Quartermaster Corps – Intermission Story (23)

I am always remarking on how the military operates as one large chain with every job having an important role in the smooth operations.  Most people concentrate on the front line combat soldier, sailor or Marine and forget what it all must take to not only put him/her there, but to keep their mission in operating condition.

The U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps was responsible for procuring and delivering various supplies to units in all those theaters. No other area proved to be more challenging than the war in the Pacific Theater with its lengthy supply lines.

The first step in the Quartermasters’ duties was procurement, which required more than simply calculating user needs and filling out the correct requisitions. Overcoming numerous hurdles, corpsmen were responsible for making victory possible. Their obstacles started on the home front, where shortages of all basic supplies originated. Further complicating matters was the fact that manufacturing and agricultural production had to be increased immediately.

Quartermaster corpsmen provided Class I, II, III and IV items to the war front.

Paratroopers with their ‘K-rations’

Class I: food

A steady supply of food and rations was most vital to the survival of the far-flung armed forces. During much of the war the Pacific Theater experienced heavy losses of food, resulting in random cycles of “feast and famine.” Food losses stemmed from a number of sources, the first being storage problems. Limited warehousing was available, and Class I items shipped to the Pacific were often stacked in big open food dumps with little protection from the elements. To rectify that problem, the corpsmen created portable warehouses called “Paulin Oases,” which resembled a native hut called a bures.

35th QM Pack Mule Train

Class II: clothing

Quartermasters in the Pacific had trouble getting sufficient reserves of clothing where it was needed, mainly because the U.S. clothing and textile industry could not easily obtain the necessary raw goods from scarce commodities. In addition, sometimes plants had to be completely retooled to accommodate full-scale production. Clothing took a lower priority compared to food and petroleum products. After the clothing did arrive, it usually went into base storage areas — sometimes disintegrating as a result of devastating environmental effects.

Naval Quartermasters

Class III: petroleum products

Essential to the war effort were gasoline, kerosene, aviation fuel, diesel oil, fuel oil and petroleum-based lubricants. Critical for the sustainment of war machinery and more vital even than clothing and general supplies, those Quartermaster supply items took high priority. The corpsmen excelled in the processing and delivery efforts, and because of easy accessibility from Australia, it suffered fewer hazards.

Class IV: general supplies

Such diverse items as rope, soap, candles, knives, forks and spoons rarely warranted “life or death” status. Those Class IV items usually shipped on a restricted basis. A procurement problem on the home front — the inability of the manufacturers to meet demand with supply — was the main reason for delays.

Quartermaster Corps on the beaches D-Day.

The Quartermaster Corps trained thousands of soldiers during World War II, filling specialized roles in every theater of operation from the Pacific and CBI theaters to North Africa, Italy, central and northern Europe. They willingly supplied more than 70,000 different items with more than 24 million meals each day going to the servicemen.

Pacific Paratrooper did a post on George Watson previously to honor the Quartermaster who won a Medal of Honor.

George Watson

Information derived from U.S. History.com

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Barbara Baker – Glen Burnie, MD; US Navy WAVES, WWII

George Curtis – Concord, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS McCracken

John Devitt – MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Troop Carrier pilot

Oscar Friedman – Hampton Bay, NY; US Army, WWII

Rubin Gansky – Wallingford, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘Merrill’s Merauders’

La David Johnson – Miami Gardens, FL; US Army, Niger, Sgt., 3rd Spec. Forces Unit, KIA

Upson Kyte – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div. Recon Unit / Korea

Dwight McBride – Elida, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, APO, PTO, radioman, Sgt.

David Patterson Sr. – Rio Rancho, NM; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

Norman Stobie – Nelson, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

 

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 12, 2017, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 108 Comments.

  1. You can tell how important a function is by how many people are impacted if it doesn’t go right. I’m guessing most military personnel have more respect for QM’s than the rest of us

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Captivating info; much more interesting than any history textbook. I was an English teacher, but saw plenty of history textbooks. They were all horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My mum and Dad work in transportation logistics so I can imagine how difficult this task was

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It never ceases to amaze me – the almost mindless devotion to ‘country’ that means there is an endless supply of ‘cannon-fodder’. When, oh when will we learn that talking is so much better than fighting? or – as Churchill put it – jaw, jaw is better than war, war.

    Like

  5. hi, i don’t know what happened with my wordpress, but a few of the blogs i followed suddenly appeared as ‘follow’. so if you get a notification that i just started following, it’s because i clicked it again. sorry about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NO problem! That has happened to me plenty of times, people must think I’m awful; reading the for a year or more and suddenly decide to follow!?!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know. i clicked on my post, and checked on the likes. I don’t know what happened, but everyone who had a ‘following’ became ‘follow’ and everyone who was ‘follow’ became ‘following since i use an assisstive software for the blind and most of what i use are hot key combinations, i think i pressed something wrong that reversed everything. i’m not sure which though, so if you find a notification that i just started following you in the future, well , you know what happened.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I could have “liked” my way ALL the way down the page but didn’t want to fill up your comment notification drop-down! Let me simply say ditto to all.

    My father rarely spoke of the war but, as an Air Force brat, I was well aware of the importance of peacetime quartermasters.

    Running a household of 7 with monthly trips to both commissary and PX (we never lived on base so never anywhere *near* either) and almost yearly moves until I was in High School, my mother had all the skills and experience to make a wonderful quartermaster. MANY women do, actually. Do you know if they represent a large percentage of stateside quartermasters?

    In any case, thanks for this information, GP – and the great cartoon pointing out who REALLY runs the service. 🙂
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And with the greatest military in the world, why can we not use them during times of natural disaster, like the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, to deliver necessities to the people?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i coudn’t visite your site because I had no internet after a falling out.Love the military humor a lot

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The number of boxes visible in those 2 photos alone is mind boggling. Even the crises in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands cannot compare. Wartime logistics were constantly changing. Delivering the necessary goods to keep the war effort going must have been a staggering task.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Quartermaster sounds like the key to survival.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Guaranteed, Bev! Without him, the combat soldier walks naked in the jungle with no weapons or food – much as the abandoned Japanese soldiers were when their nation would write an island off as lost.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Good article. Most lay folks do not appreciate the crucial role logistics play in a theatre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some people will start their comment to me as …’my father was only a…’ or ‘my grandfather was just a… and never saw combat…’ They don’t don’t realize that ALL the jobs were important for the operations and campaigns to succeed. I hope to help change that impression. Thank you for dropping by, Eric.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. It seems like an impossible job – they deserve great respect for their work.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. GP this is such a great post to remind us that in all jobs, teamwork is necessary. Often those invisible supports are what keeps things running smoothly. Less glamorous than the visible ones often but so vital.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Supplies, logistics, medical, construction, and even postal services. No war can be fought without those behind the combat. Everyone has to play their part, in the bigger picture.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It is so good that you keep us aware of the non-fighting personnel

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lost track of who coined it, but:

    “An army marches on its stomach”

    Caesar? Napoleon? Elvis …

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A really nice article and enjoyed the cartoon on the role of specialists and non-combat troops. My Dad was on Saipan in WWII as a sanitation officer for the troops on the island, a job which included all the way from making sure the latrines were properly set up, to the leading of patrols out into the bush to put arsenic on corpses and shoot the tops off of palm trees which were the favorite hideouts of Japanese snipers who remained behind on the island for a long time after the invasion. As a Sp-5 myself first trained in Infantry and then through luck and fast talk getting assigned as company and officer’s records clerk for the 510th Artillery Group, there are a lot of very important aspects of military life that combat troops can’t do if they are to function in the field, as well as keeping track of all their actions and assignments. As a former Col. friend of mine once said,, “don’t mess with the men’s pay, food, and free time and learn to listen when they have a gripe, and you will solve a whole lot of problems before they ever get to the top. Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Super story, GP. I don’t know how it all got over there but it did.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I do have a partial bit of history I last worked on about 3-4 months ago in still in my saved documents….it’s about time I get it together….about JFK and his part in Operation Blissful…

    Like

  20. Well….hmmm…with my wife expecting our first child in March, getting all the “stuff”, trading in my beloved high powered sportscar for an SUV takes most of my time…..the time required for proper research and writing is becoming a rare commodity….but I will try…it has been awhile since my last addition…

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I wish food and supplies were more forthcoming to the American and Filipino men of Bataan. FDR somehow neglected them and did not send food and reinforcements to Gen. MacArthur that he promised. He was more interested in winning the European theatre. I love the verse that the soldiers composed to epitomize their sad plight.
    “We’re the battling bastards of Bataan,
    No mamma, no papa, no Uncle Sam;
    No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces;
    No rifles, no planes, no artillery pieces;
    And nobody gives a damn.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very sad and unfortunately – very true, Rosalinda. As hard as I research I have never found a valid reason why FDR lied to MacArthur about help on its way. The fact that anyone at all survived Bataan is purely amazing.

      Like

  22. We often forget what it takes to get a soldier not only to where he should be, but feed and clothe him whilst there as well. Very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. As always in your postI learn valuable insights into the war. This really gave me an understanding of more than picturing soldiers with guns or flying aircraft. Everybody was key and important. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I believe certain Quartermaster Corps were selected for graves registration duties… including retrieval.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it is, Koji. I was wondering if anyone would make the connection. That is an awful job and will one day be given it’s own post. With such dreadful facts associated with that subject, I didn’t put it here because it would seem disrespectful to add humor.
      Good to see you!

      Like

    • My Dad was in Ordnance in the Australian Army and had that duty for a few months at the height of battles around Buna in New Guinea.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. For every soldier, sailor or airmen on the frontlines…there were 3 in support…logistics was something the US had a natural flair for, as well as being highly mobile because of the amount of support behind every fighting man. The US ended WW2 with 6000 ships of every size, shape and description….96 of them being aircraft carriers of various classes…

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s quite a pat on the back for the civilians that built them too. What that world must have been like – a united America.
      It’s great to see you back around. I hope this means a new post coming soon!!

      Like

  26. That was an interesting read. It’s something I never knew and didn’t even know I needed to know. You’ve done it again, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Interesting as always, and love the cartoons 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Very interesting, G. Another example of unsung heroes. The old adage, “An army marches on its stomach,” comes to mind. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  29. It’s so true that there are many people with different responsibilities that come together to make the operation work. True in many instances, I would surmise.
    My Dad never talked about his time in the service…EVER. On his deathbed this summer, when I selfishly wanted the conversation to center around US, he had an urgency and a necessity to tell me many stories of his time in the Korean War. Dad was a driver, and though not on the frontline of combat, had an important role in the operation. He also had a few close calls and he became so animated you could feel his energy, and the look in his eyes made me think he was right back there witnessing it all just like he did the first time!
    I can remember thinking, “Why is it that we’ve never talked about his time in Korea before?” And I had a little remorse about that. But I was really happy that when he needed to talk about it he was able to.
    Thank You! Thank you for telling these stories, for honoring those who sacrifice all for our country, and for making people like me aware!!
    Sweet blessings to you 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Excellent post! I am reminded of a book I read once on U.S. operations in, I believe, Sicily. There were photographs of the U.S. Army quartermasters corp and their long baggage train of donkeys being used to get supplies to the front line soldiers. It was quite an image.

    Like

  31. Quartermaster corps,I know for the first time!!
    It’s very important task.
    In medical , it’s called “paramedical”.
    Dr.or Ns’s,Food, clothing, Room(Tent),Toilet, Drive(transportation), water equipment, medical equipment arrangement, industrial trash management, medicine arrangement, etc.
    Without them, medical Dr.or Ns alone can not do the job.:D

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I’d never thought of a quartermaster being awarded a Medal of Honor. Just learning that would have made your post worthwhile, but the additional details were fascinating, and even compelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Food would have to be on top of the list. Yet, your post shows very well how difficult it was in vast Pacific realm to deliver it to the front line soldier.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. It’s so hard to imagine the task these people had. I’ve always wondered if they knew where the troops were going next, or if they were reacting to a moving target.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I love the picture of the paratroopers with their K-Rations! 😀 But I’m not sure what is worse MREs or K-Rations . . . !

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Great post on the quartermasters! Fort Lee is hosting a fun and educational event called Night at the Quartermaster Museum. On November 4th at 5:00 pm. Great stories and history will be told by actors. Hope you can make it!!

    On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 6:18 AM Pacific Paratrooper wrote:

    > GP Cox posted: ” I am always remarking on how the military operates as one > large chain with every job having an important role in the smooth > operations. Most people concentrate on the front line combat soldier, > sailor or Marine and forget what it all must take to not” >

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Civilians on the home front understood these needs on a fundamental level because of rationing and the stamps they needed to purchase rare commodities. My grandmother sometimes talked about the war years, scarcity, and victory gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. GP – FYI (as if you don’t already know this …) on this day (12 Oct) in 1946, General “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell died in San Francisco. His story might make a good “Intermission” item. He is one of the many forgotten heroes of the war in the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know – I typed in “Stilwell” into the Pacific Paratrooper search box and nearly every CBI post was there to scroll through. I hadn’t realized I wrote so much about him, but never gave him his own post. I’ll look into it.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. I read an article a while back on the unbelievable complexities of the convoys who took materiel from Gibraltar to North Africa, Malta and Egypt. They tried very hard to have no single ship go anywhere empty. And they all had to be escorted everywhere by warships that themselves needed support. I can’t really imagine how much more difficult it must have been in the Pacific theatre with the vast distances involved and a fanatical enemy more than willing to give his life to sink a ship of any size.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. The Quartermaster Corps had an incredible job to do. The cartoons are very apt.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I never knew of quartermaster corps till now. Interesting and important role I find them to be as they support the soldiers. As for the 👜haha! That will be the day!!😃Thanks for a new body of knowledge as always GP😂

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Interesting and authoritative, GP. “An Army Marches on Its Belly.” Who said this? Was true for the Romans, before them, and now.

    Liked by 1 person

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