United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations

Logistical Support of the Armies

Volume I: May 1941–September 1944

by Roland G. Ruppenthal


. . . to Those Who Served

Table of Contents


Introductory Note


Principal Commanders and Staff Officers

The United Kingdom Build-Up

Chapter 1: Origins of the European Theater of Operations, 1941–June 1942

The United States “Observes” the War in Europe—The Occupation of Iceland—American Troops Go to Northern Ireland—Establishing an Air Force in the United Kingdom—The Formation of the Services of Supply and Activation of ETOUSA—The Heritage of SPOBS and USAFBI

Chapter 2: The SOS and ETOUSA in 1942

BOLERO Is Born—BOLERO Planning in the United Kingdom, May–July 1942: the First Key Plans—The SOS Organizes, June–July 1942—TORCH Intervenes—BOLERO’s Status at the End of 1942

Chapter 3: The Build-Up in Stride, 1943

BOLERO in Limbo, January–April 1943—The Troop Build-up Is Resumed, May–December 1943—The Flow of Cargo in 1943—Troop and Cargo Reception—Command and Organizational Changes in 1943

Preparing for Continental Invasion

Chapter 4: The Inception of OVERLORD and Its Logistic Aspects

Early Planning for Cross-Channel Operations—Logistic Considerations in the Evolution of the OVERLORD Plan

Chapter 5: Command and Organization, and the Assignment of Planning Responsibilities, January–June 1944

Formation of the Major Commands—Consolidation of ETOUSA and SOS—Assignment of Command and Planning Responsibilities—Forward Echelon, Communications Zone (FECOMZ)—Advance Section, Communications Zone (ADSEC)—Continental Base Sections—Final Command Arrangements

Chapter 6: The Completion of BOLERO

The Flow of Troops and Cargo, January–May 1944—Construction and Local Procurement, 1943–May 1944—The SOS on the Eve of OVERLORD

Chapter 7: The OVERLORD Logistical Plan

The Artificial Port—Beach Organization—Port Reconstruction—Troop Build-up and Replacements—The Supply Plan—The Depot Structure—Transportation—The Supply of POL

Chapter 8: Training and Rehearsing for Cross-Channel Invasion

Earlier Amphibious Experience—The Training Schools and First Exercises—The Assault Training Center and Engineer Special Brigades—Major Exercises—Final Rehearsals

OVERLORD is set in Motion, May–July 1944

Chapter 9: Mounting the Operation

The Mounting Problem and Plan—The Mounting Begins

Chapter 10: Launching the Invasion: Organizing the Beaches

Tactical Developments in June—OMAHA Beach on D Day—UTAH Beach on D Day—Development of the OMAHA Area—Development of the UTAH Area—The Beach Ports—The Great Storm of 19–22 June—The Build-up to 30 June—Cross-Channel Movement

Chapter 11: The Logistic Outlook in June and July

Tactical Development, 1–24 July—The Normandy Supply Base—The Status of Supply—Troop Build-up—Replacements—The Ports

The Logistics of Rapid Movement, August–Mid-September 1944

Chapter 12: Breakout and Pursuit

Tactical Developments—The Logistic Implications of Changing Plans

Chapter 13: “Frantic Supply”

The Character of Supply Operations in the Pursuit—Gasoline: “The Red Blood of War”—Classes I, II, and IV Supply—Ammunition

Chapter 14: Transportation in the Pursuit

The Railways—Motor Transport—Supply by Air


Code Names

Bibliographical Note




1. Troop Build-up in the United Kingdom, January 1942–February 1943

2. Cargo Flow to the United Kingdom, January 1942–May 1943

3. Troop Build-up in the United Kingdom in 1943

4. Cargo Flow to the United Kingdom in 1943

5. Troop Build-up in the United Kingdom, August 1943–May 1944

6. Cargo Flow to the United Kingdom, November 1943–July 1944

7. Supply Build-up Over the Beaches, 6–30 June 1944

8. Vehicle Build-up Over the Beaches, 6–30 June 1944

9. Troop Build-up Over the Beaches, 6–30 June 1944

10. Gasoline Supply of First and Third Armies, 30 July–16 September 1944

11. Cargo Transported by Air, 20 August–16 September 1944


1. Early Command and Staff Organization of ETOUSA

2. The BOLERO Administrative Organization in the United Kingdom

3. Organization of the Services of Supply, ETOUSA, 109 August 1942

4. ETOUSA and SOS Command and Organizational Structure, August 1943

5. ETOUSA’s Organization After the Consolidation of 17 January 1944

6. Planned Command Arrangements for OVERLORD


1. European Theater of Operations, 16 June 1942

2. Regional Organization of SOS in the United Kingdom

3. ETO Boundary Changes

4. Ports Considered in Invasion Planning

5. The Final OVERLORD Plan

6. U.S. General Depots and Major Training Sites, May 1944

7. Plan for MULBERRY A at OMAHA Beach

8. The CHASTITY Plan

9. OVERLORD Rail and Pipeline Plans

10. The Mounting Plan for Southern Base Section

11. Tactical Progress, 6–30 June 1944

12. OMAHA Beach and Beach Maintenance Area

13. UTAH Beach and Beach Maintenance Area

14. Tactical Progress, U.S. Forces, 1–24 July 1944

15. Tactical Progress, 25 July-12 September 1944

16. POL Pipelines in Mid-September 1944

17. Railways in Use, Mid-September 1944

18. Routes of the Red Ball Express


The Special Observer Group—Headquarters, ETO—John G. Winant, U.S. Ambassador to Britain—Nissen Hut Quarters—General Lee—Crates of Partially Assembled Jeeps—British “Goods Vans”—English Railway Station Scene—General Hawley—Headquarters, SOS, Near Cheltenham—General Littlejohn—General Moore—Deck-Loaded General Grant Medium Tanks—Motor Convoy—Tenders Alongside the Queen Elizabeth—U.S.-Built Locomotives—Roadside Storage—General Depot at Ashchurch—Jeep Assembly Line—General Crawford—General Lord—General Moses—General Plank—Stocking Supplies and Equipment—Invasion Equipment—Typical Medical Installations—Aerial View of a Station Hospital—U.S. Airfield Construction in England—General Stratton—Caissons—Lobnitz Pierhead—Aerial View of Cherbourg—Column of DUKWs—Waterproofed Tank Recovery Vehicle—Loaded Landing Craft and Ships—Discharging at the Beaches—Partially Completed MULBERRY—Completed Pier of the MULBERRY—Beached and Wrecked Landing Craft—Storm-Twisted Piers—MULBERRY A—Beach Transfer Points—Dried-Out LST—Coaster Being Unloaded—The First POL Tanker—General Muller—Brig. Gen. R. W. Wilson—Welding a Section of the POL Line—Rations Stacked at a Quartermaster Depot—General Rowan—General Rumbough—Handling Supplies in the Field—General Sayler—U.S.-Built World War I Locomotives—Gondola Rolling Out of an LST—General Ross—Directing Traffic Along the Red Ball Route—Tractor-Trailer Combinations

Office of the Chief of Military History

Department of the Army

Washington, D.C.