(1) The Tonnage Allocations System
For nearly two months after the end of the pursuit in mid-September 1944 the inadequacy of transportation lay at the root of most of the Allies' immediate logistic difficulties. The lack of port discharge capacity, while a potentially ominous limiting factor, did not as yet directly affect the Allies' ability to continue large-scale offensive operations. Additional port capacity in mid-September would have relieved the taut logistic situation only if it had resulted in shortened lines of communications--in other words, if ports farther up the Channel could have been brought into use. And while there were shortages of certain items of supply, substantial reserve stocks in most categories lay in the Normandy depots and in the ships offshore. The main problem was their movement forward. For the time being, therefore, the deficiency in transport was the common denominator of most of the Allies' supply troubles.
The prospects of meeting the growing needs of U.S. forces in mid-September were dim indeed. Minimum maintenance requirements in the combat zone already came to more than 13,000 tons per day,1 and would rise as new divisions were brought forward. In addition, between 150,000 and 180,000 tons of supplies were needed in the forward areas for repairing or replacing Table of Equipment matérial, replenishing basic loads, building army and ADSEC reserves, and providing winter clothing.2
Against these requirements the Communications Zone was delivering only about 11,000 tons per day in mid-September, 7,000 of which were earmarked for the two armies, the remainder for the Ninth Air Force, the Advance Section, and various special demands. Only 40,000 tons of reserves, representing but a few days of supply, had been moved forward of St. Lô, and 75 percent of that still lay in dumps west of Paris.3 These hard facts led inescapably to the conclusion that, temporarily at least, U.S. forces could not be supported at the desired scales. This meant rationing the available support in accord with operational priorities.
A rationing system had in effect been instituted on the last day of August when the 12th Army Group commander divided the available tonnage, initially allotting a larger share to First Army than to Third.4 On 5 September the army group commander made the first change in the allocation, dividing the first 7,000 tons equally between the two armies. By using their own transportation both armies were able to supplement their meager rations somewhat, but there was no prospect that the Communications Zone, unable for the moment to deliver even minimum maintenance requirements, might begin to forward reserves.5
A new allocation issued on 14 September renewed the equal sharing of the first 7,000 tons, but reflected a slightly greater optimism in allocating army tonnage in excess of 7,000 to First Army up to 1,500 tons and any additional tonnage to the Third Army. The Communications Zone was authorized at this time to use the trucks of the 104th, 95th, and 26th Divisions for two weeks to haul supplies.6
Further changes in allocations were made in the next two weeks in accordance with plans to shift the weight of operations to the north and in recognition of changes in the order of battle and in the strength of the armies. On 21 September General Bradley approved a new allocation giving 3,500 tons per day to Third Army and 700 tons to the Ninth Army, which was scheduled to take over a sector between the Third and First Armies, and assigning the remainder to First Army, but with the understanding that it would get a minimum of 5,000 tons.7
Before the new allocation could become effective, the transfer of an armored division from Third Army to First resulted in a corresponding shift of 400 tons from General Patton's forces, giving the First Army 5,400 tons per day and the Third 3,100.8 The new apportionment went into effect on 27 September, at which time the First Army had ten divisions and the Third Army eight.9 The Ninth Army was then in process of movement from Brittany, and within the next weeks placed a corps (the VIII) of two divisions in the line between the First and Third Armies.10
Forward deliveries roughly approximated the tonnage allocation in the next few weeks. Since the allocation constituted a starvation diet, the armies consumed virtually everything they received. Under these circumstances they were forced to confine their requisitions
to absolute essentials, for all requirements without exception were charged against the assigned allocations. This meant that even mail absorbed tonnage whenever the armies desired its delivery. The 12th Army Group refused to make any exceptions for special requirements, as, for example, when Third Army requested that transportation exclusive of the daily allocation be provided for the movement of winterization supplies and equipment.11
In this situation it was naturally of the highest concern to the armies that they get the maximum tonnage allotted them, and that it consist only of useful items. In the frantic scramble of late September, however, the unavailability of supplies at precisely the time they were requisitioned, and the day-to-day uncertainty over transportation resulted in something less than perfect functioning of the allocations system. In addition, the modification of carefully worked out supply SOP's in the name of expediency, the hauling of supplies in army transportation, and the misdirection and misappropriation of supplies, the receipt of which was never acknowledged by anyone,12 produced conflicting claims as to what was actually delivered.
Late in September General Lord reported to SHAEF that in the nine-day period from 16 to 24 September the Communications Zone had far exceeded its commitments to the armies, delivering 127,000 tons of supplies against a guarantee of only 63,000 tons and against requisitions totaling only about 66,000 tons.13 General Moses, the 12th Army Group G-4, pointed out that these figures were inaccurate and misleading. The armies, he noted, had reported receipt of only 84,000 tons, including 23,000 brought forward in their own trucks, indicating that the Communications Zone had delivered only the tonnage it was committed to move under the current allocation. Furthermore, according to army and army group figures, 40,000 tons of the supplies delivered had come from stocks which had been accumulated in army service areas west of the Seine and which the armies had been forced to leave behind in their rapid advance. Credit for the delivery of this tonnage had therefore been given to the Communications Zone once before.
The 66,000-ton requisition was explained by the simple fact that the armies had been compelled to keep requests within the bounds of the tonnage allocations. They would have liked to requisition about 120,000 tons for maintenance alone. "We rationed tonnage," General Moses pointed out, "to distribute a scarcity, not to comfort CZ [Communications Zone] in continuing a famine." According to General Bradley's G-4, the armies needed 650 tons per division slice to fight effectively. Instead, they had received 550 tons per division, 400 of which were delivered by the Communications
Zone, 150 by their own transportation.14
The statistics offered by General Lord were hardly calculated to inspire greater confidence in the Communications Zone, either as to claims of past performance or predictions of future capabilities. General Moses put it mildly when, in expressing his doubts on the latter, he said, "We do not know what we will actually receive but we feel fairly certain that there will be a number of things requisitioned that will not materialize."15
Even more exasperating and inexplicable to the armies was the Communications Zone's practice of shipping them supplies which they had not requested and for which they had no immediate need. To the armies, always suspicious of the Communications Zone's mysterious ways and jealous of their meager ration of tonnage, this was an inexcusable waste of the limited lift available to them. But requisitioned items were not always within reach of the technical services for loading on a particular day, and because the Communications Zone did not want to see the available outloading capacity go unused it frequently shipped substitute items, for which the armies admittedly might not have immediate use, as fillers.
The armies were not inclined to accept such explanations. In fact, they objected to dealing with supply allocations and movements in terms of tonnages at all. They suspected that the Communications Zone, in its enthusiasm to register high daily tonnage records, tended to overlook the importance which particular items might have for the armies, and to ship supplies most readily accessible, although they might have little or no local value. The armies desired that greater efforts be made to provide the specific items they requested. Under current procedures the Communications Zone simply canceled requisitions or the portions thereof which could not be filled within two days. The result was that the armies were inadequately informed as to what supplies they could expect to receive. No other aspect of supply was quite so frustrating to operational planning or more conducive to the padding of requisitions and hoarding.16
The problem of co-ordinating supply distribution between the Communications Zone, the army group, and the air forces, and the need to apportion the available resources in accord with operational priorities determined at the Allied level made it inevitable that Supreme Headquarters should eventually become involved in the allocation business. SHAEF prepared to take over the control of priorities early in October when the supply outlook was still extremely dismal. At the time practically no progress had been made in overcoming the worst effects of the pursuit. Neither First nor Third Army had been able to accumulate more than two days of supply and two units of fire, and Ninth Army was getting nothing beyond current maintenance needs. Motor transport was
still being operated to the maximum of its capabilities, and higher echelon repair had not been performed since the early days of the beachhead. Heavy clothing and other winterization equipment and materials needed for the expected bridging operations were being moved up, but in nothing like adequate quantities.
Allocating the available supplies was essentially the responsibility of the SHAEF G-4, who announced that allocations would be determined on the basis of estimates of movement capabilities provided by the commanders of the three lines of communications (that is, the Communications Zone, the 21 Army Group, and SOLOC), on the tonnage bids submitted by the army groups, and on the projected scale, nature, and relative priority of tactical operations as outlined by the G-3. With this data the Logistical Plans Branch was to prepare a logistical study and recommend overall tonnage allocations. The concurrence of the G-3, as well as that of other interested parties, such as Movements and Transportation Branch, was of course necessary before the recommended allocation was finally sent to the G-4 for approval.17
The Logistical Plans Branch submitted its first allocations study on 8 October, covering the two-week period from the 15th to the 28th. Projected tactical operations in that period called for continued battering along the entire Allied line, with the greatest weight behind the attacks on the north. The 12th Army Group at this time consisted of twenty divisions, supported by an equal number of fighter squadrons. But five additional divisions were available for commitment, subject only to the provision of the necessary logistic support. Logistic planners calculated that the commitment of all twenty-five divisions and the building of minimum reserves for the three armies would require the delivery of 22,320 tons per day to the 12th Army Group, based on requirements of 840 tons per division (560 for maintenance18 and 280 for reserves), plus 1,320 tons for headquarters and special troops, coal, and civil affairs supplies.
The 12th Army Group had actually submitted a bid for 18,000-20,000 tons per day for the allocation period in question, and the Communications Zone had estimated its average delivery capabilities at 15,000 tons, exclusive of Ninth Air Force and ADSEC maintenance stocks. While forward deliveries promised to be much improved over September, therefore, they were certain to fall far short of the needs of an enlarged combat force. It was clear that there would have to be either a reduction in the projected scale of support, a limitation in the number of divisions employed,
or a combination of the two.
Within the limitations imposed by the Communications Zone's estimated delivery capabilities the first SHAEF allocations study concluded that twenty divisions could be supported if certain adjustments were made in the projected scales of maintenance and reserves. Only First Army, which had first priority in its effort, could be permitted to accumulate reserves and thus get the full 840 tons per division. Third Army's allowance of POL was to be somewhat less than normal but its ration of ammunition was to be doubled (300 tons per division as against 150 for divisions in the other armies) because of the heavy concentration of artillery on its front. This would give Third Army 610 tons of maintenance supplies per division as against 560 in the other armies. The allocation of the entire 15,500 tons on this basis would thus permit the maintenance of twenty divisions in combat at acceptable maintenance scales and an accumulation of reserves for half that force.19
The SHAEF G-4 decided to postpone implementation of the proposed allocation. Instead, on 9 October General Crawford assigned to the Communications Zone as a first priority commitment the delivery of 12,500 tons of supplies to the 12th Army Group each day plus 2,000 tons to the Ninth Air Force until further notice, without specifying the scales of maintenance or proportions for the various armies. He asked the Communications Zone to make every effort not only to meet these targets but to forward only the items requested.20
The decision to postpone implementation of the proposed allocation may have been inspired partly by the knowledge that Ninth Army's movement to a sector north of First Army was then being considered. More probably it resulted from the widely held doubts concerning the likelihood of achieving the delivery figures which the Communications Zone had submitted and which the SHAEF logistical planners had accepted as a basis for their recommended allocations. Colonel Whipple, chief of the Logistical Plans Branch, himself was extremely pessimistic in mid-October, asserting that with the scale of support then being provided the 12th Army Group only thirteen divisions were properly maintainable, although twenty-three were actually in line. Others, concluding that the Communications Zone had overestimated its own movement capabilities, expressed the the view that only maintenance requirements could be met until about mid-November, and that the reserves needed for a sustained offensive could not be established before the end of the month.21 That some confusion and misunderstanding existed is indicated by the fact that on 22 October the 12th Army Group issued a new allocation,
dividing 15,000 tons between its three armies,22 only to be told that the Communications Zone had been given a commitment of merely 12,500.23
SHAEF finally placed its new rationing procedure in operation for the period 5-18 November, the first allocation being based on a fresh logistic survey made late in October. By 5 November the regrouping of the 12th Army Group was expected to be completed, with the Ninth Army, consisting of three corps, deployed north of Aachen, on the First Army's left. By the end of the allocation period twenty-seven divisions were expected to be operational in the 12th Army Group. Tactical operations contemplated for the period included an advance to the Rhine by all four U.S. armies (including the Seventh) and a bridgehead for First Army at Cologne.
With these considerations in mind the 12th Army Group placed a bid for 33,430 tons per day--28,333 for the ground forces and 5,097 for the Ninth Air Force. SHAEF logistical planners considered some of the requests unreasonable and recommended a cut to 27,000 tons. Adding Advance Section's requirements to this figure brought the total demand for forward deliveries--that is, beyond Paris--to 31,200 tons.
The Communications Zone, meanwhile, had estimated its movement capability at more than 30,000 tons. But SHAEF planners considered this figure unrealistic, partly because it involved relying on fairly heavy movements out of Le Havre before the bridge across the Tancarville Canal was repaired, and partly because it was believed to include overoptimistic estimates on water transport from Rouen and on rail clearance out of Cherbourg. They did not consider the Communications Zone capable of delivering more than 21,900 to the combat zone, or 24,400 beyond Paris. This would leave a deficit of at least 5,000 tons.
In the end the estimate of the Communications Zone's movement capabilities was reduced still further, and on the G-4's recommendation Supreme Headquarters finally set the Communications Zone a first priority commitment to deliver 20,000 tons per day to the 12th Army Group--16,700 tons to the armies and 3,300 to the Ninth Air Force.24 The 12th Army Group in turn suballocated this tonnage to its three armies in accord with operational priorities, the tonnages differing for "active" and "quiet" divisions and for armored and infantry units.25
The disparity between the army group
requests and the tonnage targets which SHAEF regarded as attainable appeared to reveal a more glaring transportation deficit than ever, underscoring the need to develop the railways at a faster rate, to open Antwerp, to utilize inland waterways and local resources, particularly coal, more fully, and, if possible, to make joint use of the Rhône valley line of communications. Moreover, supply policy had favored the First Army, particularly in the matter of reserves, and had resulted in inequities in distribution out of proportion to the tonnage allocations.
Tonnage movements in the period 5-18 November fell short of the targets established by the first SHAEF allocation, averaging 12,400 tons to the armies and air force units in the 12th Army Group against an allocation target of 20,000, although the Communications Zone began to lay down increasing tonnages in the Advance Section.26
By this time, SHAEF Logistical Plans Branch completed its allocations study for the period 19 November-2 December, for the first time including all three army groups in its survey. By the end of that period 12th Army Group was expected to have a strength of thirty divisions,27 and the 6th Army Group a strength of sixteen.28 Operational plans for U.S. forces called for continued attacks eastward, the Ninth, First, and Seventh Armies pushing toward the Rhine, and the Third aiming at capture of the Saar. Tactical priorities went to the operations of the First and Ninth Armies, then to Third U.S. and Second British Armies, and then to the First Canadian. Tonnage bids for the period totaled 30,000 for the 12th Army Group and 11,660 tons for the 6th Army Group, including requirements for supporting air units. After an analysis of the bids the SHAEF planners again concluded that cuts could be made--the 12th Army Group's combined bid from 30,000 to 26,300 and the 6th Army Group's from 11,660 to 11,450. Requirements for the Advance Section brought the total forward needs on the central (12th Army Group) line of communications to about 30,000 tons.29
The Communications Zone estimated its delivery capabilities for this period at 22,200 tons per day, a figure which the SHAEF planners now considered conservative. Several factors, including the opening of the Seine for the clearance of Rouen, the reduction of British rail traffic from the rear maintenance area, the increased availability of POL at Rouen, the general improvement in rail transportation, and the expectation that Antwerp would soon open, led them to raise the COMZ estimate to 24,400 tons. Even assuming that deliveries could reach this figure there would be a deficit of about 5,000 tons. The Southern Line of Communications, on the other hand, estimated its capacity as 12,500 tons, giving it a surplus of about 1,000.
SHAEF planners recommended that
the Communications Zone be given a first priority mission to deliver 21,000 tons per day to the army service areas of the 12th Army Group and the Ninth Air Force (respectively 17,500 and 3,500). ADSEC requirements were not included in these figures. The current allocation already gave 80 percent (about 500 tons) of the available airlift to 12th Army Group and the remainder to the 21 Army Group, and the planners recommended that this apportionment be continued. Since operational priority was to shift to the 12th Army Group in the next allocations period, they also proposed that General Bradley's forces be favored to whatever extent was possible in the allocation of transportation facilities on the neighboring lines of communications. They accordingly recommended that in the allocation of railway facilities the necessary priority be given the Communications Zone for clearing Antwerp and that the forward movement of reserves planned by the 21 Army Group be postponed. If practicable, the Communications Zone was to begin the delivery of at least 1,000 tons per day to the Third Army or Advance Section via the southern lines.30 The G-4 and CAO both approved the recommendations, and the new allocations went into effect as planned.31
A third allocation, prepared at the end of November and covering the period 3-16 December, did not differ substantially from the second. Operational plans again gave priority to the 12th Army Group, which was scheduled to have a strength of thirty-two divisions by mid-December. The army group's bid was not quite as high for the next two-week period, possibly reflecting a shade greater confidence in the Communications Zone's ability to fulfill its promises, but the SHAEF planners again reduced the requests--from 25,000 to 18,700 in the case of 12th Army Group, and from 10,200 to 8,300 in the case of 6th. The Advance Section was allowed 3,600 tons. The Communications Zone's prediction that it could deliver 24,000 tons per day was accepted as a reasonable estimate. The SOLOC had not met its earlier target, however, owing partly to the fact that many trains carried bulky Class IV supplies and equipment for the Rhine crossings, some of them averaging only 250 tons. Its estimate of 12,500 was reduced to 10,000. In any event, it appeared that all three lines of communications for the first time would easily meet the approved requirements of their army groups, including the associated air forces and advance sections. In fact, the planners foresaw a surplus of about 5,400 tons per day, and recommended that it be allocated to the two advance sections for the build-up of additional reserves behind the respective army groups which they supported. General Crawford approved the recommendations, setting a first priority commitment to the Communications Zone to deliver 20,000 tons per day to the army service areas of the 12th Army Group--15,400 and 4,600 tons
respectively for the ground forces and the Ninth Air Force.32
The third allocation never ran its full course. Within a week the entire rationing system, under attack from several quarters and rendered largely unnecessary by the general improvement of supply, was discontinued. The black cloud which had hung depressingly over the logistic horizon since mid-September had actually begun to lift at the end of October, at the very time that logistic planners were determining how the meager resources should be apportioned. Total forward deliveries did not match the Communications Zone's predictions, nor were the gains necessarily reflected in the receipts in the army areas. In the last ten days of October, in fact, the Communications Zone claimed daily deliveries of only about 10,000 tons to the armies in 12th Army Group, and something less than 1,000 tons to the Ninth Air Force.33 Even with these tonnages the armies managed to improve their reserve positions. October was a quiet month operationally, and by stringent control over expenditures the armies were able to accumulate savings. By the end of the month stocks in the combat zone of the 12th Army Group totaled more than 155,000 tons.34 In some categories, such as Class I, levels were actually excessive, and the Army Group took steps to halt the flow into the army areas.
The Communications Zone, meanwhile, by mutual agreement with 12th Army Group began laying down a larger percentage of total tonnages in the Advance Section, although this was contrary to the allocations laid down by SHAEF.35 By the time of the fall offensive, which began on 8 November, the Communications Zone was laying down about 8,000 tons per day in the Advance Section, where stocks had risen to nearly 100,000 tons. Army reserves by that time totaled about 180,000, bringing the stocks in the forward areas to a record 280,000 tons.36
A similar improvement had taken place on the southern lines of communication, where forward reserves, practically nonexistent early in October,37 had risen to ten days for Classes I-IV, and to twenty-five days for Class V by mid-November.38
Serious shortages of many items continued to hamper operations and to worry all echelons. Nevertheless, tonnage movements were definitely on the rise, and the supply picture in both the 6th and 12th Army Groups was much brighter by mid-November. With certain
exceptions, even ammunition, which had been at dangerously low levels throughout October, had become a less critical item of supply with the build-up of stocks in the Advance Section. Deliveries to the armies in the second allocations period--19 November to 2 December--averaged about 12,000 tons on the central line of communications and between 4,000 and 5,000 tons on the southern, and supplies continued to build up in the Advance Section at the rate of about 8,000 tons per day.
The general improvement brought with it a natural desire to return to normal supply procedures. The allocations system was inflexible and restrictive at best, and subject to abuse. So long as supply deliveries were characterized by uncertainty it was natural for the armies to seek whatever security they could in hoarding and in requisitioning beyond their actual needs. As long as all available tonnage was allocated, the Communications Zone lacked control over the flow of supplies, particularly as to the establishment of balanced stocks in the forward areas. Moreover, the system did not ensure that the armies would actually receive the items they most needed, for it tended to give an exaggerated and even harmful emphasis to over-all tonnages rather than items of supply, resulting in the delivery of supplies for which there was no immediate need, and in the accumulation of unfilled requisitions for thousands of tons of items on the critical list.39
The fact that the armies could set aside supplies as reserves at a time when deliveries to their service areas averaged only 11,000 tons against stated requirements for 25,000 to 28,000 bore out the suspicion that they had been overzealous in their requisitioning. First Army, in particular, was suspected of taking for granted the advantage in supply which it had enjoyed, first in its preparations for the Normandy landings, and later in connection with its operational priority, and had acquired a reputation for "asking for the moon." Lack of confidence in the Communications Zone's ability to meet its requirements undoubtedly accounted for the heavy demands. On the other hand, it was hardly surprising that the Communications Zone should question the dire urgency of army demands which listed as "critically short" such items as barber kits and handkerchiefs. Nor was mutual trust likely to be promoted by the attitude expressed in one of First Army's G-4 periodic reports, which noted, "The operation will be a success providing the Communications Zone has the ability and is willing to support the combat forces."40 The Third Army, accustomed from the beginning to operating on a shoestring, accepted the hardships of the fall months with more equanimity, sometimes even failing to ask for enough. The Ninth Army, a late-comer arriving in the midst of scarcity, had a reputation for consistently professional staff work where supply was concerned, and could usually
be counted on to limit its requests to actual needs.41
At any rate, by late November the Communications Zone was demonstrating its ability to deliver supplies to the combat zone in considerably greater volume than was required for maintenance alone. The allocations system had therefore served its purpose, and both the Communications Zone and 12th Army Group began to urge its early abandonment, for there was every prospect now of meeting a larger and larger percentage of the armies' requests directly from ADSEC depots, resulting in a greater flexibility, more rapid response to army demands, and a greater ease in maintaining balanced reserves. The re-establishment of forward reserves, although they still lacked many of the items the armies needed, was an especially significant development, for it presaged the return to a more conventional supply procedure, in which the Advance Section might once again become the sole agency through which the armies arranged for their day-to-day needs, thus obviating their repeated reaching back to the base areas for supplies. There was every reason to believe, moreover, that the discovery by the armies that they could count on having their needs promptly met would remove the desire to establish excessive stocks in their own areas. This improvement in reserves consequently constituted an important milestone in the road to recovery.
The developments of November had thus opened the way for ending allocations. In fact, 12th Army Group had already removed Classes I and V from its suballocations to the armies before the end of the month.42 Finally, SHAEF discontinued all allocations on 9 December, bringing to an official end the long famine which had set in during the pursuit.43 By that date the stocks of Class I, III, and V supplies alone had risen to 222,000 tons in the Advance Section, and the levels in the army areas were also very satisfactory. First Army actually asked the Communications Zone to stop shipping gasoline and Third Army even turned back one million gallons.44 Within another week stocks in the Advance Section had risen to 294,400 tons, and in the combat zone of the 12th Army Group to 222,000, bringing the reserves in the forward areas of the central line of communications to well over 500,000 tons.45
Improvements on the southern line of communications were less spectacular, but stocks had risen sharply by mid-December--to 53,000 tons in the Continental Advance Section and to 80,000 in the Seventh Army area, reaching levels in the army area in excess of authorized reserves in all classes except POL.46
(2) The Ardennes Counteroffensive and Its Effect on Movements
It is typical of logistic operations that the solution of one problem often creates a new one. The acceleration in forward deliveries soon brought a new limiting factor into play--the inability of the depots to unload, classify, and store the huge tonnages which were being forwarded in bulk. The result, as already noted, was a serious congestion on the rail lines in the forward areas, thousands of loaded cars piling up.47 The Communications Zone had just begun to give serious attention to this problem when the German counteroffensive struck on 16 December, endangering the huge stocks which had been built up in the forward areas.
The German offensive had particularly serious implications for the logistical support of U.S. forces in the north, for it threatened to cut directly across the lines of communications based on the port of Antwerp, which had just been brought into operation. In most immediate danger, of course, were the supply points and depots in the area of the First Army. But most of the ADSEC logistic structure backing up the First and Ninth Armies also lay directly in the path of the German drive, heavily concentrated along the Meuse between Liège and Namur and extending westward to Charleroi. An advance to the Meuse alone promised to overrun many army and ADSEC depots and place most installations north of the river within the reach of enemy artillery; an advance beyond the Meuse would threaten to cut rail lines from the south or the lines of communications based on Antwerp, in either case making it virtually impossible to support the First and Ninth Armies in combat.48
The immediate danger to forward supply installations made it imperative that the First Army service area be moved out of reach of the enemy, north and west of the Meuse. This involved superimposing army installations on the already congested area of the Advance Section and a general telescoping of supply operations. It posed a special dilemma because of the unusual character of the logistic structure in the north. As previously observed, the U.S. communications zone lacked storage facilities at Antwerp except for small amounts for in-transit purposes. U.S. supplies consequently had to be shipped in bulk to installations in the vicinity of Liège and Namur, where the Advance Section was forced to improvise base depot operations as best it could to handle bulk cargo and at the same time conduct retail issues to meet the day-to-day needs of the armies. Superimposing the First Army's service installations on this already cramped area was certain to aggravate the existing congestion. On top of this, First Army now presented the Advance Section with a formidable list of major combat equipment losses which required immediate replacement. In the face of these demands it was clear that the continued large-scale shipment of supplies in bulk from Antwerp would place an unbearable burden on the Advance
Section and threaten orderly supply operations.
The obvious key to the situation was the acquisition of depot space in the vicinity of Antwerp which would relieve some of the pressure building up from the forward areas. The assignment of such space to U.S. forces had been discussed as early as October, when American and British staffs agreed on the apportionment of Antwerp's facilities. British officials had been unwilling to release accommodations to U.S. forces in the north, in part because they considered facilities in that area vital to their own operations, in part because the establishment of U.S. depots there would further contravene the principle of keeping national lines of communications separate. The Advance Section thereafter had repeatedly tried to convince the Communications Zone of the dangers inherent in the situation, but the Communications Zone had not pressed the matter.
The counteroffensive of December finally forced the issue. Late in the month SHAEF ordered 21 Army Group and the Communications Zone to provide depot space for U.S. forces in areas that could be defended in the event of a further enemy thrust. Although 21 Army Group still opposed the move, British officials at SHAEF admitted the necessity of relieving the pressure on Antwerp and agreed to permit U.S. forces to establish depots in several locations which the Communications Zone had already reconnoitered. On 4 January 1945 21 Army Group agreed to turn over space in the Lille-Tournai area. While the facilities did not come into use until after the danger from the counteroffensive had passed, they were necessary in any event for the organization of a supply system in proper depth.49
In the meantime certain "immediate action" steps had been taken to provide prompt relief of congestion in the forward areas. The Advance Section, by agreement with First Army, at once reduced forward deliveries of major maintenance items, and the army began to sustain itself by drawing on its reserves. On 19 December the Communications Zone in turn placed a temporary embargo on all shipments of other than Class II and IV supplies to the Advance Section in order to facilitate the evacuation of First Army supplies via Liège in case that became necessary. Ammunition moving forward from Cherbourg, for example, was halted at Soissons; POL shipments out of Antwerp were routed to Charleroi; rations consigned to Liège and Luxembourg were redirected to Charleroi and Verdun respectively.50
Meanwhile First Army supply chiefs placed in operation a plan to move all major army service installations to the west of the Meuse. On 18 December the 25th Regulating Station withdrew from Spa and a detachment at Liège took direct control of the evacuation of First Army's supplies, reversing the entire supply
procedure by directing empty cars into forward railheads and expediting the loading and evacuation of supplies to depots west of the Meuse. In the next week approximately 5,600 carloads of supplies were removed to safer locations. In addition, First Army used 37 truck companies in constant supply and troop movements, clearing 196 convoys in the redeployment of nearly 250,000 men.
The evacuation of supplies got under way when the army began emptying two of its largest POL depots near Malmedy, directly in the path of the German drive. The evacuation of one depot, containing about 1,115,000 gallons of MT80 gasoline and allied products, began on 17 December. Within forty-eight hours all stocks had been removed except for 124,000 gallons, which were destroyed by burning. On two occasions during the evacuation reconnaissance elements of a German panzer division advanced to within 1,000 yards of the depot. A second installation, containing 2,226,000 gallons, was evacuated beginning on the night of the 18th and was completely cleared without loss by the morning of the 22d.51
In a few cases losses could not be prevented. Two ammunition supply points, one holding 2,000 tons of ammunition and the other about 800 tons, were eventually overrun, although U.S. troops continued to draw on one of them after the enemy had already reached the opposite end of the dump. One Class I truckhead issued rations for three days under sporadic mortar and small arms fire, was abandoned, retaken, and drawn down, and the remaining supplies were then burned.52 The Advance Section evacuated some supplies, and lost about 2,700 tons, largely through destruction by V-1 attacks, which forced the abandonment of several installations.53
The Advance Section was responsible for the support of Third Army as well as the First and Ninth, and the enemy thrust into Belgium cut the direct wire communications between Namur and the Verdun-Luxembourg area. Fortunately the ADSEC supply complex in the south, centering at Verdun, for some time had been operating fairly independently of that in the north. The resulting flexibility in the ADSEC organization, plus good working relationships with the 12th Army Group and Third Army G-4's, permitted this partially truncated portion of the Advance Section to carry out its mission during this critical period without direct wire communications with the main ADSEC headquarters in the north and without changes in control or responsibility.54
Third Army's supply installations had not been endangered, since the German counteroffensive was directed away from the Verdun concentration, and Third Army was now assigned a major role in countering the enemy threat. On 18 December General Patton was ordered to turn over his right flank corps to the Seventh Army, and to reorient the Third Army's operations from the east to the north. He was also required to take over the VIII Corps, which could no longer
be supported or controlled by the First Army as a result of the enemy breakthrough. Third Army thereupon initiated a wholesale redeployment of both combat and service units, a task which called for the closest co-ordination of movements and the efficient use of transport. Within three days of the order Third Army had turned over twenty-five miles of front to the Seventh Army, withdrawn two corps, and completed administrative preparations for an offensive on the new axis, an accomplishment which Colonel Whipple, chief logistical planner at SHAEF, characterized as one of the most professional performances of the entire war, easily ranking with the more spectacular accomplishments of the preceding August. New supply installations were opened in the general vicinity of Luxembourg City, Longwy, and Esch. In an attempt to re-equip units of the VIII Corps which had lost heavily in the initial enemy onslaught Third Army exhausted its reserves of many items.55
Ninth Army supply installations were not immediately endangered by the counteroffensive, but the army made preparations to evacuate or destroy about 100,000 tons of supplies and equipment. As in First Army, deliveries were immediately halted, and levels in the forward areas were reduced by issue.56
Both the Communications Zone and SHAEF were concerned with the security of areas other than those under imminent danger of German attack, and the planning staffs of both headquarters immediately studied the possible effects which the offensive might have on the logistic structure as a whole. The Antwerp base and its line of communications to Liège naturally ranked high in importance because of their role in the support of U.S. forces in Holland and Belgium. Next in importance were the adjacent depot concentrations and communications networks, such as Ostend-Ghent with its POL facilities; the Valenciennes-Mons-Charleroi area with its POL depots and coal mines; Soissons, Reims, and Verdun with their large ammunition stocks; and the rail net north and east of the Seine. General Lee immediately ordered special defense measures for all vital COMZ installations and for rail bridges, defiles, and tunnels, and the chief engineer issued detailed instructions on security measures, including demolitions, for POL discharge facilities, pipelines, pumping stations, and tank farms.57
While the Ardennes counteroffensive never achieved sufficient success to endanger COMZ rear installations seriously, its effect was nevertheless felt in various ways. Embargoes on forward movements and the immobilization of rail cars soon resulted in backlogs in the ports. At Le Havre, for example, cargo held in intransit storage increased by
SUPPLY TRUCKS PASSING THROUGH BASTOGNE, Belgium, January 1945.
133 percent by the first week in January, with the result that the port failed to meet its discharge goals. At Antwerp tonnages held at the port increased by 78 percent. Some installations came under attack from the air, notably in the Advance Section, where rail lines and supply depots were subjected to heavy attacks, particularly by V-1's.58 On the whole, however, supply operations were not seriously disrupted, and the Communications Zone met the emergency demands well, marshaling transportation for evacuation and troop movements, and handling many special shipments via rail, truck, and air, some to meet replacement needs resulting from heavy losses suffered by units which bore the brunt of the attack, some to meet the sudden demands for defense materials, such as wire and mines.
The partial embargo on forward shipments imposed at the beginning of the Ardennes battle naturally caused deliveries to the forward areas to fall off some in the week of 17-23 December. But deliveries were normal again by the last week of December, and in January averaged about 15,000 tons per day on the northern line of communications.59
In the south, as in the north, a congestion of rail cars had developed in the forward areas early in December, caused in part by hazardous winter operating conditions. In an effort to reduce the backlog SOLOC early in January instructed Delta Base Section to reduce the tonnage allocation to Continental Advance Section by 25 percent. Forward reserves reached dangerously low levels during the month. By early February, however, partly as the result of better operating conditions and partly through the special trucking operation described in the preceding section, deliveries were reaching record totals.60
The oft-repeated hope of providing logistic support for the 12th Army Group via the southern line of communications was never fully realized, at least not as originally envisioned. SOLOC's "surplus" consisted almost exclusively of port discharge capacity; the shortage of transportation was as persistent a limiting factor in the south as in the north, and precluded the shipment of supplies in large volume over the Rhône line of communications for U.S. forces in the north. SOLOC provided substantial assistance, but it took the form mainly of direct logistic support, initially of units transferred from the 12th to the 6th Army Group--as, for example, the XV Corps, which was shifted at the end of September--and later of additional divisions brought in via Marseille rather than the northern ports as originally intended. A shortage of service troops in the south eventually limited the extent to which SOLOC could assume supply responsibility for additional combat forces. Meanwhile, advantage was taken of the surplus port capacity in the south to bring in vehicles, which were assembled at Marseille and then driven north with gasoline and other supplies which
had also been discharged at Marseille for that specific purpose.61
The record of forward deliveries echoes the story of transportation difficulties told in Chapter V. The frustratingly restrictive rationing system which the transport deficiency imposed in the form of tonnage allocations obviously pleased no one. The solution of the problem suddenly demonstrated how the elimination of one limiting factor could create a new one and, incidentally, highlighted another basic deficiency in the theater's logistic structure--the lack of intermediate depots. Finally, the counteroffensive of December demonstrated with dramatic force the reverberating effect which a major tactical event could have on movements within the entire logistic organization.
Not all the supply shortages which developed in the fall of 1944 can be attributed to the transportation problem; many in fact persisted well beyond the period of transport difficulties. What some of these shortages were and how they affected operations is described in the next three chapters.
1. On the basis of 550 tons per division slice, and including Ninth Air Force needs.
2. Ltr, 12 A Gp to CG COMZ, 16 Sep 44, sub: Tonnage Rqmts of the Armies, and Memo, M. F. Hass for G-4 12 A Gp, 21 Sep 44, sub: Estimate of Tonnage Rqmts, both in 12 A Gp Tonnages 137; COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, 19 Sep 44, ETO Adm 145C.
3. Ltr, Vissering, Deputy G-4 Mov and Tn Br SHAEF, 14 Sep 44, sub: Observations on Trip to Paris, SHAEF SGS 617 Railroads; Memo for Record, Col T. F. Taylor, 12 A Gp G-4 Sec, 6 Sep 44, Memos--Moses, SHAEF 12 A Gp G-4, Folder 86.
4. See Logistical Support I, 491.
5. Memo, G-4 Movs 12 A Gp for G-4, 13 Sep 44, sub: Transportation for Replacements, 12 A Gp Rolling Stock 106; Memo, Moses for Bradley, 16 Sep 44, sub: Supply Situation, 12 A Gp Supplies, Misc, 126.
6. Memo for Record, Moses, 14 Sep 44, 12 A Gp Supplies, Misc, 126.
7. Memo for Record, Moses, 21 Sep 44, Memos--Moses, SHAEF 12 A Gp G-4, Folder 86; Diary of the 12 A Gp G-4, 21 Sep 44.
8. A further reduction in Third Army's share was contemplated in the event of XV Corps' transfer to the Seventh Army, although Bradley hoped to keep the corps in the 12th Army Group and support it via the southern lines of communications.
9. Memo for Record, Moses, 23 Sep 44, sub: Conf Held by Gen Bradley This Date, Memos--Moses, SHAEF 12 A Gp G-4, Folder 86; 12 A Gp G-4 Diary, 23 Sep 44.
10. In view of its limited tonnage allocation, the Third Army requested authority to operate a train back to the beaches, offering to provide its own loading details and guards, but the request was denied. TUSA AAR, II, G-4, p. 18.
11. Memo, Wilson for Hodges, 19 Sep 44, and Ltr, 12 A Gp to TUSA, late Sep, sub: Rqmts for Winterization of TUSA, both in 12 A Gp Tonnage 137.
12. Notes on the Supply Situation of 12 A Gp, Col Charles W. McCarthy, n.d. [late Sep], SHAEF G-4 400.192 Supply Report I.
13. Ltr, Lord to Smith, 26 Sep 44, SHAEF SGS 400.3/1 Supply Problems of Allied Advance; Ltr, Lord to Lutes, 27 Sep 44, EUCOM 400 Supplies, Services, and Equipment, General, V.
14. Ltr, Moses to Crawford, 2 Oct 44, SHAEF SGS 400.3/1 Supply Problems of Allied Advance: Memo, Moses for Bradley, 1 Oct 44, 12 A Gp Supplies, Misc, 126.
15. Ltr, Moses to Crawford, 2 Oct 44.
16. Notes on the Supply Situation of 12 A Gp, McCarthy; Memo, Col T. F. Taylor, Supply Br G-4 12 A Gp for G-4, 19 Sep 44, 12 A Gp Tonnage 137.
17. Memo for Record, Moses, 9 Oct 44, sub: Conf Conducted by Gen Bradley This Date, 12 A Gp Supplies, Mix, 126; Ltr, Whipple to Stf Secs, 10 Oct 44, sub: Alloc of Tonnage, SHAEF G-4 400 Supplies, General, III; Ltr, SHAEF to Major Comds, 16 Oct 44, sub: Alloc of Tonnages, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I.
18. Maintenance requirements per division slice in the army group were divided as follows:
Class Tons I 78 II 75 III 144 IV 110 V 153
19. Alloc of Tonnages 1 to 12 A Gp for Period 15-28 Oct 44, Log Plans Br G-4 SHAEF, 8 Oct 44, SHAEF G-4 400 Supplies, General, III; also Ltr, Whipple to G-4, 8 Oct 44, sub: Tonnage Alloc with Incl, Logistical Study of Tonnage Rqmts, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44.
20. TWX S-61549, SHAEF G-4 to COMZ and 12 A Gp, 9 Oct 44, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44.
21. Memo, Whipple for Orgn and Equipment Opns A Plans G-3, 21 Oct 44, sub: Maintenance of 12 A Gp Divs, and Statement by Whipple, Divs Which Can Be Maintained on Adequate Scales, 20 Oct 44, SHAEF G-4, Logistical Forecasts: COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, 21 Oct 44, ETO Adm 145C; Memo, Hass for G-4 12 A Gp, 18 Oct 44, sub: Daily Tonnages, 12 A Gp Tonnage 137.
22. Memo, Moses for Bradley, 22 Oct 44, Memos--Moses, SHAEF 12 A Gp G-4, Folder 86.
23. Memo, Col Edwin N. Clark for G-4, 24 Oct 44, sub: Allocs of Tonnage by 12 A Gp.
24. Ltr, Whipple to Current Opns Br G-4 et al., 27 Oct 44, sub: SHAEF Tonnage Alloc I, and Ltr, Crawford to CofS, 31 Oct 44, sub: Tonnage Allocs, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44. The CAO, General Gale, disapproved the allocations study, insisting that the logistic planners were in no position to make cuts in the various bids on the basis of comparison with October consumption figures. General Crawford thereupon resubmitted the study without any analysis of the "reasonableness" of the various bids. But this did not alter the amount of tonnage available or its allocation. The only result was an increase in the deficit--on paper, at least--from about 6,500 tons per day to 13,500. Ltr, Gale to Crawford, 3 Nov 44, sub: Tonnage Allocs, and Ltr, Crawford to Gale, 4 Nov 44, same sub, SHAEF G-4 Tonnage Allocations, Log Plans Br 153/5, Folder 48.
25. Breakdown of Current Allocs, G-4 12 A Gp, 12 A Gp Tonnage 137; TWX QX-23075, 12 A Gp to COMZ, 3 Nov 4, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44.
26. Delivery statistics are from COMZ G-4 Weekly Reports on Status of Supply, from Stratton to 12 A Gp G-4, 12 A Gp 400.291 Supply Information; ADSEC Operations History, App. D; and TWXs, Lee to SHAEF, reporting on movements to armies and Ninth Air Force, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44, and are not always in exact agreement.
27. Including one at Lorient.
28. 21 Army Group's strength was to remain unchanged at eighteen and one-third divisions.
29. The total requirements of the three army groups, as approved by the planners, came close to 60,000 tons per day.
30. SHAEF Tonnage Alloc 2, to cover period 19 Nov-2 Dec, SHAEF G-4 Log Plans Br, 12 Nov 44, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44.
31. Ltr, Crawford to CofS, 12 Nov 44, sub: Tonnage Allocs, 19 Nov-2 Dec, SHAEF SGS 400.3/1 Supply Problems of Allied Advance; TWX S-66813, SHAEF G-4 to Major Comds, 15 Nov 44, SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44.
32. SHAEF Tonnage Alloc 3, to cover period 3-16 Dec, Log Plans Br G-4, 25 Nov 44, Ltr, Crawford to CofS, 27 Nov 44, sub: Tonnage Allocs, and TWX S-68947, SHAEF G-4 to Major Comds, 30 Nov 44, all in SHAEF G-4 563.59 Tonnages and Estimates of, I, 44. See also allocations papers in SHAEF AG 400.22-1, No. 2 Shipments and Tonnages Allocations 1944, and in 12 A Gp Tonnages 137.
33. See Weekly Reports of COMZ G-4, sub: Supply Info, 12 A Gp 400.291 Supply Information II, and ADSEC Operations History, App. D.
34. Memo, Hass, Supply Br G-4 12 A Gp, for G-4, 30 Oct 44, sub: Tonnages in Forward Areas, 12 A Gp Tonnages 137.
35. Memo, Moses for Bradley, 31 Oct 44, sub: Supply Outlook, 12 A Gp Tonnages 137; Ltr, Whipple to Barriger, 11 Nov 44, sub: Comments of Col Wilson on Tonnage Allocs, SHAEF G-4 Tonnage Allocations, Log Plans Br 153/5.
36. The sources present conflicting statistics. See Memo, Hass for Moses, 5 Nov 44, sub: Info on Supply Situation, 12 A Gp Supplies, Misc, 126; COMZ G-4 Plant and Communications Diary/Jnl, Br Chiefs Mtg, 8 Nov 44, ETO Adm 145C; and ADSEC Operations History, App. E, p. 3.
37. TWX BX-17225, Devers to Eisenhower, 5 Oct 44, SHAEF Cbl Log, Smith Papers.
38. 6 A Gp G-4 AAR, Sep-Nov 44.
39. Ltr, Whipple to Barriger, 11 Nov 44, sub: Comments of Col Wilson on Tonnage Allocs, SHAEF G-4 Tonnage Allocations, Log Plan Br 153/5; Mechanics of Supply in Fast Moving Situations, Gen Bd Rpt 27, pp. 80-81.
40. COMZ G-4 History, II, 19. (Italics are the author's.)
41. Interv with Moses, 13 Aug 51, and Plank, 28 Jul 50.
42. 12 A Gp G-4 AAR 4 (Nov 44), 12 A Gp 107A Reports, General Information.
43. Memo, Col James W. Younger, 12 A Gp QM, for G-4, 20 Nov 44, sub: Turnover of Army Tonnages to COMZ, 12 A Gp Tonnages 137; 12 A Gp G-4 AAR for Nov 44; TWX S-70142, SHAEF to Major Comds, 9 Dec 44, SHAEF AG 400.22-1, No. 2, Shipments and Tonnage Allocations 1944.
44. Comd and Stf Conf, 8 Dec 44, SHAEF G-4 337.
45. ADSEC figures are from ADSEC Operations History, App. 4, army group figures from Information on Supply Situation Rpt II, 18 Dec 44, Supply Br G-4 12 A Gp, 12 A Gp Supply--Reports of Status of, No. 131. There are some discrepancies.
46. Ltr, Col Carter Page, Plans Br G-4 SOLOC, to CG SOLOC, 20 Dec 44, sub: Estimate of Supply Situation (Rpt 2), SHAEF G-4 319.1 Supply Status (SOLOC), I, 1945.
47. See above, Ch. V, Sec. 2.
48. Ltr, Whipple to G-4 SHAEF, 28 Dec 44, sub: Logistical Support of U.S. First and Ninth Armies, SHAEF G-4 400 Supplies General, V.
49. Ibid.; Cbl S-73064, SHAEF to 21 A Gp and COMZ, 30 Dec 44, Cbl EX-80904, COMZ to SHAEF, 31 Dec 44, and Cbl EX-81864, COMZ to Channel Base Sec, 4 Jan 45, all in SHAEF G-4 Maintenance of British and U.S. Forces, 153/2/GDP-1; Col William Whipple, "Logistical Problems During the German Ardennes Offensive," Military Review, XXVIII (May, 1948), 19, 23; ADSEC Operations History, pp. 105-06; Notes on Mtg at SHAEF attended by Gale, Lord, Crawford, et al., 3 Jan 45, SHAEF CAO War Diary.
50. COMZ G-4 History, II, 78-79.
51. Hist Rpt, 25th Regulating Station, 5 Feb 44-12 May 45; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, Bk. I, p. 128, Bk. II, p. 120, and Bk. III, p. 60.
52. FUSA Rpt of Opns, Bk. II, pp. 120-21, 123, and Bk. IV, p. 5.
53. ADSEC Operational History, p. 111.
54. Whipple, op. cit., p. 21.
55. Whipple, op. cit., p. 24; TUSA AAR, II, G-4, 37-40, and II, Arty, 17; Memo, Barriger for Moses, 27 Dec 44, sub: Forward Reserves, 12 A Gp Supplies, Misc, 126.
56. Conquer: The Story of Ninth Army, 1944-45, pp. 121-22.
57. TWX EX-76867, Lee to Sec Comdrs, 21 Dec 44, and TWX EX-78041, Lee to Sec Comdrs, 23 Dec 44, SHAEF AG 370.2 OVERLORD, 1945; Note by Plng Stf G-3 SHAEF, 23 Dec 44, sub: Counteroffensive Measures (Final Draft), SHAEF G-3 18008/Plans, 1944; COMZ G-4 History, II, 71.
58. COMZ G-4 History, II, 66, 68.
59. ADSEC Operations History, App. D; COMZ G-4 Weekly Reports on Status of Supply, 12 A Gp 400.291 Supply Information.
60. SOLOC Supply Situation Rpt 3 (dated 3 Jan 45) and 4 (dated 18 Jan 45), SHAEF G-4 319.1 Supply Status (SOLOC), I 1945.
61. See below, Ch. X, Sec. 1, for a discussion of the troop build-up via SOLOC. History of SOLOC, MS, II, QM, p. 3, and II, TC, p. 15; TWX BX-17993, 6 A Gp to COMZ, 17 Oct 44, SHAEF SGS 400.3/1 Supply Problems of Allied Advance; Memo, G-4 6 A Gp for Current Opns Br G-4, 27 Oct 44, sub: Mov From Southern France of 1,000 Tons Per Day to Third Army, 6 A Gp G-4 Transportation Section General, I; Ltr (draft), Lord to Larkin, 23 Nov 44, EUCOM 560 AT, Transport, Vessels, and Boats in General, II.