4-524 Memorandum for Justice Byrnes, September 25, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 25, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Justice Byrnes

September 25, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Justice Byrnes:

I send you the attached radio so that you may get a concrete idea of what our tribulations are regarding heavy artillery ammunition.1

In reading that portion which refers to the increase in “rationing” that General Bradley desires, please have in mind that he would prefer to shoot a much larger amount of ammunition but realizes that is out of the question.

We are going to be able to ship immediately all of the ammunition requested except for the 8-inch gun. However, this exhausts our resources and stops all training of the additional heavy artillery units whose development we are rushing in this country to batter the German heavy defenses.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. A September 23 message from S.H.A.E.F. Communications Zone headquarters in Paris said: “There is a serious shortage of heavy artillery ammunition for current operations…It is realised that production of these items is limited but our lines now (D plus 108) are far in advance of phase lines originally planned for this date. Troops are facing heavily fortified positions (Siegfried Line) and in the opinion of field force commanders concerned only concentrations of heavy artillery fire will reduce these positions without disproportionate loss of life. Only immediate shipment of ammunition set up for future loadings will alleviate the present conditions.” If commanders were allowed to fire at the desired rates, the supply of various sizes of ammunition would be exhausted in fifteen to twenty-five days. Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee requested the immediate shipment of ninety thousand rounds of heavy artillery shells on two fast freighters. (Lee to War Department, Radio No. EX-49415, September 23, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. The artillery ammunition situation continued to worsen for several weeks, precipitating a hurried reform of the ammunition issues and expenditures control system. According to a U.S. Army history, in October “the shortage of ammunition, more than any other factor, determined the character of tactical operations.” Patton’s Third Army was the hardest hit. The ammunition shortage is discussed in Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, 2: 246-75; quote on p. 255.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 603-604.

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