damage was evident at the Gare Maritime, in the arsenal, and in the area of the aircraft works.
All these facilities were required for the clearance of the port, and rehabilitation began immediately. But the decision to double Cherbourg's intake capacity made it apparent that the existing rail complex would be far from adequate. Additional lines were needed at the new quays which were being constructed, so that discharge could be directly from ship to rail car, and the capacity of storage and marshaling yards had to be greatly expanded to handle the tremendous volume of rail traffic. Cherbourg was not equipped for large-scale freight handling operations. Just as new discharge facilities had to be developed, therefore, a sizable railway construction program had to be undertaken.
New construction and the restoration of the existing system were carried on simultaneously. Existing facilities were augmented considerably in several places, as for example in the yards between the tunnel and the Gare de l'Etat, where 11,500 feet of new track were laid, and along the Digue du Homet, where three lines were extended the entire length of the mole. Additional trackage was also built along the barge wharves in the Terre Plein area, and along two sides of the Bassin à Flot. In the arsenal area a considerable augmentation of existing facilities was carried out by the construction of lines to the inner quays, and by the construction of additional yards.
The most urgent need created by the new tonnage target was for storage and marshaling yard capacity. At the time of its capture Cherbourg possessed storage capacity for only 350 cars, and a marshaling yard capacity of only 400. Brig. Gen. Clarence L. Burpee, Director General of the 2d Military Railway Service, estimated that the projected daily discharge of 20,000 tons would require the loading of 2,000 freight cars per day. Since a two-day supply of empty cars was required on hand at all times, 4,000 cars would be required. Storage facilities for 4,000 cars and marshaling yard facilities for 2,000 cars were therefore required to clear 20,000 tons of freight from the port each day.
Transportation Corps officials proposed to meet part of this need by expanding existing yards. But the larger part of the requirement had to be met by new construction. Plans now called for the building of three new yards, one at the Terre Plein with a capacity of about 700 cars, one at Couville, six miles south of the port, with a capacity of 1,400 cars, and another at Sottevast, five miles farther south on the main rail line, capable of holding 2,600 cars. All together, these projected expansions were to provide a gross storage capacity of about 4,600 cars and marshaling facilities for nearly 2,700.
Construction of the Couville and Sottevast yards was undertaken largely at the insistence of Maj, Gen. Frank S. Ross and was among the most ambitious construction projects undertaken by engineers in the Normandy area. The Couville installation was to be a true marshaling and classification yard, where trains were made up and given track clearance for the eastward run. The facilities there were entirely of new construction and involved a tremendous earth-moving job--287,000 cubic yards of cut, and 177,000 yards for a seventy-foot fill. The heavy equipment needed for the task was lacking when construction began on 2 August. But the project had high priority, and the urgency of the job was further emphasized after 20 August when a heavy rain revealed how easily the entire area could be transformed into a quagmire. Every effort was therefore made to augment the organic equipment of the engineer general service regiment assigned the task, and work was stepped up, including the operation of a night shift. Mud produced by autumn rains also forced a change in plans for ballasting the tracks and made it necessary to open a rock quarry, repair its machinery, and haul hundreds of carloads of crushed rock to stabilize rail beds. The first yard at Couville was completed on 18 September, and received the
first train five days later. On 3 November, three months after work had begun, the engineers turned over the completed project to the Transportation Corps. More than 780,000 man-hours of labor eventually went into the project, which comprised 16 miles of track and had a capacity of 1,740 cars, considerably more than originally planned.
The Sottevast yard, a few miles farther south, involved an even greater expenditure of effort. This yard was intended primarily as a storage and classification yard for empty cars, which could be dispatched to Cherbourg on call. Construction started on 15 August and continued until 12 December, although a portion of the facilities was ready for use in mid-October. Work on the Sottevast project was carried on under much the same conditions as at Couville. The major handicap was the heavy rains, which at one time inundated portions of the area to a depth of eighteen inches and necessitated extensive rock ballasting.67 More than 2,000 men, including several companies of prisoners, were employed on this project in mid-November, and upwards of 1,300,000 man-hours went into it. The requirement for marshaling facilities had already declined somewhat by early December, and the original plans for the yard were therefore modified somewhat. When construction stopped in mid-December the yard contained eighteen miles of track and had a capacity of 2,280 cars.68
Until these facilities were ready, clearance capacity was a serious limiting factor in developing the maximum flow of cargo through the port of Cherbourg. As long as U.S. forces were confined to a small Normandy bridgehead, and dumps and depots were within easy reach of the port, motor transport was of course the more efficient means of clearance. But the railways eventually were expected to handle the bulk of the tonnage. It was hoped at first that 60 percent of the cargo could be shipped by rail by early August, and by mid-September approximately 88 percent--or 17,500 of the 20,000 tons discharged each day.
These targets could not be met. In the first week of August less than 10 percent of the cargo was being dispatched by rail.69 In mid-August the Transportation Corps was called on to make emergency shipments totaling 25,600 tons via rail to the Le Mans area for the Third Army. At the close of the month even larger shipments were ordered to the Chartres area. These demands put a tremendous strain on the available supply of both locomotives and freight cars and left little rolling stock for port clearance.70
For the entire month of August clearance by rail consequently accounted for only 38 percent of the total tonnage moved inland from the port.71
Port clearance continued to bear the main sacrifice imposed by the greater urgency of long-distance hauling. Far from getting motor transport to compensate for the inadequate rail capacity, port clearance actually lost trucks to line-of-communications hauling. By the end of August only three companies remained against a requirement for five or six times this number. By the end of August the quays at Cherbourg were piled high with cargo which could not be moved, averaging upwards of 70,000 tons. To relieve the congestion several of the services were authorized to establish temporary subdepots or dumps at the Terre Plein.72
Difficulties at the depots contributed to the port clearance problem. The depots were rarely ideally located or equipped to receive cargo. Many were established in open fields, which became muddy in rainy weather; many lacked trucks for internal movements, and also cranes.
Lacking transportation, the depots frequently insisted that trucks from Cherbourg distribute cargo at several unloading points, thus delaying their return to the port. On 1 August the port began round-the-clock operations. Some depots, lacking either lighting facilities or adequate personnel, were slow to adopt the twenty-four-hour schedule and thus contributed further to the delay in releasing transportation. Depot locations were frequently changed, and the services did not always give the port prompt notification, with the result that drivers at times returned to the port with fully loaded trucks after searching unsuccessfully for their proper destinations.
A common complaint, heard frequently during the pursuit, arose from the practice of ordering drivers after they had arrived at their designated destinations to deliver their loads to another location farther forward. From the point of view of port clearance this naturally aggravated the transportation situation.73
Port clearance continued to be the limiting factor at Cherbourg for some time, mitigating to some extent the failure to meet discharge goals. The port failed by about 8,000 tons to meet the discharge target of 20,000 tons per day by mid-September. Colonel Sibley, the 4th Port commander, had expressed doubt in July that Cherbourg could meet the higher tonnage targets established at that time. He cited in particular the difficulties over mine clearance and obstacle removal, and the probable inadequacies of the rail system, especially the shortage of rolling stock, which he thought would probably delay the maximum development of the port's capacity.74 Unfortunately these fears were largely substantiated.
The seriousness of Cherbourg's deficiencies was increasingly highlighted by the delay in bringing Antwerp into use, and by the declining performance at the
beaches, which became a wasting asset in October. Cherbourg, it must be remembered, was the only major deepwater port which the Allies possessed in operating condition at the time. By the end of September its disappointing performance became of sufficient concern to attract the attention of higher echelons in the theater, and led to some reorganization of the port. On 29 September Colonel Sibley was relieved of command of the 4th Port and was succeeded by Col. James A. Crothers.75
The new commander promptly submitted a request to Normandy Base Section for additional personnel and for more rolling stock, which he regarded as the two principal deficiencies. The main troop requirements listed were twelve port companies; an engineer general service company trained to operate cranes, derricks, and other equipment; additional prisoners of war to handle tonnage at quayside; and a battalion of infantry to guard prisoners. He asked for 1,310 freight cars per day, sufficient to clear 17,000 tons per day. Another 4,000 tons, he estimated, could be moved to local dumps and depots via motor transport, and 3,000 tons, consisting of vehicles, would move out on their own power. Additional cargo-handling equipment, such as nets and slings, was also requested. With this additional complement of personnel and equipment Colonel Crothers believed that Cherbourg could work forty-four ships simultaneously,76 each averaging 500 tons per day for a total of 22,000 tons. This tonnage, along with another 2,000 tons brought in via LST's and car ferries, would enable the port to unload and clear 24,000 tons, which the Communications Zone had recently established as the new target.77
Meanwhile officers from both SHAEF and the Communications Zone arrived to investigate. All of them found much that needed correction or improvement. The SHAEF G-4 representatives--Capt. L. A. Thackrey of the U.S. Navy and Col. N. H. Vissering--concluded that neither the port's facilities nor its labor force were being used to best advantage. Unloading personnel, for example, were working twelve-hour shifts, and morale was suffering accordingly. Port headquarters and port companies were composed almost wholly of inexperienced and inadequately trained men. Almost without fail, it seemed, once units had learned their job they would be transferred elsewhere, leaving the port with untrained labor. Port companies generally suffered from poor supervision, and the lack of supervisory personnel in turn was the main deterrent against changing to eight-hour shifts. Furthermore, none of the port companies then employed at Cherbourg had their full allowances of personnel,
with the result that there were not enough hatch gangs in operation.78
In addition to noting personnel deficiencies, both SHAEF and COMZ observers felt that the facilities of the port were not being efficiently utilized. Col. W. E. Potter, logistic planner from the Communications Zone, observed that there was considerable misuse of quayage. Engineer Class IV ships, for example, were being discharged at the convenient Quai de Normandie, while high priority cargo like ammunition was being unloaded at less suitable basin quays, which were difficult to work by rail. A few days of good weather invariably brought congestion on the quays. Planning had also been deficient, particularly in minor details. Even standing operating procedures were lacking on certain functions which might have been reduced to routine, such as the provision of empty cars at loading sites.79
One of the principal bottlenecks which all the inspections recognized was the lack of adequate rolling stock needed to clear the port. But this deficiency, in the view of observers, was needlessly aggravated by poor co-ordination between port authorities and the railways in providing the proper types and numbers of cars for loading, and by inefficient operations at the depots, where the excessive time required to unload trucks resulted in exorbitantly long turn-arounds.80
Magnifying the entire clearance problem, meanwhile, was the fact that depots in the Cherbourg area were carrying on retail supply operations. Requisitions from the armies and even subordinate headquarters were being filled in detail from dumps and depots in the Cherbourg area, entailing much sorting and switching of freight cars and segregation of small loads, thus adding to the already overtaxed facilities of the port area and contributing to the congestion there. Base areas were not intended to carry on retail issue, except on a small scale to units located in the immediate vicinity. This was another of the unorthodox practices forced on the Communications Zone in the pursuit period, when lack of forward depots left no choice but to fill requisitions directly from base dumps and depots. The port area was ill-equipped for such operations, and it was imperative that its operations be limited to wholesale supply, so that complete train loads of various classes of supply could be dispatched to depots farther forward in the Communications Zone.81
The SHAEF representatives who visited the port early in October concurred in general with the new port commander's request for additional troops and equipment. General Ross, the chief of transportation, immediately took steps
to send eighteen additional port companies to Cherbourg.82 But the SHAEF representatives were frankly skeptical over the prospects that the port would soon perform at the rate which Colonel Crothers had predicted. Captain Thackrey pointed out that the port had never worked more than eighteen ships at a time despite the fact that there were berths for thirty-five, and that only half of them had averaged 400 tons on a single day. Furthermore, he confirmed what had been suspected earlier, that the discharge figures for September, which averaged 10,000 tons per day, had included about 4,000 tons of coal and railway rolling stock. The actual deadweight cargo discharged had averaged only about 6,000 tons.83 Such figures, as SHAEF logistic planners had pointed out earlier, were worse than useless unless carefully interpreted.84 Regarding clearance capabilities, Captain Thackrey estimated that between 8,000 and 9,000 freight cars would have to be put into service between the forward depots and Cherbourg in order to provide the 1,300 cars needed at the port each day. He doubted that this number could be made available before the beginning of December. He was not very hopeful, therefore, that the port could achieve either discharge or clearance of 24,000 tons. With the additional hatch gangs then being organized, and with additional supervisory personnel and trucks, he believed that discharge and clearance could be raised to about 15,000 tons per day by the end of October.85
This estimate actually proved the more realistic, for Cherbourg's discharge rate at the end of October was averaging only 13,000 to 14,000 tons per day. Its performance had been highly erratic throughout the month, averaging only 11,750 tons. This was partly attributable to bad weather, for high winds and rough seas repeatedly hampered or completely suspended barge, dukw, LST, and even crane operations. The shortage of freight cars also held up unloading at times.86
Cherbourg was hardly less important to the Allies at the end of October than it had been a month earlier, even though Le Havre and Rouen had been opened in the meantime. Continued efforts were therefore made to eliminate the deficiencies which prevented it from realizing its maximum potential performance. At the very end of the month an organizational problem which had been recognized for some time but gone unremedied, was finally solved. General Stratton, the COMZ G-4, had called attention early in October to a defect in command organization which he considered to be at the very root of the difficulties at Cherbourg. In his view too many people were interfering with the port commander, who, in a sense, had come to have the position of a mere executive to the base section commander, located in the same city.87 Essentially, the difficulty lay in the Normandy Base
Section's retention of control over rail operations, with the result that the port commander was unable to exercise the centralized control necessary to co-ordinate all the functions involved in passing cargo through the port.
This situation was finally remedied in the first week of November, after a change in command. On 30 October Colonel Wyman was relieved as commander of Normandy Base Section and was succeeded by General Clay,88 who came to the theater on loan from the Army Service Forces on the Supreme Commander's request. General Clay quickly recognized the defect described above and granted the port commander the authority he needed.89 The first important change occurred with the transfer of control of all rail movements involved in the clearance of the port. This entailed the control of railway operations only as far south as the Couville and Sottevast yards, but it now gave the port Commander the authority he had previously lacked to co-ordinate all the functions connected with discharge and clearance.90
These changes undoubtedly accounted at least in part for the prompt improvement in Cherbourg's performance. Unloadings averaged 14,600 tons per day in the first week of November, and in the third week the port achieved its best performance with an average discharge of 15,600 tons. November proved to be Cherbourg's best month, averaging about 14,300 tons per day. Meanwhile clearance operations also showed remarkable improvement, averaging 12,930 tons in November.
Cherbourg had hardly achieved this increased efficiency when its importance began to decline. The opening of other ports, notably Antwerp at the end of November, relieved Cherbourg of the heavy responsibility it had had for many weeks. It was logical of course that railway rolling stock, of which there was a never-ending shortage, should not be tied up in hauls of more than 400 miles when it could be used to so much better advantage on the shorter hauls from Le Havre and Antwerp. Beginning in December, therefore, Cherbourg's discharge targets were gradually lowered, first to 12,000 tons, and in the middle of the month to 7,000 tons per day.91 For the next two months unloading actually averaged about 8,200 tons per day.
Efforts to improve the efficiency of the port continued to be made. On 2 December, for example, port operations were organized into two ten-hour shifts in place of the twelve-hour shifts previously in effect. Port clearance, the most persistent limiting factor, continued to be given close attention. But all projects for the physical improvement of the port, such as laying additional track and salvaging berths, and construction at Sottevast, were canceled.
Before the end of the year Cherbourg lost both personnel and equipment to other ports.92 By the end of December,
for example, thirty-nine crawler cranes, eight port companies, a dukw company, and a harborcraft company were being transferred. Truck and trailer companies were also being released, the need for vehicles having diminished as the railways accounted for a larger and larger percentage of total clearance. The labor force employed dropped from the November average of 5,300 to 2,900 in the case of port battalion personnel (mostly hatch gangs), from 1,000 to less than 800 in the case of civilian workers, and from 3,800 to 3,600 in the case of prisoners of war.93
Cherbourg's usefulness by no means came to an end in December but it was never again to operate at full capacity. The port never met its goal of 24,000 or even 20,000 tons, although it approximated the earlier target on one day--4 November--when 19,955 tons were discharged. But the emphasis given above to Cherbourg's endless difficulties and shortcomings need not obscure the significance of its accomplishment. Originally scheduled to develop a capacity of less than 9,000 tons and to provide but a fraction of the total port needs, Cherbourg in November alone averaged 14,300 tons per day and received a total of more than 430,000 tons of cargo.94 For many weeks it handled fully 50 percent of all the U.S. tonnage brought to the Continent. As the only major deepwater port available in the period of the greatest logistic stress, Cherbourg therefore served as the mainstay of the entire continental port system through which the American forces were nourished.
(4) The Brittany Area
Ironically, the ports which U.S. forces had counted on so heavily in the Brittany area--that is, Brest, Quiberon Bay, Lorient, and St. Malo--were never put to use, and the only ports that proved of value were those which had either never been considered or had been eliminated from the OVERLORD plan after brief consideration.
As indicated earlier, enthusiasm for development of the Brittany area fluctuated with the prospects of opening the Seine ports and Antwerp. After the review of the entire port situation in mid-September General Lee had decided to go ahead with the development of three of the five smaller Brittany ports--St. Brieuc, Granville, and Morlaix. Cancale offered little more than an anchorage, and was dropped from plans because of bad tidal conditions. St. Malo at first appeared to offer fair prospects, and rehabilitation of the port had actually begun late in August. But damage was extensive and, late in September, on the basis of a discouraging report on the condition of the St. Malo-Rennes canal, it was decided that the return would not warrant the effort required to restore the port. Work was discontinued, therefore, and on 21 November St. Malo was turned back to the French.95
The first of this group of ports to be uncovered after the breakout at the end of July was Granville. Geographically, Granville is not part of Brittany, but its consideration here is logical both because of the date of its capture and because it was customarily grouped with
the other small Brittany ports in plans after mid-July. Granville was mainly a fishing port in peacetime; like Cherbourg, it had little importance as a freight handler, its prewar intake averaging less than 60,000 tons per year. It was a completely artificial port, its harbor consisting of two basins--an outer tidal basin known as the Avant Port, and an inner wet basin, the Bassin à Flot--formed by two jetties and a mole. A locked channel 223 feet long connected the two basins. The Bassin à Flot could maintain a water depth of nineteen feet by means of the locks, had quays with cranage facilities all around, and offered quayside accommodations for vessels up to 4,000 tons. Pre-D-Day plans called for developing a capacity of approximately 2,500 tons per day.
Granville was captured on 30 July, five weeks later than scheduled. A reconnaissance party representing the ADSEC Engineer, the 1055th PC&R Group, and the 11th Port, which was to operate Granville, immediately surveyed the port. As expected, they found it badly damaged. The gates of the lock channel had been totally destroyed and the channel itself blocked by about 7,000 cubic yards of masonry blown into it from the walls. Seven traveling cranes around the Bassin à Flot had been destroyed and some of the wreckage toppled into the basin. Craters had been blown in both jetties forming the basins, and all berths in the two basins were obstructed by damaged tugs, barges, and other craft. Finally, all cargo-handling facilities and rail spurs had been rendered useless. Nevertheless it was concluded that the port could provide sixteen coaster berths and sufficient unloading facilities to handle 5,000 tons, double the earlier estimate. Plans were made to make Granville the number one coal port on the Continent.96
The 1055th PC&R Group initiated work at Granville on 3 August by clearing the debris from the streets and starting the repair of the craters in the westernmost jetty forming the Avant Port. On 12 August Normandy Base Section relieved the Advance Section of responsibility at Granville, and two weeks later the 1058th PC&R Group replaced the 1055th. Clearing the lock channel and stabilizing its torn walls proved one of the largest projects. No attempt was made to repair the lock gates, but the channel itself had to be cleared to permit the passage of vessels into the Bassin à Flot, which was to be utilized as a drying basin like the Avant Port. The enemy had blown five tremendous craters in the massive granite block retaining walls which in some places reached to the very channel floor. The channel was choked with masonry and clay backfill from these demolitions, and the removal of this debris was a time-consuming task, for tidal conditions made it impossible to work more than about six hours each day in the basins. The task required approximately seven weeks, after which there still remained the job of stabilizing the channel's ruptured retaining walls. Parts of the wall were rebuilt with rubble masonry; the remainder was repaired by building sandbag revetments. Because of the strong current which the
LST's DISCHARGING CARGO ON THE BEACH at St. Michel-en-Grève, near Morlaix, 5 September 1944.
ebb and flow of the tide caused in the channel, it was also necessary to line the channel with timber fenders to provide stout bumpers as protection against vessels moving along the channel. Tidal conditions restricted this work to a few hours a day.
At the same time engineers had begun to clear berths and construct cargo-handling facilities in both the outer and inner basins. Sunken vessels did not present a great problem; they were simply patched at low tide, pumped out, and then floated on the high tide and towed out. The biggest problems in the Avant Port were the removal of debris from the craters blown in the jetties which enclosed the harbor, and the repair of the craters themselves. The whole basin was littered with the debris from these demolitions, which had to be removed because of the danger of puncturing the hulls of vessels as they settled down on the harbor floor with the receding tide. Repair of the craters presented problems similar to those in the lock channel. Work initially was restricted to periods of low tide, and on stormy days the high tide frequently washed out the preceding day's progress.
Meanwhile engineers also repaired existing rail facilities and laid additional track to serve berths in the western part of the harbor, and finally installed lighting facilities along the quays and at the Granville railhead to make night operations possible. Rehabilitation of the port was finally completed on 6 November, by which time sixteen coaster berths had been provided, as planned, offering a discharge capacity of 5,000 tons per day. More than 363,000 man-hours of work went into developing the port to this capacity.97
As was the case at all the ports restored, the reception of cargo at Granville did not await the final completion of all construction projects. Four berths were ready by 15 September and on that date the first coaster--a Swedish vessel--entered the port.98 Coal deliveries were rather insignificant at first, partly because the better berths in the inner basin were not ready, but chiefly because vessels had not been dispatched to the port owing to draft limitations.99 Discharge began to average about 1,000 tons per day toward the end of October after the opening of additional berths in the Bassin à Flot.100 But stormy weather that month kept coaster sailings down and prevented the port from coming anywhere near realizing its 3,000-ton potential.101
The inability to utilize Granville's facilities for coal reception more fully led to the suggestion that other types of cargo be sent to the port. It was estimated that beaching, storage, and rail facilities were such that about 6,000 tons of general cargo could be handled there without interfering with the discharge of coal. But other ports already existed farther forward on the line of communications--Rouen, for example--which could receive all the available coaster shipping. Consequently there was little point in using Granville for any other purpose than coal.102
Maintenance of equipment was a never-ending problem at Granville, in part because of a lack of skilled labor, in part because of the lack of tools. This problem, plus the difficulties that bad weather created in bringing vessels into the shallow harbor, kept the port's performance disappointingly low.103 Granville occasionally topped the 3,000-ton mark, but its average discharge rate from the time of its opening to the end of January 1945 was under 1,300 tons per day.
The first cargo discharged in Brittany was brought in via open beaches at St. Michel-en-Grève, near Morlaix. The discharge of cargo there was purely an improvisation to meet an emergency requirement for supplies for the VIII Corps in its operations against Brest. Representatives of the 16th Port, which had been designated to operate the Brittany ports, had followed closely on the heels of the advancing forces in the peninsula early in August to reconnoiter all the port facilities along the northern coast. They found St. Michel suitable as a landing beach, and, lacking usable port facilities, immediately made plans to bring LST's in at this point.
The first three LST's arrived on 11 August, and unloading began on the afternoon of the 12th under the proper tidal conditions. A shortage of trucks
CRANE LIFTING A LOCK GATE from the water at Morlaix, 23 August 1944. Engineers watching the operation are from the 1057th PC&R Group.
halted operations temporarily, but unloading resumed with the arrival of additional transport from the VIII Corps, and the discharge of 1,500 tons of rations, POL, and ammunition was completed on the following day. After a lapse of a few days LST's began to arrive fairly regularly.104 On 19 September the 16th Port turned over St. Michel to the 5th Port, which continued to operate the beaches until the end of September.105
In the course of their operation the St. Michel beaches handled about 60,000 tons of supplies, much of it consisting of the emergency ammunition shipments made at the behest of Lt. Gen. Troy H. Middleton's VIII Corps for the siege of Brest. St. Michel's record was not spectacular in terms of tonnage, but the beaches served their purpose in a time of pressing need.
The port of St. Brieuc, forty miles farther east, at first was believed to possess good potentialities, for it had a well-protected landlocked harbor, and was well situated with respect to the rail and road network. It was estimated at first that the port should handle 3,500 tons per day, at least half of this in coal. But St. Brieuc, like all the small ports, could not receive Liberty ships for direct ship-to-shore discharge. Shortly after its opening in mid-September its operations were
limited entirely to the intake of coal, which was to be used for the local generating plants and railways. In mid- October the shortages of coasters led to the decision to close the port.106 Its discharge record had been poor, the entire cargo handled during its month of operation totaling less than 10,000 tons. On 9 November St. Brieuc was turned back to the French.107
Morlaix and Roscoff, the westernmost of the Brittany ports utilized by U.S. forces, like St. Michel and St. Brieuc did not figure in plans as of D Day, although they had been considered earlier. After a reconnaissance in mid-August, however, both ports showed sufficient promise to warrant their restoration and use. Roscoff and Morlaix were two separate ports, the former situated at the tip of the Penlam peninsula and the latter about twelve miles up the Dossen estuary, but they were consistently linked in all plans and were restored and operated by one headquarters. Roscoff was strictly tidal, while Morlaix, like Granville, had both a drying-out and a locked wet basin. Both had the disadvantage of all minor ports in that they could not accommodate deep-draft shipping except to provide anchorage.
The rehabilitation of the two ports consisted in the main of dredging the estuary, removing sunken craft, repairing lock gates, constructing POL reception and storage facilities, and erecting floodlights. This work was carried out by the 1057th PC&R Group. When completed, Morlaix-Roscoff provided anchorage for six Liberty ships, which were discharged into schuits, LCT's, and barges. The area initially came under the control of the 16th Port, which operated the other small Brittany ports, but discharge operations did not actually get under way until after the 5th Port assumed control on 5 September.108 Morlaix and Roscoff remained in operation until the middle of December and were the last of the Brittany ports to be closed. In the three months of their operations the two ports averaged approximately 2,100 tons per day, although they often exceeded their target of 3,000 tons. Their average receipts therefore exceeded those of all the other minor ports, and their entire intake totaled over 200,000 tons.
Had there been any choice in the matter it is unlikely that the smaller Brittany ports would have been opened at all. In many respects they were uneconomical to operate. By the time they were sufficiently repaired to begin receiving supplies (mid-September) the front line had advanced several hundred miles eastward. None of them could discharge deep-draft ships except by lighters, of which there was never an adequate number to take full advantage of the smaller ports' capacity. Brittany's ports, which by plan were to have developed a capacity of 30,050 tons by early November, were discharging a mere 3,000 tons per day by that time. This represented but
TABLE 3--DISCHARGE PERFORMANCE OF THE BRITTANY PORTS
|Port||Date opened||Date closed||Days operated||Long tons discharged||Average daily discharge|
|Granville||15 September 1944||21 April 1945||219||272,562||1,244|
|St. Michel||12 August 1944||30 September 1944||81||60,343||745|
|St. Brieuc||16 September 1944||15 October 1944||30||9,521||317|
|Morlaix-Roscoff||5 September 1944||14 December 1944||101||212,636||2,105|
10 percent of the 30,000 tons then being unloaded daily as compared with the 70 percent of total capacity which they were expected to provide. They were useful in support of the forces operating in the peninsula, of course, but these forces were relatively insignificant in number after September. The Brittany ports consequently met an almost purely interim need pending the development of deep-draft capacity farther east. Nevertheless, they contributed in relieving the deficit in port capacity at a time when approaching bad weather threatened to close the Normandy beaches, and during the period when Cherbourg's reconstruction was in progress. Their discharge performance is summarized in Table 3.
1. See Logistical Support I, 463ff.
2. Ltr, Deputy G-4 Mov and Tn Br G-4 SHAEF to CAO, 11 Aug 44, App. 5 of Mov and Tn Study, sub: MULBERRY, Aug 44, SHAEF G-4 War Diary/Jnl; Ltr, Hq COMZ to SAC, sub: Port Capacities, 10 Aug 44, SHAEF G-4 825.1 Piers, Wharves, Docks, and Berths 1944, III.
3. G-4 History, I, 43; 12 A Gp Tn Sec Jnl, 2 Sep 44.
4. Liberties outfitted to handle motor transport.
5. Memo, Capt N. H. Vissering, Mov and Tn Br G-4 SHAEF, for Whipple, sub: Comments on Stf Study 13, 12 Aug 44, SHAEF G-3 381 War Plans General; Shipping Note for CAO, 26 Aug 44, SHAEF G-4 Mov and Tn Br War Diary/Jnl.
6. Shipping Note for CAO, 26 Aug 44.
7. SHAEF Plng Study, sub: Post-NEPTUNE Course of Action After Capture of the Lodgment Area, Sec. II, 30 May 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post-OVERLORD Planning.
8. Memo, Whipple for CAO, sub: Port Dev, 3 Sep 44, SHAEF G-4 825.1 Piers, . . . 1944, III.
9. G-4 History, I, 47-48.
10. Daily Jnl, G-4 Plans Br COMZ, 10 Sep 44, ETO Adm G-4 145C.
11. Cbl, ANCXF to SHAEF, 3 Sep 44, SHAEF AG 323.3-2 Captured Ports.
12. Mil Shipments Priority Mtgs, 2 and 9 Sep 44, SHAEF AG 337-18 Mil Shipments Priority Mtgs; Shipping Note for CAO, 9 Sep 44, SHAEF G-4 500 Transportation General 1944, II.
13. SHAEF G-4 War Diary/Jnl, 3 Sep 44.
14. Cbl FWD-14066, SCAEF to 12 A Gp, 7 Sep 44, SHAEF AG 323.3-3 Port Capacities.
15. Ltr, Lee to SAC, 14 Sep 44, SHAEF SGS 800 Harbors, Opening, Use, Construction; see also G-4 COMZ Plans and Communications Diary/Jnl, 18 Sep 44, ETO Adm 145C.
16. Ltr, SHAEF to Lee, sub: Alloc of Ports, 19 Sep 44, SHAEF SGS 323-3 Ports--Allocation and Development.
17. Ltr, Lord to Chiefs of Gen and Special Stf Secs and Sec Comdrs, sub: Dev of Continental Ports, 27 Sep 44, EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services, and Equipment 1944, V, or SHAEF AG 323.3-2 Captured Ports.
18. OMAHA District Summary of Opns, 25 Nov-2 Dec, Pt. IV, ETO Adm 231.
19. Mil Shipments Priority Mtg, 29 Sep 44, SHAEF AG 337-18.
20. Memo, Deputy Chief of Mov and Tn Br G-4 SHAEF for G-4, sub: Port Info, 29 Sep 44, SHAEF G-4 825.1 Piers, . . . 1944 III.
21. Cbl 281255, CTF 125 to ANCXF, 29 Sep 44, SHAEF SGS 800 Harbors, Opening, Use, Construction.
22. Mil Shipments Priority Mtg, 29 Sep 44, SHAEF AG 337-18.
23. Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 21 Sep 44, OPD Exec Office File 9.
24. Memo, Eisenhower for CofS, 30 Sep 44, SHAEF SGS 800 Antwerp.
25. Memo, Moses for Bradley, 30 Sep 44, 12 A Gp G-4 Memos of Gen Moses 1944.
26. Granville is not included as a Normandy port in these comparisons for reasons explained later.
27. [Clifford L. Jones] NEPTUNE: Training for and Mounting the Operation, and the Artificial Ports, Pt. VI of the Administrative and Logistical History of the ETO, II, 137-39, MS, OCMH.
28. Ibid., II, 140-43.
29. Ibid., II, 143-45.
30. Ibid., II, 151-52, 154-58.
31. Monthly Progress Rpt, OCofT COMZ ETO, Jun 45, ETO Adm.
32. NEPTUNE: Training for and Mounting the Operation, II, 146-48, 152-54.
33. Ibid., II, 145-46.
34. Ltr, COS Com to CofS SHAEF, 9 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 800.1 MULBERRY O/CS II.
35. Ltr, Smith to Secy COS Com, 13 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 800.1 MULBERRY O/CS II; Min, CAO Mtg, 12 Aug 44, SHAEF AG 337-14 CAO Mtgs.
36. Cbl, ANCXF to SHAEF, 15 Aug 44, ETO 381/430 Tonnage, OVERLORD, and documents in SHAEF G-4 825.1 MULBERRY; Cbl FWD-12919, Gale to War Office for VQMG, 16 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 800.1 MULBERRY Case A.
37. Ltr, Gale to Maj Gen A. R. Godwin-Austen, VQMG, 9 Sep 44, SHAEF SGS 800.1 MULBERRY Case A.
38. Memo, DQMG Mov and Tn, 21 A Gp for MGA, sub: Policy on the Winterization of MULBERRY, 17 Sep 44, SHAEF G-4 825.1 MULBERRY II.
39. Min, Mtg at Arromanches, with Maj Gen H. B. W. Hughes, Chief SHAEF Engr, presiding, 10 Oct 44, SHAEF SGS 800.1 MULBERRY Case A.
40. Conf Notes, 29 Sep 44, G-4 COMZ Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, ETO Adm 145C.
41. Min Mtg at SHAEF, 16 Oct 44, and Cbl S-62823, SHAEF to ANCXF, 21 A Gp, and COMZ, 18 Oct 44, SHAEF SGS 800.1 MULBERRY O/CS II; CAO Mtg, 20 Oct 44, SHAEF AG 337-14 CAO Mtgs; COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, 16 Oct 44, ETO Adm 145C.
42. Ltr, Crawford to CAO, sub: Winterization of MULBERRY, 2 Nov 44, SHAEF G-4 825.1 MULBERRY II.
43. Memo, Brig W. E. Blakey, Deputy Tn SHAEF, sub: MULBERRY, 6 Nov 44, and Ltr, Gale to CofS SHAEF, sub: Winterization of MULBERRY, 6 Nov 44, SHAEF G-4 825.1 MULBERRY II.
44. Ltr, Gale to CofS SHAEF, 6 Nov 44.
45. G-4 History, I, 53.
46. Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, 8, ETO Adm 596.
47. This area was under the control of Normandy Base Section by this time.
48. Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, pp. 26-27; Port Construction and Repair, Hist Rpt 11, OCE ETO, pp. 69-70, ETO Adm.
49. History of TC ETO, IV 11th Port, pp. 12-13.
50. [E. Cutts] American Port Plans, August to November 1944, prep by Hist Sec ETO, pp. 20-23, MS in OCMH.
51. Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, prep by OCE ETO, 1944, Annex B to History of the Normandy Base Section, ETO Adm 596; Cherbourg--Gateway to France: Rehabilitation and Operation of the First Major Port, prep by Hist Sec ETO , Ch. I, p. 12, Ch. III, pp. 4-5, Ch. IV, p. 3, MS in OCMH.
52. Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, pp. 13-25.
53. Ibid., pp. 26-29.
54. Ibid., p. 46; Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. III, pp. 1-12.
55. Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, pp. 34-39; Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. III, pp. 12-19.
56. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. II, p. 2, Ch. IV, pp. 6-7, Ch. VI, pp. 5-6.
57. Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, p. 44.
58. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. IV, pp. 6-16; Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, pp. 44-130.
59. Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, p. 28; Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, p. 40.
60. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. IV, pp. 17-18; Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, pp. 39, 42.
61. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. II, pp. 4-8.
62. History of TC ETO, IV, 4th Port, 7.
63. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VI, pp. 15-19, Ch. VII, pp. 2-3.
64. Ibid., Ch. VI, p. 26.
65. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VI, pp. 1-5, 11, 18.
66. History of TC ETO, IV, 4th Port, 5, V, 4th Port, 4; Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VI, p. 23, Ch. VII, pp. 10-11.
67. Similar difficulties arose at the small marshaling yard built to serve OMAHA Beach. The site of this yard, along the main rail line between Lison Junction and Bayeux, was extremely low and difficult to drain. September rains reduced this area to a quagmire before proper ballasting could be accomplished, with the result that the rails gradually sank into the mud, and access roads almost disappeared. Derailments consequently became frequent, a record twenty-one occurring in one eight-hour period. Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, pp. 24-25; Normandy Base Section Transportation Corps History, pp. 20-21.
68. Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, p. 25; History of the Couville and Sottevast Marshaling Yards, App. XIV of Normandy Base Section History; Normandy Base Section, Transportation Corps History, p. 21; History of TC ETO, IV, 4th Port, 9-10, and V, 4th Port, 12.
69. History of TC ETO, IV, 4th Port, 18; Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VII, pp. 15-16.
70. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VI, pp. 16-17.
71. History of TC ETO, IV, 4th Port, 22.
72. History of TC ETO, IV, 4th Port, 22; Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VII, pp. 17, 21-22.
73. History of TC ETO, V, 4th Port, II; Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. VII, pp. 20-23.
74. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. I, p. 18.
75. History of TC ETO, V, 4th Port I. Colonel Sibley was relieved by Col Benjamin B. Talley, who commanded Normandy Base Section during Colonel Wyman's temporary absence. There was some disagreement over the justification for the relief. Colonel Talley himself regarded Sibley as an able officer although unsuited for the kind of organization required at Cherbourg, and agreed that he be relieved without prejudice. General Ross expressed his confidence in Sibley by giving him an important assignment in the U.K. Base Section. Interv with Talley, 6 Mar 51, and Ltr, Ross to Harold Larson, 22 Jan 51, OCMH.
76. Twenty-three at quays, 4 working dukws, 12 working barges, and 5 coasters discharging coal.
77. Ltr, Crothers to CG Normandy Base Sec, sub: Additional Requirements, Port of Cherbourg, 3 Oct 44, EUCOM 800 Rivers, Harbors, and Waterways, I.
78. Memo, Thackrey for G-4 SHAEF, sub: Port Discharge Conditions at Cherbourg Which Can Be Improved: Recommendations Regarding Their Improvement, 9 Oct 44, EUCOM 800, Rivers, Harbors, and Waterways, I.
79. Ibid.; Col W. E. Potter, Report of Inspection of Cherbourg, 23 Oct 44, EUCOM 800, Rivers, Harbors, and Waterways, I; COMZ G-4 Br Chief‘s Mtg, 24 Oct 44, ETO Adm 145C.
80. Potter, Rpt of Inspection, 23 Oct 44, and Memo, Thackrey for SHAEF G-4, 9 Oct 44.
81. Memo, sub: Cherbourg, 20 Oct 44, attached to Ltr, Rear Adm Alan G. Kirk to Smith, 21 Oct 44, SHAEF SGS 800, Harbors, Opening, Use, Construction.
82. [E. Cutts] American Port Plans, August to November, 1944, p. 16.
83. Memo, Thackrey for SHAEF G-4, 9 Oct 44; COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, 4 Oct 44, ETO Adm 145C.
84. Memo, Whipple for Current Opns Br, sub: Plng Factors, 1 Sep 44, SHAEF G-4 Supplies General.
85. Memo, Thackrey for G-4 SHAEF, 9 Oct 44.
86. SHAEF G-4 Weekly Logistical Summaries, Oct, Nov 44, SHAEF G-4 War. Diary/Jnl, Oct, Nov, APPS.
87. COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, 4 Oct 44, ETO Adm 145C.
88. History of Normandy Base Section, p. 12.
89. Lucius D. Clay, Decision in Germany (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1950), p. 2. General Clay commanded the base section barely four weeks, for on 26 November he was given a new assignment by General Eisenhower. Col. Eugene M. Caffey commanded the base section pending the arrival of General Aurand on 17 December.
90. History of TC ETO, V, 4th Port, 12.
91. Cherbourg--Gateway to France, Ch. X, p. 3.
92. History of TC ETO, V, 4th Port, 25-26.
93. Ibid., V, 4th Port, 25.
94. See Table 4, p. 124, below.
95. History of TC ETO, Ch. IV, 5th Port, pp. 1-5; [Cutts] American Port Plans, pp. 7-9.
96. Port of Granville History, Annex A to Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, pp. 1-4, ETO Adm 596.
97. Ibid., pp. 4-13: Normandy Base Section, Engineer Section History, p. 27.
98. Port of Granville History, p. 9, and Figure 38.
99. Min, Mtg on Port Situation with CofS COMZ. G-4, TC, et al., 13 Oct 44, G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, ETO Adm 145C.
100. At that time the 11th Port headquarters moved to Rouen and the operation of Granville was turned over to the 4th Port. History of TC ETO, V, 4th Port, 9, and 11th Port, 1.
101. G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, 26 Oct 44, ETO Adm 145C.
102. Ltr, Col John H. Judd, QM Normandy Base Sec, to CO Normandy Base Sec, sub: Full Utilization of Granville as a Port, 24 Oct 44, with Inds Normandy Base Sec and Hq ETO, 8 Nov 44, EUCOM 800, Rivers, Harbors, and Waterways, I.
103. CAO Mtgs, 14 and 17 Nov 44, SHAEF AG 337-14; History of TC ETO, V, 4th Port, 9-10.
104. TUSA AAR, II, G-4, 11; History of TC ETO, IV, 16th Port, I, 5-6.
105. History of TC ETO, V, 5th Port, 1.
106. Min, Mtg on Port Situation with CofS COMZ, G-4, TC, et al., 13 Oct 44, G-4 Plans and Communications Diary/Jnl, ETO Adm 145C.
107. [Cutts] American Port Plans, pp. 5-6.
108. Port Reconstruction and Repair, Hist Rpt 11, OCE ETO, pp. 70-72; History of TC ETO, V, Brittany Base Section, 9, IV, 5th Port, 1-2; [Cutts] American Port Plans, 5-6.