Huge U.S. Service Army Rushes Supplies to Front
By Raymond Daniell
The New York Times August 19, 1944
By cable to The New York Times
LONDON, Aug. 18. For four years France has seemed to people in this country as remote as Mars. But today this correspondent went there as comfortably and as casually as any business man flying from New York to Boston. Logically there isn't anything so terribly remarkable about that, considering that about 1,000,000 American soldiers had preceded me there the hard way. And yet there is something so fantastically unreal about today's journey, which ended with dinner in London this evening, that it is worth reporting about to fill in the picture of the battle zone behind the forward‑sweeping armies. . . .Here were the men and machinery behind the lines, whose toil and sweat had made possible the victorious lightning thrusts of our armies toward Paris and the Seine. . . .
It was a brief but comprehensive visit that took us not only to Cherbourg. . . and by air to several landing strips over the British and American beaches and so close to the German lines we could see Le Havre clearly through a light overcast. . . .
All along the road leading to Cherbourg traffic rolled two ways -- heavy trucks, jeeps and ambulances, a fast‑moving conveyor belt between American industry and the fighting front. We saw oil fromTexas and Oklahoma being pumped from tankers into pipelines that grow in length each day as engineers extend them to keep pace with the ever-advancing front so that our mechanized equipment can be suckled as readily far inland as at the beachhead.
We saw amphibious "ducks" rolling down cement ramps into the water empty, swimming rapidly out to Liberty ships two miles offshore and roaring back with one-and-a-half-ton loads, leaving a feathery white wake behind them. We saw locomotives made in America rolling off tracks of ferries onto tracks of French railroads, hauling all kinds of American rolling stock especially built for the job. In Cherbourg itself we saw little snub locomotives from Schenectady and Berwick pulling out trains made up of captured German flatcars loaded with all manner of equipment, from iron pipes and insulated cable to canned food and reading matter for our troops in the forward areas.
1,000,000 Items Needed
Lieut. Gen. John C. H Lee, the genius of logistics behind the little GI Joe at the front, said there were between 700,000 and. 1,000,000 separate categories of supplies our liberating Army had to take with them into France. One regiment of troops in this present‑day warfare has to have some fifty-odd varieties of ammunition, for instance, and the trick is to build up a balanced stockpile, which means foreseeing the kind of fighting that will develop as operations progress.
We flew over both the British and American beaches with the artificial ports of which Prime Minister Churchill spoke so fleetingly in a recent speech and of which nothing more can be said for security reasons. Offshore lay Liberty ships and other oceangoing vessels, anchored almost at closely together as the invasion armada on D‑day. All of them were disgorging from their holds vital materials of war that were being ferried ashore to lines of trucks along the coastal roads.
Stuff is going in now through Cherbourg but the beaches are still of vital importance, and with winter coming on the problem of supplying the huge armies now battling in France makes the capture of Brest a first priority. . . .
Men Try to Beat Schedule
Here on the beaches and in Cherbourg men are working according to plan and straining themselves to exceed it. Few of them will die and even fewer will get any medals or other official recognition. But these are men whose shoulders are behind the wheels of motorized equipment rolling German forces back toward the Rhine.
They are the merchant, seamen, the men of the escort ships, the Negroes who drive the "ducks" into the water and unload them ashore, the engineers who make roads safe, lay railroad track and build roads into the fighting zone, the doctors and nurses who care for the wounded and the countless others who, by little deeds far from the battle line, make it possible for swift, steady advances to be made.