United States Army Logistics: The Normandy Campaign, 1944

United States Army Logistics: The Normandy Campaign, 1944

United States Army Logistics: The Normandy Campaign, 1944

United States Army Logistics: The Normandy Campaign, 1944


The U.S. Army supply organization for the Normandy Invasion, although very impressive, should have done a better job in the summer of 1944. The supply system suffered from several serious shortcomings which should have been avoided. The purpose of this work is to examine an aspect of military history which, as many military historians have pointed out, has received little attention. As the Gulf War demonstrated, logistics, the supplying of armies, is crucial to achieving victory.


The Allied invasion of Northwest Europe in June 1944, Operation OVERLORD, was the largest amphibious undertaking in military history. The logistical effort in support of the operation was similarly impressive. While the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in the United Kingdom dealt with strategic issues, the national supply organizations handled the day-to-day support of their respective forces. Responsible for seeing that the American Army in France received all the supplies and services necessary to conduct military operations, the Services of Supply (SOS), later designated the Communications Zone (COMZ), served as a giant conduit for manpower and supplies pouring into Europe from Britain and the United States. The efficiency of the COMZ determined the level of logistical support reaching frontline combat units.

The dilemma confronting the military historian with regard to D-Day logistical planning and the subsequent performance of the American supply organization in Europe in the summer of 1944 is defining its success or failure.

Typical official army postwar evaluations of the logistical effort have included such comments as the "progress and development of the logistical units of COMZ is considered to have been as satisfactory as could possibly be expected, under the circumstances of changed plans and the accelerated schedule of the entire operation far beyond anything which was anticipated," and "the supplying of our armed forces in Europe has been a remarkable achievement, involving the delivery across the ocean and over beaches and through demolished ports, and then over a war-torn countryside into France and Germany of tonnages far in excess of anything previously within the conception of man." Although both comments are generally correct, they downplay difficulties and use the Allied victory over Nazi Germany as a vague benchmark.

There were a few officers critical of the COMZ's performance during the war. Major General Henry Aurand, commander of the Normandy Base Section and much closer to the day-to-day operations of the COMZ than Lieutenant . . .

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