extracted from The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas


The Invasion of Normandy

After the severe setback occasioned by the decision to undertake the North African operation, planning for the invasion of northern France was revived in the spring of 1943. The approval of COSSAC's OVERLORD plan at QUADRANT in August, and subsequent decisions at the SEXTANT Conference, gave new impetus to preparations for the cross-Channel operation. In the latter half of 1943 the major Allied and U.S. tactical commands and subcommands of the forces to be engaged in continental operations were set up in the United Kingdom, and in January 1944 COSSAC became Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).

During the next five months the projected OVERLORD operation underwent continued study, and detailed plans for its implementation were worked out. As finally developed, OVERLORD called for airborne landings in the Caen and Carentan areas, closely followed by amphibious assaults on the Normandy beaches on the east side of the Cotentin peninsula and between the Orne River and the Carentan estuary. The assault was to be followed by the early capture of Cherbourg in the west and a rapid advance inland. The beachhead would be simultaneously expanded southward and eastward to include the Brittany peninsula and the area between the Loire and Seine Rivers. This lodgment area, which would serve as the springboard for further offensive operations, was to be secured in a three-month period.1

The mounting of OVERLORD was begun in mid-May 1944, and on 6 June the assault on the Continent got underway. The transportation task involved in the execution of the operational plan was formidable. A force of 1,350,000 US troops, together with their organizational equipment and vehicles, had to be moved from the United Kingdom to the Continent in a ninety-day period. The support of this force required the shipment from Britain and directly from the United States of vast amounts of ammunition, rations, clothing, fuel and lubricants, construction materials, rolling stock, and other materials. On the far shore, men and cargo had to be received over beaches and through badly damaged ports. Motor transport operations had to be established to handle beach and port clearance and all other interior transport pending the capture and rehabilitation of railways. Obviously, such operations required months of intensive planning and preparation. In the period before D Day, the Transportation Corps in the United Kingdom played an important part in laying the groundwork for outloading and supporting US forces engaged in OVERLORD, and for developing transportation operations on the Continent.


The Establishment of Planning Machinery
for Continental Operations

Transportation Corps planning for continental operations began early, but was limited by the lack of firm tactical plans. Until the fall of 1943 Transportation planning was handled for General Ross by a small section under Colonel Traub. Traub participated in various conferences held by COSSAC, worked with the British on plans for a joint stockpile of transportation matériel, and pushed through troop lists and operational projects prepared by various divisions in the Transportation Corps' theater headquarters. In the absence of definite operational plans, determination of matériel requirements was made on the basis of the theater's projected troop strength.2

Once the OVERLORD plan was given limited distribution, and various Allied and US headquarters had come into being, the theater chief of transportation was able to begin detailed planning. On 14 September 1943 he activated an advance echelon to plan for transportation operations on the Continent. Headed by Colonel Traub, who was designated a deputy chief of transportation, the Advance Echelon was set up to parallel the parent organization. By the spring of 1944 it had seven divisions-Military Railways, Marine Operations, Movements, Motor Transportation, Administration, Intelligence, and Supply.

As the Army's logistical agency, SOS was not only responsible for mounting and supporting US forces engaged in OVERLORD but was also charged with developing the communications zone on the Continent. At the direction of SHAEF, SOS activated the Forward Echelon, Communications Zone (FECZ), in February 1944, to draw up plans for logistical operations on the Continent during the entire ninety-day period, and to precede it to the Continent and prepare the way for a Communications Zone headquarters. The Advance Echelon, under Colonel Traub, became the Transportation Section of FECZ.

Within FECZ, the Transportation Section was delegated the task of developing the transportation aspects of the plan. Working closely with SHAEF, the 21 Army Group, which was to be the first Allied headquarters on the Continent, and the US First Army, which was to control initial US forces and operations on the far shore, Traub's organization was able to formulate the general outlines of the personnel and equipment requirements and the functions and responsibilities of the Transportation Corps on the Continent. The transportation plan was incorporated into the FECZ plan, which was issued for distribution on 14 May 1944.3

The logistical plan proved a valuable contribution, but FECZ headquarters never operated on the Continent in the manner intended. For reasons that will be discussed later, the date at which it was to take over direction of logistical operations was delayed, and Communications Zone headquarters was phased forward to arrive on the Continent earlier than planned. Transportation Corps personnel of FECZ


who moved to the Continent served with the Advance Section, and were later returned to the chief of transportation upon his move to the Continent with Communications Zone headquarters. The Advance Section (ADSEC), Communications Zone, formally activated at Bristol in February 1944, was to be the first US Army logistical agency on the Continent. Initially attached to the US First Army, ADSEC would gradually take over Communications Zone activities, and, upon the assumption of control of those activities by FECZ and the establishment of additional base sections, move forward behind the armies to provide close continuous support. ADSEC was charged with detailed planning for the period from D Day to D plus 41, at which time FECZ was expected to take over.4

The formation of an ADSEC transportation headquarters began in February 1944 when a small group of men from the 4th Port and the 3d Group Regulating Station under Colonel Sibley, former commander of the Mersey area ports, was gathered together at Transportation Corps headquarters at London. Initial activity dealt mainly with plans for the operation of Cherbourg, since Sibley had been designated to take command of that port. Shortly thereafter, Col. William C. Koenig was appointed transportation officer, and served in that capacity until the transfer of the Transportation Section to Bristol in March. There, Col. George W. Beeler was appointed transportation officer, his staff was augmented, and the scope of planning was greatly expanded. By the end of the month, divisions had been established covering all major transportation activities, including movements, and highway, rail, and marine operations. In the remaining period before D Day, additional Transportation Corps personnel were assigned from traffic regulating groups and replacement centers, and on 8 May an Ordnance officer, Col. Clarence W. Richmond, was assigned to the section to organize a motor transport brigade, which was to control all motor transport units on the beaches and at the Normandy ports. During this period, the section prepared several standing operating procedures covering traffic control, motor convoy operation, and other projected activities of the Transportation Section or its divisions.

The principal planning achievement of the ADSEC Transportation Section was its program for the period from D Day to D plus 41, which was issued as part of the ADSEC NEPTUNE* plan on 30 April 1944, and finally revised on 1 June. This plan was drawn up in coordination with the FECZ Transportation Section, and while it differed in some respects from the FECZ plan it had the effect of filling in the outlines of that plan for the ADSEC period of responsibility. While the plans in general agreed on the role of the Transportation Corps at various phases of OVERLORD, the ADSEC plan was more specific and detailed. For example, the FECZ plan only set forth the type of transportation units required at each stage of operations, while the ADSEC plan included detailed schedules for the timing of the arrival and the initial location of each of the 234 transportation units that were to engage in operations on the far shore during the first forty-one days.5


Planning as of D Day

By D Day there were in existence plans covering virtually every aspect of transportation operations to be undertaken on the Continent during the OVERLORD period. These were part of over-all plans for the development of logistical operations in an evolving communications zone. In general, it was contemplated that US and British forces would control separate lines of communication, with coordination provided by 21 Army Group. In the American zone, the First US Army would control all tactical and administrative activities until the advent of the 1st US Army Group, which would take over upon the arrival of a second American army headquarters.

During the first forty days after D Day, according to the plan, the US lines of communication would be extended in a north-south direction along the axis Cherbourg- Vitré. Men and supplies would come in over the beaches and through the ports of the Cotentin peninsula and flow southward to depots or direct to using units. All logistical operations were initially to be under the command of the First Army. Personnel and equipment for beach operations were to be provided by the First Army and its attached Advance Section, Communications Zone. As tactical forces moved forward, ADSEC would gradually take over communications zone activities, including the operation of ports, motor transport, and railways. By about D plus 20, First Army would draw a rear boundary. ADSEC would then be detached from First Army, take control of activities behind the rear boundary, including the beaches and ports, and in effect act as Communications Zone headquarters. Supervision of ADSEC would be exercised by FECZ, first attached to the 21 Army Group staff and later to the 1st Army Group.

It was expected that beginning approximately D plus 41 the lines of communication would gradually shift from a north-south to a west-east direction. With the uncovering of the Brittany ports, the flow of supplies would more and more move eastward along the axis Brest-Le Mans. A base section would be brought in to develop the Brest and Quiberon Bay areas in Brittany. At this point, FECZ headquarters would become operational and assume control of the entire Communications Zone. As the west-east line of communications was developed, ADSEC would move forward to provide direct support to the armies, and a base section would be organized to take over command of the area it had relinquished. The groundwork would then be laid for the transfer of Communications Zone headquarters from the United Kingdom to the Continent on D plus 90.6

General Concepts

The phasing of logistical operations and commands was planned with a keen awareness of their transportation implications. From a transportation point of view, the major problems were expected to be the development of sufficient beach and port capacity and the establishment of adequate motor transport operations. Since Allied planners recognized that prolonged


dependence on beaches and unprotected anchorages might well prove disastrous, they provided for the erection of two artificial ports on the far shore, one to be American-operated, and for the early opening of Cherbourg and a number of minor Normandy ports. Mindful of the World War I experience, the Allied planners relied on the capture of the Brittany ports, notably Brest, to furnish enough capacity to handle a large part of the incoming traffic in the latter stages of the operation. It was contemplated that the lines of communication would have to depend on motor transport for much of the OVERLORD period, with such relief as could be provided by pipelines. Destruction of rail facilities was expected to make rail operations impracticable before D plus 50, other than for local port clearance, and to limit traffic for some time thereafter.7

Transportation planning dealt with the phasing in of transportation headquarters, units, and equipment and the progressive development of activities at each stage of operations. During the first phase, D to D plus 25, the Transportation Corps would provide troops and equipment to assist the Engineer special brigades assigned to the First Army in the discharge of cargo, vehicles, and personnel through the St. Laurent-sur-Mer (OMAHA), La Madeleine (UTAH), and Quinéville beaches, the artificial port at St. Laurent-sur-Mer (MULBERRY A), and the nearby minor ports of Isigny, Grandcamp-les-Bains, and St. Vaast-la-Hougue. The Corps would also furnish men and equipment to ADSEC to operate the ports of Cherbourg, Barfleur, and Granville; clear supplies from ports to forward depots and units; establish traffic control in the major port area; operate any rehabilitated railway rolling stock that had been captured; and supplement pipelines and the Army's organic transportation in hauling bulk and packaged POL to the First Army. These activities would be directed by the ADSEC Transportation Section, which also would be preparing to take over transportation responsibilities for the area that was to become the communications zone. By D plus 25, some 24,242 Transportation Corps personnel would be on the Continent, exclusive of those on the beaches.8

From D plus 26 to D plus 41, the ADSEC Transportation Section would in effect be the transportation headquarters for the communications zone, assuming responsibility for the provision of transportation for the support of the US forces. It would operate all major and minor ports, including St. Malo; control marine traffic by recommending ports of entry to SOS headquarters; operate and maintain railways as they were brought into service; conduct motor transport operations necessary for port clearance, static operations, and line of communications hauling, including the movement of POL from ports, beach areas, and pipeline terminals; provide traffic regulation on highways and railroads; and set up regulating stations to control movement across Army rear boundaries. It would also prepare to turn over to Communications


Zone headquarters and base sections such transportation units, installations, and activities as could not be carried forward in the advance. By D plus 41, there would be 36,811 Transportation Corps troops under ADSEC. The bulk of this personnel would consist of port and truck troops, although railway, harbor craft, marine maintenance, amphibian truck (DUKW), traffic regulation, and base depot units also would be on duty.

During this period the FECZ Transportation Section would be concerned mainly with the provision of units and equipment to ADSEC, and with preparations to take over communications zone operations. It was also to begin organizing rail operations and to phase in Transportation Corps troops and equipment for attachment to the two base sections that were to be set up behind ADSEC.

In the final phase, D plus 41 to D plus 90, the FECZ Transportation Section would operate as the transportation corps in the communications zone. It would assume control of rail and motor operations, allocate to ADSEC and the base sections personnel and equipment to operate ports, line of communications hauling, and traffic control, and phase in additional units which would be required. It was expected that during this period the Brittany ports of Brest, Quiberon Bay, and Lorient would be opened, rail operations would be organized under FECZ direction by the 2d Military Railway Service, and planned rail and road networks would be placed in operation.

Beach and Port Operations

The development of beach and port operations was planned to provide for a capacity somewhat in excess of that actually required for the support of the forces moved to the Continent.9 Discharge capabilities were expected to expand from approximately 14,700 long tons per day on D plus 10 to about 45,950 long tons by D plus 90.10 The OMAHA, UTAH, and Quinéville beaches were to begin discharge on D Day. The artificial port at OMAHA would be opened on D plus 12, and the small nearby ports of Isigny, St. Laurent-sur-Mer, and St. Vaast-la-Hougue between D plus 12 and D plus 21. These installations would be operated by the Engineer special brigades, with the assistance of Transportation Corps troops, including a major port headquarters, port, amphibian truck, harbor craft, and truck units, and a large supply of floating and materials handling equipment.11

Meanwhile, Cherbourg would be opened on D plus 11, and was to be operated by the 4th Port, with attached troops and equipment. Rehabilitation activities of the Engineers were to increase the port's discharge capacity to 5,000 long tons per day by D plus 20, and 8,000 long tons per day by D plus 90. The 4th Port was also scheduled to operate Barfleur and Granville, ports capable of handling coasters only, which would be opened on D plus 20 and 25, respectively. At each of these installations, port troops would be phased


in to keep pace with the discharge capacity of rehabilitated facilities.12

In the Brittany area, St. Malo and the nearby beaches were scheduled to begin operation under the 12th Port on D plus 25. With anticipated capacity of 2,000 tons per day by D plus 40 and 3,000 tons daily by D plus 90, this area was to sustain the US Third Army and possibly to handle the debarkation of Third Army troops. The other Brittany ports were expected to come into the logistic picture between D plus 53 and 57, with the opening of Brest and the Rade de Brest, Lorient, and Quiberon Bay.13 The planners estimated that these ports would provide a daily discharge capacity of 8,040 long tons by D plus 60, and 14,550 long tons by D plus 90.

Port planning proved overoptimistic. The capture of Cherbourg was delayed, and its rehabilitation was slower than expected. Moreover, the Brittany ports were not opened as planned because of the late date of the capture, the extent of destruction, and the rapid eastward advance of the armies. In the end, only a few minor ports were operated in the Brittany area. The failure of plans for the Brittany ports to materialize made a heavier and more extended dependence on the beaches necessary, forced a sharp upward revision of Cherbourg's capacity, and posed a port development problem that was not solved until the opening of Antwerp in late November 1944.

Motor Transport

When D Day arrived, the least satisfactory aspect from the standpoint of the theater chief of transportation was the preparation for US motor transportation operations on the Continent. Despite early requests, he had been unable to obtain troops and equipment in quantities sufficient to meet what he considered essential requirements.

Immediately upon the reassignment of motor transport operations to the Transportation Corps in July 1943, General Ross had ordered his Motor Transport Division to begin planning for continental operations. Lacking an over-all operational plan, Ross's planners relied on the theater troop basis to work out motor transport requirements for projected port clearance, depot and other static operations, and line of communications hauling. They assumed the use of standard truck companies, each operating forty so-called 2t/2-ton vehicles, which actually moved a 5-ton pay load. Estimating the maximum average forward range of a single driver at fifty miles per day, each truck company would have a capacity of 10,000 forward ton-miles per day. On this basis, they calculated that 240 truck companies would be necessary. The G-4 staff believed the number to be excessive, and the theater approved only 160 truck companies. Although the theater troop basis was later increased, and the scope of US tactical operations expanded, no changes were made before D Day in the number of projected units.14 An officer who served


with the SHAEF Movements and Transportation Division has stated that the theater Transportation Corps planners were unable to back up their claims because they lacked basic operational and logistical data such as detailed information regarding the planned deployment of US forces on the Continent, and that the G-4 staff disregarded their recommendations without sufficiently reanalyzing the problem.15

Equally frustrating were the Transportation Corps' efforts to secure heavy-duty equipment. A study of the experience in North Africa had clearly revealed the need for trucks capable of handling oversized and bulky supplies and equipment and had demonstrated that the larger vehicles were much more economical in over-the-road hauling than the 21/2-ton truck. Profiting from this lesson, Ross directed his Motor Transport Division to include in its plans provision for such heavy-duty and special equipment as would be required for a balanced truck fleet. In August 1943 requisitions were sent to Washington for special vehicles with which to re-equip over two thirds of the projected 160 truck companies. Fifty-nine companies were to be provided with 28-foot, 10-ton semitrailers; 36 companies with 21/2-ton 6x6 cab-over-engine trucks, which because of their longer body and greater cubic capacity could carry heavier and more bulky freight than the standard 21/2-ton truck; 27 companies with 750-gallon tank trucks; 9 companies with 2,000-gallon semitrailer tankers; and 2 companies with 45-ton tank transport trailers and 5-ton refrigerator vans.16

The requisitions fared badly in Washington. Considerable time was consumed in processing papers, and final War Department approval of the projects was not given until December 1943. Several more months transpired before production was initiated so that few of the vehicles had arrived in the United Kingdom by 31 May 1944.17 Pending the receipt of the equipment, the Transportation Corps, shortly before D Day, agreed to accept several alternative types then available for immediate shipment to the theater. Among the substitutions were 11/2-ton truck-tractors with 3-6-ton semitrailers, and 4-5-ton truck-tractors with 16-foot semitrailers that had been designed originally for use in the China-Burma-India theater. Also, some increased carrying capacity became available in May 1944 when the War Department authorized loading up to 100 percent in excess of the rated capacity for 21/2-ton 6x6 trucks operating under favorable conditions on smooth hard-surface roads. The heavy-vehicle project was not to be completed until late in November 1944. In the interim, the Transportation Corps was compelled to rely heavily on 21/2-ton trucks, supplemented by such other vehicles as could be provided.18

Believing that there would be insufficient carrying capacity even if the heavy equipment should be made available, the Transportation Corps planners sought to


apply another lesson learned during the North African campaign by providing two drivers for each vehicle in order to make possible twenty-four-hour vehicle operation. Their request for overstrength truck units was at first turned down by the theater G-3, on the grounds that such operations would not be required over an extended period of time and that the normal truck company could work continuously over short periods of time if necessary.

After repeated efforts by the Transportation Corps to have the matter reconsidered, General Lee became interested in the problem in early 1944 and intervened. Requests for men to provide forty extra drivers per company were then submitted to the War Department. The War Department notified the theater that its troop strength could not be increased, and suggested that the extra personnel be secured within the theater. In April 1944 General Lee directed the base sections to furnish quotas of drivers by a deadline date. Although he specifically stated that he would tolerate no unloading of undesirables, many of the men received proved to be of poor quality. This factor, together with the fact that insufficient time remained for proper training, was later to have an adverse effect upon vehicle maintenance and operation. Additional drivers were secured by distributing personnel from fourteen truck companies among other units, and assigning their equipment to two Engineer general service regiments that were converted into truck companies.19

Meanwhile, FECZ and ADSEC organization and planning had gone forward. Most of the Motor Transport Division staff members at Transportation Corps headquarters had been reassigned to the FECZ Transportation Section, and within ADSEC a Motor Transport Brigade had been organized.20 From D Day to D plus 25, the ADSEC Transportation Section, through its Motor Transport Brigade, would operate the motor transport required to clear ports and to supplement the First Army's organic transportation. Thereafter, until D plus 41, it would be responsible for furnishing general-purpose transport for hauling supplies forward from the beaches, ports, and depots in support of the armies, the Ninth Air Force, and Communications Zone installations. On D plus 41 the FECZ Transportation Section would assume control of motor transport operation in the communication zone and allocate to ADSEC and the two other base sections personnel and units to perform truck hauling and traffic control. There were to be 130 truck companies on the Continent by D plus 41. Transportation Corps theater planners were unhappy about this number, and as D Day approached they were endeavoring to arrange for the earlier employment of some of the thirty truck units scheduled to arrive between D plus 41 and D plus 90.21

The effort to phase in units at an earlier date than originally planned, as well as the last-minute attempts to increase carrying capacity through the assignment of extra drivers and the acceptance of miscellaneous types of heavy vehicles immediately available, reflected a growing anxiety regarding the adequacy of preparations for motor transport operations.


In the spring of 1944 a study by the SHAEF G-4 Movement and Transportation Branch, based on the latest information regarding projected troop deployment and phase lines, indicated that there would not be enough truck units adequately to support the US advance, particularly in the period after D plus 41. After a review by SHAEF logistical planners in April had confirmed these findings, the matter was brought to General Eisenhower's attention. Eisenhower then called in General Lee, and a reanalysis was undertaken by the Communications Zone staff.22 As D Day approached it was evident to the Communications Zone G-4 that there would be a shortage of truck companies if maximum traffic developed, but he believed that the shortage might be relieved through temporary SOS utilization of truck units of the second and third armies to land on the Continent. Moreover, he anticipated that the transportation system as a whole would be adequate, if the heavy vehicles on order materialized in time and rail operations were begun by D plus 60.23

In actual operations, the shortage of heavy-duty vehicles and truck companies did not immediately become apparent. Indeed, by late July 1944, only 94 of the planned 130 truck units were in operation under ADSEC, and up to that time they were adequate because tactical progress had been unexpectedly slow and road hauls relatively short.24 With the rapid advance of the armies after the breakthrough at St. Lô, the deficiencies soon became painfully evident.

Rail Transportation

The assumption that motor transport would bear the brunt of overland traffic during the first ninety days was premised on the expectation that extensive destruction of railway equipment, track, and structures would severely limit the immediate use of rail transportation. The theater planners therefore placed the main emphasis on repair and rehabilitation of captured railway track and equipment, and assumed that rail operations would have only limited importance even in the latter phases Of OVERLORD.25

Planning for continental railway operations had a long history. The Transportation Corps Military Railway Division had begun working on equipment requirements in 1942, and plans for the development of a joint stockpile were made by an American-British committee on which the Transportation Corps and Corps of Engineers were represented along with their British opposites. During the BOLERO period a large quantity of motive power, rolling stock, and other rail equipment was assembled in the United Kingdom for eventual transfer to the Continent. A joint British-American Cross-Channel Ferrying Committee, operating under SHAEF, was responsible for programming the sailings to move the pool of equipment to the Continent.

Detailed Transportation Corps operational planning got underway in early 1944 when Colonel Bingham was appointed head of the Military Railways Division, FECZ Transportation Section.


Bingham was succeeded in April by General Burpee, who had given distinguished service in North Africa and Italy. Burpee commanded the 2d Military Railway Service, which had arrived in the United Kingdom at the end of March, and was scheduled to direct rail operations on the Continent. While railway troops underwent training and made preparations for their move to the Continent, Burpee and his staff continued work on the FECZ plan and maintained close coordination with the ADSEC transportation and engineering staffs.26

As visualized on D Day, the main functions of military railway troops up to D plus 41 would be to reconnoiter and survey lines to be operated; provide construction-work trains and crews to assist the Engineers in rehabilitating the railways; set up and prepare for operation the equipment ferried over or captured; cooperate with the Engineer and Signal Corps in completing required construction; and start rail operations as soon as conditions would permit. Ferrying operations for rail equipment would begin on D plus 25. Rolling stock and locomotives, at first mainly work equipment, would be landed at Cherbourg, the only port capable of handling them and the starting point for rail operations. It was assumed that no repairable locomotives would be captured within the first 30 days, and that until D plus 41 captured rolling stock capable of being rendered serviceable would not be sufficient to offset losses at sea during the ferrying operation.

Personnel requirements for this period were modest. A small party from MRS headquarters would land on UTAH Beach, join the 382d Engineer General Service Regiment, and proceed to the rail line. Upon the capture of Cherbourg, the party was to make a reconnaissance of rail facilities at that port and follow up with a survey of the line as far south as Valognes. Beginning on D plus 18 the remainder of the 2d MRS headquarters would be phased in to complete detailed surveys and initiate operations, and assigned operating units would be brought in. By D plus 41, the 2d MRS was to have available on the Continent one railway grand division, two railway operating battalions, and two railway shop battalions. Operations would have been pushed as far south as Lison, and preparations would have been started to extend them farther southward.27

In the latter half of the OVERLORD period, rail operations were to be expanded as lines were rehabilitated, additional troops and equipment were made available, and the tactical forces advanced. By D plus 90, the MRS would be operating a rail net bounded by Cherbourg on the north, Auray to the southwest, and Le Mans to the southeast. The net would include the double-track line running south from Cherbourg to Lison, where it was connected by a single-track line with Le Mans. Other lines expected to be in operation extended from Lison southwestward via Granville and Dol-de-Bretagne to Rennes, from Rennes westward to Auray in the Quiberon Bay area, and from Rennes eastward to Le Mans. For the operation and maintenance of these lines, the 2d MRS was to be provided with two railway grand divisions, five railway operating battalions, two railway shop battalions, and considerable rail


equipment. Equipment to be ferried to the Continent by D plus 90 included 354 locomotives, 4,136 20-ton covered cars, 1,862 20-ton open freight cars, 519 50-ton flatcars, 395 cabooses, 152 tank cars, 30 refrigerator cars, 54 40-ton gondolas, and other rolling stock including 6 ambulance trains.28

Rail transportation was expected to be the backbone of the transportation system in the post-OVERLORD period. Transportation Corps railway planners believed that by D plus 120 there would be in operation an extensive railway system, consisting mainly of double-track lines, which would be based on Cherbourg and the Brittany ports of Quiberon Bay and Lorient and would extend eastward as far as Dreux and Chartres. The planning staff also drew up plans for subsequent utilization of rail lines up to and beyond the German border.29

Provision was also made for the eventual transfer of rail operations to the French. As set forth by a SHAEF directive in July 1944, the transfer in each liberated area was to take place in three stages: Stage (later called Phase) I called for exclusive military operation of the railways; Stage II was characterized by assistance from the French; and Stage III contemplated French assumption of responsibility for railway maintenance and operation.30

As in the case of the ports and motor transport, the actual development of railway operations did not proceed according to plan. The delay in capturing Cherbourg set back the phasing in of railway troops and equipment. Although destruction of rail facilities proved somewhat less serious than anticipated, operations were at first limited by the shallow lodgment area. At the end of July 1944, US rail activity was confined to the north-south lines between Cherbourg and Lison. Beginning in August the MRS-operated lines had expanded, and American rail personnel were greatly augmented. By D plus 90 (4 September) rail operations had been pushed southward to Rennes and eastward beyond Le Mans.31 The progressive extension of rail lines, however, did not keep pace with the lightning advance of the armies, necessitating prolonged dependence on motor transport. Not until the last quarter of 1944 did the railways catch up and surpass truck transportation in the volume of traffic handled.32

Movement Control and Other
Transportation Activities

Control of personnel and supply movements in the communications zone was an important aspect of transportation planning, for without such regulation traffic could become quickly and seriously snarled. Responsibility for this function was to pass successively from the First Army to ADSEC to FECZ. Personnel to carry out the responsibility during the ADSEC and FECZ phases were to be provided by the Transportation Corps. The US First Army was initially to control all traffic. During this period detachments from the 3d Group Regulating


Station would arrive, establish traffic control in the Cherbourg port area, and move out to strategic points along the road network. On D plus 25 the ADSEC Transportation Section would assume responsibility for controlling all traffic behind the First Army's rear boundary. Its Movement Control Branch, through coordination with the services, would issue cargo disposal instructions and allocate tonnages for land movement. Additional traffic regulation groups would be brought in and would provide troops for traffic regulation (RTO) installations. These stations, operating under the ADSEC Transportation Section, would be located at strategic roadheads, railheads, and other vital points along the lines of communication.

Beginning on D plus 41, movement control would become a responsibility of FECZ and would be exercised through the medium of base and advance section agencies. Movements by rail or road were to be arranged by base section transportation officers, with the FECZ Transportation Section providing over-all coordination. As an exception to this decentralized traffic control scheme, the planners anticipated that certain through motor routes would be regulated by FECZ headquarters. Control of movements along the lines of communication was to be handled by regulating stations, which by D plus 90 would be manned by men from six traffic regulating groups. As visualized in the FECZ plan, these stations were to be responsible for the orderly movement of supplies and personnel to proper railheads and roadheads, and for the evacuation of casualties, prisoners, and salvage. They were to organize classification and dispatch areas and other traffic control points in order to keep traffic moving and prevent congestion at rail and truck terminals and along the lines of communication.33

Regulating stations were also to be set up immediately behind the Army areas to control movements between the communications zone and the combat zone. Although Field Service Regulations provided that such stations would be directly under the theater commander, it was decided to assign them to ADSEC, which was the Communications Zone agency adjacent to the combat area. The regulating officer was to handle movement requests from tactical forces, set priorities, and regulate the flow of men and materials into and out of the Army areas. As will be seen, two such stations were actually set up, one operating behind the US First Army and the other behind the US Third Army.34

Before closing the discussion of transportation planning it should be noted that two pipeline systems were to be operated on the Continent-one based on Cherbourg and the other on Port-en-Bessin.35 Since the Engineers were responsible for construction, operation, and maintenance of the lines, Transportation Corps planning did not deal with them other than to examine their impact on other transportation operations.

Scant attention was given to the development of inland waterways. No important use of this means of transportation was contemplated during the OVERLORD period.


Mounting the Invasion

In order to effect the planned invasion of northwestern France by US forces, it was necessary to move troops, equipment, and supplies from stations and depots in the United Kingdom to proper far shore destinations and to deliver them in the amounts and sequence and at the times desired by tactical commanders.36 This task had to be performed without interfering with the simultaneous movement of British forces. It was a complicated undertaking requiring close collaboration among Allied, British, and American agencies. Machinery had to be set up to control the flow of men and materials and to allocate vessels and landing craft. Areas for the assembly, processing, and embarkation of troops and accompanying matériel had to be apportioned for the movement of cargo necessary to support the invasion, and uniform procedures had to be worked out governing the flow of both US and British forces.

The mounting operation involved the advance loading of the assault forces and a portion of those designated for the subsequent build-up. This was to be followed by a gigantic prescheduled buildup, designed to meet the requirements of the tactical forces, that had to be kept within the limits of the shipping available, the outloading capacity of the United Kingdom ports, the receiving capacity of beaches and ports on the far shore, and the uncertainties that might arise as the result of bad weather, enemy sea action, and changes in the tactical situation. In view of the short sea voyage, the buildup was to be effected by a shuttle service between the southern coast of England and northern France. Support shipping direct from the United States would play a minor role in the early stages of the buildup, but would become increasingly important thereafter and contribute the bulk of the supply requirements on the Continent in the latter phases of the OVERLORD operation.

The theater SOS commander had the responsibility for mounting and supporting the US forces engaged in OVERLORD. Within SOS, the chief of transportation, in coordination with the British, exercised executive control of movements of US troops, vehicles, and supplies, including outloadings from the U.K. ports. Actual direction of US mounting activities, including movement control, port, and other transportation activities, was delegated to the base section commanders. Over-all control of the mounting machinery, both American and British, was made the function of the Allied Buildup Control Organization (BUCO).

Participation in Embarkation Planning

Detailed Transportation Corps planning for the mounting of OVERLORD began in early September 1943 when General Ross established an Operational Branch in his Movements Division.37 One of the branch's first tasks was to participate in the development of joint American-British movement control and embarkation procedures. The British Movements Directorate had been working on plans for the movement and control of an amphibious force to be embarked from the southern coast of England,


and in September the British held the exercise HARLEQUIN to test their effectiveness. In this exercise troops were moved rapidly through pre-established movement control areas, passing successively through a concentration area, an assembly area, and a transit area before embarking. Upon the completion of HARLEQUIN, the Operational Branch joined with representatives of the 21 Army Group and the British Movement Control and, on the basis of experience gained in the exercise, began to formulate uniform procedures governing the movement and embarkation of both US and British forces.

In the months that followed, general agreement was reached on movements and embarkation procedures. The southern part of England, roughly south of a line between London and Bristol, was accepted as the mounting area, with US forces concentrating in the southwest and British forces in the southeast. In view of the large number of troops involved and the limited camp facilities available in southern England, it was recognized that it would be impossible to move all of the buildup forces into the mounting area before D Day. Therefore, it was decided to have a prescheduled movement of troops into concentration areas, and thence through marshaling areas to embarkation points, either directly or through embarkation areas.

The concentration areas were to be located fifty to sixty miles from the point of embarkation. While in a concentration area units were to be self-sufficient, were to continue their training, and were to take preliminary steps in preparing equipment and securing supplies for the sea voyage. Next, the units were to be sent southward by road or rail into a marshaling area in the order indicated by priority tables prepared by appropriate army headquarters. There, they were no longer self-sufficient and had to be billeted and fed by a static organization. In the marshaling area the units were placed under a security seal, were briefed on the forthcoming invasion, received final issues of supplies and equipment, and their vehicles final waterproofing. Movement from the marshaling area to the point of embarkation was to be by craft or shiploads as required for the assault and the subsequent buildup

The make-up of an embarkation area was a compromise between British and American points of view. In the American zone of southwest England, the marshaling areas lay comparatively near the coast. In the southeast, the British marshaling areas were located further inland to afford maximum concealment and protection. Therefore, the British desired an intermediate transit area adjacent to the embarkation point so as to control movement. To reach a common method of procedure the embarkation areas were set up to include an embarkation regulating point, which for the British could accommodate both troops and vehicles but for the Americans served simply as a traffic control point.

In practice, the Americans found no great need for the embarkation areas, since the proximity of marshaling areas to embarkation points could have made possible control of embarkation of troops and vehicles merely by parking the units along the roads leading to embarkation points, and then bringing craft or shiploads to the embarkation point with motorcycle escort. Each marshaling area was to be employed for that purpose up to 75 percent of its capacity. The remaining 25 percent was to be kept in reserve to accommodate troops and vehicles that might be unable


to move out because of enemy action, adverse weather, or other circumstances. Troops generally were to stay longest in the concentration area, which in many cases was their home station, rarely more than forty-eight hours in the marshaling area, and usually only a few hours in the embarkation area. Apart from movement priorities, the availability of motor, rail, and, above all, water transport was the key factor in the embarkation cycle.

The procedures worked out by the British Movements Director and the US theater chief of transportation were published by the theater on 10 January 1944 in a manual entitled "Preparation for Overseas Movement-Short Sea Voyage" (ETO-POM-SSV). The publication divided the mounting operation into four phases-assault, follow-up, buildup, and normal reinforcement. In all four phases troops would flow through concentration, marshaling, and embarkation areas in the sequence dictated by priority tables set up by the tactical command involved. Among other things, procedures were laid down for stripping units of overhead personnel and excess equipment, for loading unit vehicles with organization equipment, and for preparing necessary embarkation documentation. On 31 March detailed technical instructions covering procedures to be followed by US and British movement control personnel in implementing ETO-POM-SSV were issued.

Amphibious Exercises

The movement control and embarkation procedures, as well as loading and unloading techniques and other aspects of amphibious operations, were tested in several US exercises, in which transportation troops participated. Made as realistic as possible, these training exercises helped disclose matters calling for correction.

Assigned to Headquarters, V Corps, the first American large-scale exercise, DUCK 1, was completed early in January 1944. DUCK I involved the movement of American troops and equipment, their embarkation in landing craft, and a subsequent assault with naval and air support on the beach at Slapton Sands near Dartmouth, Devon, where tide, beach, and terrain conditions roughly resembled those on the Normandy coast. In accordance with planned movement tables, the troops and equipment were moved from the marshaling areas to the embarkation points. Despite several deficiencies, notably in documentation and timing, the exercise demonstrated that the normal transportation procedure sufficed.

Other assault exercises were performed before D Day. Among other things, they simulated the conditions likely to be found in unloading supplies over an enemy-held beach and provided training for Transportation Corps port troops in discharging cargo from coasters into landing craft and amphibian vehicles. They also furnished experience in handling skidloaded, or palletized, cargo.38 Continuous study and analysis brought further improvements in procedure. The prevailing point of view was that, if difficulties were to develop, it was better by far that they be detected at this time rather than after the assault had been launched. The major series closed


with two full-dress rehearsals for the invasion, TIGER and FABIUS. The first took on a grim touch when German surface craft attacked unexpectedly, causing a heavy loss of life among the Americans.39

Movement Control Organization and Procedures

While the amphibious exercises were being held, planning and organization for the actual mounting operation had gone forward. Skeleton staff tables indicating the planned sequence in which ground, air, and service units would embark from the United Kingdom had been drawn up by the First US Army for the period to D plus 15, and by the 1st US Army Group for the period thereafter. These tables were referred to the Concentration Plan Committee established by the Communications Zone G-4 Planning Branch, on which the theater chief of transportation and the Southern Base Section commander were represented. On the basis of these tables, the committee determined the location of each unit as of D minus 35, the sector through which the unit would move, the concentration area camp to which it would be assigned, and the projected date of its arrival at that camp.40

The concentration plan assumed a prescheduled movement of troops and vehicles from their home stations to concentration area camps, and then through marshaling areas to points of embarkation, but it was evident from the first that tactical developments and other considerations would in all probability cause the actual flow of units to differ from that set up in advance. In order to provide centralized and flexible control of the buildup on the Continent on a day-to-day basis, the Buildup Control Organization (BUCO) was established in the spring of 1944 under the joint direction of the Allied Army, Navy, and Air commanders in chief. This Allied agency was composed of a US zone staff and a British zone staff, under the chairmanship of a representative of 21 Army Group. The US zone staff was made up of representatives of the American tactical commands and FECZ. BUCO's principal functions were to control the buildup of personnel and vehicles and to set priorities for their movement as desired by the tactical commands and in line with available shipping and craft.41

Under the control of BUCO were two subordinate agencies, Movement Control (MOVCO) and Turnaround Control (TURCO). MOVCO had general control over the movement of troop units from their home stations to embarkation points, issuing instructions for movement to transportation agencies concerned. TURCO, a traffic control agency staffed by American and British naval personnel, was formed to assist naval commanders in the control of the cross-Channel movement of ships and craft, with a view to minimizing the turnaround time.

Although BUCO itself remained in the United Kingdom, shortly after D Day an organization called Little BUCO was set up on the far shore and in effect functioned as BUCO's advance echelon. This agency was attached to the First Army and was staffed by Army, Army Air Forces, and Communications Zone representatives.


It screened and consolidated requests for changes in priorities of troop units and passed them on to BUCO for implementation.

The procedures developed by BUCO were designed to provide movement control machinery that could be adapted to the needs of the tactical commanders and the transportation available. At daily meetings BUCO made alterations in priorities desired by the tactical commanders and modified the planned allocation of shipping and craft to meet current requirements. Any alterations of lift as between the Americans and British were arranged by BUCO with 21 Army Group, which was responsible for the allocation of shipping. BUCO broke down the modified priority lists into lists for the several embarkation sectors, showing the sequence in which units would embark in each. The lists were set up three weeks ahead of movement, and on the basis of this information MOVCO issued a force loading forecast for each embarkation sector, covering anticipated movements during the next ten days. These data were subject to change, but provided the base sections and sectors with a basis for planning and preparations.

More important were the force movement tables prepared by MOVCO. Distributed daily to base section headquarters, marshaling areas, and sectors, these tables covered a twenty-four hours' flow into marshaling areas. Showing the allocation of units to ports, the dates on which units would move to marshaling areas, and the priority of loading, the force movement tables served as instructions to transportation agencies to move units into marshaling camps, and provided the basis for breaking down units into ship and craft loads. Within this framework, US movement control functions were performed by Transportation Corps personnel at the theater and base section levels. The chief of transportation exercised technical supervision over American movements and, through his Operational Branch, issued instructions for the movement of units and vehicles to concentration area camps. The flow of troops and vehicles forward from the concentration area was controlled by the base sections, through the medium of the regional movement control organization, which had been set up in the BOLERO period.42

Encompassing virtually the entire mounting area, the Southern Base Section was responsible for the great bulk of the marshaling and embarkation, although the Western Base Section assisted in mounting two airborne divisions and a portion of the seaborne buildup forces. Southern Base Section's four districts, bearing the Roman numerals XVI, XVII, XVIII, and XIX, were the principal administrative units in the mounting process. The latter two districts, on the southern coast of England, corresponded to the staging zones. The zones, in turn, were divided into nine marshaling areas, lettered alphabetically from east to west. Marshaling areas were commanded by officers responsible to the district commanders. The Center Zone, or XVIII District, contained four marshaling areas. Area A, containing the marshaling camps and embarkation points clustered about Portsmouth and Gosport, was to be entirely British; Areas B and C, in the vicinity of Southampton, were to be used jointly by the Americans and British; and Area D, emptying into Portland and Weymouth, was to be completely American.


Southwestern Zone, or XIX District, contained five marshaling areas, all American-operated. These areas, lettered K through O, were to empty through embarkation points in the vicinity of Torquay, Dartmouth, Brixham, Plymouth, and Falmouth.43

Embarkation facilities in the Southern Base Section included a large number of artificial loading points as well as piers. Since there were insufficient piers to load all personnel and vehicles on landing craft and vessels, it was decided to construct so-called hards along the south coast of England from Deal westward. Selected and constructed by the British Admiralty, the hards were beaches paved with concrete slabs and connected with the main highways. At these hards, landing craft could lower their ramps and take on men and vehicles. Similar construction was unnecessary in the Western Base Section, which loaded fewer troops and employed coasters and deep-sea vessels.44

Movement through Southern Base Section was effected by Transportation Corps personnel at the various echelons of command. On the basis of MOVCO daily force movement tables, the Regional Transportation Officer, Southern Base Section, issued road and rail instructions for the movement of units from concentration areas into marshaling areas. These instructions were carried out by the district transportation officers and their RTO's. Sector headquarters, agencies set up by the Southern Base Section, controlled movements from the marshaling areas to embarkation points within their assigned territories. Upon receipt of TURCO vessel availability notices and MOVCO force movement tables, the sector broke units down into craft and shiploads, and called them forward from the marshaling areas. In the embarkation areas Transportation Corps personnel received craft and shiploads, and assigned them to temporary parking places pending actual embarkation. The appropriate port commander was responsible for the loading of troops and vehicles at the piers and hards. Actual loadings at the hards were handled by Transportation Corps embarkation staff officers, in conjunction with naval hardmasters.45

To coordinate its marshaling and embarkation activities, the Southern Base Section established an elaborate agency known as Embarkation Control (EMBARCO). Its purpose was to maintain current data on units to be moved and the location and capacity of each camp in the US Army concentration and marshaling areas under its jurisdiction. The Western Base Section, which had a far more modest role in the mounting process, had a simpler control mechanism. There the Transportation Corps was made responsible for all movement orders, and, through a sector headquarters at Newport and a subsector headquarters at Swansea, regulated all movements from marshaling areas to embarkation points.46


The Embarkation Machinery
Is Set in Motion

Using the embarkation machinery outlined above, the US assault, follow-up, and a portion of the buildup forces were to be loaded before D Day; additional forces were then to be outloaded as required, by a shuttle operation between the south coast of England and the Continent. Assault Force O, consisting of the US 1st Infantry Division and attached troops, was to make the initial attack on OMAHA Beach. This force and its vehicles were scheduled for loading at Portland, Weymouth, and Poole, with the preponderance of vehicles being loaded through Portland. Assault Force U, made up of the 4th Infantry Division and attachments, was to attack UTAH Beach. Personnel and vehicles of the 4th were to embark at Torquay, Salcombe, Dartmouth, and Brixham. A follow-up unit, Force B, built around the 29th Infantry Division, and two airborne divisions (the 82d and 101st) completed the first American contingent in the Normandy invasion. Troops and vehicles of Force B were to embark at Plymouth, Falmouth, and Fowey. The 1st, 4th, and 29th Divisions, which were to be combat loaded, prepared their own loading tables with the assistance of the Transportation Corps. All together, ten transports (APA's and XAPA's) and 539 landing craft were assigned to carry the troops and vehicles for the assault. (Chart 3) The troop and vehicle lift, by sector, was as follows:47


The preloaded buildup forces, consisting of the 2d and 90th Divisions and attached troops, were to embark from the Bristol Channel ports on coasters and deep-sea ships, including a number specially fitted for carrying vehicles. The 2d Infantry Division and attachments, aggregating 23,100 troops and 3,280 vehicles, was to land on OMAHA Beach on D plus 1 and D plus 2. The 90th Division, consisting of 19,340 assault and attached troops and 2,835 vehicles, was to land on UTAH at the same time. Outloading the normal buildup forces that were to follow was to begin on D Day and would be dependent on the utilization of craft and vessels returning from the far shore. The principal obstacles anticipated during this period were the discharge capacity of the beaches, adverse weather conditions, enemy action, and marine casualties.

The embarkation machinery was set in motion in late April 1944, when forces were marshaled to participate in the last amphibious exercises. The loading of the assault and follow-up forces began at the end of May, and was completed on 3 June 1944. The preloaded buildup forces were aboard one day later. Aside from the 5th and 8th Divisions, which embarked from Northern Ireland in late June and early July and the 9th Armored Group which loaded at Swansea in the Bristol Channel area, the bulk of the normal buildup forces moved through the Southern Base Section, with Southampton and its subports playing the major role in outloading.48


Chart:  Chart 3-Loading of U.S. assault forces for the Normandy Invasion:  June 1944


As men and vehicles began flowing from concentration areas to marshaling camps and embarkation points in the last weeks before D Day, southern England became the scene of intense activity. The traffic in the Southern Base Section was particularly heavy, and in certain cities such as Oxford, Gloucester, and Cheltenham, special movement control points had to be set up with RTO's. The Medical Corps assisted by taking care of casualties en route, and the Ordnance Department supervised the important task of waterproofing vehicles for the amphibious landing and made necessary last-minute repairs.

To control traffic in the Southern Base Section, the regional transportation officer, Col. Walter D. McCord, required more than one hundred railway traffic offices for operation under the district transportation offices. Although eleven traffic regulating groups were in operation on D Day, the tremendous movement of troops and supplies necessitated the procurement of an additional fifty officers and enlisted men for duty in the XVIII District, which became the main outlet for all movements following the initial assault. During this period the Transportation Corps was hampered either by an actual shortage of personnel or by the limited value of traffic regulating units, which had arrived so late that proper training and coordination proved very difficult. Between 4 June (D minus 2) and 13 June (D plus 7), no fewer than 152,000 troops and 29,000 vehicles were moved into the marshaling areas. During the remainder of the month An average of 15,000 troops and 3,000 vehicles per day entered these areas.49

Meanwhile, the loading of supplies and equipment for the support of the assault and buildup forces had begun. This transportation task was to prove no less difficult than the mounting of troops and vehicles, and required comparable planning.

The Overlord Supply Movement Program

The Transportation Corps had begun to plan for cargo movements incident to OVERLORD In September 1943, about the time that it commenced its study of embarkation procedures. In conjunction with the British Office of the Director of Freight Movements, the Transportation Corps Operational Branch undertook a survey of the outloading capacities of UK ports and of the ability of the British railways to handle traffic from depots to ports. This study was only exploratory since tonnage requirements of the forces to be engaged in OVERLORD had not yet been determined. By mid-February 1944 G-4 was able to provide the Operational Branch with the tonnage requirements of the Army supply services, and although data on requirements for Air Forces technical supplies and for the US Navy and Civil Affairs were still lacking, the Operational Branch decided to set up a tentative freight movement and shipping program for OVERLORD. In early March berths with an estimated outloading capacity of 27,678 dead-weight tons daily were allocated ,for US and British requirements, with each nation receiving about half the capacity. The American allocation was later increased to 17,903 deadweight tons daily, based on the use of the Bristol Channel ports, Fowey, Plymouth, and part of Southampton. To assist in lifting this American tonnage, the


British Ministry of War Transport made available 184 coasters.50

Meanwhile, the First US Army had been assembling supply requirements data for the first twenty days of OVERLORD, and on 15 March 1944 it published its supply plan. The plan outlined daily tonnage requirements for the assault phase, D Day through D plus 2, and the buildup that was to follow. All supplies for the first three days would be preloaded on coasters, LCT's, and LBV's (landing barges, vehicle). Thereafter, shipments would be made by coasters and deep-sea vessels. Tonnage requirements were to rise from 5,326 deadweight tons on D Day to 23,362 deadweight tons on D plus 18. An additional 12,000 tons of supplies, mainly ammunition, packaged petroleum products, and Engineer equipment, would be preloaded on dumb barges. The barges would be towed to Normandy and there driven onto the beaches, where their cargoes could be used as a reserve in the event adverse weather conditions interfered with the discharge of coasters. Later, the First Army published a breakdown of tonnages to be delivered separately to the OMAHA and UTAH Beaches, and projected preloading operations, originally intended to cover only cargo for the assault phase, were expanded to include all supplies required for both the assault and the buildup during the first eight days of the campaign.

At this time the Operational Branch was at work on a plan for the entire OVERLORD period, including the phases after D plus 20 when the 1st Army Group would be responsible for assembling supply requirements. After consultation with the British War Office, the Operational Branch on 26 April 1944 published procedures covering the movements and documentation of supplies from depots through UK ports. These were further elaborated in SOS movement instructions issued on 6 May.

As finally conceived, supply movements were to be divided into four phases. During the first (prestowed) phase, all cargo to land on the far shore from D Day through D plus 8 would be loaded between Y minus 21 (Y Day being the readiness date for the invasion) and Y minus 8. During this period, cargo would be tactically loaded as required by the First Army, using LBV's, LCT's, barges, coasters, and Liberty ships (MTV's) specifically fitted to handle vehicles. The coasters, varying in capacity from 200 to 2,500 tons, were to be the backbone of the fleet. To insure the arrival of the right quantities of required supplies at each beach, vessels would be loaded with mixed cargo. They would be prestowed in accordance with detailed plans worked out by the Transportation Corps' Marine Operations Division in line with tactical requirements. Every effort was to be made to keep the composition of cargo as simple as possible so as to facilitate its discharge and distribution on the far shore.

In the second (sustained movement) phase, supplies would be loaded in the period of Y minus 21 through D plus 11 for delivery on the far shore D plus 9 through D plus 21. In this phase the coasters, including those returning from the far shore, would still be the major carriers, supplemented by MTV's and commodity-loaded Liberties. The coasters, based on specific UK ports, would operate on


shuttle runs between the ports and the Normandy beaches, and cargo would be consigned to UK ports for outloading as shipping became available. Certain commodities, notably ammunition, packaged POL, and heavy Engineer equipment, were to be commodity loaded at designated UK ports. Since it was not known precisely when individual vessels would return and since such ships varied greatly in size and capacity, the preparation of detailed prestowage plans would be impracticable. The port commanders therefore were to be responsible for planning the stowage of vessels as they returned from the far shore.

Loading for phase three (maintenance movement) was to take place from D plus 12 through D plus 31 and was to include cargo required on the far shore between D plus 21 and D plus 41. In this period coasters would continue to be important, but ocean-going vessels-Liberties prestowed or commodity loaded in the United States as well as those loaded at British ports-would be used in increasing numbers. It was anticipated that almost all small vessels could be commodity loaded.

During the fourth (change over) phase, loadings would take place on D plus 32 through D plus 80 for delivery to the Continent D plus 42 through D plus 90. In this period, the brunt of the shipping burden would be shouldered by oceangoing vessels, largely from the United States, supplemented by a reduced coaster fleet from the United Kingdom. It was expected that the prestowage of ships in the United States with supplies of known acceptability for immediate discharge on the Continent would eliminate transshipment through the United Kingdom. Also, since reserves would have been built up on the Continent by this time, it would no longer be necessary to outload supplies to fill requirements on a day-to-day basis.51

Although the primary emphasis was placed on the regularly scheduled movement of supplies, it was recognized that the shipment of certain items might have to be expedited to meet urgent needs on the far shore. Therefore, blood, medical supplies, radio sets and parts, and other high-priority freight were to be carried under a Red Ball express system.52 Dispatched through Southampton, express shipments were limited to approximately 100 deadweight tons per day. The first shipment comprised nearly a ton of radio sets and parts destined for OMAHA Beach. Forwarded by truck to the port, Red Ball items as a rule received top stowage so as to facilitate discharge in France. Unfortunately, the desire of the supply services and agencies on the Continent to utilize fully the allotted tonnage capacity occasionally led to the shipment of razor blades, grass seed, and other cargo that could scarcely be considered critical.53

A Greenlight system, limited to approximately 600 deadweight tons per day, was set up to transport ammunition and engineer construction material across the Channel to meet unforeseen tactical requirements. A total of five days was required to move such shipments from the depots to the port by special train and then by coaster to France. To streamline the operation, documentation was simplified. Ships carrying these supplies had a large green disk painted on the bow. The


Greenlight project began on 21 June, and the last shipment left Southampton on 23 July. Most shipments consisted of ammunition and were delivered mainly to OMAHA Beach.54

Implementation of the supply movement program involved a multitude of details. Among other things, detailed procedures for traffic control, documentation, packing, and marking were worked out, and specific berths at the various ports on the Bristol Channel and the southern coast of England were selected to handle general cargo, ammunition, or packaged petroleum. Various ports were designated to outload special supplies. Engineer out-of-gauge and heavy equipment, for example, was to move through Cardiff, lumber and piling through Southampton and Barry, and coal through Cardiff and Swansea.

To effect the most economical use of rail transportation and to facilitate outloading, depots were assigned to serve specific port areas, port storage space was provided to accommodate stocks which could be drawn upon during peak operations, and provision was made for the maximum utilization of pier sheds for the reception and loading of cargo arriving from the depots. Cargo would be called forward initially in boatloads in line with prestowage plans. Subsequent shipments, consisting of several days' supply for specific far shore areas, would be consigned to the United Kingdom port commander concerned, who would develop stowage plans to provide for vessels to arrive at the proper beach on the day designated in movements instructions.55

The Operational Movement Instruction, issued jointly by the theater chief of transportation and the British director of freight movements, was the cornerstone of the system governing the flow of supplies and equipment from United Kingdom depots through the ports to the far shore. On the basis of projected daily requirements assembled by the tactical commands, the chiefs of supply services of the Army, Air Forces, and Navy determined from which United Kingdom depots the required supplies and equipment were to be shipped, and indicated to the depots the specific quantities under each priority rating, the destination, and the date of delivery at the far shore.

Upon notice from the appropriate chief of service, the depot or the supply service headquarters involved would prepare the supplies or equipment for shipment and prepare a separate Depot Supplies Shipment Data (DSSD) form covering supplies or equipment for each destination and each date of delivery on the far shore.56 Copies of this form were then forwarded to the Transportation Corps Operational Branch and the local US RTO at the depot. On the basis of the DSSD and the outloading capacity of the ports, the Operational Branch published the Operational Movement Instructions. These instructions included the Supplies Shipping Index number of the shipment-identifying in code the port of loading and the port or beach of destination-a description of the cargo, its deadweight and measurement tonnage, rail or road paths to be followed, and the time of arrival at the ports. These instructions in effect


served as an order to the depot to ship certain supplies to specified ports on designated dates; to the railway concerned to move such traffic; and to the port to outload such supplies on the date and to the destinations indicated.

As the rail cars or vehicles were dispatched from the depot, the local RTO forwarded by teletype a Traffic Dispatch Advice to the port of embarkation. Upon arrival of the shipment, the port commander manifested the cargo to be loaded aboard a particular ship, drew up a cargo stowage plan showing the cargo's location in the vessel, and prepared a "Breakdown of Manifest" for each supply service with cargo aboard. This last form gave a description of the cargo, its tonnage, and hatch location. As the ship was loaded, the port prepared a Graphic Stowage Plan, and indicated the location of any items that would require heavy cargohandling equipment at destination. Once the ships were loaded, their delivery to the far shore TURCO.57

While supply movement plans and procedures were being developed, the Transportation Corps devised several special expedients for delivering essential equipment and material across the Channel. Among these was the use of converted Liberty ships as motor transport vessels to carry trucks and drivers to Normandy. The conversion, which was accomplished by US military railway shop battalion detachments, involved ballasting and flooring off the lower hold, so as to provide space for vehicles in four of the hatches; the installation of deck latrines; and the conversion of the fifth hatch into living quarters for the drivers who accompanied each shipment. The average vessel lifted approximately 120 loaded vehicles and 500 men on each outbound voyage. As indicated earlier, the 14th Port at Southampton took the lead in dispatching MTV's to support the invasion force. At first, vehicles were discharged on the far shore by barge or lighter, using the ship's own gear.58

Under the supervision of the 14th Port, American and Canadian personnel cooperated in building huge rafts, similar to those employed to float lumber on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest and consisting of large bundles of wooden poles and piling bound together by cables. They were to be towed across the Channel and landed on the far shore for the use of Engineer and Signal Corps construction units. At Southampton and Poole the 14th Port had the preinvasion project of stowing 104 self-propelled barges (LBV type) with ammunition, petroleum products, and Quartermaster supplies. Because of the supreme importance of having sufficient gasoline and oil was a responsibility of to sustain the Allied air and ground offensive, the 14th Port was also made responsible for loading a special pool of tankers at the Solent installations of Hamble and Fawley.59

Specially equipped LST's were scheduled to move assembled railway cars to France. Rails were laid on the lower deck, and the ramp was modified. The cars were loaded and unloaded over track laid on improvised shore-side ramps that could be


raised or lowered with the tide. The LST was made fast to the tracked ramp, and the cars were pulled on or off as required. Such ramps were constructed first at Southampton and later in Cherbourg, the principal terminals for cross-Channel railway traffic. By 6 June 1944 some 15 LST's had been converted to ferry rolling stock. Actual ferrying to the Continent was begun in the following month. Larger rolling stock, such as locomotives and tank, refrigerator, and passenger cars were lifted on British sea ferries, on the two American seatrains-the Texas and the Lakehurst-and aboard a number of large car floats that had been towed to the theater from New York. The seatrains operated mainly between Cardiff and Cherbourg, while the ferries shuttled between Southampton and Cherbourg. A Transportation Corps officer, Colonel Bingham, was in charge of the entire ferrying program.60

Among its other preparatory activities, the Transportation Corps submitted special procurement projects to augment the supply of floating equipment and to furnish replacements for inadequate cargohandling equipment on British coasters. The Transportation Corps marine equipment, consisting of tugs, barges, small Y-type tankers, and various types of towboats and other craft and manned by both military and civilian personnel, was to prove extremely useful. In the United Kingdom they towed invasion craft to and from assigned berths within the ports. Approximately thirty-four Transportation Corps tugs were assigned to cross-Channel operations. They moved landing craft on and off the beaches, towed units for the artificial harbors, and did sea rescue work. Ten MTL's (motor towboat, large) and at least one tug were lost or damaged beyond repair. Only one of the tankers, the Y-24, was reported a casualty. Beached on the far shore, she pumped gasoline directly into the tanks of waiting trucks. Eventually, most of these vessels were assigned to harbor craft companies and then dispatched to the Continent.61

The signal to begin mounting cargo was given in late April 1944 when Operational Movement Instruction 61 was issued to cover the movement of cargo for preloading on LBV's, LCT's, and dumb barges. Also, separate movement instructions were published for each of the 132 coasters to be loaded at U.K. ports before D Day. A total of 274 vessels and craft were involved in the preload, and stowage plans had been drawn up for each before the issuance of the movement instructions. The preloading of the large fleet of coasters, barges, and landing craft commenced on 4 May 1944. Cargo destined for discharge at OMAHA was loaded between that date and 5 June. During this period 12 dumb barges were loaded at Fowey, 68 LBV's at Southampton and Poole, 7 LCT's at Plymouth, and 80 coasters at Port Talbot, Garston, Swansea, Newport, Barry, Cardiff, and Portishead in the Bristol Channel area. Cargo intended for delivery to UTAH Beach was loaded between 6 and 26 May. In this operation 8 dumb barges, 11 LCT's, and 7 LBV's were loaded at Plymouth, 29 LBV's at Southampton, and 52 coasters at Sharpness, Penarth, Portishead, and


Avonmouth. By D Day a total of 107,606 dead-weight tons had been preloaded for shipment to the far shore. This figure may be broken down as follows:62

Type of Cargo
For OMAHA Beach*
For UTAH Beach*
General Cargo
* Deadweight Tons

On the eve of the invasion the U.S. assault, follow-up, and initial forces, and the supplies and equipment necessary for their support had been loaded and were awaiting call forward. The larger and in many respects the more difficult job of sustaining the build-up on the Continent was still to be performed. United Kingdom outloadings of US troops, supplies, and equipment attained greatest proportions during the OVERLORD period, but continued important through V-E Day.

Outloading From the United Kingdom

On D Day the preloading program had been completed, and the sustained buildup phase had begun. Detailed plans had been formulated for a smooth predetermined flow of men, vehicles, and cargo to UK ports, and for a continuous shuttle service to transport them to continental destinations. Subject to uncertainties regarding the return of vessels and craft from the far shore, the tactical situation, and the weather, the buildup program ran into difficulties almost from the beginning.

Troops and Vehicles

The buildup of troops and vehicles was handled through Southampton and Portland-Weymouth, although Falmouth and Plymouth were also used somewhat in the early stages. The marshaling of units in the areas that backed up these ports began before D Day. When the invasion was postponed from the 5th to the 6th of June, the British temporarily halted their troop flow, but the Americans continued to move units from concentration areas to marshaling camps and embarkation points.63 This led to the first signs of congestion in the marshaling camps and at the ports. US activities at Southampton, the principal port of embarkation, were almost nil on D Day, since the British were using the area to embark their forces, but beginning 7 June the port was crowded with marching columns of US troops and long convoys of vehicles, tanks, and other matériel. At the outset the port experienced a serious shortage of personnel, and there were not enough vessels and craft to lift all the forces moving into the port area.

The week that followed was attended by congestion, confusion, and a temporary loss of control of the mounting machinery. There were several factors responsible for this state of affairs. In the first few days, movements forward from concentration areas conformed to the US First Army's buildup priority tables, but thereafter the tactical situation dictated frequent


changes in priorities. These changes were incorporated into MOVCO's force movement tables, which were implemented by Southern Base Section. Soon there was little relation between the planned sequence of movements and the actual flow into marshaling and embarkation areas. The frequent changes in priority caused heavy congestion in the marshaling camps, for once a unit had been moved forward, it had to be held in the camp while higher-priority units were processed and sent through ahead of it. Moreover, priorities were often set by the tactical command on the far shore without regard to the readiness of units. This resulted in many being called forward before they were properly equipped and organized. Other units, desiring to keep their troops and organizational equipment intact, did not shed their overhead personnel and excess equipment in the concentration area as provided for in the embarkation procedure, but took them along to the marshaling camps, thereby contributing to the congestion. Finally, ships and craft did not return from the far shore in the number or at the time expected, so that more troops were in embarkation areas than could be loaded promptly.64

The magnitude of the operation, frequent changes in priorities, the lack of shipping, and other difficulties caused a disorganization of the mounting machinery that attained serious proportions between 9 and 12 June.65 Marshaling areas were clogged, ports were crowded, and advance information regarding the availability of craft was lacking. EMBARGO could not keep up with the frequent changes in the status of troops, and in many cases was unable to furnish accurate information regarding the location of units. At Southampton loading tables issued by sector headquarters before the arrival of units proved erroneous, so that all planning and loading had to be effected after the units had arrived, when the actual number of troops and vehicles could be determined.

In an effort to dissipate the tie-up, on 9 June BUCO ordered the loading of units on vessels as rapidly as possible regardless of priority and directed the temporary curtailment of movements into the marshaling camps behind Southampton. Units were then moved into embarkation points and loaded on ships and craft as rapidly as they became available. At the piers and hards, embarkation had to be accomplished on short notice and often without the benefit even of hurriedly prepared plans. In some cases no records were kept of these loadings, a deficiency that might have proved serious had shipping losses occurred.

Through strenuous efforts, which left not a few officers and enlisted men on the point of exhaustion, the situation on the near shore was improved. There is little evidence that either administrative confusion or congestion of the marshaling areas persisted after 12 June. Outloadings continued to lag, however, because of the limited reception capacity on the far shore, the slow turnaround of vessels, and the shipping shortage. The decline in


outloadings was halted and reversed on 18 June, but the onset of the violent storm of 19-22 June reduced cross-Channel movements to a trickle. Thereafter, the buildup proceeded in a far more orderly fashion.66 Toward the end of the month the theater requested and received additional LST's and MTV's. By July the control of movements was effective, and vessel availability had greatly improved. Although difficulties continued to arise, the principal bottlenecks had been broken.

From the experience in the United Kingdom, particularly during the first weeks of the buildup, certain conclusions may be drawn regarding some of the major causes of the difficulties encountered. One deficiency that appears evident in retrospect is that BUCO lacked sufficient authority to regulate the mounting machinery in a fully effective manner. Although charged with responsibility for controlling the buildup, BUCO was not formally an agency of SHAEF, 21 Army Group, or the First US Army. To carry out its mission BUCO had to deal with the many agencies involved in the embarkation process, and its uncertain authority made the coordination of activities extremely difficult, and sometimes delayed corrective action. A theater General Board study made after the war concluded that a central organization should have been set up, responsible directly to the highest tactical commander involved in the operation, and authorized to represent him on all matters affecting the buildup

A Transportation Corps movements official suggested that wasteful duplication in higher headquarters could have been eliminated if all buildup planning had been centralized in BUCO. Under this concept representatives from the Southern Base Section and its districts and from theater general staff sections should have been placed at BUCO to plan and change priorities and indicate the concentration area or marshaling area to which they desired units moved. These instructions could have been given to the Operational Branch, which through Transportation Corps channels would have controlled actual movement from home station to concentration and marshaling areas.67

As has been stated, the frequent changes in the priority of units posed serious problems. Such changes tended to congest marshaling areas, hindered normal troop movements, created confusion, and sometimes resulted in split shipments. Occasionally, units were phased forward as much as three weeks, and in several instances units were called up before they had been fully equipped. However, the difficulties were to a large extent unavoidable, since most changes were dictated by the tactical situation. Less justifiable was the failure of many unit commanders to adhere to established mounting procedure. This applied particularly to the provision for stripping units in the concentration areas of overhead personnel and of organizational equipment other than that carried in unit vehicles. According to the plan, the equipment would then be shipped as freight so as to arrive on the far shore shortly before


the unit. The residual personnel would follow later. During the actual mounting process, however, many unit commanders took all their vehicles, troops, and equipment into the marshaling camps, insisted that they be loaded, and resisted the splitting up of their unit into craft loads for embarkation. This aggravated the congestion in marshaling camps, and tended to disorganize movement and loading activities. Since the constant shifting of priorities for units upset the scheduling of shipments of organizational equipment and occasionally caused delays in delivery or losses, the attitude of unit commanders is understandable. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that had the commanders conformed to the procedure set down in the POM-ETO-SSV, the flow of troops and equipment would have been greatly expedited. The problem of placing organizational equipment on the far shore when needed could have been handled by giving such equipment priority treatment.68

Another deficiency involved the manning of camps and other installations engaged in the mounting operation. Still heavily engaged in the BOLERO program, the SOS organization had been unable to provide sufficient personnel in advance to receive training in mounting procedures. Also, it proved necessary to use units intended for eventual movement to the Continent for housekeeping functions, and when these units were moved out they were replaced by troops not trained for their work. Inexperience and lack of training inevitably had an adverse effect on the processing of units and slowed the mounting process.69

Outloadings of personnel and vehicles reached a peak in July 1944 and continued heavy through September. During this period there was some simplification of organization and procedures in the Southern Base Section. Beginning in July, troops scheduled for loading on deep-sea troop transports were entrained at concentration area camps and moved directly to the water front. In the following month, Marshaling Area "C," which funneled units into Southampton, was turned over to the 14th Port. Previously, this marshaling area had been run by the Sector Headquarters, which had controlled the movement of units to the embarkation points. With this transfer, the area became the staging area of the 14th Port, which was given responsibility for the movement of troops from there to loading points.70

By the end of September 1944, a total of 1,462,426 personnel had been outloaded from the United Kingdom for the Continent. The heaviest embarkations of men and vehicles were over the piers and hards at Southampton. In the period 6 June-6 September 1944, 686,868 personnel were embarked at this port on LSI's, MTV's, LST's, LCI's, and LCT's, and 140,303 vehicles were loaded aboard MTV's, LST's, and LCT's. Southampton also handled patients and prisoners of war evacuated from the Continent. In addition, the port played an important role in the outloading of cargo, rolling stock, and bulk POL.71 The port facilities were shared by the Americans and the British on a day-to-day allocation made in accordance with the tactical needs.


Portland-Weymouth ranked second as an embarkation area, handling a daily loading program of 10,500 troops and 1,500 vehicles aboard LSI's, LST's, LCI's, and LCT's. Plymouth and Falmouth were active as MTV loading ports until the latter part of July, moving a total of 60,152 troops and 17,386 vehicles. The Bristol Channel ports were primarily used for loading cargo and played only a small part in personnel and vehicle embarkations. After preloading 42,410 troops and 6,435 vehicles, these ports outloaded less than 6,200 personnel and accompanying equipment during the next three months.72

In September, when the great bulk of troops scheduled for the movement from the United Kingdom to the Continent had been outloaded, BUCO and EMBARCO ceased to function. Their responsibilities were turned over to the United Kingdom Base Section, and the US MOVCO staff was absorbed by the office of the theater chief of transportation. Thereafter, priorities were set by the United Kingdom Base Section G-4, with the Transportation Corps Operational Branch (later Movements Division) controlling the movement of all units through all stages into the marshaling (staging) area. Movement control was effected in coordination with base section (later district) transportation officers, and United Kingdom port commanders.73

It had been expected that troops would move from the United States directly to the Continent after September, but inadequate port and staging facilities on the far shore led to a continuation of important outloading activities from the United Kingdom. From September 1944 through VE Day, large troopships, including the Queens, the Mauretania, and the Aquitania, brought US troops into the Clyde and Mersey ports for immediate transshipment to the Continent. These troops were then moved by train to Southampton and its subports in the Portland-Weymouth area, which at that time was handling all cross-Channel troop shipments. Despite some interference with the normal movements of units to the Continent, a shortage of shipping, and bad weather, the transshipment program was accomplished smoothly. With the exception of periods of adverse weather conditions, troops were disembarked at the Clyde and Mersey areas and re-embarked at Southampton and Portland within eighteen hours. The transshipment operation ultimately involved eighty-two troop transports, over 300,000 troops, and the operation in Great Britain of 742 special trains.

The UK base also was called upon, beginning on 1 October, to handle convoys carrying troops and their organizational equipment and supplies from the United States that were intended originally for discharge in France. These troops were staged and processed in the United Kingdom, and later moved to the Continent. The Transportation Corps Operational Branch was responsible for moving the troops and their equipment from ports of debarkation to designated locations in the United Kingdom. The convoys, which continued to arrive through 6 January 1945, totaled 83 troopships and 91 cargo vessels, carrying 269,822 troops, 547,608 measurement tons of organizational equipment, and 330,027 measurement tons of general cargo. Most


of the cargo vessels were discharged at the Bristol Channel ports, while troopships were unloaded at ports on the southern coast and in the Bristol Channel, Clyde, and Mersey areas. Also, forty-five vessels carrying boxed vehicles intended for troops who had arrived in the convoys were discharged at UK ports.74

As the result of the continued movement of men and vehicles into the United Kingdom, outloadings to the Continent remained important into the spring of 1945. By V-E Day, a grand total of 2,480,432 US troops and 422,608 vehicles had been loaded out from the United Kingdom for delivery to the Continent.75 These figures represent but part of the activity of the UK ports, for at the same time they had been handling the large volume of supplies and equipment required to support the buildup of US forces on the far shore.


As in the case of troop embarkations and vehicle loadings, the supplies and equipment for the assault and initial buildup phases of OVERLORD had been preloaded. On D Day cargo destined for delivery to the Normandy beaches during the first eight days of the invasion had been placed aboard coasters, barges, and landing craft. Although some additional vessels were immediately available for loading supplies for delivery after D plus 8, the sustained buildup phase of the supply movement program was dependent on the return from the far shore of the coasters that were to operate on continuous shuttle runs from southern coast and Bristol Channel ports.

Despite light losses at sea, the anticipated prompt turnaround of vessels did not materialize. At the Bristol Channel ports, for example, coasters did not begin to arrive from the far shore until the second and third weeks following D Day. Meanwhile, the chief of transportation had ordered supplies and equipment from depots to UK ports to meet the projected daily requirements of the tactical forces on the Continent. As a consequence, the ports were soon glutted with cargo far in excess of available shipping, and deliveries to the far shore lagged behind the requirements of the tactical forces.

The underlying cause of the tie-up at the ports was the failure of vessels to return promptly for reloading, and this was the result of delays in landing cargo on the far shore. As will be seen, selective discharge, adverse weather conditions, delayed delivery of manifests, and dependence on lighterage and improvised cargohandling methods all contributed to this lag. As the result of prolonged beach operations and delays in opening and developing ports on the Continent, ship turnaround continued to be a problem well into the fall of 1944, and the coaster fleet failed to live up to its planned capabilities.76

As early as 10 June 1944 it became apparent that the coaster fleet would not deliver the tonnage required on the far shore. Although the Operational Branch argued that loading additional vessels would not necessarily increase the


discharge over the beaches, it received orders to increase outloadings. The Operational Branch accordingly arranged for the loading of 100,000 measurement tons of cargo on ten Liberties by the end of June.77

Meanwhile, the US First Army had steadily increased its supply requirements. Since not enough shipping was available to lift such tonnages, the problem of priorities arose. Each service understandably pressed to accelerate the movement of its own supplies from the United Kingdom. The constant interjection of priority shipments had a disturbing effect on the flow of traffic from depots to ports. Depots often had to suspend work in the middle of a shipment to work on priority cargo, and therefore the port found itself with an incomplete shipment on hand and had to wait several days for the remainder. Priority shipments upset packing and marking at the depots; tended to cause congestion at the ports; and necessitated the cancellation of previously scheduled trains, thereby causing congestion at the depots and tying up rolling stock for extended periods.

Although Transportation Corps movement officials realized that priorities were inevitable in view of the tactical situation, they believed that requests should have been more carefully screened and that they should have been limited to justifiable cases. In their opinion the priorities granted were often unnecessary, a contention that was given weight since some ships carrying priority cargo in the latter part of 1944 were allowed to lay at anchor off the far shore for weeks at a time.78

The necessity for meeting far shore requirements on a daily basis hampered the efficient movement of supplies from United Kingdom depots. As already indicated, tonnage requirements were predetermined by the First Army and 1st Army Group according to the date of discharge on the Continent. The idea behind this procedure was that a certain amount of each type of supply, including ammunition and packaged POL, should be discharged daily. A portion would be immediately used, and the remainder would be held to build up a reserve. Requisitions processed by the tactical commands were prepared for each day of discharge. Each item of supply was broken down into daily shipments, and vessels were to be loaded so that cargo scheduled for discharge on a designated date would be available at the proper time.

Implementation of this procedure involved a tremendous amount of planning by Transportation Corps movements control personnel and complicated the work of the U.K. depots and ports. The movement of supplies for delivery on a day-to-day basis made it necessary for depots to prepare a large number of small packages for shipment. The packages had to be scheduled for movement by rail or highway in such a manner as to arrive at the port when required. At the ports, coasters had to be loaded in such fashion that a certain tonnage would be available for discharge on a given day. For example, a coaster that required three days to unload, would be bottom-stowed with cargo for discharge on the third day. The second day's cargo would be placed above that, and the first day's cargo would be topstowed. Since coasters varied greatly in size and construction, stowage for each had to be carefully planned in order to meet these daily requirements. Aside from the elaborate paper work and documentation


involved, this procedure placed a heavy burden on port storage facilities since the port could not load cargo for delivery on the first and second day until the third day's cargo had arrived and been stowed. The task was further complicated by continuous changes in supply requirements and by delays in processing requisitions. In some instances, shipping bids (DSSD's) actually arrived at the Operational Branch after the date set for discharge on the Continent. Adjustments naturally proved difficult in view of the fact that the supply plan was based on the maximum capacity of depots and ports and the meticulous scheduling of rail and highway transport.79

The scheduling of shipments for delivery to the Continent on a daily basis was continued longer than was necessary. A theater General Board study concluded that while the setting up of daily supply requirements was essential in the initial operations, it was not desirable once some reserve stocks had been accumulated on the Continent. The board found that continuation of this procedure had complicated depot operations, movement to the ports, and port activities. Its wastefulness becomes even more apparent when it is realized that the vessels on the far shore were not discharged in the planned sequence, but according to needs arising out of the immediate tactical situation. Actual requirements could have been met more readily if the daily requisitions had been eliminated earlier.80

Despite a continuing lag of shipping, the UK ports had shipped out a huge volume of cargo by the end of September 1944. Including the preloaded cargo, a total of 1,439,227 long tons of ammunition, packaged POL, and general cargo had been outloaded. Peak loadings came in July 1944, when almost 450,000 long tons were moved out. Although it had been planned to reduce the coaster fleet in the latter phases of OVERLORD, the coaster continued to be the backbone of the supply movement program, being assisted by relatively few deep-sea vessels. Aside from the tonnages listed above, large amounts of railway equipment, bulk coal, and bulk POL were moved to the Continent.81

The Bristol Channel ports of Avonmouth, Barry, Cardiff, Newport, Penarth, Portishead, Port Talbot, Sharpness, and Swansea were all important in the shipment of OVERLORD cargo. Operations were supervised by the 17th Port, under the command of Col. Edward H. Connor, Jr. In addition to loading regular operational tonnage, such as general cargo, packaged POL, and ammunition, a number of these ports handled specialized cargo. Cardiff loaded Engineer heavy equipment and locomotives, principally on Liberties and seatrains. Bulk POL was loaded on tankers at Swansea. From Barry timber was shipped on coasters and Liberties or rafted to the far shore. Bagged coal was loaded at Cardiff and Swansea. Between May 1944, when preloading began, and the end of September, the Bristol Channel ports loaded a total of 868 vessels with 1,037,332 long tons of U.S. cargo. This task was accomplished in addition to routine discharges and loadings, which fluctuated between 104,000 and 246,000 long tons per month.82


On the southern coast, the 14th Port at Southampton, in addition to handling the greatest part of the troop and vehicle embarkation program, outloaded a large proportion of the supplies and equipment moved to the Continent. The 14th Port handled the loading of coasters at Southampton and its subport at Poole; loaded approximately 90 percent of the rail equipment being shipped to the Continent aboard LST's, seatrains, and ferries; and maintained a detachment at Hamble and Fawley to assist in the joint loading of British and American tankers. During the first ninety days of the invasion 14th Port outloadings, including ammunition, packaged POL, general cargo, bulk POL, and vehicles, totaled 990,341 long tons. In the course of loading troops, vehicles, and cargo during this period, the port handled no fewer than 3,517 vessels and landing craft. Other important south coast ports were Fowey and Plymouth, which were used under the supervision of the 13th Port to load ammunition and packaged POL, respectively.83

Continental discharge of cargo arriving directly from the United States attained significant proportions in July 1944, and beginning in October increasingly outstripped the tonnage being shipped from the United Kingdom. Outloadings from UK ports fell off appreciably in the fall of 1944, but again increased early the next year, reaching near peak proportions in the period March-May 1945.84

Despite a substantial cut in the tonnage allocated for movement from the United Kingdom to the Continent in September 1944, erratic turnaround of coasters and the limited availability of supplementary deep-sea shipping caused the UK ports to experience continued difficulty in meeting outloading targets. By this time, however, movements and loadings in the United Kingdom had become a less important consideration than the discharge and clearance of cargo at continental ports. To facilitate the latter activities, the theater chief of transportation and the Communications Zone G-4 agreed on the adoption of a commodity-loading program. On 26 October the theater assigned ten Liberty ships to shuttle cargo from the U.K. ports to the Continent. As far as practicable, each of the vessels was to carry one class of supply for a single supply service. It further directed that coasters should be commodity loaded whenever possible, and that as a general rule all Quartermaster Class I and II, Ordnance Class II, and Engineer Class I and IV supplies should be so loaded. The supply services and the Air Forces were to project shipping bids for a minimum of one month ahead and to indicate the relative priority of the supplies they desired shipped. All coasters were to anchor off Le Havre and be diverted to Le Havre or Rouen as the situation warranted. The commodity-loading program got under way in November 1944.

At the outset, the UK ports encountered some trouble, since it was necessary to segregate their rather sizable cargo backlogs to conform to the new loading schedules. Also, the services failed to maintain the prescribed month's backlog of shipping bids, so that it was difficult to select and organize complete trainloads at the depots and ship supplies in the order of their priority.


In early 1945 it was decided to cut the turnaround time of the coasters by assigning the entire coaster fleet to the south coast ports and to use the Bristol Channel ports to load most of the deep-sea vessels, chiefly of the Liberty and Hog Island types. The coaster fleet then operated mainly between Southampton, Poole, and Plymouth and Rouen. The larger vessels, except for a few used to load packaged POL from Plymouth, operated principally between the Bristol Channel ports and Ghent. The bulk of the cargo on both the coasters and the larger vessels was either commodity loaded or block stowed. This reassignment of shipping paid off in increased outloadings, and in March and April of 1945 the tonnage was surpassed only by the peak month of July 1944.85

Shipments of U.S. cargo from the United Kingdom to the Continent continued until several months after V -E Day. The tonnage total is impressive. Including preloaded cargo, a total of 3,065,682 long tons of general cargo, ammunition, and packaged POL was moved from UK depots to UK ports and thence to the Continent by 8 May 1945. This tonnage was transported principally by a fleet of small coasters, which were supplemented by Liberties and other deep-sea vessels. It does not include approximately 1,151,000 tons of bulk coal and rolling stock, and a large volume of bulk POL outloaded from the United Kingdom. When the 422,608 vehicles and 2,480,432 troops moved from Britain to the Continent are added, the full magnitude of the outloading operation may be realized.86

Beach and Early Port Operations

With the assaults on the OMAHA and UTAH Beaches on 6 June 1944, Engineer special brigade troops, assisted by assigned or attached service units, began the task of beach development and operation.87 German resistance was stronger at OMAHA than at UTAH, but on both beaches enemy shelling and sniping caused delay, damage to equipment, and casualties among the service troops. Cargo discharge was hindered initially by the many beach obstacles set up by the enemy and the inevitable debris and wreckage of the assault period. Mines had to be cleared to permit safe passage across the beaches, and roads had to be constructed.

Transportation units participated in beach operations almost from the beginning. Port troops discharged cargo from vessels anchored offshore into amphibian trucks (DUKW's) and Navy ferry craft; amphibian truck units transported cargo from shipside to transfer points or dumps; and truck companies cleared the beaches. The Transportation Corps also furnished a major port headquarters, which had an important role.



The magnitude of the attack by the US V Corps at OMAHA caused the First US Army to provide the support of two Engineer special brigades (the 5th and 6th) and one port headquarters (the 11th). Overall control was vested in a single headquarters, which, with various attached units, constituted the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, under the command of Brig. Gen. William M. Hoge.88 Included in the headquarters was a Port, or G-5, Section, headed by Lt. Col. Carl Biehl, formerly with the 11th Port.

While being readied for their mission, the brigades were heavily reinforced with transportation troops. Each brigade was provided with two port battalion headquarters and ten port companies, one amphibian truck battalion headquarters and three amphibian truck companies, and one Quartermaster truck company with 104 vehicles. These transportation units aggregated approximately 6,300 troops, almost one third the total strength of the two brigades. Among other units assigned to the brigades were Quartermaster service companies, which were to handle unloading activities on the beaches, and railhead companies.

The 11th Port was furnished three port battalion headquarters and eighteen port companies, one Quartermaster trucking battalion headquarters and three companies, two amphibian truck battalion headquarters and six companies, one harbor craft company, three Quartermaster service battalions, and other service units, giving it a total strength of about 8,600 officers and enlisted men. In command was Colonel Whitcomb, an experienced officer who had previously served at ports in Iceland and the United Kingdom.89

Transportation Corps units serving with the brigades were scheduled to begin operations on D Day or shortly thereafter. In the United Kingdom, the brigade port companies were placed aboard cargo vessels, which were scheduled to arrive during the first three days of the invasion. After unloading their own vessels, the port troops were to go ashore and there discharge other vessels and craft anchored offshore and under the control of the brigades. Brigade DUKW units, their vehicles preloaded with ammunition, construction materials, and other cargo immediately needed, were to be launched from LST's beginning on D Day. After delivering their cargoes onto the beach, the DUKW's were to shuttle between the ships at anchor and the initial dumps. All DUKW's were scheduled to be in operation by the end of D plus 2. Brigade trucks were to be brought ashore during the first day of operations.90

The 11th Port was not to engage in initial operations. Although an advance party was to arrive fairly early, its port troops were not to begin coming in until D plus 10 (17 June), when the artificial harbor (MULBERRY A) would be about ready for operation. The principal mission of the 11th Port was to be the conduct of pierhead operations at MULBERRY A and at the small ports of Grandcamp-les-Bains and Isigny, which were to be opened at about the same time, but its port troops were also to discharge ships anchored


off-shore, and along with brigade troops operate cranes on the beaches.91

The brigade DUKW units began their operations on schedule, first delivering their preloaded priority cargoes ashore, and then carrying cargo from ship to shore and evacuating casualties. Operational difficulties were encountered early. Many DUKW's were sunk or damaged during the landings when they struck enemy-laid mines or other obstacles. Some overloaded DUKW's were swamped, and others, launched too far offshore, ran out of fuel and were lost at sea. Adequate maintenance and repair proved almost impossible because of the shortage of spare parts and the round-the-clock activity.92

The story of the 453d Amphibian Truck Company is illustrative. The unit was alerted on 28 May 1944, and all vehicles with their drivers and assistant drivers were loaded aboard LST's. All other personnel embarked on the APA 77 (USS Thurston). The convoy sailed from Weymouth on 5 June and laid off Normandy until debarkation time on 6 June, when the bows of the LST's were opened some ten to fourteen miles from the coast. The DUKW's rolled off stern first, formed columns, and headed for shore. The one officer and seventy-five enlisted men on APA 77 landed at approximately 1330 of D Day from an LCI, which was hit several times by enemy fire during the debarkation. In the initial operation six enlisted men were killed and seventeen DUKW's were lost. The vehicles could be put ashore only at low tide, when passage was possible through wrecked landing craft and beach obstacles to Road Exit 1.

By daylight of 7 June most of the 453d Company's men and serviceable DUKW's had been assembled on the beach. After delivering its ammunition (thirty-six loads) to the 1st Infantry Division, the unit began evacuating the wounded. On the following day the drivers began to move supplies from ship to shore, continuing this assignment around the clock in twelve-hour shifts until 8 September 1944. Most types of cargo were delivered to DUKW's in sling or net loads. The average load was approximately three tons, but in the first week as much was accepted as was thought could be carried safely. During that period, because of the shortage of trucks, the DUKW's delivered directly to the dumps, which were located in the fields behind the beaches. Thereafter, service troops operating cranes on the beach transferred cargo to standard 2'/2-ton 6x6 trucks, freeing the amphibian trucks for their most vital function of spanning the water gap from ship to beach.93

Despite the difficulties encountered in their operation, the DUKW's proved invaluable during beach operations, as they had earlier at Salerno and Anzio. Although not adapted to the transport of bulky cargo such as Bailey bridge sections, they were well suited to carry compact supplies such as ammunition and subsistence. They not only performed the function of a lighter, but also eased the burden of other vehicles and cargo-handling equipment ashore by transporting


supplies overland. In its after action report, the Engineer Special Brigade Group reported that the DUKW's had been instrumental in the establishment of an orderly flow of cargo from ships across the beaches to the dumps.94

The unloading of cargo vessels, scheduled to begin on D Day, was delayed one day by heavy enemy fire and then proceeded slowly while the Engineers performed the necessary tasks of organizing and clearing the beaches. Among the earliest Transportation Corps units at OMAHA Beach was the 184th Port Company of the 487th Port Battalion, which was attached to the 5th Engineer Special Brigade.95 The 184th arrived aboard four coasters at 1700 on 6 June. Very little of the cargo aboard the vessels was removed during the first twenty-four hours, and at 1800 on 7 June enemy shellfire forced all the ships to withdraw. After the enemy guns had been silenced the vessels returned to the beach and discharge continued. As each coaster was unloaded, the port troops aboard came ashore and settled in foxholes on a hill overlooking the sea. The unit worked around the clock in twelve-hour shifts. Although it had landed with only a field desk and personal equipment, by borrowing from other units and by salvaging captured and abandoned enemy material, the 184th Port Company soon managed to erect suitable quarters and to serve two hot meals every day from two field ranges. Because of the scarcity of cargo-handling gear, special slings had to be fashioned from spare lengths of cable and chain. For lack of docks or other shore facilities all cargo was unloaded from vessels at anchor into DUKW's, rhino barges, lighters, and LCT's.96

Activities of the other units of the port battalions attached to the brigades followed a similar pattern. After unloading their vessels, mainly coasters and MTV's, they moved ashore, set up their bivouac areas, and began working assigned vessels. The port companies were ordinarily divided into 16-man to 18-man hatch gangs for the discharge of coasters, while 10 winch operators and 5 other men were assigned to each motor-transport ship. Again, crews worked around the clock on twelve-hour shifts. Cargo handling on the shore was performed principally by Quartermaster service companies.97

Meanwhile, an advance party of the 11th Port headquarters had waded ashore at OMAHA Beach on D plus 2 and established a command post in a partially destroyed building. Although the area was then being cleared, snipers fired sporadically from surrounding cliffs and enemy mines were more numerous than anticipated. The men of the 11th Port immediately joined Engineer brigade troops in removing the wreckage of landing craft and vehicles so as to permit cargo operations. The remainder of the 11th Port headquarters reached Normandy in five increments between 9 and 22 June. Upon the arrival of its first attached operating unit, a Quartermaster service company, the 11th Port was assigned to the right hand sector of the beach, where MULBERRY A was under construction. On 11 June the


attached company began unloading its first vessel, the Liberty ship Henry M. Rice.98

The first weeks of cargo-handling operations at OMAHA Beach were beset with difficulties. Tonnage targets for the discharge of vehicles and supplies were not reached until D plus 18. For one thing, it was hard to learn exactly what was stowed in the ships lying offshore. Although such information had been compiled, it was often not on hand because of delay in transmission and inadequate ship-to-shore communications. To solve this problem a special organization known as WATCO (Water Transportation Control) was set up to maintain complete data on the shipment of supplies to the Continent. Operating under the Amphibious Section, First US Army, but manned largely by personnel of the ADSEC Transportation Section, WATCO functioned until late in June. Its work was especially important in the early days of the invasion since vital equipment frequently had been left on ships anchored off the beach, while less urgently needed items were being unloaded. The situation was aggravated by the tendency of the coaster captains to shift positions because of air raids. As a result, it was not easy to find the vessels designated for discharge. One helpful expedient adopted by 11th Port officers was to tour the anchorage area in an LCM, spotting the desired ships and recording the location of others.99

A distinct hindrance to prompt discharge was the priority unloading system set up by the First Army. Although priorities were necessary in the first days of hand-to-mouth operations, the resultant delay became so serious that all priorities were abandoned on 11 June. For a time ships were unloaded as rapidly as possible regardless of priority, and thus the number of vessels at anchor awaiting discharge was cut down. But circumstances soon forced the resumption of selective discharge. A large backlog of ships again developed during the severe storm of 19-22 June, which caused the virtual suspension of discharge operations. Thereafter, in order to relieve arising supply shortages, particularly of ammunition, it again proved necessary to give priority to the locating and unloading of critically needed cargo. The effect of this selective unloading on ships' turnaround and its impact on outloading activities from the United Kingdom have already been discussed. As long as incoming shipping exceeded the capabilities of the continental beaches and ports, pressure for some type of selective discharge would remain. Nevertheless, the sound and effective procedure would have been to work each ship to completion.100

Some delay developed because the Navy, at the outset, would not allow LST's to be beached and "dried out" for fear of damage.101 A later reversal of this stand permitted direct landing of tanks and vehicles and made waterproofing unnecessary. Ferry craft were also dried out and their cargoes discharged into trucks at low


tide. Another problem was to effect satisfactory arrangements for anchoring the ships and for the utilization of ferry craft. Coordination with the U.S. Navy, the responsible agency, was a necessary part of the arrangements. Many ships at first were anchored so far offshore that they could not be worked efficiently. In desperation, beach personnel unloaded any ship that was near enough to be worked, regardless of its cargo. Subsequently, such measures as the assignment of additional ferry craft, the anchorage of ships closer to shore, and generally improved coordination between the Army and Navy brought appreciable relief.102

It was also found that the vessels at anchor frequently lacked suitable equipment to discharge bulky cargo. Ship's gear on some of the British coasters was in a poor state of repair, and damage resulted when winch brakes slipped or other breakdowns occurred. Another hindrance to efficient unloading was the lack of slings and other gear for the discharge of deckloaded vehicles aboard Liberty vessels arriving directly from the United States.103

During this period, the 11th Port operated under a number of serious handicaps. Its port companies, scheduled to begin arriving on 16 June, did not appear on the scene until a week later. In the interim, vessels were discharged by inexperienced troops from Quartermaster service units with officers drawn from port headquarters providing training and supervision. This was in marked contrast to the Engineer special brigades, which from the beginning had trained port units unloading the ships assigned to them. To make matters worse, approximately 90 percent of the port's equipment, including tractors, warehouse trailers, mobile cranes, and pallets, was discharged at incorrect beach destinations. Considerable time elapsed before this equipment could be recovered. Moreover, the three attached Negro DUKW units, the first of which arrived on D plus 10, had inadequate training, and in some instances assistant drivers were barely able to operate the vehicles. Inexperience in coping with tides and currents caused loss of time and damage to equipment, and considerable difficulty was encountered in locating specific ships at night even after they had been found during daylight. Nevertheless, in the period of 11 through 26 June, inclusive, the 11th Port worked 14 coasters and 11 motor transport vessels, discharging 2,679 vehicles and 12,200 long tons of cargo.104

By this time the 11th Port had also begun activities at the ports of Isigny and Grandcamp-les-Bains. Its other assigned mission, the operation of the artificial harbor, had failed to materialize. The 11th Port continued to function at OMAHA Beach until 21 July, when it moved out to concentrate its efforts at Isigny, Grandcamp-les-Bains, and a number of other minor Normandy ports.105

The experience gained during the period that the 11th Port worked alongside the two Engineer special brigades gave rise to divergent views regarding the suitability of these organizations for beach operations. In its report covering beach


operations through 26 June 1944, the Engineer Special Brigade Group recommended that "a port headquarters should not again be used to supervise beach operations, since it is not designed nor has it been trained for this mission."106 On the other hand, the 11th Port commander contended that while the Engineer special brigades were invaluable in clearing land mines, building roads, and otherwise opening beaches, they were not set up to handle continuing beach operations. He pointed out that after the first few days the principal activities were lighterage and cargo handling, with port, DUKW, Navy ferry craft, and other service troops performing the necessary jobs. The brigades and brigade group, he maintained, lacked the staff personnel and the experience to supervise this work properly. After the initial phases, in his opinion, a beach operation was basically a matter of handling vessels and cargo, a mission for which a port headquarters was specifically intended.107

The Artificial Harbors

In order to supplement discharge over the beaches during the period before the capture of a major port, Allied planners had projected two complete artificial harbors, or MULBERRIES, one ("A") in the American sector at OMAHA Beach and the other ("B") in the British sector of Arromanches.108 Each was to include an outer floating breakwater of bombardons, an inner breakwater of sunken concrete caissons or phoenixes, and a partial breakwater, or GOOSEBERRY, formed by sinking blockships moored bow-to-stern and designed to provide a sheltered area for tugs, barges, landing craft, and DUKW's. The primary objectives were to furnish a protected anchorage for cargo discharge and to supply a safe harbor for small craft during storms. In addition, various floating piers and ponton causeways were to be constructed. The floating piers were intended to give space to unload tanks, trucks, troops, and general cargo from ships moored alongside, and the ponton causeways were to be employed to discharge troops and light vehicles.

To tow the elements of the artificial harbors across the channel and site them was a sizable job, and Transportation Corps harbor craft companies and tugs gave valuable assistance. MULBERRY A had a planned minimum capacity of 5,000 long tons of supplies and 1,440 vehicles daily. The first blockships-selected from obsolete and damaged vessels-were sunk at OMAHA Beach on D plus 1. During the ensuing fortnight considerable progress was made toward completing this installation. The unloading of men, equipment, and supplies had barely begun at MULBERRY A when, on 19 June, a severe storm lashed the Normandy coast. On 20 June adverse weather stopped most operations on the artificial harbor and over the beaches, and by afternoon of that day the strong winds had halted all DUKW activity. By evening it was impossible to moor or control any LCT's, LCVP's, or rhino barges. As the last personnel unloaded at OMAHA Beach-a group of Army nurses-walked the length of Causeway No. 2, it began to


weave and buckle, but they arrived safely ashore.

Throughout 21 and 22 June the storm raged. The bombardons of the outer breakwater were lost, the inner breakwater was severely damaged, and the backs of seven blockships were broken. OMAHA Beach was strewn with the wreckage of stricken craft and shattered remnants of the artificial harbor. High winds and heavy seas halted all unloading, except for that of a few beached LCT's. Troops from the 11th Port rescued a number of men and assisted in salvage and beach clearance. By 23 June the storm had abated and cargo operations on the beaches were resumed. Meanwhile, the DUKW's had been safely assembled ashore, serviced, and repaired. They were, in fact, in better shape after than before the gale.109

Apart from practically destroying MULBERRY A, the storm interrupted the normal over-the-beach activity of the Engineer special brigades and the 11th Port, and for a time it widened dangerously the gap between planned and actual discharge. But recovery on the beaches from the effects of the storm was amazingly fast. By late June 1944 the daily discharge over OMAHA Beach had soared to almost 15,000 long tons. No attempt was made to restore the artificial harbor, and since it never was completed as scheduled, its potential value can only be conjectured. The GOOSEBERRY later was reinforced with more blockships and phoenixes, and it afforded considerable protection for small craft. One ponton causeway, which was sufficiently sheltered to escape damage, proved very useful in landing personnel and light vehicles.

Jurisdiction over the beach command passed from the First Army to ADSEC and then to the Communications Zone. On 26 June 1944 the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, which had recently been detached from the First Army and attached to ADSEC, was dissolved and replaced by the OMAHA Beach Command. The latter assumed control of all personnel and units formerly comprising the group. The OMAHA Beach Command in August was placed under Base Section No. 3 (later redesignated the Normandy Base Section). During the first ninety days of activity at OMAHA Beach, US Army personnel discharged 926,689 long tons, or an average of 10,296 long tons per day.110

UTAH Beach

Since the operation at UTAH Beach was planned on a smaller scale than at OMAHA, the task was assigned to a single Engineer special brigade (the 1st), reinforced by necessary service troops.111 Among the units assigned or attached to the brigade were one amphibian truck battalion with seven companies, three port battalions with sixteen companies, and one Quartermaster truck battalion with five companies. Also, on 10 June 1944, a detachment of six officers and thirty-two enlisted men from the 11th Port arrived to assist in the discharge of ships at anchor. The mission of the brigade and its attached troops was to support the US VII Corps. The latter, after consolidating the beachhead, was to


capture Cherbourg so as to obtain a major port.

The brigade headquarters landed on D Day and assumed control of beach activities on the following morning. As port, truck, and DUKW units came ashore, they were placed on duty with the beach battalions. As soon as conditions permitted they reverted to their parent battalions, which were operated under the control of brigade headquarters. Activities of transportation units were similar to those at OMAHA Beach. Port troops discharged vessels at anchor. The DUKW's first delivered directly from shipside to shore dumps. Later, when sufficient motor transport became available, transfer points were set up near the beach, where the loads were lifted by crane from DUKW's to trucks. The truck companies cleared supplies from the beach and transfer points. The average round-trip distance from transfer points to dumps was approximately thirteen miles.112

At UTAH, as at OMAHA, operations were at first hampered by the Navy ban on drying out LST's.113 At UTAH Beach also, information as to expected arrivals of troops and matériel was at first inadequate, and data on vessels offshore were lacking. These deficiencies were caused in part by poor ship-to-shore communications and in part by delays in the delivery of documents from the United Kingdom. Because of the large number of loading ports in the United Kingdom and the short sea voyage, it proved difficult to furnish timely advices to the far shore on scheduled arrivals. Moreover, although provision was made for their advance delivery by dispatch boat or aircraft, ships' manifests often were delivered after the ships arrived off the beaches, and in some instances did not arrive at all. In many cases, the mani fests were delivered promptly to the far shore, but did not reach those responsible for unloading. The anchorage area, roughly four miles long by five miles wide, was congested with a fleet comprising at one time as many as 75 Liberty ships, 20 coasters, 80 LCT's, 10 LCI's, 2 hospital ships, 20 LST's, and approximately 300 smaller craft.

Some relief was afforded shortly after D Day when responsibility for transmitting documents for all ships loading out of U.K. ports was centralized at Southampton. The principal difficulties were gradually overcome during the following month, as communications improved and agencies on both sides of the Channel worked out effective procedures. During the same period, a satisfactory communications system was established, which included ship-to-shore radio and telephone service at all beach installations.114

During June UTAH Beach received 109,134 long tons of cargo. The storm forced a temporary suspension of discharge operations but did less damage than at OMAHA. Cargo removal was resumed as soon as the weather moderated. In July cargo discharge reached a record level of 193,154 long tons. By mid-November 1944, when beach activity ceased, the total cargo discharged had risen to 726,014 long tons. In addition, approximately 801,000 troops and 163,529 vehicles were landed. This achievement compared favorably


with that at OMAHA Beach, where the original plans had called for more elaborate shore facilities and greater discharge.115

Discharge operations over the Normandy beaches were vital to the success of the U.S. armies in France, but the continuance of this activity well into November 1944 entailed considerable property loss because of adverse weather.116 Despite obvious drawbacks, far more cargo was landed over the beaches than the planners had thought possible. At both OMAHA Beach and UTAH Beach the Americans demonstrated beyond doubt that, given a foothold on a coast with a suitable gradient, adequate air and naval support, and the necessary ships, landing craft, harbor boats, and DUKW's, a sizable invasion force could be maintained regardless of the lack of established port facilities. The elements, however, always would be a limiting factor, and beach operations at best could be only a stopgap measure pending the seizure of a major port.117

Normandy Minor Ports

To supplement cargo discharge at OMAHA Beach, operations were planned at Grandcamp-les-Bains and Isigny, which together were estimated to have an ultimate capacity of 1,000 to 1,500 tons per day. The fishing port of Grandcamp-les-Bains, located five miles west of OMAHA Beach, was taken relatively undamaged on 9 June 1944. The port consisted of an artificial basin with a concrete wharf and quay, which could be reached by an entrance channel. Not having been dredged in six years, the channel and basin had less than five feet of water at low tide. A detachment from the 11th Port began operations on 23 June 1944, unloading 158 tons of cargo from a small Dutch coaster that had entered in error and so became the first Allied vessel to berth in the American sector of Normandy. Grandcamp-les-Bains was found ideal for LBV's, which were discharged by two 9-ton crawler cranes. Port activity at Grandcamp-les-Bains, never extensive, ceased on 18 September 1944.118

Captured on 10 June, the coaster port of Isigny had a narrow channel three quarters of a mile long and three undamaged 600-foot quays, accessible only at high tide for vessels with a maximum draft of 13 feet. Men of the 11th Port began functioning there on 14 June, and ten days later the first coaster berthed for discharge. Isigny was employed on a modest scale throughout the summer and early fall, and cargo discharge ceased on 16 October 1944.119

Upon its suspension of operations at OMAHA Beach, the 11th Port was assigned to develop the minor Normandy ports of St. Vaast-la-Hougue, Carentan, and Barfleur, while continuing its work at Grandcamp-les-Bains and Isigny. All the newly acquired ports had limited cargo capacity.


Shallow water restricted them to small craft or coasters. Because Carentan could be reached only through a long and difficult channel, little use was made of its port facilities. Barfleur averaged about 800 long tons per day. St. Vaast-la-Hougue was consistently good for about 1,200 long tons per day. The long delay in the full utilization of Cherbourg and the insistent supply demands of the American forces after the St. Lô break-through made even the modest intake of these minor ports important. However, by mid-October 1944 adverse weather had halted cargo discharge both at Barfleur and St. Vaast-la-Hougue.120

Meanwhile, the 11th Port had become active also at the coaling port of Granville, where it continued operations until relieved about a month later by the 4th and 12th Ports. The port facilities at Granville required extensive reconstruction. The first coal ship to arrive was the Mellissa, which began discharge on 22 September 1944. The shallow waters were satisfactory for most colliers and lighters, and within a week coal was being unloaded on a regular schedule. Granville was a valuable coal port throughout 1944, but adverse weather conditions and a shortage of ships of the required draft restricted the daily discharge to approximately 80 percent of the projected goal of 3,000 long tons per day. The principal operating problem was to maintain and repair the mechanical equipment for unloading coal, since skilled labor and spare parts were scarce.

Except for one exciting episode, Granville's experience as an American port was prosaic. On the night of 8-9 March 1945 the usual quiet of this quaint Norman town was suddenly shattered when German commandos from the nearby Channel Islands raided the port and escaped. Col. August H. Schroeder, the 12th Port commander, was seriously wounded during the encounter.

Of the minor Normandy ports only Granville remained in operation in 1945. All had made extensive use of prisoners of war both for port reconstruction and for cargo discharge, as well as such civilian labor as was available. The principal contribution of these small installations was to augment the flow of desperately needed supplies to the combat forces during the critical period in 1944 while Cherbourg was being developed and before Antwerp became available.121

The Opening of Cherbourg

Figuring prominently in the decision to assault the Continent through Normandy and in plans for the sustained support of US invasion forces, Cherbourg was scheduled for capture on D plus 8 and immediate development as the first major American port on the Continent. Although considerable destruction was expected within the port area, the planners counted upon speedy reconstruction and rehabilitation with the 4th Port to begin unloading troops and cargo on D plus 11. By D plus 90 the discharge rate was expected to reach 8,500 long tons per day.

Shortly before D Day, intelligence reports indicated that the plans for the taking of Cherbourg were unduly optimistic. As it turned out, organized resistance within the city did not cease until 27 June


1944, and plans for liberation were delayed almost two weeks. Moreover, the Germans had damaged or destroyed so many port facilities and had laid so many mines on land and in the water that it was mid July before the first Allied vessel could begin discharge.

About noon of 26 June 1944, Colonel Sibley arrived with the advance detachment of the 4th Port. Despite sporadic enemy action, he began an immediate reconnaissance of the port facilities. The main body of the 4th Port reached Cherbourg early in July, by which time headquarters had been established in the Hotel Atlantique. Widespread demolition made the setting up of offices and billets for port personnel difficult.122

In peacetime, Cherbourg was the site of an important French naval base and a familiar gateway for travelers to the Continent. At its Gare Maritime, passengers debarked from transatlantic liners and boarded waiting trains for Paris. Little cargo was discharged there.123 The port did not lend itself to the prompt unloading and clearance of cargo. The naval base was very cramped, railway facilities were inadequate, and the streets and access roads were narrow.124

Entirely artificial, the harbor at Cherbourg provided two anchorages-an exposed outer roadstead, the Grande Rade, and an inner roadstead, the Petite Rade-where ships could be worked in all weathers. The Petite Rade, which served the main harbor installations, was protected by two jetties, and had about 12,000 linear feet of quayage, which afforded ample berthing space. It was divided into three main sections; (1) the Arsenal, on the west; (2) in the center, Nouvelle Plage (New Beach), the Darse Transatlantique (a deepwater slip that could take the largest liners afloat), and the Old Commercial Port; (3) on the east the sandy, filled-in land known as the Terre Plein and Reclamation areas.125

Before surrendering Cherbourg, the Germans had performed a masterful job of demolition. Although the city itself was virtually intact and damage to rail facilities was not as severe as expected, the port was a shambles. Fire and explosives had accomplished wholesale destruction of the port installations. The harbor was strewn with wreckage and all important approaches were blocked by sunken craft. In the Petite Rade, for example, the entrance to the Darse Transatlantique was completely blocked by a 350-foot coaster resting on a submerged 12,346-ton whaling ship. The entrances to the Commercial Port and the Arsenal area were blocked by submerged or capsized ships, tugs, barges, and floating cranes. Other vessels and craft were sunk alongside berths in the Grande Rade. All utilities were inoperative, cranes and other equipment were wrecked, and everywhere deadly mines had been planted.

American and British naval personnel


cleared the harbor, a slow, tough, and hazardous task. The US Army Corps of Engineers reconstructed the port facilities ashore. Some debris went into the building of ramps for landing craft and DUKW's, and some captured supplies, notably cement, proved useful. French civilians and German prisoners of war were employed extensively to speed the rehabilitation. Late in June a four-point priority program was adopted by Engineer, Navy, and Transportation officers, calling for construction, first, of landing hards or concrete aprons for DUKW's, and then, in turn, an area for receiving barges, space for the discharge of railway rolling stock from LST's, and berths for Liberty ships and seatrains.126

The 4th Port was ready to receive the first four ships, which arrived on 16 July 1944 and dropped anchor in the Grande Rade. Cargo discharge began immediately, but with only one DUKW unit, the 821st Amphibian Truck Company. The first DUKW was driven ashore at 1738 hours at Nouvelle Plage. There, in the shadow of Napoleon's statue its load of Signal Corps wire was transferred to a truck to be hauled to a dump. For lack of deepwater berths, discharge at first was confined largely to barges and DUKW's, from which loads were shifted to trucks by crawler cranes. The DUKW's operated between the anchorage and the Nouvelle Plage transfer point. The barges, which began arriving shortly after the first Liberties, carried cargo from the vessels into the Commercial Port and later to the Reclamation Project and the Terre Plein dock. Since these facilities were accessible only during periods of high tide, a "stake boat" had to be set up in the Petite Rade, where barges could temporarily be tied up. LCT's and rhino ferries, brought from the beachheads, played an important part in unloading deck cargo. Tugs, floating cranes, and other marine equipment were also employed.

Much of the initial cargo at Cherbourg consisted of material for port reconstruction, for the building of railway lines into the interior, and for the erection of pipelines. The discharge of locomotives and railway rolling stock began late in July 1944 when the seatrains Lakehurst and Texas brought sufficient organizational equipment to operate a railway grand division. Until the quays were ready to receive large ocean-going vessels and coasters, such ships were unloaded by lightering cargo from the anchorage. In the beginning, port clearance was effected entirely by motor transport because there were no operable rail facilities.

Among early handicaps was the lack of cargo handling-gear. The gear had not arrived as planned. Fortunately, fork-lift trucks arrived promptly, but the French dock workers had to learn how to operate them and training was hampered by the language barrier. During the first fifteen days only about 31,600 long tons of cargo were unloaded. Although the opening of the port had been delayed, ships continued to arrive from the United Kingdom according to the original schedule, resulting in a backlog of cargo to be discharged.127


Meanwhile, Cherbourg's tonnage targets had been greatly increased. The delay in capturing and opening the port meant that Cherbourg, the minor Normandy ports, and the invasion beaches would have to receive tonnages far in excess of those originally planned. Moreover, fall and winter weather would severely restrict over-the-beach operations. At the same time, the unexpectedly slow advance of the armies indicated that the Brittany ports of Brest, Lorient, and Quiberon Bay, counted on heavily for the period after D plus 50, would probably not be taken on schedule.

During July 1944 US and Allied transportation planners cast about anxiously for ways and means of securing additional cargo-intake capacity. With regard to Brittany, they explored the possibility of abandoning the Quiberon Bay project in favor of the earlier development of Cancale, and of opening a number of small ports that had been considered but rejected early in 1944.128 For more immediate results, the planners turned to Normandy. The relief of the 11th Port from beach operations in order to let it concentrate on the development of the minor ports represented one expedient. The other and more promising alternative appeared to be the expansion of the capabilities of Cherbourg. On 1 1 July 1944 the port's daily tonnage goal was raised from 8,500 to 20,000 long tons, and its commander was directed to draw up a plan for the attainment of that capacity by 14 September 1944.129

Colonel Sibley's plan, submitted on 24 July, among other things called for additional cargo-handling equipment and expanded port, rail, and highway facilities. Although he was convinced of the feasibility of the new mission, he warned that its accomplishment was dependent upon the prompt clearance of underwater mines and obstructions and continued rehabilitation of the port. Late in that month his organization was strengthened by the attachment of the 12th Port, under Colonel Schroeder.130 At the end of July 1944, Cherbourg was the only major port in American hands in France. Since the beaches would have limited use beginning in the fall and the minor Normandy ports were incapable of great expansion, Cherbourg would have to bear the brunt of incoming cargo traffic until other major ports could be taken and developed.131

Initial Motor Transport Activities

Until the end of July, principal motor transport activities centered in beach and port clearance, involving short hauls to forward areas or to Army depots. Few truck units were required for over-the-road operations, and even in those cases distances were relatively small. Although fewer vehicles were provided than planned, they proved adequate for the support of the armies, which were confined to a shallow lodgment area.132


At the two American invasion beaches the Army's vehicles were put ashore as rapidly as possible, at first from landing craft and later from the motor transport vessels that shuttled across the Channel. On D Day two Quartermaster truck companies, the 3704th and 4042d, landed on OMAHA Beach only a few hours after the assault wave. These two units arrived on LCT's accompanied by their trucks loaded with ammunition, rations, and Engineer equipment. The LCT's beached, the ramps were lowered, and the vehicles were driven through the water to the shore. The 4042d, the first truck company to land in force at OMAHA Beach, lost much of its equipment during debarkation. Many trucks were "drowned out" when discharged in deep water, and others were damaged by enemy gunfire. Illustrative of the more severe losses were those of the fifth section. It set forth from an LCT at approximately 1630 hours on 6 June with seven 2 1/2-ton trucks, of which only two made the beach.133

Meanwhile, an advance detail of the 3683d Quartermaster Truck Company had landed at UTAH Beach. In spite of enemy gunfire and air attacks, the unit began operating at once. As at OMAHA Beach, several trucks were lost in the sea, while others were damaged by enemy action. One driver described his work as hauling "dead Jerries, ammunition, personnel, and rations." Of necessity, the trucks at first operated on a piecemeal basis to meet the immediate need until enemy action had abated sufficiently to allow for more orderly operations.134

At both beaches incoming cargo for a time piled up faster than it could be moved inland. Though often inexperienced and untrained, the drivers worked long and hard, snatching sleep wherever possible and subsisting on K rations. Because the trucks ran twenty-four hours a day, there was no time for the normally prescribed maintenance. Mechanics salvaged parts from deadlined trucks in order to keep others running. White strips of tape were laid to indicate the cleared roads through the mine fields. Sacks of sand were piled on the floor of the cabs as a protection against land mines. German snipers were active for several days, and enemy air raids and shellfire kept all beach personnel on the alert. Rain and mud also hindered the trucking operations.135

As already indicated, in order to permit the DUKW's to perform their major function of bridging the gap from ship to shore, special DUKW-to-truck transfer points were set up near the beaches. There, crawler cranes were so arranged that the incoming DUKW's could be driven along one side and have their sling loads picked up and transferred to trucks waiting on the other side to complete delivery to the dumps. At the 6th Brigade transfer area at OMAHA Beach all traffic was controlled from a tower, and instructions were given over a public address system. Operating personnel could also communicate with each other by telephone and radio. Luminous markers made night operations possible. In addition to the usual crawler cranes, an inclined platform was constructed to facilitate removal of barrels and bombs. Steel


beams salvaged from German beach obstructions were made into a special transfer rig, through which DUKW's and trucks were alternately driven. A hoist attached to the rig lifted and held suspended a complete DUKW load until a truck could be moved into position to receive it.136

After a period of comparative inactivity during the storm of 19-22 June, the tonnage removed by the truck companies attached to the Engineer special brigades and the 11th Port continued on the increase. During this period the daily haul at each beach often totaled more than 10,000 tons. Since the stress laid on daily around-the-clock clearance by motor transport did not allow time for satisfactory maintenance, the normal plan that each truck unit should have forty trucks working while eight were being maintained was not followed, with the usual sad effects. Driving through sand, sea, rain, and mud naturally added to the wear and tear. By the autumn of 1944, 50 to 60 percent of the trucks available for port hauling in the OMAHA District were deadlined because of constant use, poor roads, inadequate maintenance, and a lack of spare parts. Since trucks were essential, adequate first and second echelon maintenance obviously should have been insisted upon from the beginning of the invasion.137

Meanwhile, ADSEC's Motor Transport Brigade (MTB) had arrived on the scene.138 Its commander, Colonel Richmond, landed with M. Sgt. Robert J. Logan at OMAHA Beach on D plus 3. His first bivouac area was set up in a large apple orchard near St. Pierre-du-Mont. Additional troops arrived on D plus 6 and D plus 8, but because of delays in phasing MTB personnel into the Continent, the headquarters was not fully staffed until July. After assisting the 5th and 6th Engineer Special Brigades and the 11th Port in organizing their operations, the staff as then constituted moved to Catz with the rest of the ADSEC Transportation Section on 20 June. By the end of the month other trucking units had landed, and operations began in what was to become the largest motor transport assignment in the history of the U.S. Army.139

During the following month several key figures in General Ross's Motor Transport Division who were intended for duty with the Forward Echelon, Communications Zone, reached France and were attached to various branches of the Motor Transport Brigade for the interchange of plans and other data. Colonel Ayers, Chief, Motor Transport Division, was made deputy to Colonel Richmond, and Capt. Horace Lehneis became the executive assistant. This arrangement lasted until August 1944, when the theater chief of transportation arrived with the main body of the Communications Zone headquarters. The Motor Transport Division personnel were then returned to Communications Zone headquarters, which was located at Valognes, France. There, the Motor Transport Division was reorganized


into a Motor Transport Service with Colonel Ayers as chief. The new service was charged with technical supervision of motor transport, but operational control was retained by the Motor Transport Brigade, ADSEC.140

By 30 July there were more than 90 Quartermaster truck companies (TC), along with parent group and battalion headquarters, assigned to and operating under the supervision of the MTB. Major operations were still being performed at the beaches and the port of Cherbourg. The truck units were attached to the beach or port commands and were dispatched from pools in accordance with their operational orders. Other truck pools operating on short line of communications hauls were controlled directly by the MTB. The latter activity, though relatively minor at this time, became increasingly important. In mid June routes were set up for the transportation of petroleum products. Among the more impressive feats performed was the movement of 300,000 gallons of gasoline and 300,000 empty five-gallon containers from UTAH Beach to La Haye-du-Puits on 29 July for the Third US Army. As road movements increased over the Normandy highway network, traffic control points manned by Transportation Corps personnel were set up at Cherbourg, Bricquebec, Valognes, and Montebourg.141

The generally satisfactory motor transport situation began to deteriorate as soon as the armies broke out of the Normandy lodgment area at St. Lô and moved swiftly eastward across France. The previously constricted lines of communication were stretched longer and longer. The speed of the advance did not permit the establishment of intermediate depots, so that supplies had to be transported from the beach and port areas directly to the armies. Since the railroads were not ready, the task of supplying the combat forces fell on motor transport, which alone could provide the required flexible support. Demands on motor transport soon exceeded the supply of drivers and equipment. The desperate effort to keep pace with the advancing armies was to prove one of the most difficult transportation jobs of the war.142

Early Rail Operations in Normandy

Early rail activities were concerned largely with reconnaissance, rehabilitation, and organization for operations on the lines running south of Cherbourg. An advance party of the 2d Military Railway Service landed at OMAHA Beach in two groups on 17 and 24 June 1944 and began a survey of the rail situation. This party followed the combat troops to Cherbourg, arriving there on 27 June. The main railway lines in the Cotentin peninsula were found in fair condition, although the tunnel east of Cherbourg had been blasted. The rail facilities in the vicinity of Cherbourg had been severely damaged, and the enemy had planted the usual mines and booby traps. The nearby marshaling yards and the Cherbourg roundhouse were largely intact, but at the important junction of Folligny the yard was a mass of burned cars and twisted steel amid bomb craters.


On the other hand, American troops had captured considerable useful rolling stock, including locomotives, railway wagons, and passenger coaches, all of which had to be examined carefully before being used. The French locomotives were generally old, many dating from the last war. Although a number of the most competent French railway workers had been spirited away by the Germans, those left behind were anxious and willing to work for the Americans. Several French railway men were commissioned in the French Army and then attached to the 2d MRS, where they proved helpful in re-establishing train service.

The 2d MRS commander, General Burpee, arrived in France late in June and was followed by the remaining elements of his headquarters and the first operating units. At the end of July one railway grand division, the 707th, three railway operating battalions, and one railway shop battalion were functioning on the Continent. Meanwhile, the Engineers had begun the rehabilitation of the railways, maintaining close contact with the Transportation Corps to insure that the lines reconstructed were those the latter desired. Native railway personnel were employed wherever possible.143

Actual train operation began early in July. On the 7th, General Ross rode the railway from Cherbourg to Carentan in a jeep with flanged wheels. The first scheduled train over this route was dispatched on 11 July. Manned by personnel of the 729th Railway Operating Battalion, this train consisted of a French steam engine and two streamlined passenger cars, preceded by a boxcar to cushion the blast of any mine that might be encountered. The run was made without incident. On 17 July Timetable No. 1 was published for passenger service on the main line from Cherbourg via Carentan to Lison, a distance of 46.8 miles, and on 22 July the first troop train was operated on that route. To regulate rail traffic, RTO personnel drawn from the 3d Group Regulating Station were placed at Cherbourg, Sottevast, Valognes, St. Vaast-la-Hougue, Carentan, and Isigny.144

The first American railway equipment to reach the Continent from the British Isles arrived at UTAH Beach on 10 July. Intended for work trains, it consisted of two 150-horsepower diesel locomotives and several flatcars, which had been mounted on trailers and loaded aboard LCT's. The trailers were unloaded directly on the beach, attached to prime movers, and hauled to the main rail line at Chef-Dupont. Later in the same month a large shipment of railway rolling stock was landed at Cherbourg from the seatrains Lakehurst and Texas. Subsequent cross-Channel deliveries were made at this port. By 31 July 1944, forty-eight diesel and steam locomotives and 184 railway cars had been received from the United Kingdom, and the captured equipment included 100 steam locomotives, 1,641 freight cars, and 76 passenger cars.145


In addition to the difficulty caused by wartime damage and destruction of bridges, marshaling yards, and tracks, early rail operations in northern France were hindered by frequent breakdowns in communication. Isolated enemy units could easily cut the single temporary wire, usually strung along the right of way. When this happened, a courier in a jeep had to dash through the countryside to deliver the orders that kept the trains moving. The water problem also was grave because many of the tanks and pumps were destroyed or damaged. Train crews lacked experience with French facilities and skilled natives were not always available. The equipment for directing traffic at night was poor, and on occasion military railway personnel had to signal with flashlights and cigarette lighters. Much trouble came from overloading, a problem that was solved after the 2d MRS began to make up its own trains.146

At the end of July 1944, rail operations had been extended from Cherbourg to Lison, and reconnaissance of recently captured lines to the south had begun. Traffic was still light; only 31,907 long tons of freight and 4,524 passengers were hauled during the month. The great period of expansion lay in the future.147

The Transfer of Transportation Headquarters to the Continent

Like other phases Of OVERLORD, the organization of logistical activities departed from its planned development. It will be remembered that the First Army had been assigned initial responsibility for both logistical and tactical operations, with ADSEC serving as a supporting organization. It was expected that by about D plus 20 the First Army would draw a rear boundary, behind which ADSEC would take control of operations. The Forward Echelon, Communications Zone, would first enter the field as a supervisory agency, and on D plus 41 take over direction of the activities of ADSEC and the newly organized base sections. FECZ would also prepare the way for the arrival of Communications Zone headquarters. Governed as it was by the tactical situation, the planned sequence of headquarters, including their transportation organizations, underwent considerable modification.

The first transportation headquarters on the Continent was the ADSEC Transportation Section. Its commander, Colonel Beeler, arrived with a small party at OMAHA Beach on D plus 3, and set up a temporary headquarters nearby with that of the First Army. Other troops arrived on 18 June. After a stay at the beach area, during which it helped organize and staff the Water Transportation Control organization, the section moved to Catz along with other ADSEC elements on 20 June. At its new location, the organization began to develop its planned functions. Its principal activities involved the coordination of marine and port operations and the supervision of motor transport, rail activities, and traffic control. By the end of July the 51 officers and 103 enlisted men of the Transportation Section were heading up a large-scale operation, involving the use of a motor transport and a military railway service headquarters, three major ports, and approximately 230


port, truck, DUKW, rail, and traffic regulating units.148

The Transportation Corps command party of FECZ left the United Kingdom on 6 July, but did not take up its planned functions on the far shore. Because of the limited area of operations and the First Army's understandable reluctance to give up its direct control of logistical operations, a rear boundary still had not been drawn. As a result, ADSEC remained under First Army jurisdiction, and FECZ, which was to become active after the drawing of the rear boundary, become a fifth wheel. As they arrived, the transportation personnel with FECZ were placed on duty with the ADSEC Transportation Section.149

Meanwhile, the theater chief of transportation, scheduled to move to the Continent with COMZONE headquarters on D plus 90, was growing increasingly apprehensive regarding the serious port development problem and other transportation difficulties on the far shore. On 9 July 1944, D plus 33, General Ross informed the COMZONE commander that the situation made imperative the immediate transfer of his headquarters to the Continent. To provide sufficient discharge capacity on the far shore, it would be necessary to effect the maximum development of the minor Normandy ports and push Cherbourg over the 20,000-ton-perday mark. Efficient use of these and other transportation facilities, he believed, could only be achieved by centralizing executive control and technical direction of operations. Contingent on approval of his request, Ross proposed a number of steps calculated to improve the transportation situation. Among other things, he recommended the relief of the 11th Port at the beaches so that it could concentrate on the minor Normandy ports, the assignment of the 12th Port to assist the 4th Port at Cherbourg, and the merger of the Transportation Corps element of FECZ with the ADSEC Transportation Section until COMZONE headquarters became operational on the Continent.150

The request for the immediate transfer of Transportation Corps headquarters was rejected by the COMZONE G-4 as being out of line with existing command arrangements on the Continent, but action was taken along the lines of specific recommendations. The proposals regarding port development and the assignments of the 11th and 12th Ports were carried out. On the organizational side, Colonel Traub, Ross's deputy and head of the Transportation Corps element of FECZ, was appointed ADSEC transportation officer on 17 July. The other Transportation Corps personnel with FECZ, including officers from the Motor Transport Division and the Marine Operations Division, were attached to parallel divisions of the ADSEC Transportation Section. These officers, drawn from theater Transportation Corps headquarters, provided an element of continuity for policy and direction that otherwise would have been lacking.151


On 1 August 1944 the First Army finally drew its rear boundary and ADSEC took over responsibility for the communications zone area. This was the logical point for FECZ to enter the picture, but it never became operational, for by this time COMZONE headquarters had been phased forward so as to arrive shortly afterwards. The headquarters was established at Valognes on 7 August, and during the weeks that followed the Communications Zone organization underwent rapid development. ADSEC moved forward to give direct support to the now swiftly advancing armies, and Base Section No. 3 (later called the Normandy Base Section) took over the territory formerly under ADSEC jurisdiction. A base section was also established in Brittany, and preparations were made to activate new base or intermediate sections to take over areas progressively opened up behind ADSEC.152

The main party of the office of the theater chief of transportation set up headquarters at Valognes on 17 August. Colonel Traub and other FECZ transportation personnel attached to ADSEC rejoined General Ross there, and the entire Marine Division of the ADSEC Transportation Section was transferred to the new headquarters. The organization at Valognes was established along the same lines as it had been in the United Kingdom. Operating within the framework of an expanding communications zone, the chief of transportation and his staff turned to the task of giving direction to transportation operations during the critical months ahead.153


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