An enthralling review of the challenges of maintaining critical logistics in a mechanized war. The process of keeping combatants supplied is a strong component in the outcome of any battle but it a much under covered topic for historians – Very Highly Recommended
NAME: Supplying The British Army in the Second World War FILE: R3223 AUTHOR: Janet MacDonald PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £30.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, European Theatre, Mediterranean Theatre, Far East, logistics, supplies, ammunition, weapons, equipment ISBN: 1-52672-533-9 PAGES: 223 IMAGE: B3223.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y5wz4wz3 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: An enthralling review of the challenges of maintaining critical logistics in a mechanized war. The process of keeping combatants supplied is a strong component in the outcome of any battle but it a much under covered topic for historians – Very Highly Recommended
Since the time when large armies conducted battles on land, logistics have always been critical. Only small forces could exist by living off the land. Although ‘logistics’ is so important to victory or defeat, it is often viewed as the unglamorous element of land forces. It just doesn’t seem to have the impact of cavalry, or armoured forces, or set piece battles. As a result, historians have always been reluctant to expend effort on looking as closely at logistics in winning battles and wars. That attitude may have been coloured by ancient historians who were dealing with armies that had an unglamorous baggage train commanded by the wagon master that often also included camp followers, wives, girlfriends and assorted hangers on.
Whatever the past excuses from historians, that should all have changed with the mechanisation of warfare and the new forms of global warfare. Suddenly, armies needed frequent resupply in the field in the form of fuel for all the military vehicles and the large requirement for ammunition to meet the needs of machine guns and quick firing artillery. That had all been added to the task of ensuring the supply of food and water. Suddenly there were many new challenges, including the need to predict where the fighting units would be at the time when they needed resupply, because in mechanized warfare a fast moving armed force can advance significant distances. Today, that process is aided by computers, radio/satellite communications and mapping. During Operation Granby, British forces advanced rapidly across open desert spaces and expended considerable volumes of fuel and munitions, but they had the advantage of advanced computerized communications systems and GPS. That meant that the fuel trucks and ammunitions carriers could be directed to an RV point in the middle of a largely featureless terrain so that the armoured units met on the move and halted very briefly for the transfer of supplies, much as warships regularly meet their supply ships in mid ocean to RAS. During WWII, this technology was not even a dream.
The author has made a very good job of recounting the materials to be supplied, the structure of the RASC and associated organization and their success in keeping the troops operational, leading on into the most extraordinary supply structure that kept the Normandy Landings going and supporting the break out into France and the advance into Germany.
This is not a dull subject and no self respecting military enthusiast should ignore the important role performed by logistics troops. WWII was the first war where troops not only advanced rapidly in vehicles on land, but were also inserted behind enemy lines by parachute and glider. These airborne troops had to be kept supplied until the land forces could reach them. The author has covered this and her able text is well supported by an interesting selection of images in the photo-plate section.
This is essential reading.