Victory in Germany

By mid-February 1945 the time had come for simultaneous blows against Germany from east and west. In the east, the Red Army, having renewed its winter offensive in mid-January and captured Warsaw, had reached the Oder. On the western front, in the center the U.S. First and Third Armies had driven the Germans from the Bulge and in the south, U.S. Seventh and French 1st Armies had driven them out of the Colmar Pocket, their bridgehead on the upper Rhine. In the north, Ninth Army, operating with the British 21 Army Group, had pushed the Germans across the Roer in the narrow but stubbornly held region between Linnich and Düren.

Supplies for the Last Campaign

On 24 February 1945 General Sayler called a meeting in Paris of all the top Ordnance officers in Europe—the first such meeting since the invasion in June 1944. From SHAEF, army groups, armies, Continental Advance Section, Advance Section, and base sections they came to the six-story Marignan building at 33 Champs Elysees that housed the Communications Zone Ordnance office. Over the building flew an Ordnance flag—the familiar yellow flaming bomb on a red field; and as the conferees passed through the lobby they saw over the elevators a sign that read: "Let no soldier's ghost ever say —Ordnance service let me down."1

Col. Benjamin S. Mesick came from SHAEF, General Nisley from 12th Army Group, and Col. William I. Wilson from 6th Army Group. For the first time, both army groups were looking to Communications Zone for support, for on 12 February the Southern Line of Communications supporting U.S. Seventh and French 1st Armies had been dissolved. This added Continental Advance Section and Delta Base to the COMZ sections. Brig. Gen. Selby H. Frank, formerly Ordnance officer of SOLOC, had become Sayler's deputy, and was presiding at the conference; General Smith, Ordnance officer of Seventh Army, was present, accompanied by Colonel Le Troadec of 1st French Army and Colonel Artamonoff. From the northern group of armies came Medaris and Nixon, and also Lynde in a new role as Ordnance officer of Fifteenth Army, which was not yet operational, although its command post had been set up in Paris early in January. Warner was absent, for he had pressing business elsewhere. The day before,


Photo:  The Ordnance Conference in Paris, February 1945.  Left to right, Colonel Lynde, Fifteenth Army; Colonel Wilson, 6th Army Group; Colonel Le Troadec, 1st French Army; Colonel Medaris, First Army; Colonel Nixon, Third Army; General Saylor, Chief Ordnance Officer, ETO; General Frank, Deputy Chief Ordnance Officer, ETO; General Nisley, 12th Army Group; Brig. Gen. Edward W. Smith, Seventh Army; Col. G.S. Kennedy, representing Colonel Warner, Ninth Army.

Lynde, Fifteenth Army; Colonel Wilson, 6th Army Group; Colonel Le Troadec, 1st
French Army; Colonel Medaris, First Army; Colonel Nixon, Third Army; General
Sayler, Chief Ordnance Officer, ETO; General Frank, Deputy Chief Ordnance
Officer, ETO; General Nisley, 12th Army Group; Brig. Gen. Edward W. Smith, S
eventh Army; Col. G. S. Kennedy, representing Colonel Warner, Ninth Army.

Ninth Army (attached to Field Marshal Montgomery's 21 Army Group) had launched its attack across the Roer that signaled the beginning of the American final push in Germany.2

How well would the coming campaign be supported? COMZ officers indicated that little improvement could be expected in ammunition supply until fall; on specific wanted items like HVAP and POZIT fuzes, everything depended on unpredictable shipments from the United States. On the other hand, the weapons situation was good except for a few items such as heavy artillery tubes. Automotive supply —a matter of the greatest importance in a war of movement—was improving. Truck engines would be short until sometime in May, but tires and tubes were coming off production lines in France and Belgium in increasing numbers: 35,000 were expected in February as compared with 5,000 in January. On the whole, Communications Zone considered the supply situation "very favorable."3

The assembled officers were assured that the armies could count on well-stocked general supply depots. There were four types of depots handling Ordnance Class II supplies on the Continent: (1) base, of which there were two, one at Cherbourg and one at Marseille, both with the function of relieving the ports and supporting


the intermediate depots; (2) intermediate, to support the armies; (3) distribution, to support COMZ units; and (4) advance or mobile depots to follow the armies. The Ordnance officers of the armies were most interested in the intermediate depots; Medaris, for one, stated bluntly that as far as First Army was concerned, advance depots were of no value. They were told that there would eventually be three intermediate depots on the Continent. One, O-644 at Paris, had been in operation for some time; O-656 had just been completed at Antwerp and would be open on 15 March to take over from O-644 the job of serving First and Ninth Armies; a third was to be located in the neighborhood of Nancy to serve the U.S. Seventh and French 1st Armies.4

Communications Zone's optimistic forecasts were received with reservations by the Ordnance officers at army level, for most of them had been badly disillusioned by their experiences with supply in the fall of 1944. Considerable skepticism on Communications Zone's ability to support the offensive adequately was aired during the discussions on the second day of the conference. One problem had been plaguing the armies for some time—the shortage of Ordnance service units, particularly tank and other heavy maintenance companies, depot, evacuation, and ammunition companies. COMZ agreed at the conference to assign to the armies from its own service troops a limited number of those most urgently needed.5

Toward the end of the meeting, there was a lively discussion on a topic that had been introduced by Colonel Mesick of SHAEF—what to do with captured or surrendered enemy matériel. The basic directive had been issued in September 1943 by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. It provided that all usable captured enemy matériel that the theater commander did not need was to be reported to the London Munitions Assignments Board and that all unusable matériel, or battle scrap, would be reported to the Combined Raw Materials Board. After the Normandy invasion, especially after the optimistic predictions at the end of September 1944 that there would be a collapse or surrender of the enemy, SHAEF had attempted to set up guidelines for implementing the directive; the latest directive, then being formulated, declared that disposal would be a COMZ responsibility, with ADSEC and CON AD troops taking over progressively from army troops. The catch in this, as Mesick admitted, was that SHAEF did not plan for ADSEC and CONAD to go into Germany. The heavy burden would presumably fall on the armies, and would take a tremendous amount of Ordnance manpower, especially the task of collecting and guarding captured ammunition.

The disposition of enemy matériel, "the most difficult thing ahead of us," according to Medaris, was not settled at the conference. In discussing it Medaris made an interesting estimate of the coming cam-


paign: "In the Armies we do not see any possibility of formal surrender. I do not think we quite see eye to eye with the statement that we will fight our way to the Russian lines. From our G-2 reports we expect a progressive collapse . . . perhaps a platoon will surrender one day, a battalion another, a Division the next and then a Regiment." The coming defeat of Germany, he believed, would not end in "the type of surrender where you sit on a rampart and wave a white flag."6

Across the Rhine

Ninth Army crossed the swollen Roer in the rain before dawn on 23 February as part of Operation GRENADE, 21 Army Group's offensive from the Roer to the Rhine. The first elements, infantrymen of the 30th, 29th, 102d, and 84th Divisions, crossed in assault boats, preceded by a 45-minute artillery preparation from a thousand guns that shook the earth and illuminated the sky along the narrow 30-mile Ninth Army front from Düren on the south to Roermond on the north. Next day, after the infantry had established a bridgehead, tanks, tank destroyers, field artillery and division supply trains crossed on bridges constructed by the Engineers.7

Thanks to Ninth Army Ordnance, the firepower of the tank destroyers and tanks had been considerably increased before the Roer crossing: two tank destroyer battalions had been converted from 3-inch guns to go-mm. guns; one M5 light tank battalion had been supplied with the new M24 tanks; and the 76-mm. gun had been substituted for the 75-mm. in the M4A3E2 "assault tanks." The advance armor met stiff resistance on the east bank of the Roer by remnants of several German panzer divisions, but this was momentary. Time was running out for the enemy. Some of the German tankers were forced to fight as infantry because they had no gasoline; and on 28 February, when the weather cleared, the panzers suffered punishing attacks from American fighter-bomber pilots who claimed sixteen tanks. At one point fighter pilots swooped down on a slugging match between Shermans and Tigers and damaged six of the Tigers.8

By 11 March, Ninth Army's XIX, XIII, and XVI Corps had closed to the Rhine, and GRENADE was over. But Ninth Army had lost its chance to capture a bridge when the last one in its sector was blown by the Germans on 5 March, and its chance of being the first American army over the Rhine, for First Army crossed over its bridge at Remagen on 7 March. By order of Field Marshal Montgomery, who wanted the crossing coordinated with that of his British and Canadian armies, Ninth's Rhine crossing (code name FLASHPOINT) was not to take place until 24 March.9

Colonel Warner's efforts to provide Ordnance support for both GRENADE and FLASHPOINT were essentially similar, for both operations involved a river crossing with a fast-moving action anticipated on the far bank. Also, in both operations there was a delay of about two weeks before the jump-off (in grenade to allow the Roer to subside after the dams were broken, and in FLASHPOINT because of Montgomery's plan) that gave him time to


bring up supplies. He was able to keep his ammunition stocks at around 40,000 tons. His Class II and IV supply situation was good at the time of the Rhine crossing, partly because losses at the Roer were lighter than expected, partly because he had expedited the flow of tanks and other items by close liaison with COMZ depots and by using army personnel to bring supplies into the army area. In February and March, Ninth Army received 484 Sherman tanks. To provide the armored forces with quick replacements, Warner set up a mobile depot to supply armored equipment to front-line troops, operating it with a converted antiaircraft maintenance company, the 300th. The forward issue depot was so successful in grenade that it was repeated in FLASHPOINT. It was not easy to keep the heavy equipment moving. For one thing, the Class 40 Engineer bridges over the Rhine would not take a tank transporter with its load. Drivers had to unload tanks at the bridge, drive them across, and load them again on the opposite side. But in spite of these and other troubles, the forward issue depot managed to keep within usable distance of even the speedy 2d Armored Division in its dash to the Elbe, and for this feat received a handsome commendation from the tankers.10

The versatility of Ordnance maintenance companies was also demonstrated by the use of a heavy tank maintenance company to process and test the hundred LVT's used by XVI Corps in the initial Ninth Army Rhine crossing. The company was augmented with all the Ninth Army Ordnance men who had had any experience with LVT maintenance, and the problem of nonexistent spare parts was met by cannibalizing the LVT's that had been wrecked in the Roer crossing. The LVT's were especially valuable in the Rhine crossing because they required no special river entrances or exits. The other Navy landing craft that were used, the LCM's and LCVP's, and the Seamules were much heavier and harder to handle.11

Evacuation companies with Ms5 tank transporters were used to help the Navy bring the assault boats up to the Rhine. This was done not only in the Ninth Army crossing but in Third Army crossings around Mainz on 22-23 March. The Navy men would lash a huge cradle to the transporter with ropes, lift the big LCM with a crane so that the transporter could drive under it, and then lower the craft into the cradle, creating "a monster on wheels" (as one Third Army historian described it), seventy-two feet long and more than seventeen feet high. For the first time, the big M25 tank transporters looked small. When the strange, unwieldy convoys made their journeys to the Rhine, towns had to be bypassed because the rigs could not turn sharp corners, roads had to be widened, bridges reinforced, communications wires lifted so that they would not be torn down, and obstacles ahead blown up by demolition squads. When the monsters reached the Rhine, leaving behind them in places a wake of branches from trees along


the roads, the transporter crews backed them into the water and unloaded the landing craft, working up to the zero hour under shellfire from German 88's across the river. Sometimes they had trouble shaking off their loads. One Ninth Army transporter after being hit by an 88 shell had to be completely submerged before the landing craft could be pulled free.12

When Seventh Army crossed the Rhine in the Worms area on 26 March, all of the four front-line American armies were on the far bank, leaving the Fifteenth behind as a semi occupation army. First Army, breaking out of the Remagen bridgehead, joined elements of Ninth Army at Lippstadt on 2 April, thus encircling the huge Ruhr industrial area. First Army then sent III and XVIII Corps west and north to join with other elements of Ninth Army in cleaning out the Ruhr pocket and directed V and VII Corps east toward Leipzig and the Hartz Mountains. Part of Ninth Army also kept going east; on the evening of 11 April, 2d Armored Division's Combat Command B, having covered 226 miles in nineteen days, was at Magdeburg and Schonebeck—the first Americans to reach the Elbe. By 19 April all resistance in the Ruhr pocket had ceased and First Army's V and VII Corps stood on the west bank of the Mulde River, where a few days later they made contact with the Russians. Meantime, Third Army had been turned south to aid Seventh in mopping up southern Germany.13

Ordnance service to all the armies was mainly concerned with pushing supplies forward and keeping the trucks rolling. By the second week in April two rail bridges were in operation over the Rhine, one at Wesel, the other at Mainz, but rail traffic beyond the Rhine did not supplant truck transportation until about the last two weeks of the war in Europe, after the armies in the north were halted at the Elbe and Mulde.14 With the help of Quartermaster truck companies, the considerable lift provided by the tank transporters of the evacuation battalions, which carried not only tanks but gasoline and ammunition, and by loading the Ordnance companies and replacement vehicles with all they could carry, the armies moved their supplies forward. The main problem was keeping up with the fast-moving combat troops along a 200-mile front. Enemy resistance—consisting toward the end mainly of sporadic fire from 88-mm. antiaircraft guns, small arms, and Panzerfausts—grew weaker every day.

When the supply and maintenance trains set out the roads were bad, disintegrating from the spring thaw and from the winter's pounding by heavy military vehicles; but once the trucks got past the West Wall and onto the Rhine plains they could make excellent time. Sometimes the Ordnance units were ahead of the infantry and armor, getting into combat and taking prisoners; sometimes, bypassing pockets of enemy resistance, they even got ahead of the Germans. One Third Army ammunition company (the 620th) had its ammunition supply point overrun by German troops at-


Photo:  LCM's being moved to the Rhine for Third Army crossing


tempting to escape to the east, and lost to the enemy eleven men killed or wounded.15

Speeding over the autobahns, the Ordnance men were reminded of the race across France the preceding fall. The autobahns were wide enough for ammunition supply points to be strung out along their edges, though the ASP's were hardly set up until they had to be moved forward: Everywhere the men found excellent, if temporary, shop space and living quarters in factories, breweries, and German barracks, and thanks to their earlier experience they were veterans, able to move forward with what First Army Ordnance Section described as "almost circus-like" precision, breaking bivouac and setting up shops and ASP's in new areas without interrupting their service to the combat forces.16 And victory was in the air. By mid-April 12th Army Group was rounding up trumpets and drums for the V-E Day celebration, instructing the armies to supplement their meager supplies of band instruments with German instruments to be found in the huge stocks of enemy matériel that were being overrun in every sector.17


Photo:  Colonel Medaris examining captured German weapons


Captured Enemy Matériel

German towns yielded stacks and piles of rifles, pistols, shotguns, knives, bayonets, ammunition, demolition charges, hand grenades, and Panzerfausts that had been turned in to the burgomeister by the townspeople; the Ruhr and other manufacturing regions yielded big industrial plants; and as the armies penetrated deeper into Germany they came upon ordnance depots, ammunition dumps, and proving grounds abandoned by the fleeing Wehrmacht. The tactical units who discovered these great stores had the job of protecting them, particularly such items as small arms, explosives, grenades, Panzerfausts, and booby trap components that could easily be used by enemy snipers or saboteurs. Thereafter, procedures for handling captured weapons, ammunition, and other ordnance items varied between First, Ninth, and Third Armies—the three armies in whose areas the greatest amounts of captured enemy matériel were found.

Anticipating the size of the job, on 17 March 1945—a few days before the breakout at the Remagen bridgehead—Medaris set up in his First Army Ordnance Section an Enemy Property Division, consisting of three officers and six enlisted men, and gave it responsibility for enemy matériel.


For the task of locating, guarding, controlling, inventorying, and disposing of it, he used a new battalion headquarters just assigned to him, the 190th, placing under it an evacuation company (collecting), a depot company, an ammunition company, a heavy maintenance (field army) company, and a bomb disposal platoon and squad. Augmented with hired Italian displaced persons and additional trucks, and working under the Enemy Property Division, the battalion collected, examined, and catalogued enemy installations and matériel, on occasion sending out search parties to supplement the information received from tactical units. In April, as hundreds of installations of an ordnance nature were uncovered, the search teams were given "targets"—especially vital factories, plants, and dumps—to look for; and the battalion received another ammunition company and two bomb disposal squads to help evacuate and safeguard vast quantities of enemy ammunition and explosives. Ammunition was found not only in enemy dumps, but around gun positions, along roads, on rail cars, and underground, and was the greatest problem of all.18

Ninth Army early in April gave its three corps the responsibility for policing captured and overrun matériel, instructing them to use for this purpose any units under their control that were not engaged in combat and to use a minimum of army Ordnance units. Corps collecting points for this type of matériel were to be operated separately from army collecting points. Later in the month, when combat had virtually ceased, corps delegated the job to the divisions.19 In Third Army, beyond assigning to the 82d (Ammunition) Ordnance Group the task of disposing of captured or abandoned equipment that threatened security, Nixon did not set up any special machinery for dealing with captured enemy matériel, but by the end of April the problem had become so great that he was contemplating the assignment of an Ordnance battalion to handle it. In Seventh Army, the job was handled by the forward Ordnance Group, the 55th, which was furnished by the rear group with a heavy automotive company to provide men for investigating, inventorying, guarding, and evacuating captured enemy matériel.20

In all the areas, a great deal of enemy ammunition was exploded under the supervision of the heroic, indispensable bomb disposal squads. For this dangerous work the squads had not been adequately trained. Their training had been directed toward handling enemy bombs, which were the big threat at the time the squads were formed. But very early in operations on the Continent, after the Luftwaffe was all but driven from the skies, "bomb disposal" became a misnomer (except for the Air Forces units), because the main job was the disposal of enemy munitions on the ground. This was especially true of units serving the armies: between D-day and V-E Day the work of Army bomb disposal squads in terms of tonnages was 92 percent munitions and only 8 percent bombs; that of the COMZ squads was 82 percent munitions


and 18 percent bombs. The lack of training in handling munitions was reflected in the very high casualty rate. Out of 972 U.S. bomb disposal men in the European theater, including officers and enlisted men, 111 were killed or wounded in their operational role. Thirty-nine were killed and 48 were wounded handling munitions, only 4 killed and 20 wounded handling bombs. In addition, four were killed and nine wounded in combat.21

Occasionally the German dumps and factories yielded artillery ammunition that could be fired from American guns. In some areas 88-mm. guns and 155-mm. enemy howitzers as well as ammunition were turned over to the American artillerymen to use in combat. At the Zeiss Optical Plant in Jena First Army picked up valuable optical equipment. On the whole, however, the armies used little captured equipment except motor vehicles and such automotive parts as springs, gaskets, and bearings. When First Army near Zehla Mehlis ran into one of the largest centers of small arms manufacture in Germany— more than fifty manufacturers of pistols, shotguns, and rifles—it evacuated most of the weapons to Communications Zone. On the other hand, in the advance toward the Elbe one First Army division, the 69th, was using 60 German sedans, 50 buses, 150 trucks, and 250 trailers.22

Of particular interest to Ordnance in the great stocks of captured matériel were the intelligence items—specimens of new German weapons that would be sent to the United States for study, notably the V-1, V-2, and other rocket weapons. They were found not only at factories, laboratories, and proving grounds, but in boxcars on railroad sidings and hidden in mines and tunnels. Investigating and reporting on these important finds was the job of the Ordnance Intelligence Teams that were attached to all the armies.

Ordnance Technical Intelligence

When combat troops came across new German weapons, normally they reported them to the army Ordnance officer, who passed the information on to the Ordnance Technical Intelligence Teams. By February 1945 each army had such a team, consisting of four officers and from four to six enlisted men (most on temporary duty from Aberdeen Proving Ground), as well as technicians, a clerk, an interpreter, and a draftsman. Often corps or division commanders called on the teams for information on the characteristics and capabilities of new enemy equipment, and this knowledge was immensely helpful to the commanders in planning tactics and developing countermeasures.23

Behind the army teams were smaller teams attached to ADSEC and CONAD and a 14-man COMZ team (5 officers, 9


enlisted men). All reported to COMZ Ordnance Section's Enemy Equipment Intelligence Branch (EEIB), headed by Col. Holger N. Toftoy, which consisted of 12 officers, 17 enlisted men, and a civilian technician, and was organized into seven units: Special Advisors, Field Coordinators, Shipping and Requirements, Drafting, Library, Reports, and a staff unit composed of specialists on ammunition, small arms, and automotive, artillery, fire control, and underwater-mine matériel.24

When the big push into Germany began, the armies advanced so rapidly that the tactical units did not have time to report new items; for this reason a good deal of enemy matériel was discovered by the men of the intelligence teams, who had a "search list" Supplied them by EEIB's Shipping and Requirements Section. SHAEF had decreed that the first specimen of each item discovered be shipped to England, because the U.S. Army had no proving ground in Europe. The second specimen would be sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground. The EEIB men resented the arrangement but could do nothing about it, since higher authority refused to sanction the establishment of an American proving ground on the Continent.25

After the Rhine crossing, the teams were swamped. They had to investigate every lead, no matter how unprofitable; they had to explore huge installations, many of which were underground, and sometimes had to seek out the inventor of a new weapon in order to fill in the details; often they had to evacuate important items to safer areas. By mid-April the pressure on the army teams had become so great that most of the EEIB staff had to be sent forward to help them, and Sayler was cabling home for twelve more officers and twenty-two more enlisted men. Items of the greatest importance for future Ordnance research had been discovered—V-1, V-2 and other types of rocket matériel; new artillery, such as the German 128-mm. gun mounted on a Russian carriage; and new ammunition like the 88-mm. incendiary shrapnel antiaircraft shell—and time was short. With inadequate means and manpower, Colonel Toftoy soon felt, as he reported to Paris, like a "mouse trying to chew down a huge oak tree." His problems were increased rather than lessened with the arrival of the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (CIOS) teams sent out by the Combined Chiefs of Staff early in 1945 because he had to furnish assistance to these groups. And the demands of the field forces continued up to V-E Day; for example, commanders were demanding identification photographs of Russian tanks in preparation for the meeting of the American and Soviet forces at the Elbe.26

After V-E Day

On the evening of 7 May 1945, the radio announced Germany's unconditional surrender. V-E Day, proclaimed as 8 May, was celebrated by Ordnance units in the five armies in various ways. Many were given a holiday—for some of the veterans of the Mediterranean in the Seventh Army


area, the first official holiday in more than two years of service overseas. In other areas the men attended special church services and then returned to work; or played ball, or held long discussions about what the future held for them. In First Army on 9 May there were company and battalion formations and addresses by Medaris and the group commanders. There was no wild rejoicing; many of the men took the news with "sober faces," feeling that their job was only half done.27

The immediate job for the maintenance men was to catch up on the backlog of work that had accumulated during the drive into Germany; the next was the inspection and repair of the weapons and vehicles that were going to the Pacific. Ninth Army inaugurated on V—E Day an ambitious program for the classification and calibration of artillery weapons. The work was done at Hillersleben, the great German artillery proving ground near Magdeburg, where the Ordnance men found technical facilities on a scale that had no counterpart in the United States—according to one unit, "a maintenance company's dream." Here the big guns and howitzers, some of which had been in constant service since the landings in North Africa, were test-fired, star-gaged, given new tubes and recoil mechanisms if necessary, and generally made ready to play their part in the war against Japan. The Hillersleben operation was singled out by a Senate subcommittee that visited the proving ground on 26 May as an example of the prompt, efficient, and generally "businesslike job" being done in reconditioning weapons for redeployment.28

Redeployment planning had begun in the United States at the end of July 1944, with 1 October 1944 as the assumed date of the collapse of Germany. Later revisions of mid-March 1945, in effect on V-E Day, had provided that economically repairable items going to the Pacific would be repaired in the European theater to the limit of available facilities. The major portion of this task fell obviously to Communications Zone, which set up collecting points in the ADSEC areas at which equipment turned in by combat units was inspected, classified, and shipped back to appropriate COMZ shops. Tanks and other heavy tracked matériel, for example, were to be turned in to Depot O-6022, set up in a steel mill at Butzbach near Frankfort, and then shipped back for fifth echelon repair to Depot O-690 in Brussels.29 Ammunition—to the limit of packaging material available—was to be sent direct to the Pacific. Requirements for that area were greatest in heavy artillery ammunition (on which ETO had long had priority), mortar ammunition, grenades, rockets, and small arms.30


The hardest problem for the planners was what to do about wheeled vehicles— not the special purpose type like DUKW's and tank transporters, which had to be reconditioned and redeployed to the maximum because they were scarce in the United States—but the general purpose vehicles. Most of these had seen hard service in Europe. How many were worth repairing? Ordnance planners estimated that 60 percent would be recoverable; of these vehicles, 30 percent could be shipped to the Pacific without major overhaul, 35 percent would be repaired in Europe before shipment to the Pacific, and the remaining 35 percent would be returned to the United States for repair and return to stock.31

These figures had to be revised drastically downward after V-E Day. To obtain a firsthand report on how many trucks were repairable, and whether there were enough factories, men, and parts overseas to do the job, General Somervell early in June 1945 sent to European and Mediterranean theaters a committee of civilians from industry, accompanied by Maj. Gen. Julian S. Hatcher, chief of Ordnance's Field Service. These men were asked to take into account the liberated areas' desperate need for trucks to haul such essentials as food, fuel, and building materials. Basing their findings on Ordnance serviceability standards for overseas shipment, they reported that only about 35 percent of the jeeps and trucks (excluding trailers) in the ETO could be reconditioned in the theater for redeployment. They recommended that the rest be turned over to the liberated areas. Discussions on the feasibility of returning trucks to the United States for repair continued in the United States throughout the summer of 1945. A study made in Ordnance Field Service after V-J Day, showing the cost of returning vehicles from the ETO, indicated that it was uneconomical to return to the United States any general purpose vehicles from overseas theaters.32

Long before decisions on the redeployment of matériel were firm, the machinery for/ the redeployment of men got under way. When First Army headquarters was pulled out of the line shortly after V-E Day, destined for the Pacific via the United States, First Army Ordnance units were assigned to Ninth and Third Armies. By the end of May a general reshuffling and realignment of Ordnance units in all the armies had begun.33 Within the units, there were drastic changes brought about by the War Department's redeployment criteria, announced shortly after V-E Day. All men over forty-two years of age were eligible for discharge, as were all those with an Adjusted Service Rating (ASR) of eighty-five points, based on length of service, service overseas, combat service, and parenthood. The rest would be divided between Category I, men who would remain in Europe, and Category II, men who would be redeployed to the Pacific, either


directly or through the United States.34

The point system played havoc with the Ordnance units, for like most service organizations they contained many older men with families, as well as many who had arrived in England or the Mediterranean early in the war. Some of the units were all but wiped out, especially in the Seventh Army area; for example, the headquarters of the 55th Ordnance Group had to be entirely reconstituted because all of the men were veterans with long service in the Mediterranean; their commanding officer, Colonel McGrath, with 136 points, was the lowest man in his unit on points. In all the armies, the replacements for high-point Ordnance men were generally unskilled and therefore unsuited to the enormous task of reconditioning the flood of damaged matériel that poured into Ordnance installations.35

In the case of the Ordnance men not eligible for discharge, some preferred going to the Pacific to staying with the Army of Occupation, for their memories of Europe were sad and bitter—"too many white crosses," as one First Army officer put it— too many friends killed or missing.36 Among the missing, none had been mourned more sincerely than Colonel Ray, the First Army ammunition officer, who had not been seen after he left headquarters in his jeep for Waimes on that fateful December afternoon when the Germans struck in the Ardennes.37 But Ray's story had a happy ending. Shortly before V-E Day he telephoned the First Army Ordnance office from a German prisoner of war camp in the Third Army area. A car was dispatched for him, and he was brought back amid general rejoicing (the memo from Bradley to Patton requesting his return received thirteen endorsements en route) in time to sail for the United States with the rest of the First Army staff, bound for the Pacific.38

At the staging areas for units going to the Pacific, the men were given maps and lectures on the climate and terrain. They were shown a movie, On to Tokyo. They studied Japanese tactics, and the island-by-island advance by the American forces on the other side of the world. Operations in the war against Japan had come a long way since the early victory in Papua.39


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