This is the second of a 3-volume series on the role of the Ordnance Department (now Ordnance Corps) in World War II. As the first volume, subtitled Planning Munitions for War, gave emphasis to research and development, this volume deals with procurement and supply, and the third will describe Ordnance operations overseas. It is particularly important for the reader of this volume to bear in mind that the first volume includes, in addition to research and development, separate chapters on the early history of the Ordnance Department, its organizational and personnel problems during World War II, and its efforts to conserve scarce materials such as copper, steel, and aluminum. The organizational charts in the earlier volume may be of special assistance to the reader not familiar with Ordnance organization. Taken together, the three volumes deal with every major aspect of Ordnance history in World War II, and give some attention to the prewar years when the art of munitions making was sadly neglected. The authors have studiously avoided duplication of material in other volumes of the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, particularly The Army and Economic Mobilization byR. Elberton Smith.
In his preface to Charles Ffoulkes' little classic, The Gun-Founders of England, Lord Cottesloe observed, on the eve of World War II, "In all that has been written about war, but little mention has been made of the making of weapons; it is their use which is dramatic and tragic and commands public attention." The mystery of such important matters as the invention of gunpowder in the 13th century and its employment in crude firearms in the 14th century has never been properly unraveled; nor has the method by which medieval chain mail was manufactured in quantity ever been satisfactorily explained. Neglect of the armorer's art by historians has been traditional in this country as well as in England, owing in part, no doubt, to the reluctance of scholars to explore the sooty mysteries of forge and furnace.
After World War I, this reluctance was reinforced by a strong desire to emphasize the pursuits of peace rather than the ways of war and to write new textbooks giving less space to battles and political campaigns and more to social, economic, and cultural history. Most professional historians of the 1920's and 1930's systematically avoided the study of both warfare and munitions manufacture, while a number of journalistic writers turned out lurid accounts . . .