Assigning the American Combat Zone (1917)
The eventual place the American Army should take on the western front was to a large extent influenced by the vital questions of communications and supplies. The northern ports of France were crowded by the British Army’s shipping and supplies, while the southern ports, though otherwise at our service, had not adequate port facilities for our purposes, and these we should have to build. The already overtaxed railway system behind the active front in northern France would not be available for us as lines of supply, and those leading from the southern ports to northeastern France would be unequal to our needs without much new construction. Practically all warehouses, supply depots and regulating stations must be provided by fresh construction. While France offered us such material as she had to spare after a drain of three years of war, yet there were enormous quantities of material to be brought across the Atlantic.
With such a problem any temporization or lack of definiteness in making plans might cause failure even with victory within our grasp. Moreover, broad plans commensurate with our national purpose and resources would bring conviction of our power to every soldier in the front line, to the nations associated with us in the war, and to the enemy. The tonnage for material for necessary construction and for the supply of an army of three and perhaps four million men would require a mammoth program of shipbuilding at home, and miles of dock construction in France, with a correspondingly large project for additional railways and for storage depots.
All these considerations led to the inevitable conclusion that, if we were to handle and supply the great forces deemed essential to win the war, we must utilize the southern ports of France, Bordeaux, La Pallice, St. Nazaire and Brest, and the comparatively unused railway systems leading therefrom to the northeast. Generally speaking, then, this would contemplate the use of our forces against the enemy somewhere in that direction, but the great depots of supply must be centrally located, preferably in the area included by Tours, Bourges and Chateauroux, so that our armies could be supplied with equal facility wherever they might be serving on the western front.
Source: Report of General John J. Pershing, U.S.A., to the Secretary of War, November 20, 1918, corrected January 16, 1918.
Image source: S. J. Duncan-Clark, History’s Greatest War: A Pictorial Narrative, E. T. Townsend, 1919, pp. 50-51.http://www.forgottenwarstories.com/2015/04/21/assigning-the-american-combat-zone-1917/http://www.forgottenwarstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Camouflage-1024x659.jpghttp://www.forgottenwarstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Camouflage-150x150.jpgWW1logistics,world war IThe eventual place the American Army should take on the western front was to a large extent influenced by the vital questions of communications and supplies. The northern ports of France were crowded by the British Army's shipping and supplies, while the southern ports, though otherwise at our service,...stevenhardestySteven Hardestyforgottenwarstories@gmail.comAdministratorForgotten War Stories