The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services

The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services

The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services

The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services

Excerpt

Some three centuries ago Lion Gardener, in his Relation of the Pequot Warres, sagely observed that "war is like a three-footed Stool, want one foot and down comes all; and these three feet are men, victuals, and munitions." Nevertheless, until quite recently, military history has almost completely neglected problems of supply. The allocation of volumes for the series, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, promises a more balanced approach to the subject. There has been a generous assignment of volumes to the supply agencies of the Army, and among these are four covering the activities of the Quartermaster Corps. Two of these, of which the present volume is the first, will be devoted to operations of the Corps in the zone of interior.

One of the oldest of all War Department agencies, the Quartermaster Corps, in spite of the loss of some of its traditional functions, remained throughout World War II one of the most important of the supply, or technical, services. In addition to its main mission of supplying broad categories of items needed by the Army, the Corps had, in the course of its long existence, become responsible for a variety of services to troops in the field. The multiplicity of its activities made a chronological treatment of the war period practically impossible. It was considered more advantageous to project a narrative which would first develop completely the supply operation of the Corps as its major function, then analyze personnel and training problems, and finally discuss the special services performed by the Corps for the Army.

This volume begins but does not complete the analysis of Quartermaster supply, which is envisaged in broad terms as a continuous process starting with the development of military items and moving through the estimating of requirements, the procurement of supplies, their storage and distribution, the reclamation and salvage of items to ease supply, and the final process of industrial demobilization. This approach permitted a functional treatment, although not all activities -- notably the supply of subsistence and of fuels and lubricants -- were organized functionally in the Office of The Quartermaster General. Within the limits of each function a chronological development is followed.

A history of Quartermaster activities in World War II could not begin with the attack on Pearl Harbor nor even with the declaration of the national emergency in 1939, for many of the Corps' policies were rooted in the years immediately following World War I. Primary emphasis is placed upon developments after December 1941, but, in summary at least, the period covered extends from 1920 to August 1945.

The historical program initiated by the Historical Section of the Office of The Quartermaster General in the summer of 1942 laid the groundwork for a thorough and detailed analysis of the supply function of the Corps. A vast amount of source material was examined and selections were, for the most part, photostated currently with the operations being described and analyzed in the monographic series published by the Historical Section during the war years. This collection of material and published monographs, as well as the historical reports and monographs from historical units established at Quartermaster field installations and supervised by the Historical Section, provided an invaluable body of material for the more general treatment of supply in this volume. It was supplemented by additional research to provide more continuous coverage of the supply program of the Corps.

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