To explore with any hope of success the tons of records that arrived in U.S. ports in shipload after shipload at the close of World War II, the historian must quickly decide where to begin. In research for the present volume, the most obvious place to look first was the Ordnance Section of the European, Mediterranean, and Southwest Pacific theaters. The records of the European and Mediterranean theater Ordnance Sections were found to be abundant and good. In the Southwest Pacific Area, because of differences in organization and situation, the files of the Ordnance officer of the United States Army Services of Supply were the fruitful sources.
Of particular interest because of the scheme of this volume were the records of the Ordnance officers of the various armies. All were different. By far the most voluminous were those of the Ordnance officer of Fifth Army, who issued a daily mimeographed Ordnance Operations Bulletin with many annexes-reports on specific operations, inspections, tests of new weapons, and so on. Next in bulk were the very full typewritten monthly after action reports of the Ordnance officer of First Army, appended as annexes to the First Army after action reports. The Ninth Army Ordnance officer's somewhat briefer monthly reports were included in Ninth's month G-4 reports. The best sources for Third Army in Europe as well as Seventh Army in Sicily (the Ordnance officers was the same) are the Ordnance annexes to the final reports of those armies. For Seventh Army Ordnance in southern France the best sources are 6th Army Group weekly G-4 reports for Seventh Army and the month reports of two Ordnance groups. In the Southwest Pacific, the Ordnance officers of Sixth and Eighth Armies produced book-length histories of their operations, reproduced for wide distribution. The Tenth Army Ordnance officer prepared a very full typewritten report, with copious annexes, of operations on Okinawa.
Other valuable manuscript sources were the files of the 12th Army Group, particularly the daily Ordnance Section Journal; the G-4 journals of armies, task forces (especially in the Southwest Pacific), and corps; and the after action reports of tactical units.
The periodic reports of Ordnance groups, battalions, and companies yielded rich returns. Many of the company histories are perfunctory and most are hard on the eyes, being written usually either with a worn typewriter ribbon or in longhand; but a surprising number tell very vividly what the men did, saw, and felt.
Preoccupation with records generated in the theaters should not lead the historian to overlook records accumulated throughout the war by headquarters in the United States concerned with overseas operations. The Army Service Forces files were rich in Ordnance material, particularly those of the Maintenance and Distribution Divisions and the Planning Division's Theater Branch. The files of the Army Ground Forces Ordnance officer contributed much, as did the AGF Board Reports on Ordnance subjects.
The best single collection of Ordnance primary sources was close at hand in the Historical Branch, Office, Chief of Ordnance: long, informative personal letters to the Chief of Ordnance from Ordnance officers serving overseas at many level; mission reports, notably those of the early Middle East missions; travel reports and key personnel final reports. In addition to this type of material, the Historical Branch files included lengthy manuscript histories, in several volumes, of the ETO and MTO Ordnance Sections; two file cabinets of data on weapons turned over to the branch by Maj. Gen. Gladeon M. Barnes (cited as Barnes File); a set of the Ordnance studies prepared by the U.S. Forces, European Theater (USFET) Board; and miscellaneous papers of considerable importance. These holdings of the Ordnance Historical Branch, cited in the footnotes as OHF (Ordnance Historical Files), were deposited in the Federal Records Center, General Services Administration, Alexandria, Virginia, when the Office, Chief of Ordnance, was abolished. They were later transferred to the National Archives.
The National Archives, the principal repository for U.S. Army records of World War II, may be assumed to be the location of documents cited in this volume unless another repository is indicated. The second largest collection of pertinent official Army records of the period was at the time of writing located in the Army Records Center, Kansas City, Missouri (cited as KCRC), which in 1960 was absorbed by the Federal Records Center, General Services Administration, Kansas City, Missouri.
The information in the official records has been supplemented by the author's interviews and correspondence with participants. These are filed in OCMH. Other interviews, unless otherwise specified, are file in OCMH.
Among the printed sources the most valuable were the volumes published by the Office, Chief of Military History, in the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, almost every one of which has been used in the preparation of this volume. The author has also frequently consulted the multivolume "History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II" by Samuel Eliot Morison; "The Army Air Forces in World War II" series, edited by Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate; two Marine Corps monographs, The Campaign in New Britain by Lt. Col. Frank O. Hough and Maj. John A. Crown, and Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific by Maj. Charles S. Nichols, Jr., and Henry I. Shaw, Jr.; and several volumes in the official war histories of the United Kingdom and Australia. Published histories of U.S. armies, corps, divisions, and battalions have been cited throughout. Memoirs and biographies have been useful, and the numerous books by war correspondents have added color and interest. The most important magazine articles were those written by Ordnance men with firsthand knowledge of overseas operations and the appeared most often in Ordnance (formerly Army Ordnance), Military Review, and Firepower.