The Completion of BOLERO

(1) The FLow of Troops and Cargo, Januaryh-May 1944

The U.S. build-up in the United Kingdom was accomplished largely in the twelve months preceding D Day, having received its major impetus from the TRIDENT Conference of May 1943. The BOLERO operation accelerated noticeably in the fall of 1943, achieved tremendous momentum in the early months of 1944, and crescendoed, in the manner of the Ravel composition for which it was named, to its climax in May. In the five months from January through May alone the number of American forces in the United Kingdom was doubled, rising from 774,000 in December 1943 to 1,527,000 in May 1944. In cargo shipments the record was similar; upwards of 2,000,000 long tons, or 40 percent of all U.S. tonnage discharged in U.K. ports in the two and one-half years from January 1942 to May 1944, were received in the five months preceding D Day. This performance was all the more remarkable in view of the serious restriction on both troop and cargo reception imposed by the limited British port and inland transportation facilities, which in the final stages actually threatened to prevent the consummation of the build-up.

At the QUADRANT Conference in August 1943 the Combined Chiefs of Staff had agreed to have 1,416,900 U.S. soldiers in Great Britain by 1 May 1944, and shipping was subsequently set up to permit this target to be achieved. In the fall of 1943 approximately 50,000 air force troops intended for the ETO were diverted to the Fifteenth Air Force in North Africa, and at the SEXTANT Conference held by Allied leaders at Cairo in November-December 1943 the Combined Chiefs, on the basis of shipping and unit availability, lowered the U.K. troop ceiling to 1,366,000, a reduction roughly equivalent to the diversions to North Africa. Either through misunderstanding or through ignorance of this reduction ETO officials responsible for the preparation of flow charts continued to plan for and request shipments considerably in excess of the SEXTANT schedules,1 basing their requisition on the first phase troop basis. OPD officials honored these requests at first. They even diverted some 20,000 troops from other theaters and activated additional units totaling 30,000 men, although inadequately trained, to meet the ETO's D-Day requirements. In February, however, the OPD pointed out the growing


Year and Month Arrivalsa End of Month Strength
Monthly Cumultiave
from Jan 42
Total Ground
Services of
August 41,681 424,098 278,742 39,934 152,548 79,898 6,362
September 81,116 505,214 361,794 62,583 168,999 120,148 10,064
October 105,557 610,771 466,562 116,665 200,287 148,446 1,164
November 173,860 784,631 637,521 197,677 247,052 191,208 1,584
December 133,716 918,347 773,753 265,325 286,264 220,192 1,972
January 166,405 1,084,752 937,308 343,972 317,227 273,294 2,815
February 136,684 1,221,436 1,084,057 442,474 338,317 299,710 3,556
March 124,412 1,345,848 1,199,077 488,379 375,152 325,577 9,969
April 216,699 1,562,547 1,422,276 599,425 410,562 391,994 20,295
May 108,463 1,671,010 1,526,965 620,504 426,504 459,511 20,131

discrepancy to the theater and asked for additional information on the theaterís needs so that adequate preparations could be made for the shipment of units.2

The high rate of troop shipments created no particular difficulty in the winter months, except for the problem of providing adequate accommodations in the United Kingdom. Record shipments from November through April averaged almost 160,000 men per month, and reached a peak of 216,700 arrivals in the month of April. (Table 5) Shipping plans for May were a more serious matter since outloading for the cross-Channel operation was to begin that month and was bound to restrict movements into the United Kingdom by limiting port and inland transportation facilities. On 20 April the War Department informed the theater that, in compliance with its requests, it was making available and had set up shipping for 167,000 men in May, 140,000 in June, and 148,000 in July.3 The SEXTANT schedule had provided for the shipment of only 122,600 in May, 121,100 in June, and 142,800 in July. The lack of co-ordination in the troop flow planning was shortly revealed by the reply from the theater that it had planned accommodations for only 118,000. The War Department then offered to reduce the shipments for May and asked the theater which units it desired


backlogged to later months. The SEXTANT schedule, answered the theater immediately, did not provide adequate support for the operation as then planned. It argued that at least 151,000 of the 167,000 set up for May shipment were of vital importance to the operation, since they comprised many units already overdue. In the meantime the British War Office had made it known that British port and rail capacities in May, June, and July were capable of receiving only the numbers agreed on at SEXTANT, and stood firm on those ceilings.4

ETOUSA asked the War Department to submit the whole matter to the Combined Chiefs for decision, with the request that it raise the shipping goal to 151,300 in May, 152,000 in June and 152,000 in July.5 Since the problem was not one of shipping or availability of troops, and centered rather on the question of British port and rail capacity, the War Department instructed that these difficulties be taken up by SHAEF and the British Chiefs of Staff.6 Within a few days the whole matter was ironed out, and on 28 April ETOUSA informed OPD that the British had agreed to maximum shipments of 132,000 in May, 125,700 in June, and 122,000 in July, thus raising the SEXTANT schedule somewhat for May and June. The inability of the theater to receive the troops which the War Department had made available, and the imposition of these ceilings, had the net effect of creating a cumulative deferment of approximately 75,000 troops by August, and made it necessary for the theater to respecify its priorities for shipments of units.7

Establishment of these ceilings did not in the end have a serious effect on the build-up. As usual, there still were certain shortages in service units, and because of an urgent need for certain types of units the theater had again reluctantly called on the War Department in April to ship partially trained units.8 The U.S. force in the United Kingdom on the eve of D Day was therefore not as perfectly balanced a force as was desired, and the shipment of certain combat elements had been deferred. But in total numbers the BOLERO build-up had in fact exceeded the target of not only the SEXTANT but the earlier and higher QUADRANT build-up schedule. By 31 May twenty divisions had arrived in the United Kingdom, and the theater's strength stood at 1,526,965 men, approximately 50,000 more than the 1,476,300 which SEXTANT schedule had called for on that date. The composition of this force was as follows:

Type Number
Total 1,526,965
Ground Forces 620,504
Air Forces 426,819
Services of Supply 459,511
Headquarters, ETO, and Others 20,131

The cumulative arrivals in the United Kingdom over the past two and one-half years actually exceeded 1,750,000 men, some of whom had been withdrawn for


the North African operation. Of this total, 1,671,010, or about 95 percent, had been transported to the theater by ship, the remainder by air. Approximately 59 percent of the total troop movement to the United Kingdom was carried out by the usual convoys of slow-moving troop transports. But in contrast with the practice of World War I, considerable use was made of fast passenger liners converted to troopships, which could cross the Atlantic unescorted, protected only by their speed, submarine and plane detection devices, and light armament. The largest and fastest of these vessels were the British Cunard White Star luxury liners, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The two Queens were capable of shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic with a remarkably short turnround, each of them making three round trips per month and carrying 15,000 troops on each voyage. These two ships alone carried nearly 425,000 American troops to the United Kingdom, accounting for 24 percent of the entire build-up. Along with several other liners of large capacity, such as the Aquitania (a veteran of World War I), the Mauretania, the Ile de France, the Nieuw Amsterdam, and the Bergensfjord, they carried about 36 percent of the American troops going to the United Kingdom and played a significant and often dramatic role in the prologue to continental invasion.9

The limited port and transportation facilities in the United Kingdom were to have a much more serious impact on cargo shipment than on personnel movement, and in fact acted as an aggravating stricture which dominated the course of the supply build-up in the final months before D Day. British officials had given warning of this potential limiting factor as early as January 1943 at the Casablanca Conference. The entire problem was more fully aired in August 1943, by which time the BOLERO build-up had finally become a definite undertaking and was achieving considerable momentum. The reception and handling of cargo posed no particular problem at that time. Until early 1944, when the import program reached its peak, there was every assurance that British labor, with the help of an increasing number of U.S. port battalions, could discharge the tonnages scheduled for shipment to the United Kingdom.10 The period of greatest danger for the build-up would arrive just before the actual movement across the Channel, the period in which the reception and inland movement of BOLERO cargo would overlap the movement of men and supplies into the marshaling camps and ports. British officials pointed out that the resulting strain on port, railway, and highway facilities might well prove unbearable. Competition for the use of those facilities would be even further aggravated, they noted, by the necessity of withdrawing coastal shipping and refitting it for cross-Channel operations, since this would divert additional traffic to the railways. Moreover, the "sterilization" of berths in the southern ports for the assembly and loading of OVERLORD vessels would divert BOLERO shipping to the northern ports, creating


an additional burden on the railways because of the longer hauls involved.11

The increasing strain on inland transportation facilities was later illustrated in the handling of a single convoy in March 1944, even before the tempo of invasion preparations reached its height. This convoy included eighteen fully loaded U.S. Army cargo vessels and twenty-four part cargoes loaded on regular commercial ships. It contained about 1,500 wheeled vehicles, tanks, and self-propelled mountings, 2,000 cased vehicles, 200 aircraft and gliders, and about 50,000 tons of supplies. All this cargo had to be discharged within about eight days, the planned interval between convoys. The prompt clearance of this cargo from the ports involved the running of 75 special trains with 10,000 loaded cars and the movement by highway of large numbers of wheeled and cased vehicles and aircraft. The traffic in supplies procured locally from the British, and the traffic between U.S. depots, involved the dispatch of another 8,000 cars and the running of 27 trains. The movement of U.S. Army cargo thus necessitated running a minimum of 100 special freight trains with 18,000-20,000 loaded cars weekly, many of them using routes already overburdened with traffic.12

The question of port capacity was primarily one of labor shortages, although the availability of berths was also a consideration. In the spring months the port labor problem would inevitably be aggravated. The British estimated that all their military labor would have to be withdrawn on 1 April for operational purposes, and southern ports would require an augmented labor force for the outloading for OVERLORD. In September British officials made it clear that civil labor could be made available to handle a maximum of only seventy-five BOLERO ships per month, and it was agreed by General Ross and General Lord that U.S. port battalions would be provided to handle all ships in excess of that number. To bring in the approximately 150 ships per month desired in the early months of 1944, U.S. port labor might therefore have to handle up to one half of all BOLERO imports at the peak of the build-up.13

For these reasons the British felt it imperative that the BOLERO shipments be decelerated in the spring of 1944. They asserted that the reduction would have to start not later than with the March shipments from the United States if OVERLORD was to be launched on 1 May.14 At QUADRANT and again at SEXTANT they had succeeded in imposing a definite ceiling on the tonnages (actually expressed in numbers of ship sailings) which could be dispatched to the United Kingdom in the next several months.

In view of the inevitable limitation on the reception of BOLERO cargo in the months just preceding the invasion it was logical that an extraordinary effort be made to ship cargo to maximum capacity in the fall of 1943. Heavy shipping schedules were in fact set up for the fall and winter months, but the low priority of the European theater, which in turn was imposed by the unavailability of supplies and equipment in the United States prevented the complete fulfillment of the pre-shipment


program.15 This most pressing of the supply build-up problems--priorities--was finally settled in December 1943, when the European theater was assigned top priority for all needed items of equipment. Even so, the solution had no immediate effect in the theater. Not until February did the flood of cargo released under the new priorities begin, and even this was not reflected in the receipts at British ports until the following month. In March a record 467,824 long tons arrived in the United Kingdom for U.S. forces. Preshipped supplies now enjoyed the same priority as regular shipments, and in March the preshipment program was formally extended several months beyond the first phase troop basis, thus guaranteeing a continued ample availability of supplies and equipment.

But it was at precisely this moment that port and inland transportation limitations in the United Kingdom inexorably imposed themselves on the entire build-up program, threatening to nullify the favorable position which the theater had only recently attained in the matter of priorities and availability of cargo. A large backlog of cargo accumulated in the area of the New York Port of Embarkation, making it necessary for the service chiefs in the theater to establish priorities for movement in order to insure the shipment of cargo considered most essential for the coming operation.16 By 1 May, it was estimated, there would be a backlog of approximately 540,000 measurement tons at the New York Port and a shortage of sixty-one ships to move this cargo, even assuming that it could be received in the United Kingdom.17

This development was not entirely unforeseen. At SEXTANT it was noted that the availability of heavy construction equipment, weapons, and vehicles would increase very rapidly early in 1944, creating a difficult shipping problem for the ports of embarkation as well as the U.K. ports and forcing shipments in March and April beyond the established ceilings. The situation was discussed at that time with General Lee, who advised that, if necessary, arrangements could be made to exceed the ceilings, and it was therefore hoped that, somehow, the cargo would be accepted in the United Kingdom.18

Realities soon had to be faced. Initially a request was made that the ceilings be lifted, and for March the allocation of shipping was first raised from 109 to 120, and then to 140. In April, as a result, a record 496,384 long tons reached the United Kingdom. (Table 6) But these shipments in excess of the limits agreed to at SEXTANT were made possible mainly because the cross-Channel operation had by that time been postponed a month (to June), and the pressure on port and transportation facilities was temporarily relieved.19 Other remedies would have to be found in succeeding months.

A partial solution was found in the use of shipping to store supplies temporarily in U.K. waters until they were required either in the United Kingdom or on the Continent. The theater made a proposal


Year and Month Monthly
Measurement Tons Long Tons
Monthly Cumulative from
Jan 42
Monthly Cumulative from
Jan 42
November 848,054 790,754 6,935,640 322,757 2,838,095
December 910,482 1,008,150 7,943,790 378,078 3,216,173
January 982,738 886,359 8,830,149 281,588 3,497,761
February 1,170,235 815,948 9,646,097 233,722 3,731,483
March 1,370,183 1,443,248 11,089,345 467,824 4,199,307
April 1,637,690 1,478,651 12,567,996 496,384 4,695,691
May 2,003,987 1,482,294 14,050,290 601,615 5,297,306
June 1,815,145 1,609,569 a15,585,161 635,866 5,933,172
July 1,912,878 2,092,771 a17,047,606 541,223 6,474,395
a. Cumulative totals adjusted in source report with no indication of months in which corrections are applicable.

Source: Shipment data from [Richard M. Leighton] Problem of Triip and Cargo Flow in Preparing the European Invasion, 1943-1944, prep in Hist Sec, Control Div, ASF, 1945, MS, p. 154, OCMH. Receipt data from ETO TC Monthly Prgress Rpts, Hq SOS, Statistics Br, OC of T, ETO Adm 451-2.

to this effect in January, asking that a system of "type loading"--more commonly known as "prestowage"--be instituted. Vessels would be loaded with specified blocks of supplies for use on the Continent, each ship carrying a spread load of selected items of supply somewhat analogous to a general depot. Deck space was to be utilized for cargo destined for the United Kingdom. After this deck-loaded cargo was unloaded, the ships were to be consigned to the Continent where they could be discharged as needed. The plan had obvious advantages: it would save four handlings in the United Kingdom and would prevent the congestion of port and transportation facilities there.20 As finally worked out, the prestowage plan provided for the dispatch of fifty-four ships loaded with subsistence, landing mats, clothing and equipage, and ordnance supplies, and eleven loads of ammunition, totaling approximately 500,000 measurement tons.

Shortly after the prestowage program was accepted, theater representatives offered a variant of it known as "commodity loading." This called for the loading of an unspecified number of ships (commodity loaders) either solidly with a single type of supply or with closely affiliated types of supply. Most suitable for commodity loading were such items as rations, ammunition, vehicles, and engineer supplies. Commodity loaders were easily and economically loaded. It was intended that they be held in U.K. waters until called to


the Continent, where they could serve either as floating depots or for bulk discharge. Nearly 150 commodity loaders and 54 preloaded ships were dispatched to Britain in the months of May, June, and July 1944, providing the theater with something like mobile depots which could be moved forward on call to back up any particular area. Both practices were costly improvisations in that they immobilized badly needed shipping for long periods of time. Commodity loading had a further disadvantage. If the enemy sank a ship so loaded, a heavy loss of one particular type of supply resulted. For these reasons the system was discouraged by the New York Port.21

In any event these expedients did not offer the final solution to the problem of cargo reception in the United Kingdom. No preloaded or commodity-loaded ships were sent to the United Kingdom in April. Meanwhile a ceiling of 140 ships had been established for acceptance in the United Kingdom for that month, representing approximately 1,310,000 measurement tons. Shipments actually exceeded this figure by some 325,000 tons, with the result that many vessels arriving in the United Kingdom were forced to stand idly by for lack of berthing facilities. In May, as fully predicted long before, the situation became even worse, for the OVERLORD mounting machinery was set in motion. The rising tide of traffic from the many depots and camps to the ports of embarkation gradually restricted all importation through these ports and taxed to the full the inland transportation system. It was inevitable, therefore, that the flow of supplies into the United Kingdom would have to be constricted even more. Against vigorous opposition from the Army Services Forces, the theater announced that the discharge ceiling for May and June would be lowered from 140 ships to 120.22

Meanwhile, theater officials for their part resisted pressure in the United Kingdom to cut imports any further. Early in May British officials were told that BOLERO shipments could not tolerate additional reductions for June. The provision of certain items of equipment for combat units was already critically behind schedule, and it looked at that time as though the Third Army would have only 60 percent of its wheeled equipment.23 By the middle of the month, with the mounting process in full swing, the disparity between ship arrivals and port discharge capacity had become sufficiently serious to force a showdown on the entire problem. On 18 May SOS officials reported to the New York Port that British ports simply could not accommodate BOLERO cargoes at the rate at which they were arriving. Between 35 and 40 ships in excess of available berths were arriving in May, most of them with critically needed supplies. British officials stood firm in their insistence that BOLERO arrivals could be discharged only within the agreed-on monthly totals and that 120 ships was the absolute maximum that could be accepted in May.24 To meet the increasing outloading


requirements for OVERLORD it had already been necessary to allocate additional berths in the southern ports, which entailed handling a still greater portion of the incoming traffic in the northern ports and throwing an additional strain on the railways. Some British officials feared that the opportunity was being taken to clear U.S. ports irrespective of the congestion thus caused in those of the United Kingdom. Plans were even made to dump cargo in the streets and open spaces near the ports, where storage capacity was already taken up.25

Barely two weeks before D Day the impasse was finally resolved at the highest levels in the United Kingdom. On 20 May General Eisenhower appealed to the Prime Minister. Admitting that the import ceilings had been exceeded by nearly forty ships, he cited as the chief reason that it had been impossible to ship cargo in the desired quantities during the fall months of 1943 when the U.K. ports could have accepted it. These vessels contained large quantities of supplies and equipment vital to the success of operation OVERLORD. Eisenhower assured the Prime Minister that the matter was of grave importance, and stated that it was imperative that the ships be discharged.26 As he later reported to the War Department, "We have simply developed one of those bottlenecks (for no one is at fault for it) incident to big operations."27 A few days later the Supreme Commander met with Mr. Churchill and Lord Frederick Leathers, the Minister of War Transport, and prevailed upon them to adopt the only obvious solution--a cut in the British import program. That program had been subject to repeated changes. Now the British agreed to delay the delivery of 500,000 tons of cargo to make berths available for the BOLERO vessels, with the understanding that the United States would provide assistance later in the year to make up this loss.28

This adjustment averted the worst effects of the port crisis. After June the port capacity of the United Kingdom would gradually be supplemented by and eventually superseded by that of the continental beaches and ports which would receive cargo directly from the United States. But for the next few months British port capacity would definitely be limited, and the Army Service Forces was urged to adhere closely to the theaterís loading requests and priority lists for the ships intended for both U.K. and continental discharge. General Lutes of the ASF, on the basis of his own observations of the congested ports in the United Kingdom, accordingly instructed the New York Port to accede to the theaterís wishes in these matters so that the delivery of vitally needed equipment would be expedited.29 By other special measures it was possible to maintain a tremendous flow of cargo to the United Kingdom in the final months preceding the invasion. The crisis over port capacities nevertheless had illustrated a very fundamental logistical paradox: the threat that the invasion forces might not be equipped in the presence of plenty. The


limiting factor of 1943--shortage of supplies in the United States--was now having its long-range effect on the ability to equip the OVERLORD forces, threatening an artificial shortage in the spring of 1944 because of a new limiting factor--the inability of the British ports to receive the cargo now becoming available.

In the final month of preparation 600,000 long tons of supplies arrived in the United Kingdom, and cargo continued to arrive in unprecedented volume for another two months. The May receipts had the following composition:30

Type Tons
Total 599,739
Quartermaster 137,729
Ordnance, Total 296,523
  Ammunition 101,523
  Unassembled vehicles 73,436
  Assembled vehicles and tanks 65,248
  General 56,316
Engineer 55,984
Air Force 26,880
Transportation 22,518
Miscellaneous 60,105

Of the May total, 567,268 long tons arrived on 141 regular BOLERO ships, and 32,471 tons as part cargoes on 95 other vessels. By 31 May a cumulative total of 5,297,306 long tons, or 14,050,290 measurement tons had been received in the United Kingdom.

(2) Construction and Local Procurement, 1943-May 1944

For more than six months after the North African operation was launched, the limitations imposed by the War Department had circumscribed development of administrative facilities for U.S. forces in the United Kingdom. Except for the beginning made toward meeting the enlarged air force requirements, the Americans could offer little assistance in the construction program. Fortunately British officials had continued with portions of it, and in May 1943 the TRIDENT decisions injected new life into the program. In reviving the BOLERO build-up, these decisions inevitably had a corollary impact on U.K. plans for accommodating the BOLERO force. The Combined Chiefs of Staff had noted in their final report to the President and Prime Minister that "the expansion of logistical facilities in the United Kingdom will be undertaken immediately."31

Within a few days of the Washington Conference General Lee and others of his staff, including his Chief Engineer, General Moore, met with the British Quartermaster General, Gen. Sir T.S. Riddell-Webster, and other British officers to initiate planning for the revived BOLERO. Six weeks later, on 12 July 1943, the Deputy Quartermaster General (Liaison) issued the fourth and last edition of the BOLERO Key Plan for the reception, accommodation and maintenance of U.S. forces in the United Kingdom. The fourth edition of the plan did not differ substantially from the earlier editions except to bring them up to date by reflecting the most recent build-up schedules. It used the round figure of 1,340,000 for the buildup expected by 30 April 1944, thus allowing a small margin of safety over the figure used at TRIDENT (1,300,300).32 Finally, in October the figure was raised to 1,446,100


in an amendment reflecting the new troop build-up schedule agreed to at the QUADRANT Conference in August.33

Since the scheduled U.S. troop build-up represented an increase over that used in earlier plans, the Fourth Edition also called for an enlarged accommodations plan, and therefore entailed a larger construction program. Within the U.S. Army in the United Kingdom the provision of all facilities, by construction or other means, was the responsibility of the chief engineer. The requirements of the various services were first co-ordinated and consolidated by the Installations Branch, G-4, SOS, which administered the entire accommodations plan. Once these requirements were determined, however, it was the responsibility of the Engineer Service to acquire the facilities. The Engineer Service, in turn, arranged for the construction of the needed facilities, or for the transfer of existing accommodations, with the Office of the British Quartermaster General (or Q Branch), its principal point of contact with that agency on policy matters being the Quartermaster Liaison Branch, Q(Liaison), which had been specifically set up under General Wootten for that purpose in 1942.

When adequate facilities did not exist or could not be transferred for American use, the U.S. base section engineer and the British command concerned selected a site where the accommodation could be constructed, and the Q Branch was then asked to requisition the property. Once a project was approved, the actual construction of the new facility might involve several British government departments. The Ministry of Works and Planning, which supervised the entire project and constructed the hospitals and many of the depots and camps, had to turn to the Ministry of Supply for materials and to the Ministry of Labor for workers. The Ministry of War Transport constructed railways, roads, hardstandings, and docks. The Ministry of Agriculture arranged for the clearance of land needed for the new installations.

Much of the real work was accomplished at lower levels. Within the Office of the Chief Engineer, SOS, it was the Construction and Quartering Division which was in actual charge of the accommodations program, and had direct contacts with the various British directorates under the Deputy Quartermaster General and Engineer-in-Chief, such as the Directorates of Quartering, Movement, Transportation, Fortifications and Works, and Engineer Stores. Once it was determined that the necessary labor and materials were available, details of the project were worked out between the U.S. base section engineer and the corresponding British command, and construction could then proceed. The procedure for arranging for new construction was a cumbersome one, particularly in the early stages, each project requiring the approval of several agencies in the War Office. The resulting delays often tried the patience of American authorities, for on the U.S. side construction was much more decentralized, the base section and district commanders having considerably more leeway to authorize expenditures for construction projects.34 On the other hand, British officials were exasperated by the


repeated modifications in the plans of the Americans.

Virtually all construction in the United Kingdom was carried out to meet established War Office standards on such matters as space scales, types of huts,methods of flooring in hospitals, layouts for buildings, and screening and blackout facilities. U.S. scales differed from the British, and some modifications were made to meet American requirements, but U.S. standards had to be relaxed somewhat to meet accommodations requirements in the fall of 1943 when U.S. troops began to arrive in great numbers.

U.S. War Department construction designs proved of little use, for they called for a much greater quantity of wood than was available in the United Kingdom. British resources and practice dictated a much more extensive use of tile, plasterboard, sheet steel, corrugated iron, and precast concrete, and most facilities therefore took the form of steel Nissen huts, curved asbestos or prefabricated concrete huts for housing, and various types of steel huts for covered storage and shops. U.S. troop labor was not accustomed to working with these materials and required additional training. The use of these materials also resulted in the construction of more durable structures than was customary in a theater of war.

British and U.S. construction methods also contrasted because of the difference in tools and equipment. In general, U.S. engineer units were equipped with heavier-duty machinery, best suited for work on large projects such as depot and airfield construction in which extensive earth-moving jobs and concrete construction were called for. Much of the work that British labor had to perform by hand was carried out with patrol graders, bulldozers, mobile cranes, paving and trenching machines, and post-hole diggers where U.S. engineers were employed. By the time U.S. units so equipped arrived in England many of the larger construction projects had already been assigned to British labor, both civil and military, and U.S. engineers initially were dispersed over a number of minor jobs for which they were not best suited. Not until the large depots and airfields were authorized in 1943 were they utilized to best advantage.35

BOLERO construction policy from the beginning envisaged that all labor and materials would be provided by the British, with only incidental help from U.S. engineer units. But it was soon apparent that construction requirements would exceed British capacities. U.S. forces were therefore called on to provide a substantial contribution in materials and equipment as well as in military labor, and it became necessary to requisition items like lumber, cement, and pipe from U.S. depots.

The Fourth Key Plan, as amended in October 1943, estimated that the U.S. Army would require accommodations for 1,027,400 ground and service troops in the United Kingdom by 1 May 1944. In addition, the British War Office undertook a commitment to provide quarters for 33,000 U.S. air force personnel, the bulk of the air force requirements remaining the responsibility of the British Air Ministry. The War Office program therefore called for 1,060,400 spaces.36

This housing was acquired either by billeting, by the transfer of existing


accommodations, or by new construction. Billeting of troops in British homes was avoided as long as possible and remained on a voluntary basis until the end of 1943. Requisitioning was resorted to only when the build-up reached its peak in the winter and spring months. Although some incidents caused bad feelings between civilian householders and soldiers, most of the apprehensions and anxieties regarding the effect on Anglo-American relations proved unfounded.37 About 110,000 billets were provided for American troops, accounting for a small portion of the total personnel accommodations.

Approximately 60 percent of all troop quarters were acquired by requisition or transfer of existing facilities, the remaining 40 percent consisting of new construction. Most of the accommodations turned over by the British required additional work to bring them up to U.S. standards. Americans were notoriously wasteful in their use of water, for example, and additional facilities had to be constructed to provide an adequate supply. New accommodations took the form of tented expansions of existing camps, hutted camps, winter tented camps, and summer tented camps, and did not come into extensive use until late in 1943. Since U.S. troop labor for construction work was lacking earlier in the year, U.S. scales of accommodation were reduced to scales comparable with the British, and maximum use was made of existing facilities. Most familiar of the various camp structures was the Nissen hut, a utilitarian structure which was used for living quarters, administration buildings, hospitals, mess halls, bath houses, and a variety of other purposes. A typical 1,000-man Nissen hut camp contained 123 buildings and covered about 40 acres. Tented accommodations were built to U.S. designs and caused no great difficulty. A typical 1,000-man tented camp contained about 200 tents and covered 34 acres.

The BOLERO housing program met requirements with remarkable accuracy. Available accommodations totaled 1,206,349 at the end of May, at which time the ground and service force troop strength was approximately 1,100,000. Since only about 90 percent of theoretical capacity could be counted on because unit strengths did not exactly coincide with camp capacities, the available housing almost exactly met U.S. needs. At no time was there an actual shortage.

The Air Ministry had provided accommodations, in addition to those under the BOLERO program, for 442,170 U.S. air force troops, bringing the total to 1,648,519. Another substantial addition in the housing program over and above the BOLERO needs had been made in the spring of 1944, when it was decided to prepare for bivouac camp facilities for 171,250 extra troops that would have to be accommodated in the event of a delay in launching the OVERLORD operation. Tented facilities were built in the marshaling areas near the ports to accommodate another 200,000 troops during the mounting phases of the cross-Channel attack. The aggregate of all personnel accommodations provided U.S. troops in the United Kingdom just before D Day therefore totaled 2,021,387. The types and sources of these accommodations are summarized in the table on the following page.38


Type Total Acquired or
Constructed by:
U.S. Army British
Total in United Kingdom 2,021,387 (a) (a) (a)
Total BOLERO Program 1,206,349 729.107 348,503 128,739
Hutted camps 665,986 612,131 50,230 3,625
Expansions to hutted camps 56,985 0 12,930 44,055
Expansions in winterized tents 59,687 0 59,687 0
Summer tented camps 192,564 0 179,064 13,500
Winterized tented camps 30,470 0 30,470 0
Accommodations at hospitals 56,437 5,386 672 50,379
Accommodations at depots 32,630 0 15,450 17,180
Billets 111,590 111,590 0 0
Total U.S. Air Forces 442,170 37,024 404,606 0
Existing facilities 37,024 37,024 0 0
Hutted camps 348,436 0 348,436 0
Tents 56,170 0 56,170 0
Total OVERLORD 372,868 (b) (b) (b)
Mounting accommodations 201,618 (b) (b) (b)
Bivouac Facilities 171,250 (b) (b) (b)
  (a) Not available because of lack of OVERLORD data.
  (b) Not determined in source report.

Provision of hospital requirements did not proceed as smoothly. Hospital construction had lower priority than either depot or personnel needs. Its high building standards meant detailed supervision and greater demands for skilled labor and scarce materials. Furthermore, it was a considerably larger undertaking because existing facilities met only a small fraction of the total needs, and it was thus necessary to provide the great bulk of medical facilities through new construction. The various sources of hospital facilities have already been described. A small percentage of the eventual U.S. requirements was initially met by the transfer of certain permanent military hospitals and also several Emergency Medical Service hospitals. But the BOLERO planners had estimated that the great bulk of U.S. requirements would have to be met by the use of militia, conversion, and dual-purpose camps, and by the construction of regular station and general hospitals. In 1943 the acquisition of hospitals proceeded on the basis of the 90,000-bed requirements estimated in the Second Edition of the BOLERO plan. In order to give some stability to the hitherto uncertain construction plans, the chief surgeon announced in June 1943 that the


TYPICAL MEDICAL INSTALLATIONS: Interior of ward, above. Nissen hut hospital, below.


goal would be to procure facilities with 90,000 to 95,000 fixed beds.39 This program remained fairly stable despite the fact that the Fourth Edition of the Key Plan, issued the following month, called for a larger troop build-up than before and stated a requirement for 103,690 beds.

Hospital capacities had already been altered in the Second Edition of July 1942, when station hospitals were increased in size from 750 to 834 beds, and general hospitals from 1,000 to 1,082 beds. The increased requirements were to be met largely through expansions of hospitals already planned. The first step in this expansion was taken in the summer of 1943 when the Surgeon General of the Army urged that a greater number of 1,000-bed hospital units be utilized in the United Kingdom. Such an increase of general hospitals required the expansion of the 834-bed station hospitals. Under new austerity quartering scales these station hospital plants were able to accommodate the staff personnel of a 1,000-bed general hospital with but little additional construction, and some of the station hospital units were eventually replaced or expanded to 1,000-bed units.40

In January 1944 plans were made to increase the patient capacity of all station and general hospitals by 30,000 beds. U.S. troop labor was to be used for the job of providing 27,750 beds in tented expansions, using standard war tents adjacent to existing hospital wards, and an additional 2,250 beds in three 750-bed, completely tented hospitals. The labor force was recruited chiefly from medical operating personnel not immediately needed in their assigned role, and the engineer service performed the necessary siting and technical assistance. Plans were also made for an additional 10,907 expansion beds to be set up in existing wards. By the beginning of June, after many changes, the hospital program called for 93,280 fixed beds and 40,907 tented expansion beds, or a total of 134,187.41 This was a maximum program, however, and was not expected to be completed for several months. The fixed bed portion of the program was to be met as follows:42

  Total   93,280
Existing Beds 11,746
Expansions 5,597
New Hospitals 47,508
  35 station 29,106  
  17 general 18,402  
Convertible 28,429
  Militia barracks 14,929  
  Conversion camps 7,500  
  Dual-purpose 6,000  

The hospital construction program lagged from the beginning. As usual, the principal reason was the shortage of labor, particularly in the skilled categories required in this type of construction. Building a hospital was a considerably more complex undertaking than building a barracks or a warehouse. Special attention had to be given such matters as the installation of special electrical and plumbing fixtures, steam boilers, and hot-water generating systems. Innumerable complications attended the construction and operation of medical facilities. Mechanical dishwashers, for example, required additional construction because British-designed grease traps could not cope with the large amount of fats present in American



foods. This also created an additional problem at the sewage disposal plants, where grease fouled up the filtering beds. Even the type of flooring used in operating rooms took on such importance as to require high-level policy decision.

The majority of the newly constructed hospitals eventually consisted of 834- and 1,082-bed installations based on standard layouts designed by British experts and approved by American engineers and medical officers, although there were deviations to meet local conditions. While some were built of brick, most hospitals utilized Nissen huts, the standard 1,082-bed installations requiring about 160 buildings and 50 acres of land. Many were located on landed estates, miles from a railway and requiring completely new water and sewage disposal systems.43 By D Day 59,424 fixed beds of the original BOLERO program were in operation, and 24,786 of the tented expansions were completed, bringing the available facilities at that time to 74 hospitals (43 general and 31 station) with 84,210 beds.44 While


Type Unit Total Acquired or
Constructed by:
U.S. Army British
Covered storage and shop sq.ft. 19,905,070 13,415,735 2,567,351 3,921,984
Opening and hardstanding sq.ft. 43,411,525 5,486,880 22,214,3071 15,710,338
Roads and railways miles 269.80 0 86.04 183.76
POL storage tons 173,325 4,005 163,965 5,355
Vehicle storage vehicles 48,350 6,100 39,250 2,000
Ammunition storage tons 448,100 148,000 177,000 123,100

the completed construction thus fell short of the target of the BOLERO Fourth Edition, the deficiency was not as serious as it first appears. Shortly after D Day the evacuated militia, dual-purpose, and conversion camps were turned to hospital use. General Hawley, the chief surgeon, was satisfied, as D Day approached, that the facilities would be adequate, and had particular praise for the quality of the physical plant. British construction had maintained a high standard, and the program had been carried out at considerably lower cost than would have been possible in the United States.45

The depot program proved to be the best organized and best executed of all the BOLERO accommodation plans, despite the fears of 1942 that storage space would fall short of requirements. Its success was due in part to the fact that depot construction was accorded the highest priority and did not suffer as much from the shortage of labor and materials, and also to the fact that existing facilities provided more than two thirds of the required covered storage space. The Engineer Corps, either by acquisition or new construction, eventually provided almost 20,000,000 square feet of covered storage and shop space (of which only 6,500,000 square feet was new construction), 43,500,000 square feet of open storage and hardstandings, and additional facilities for the storage of 450,000 tons of ammunition, 175,000 tons of POL, and vehicle parks for nearly 50,000 vehicles. Not all of these facilities were in use on D Day. Their source is tabulated above.46 Insofar as possible, storage facilities, like other accommodations, were constructed according to standard layouts. A model general depot was planned and first built at Wem, near Shrewsbury in western England. It had 450,240 square feet of covered storage, 1,375,000 feet of open storage, and personnel accommodations for 1,250. Construction was begun in December 1942 and the depot was completed in June of the following year at a cost of $2,360,000. On this model five other depots, commonly known as "Wems," were then built, one each at Boughton in Nottinghamshire, at Histon near Cambridge, at Honeybourne northeast of Cheltenham, at Lockerly near Salisbury, and at Moreton-on-Lugg northwest of Cheltenham. (Map 6) Those at Histon and Lockerly were built entirely by U.S. troops, and all took roughly six months to complete. The largest depot of all was constructed at Sudbury-Egginton, near Burton-upon-Trent, with more than 1,000,000 square feet of covered and 9,500,000 square feet of open space. It was built entirely by the British at a cost of approximately $6,600,000.47




One of the biggest problems in depot construction was locating adequate footing for open storage of the generally heavier American equipment. Soil conditions were generally unfavorable in the United Kingdom, for the water table was very close to the surface. This created special problems in drainage and surfacing before adequate hardstandings were developed. Progress was generally good on the construction program, and the British ministries made every effort to make available the needed labor and materials. Even so, it was necessary to employ U.S. troop labor to complete the program, and American engineer units in the end accounted for more than half of the total man-hours expended on new construction. At the end of May 1944 the BOLERO storage program was almost 100 percent complete, the only deficit being in POL storage. At that time the ground and service force depot structure in the United Kingdom consisted of the following major installations in use:48

Type   Number
General depots 18
Branch Depots:  
  QM Service Depots 13
  POL Depots 14
  Ordnance Service Depots 17
  Ammunition Depots 9
  Vehicle Parks 12
  Transportation Corps Depots 2
  Chemical Warfare Depots 1
  Engineer Depots 1
  Medical Depots 4
  Signal Depots 3

Except for hospital facilities and a small number of personnel accommodations the BOLERO program included none of the air force requirements, for these were met almost wholly by other plans carried out by the Air Ministry and the Royal Air Force. On the U.S. side, however, the SOS was responsible for meeting the air force as well as ground and service force requirements, and this task was also delegated to the chief engineer. The only basic difference in carrying out the two programs was that in the case of air force projects the chief engineer, on behalf of the air force engineer, dealt with the Air Ministry rather than the War Office. The chief enginer of the air force prepared the statement of air force construction and quartering needs, transmitted them to the chief engineer of the SOS, who then requested the Air Ministry to provide the needed facilities, just as he also requested similar implementation of ground and service force needs under the BOLERO program.

In the Air Ministry the chief administrative officer corresponding to the Quartermaster General in the War Office was the Air Minister for Supply and Organization (AMSO). Like the War Office, the Air Ministry created a separate liaison agency as the chief point of contact with the U.S. chief engineer. It was known as the Assistant Directorate of Organization (U.S.), or ADO(US).

The procedure of implementing the entire air force construction and quartering program therefore paralleled very closely the procedure for the BOLERO program, and at lower echelons there was the same type of direct liaison, in this case between


the base section and Air Ministry field personnel. Once a project was approved in the Air Ministry, the actual job was carried out by the Director General of Works, a civilian heading a civilian engineering and clerical staff, who executed the project through contracts with civilian firms.

As with BOLERO, it was fully intended that the British should take care of all air force needs. But it became immediately apparent that British labor, material, and equipment resources would not be sufficient. As early as May 1942 agreement was reached that U.S. forces should assume responsibility for the construction of twenty heavy-bomber airfields. Eventually twenty-four aviation engineer battalions built fourteen bomber fields and also accomplished a vast amount of construction work on other facilities, such as headquarters installations and depots.

Another early agreement provided that Royal Air Force scales would prevail in the construction of U.S. installations. For all heavy-bomber airfields the Works Directorate of the Air Ministry prepared standard layouts that specified the number and size of runways, the number of personnel accommodations and repair shops, and the storage facilities to be provided for ammunition and gasoline. Heavy-bomber stations were built at an average cost of about $4,000,000. Each required more than 400,000 square feet of covered accommodations, and had runways equal to nearly 20 miles of concrete road 20 feet wide.49

Rigid adherence to blueprints produced difficulties. American B-17ís and B-24ís put excessive strain on the six-inch concrete runways of British fields, and all runways used by the U.S. air forces had to be capped with a new eight-inch concrete slab or resurfaced with other materials. So great was the deterioration on airfield runways that approximately 25 percent of the gross labor employed was eventually expended in maintenance. The ruling that U.S. air force personnel should be provided with accommodations on scales identical with those of the Royal Air Force also resulted in certain inequities favoring air force units over ground and service force personnel, for British air force accommodation scales were higher than those for ground units.

The air force construction program was a victim of substantially the same limitations as the BOLERO projects. An acute shortage of labor hampered the program at all times; materials were in critically short supply; and British contractors for the most part lacked the heavy construction equipment with which the American engineer battalions were favored. Nevertheless, the air force program enjoyed a high priority, and was completed substantially as planned in the spring of 1944 at the height of the bomber offensive against Germany. After many revisions, air force plans as finally stabilized in November 1943 called for 126 airfields, exactly the number occupied by U.S. air forces at the end of May 1944. In addition, 6 base air depots, 11 ordnance air depots, and 11 ammunition depots, and many other installations had been made available to USSTAF, with a total closed storage and shop space of more than 10,000,000 square feet. The 442,000 personnel accommodations have already been mentioned in connection with the BOLERO program. The cost of the air force construction program came to roughly $440,000,000.50

With the exception of the deficit in




medical facilities noted above, the mammoth construction program, begun two years before, was virtually complete on the eve of the invasion. It was accomplished despite innumerable handicaps, the principal limiting factor being the persistent deficiency of of both materials and manpower. American requirements were not the only demand on available resources, and had to be integrated with British needs. Administrative difficulties, among them the lack of parallelism in British and American methods of operation, and the different standards and scales also hampered the program, although these were successfully overcome. At times there was indecision as to whether to emphasize speed or quality. In the view of U.S. forces, British labor policies made for inefficiency. British civilian workmen had a limited mobility and adhered to traditional, and often time-consuming, construction practices. The quality of their work was usually high, however, and in fairness it must be noted that the cream of British labor was in the armed services. The physical condition of troop labor, army discipline, and the advantage of more modern heavy equipment, all resulted in a higher rate of production per man where service engineer units were employed.

A summation of the accomplishment provides some impressive statistics. At the end of May there had been made available to U.S. forces in the United Kingdom accommodations for 1,600,000 persons, 30,000,000 square feet of covered storage and shop space, 43,500,000 square feet of open storage space, hospitals with a capacity of 84,000 beds, 126 airfields, and many other facilities such as shops for the assembly of locomotives and freight cars, tire, tank, and vehicle repair shops, and chemical impregnating plants. The estimated value of these installations, either transferred to or built for American use, was nearly one billion dollars. Of this total, nearly two thirds represented expenditure for new construction, the breakdown of which is shown below:51

  Total   $664,000,000
BOLERO 200,000,000
  Personnel accommodations $59,200,000  
  Hospitals 57,200,000
  Depots and shops 50,800,000
  Miscellaneous 32,800,000
Air Forces 440,000,000
OVERLORD mounting installations 24,000,000

All facilities turned over to the U.S. forces or specifically built for them remained the property of the British and were acquired by the Americans on a rental basis.

At the peak of construction activity approximately 56,000 civilians and 51,000 troops (both British and American) were employed, the larger portion of the civilian labor being employed on air force projects. The total labor expenditure is estimated to have exceeded 400,000,000 man-hours. The breakdown of this effort is tabulated on the following page.52

Provision of the greater part of the personnel quarters, hospitals, depots, and airfields by no means represented the total British contribution to the logistical support of the American forces in the United


Type Total man-hours British U.S. Troops
  Total 403,708,000 252,518,000 151,190,000
Housing 48,000,000 21,800,000 26,200,000
Hospitals 54,340,000 48,600,000 5,740,000
Depots 34,500,000 16,300,000 18,200,000
Special Accommodations 6,000,000 4,000,000 2,000,000
Air Forces (to May 1945) 260,868,000 161,818,000 99,050,000

Kingdom. While details cannot be given here, it is apropos to give some indication of the quantity of supplies and services, as well as accommodations, which U.S. forces procured from British sources under reverse lend-lease.

Plans written before the U.S. entry into the war contemplated that American forces in the United Kingdom, so far as practicable, would draw their logistical support from sources outside the British Isles. A General Purchasing Board was established in Britain in 1942 on the assumption that its main function would be to plan for later procurement on the Continent. The provision of accommodations in the United Kingdom was of course a vast program of local procurement in itself. But in addition it was found that the British possessed certain commodities in excess of their needs, and that there even was surplus manufacturing and processing capacity which could be employed. An even more compelling reason for procuring supplies locally was the shortage of shipping. Both facts made it natural and inevitable that U.S. forces should draw on local resources wherever practicable. In the summer of 1942 the theater commander asserted that conservation of shipping space would be the basic consideration in determining the desirability of procuring supplies locally. The basis for such "reciprocal aid" already existed in a Master Agreement of February 1942 pledging the two nations to provide each other with such supplies and services to the extent of their capability for the prosecution of the war.

Following the practice of World War I, the theater commander in May 1942 designated a General Purchasing Agent and established a General Purchasing Board, consisting of representatives of the service chiefs, the Eighth Air Force, the Army Exchange Service, and other agencies. Together, the General Purchasing Agent and General Purchasing Board acted as a central agency to negotiate agreements with British officials, to formulate purchasing policies and procedure, and to co-ordinate and supervise the purchase of supplies by the various supply services and other agencies. Until the General Purchasing Agent stepped in and temporarily stopped almost all local purchases, there was a great deal of haphazard buying early in 1942 to fill immediate needs. Once the system of local procurement was regularized, a vast program of purchasing was begun in virtually every class of supply.

U.S. troops arriving in the United Kingdom early in 1942 lacked supplies of all kinds and relied heavily on British sources for even such basic maintenance as rations. The British ration, containing more tea, bread, potatoes, and mutton, and less sugar, beef, coffee, fruits, and vegetables than Americans were accustomed to, was unpopular, and efforts were immediately made to add the desired items. Even after U.S. stocks were sufficient for


the issue of a full American ration, however, large quantities of meats, fruits, condiments, cheese, candy, dairy products, and vegetables (including the lowly Brussels sprout, whose popularity was short lived) were procured locally to supplement the canned goods, the boneless beef, the dried eggs, and that much-derided product in the U.S. Army ration which gave the theater its nickname--"Spamland." Fresh vegetables were obtained in part through NAAFI, the quasi-official British organization which operated the canteens and post exchanges for the Royal Navy, Army, and Air Force. The British Government, through the Ministry of Food, had greatly intensified its agricultural production. In 1942, using British seed, fertilizer, and equipment, American troops aided in this program by planting 7,000 acres in and around camp areas, raising mostly corn, beans, peas, onions, and potatoes. In 1943 this acreage was doubled.

For more than a year and a half American units received all their bread through British Army and civilian bakeries, at first using wheat flour shipped from the United States. The British had for a long time been using "National Wheatmeal Flour," a blend of English and Canadian wheat with a small percentage of barley and oats, accepted as a wartime measure. In September 1942, fearing the adverse effect on civilian morale if American troops continued to eat white bread in wartime Britain, the Minister of Food requested that the American forces also adopt National Wheatmeal Flour, which they did. The bread was not entirely satisfactory in texture or taste, but experimentation in baking produced a loaf more in accord with American tastes. Not until the fall of 1943 did American units begin to meet even a portion of their own requirements. Initially they lacked equipment; then they discovered the superiority of British Army mobile bakeries and decided to adopt them for general use in the theater. By May 1944 the U.S. Quartermaster Corps in the United Kingdom had acquired fifty-two bakery sets from the British and was operating thirty-eight of them, producing about 500,000 pounds of bread daily, or about 60 percent of American requirements. The remainder continued to be furnished by British civilian bakeries and by the Royal Army Service Corps.53

In the first half year of the reciprocal aid program, from June to December 1942, U.S. forces procured the equivalent of 1,120,000 measurement tons of supplies and equipment from the British, with a corresponding saving in shipping. By far the largest portion of these supplies--almost 600,000 tons--consisted of quartermaster items, including subsistence, clothing, coal, and other supplies.54 By mutual agreement woolen clothing was procured for U.S. troops in the United Kingdom while similar items were shipped from the United States to British units in the Middle East. Among the other major items provided were 1,450,000 square yards of portable airfield runways, 15,000 bombs, 70,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and several million rounds of small arms ammunition, 250,000 antitank mines, 500,000 hand grenades, 1,000 parachutes, several hundred thousand camouflage nets, plus hundreds of other items of all


classes.55 The transfer of British equipment in some cases aided materially in equipping U.S. units in time for the TORCH operation. By the end of the year supplies procured in this way had accounted for at least a third of all tonnages received by U.S. troops in the United Kingdom.

Local procurement was plagued with many complications, not the least of which was the difficulty with the "common language." In literally thousands of items of supply and equipment the American and British terminology and nomenclature differed. Not only did the American serviceman have to learn to drive on the left side of the road and figure out the intricacies of pounds, shillings, and pence, but he had to learn to ask for petrol when he wanted gas, to refer to lorries instead of trucks, and lifts rather than elevators. To the Britisher a hot-water boiler was a calorifier, a garbage can was a dustbin, shoe tacks were tingles, burlap was hessian, cheese cloth was butter muslin, and a summer undershirt was a tropical vest. The British stenographer was puzzled to find that to her American employer the last letter in the English alphabet was "z" and not "zed," and she insisted on the British spelling of such words as "programme" and "tyres" in correspondence which she prepared in the various U.S. Army offices. Wherever Americans came into contact with Britishers, particularly in the depots and in the local procurement program, where they dealt with or actually handled supplies of both countries it was inevitable that they should at times conclude that their languages were only nominally the same.

The reciprocal aid program also brought with it a vexing problem of bookkeeping and accounting. War Department regulations initially prescribed a system of receipted vouchers for all supplies, with American and British officers agreeing on prices and, in lieu of such agreement, American officers fixing their own valuation. This proved completely impracticable and was largely ignored. British officials frequently could not furnish cost figures on delivery, and there were not enough U.S. officers qualified to make price evaluations. The result was that, where such evaluations were insisted on, prices were often pulled out of the air. In October 1942 the attempt to keep a monetary record of reciprocal aid transfers was abandoned and the War Department authorized U.S. officers in the United Kingdom to maintain only a quantitative record. For several months U.S. reports therefore indicated only the amounts of goods received, while British quarterly reports gave monetary values in round numbers.

In June 1943 the War Department once more attempted to establish a procedure of monetary evaluation of locally procured supplies, but by that time the quantity of goods supplied under reverse lend-lease had reached such huge proportions that neither the independent evaluation by U.S. authorities nor the provision of unit prices by the British was possible. The estimated monetary values of the British quarterly reports plus the U.S. records of quantities were therefore accepted by ETOUSA as the best possible temporary solution. Under other circumstances the valuation procedure followed by the British would not have been acceptable, but more serious differences did not arise at


the time in part because of the realization that supplies furnished the British through lend-lease would far exceed the British contributions via reverse lend-lease.56 In the heat of the build-up for invasion the important thing was to fill the largest possible portion of American needs by local procurement with the hope of effecting savings in shipping; the accounting of these purchases was a secondary consideration and could be postponed.

Reciprocal aid, like the build-up, reached its height in the months just preceding the invasion. In the first year the Air Force was one of the largest beneficiaries from local purchase, for the United Kingdom was an indispensable source of almost all types of equipment in the Eighth Air Forceís early history. From June 1942 through July 1943 the American air forces drew 49 percent of all their air force supplies and equipment from British sources, in addition to quartermaster, engineer, medical, and other types of supplies received indirectly from the British through the SOS.57 Air force supplies included huge quantities of replacement parts, hand tools, photographic and communications equipment, flying clothing, parachutes, and Spitfire fighter planes. By the spring of 1944, to cite only a few examples, the British had provided 1,100 planes plus several hundred gliders, 32,000 bombs, 7,000 sets of armor plate for heavy bombers, 5,000 rubber dinghies, 10,600 aircraft tires, 35,000 belly tanks for fighter craft, 9,600 pieces of protective body armor, 43,000 jettisonable gas tanks, 44,500,000 yards of Sommerfeld track, 50 mobile repair shops for the repair of bombers crash-landed in the United Kingdom, and unspecified quantities of heated winter flying clothing, radio equipment, and other items.58

The Quartermaster Corps obtained 63 percent of its requirements through 1944 by local purchase, a larger percentage of its total needs than any other service. The nature of its purchases has already been indicated. In addition to subsistence, these included camp, laundry, bakery, and shoe repair equipment, soap, office supplies, 15,000,000 5-gallon cans, 800,000 55-gallon drums, 83 mobile bakeries, toiletries, and large quantities of woolen socks, shoes, towels, blankets, and other items of clothing.59

Engineer supplies procured in Britain took the form of amphibious and bridging equipment, railway supplies, construction machinery, and storage tanks. The Engineer Corps was one of the largest users of locally procured supplies, acquiring 58 percent of its needs, exclusive of construction materials, in this manner.

Between June 1942 and June 1944 the services procured varying portions of their supplies in the United Kingdom, as indicated in the table below.

Quartermaster Corps 63%
Corps of Engineers 58
Medical Service 49
Chemical Warfare Service 25
Signal Corps 22
Air Forces 21
Ordnance Service 4
Transportation Corps 3

Ordnance and Transportation Corps supplies did not bulk large in actual tonnage, but British manufacturers produced almost all the waterproofing materials needed to prepare vehicles for the


amphibious phase of the cross-Channel operation, and British plants assembled nearly 130,000 vehicles for U.S. forces through June 1944.60 Reciprocal aid to the Transportation Corps consisted chiefly of facilities, such as ports and rail lines, and services, such as labor employed in unloading cargo and transportation services on British railways and highways. In the first six months of 1944 alone British railways operated 9,225 special trains with over 950,000 cars to move U.S. troops and supplies.61

By the end of June 1944 an estimated 6,800,000 ship tons of supplies from British sources had been furnished American forces in the United Kingdom, accounting for approximately 31 percent of all supplies received by ETOUSA forces up to that time, exclusive of construction materials and gasoline. More than half of this tonnage--3,851,000 ship tons--was delivered to U.S. forces in the first six months of 1944, as is indicated in the summary below:

Total 6,799,433
1942 1,121,786
1943 1,826,701
1944, first 6 months 3,850,946

The U.S. Army in Britain received without cash payment through reverse lend-lease, or "mutual aid" as the British preferred to call it, innumerable other services, such as shoe repair, laundering, and camp utilities. The goods transferred and services rendered to U.S. forces within the United Kingdom before 30 June 1944 had an estimated value of $1,028,787,000. In addition, the British performed world-wide shipping services to U.S. forces in the amount of $356,050,000,62 and, as summarized earlier, had expended approximately $664,000,000 on new construction. The amount of British labor employed on U.S. account fluctuated widely, but during the peak months in the winter of 1943-44 reached nearly 100,000 workers (over 90 percent civilian), including labor employed directly by the Americans and on construction projects for U.S. forces.63

In a special report to Congress on reverse lend-lease aid, President Roosevelt noted that "it would have taken 1,000 loaded ships to send from the United States the supplies provided to our forces by the United Kingdom."64 In view of the acute shipping shortages during most of the build-up, these goods and services were an indispensable contribution toward the maintenance and equipment of U.S. forces preparing for the invasion of the Continent.

(3) The SOS on the Eve of OVERLORD

In the five months that preceded the invasion supply officials in both the United States and the theater were concerned not only with the over-all volume of supplies being shipped to the United Kingdom,


but also with shortages in specific items of equipment. Huge tonnages in themselves did not insure that all units would be adequately equipped. In January 1944 the Army Service Forces made a comprehensive survey of the status of the BOLERO build-up. The most striking revelation of its report was the unbalanced nature of the shipments of the past months. To cite the extreme cases, the Quartermaster Corps had already virtually completed its shipments for eighteen divisions and their supporting troops, while Signal Corps equipment had been shipped for only five.65 Some variation was to be expected, since under the preshipment program every effort had been made to fill the available shipping with whatever supplies and equipment were available at the time, and quartermaster supplies had been available in greater quantities than those of other services. Nevertheless, the ASF report demonstrated how misleading tonnage figures by themselves could be, for despite the heavy movement to the European theater there were many shortages, and some of them persisted even to D Day. One of the principal reasons was that many items were only now beginning to become available in sufficient quantity in the United States.

At the time of the survey forecasts indicated that the principal requirements would be met by the first of May. By March, however, theater port capacity and shipping space so restricted the shipment of the mounting tonnages of cargo at the New York Port that the theater had to institute a system of priorities to insure that the most badly needed items were delivered in time. Late in March General Lord and several of the ETOUSA service chiefs journeyed to Washington and reviewed with ASF officials the entire supply picture for the coming invasion, discussing such matters as supply levels, intertheater priorities, emergency requisitions, commodity loading, and tonnage allocations. Their most immediate concern was with the critical shortages in specific items of supply and equipment. Investigating the status of every important item, they prepared a "critical item list" which included all supplies whose lack might jeopardize the success of the operation. The list established deadlines for the delivery of the necessary quantities, and production schedules, rail shipments, port receipts, and port loading of these items were thereafter followed day by day. Their status was reported to the theater by air courier, and when difficulties arose or were foreseen, the problem was immediately reviewed and remedial action was taken. Under a system of priorities established by the theater, ETOUSA thus maintained virtually complete control of the make-up of shipments to the United Kingdom in the months just before D Day.66

In the United States the New York Port was instructed to adhere closely to the theater priority lists for loading, and the ASF did everything possible to expedite delivery of critical supply items in the final weeks of preparation for OVERLORD. Despite these efforts, shortages of both major and minor items persisted beyond D Day. Among them were amphibious trucks, tank transporters, LVTís, mine-exploding devices, certain heavy transportation equipment, and various types of ammunition. Fortunately, none of these shortages


were serious enough to affect the initial stages of the operation.67

Another subject that received considerable attention at the conferences between theater and ASF supply officials in March was "Operational projects," the procedure whereby the requirements of particular operations for certain supplies and equipment were met. Known also as "projects for continental operations,"î or PROCO, this was a method of tailoring the equipment for a particular job without reference to the quantities authorized in Tables of Equipment or Tables of Basic Allowances. Determining the requirements of Class IV supplies--those for which allowances are not prescribed--has always been difficult, there being no standard basis of procurement or issue of such supplies and equipment because the demands vary with each operation. Late in 1942 the ASF Planning Division initiated a study to determine what supplies were needed for the construction of housing and ports and the rehabilitation of railways in North Africa. Bills of materials were prepared for supplies and equipment for camps, airfields, rail bridging, and so on. While no action was immediately taken on the "project," this estimate was the forerunner of the operational projects system which was inaugurated for all theaters in June 1943. In the European theater it was obvious that huge quantities of special operational Class II and IV supplies would be needed over and above T/BA and T/E allowances for such projects as pipeline and airfield construction, the rebuilding of ports and railways, and the provision of hospitals and depots. A project prepared by the Transportation Corps, for example, based on certain assumptions regarding the destruction of French ports, called for large quantities of construction materials, cranes, barges, and dock equipment, and other TC projects called for diesel electric locomotives, shop equipment, and materials-handling equipment. The Ordnance and Engineer Services were also major users of the operational projects procedure to meet their needs for special undertakings on the Continent. The Ordnance Service alone submitted projects for more than 300,000 tons of equipment, much of it consisting of heavy automotive units such as 10-ton semitrailers and truck-tractors. The Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for all major construction projects, such as pipelines, railways, and port repair, presented bills of materials for upwards of 700,000 tons for the first eight months of operations.68

PROCO, like every other major logistic procedure, was attended by many snags and misunderstandings. It was especially important that requirements be estimated far in advance of actual need, since procurement of special equipment frequently took as long as eighteen and sometimes twenty-four months. The program was not inaugurated until the summer of 1943, less than a year before the invasion date. Even at that time the projects rested on rather tentative operational plans, for the OVERLORD design was not approved until August, and its details were not worked out until early 1944. This initial handicap was further aggravated, in the view of ETOUSA officials, by the interminable delays in processing operational projects


in the War Department. ETOUSA officials thought the procedure was inexcusably slow. In extreme cases, they noted, it required seven months before supply action was initiated on a theater project. The OPD eventually admitted that the processing cycle was too long and inaugurated a system that materially reduced the time, although it did not take effect until the spring of 1944. The theater also complained that there were wide discrepancies between ASF, New York Port, and ETOUSA records of shipments, the ASF figures indicating greater shipments than had actually taken place and been received in the theater.69

On the other hand the War Department found reason to charge the theater with misusing the entire PROCO system. As conceived by the War Department, operational projects were intended for the purpose of initiating procurement (that is, production) in advance for Class II items over and above T/BA and T/E, for materials-handling equipment, and for other Class IV items needed on particular operations. But the ETO had construed the intent of the system to include all requirements in excess of authorized allowances for all classes of equipment, and requirements for maintenance supplies in excess of normal combat usage factors. Under this interpretation requests were submitted to meet the losses expected from ship sinkings in the English Channel, and to meet unusually high expenditures in the early stages of the attack. Requests went in for many common items such as rations and ammunition--items the War Department had never intended to be included. Furthermore, of the 281 operational projects received from the European theater by April 1944, it was observed that 251 were of no assistance in planning advance procurement, presumably because they arrived late.

The War Department also took exception to the continuing amendments and revisions of the projects. Most of them called for increases which the Army Service Forces in many cases simply could not provide in the short time remaining. But these changes could hardly be avoided in view of the many alterations in the OVERLORD operational plan. In the end the Army Service Forces despaired of carrying out the PROCO system as originally conceived and for the most part accommodated itself to the existing situation. In an attempt to expedite the delivery of the materials which the theater requested, it often abandoned the SOPíS established for processing the projects and sought informal recommendations and concurrences. Eventually it approved the use of PROCO for all requirements in excess of normal issue, consumption, and expenditure rates. While the program was not carried out in strict accordance with original intentions, therefore, it generally accomplished its purpose by providing hundreds of thousands of tons of supplies and equipment to meet the unusual demands of the OVERLORD operation.70

In the final weeks before D Day the theaterís supply arrangements came under the searching eye of one of the top officials of the Army Service Forces. In April General Lutes, Chief of Operations


of the ASF, went to the United Kingdom and undertook a prolonged examination of the logistical situation there. His purpose was not only to check on the last-minute needs of the coming operation, but to inspect the entire supply structure in the United Kingdom and determine the efficiency of the theaterís supply machinery. As the personal representative of the ASF commander General Lutes was in an excellent position to take any action necessary to expedite the administrative preparations for the cross-Channel attack; and as an outsider he was in a better position than anyone in the theater to judge objectively the efficacy of its logistical organization.

On the whole General Lutes found the supply situation satisfactory. Most important, he could report early in May that the OVERLORD assault forces were adequately equipped. The fact that plans for the shipment of maintenance supplies to the Continent were not complete beyond the first four weeks he did not consider serious, for there was still time to develop plans for the later phases of the operation.71 He was not entirely satisfied, however, with the status of advance planning in general. While the responsibility for advance supply planning unquestionably belonged to the SOS, the delay was at least partially traceable to higher headquarters. Supply planning must be preceded by operational planning, and the latter had lagged consistently. The high-level decision on OVERLORD itself had been belated from the point of view of the Army Service Forces, which was responsible for procurement of the needed supplies and equipment. No other aspect of logistics troubled the supply services as much as getting operational decisions far enough in advance to initiate long-range procurement. The ASF and the theater SOS consistently regarded this as their chief problem and repeatedly emphasized it to the headquarters responsible for operational planning. The Army supply program had to anticipate requirements by at least twelve to eighteen months. Likewise, in the theater the operational plans of the G-3ís had to be translated into items of supply and requisitions by the G-4ís. In this regard General Lutes thought that SHAEF, one of whose main functions was advance planning, had been remiss, for the Supreme Headquarters had not carried its operational planning far enough forward, with the result that supply planning also lagged. Even the firming up of the operational troop basis by the 1st Army Group and First Army had been unduly delayed from the point of view of supply and movement plans. It was noted that the troop basis data on the mounting plan, already scheduled dangerously close, had been delivered to ETOUSA-SOS eleven days late, and even then changes continued to be made. All supply loading and movement plans were completely dependent on the troop basis and on the tonnage allocations provided by 1st Army Group, and both were delayed.72

In addition to this fundamental handicap General Lutes found certain shortcomings within the SOS itself. Most of them concerned supply operating procedures which are of too technical a nature to be described here. The SOS still lacked an adequately standardized supply records and administrative procedure. While the technical services had set up stock


control systems, their basic features as well as the relative efficiency of the different systems varied greatly. Nor were the documentary procedures of the depots adequate. With regard to the control of the depots, even at this late date the responsibilities of the base section commanders were not clearly defined. And in the operation of the ports the respective responsibilities of the base section commanders, the port commanders, and the chief of transportation were ambiguous and overlapping.73 These were eternal problems for the SOS and, had plagued that organization from its very beginnings, although great progress had been made since the hectic days of 1942.

The difficulties were largely internal, but they had both a direct and an indirect bearing on the relations of the SOS with other commands. Those relations were not entirely cordial. In the competition for supplies and services it was perhaps inevitable that each of the other major commands-- particularly 1st Army Group and USSTAF--should suspect that it was not getting its share in view of the fact that the SOS, a co-ordinate command, controlled the allocation of supplies. In any event, both of those commands expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which they believed the SOS was withholding supplies which they claimed were required for operations,74 and their relations with the SOS consequently were often marred by misunderstanding and mistrust. A similar situation had developed in the Pacific, leading to a deadlock which was resolved only by the formation of a Logistical Committee with representatives of all forces. General Lutes hoped to avoid resorting to such a device in the European theater.

In this tug of war the Air Force was the most clamant in its demands. In both the United States and the theater it had often complained that the supply of its units in the theater was unsatisfactory. Specifically, it had objected to its dependence on the SOS organization for the handling of its supplies, asserting that delivery had been slow and that the SOS had made uncalled-for demands for justification for increased allowances or issues. General Knerr, the USSTAF Deputy Commander for Administration, thought the decisions by the SOS were made more on the basis of availability of supplies than on operational need. The Air Force still desired to take possession of at least 50 percent of the common items of supply and equipment before they left the United States, thus in effect establishing a separate line of communications to the zone of interior and to this extent freeing itself from theater control over its supply. The ASF had consistently maintained with unassailable logic that the theater commander must control priorities and allocations with consideration to their effect on other operations in the theater.75 There were other reasons, such as the bottlenecks in shipping and the limited port facilities in the United Kingdom, which made the Air Force scheme utterly impracticable. In the end General Knerr backed down on his contentions.76


In order to satisfy himself, however, General Lutes made a special effort to question the Air Force liaison officers at both the SOS and Southern Base Section headquarters, and at the various general depots which he visited. For the most part he found the Air Force accusations unfounded. Without exception he was told that Air Force requisitions for common items had been promptly filled and their delivery expedited. There had been no delays in the issue of equipment to Air Force depots when supplies were available. The Air Force complaints therefore narrowed down to the question of meeting demands for supply and equipment over and above the authorized allowances. This was a matter for allocation on the part of the theater commander and could not be charged as a delay on the part of the SOS. Regardless of the arrangements for the control of supply in the theater, there would have to be allocations on the basis of need, and the theater commander or his designated authority would have to make the decisions.77 In the ETO General Eisenhower had assigned this function to General Lee as his deputy for supply and administration, and General Lutes felt that General Lee and his staff were as competent as any combat staff to decide on the basis of operational plans or as a result of actual combat conditions whether the armies or the Air Force or any other unit should be allocated certain items.78

As sound as these arguments may have been from an administrative and command point of view, the fact remained that the combat commanders would not accept a denial of their requests from the SOS staff. One explanation for this attitude lay in their resentment of the position of the SOS commander in the theaterís command and organizational structure. General Leeís long campaign to gain control of all supply and administration for the SOS had culminated in triumph in January 1944 with the consolidation of the SOS and ETOUSA headquarters. In gaining for himself the position of deputy theater commander as well as Commanding General, SOS, however, Lee had assumed a role which in some respects proved an unhappy one. As deputy theater commander he spoke for General Eisenhower at the highest theater level on such matters as supply allocations; as commanding general of the SOS he also commanded one of the three major co-ordinate commands of the theater. This dual role was highly resented by the other commanders, for it was clear to them that as the deputy theater commander he could hardly act as a disinterested party on supply problems while holding his additional position as commander of the SOS. Such an arrangement left them, they claimed, with no one to go to for adjudication but SHAEF in the event of controversy.79

Whatever the validity of or justification for these suspicions, there was a definite lack of confidence in the SOS staff. A noticeable tension developed in the various headquarters and permeated even the lower echelons. Some staff officers at SHAEF and 1st Army Group showed open hostility toward the SOS. This lack of confidence inevitably lessened administrative efficiency. A certain amount of poor administrative practice manifested itself, noticeably in the bad liaison and co-ordination


between the SOS on the one hand and SHAEF and 1st Army Group on the other. SHAEF and 1st Army Group frequently became excited over reports of supply shortages which upon investigation turned out to be based on information from ETOUSA which was three weeks old, the shortages having been filled in the meantime. This obviously indicated that closer liaison was required within the SOS as well as between the SOS G-4 and SHAEF and 1st Army Group. Theoretically, the ETOUSA-SOS staff should have been used as a working agency of the SHAEF G-4. It should have been consulted on all important logistical matters, particularly on major allocations of supplies. SHAEF officers, however, were not always satisfied with the information obtained from ETOUSA-SOS, and there was a considerable amount of direct dealing between SHAEF and the ETOUSA-SOS technical services on matters that should have been channeled through ETOUSA-SOS headquarters.

Some of the difficulties could undoubtedly be traced to the feeling that the SOS did not have a proper appreciation of its duties toward the combat commands, and that it treated their requests purely on the basis of availability and felt no urgency about filling them. In General Somervellís opinion, there still was room for missionary work in the European theater to instill in the SOS the idea that it was in the theater for only one purpose--"to supply our customers and not to tell their customers what they want." Once the combat elements were convinced that the SOS was making genuine efforts to serve them, he felt that the friction would disappear.

Since the combat commanders resented the dual role of the SOS commander, they naturally carried their objection one step further and protested General Leeís designation as Commanding General, Communications Zone, for they assumed this meant that the existing arrangements would be carried over to the Continent. In General Lutesís view there could be no valid objection to such an arrangement. The SOS was well established as both a supply planning and operating agency, and was the source of all initial supply for the continental operation. The assignment of the Commanding General, SOS, as Commanding General, Communications Zone, insured continuity of supply responsibility and merely entailed the transformation of the SOS, until now an extension of the zone of interior, into a Cornmunications Zone in a theater which had begun active ground combat operations. What the combat commands really objected to, of course, was the prospect of General Leeís continued authority as deputy theater commander. General Einsenhower was not unaware of the dissatisfaction with the existing arrangements and, as has been noted earlier, in the command arrangements which he later laid down for the Continent he deprived the COMZ commander, at least on paper, of the title he had held since the reorganization of January.

While the command and organizational structure of the theater thus left something to be desired, ETOUSA-SOS was vulnerable to criticism on other matters. Some of the lack of confidence in the SOS unquestionably stemmed from the lack of proper co-ordination within its own staff and between its own commands. In one observerís opinion, the SOS had been functioning without a real supply man topside to coordinate the work of its general staff. General Lee had found it necessary to spend


GENERAL STRATTON, G-4, Communications Zone. (Photograph taken in 1944.)

much of his time in the field, supervising the discipline, training, and field operations of the service units. General Lord, his chief of staff, was adept in dealing with other headquarters, like SHAEF, but had not had wide experience in the field of logistics. The result was that the SOS staff had not been as closely supervised and directed as it should have been, and that command decisions on supply had been "kicked about a bit."

Moreover, the members of the ETOUSA-SOS general staff were neither by training nor experience ideally prepared to co-ordinate the myriad details involved in building the logistic machine required for the unprecedented job which lay ahead. For one thing the staff had undergone many changes in assignment, and of the officers holding the G posts in the final planning period only one had had advanced staff training at the level of the Command and General Staff School. Col. James Stratton was a relative newcomer in the G-4 position and was only beginning to learn the supply job and to grasp the details of the OVERLORD logistic problems.

The special staff, by contrast, had not only had more stability of tenure and consequently more experience in both the build-up and in the planning for OVERLORD, but more formal training for the jobs it was performing. The technical service chiefs without exception had attended higher service schools, most of them having graduated from both the Command and General Staff School and Army War College. Several had attended civilian colleges and universities, although only two were graduates of the Military Academy.

The inexperience of the general staff was generally reflected in its offspring, the Advance Section and Forward Echelon, which had borrowed personnel from the theater headquarters. It was obviously too late, however, to make important changes in key positions with OVERLORD only a few weeks away, and General Lee did not favor any shifts in personnel. The responsibility for the operation now rested squarely on the shoulders of the existing group, and it was important that General Eisenhower place full confidence in the SOS, particularly in view of the tendency on the part of the combat commands to challenge and dispute its decisions. These observations, particularly as to the hostility shown by other commands to the SOS, led General Somervell to suggest that General Eisenhower might well "knock some heads together and straighten them out," and to


express the hope that his lieutenant in the theater, General Lutes, might at least be able to "make all these fellows lie in the same bed and like it."80

The atmosphere of the theater headquarters reflected in a large degree the attitude toward the commander of the SOS and deputy theater commander. General Lee continued to be a controversial personality throughout the history of the theater, owing in part to the anomalous position which he held. But the controversy over the SOS was heightened by his personal traits. Heavy on ceremony, somewhat forbidding in manner and appearance, and occasionally tactless in exercising authority which he regarded to be within the province of the SOS, General Lee often aroused suspicions and created opposition where support might have been forthcoming.

It appears, however, that few of his subordinates, and certainly fewer still of the persons with whom he dealt in the field commands, got to know him well. Those who did knew him to be kindly, unselfish, modest, extremely religious, and a man of simple tastes, however much this seemed to be contradicted by the picture of ostentation presented by the living arrangements of his staff and by his use of a special train for his comings and goings in the United Kingdom. General Lee has been aptly referred to as a "soldier of the old school," one who belived firmly in the dignity of his profession and wore the Army uniform with pride. He expected every other soldier, from general to private, to revere that uniform as he did. Many, without attempting to understand his rigid sense of discipline, were quick to label him pompous and a martinet. There can be no doubt that General Lee was motivated by a high sense of duty, and he expected others to measure up to his own concept of soldierly qualities.

The SOS commander was indefatigable in his rounds of inspections of field organizations, and was fully aware of the criticism generated by his use of a special train for that purpose. The acquisition of such a vehicle had been strongly urged on him by General Harbord, the SOS commander in World War I, with whom he visited in New York on his way to the United Kingdom in May 1942. The train was intended as a timesaver, and that it undoubtedly was. General Lee refused to bow to the criticism, convinced in his own mind that the train was fully justified. As attested by members of his staff, it was a work train, and an instrument of torture. General Lee set a grueling pace on his inspection trips, and it was rare indeed when a meal was served on the train during daylight hours, for most runs were made at night. The dayís work, consisting of inspections and conferences, normally began at five in the morning and lasted until evening. Most of the staff members who accompanied the SOS commander considered the trips agonizing ordeals and would have avoided them if possible.

One other criticism of the SOS commander was probably more justified. Lee assigned some officers to positions of authority and responsibility whose qualifications were at times obscure. He was exceedingly loyal to these subordinates, usually placing full confidence in them.


This otherwise admirable trait sometimes put him in difficult positions, and his own reputation often suffered from their actions and unpopularity. In any event, the atmosphere at the ETOUSA-SOS headquarters was not consistently conducive to the best teamwork.

However inaccurately these circumstances may have reflected the real efficiency of the SOS, it is an inescapable fact that General Lee at least gave poor first impressions and did not always immediately inspire the confidence of the various commanders of the theater. Both General Andrews and General Devers were at first disposed to make a change in the command of the SOS when they assumed command of the theater. The former commanded the theater only a few months. General Devers, after a second look at the operations of the SOS, was satisfied that General Lee was doing a very satisfactory job.81 General Eisenhower's reactions were similar. While he initially had doubts of Lee's ability to create an efficient supply organization and was fully aware of the complaints of the combat commanders and the tensions between the various headquarters, he finally decided to abandon at least temporarily any thought of replacing the SOS commander, to put complete faith in him, and to trust in the ability of his organization to support the American forces in the coming operation.82 While the top-level organization and functioning of the SOS left something to be desired, and while there were shortcomings in the supply procedures within the SOS, observers from the Army Service Forces generally agreed that its field organization was functioning well and that the qualms felt by some commanders regarding the SOSís ability to support the cross-Channel operations were unjustified.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (5) * Next Chapter (7)


1. OPD officials suspected that this oversight was probably due to the fact that individuals preparing the flow charts in the ETO had not even known of the SEXTANT decisions. One OPD officer had found theater officials preparing flow charts in November without any knowledge of the QUADRANT schedules, for example, for the reason that security regulations allowed only a limited distribution of those papers. Note for Record, 29 Feb 44, OPD 320.2, Cases 210-30.

2. Cbl, OPD to ETO, 29 Feb 44, and Note for Record, OPD, 29 Feb 44, OPD 320.2, Cases 210-30; Memo, Handy for DCofS, sub: Availability of Units for U.K., 29 Dec 43, OPD 320.2, Sec III, Cases 65-71.

3. Cbl WAR-25883, Marshall to Eisenhower, 20 Apr 44, OPD 370.5, Sec XII, Cases 412-47.

4. Cbl 88589, WO DQMG (M) to BAS Washington, 21 Apr 44, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO 144.

5. Cbl E-25062, CG ETO to WD, 26 Apr 44, and Note for Record, BOLERO Personnel for U.K. in May, Jun, and Jul, 26 Apr 44, OPD 370.5, Sec XII, Cases 412-47.

6. Cbl W-28487, OPD to ETO, 26 Apr 44, SHAEF G-4 BOLERO 144.

7. OPD later noted that it had actually set up 180,000 for May shipment and that the backlog was even greater. Memo, Col Alexander D. Reid, Chief European Sec OPD, for Handy, 1 May 44, sub: Revision of Troop Flow to U.K., OPD 370.5, Sec XII, Cases 412-47.

8. Cbl WAR-26204, OPD to CG ETO, 19 Apr 44, and Cbl E-25337, Smith to Handy, 28 Apr 44, P&O Cbl Files.

9. Troop and Supply Buildup in the United Kingdom to D Day, Pt. III of The Administrative and Logistical History of the ETO, prep by Hist Div USFET, 1946, MS, pp. 97-98, OCMH; [Harold Larson] Troop Transports in World War II, Office CofT, ASF, Mar 45, MS, pp. 20-23, OCMH. The story of troop movement techniques from the Transportation Corps viewpoint is told in Chester Wardlow, The Transportation Corps: Movements, Training, and Supply, now in preparation for this series.

10. Memo for Info 2, BOLERO-SICKLE Combined Committee (W), Incl, Sep 43, ASF Plng Div, BOLERO-SICKLE Com, Series II, A46-183, Item 2.

11. Memo, VQMG for WO et al., 12 Aug 43, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO I 44.

12. Info Bull 10, Bolero Reception--Accommodation-Maintenance, Q(L) Br, 1-31 Mar 44, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO I 44.

13. Memo of Mtg at WO, 14 Sep 43, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO 144.

14. Paper by Deputy Dir, Mov and Tn Br, BOLERO Repercussion on OVERLORD, 11 Aug 43, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO I 44.

15. Memo, Magruder for Col Witten, Control Div ASF, 18 Mar 44, sub: Shipping vs. Cargo, Plng Div ASF, A46-371, Shipping File X 44.

16. Memo, Brig Gen W A. Wood, Deputy Dir for Plans and Opns, ASF, to CG ASF, 13 Apr 44, sub: Status of Shipments to U.K., Plng Div ASF, A46-371, Shipping File X 44.

17. Memo, Magruder for Witten, 18 Mar 44, sub: Shipping vs. Cargo.

18. Ibid.

19. [Richard M. Leighton] The Problem of Troop and Cargo Flow in Preparing the European Invasion, 1943-44, prep in Hist Sec, Control Div, ASF, 1945, MS (hereafter cited as Problem of Troop and Cargo Flow), pp. 160-61, OCMH.

20. Ltr, Lee to CG NYPOE, sub: Type Loading, 21 Jan 44, ASF Plng Div, A46-371, Shipping File X 44.

21. Problem of Troop and Cargo Flow, pp. 154-60; Ltr, Lord to Lee, 3 Apr 44, sub: Rpt on ETOUSA Supply Mission to US., ETO Rpt of ETOUSA Supply Mission.

22. Memo, Col Magruder for Gen Wylie, 14 Apr 44, sub: Ships set up for U.K. in May and Jun, ASF Plng Div, A46-371, Shipping File X 44; Problem of Troop and Cargo Flow, p. 162.

23. Memo, Col K. F. Hausauer, Chief Movements Sec SHAEF, for Maj Gen Charles S. Napier, 4 May 44, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO I 44.

24. TWX Conf, ETO with NYPOE, 18 May 44, EUCOM AG 560 Vessels 144; TWX Conf with NYPOE, 22 May 44, EUCOM AG 337 NYPOE I 44; Ltr, Lord Frederick Leathers to Philip Reed, U.S. Embassy, 19 May 44, EUCOM AG 381 BOLERO; see also ASF file, ETO--1st half 1944.

25. Memo, First Sea Lord, on Trans-Atlantic Convoys, 23 May 44, SHAEF SGS 540 Shipping Problems; History of the Transportation Corps, ETO, prep by Int and Hist Br, Plng Div, Office CofT ETO, 1944, MS, Vol. III (April-June 1944), Movements Sec., p. 8, ETO Adm 582.

26. Ltr, Eisenhower to Prime Minister, 20 May 44, EUCOM AG 560 AT Transports, Vessels, etc., 144.

27. Cbl S-52375, Eisenhower to Marshall, 23 May 44, Eyes Only Cbl File, ETO, 1943-45, Smith Papers.

28. Ibid.; Cbl WAR-4559, JCS to SHAEF, 2 Jun 44, P&O Cbl Files.

29. Cbl EX-29448, Lee to Somervell, 25 May 44, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO 144; Ltr, Lutes to Goodman, 25 May 44, ASF Plng Div, A46-371, Shipping File X 44; TWX Confs, COMZ ETO with NYPOE, 25, 26, and 27 May 44, EUCOM 337 NYPE, I.

30. Info Bull 12, BOLERO, Q(L) Br, 1-31 May 44, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO 144.

31. CCS 242/6, 25 May 43.

32. Key Plan for the Reception, Accommodation and Maintenance of the U.S. Forces, Fourth Edition, 12 Jul 43, Q(L) Paper 12, ETO, Fourth Key Plan.

33. Amendment 1 to Fourth Edition, Key Plan, 30 Oct 43, Q(L) 1/10 Paper 13, ETO, Fourth Key Plan.

34. Final Report of the Chief Engineer, ETO, 1942-45, prep in Office CofEngrs ETO, 1946, MS (hereafter cited as Final Engineer Report, ETO), I, 229-32, OCMH; Construction in the United Kingdom, MS, pp. 11-12, ETO Adm 506; Maj. Gen. A. G. B. Buchanan, "Bolero," The Royal Engineers Journal, LIX (September, 1945), 185-86.

35. Buchanan, op. cit., pp. 185-86; Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 232-34.

36. Amendment 1 to Fourth Edition, Key Plan, 30 Oct 43, Q(L) 1/10 Paper 13, ETO, Fourth Key Plan.

37. Basic Needs of the ETO Soldier, Pt. XI of The Administrative and Logistical History of the ETO, MS, Vol. I, Ch. III, pp. 43ff., OCMH.

38. Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 237-39, 250, and II, App. 24; Construction in the United Kingdom, pp. 13-15.

39. Administrative and Logistical History of the Medical Service, Com Z, ETO, prep by Office, Chief Surgeon, ETO, 1945, MS, Ch. II, pp, 48-49, ETO Adm 581.

40. Ibid., Ch. II, p. 51, Ch. VII, p. 20.

41. Ibid., Ch, VII, p, 26; Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 240.

42. Buchanan, op. cit., p. 187.

43. Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 242-43.

44. ETO Medical Service History, Ch. VII, pp. 27-29. The Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 43, states that only 63,389 beds were available on D Day, since it does not list any tented expansions as completed at that time. The theater medical history, however, lists 74 hospitals with specific tabulations of normal plant beds and expansion beds in each. The discrepancy is not explained.

45. Maj Gen Paul R. Hawley, The European Theater of Operations, May 44, MS, p. 10, ETO Adm 519.

46. Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 244-45, II, App. 26.

47. Buchanan, op. cit., pp. 186-87. All dollar values represent pounds converted at the rate of 4 to 1, which was the approximate exchange rate at the time.

48. SOS ETO Installations and Operating Personnel in United Kingdom, 1 Jun 44, prep by Statistical Sec, SGS Hq ETO, ETO Adm 449. There is some disrepancy between the totals of depot space as given by this source and the Final Engineer Report. The totals given on page 248, above, evidently represent the total space made available over a period of two years. The periodic ETOUSA-SOS tabulation for 1 June indicates that only 18,000,000 square feet of covered space and 36,000,000 square feet of open space were assigned to SOS units at that date, and that only 13,000,000 square feet of covered space and 20,500,000 square feet of open space were then in use.

49. Buchanan, op. cit., p. 189.

50. Final Engineer Report, I, 250-61, II, App. 28; Buchanan, op. cit., p. 189.

51. Buchanan, op cit., pp. 188-89. See also the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Reports to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations, Washington, 1944.

52. Final Engineer Report, ETO, I, 249-50, 261-64, II, Apps. 24-28; Construction in the United Kingdom, p. 1.

53. Basic Needs of the ETO Soldier, I, 7-8, 14-17; Troop and Supply Buildup, 363-66; Info Bull 12, BOLERO Q(L) Br, 1-31 May 44, SHAEF G-4 381 BOLERO I 1944.

54. [Samuel I. Katz] History of the Office of the General Purchasing Agent, May 1942-October 1945, prep in Office GPA, ETO, MS, p. 37, ETO Adm 556.

55. Report to the 78th Congress on Lend-Lease Operations: From the Passage of the Act, March 11, 1941, to December 31, 1942 (Washington, 1943), submitted by Edward R. Stettinius Jr., Lend-Lease Administrator, pp. 50-51.

56. Gen Bd Rpt 128, p. 16; History of the Office of the GPA, pp. 40ff.

57. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces, II, 611.

58. The Fifteenth Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations for the Period Ending March 31,1944 (Washington, 1944), pp. 22-25.

59. Troop and Supply Buildup, pp. 349, 360-61.

60. At the peak of activity in the second quarter of 1944 the British operated thirty-nine assembly plants, 52 percent of the output going to U.S. forces. British plants continued to assemble vehicles for the Americans until October 1944, when the cumulative total of assemblies reached 145, 15 1. Ltr, A. B. Acheson, Hist Sec, Cabinet Offices, to G. W. S. Friedrichsen, Br Jt Svcs Mission, OCCS, 30 Dec 49, OCMH.

61. Seventeenth Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations: Reverse Lend-Lease Aid from the British Commonwealth of Nations (Washington, 1944), p. 12.

62. Seventeenth Report on Lend-Lease Operations, p. 9.

63. On 1 December 1943, 88,473 civilians and 7,258 British troops--a total of 95,731--were employed on U.S. account. Plan for SOS, ETO, Vol. I (Manpower), 1 Jan 44, Sec. 6 (Labor), Tab A, ETO, Adm 347.

64. Seventeenth Report on Lend-Lease Operations, p. 10.

65. Problem of Troop and Cargo Flow, pp. 144-45.

66. Ibid., pp. 161-62; Ltr, Lord to Lee, 3 Apr 44, sub: Rpt on ETOUSA Supply Mission to US., ETO Rpt on ETOUSA Supply Mission; History of Planning Division ASF, pp. 99-100, OCMH.

67. Cbl S-52025, Eisenhower to CCS, 17 May 44, SHAEF AG 381-3 SHAEF to AGWAR Rpts on OVERLORD; Ltr, Lutes to Bradley, 13 May 44, sub: Supply of Critical Material, and Ltr, Maj Gen Harold R. Bull to G-4, 10 May 44, SHAEF G-4 400.192 Supply Rpts I 44.

68. Memo, Lutes for ACofS Opns WD, 25 May 44, sub: Operational Projects for ETO, ASF Plng Div 400 History of Projects.

69. Study, General Supply Situation in the United Kingdom, Pt. II, Tab 6, Procedure for Processing. Projects in WD, Mar 44, ETO, Outline of Opn OVERLORD; Cbl EX-28509, Lee to Marshall, 16 May 44, and Cbl WARX-45069, OPD to SHAEF, 31 May 44, P&O Cbl Files.

70. Memo, Col Carter B. Magruder, Dir Plng Div ASF, for Deputy Dir Plans and Opns ASF, 28 Apr 44, sub: History of Operational Projects for ETO, ASF Plng Div 400 History of Projects; Gen Bd Rpt 128. Logistical Buildup in the British Isles, pp. 18-19.

71. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 9 May 44, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944.

72. Memo, Lutes for Eisenhower, 13 Apr 44, sub: Interim Rpt on Supply Matters, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944; Remarks by Lutes, Stf and Comd Conf, SOS, 17 Apr 44, EUCOM 337/3 Confs, Stf-Weekly I 44.

73. Memo, Lutes for Lee, 12 May 44, sub: Stock Control, Field Opns and Depot Opns, ETOUSA, and Memo, Lutes for Lee, 24 Apr 44, sub: Supply Organization and Procedures, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944.

74. Memo, Lutes for CG ETO, 24 Apr 44, sub: Supply, Organization and Procedures, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944.

75. Memo, Lutes for Lee, 15 Apr 44, sub: Allocations between Air and Ground Forces, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944.

76. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 11 May 44, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944; Remarks by Lutes, SOS Stf and Comd Conf, 17 Apr 44, EUCOM 337/3 Confs. Stf--Weekly I 44.

77. Ltr, Lutes to Knerr, 22 Apr 44, sub: Supply of Air Force Units by SOS ETO, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944.

78. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 15 Apr 44, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944.

79. Memos, Lutes for Somervell, 12 and 15 Apr 44, ASF, ETO--1st half 1944; Interv with Crawford, 5 May 48, OCMH.

80. One of the major sources for the above views is the correspondence between Generals Somervell and Lutes in April and May 1944, filed in ASF, ETO--1st half 1944. See especially the memos from Lutes to Somervell, dated 12, 13, 15, 24, 26, and 29 April, and 8 and 11 May 1944, letters from Somervell of 18 April and 1 May 1944, and the memo from Lutes to Eisenhower, 13 April 1944, sub: Interim Rpt on Supply Matters.

81. Ltr, Gen Styer to Somervell, Jun 43, ASF, Somervell Files, CofS 1942-43 (6).

82. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 22 May 44, ASF, Somervell, Plans and Opns Files. In March 1944 the War Department promoted Lee to lieutenant general without consulting the theater commander. General Eisenhower protested this action, but made it clear that he objected only to the manner in which it was done, and not to Lee's advancement itself. He had postponed approval of such a promotion when he first arrived in England a few months before only because he first wished to satisfy himself on the efficiency of Lee's organization. Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 3 Mar 44, and Cbl 254, Marshall to Eisenhower, 9 Mar 44, Eisenhower personal file.

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