The task of the administrative historian is probably made somewhat easier than that of the historian reconstructing the story of tactical operations by the fact that the records of the relatively more settled headquarters were physically better preserved, and by the fact that fewer important decisions were lost through having been transmitted orally. But these advantages are at least partially offset by the manner in which administrative records were scattered after hostilities ended, and by the almost complete absence of the type of interview material which was collected from combat units in the field during the war and which helped fill important gaps in the record.
The official records of the various administrative headquarters in the European theater were never collected under one roof and, to make matters worse, were retired to U.S. repositories in piecemeal fashion over a period of several years. Research in ETOUSA records consequently was also piecemeal, proceeding neither by subject nor by chronology. Army regulations to the contrary, moreover, the records of the various technical services were not handled consistently. Some were sent to the main Army repository at St. Louis, Mo.; some were retained by the technical service chiefs and transferred directly to the respective technical service schools or camps in the United States. A number of officers retained official records for personal use.
The deficiency in interview material was remedied in part during the preparation of this volume by seeking the testimony of the principal commanders and staff officers who by reason of their participation possessed first-hand knowledge of events. Their testimony was secured through personal interviews conducted by the author, through correspondence on specific questions, and through comments made at the author's request on the manuscript in its first draft.
Primary sources consist mainly of the official records of the various headquarters involved. They take the form of correspondence, interoffice memorandums, staff studies, cables, plans, minutes of conferences, journals, diaries, message files, and various periodic reports filed in accordance with the AGO decimal classification system. For the theater the main collections are those of SHAEF (principally those of the Adjutant General, Secretary of the General Staff, and the G-3 and G-4 Sections, including the War Diary of the last with key documents attached), and the papers of its predecessor, COSSAC; ETOUSA, SOS, and their successors ETOUSA-SOS and ETOUSA-COMZ; 12th Army Group; and the Advance Section. After the end of hostilities the U.S. Army command in Europe was successively renamed USFET and EUCOM, and some of the wartime records are filed under those designations.
The records of SHAEF, 12th Army Group, and the operational records of the armies are in the custody of the Operations Reports Section, Departmental
Records Branch, AGO, in Alexandria, Va. The records of the more strictly administrative headquarters--ETOUSA, SOS, and their subordinate commands such as the Ground Force Reinforcement Command, the Advance Section, and certain of the technical services--were consulted at the Records Administrative Center in St. Louis, Mo., but have since been transferred to Kansas City, Mo. Certain planning files of First and Third Armies were also consulted in St. Louis. The COSSAC papers are in the SHAEF SGS files.
Two "unofficial" collections which proved valuable in reconstructing the history of the War in Europe were the files referred to in footnotes as ETO Adm and ETO Preinvasion. These consist of miscellaneous planning papers, cable files, and correspondence, which for the most part were rescued from destruction by personnel of the Historical Section, ETO, and were transferred intact to the Departmental Records Branch, AGO, in the War Department in 1946.
Two bodies of primary source material originating in the War Department and proving highly useful were the correspondence files of the Army Service Forces, which threw particular light on the role of Generals Somervell and Lutes in the support of the U.S. forces in Europe, and files in the War Department Operations Divisions, including logs of incoming and outgoing cables and decimal files on the subject of the troop basis and troop flow. The author had access also to the papers collected by Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, consisting mainly of "Eyes Only" cables, which have been deposited with the Department of the Army Library in the Pentagon. Limited use was made of the diary kept for General Eisenhower by his naval aide, Capt. Harry C. Butcher, and cited in this volume as Diary Office CinC. Excerpts from this diary were published by Captain Butcher in the volume My Three Years with Eisenhower (New York, 1946). The author had complete access to all official records relevant to this history regardless of classification.
An extensive body of unpublished secondary material exists covering the activities of the U.S. Army in Europe, the most important of which are the following:
Histories of the technical services, the staff sections of Headquarters, ETOUSA-COMZ, the base sections, and the Ground Force Reinforcement Command, all required by ETO regulation. These vary in quality, the most useful being those of the Office, Chief of Transportation, Office of the Chief Engineer, Office of the Chief Surgeon, the COMZ G-4, the Ground Force Reinforcement Command, the Advance Section, and Normandy Base Section. They are filed in the ETO Administrative File, Operations Reports Section, Departmental Records Branch, AGO, in Alexandria, Va.
The Administrative and Logistical History of the European Theater of Operations, eleven studies on logistics and administration, prepared in the Historical Section, ETO, under the author's supervision, and based for the most part on primary source materials available in the theater in 1945-46. The most useful of these preliminary histories consulted in the preparation of the present volume
are The Predecessor Commands: The Special Observers (SPOBS) and United States Army Forces in the British Isles (USAFBI), by WOJG Henry G. Elliott; Organization and Command in the European Theater of Operations, by Robert W. Coakley; and NEPTUNE: Training for and Mounting the Operation, and the Artificial Ports, by 1st Lt. Clifford L. Jones. All are on file in the Office, Chief of Military History.
General Board Reports, 131 studies covering all aspects of the war in the European theater by a special board of officers appointed after V-E Day. These are uneven in quality, but some are extremely helpful, particularly in their critical analyses of plans, preparations, and methods and techniques of operations. They are on file in the Office, Chief of Military History.
After Action Reports of the First and Third Armies, the 12th Army Group, and in some cases of the divisions. They were consulted for the supply story from the point of view of the field commands.
Miscellaneous monographs on a wide range of subjects prepared by personnel of the Historical Section, ETO, by historians of the ASF, the Transportation Corps, and the Quartermaster Corps. Included are such studies as Overseas Supply Policies and Procedures, by Richard M. Leighton, and those on Quartermaster supply in the ETO prepared at the Quartermaster School, Camp Lee, Va.
Published histories, including memoir literature, have had occasional usefulness. The principal works cited are: Butcher's My Three Years with Eisenhower; General Omar N. Bradley's A Soldier's Story (New York, 1951); Robert E. Sherwood's Roosevelt and Hopkins (New York, 1948); Lt. Gen. Frederick Morgan's Overture to Overlord (New York, 1950); and Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate (editors), The Army Air Forces in World War II (Chicago, 1948-55).
The service journals of the United States and Great Britain contributed first-hand accounts of experience as well as research articles. Most important were The Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Royal Engineers Journal, Military Review, The Quartermaster Review, Army Ordnance, and Army Transportation Journal.