THE QUARTERMASTER CORPS: ORGANIZATION, SUPPLY, AND SERVICES, VOLUME I. By Erna Risch. (1953, 1987; 418 pages, 11 charts, 25 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 10-12.)
THE QUARTERMASTER CORPS: ORGANIZATION, SUPPLY, AND SERVICES, VOLUME II. By Erna Risch and Chester L. Kieffer. (1955, 1983; 433 pages, 19 tables, 3 charts, 30 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 10-13.)
A military force is a separated community, what sociologists call a "segregative community," and in modern war it becomes a huge one. An army (or navy) has not only to forge en effective fighting force out of this vast community and arm it, but also to feed and clothe it, and, in general, step into the place of a thousand private and public enterprises that normally provide for its daily human needs. The principal business of the Quartermaster Corps in World War II was to provide the housing, food, clothes, personal equipment, and fuel for a community that numbered, first and last, between eleven and twelve million men and women. It also provided laundry, bath, and other services. The corps became therefore at once a bridge and a transforming agency between the civilian economy and a "nation in arms" which was soon deployed throughout the globe.
These two volumes show that the Quartermaster Corps was unprepared for this staggering task, partly because of financial starvation, partly from lack of vision and flexibility, largely because of demands that could not be anticipated. Food and clothing, for example, while they had to be standardized for mass procurement, had also to be adapted and varied for use in every diversity of climate and terrain. Equipment had to be reduced in bulk since mobility of force was at a premium and cargo shipping was one of the Allies' scarcest resources throughout the war.
These volumes describe the vigor, ingenuity, and resourcefulness with which the Quartermaster General and his corps attacked a bewildering variety of tasks and
emphasize failures as well as successes. Even the most successful expedients were often distasteful to the individual soldier who had to endure dehydrated vegetables and fruits, egg and milk powders, and similar prepackaged edibles. Improvements were often slow. When, for example, GIs refused to use lemon powder except to scrub floors, the Quartermaster Corps simply stopped having it made.
These volumes also detail the cooperation of American industry with the Army on a vast scale. The Quartermaster General engaged over two hundred firms in tasks of research and development and covered a larger sector of the normal civilian economy in procuring supplies needed by the Army than did any other service. Another major story centers around the administration of those supplies. Essentially, the Quartermaster Corps developed a commodity-functional type of organization and stock control system to effect economy and achieve a balanced distribution of supplies. The result is a history of mass organization operating under high pressures, capable of improvisation, and sufficiently flexible to perform its huge task effectively.
Both volumes describe the Quartermaster Corps at work in the zone of interior. Volume I, after treating the reorganization and expansion of the corps at the outbreak of war and sketching its wartime organization (Introduction and Ch. I), deals with research and development (Chs. II-V), procurement and production control (Chs. VI-VIII), storage and warehousing operations (Ch. IX), and stock control (Ch. X). Volume II treats salvage and reclamation (Chs. I-II) and the problems of industrial demobilization (Ch. III), and includes a statistical review (Ch. IV) reflecting the magnitude and proportions of quartermaster operations in World War II. It completes the picture of zone of interior activities with an account of the recruiting, assignment, and training of quartermaster personnel (Chs. V-IX) and of such special services of the corps as the procurement of animals (Ch. X), its operation of laundry and dry-cleaning establishments (Ch. XI), and its provisions for the care of the dead (Ch. XII).
1. Forecasting Army requirements (I, Ch. VI).
2. Requirements and procurement (I, Chs. II, VI).
3. Factors affecting technical military research in preparation for war and in wartime (I, Chs. II-V).
4. Effects of the 1942 reorganization of the War Department on the Quartermaster Corps (I, Ch. I).
5. Streamlining procurement procedures during the war (I, Ch. VII). 6. Expediting production (I, Ch. VIII).
7. Wartime expansion of storage facilities (I, Ch. IX).
8. Development of stock control (I, Ch. X).
9. Conservation of supplies (II, Ch. II).
l0. Contract termination (II, Ch. III).
11. Industrial demobilization (II, Ch. III).
12. The Quartermaster General and the Army Service Forces (I, Ch. I).
13. Army clothing development (I, Ch. III).
14. Ration development (I, Ch. V).
15. Packaging and packing of quartermaster supplies (I, Chs. V, IX).
16. Inspection of quartermaster supplies (I, Ch. VIII).
17. Use of material-handling equipment (I, Ch. IX).
18. Mechanizing the handling of equipment (I, Ch. IX).
19. Disposal of surplus property (I, Ch. X; II, Ch. III).
20. Salvage operations (II, Ch. I).
21. Development and training of quartermaster units (II, Ch. IX).
22. Use of dogs in war (II, Ch. X).
23. Operation of Army laundries (II, Ch. XI).
24. Care of the dead (II, Ch. XII).
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