The horrors of British & US Logistics in WW2
The horrors of British & US Logistics in WW2
The Allies may have had a lot of resources, manpower and industry, but that didn’t mean that their logistics weren’t inefficient or a disorganized mess. Today, we’re going to look at how the British railways were disaster during WW2, how the Americans ran out of fuel on the way to Germany, and why Montgomery called the planning for the invasion of Sicily a ‘dog’s breakfast’.
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📽️ RELATED VIDEO LINKS 📽️
Why the German Army couldn’t overcome their bad logistics https://youtu.be/1Oc_lFmp6vQ
Why Soviet Logistics weren’t as nightmarish as German Logistics in WW2 https://youtu.be/3EcNP2fi2Fk
The MAIN Reason Why Germany Lost WW2 – OIL https://youtu.be/kVo5I0xNRhg
“What If There Were No Prices?” by Learn Liberty https://youtu.be/zkPGfTEZ_r4
“Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt https://youtu.be/eyIfEpNfU2U
“Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell https://youtu.be/dQiBD-crrvA
How are monopolies formed? https://youtu.be/eJa65E2TKv4
History Theory 101 https://youtu.be/PvpJEc-NxVc
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📚 BIBLIOGRAPHY / SOURCES 📚
Dunn, W. “The Soviet Economy and the Red Army, 1930-1945.” Praeger Publishers, 1995.
Garvey, J. “Operation Husky: The Untold Story of the logistics of the Sicily Invasion.” Farm Publications, Kindle 2019.
Hazlitt, H. “Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics.” Three Rivers Press, 1979.
MacDonald, J. “Supplying the British Army in the Second World War.” Pen & Sword Military, Kindle 2020.
Molony, C. “The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume V, The Campaign in Sicily 1943 and The Campaign in Italy 3rd September 1943 to 31st March 1944.” The Naval & Military Press LTD 2004, first published in 1973.
Wolmar, C. “Fire & Steam: How the Railways Transformed Britain.” Atlantic Books, Kindle 2007.
British Government, “Railways Act 1921,” https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/11-12/55/enacted
Full list of all my sources https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/114GiK85MPs0v4GKm0izPj3DL2CrlJUdAantx5GQUKn8/edit?usp=sharing
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ABOUT TIK 📝
History isn’t as boring as some people think, and my goal is to get people talking about it. I also want to dispel the myths and distortions that ruin our perception of the past by asking a simple question – “But is this really the case?”. I have a 2:1 Degree in History and a passion for early 20th Century conflicts (mainly WW2). I’m therefore approaching this like I would an academic essay. Lots of sources, quotes, references and so on. Only the truth will do.
This video is discussing events or concepts that are academic, educational and historical in nature. This video is for informational purposes and was created so we may better understand the past and learn from the mistakes others have made.
My Dad was in the RAF from 1946 to 1955 and told me that some truck wheels were split rim types and wheel nuts had to painted different colours as some would release the wheel from the hub and others separate the two halves of the wheel. Undo the wrong ones and you’d lose your face when the wheel blew apart. Today I work for a large police force. They are moving away from diesel vehicles, partly for environmental reasons but partly because officers are confused by AdBlue. When it needs topping up they went into the garage and found containers of blue liquid and topped up the AdBlue tanks. Unfortunately, AdBlue isn’t blue, but screenwash is. For the foreseeable future they will have to go to the workshop and get a mechanic to do it. D’oh!
How would the youtuber privatize the truckers?
And even more topical after a year of war in Ukraine.
"be prepared to die" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA who tf wrote that 😂😂😂
Concerning TIKs "economize the troops" argument,
1.) These men were drafted. They weren’t really slaves (they were obviously paid,) but TIK has already addressed the returns of forced labor vs. volunteer paid labor.
2.) Even if the Army made a free-market of their supplies, soldiers still don’t contribute to the economy. His idea of troops buying their needed goods requires them providing a service for profit, which they do not. Their payment is taxpayer dollars, so a soldier would have to be paid the necessary amount to purchase his equipment on top of his base pay, which would just be a greater tax burden on civilians without necessarily improving troop efficiency.
Btw a lot of American bases have fast food places in them..
I would like to see that situation where soldiers baying and selling supplies to frontline units.. I see that soldier would not want to sell if he will not receive what he wants)
The Americans may have had the racing teams but the pitlane was run by the Brits.
Very much enjoyed your positions and explanations, TIK. However, I struggle with Monty being a good tactical general. The horrible losses of Canadians and British soldiers during the entire Caen offensive (including Operation Goodwood and all the numerous others) causes one to choke at the thought of praising Montgomery. He was no better at the Scheldt. 🙁
Now comes the shortest video, Japanese logistics.
Privatizing transportation of military vehicles during war has to be the worst argument I have ever heard from this channel. The motivation to keep your truck running well is the same motivation an infantryman has to charge an enemy trench- your desire to defeat the enemy and help your country win the war. Your personal experience was during peacetime in the military. Of course nobody is going to give a crap when lives aren’t on the line and it’s just a mundane government job.
Are transportation soldiers going to lose profit because their truck ran over a mine? What kind of mechanism are you going to implement that allows all truck drivers to earn profit fairly and not excessively? How are you going to motivate profit-driven truck drivers who get paid to go to point B from point A as efficiently as possible without damaging their truck to run routes in more dangerous sectors that could be more prone to enemy action or have worse infrastructure? Will you compensate the more dangerous routes more, and how are you going to be able to measure "dangerousness"? Sounds like a great way to bloat administration in order to keep things fair. The whole good idea fairy idea falls apart with a few minutes of thinking how practical it is.
Those loading the cargo ships for the landings in North Africa from the U.S. were told which supplies were first, second, third etc. priority. To se sure thre "first priority" supplies wee loaded, they were loaded first – on the bottom of the holfdds – under the lower priority supplies. So his artillery unit had severly limited ammunition for some days, until the shells could be dug out. It would have been worse, except for "unauthorized" extra shells hidden in the prime movers before the trucks even moved to the embarcation ports. His regiment supply issues were lessened by leaving a "Sherman" tank at a river ford to pull stuck supply trucks through.
Drove coaches for 7 years and thought your whole section on transport logistics was hilariously true. Also true is that today, your ideas are very much used, with many hauliers using owner drivers, and many self-employed taxi driver/owners exist across the UK too. This hasn’t happened in the coach/bus industry, probably because the largest percentage of the work of these vehicles, tends to be wholly or mostly for the public sector.
Would a "real capitalist" war economy be a realistic scenario? I can’t imagine this would work. Are there any concrete historic examples for this?
around 30 minutes in, Is Tik seriously advocating that nations militaries should be privatized? Like, soldiers supplying their own trucks and gas? Own bullets? Bonuses for on-time deliveries and pay for when soldiers perform duties? Seriously?
Ok, so how did one use price to calculate, AND actually supply their army. Just curious how this would work in practice and if there are effective examples. Or if the modern militaries still use inefficient and injective centrally planned control.
Army boots 🥾 used to be stored in single units Left ones. Right ones.
There are stories of clothing stores being delivered with 1000 left foot boots 🥾
us smokers can’t blow up gas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsZOE1nvlhI&t=170s
MYTH I would like to add I fucking love your show. Amazing watching your grow this channel. Well don’t DON’T go changing.
If private companies fed the troops, they would decide the price charged and the food supplied, not the governmnet. You pay or you starve OR you get your food at rifle-point. See: U.S. Civil War.
Lol, logistics guidelines are a joke. Even now.
I must confess, I am glad you are not my logistician in combat.
Your application of "pricing" to logistics on the western front is an interesting thought experiment, but it bears little or no resemblance to the realities of war.
In one example, you talk about how truck drivers would have incentives to look out for their vehicles and deliver their cargoes if they were being paid by the soldiers on the front. At first, this sounds logical. Profit motive does incentivize people to take care of their vehicles, plan their routes, etc. resulting in "more efficient" deliveries and logistics. This is great. Until there comes an imbalance of risk. Say one division is neck deep in combat with counter battery fire from the enemy. Things are hot and heavy. Equidistant from our Normandy depot is a division encountering no resistance. We call ahead and the division in contact is offering more money for the ammo we just loaded. Great! Hmmm, upon reflection, there is a lot of artillery fire on the main supply routes to that division. My truck might get damaged. Worse, I might get killed. In contrast, the division that is not in contact is only offering 80% of the amount, but there is almost zero risk. I could make run after run after run to them and suffer a slight discount, but still make a fortune and not incur any risk.
In another example, we all know Americans and American units were much better funded that the British. Now, let’s see, as we advance east, who has the cash to pay the higher price? Probably the Americans. So, using the price control model of logistics, the bulk of supplies will go to the Americans. The result being that British soldiers are left to fend for themselves, because they are not paid as much. Sucks to be you.
The point in both of these examples is to illustrate one of the things that people tend to forget. Militaries are inherently inefficient, especially at logistics. It is not that they try to be, or want to be, but rather it is often a side effect of their need to achieve an effect, not an efficiency. The effect of ensuring that the division in contact can meet or exceed its enemy’s capabilities and defeat them is more important than optimizing the operations of truck drivers in the rear. The need to keep pressure on Germans in the north, so they cannot cut off advancing Americans in the south, is a more important battlefield effect that making a truck driver more accountable and more efficient.
Yes, logisticians are repeatedly guilty of getting it wrong (upon reflection), but their mission is not driven by optimizing truck transportation. Even if we relied on "pricing’ to control our priorities, this would be folly. Look to your own daily experiences. Prices changes are at best trends, often delayed, and often illogical. Someone sneezes in Siberia and your gas prices go up $0.25 per gallon at the pump the next day. What? Not one storage tank has run dry, not one tanker, not one pipeline, but your prices just jumped for no reason at all.
Now back to our examples. Imagine if a rumor spread through the ranks of our supply chain that the British were going to strike for the Rhine, the prices would spike, the trucks would deliver more ammo to the Brits. Meanwhile, the Americans are deprioritized in our free-market war logistics. Then, the Germans strike the Americans at the Ardennes where shipments were not so profitable.
Were allied logistics efficient. Of course not. They were adequate – mostly – to the task. Yes, there were stalled offensives and delays. However, it is worth remembering that the whole plan envisioned reaching the Rhine in June, 1945. In all likelihood, the logistics, inefficient as they were, would have been adequate to that task. So, whatever their failures, the "command directed" system turned out to be flexible enough to handle most of the logistical needs despite the incredible change of circumstances.
My compliments on the driving regs commentary. Pretty funny & sad at the same time. LOL
I’m curious as to how such a system would work on a practical level.
Would generals have to pay for supplies out of pocket? Would each general be given an allowance based on how important their objectives are?
I agree that giving people incentives to do things makes sense and reduces the excess losses due to carelessness and corruption, but at a purely practical level how would you even begin to implement such a thing?
Petrol needs a spark to catch on fire . I worked driving a school bus and during a demonstration the instructor dropped a lit cigarette into a bucket of gasoline and the only thing that happened was the cigarette went out !
Can you do logistics videos for each WW2 army? I love watching these, absolutely fascinating!
"The British army set up the army catering corps in 1944 because none of their cooks could prepare food, so they sent them on a 9 month course."
Got news for you… It didn’t work! To this day they are known by a number of nicknames, the two most common being Aldershot Concrete Company and sloo jockies. My personal favourite was cabbage mechanic, but ration assassin was also popular. They say that the hardest course in the army isn’t SAS selection. It’s the chef course. Because no bugger has ever passed it!
The U.S. freight railroad system is now 100% PRIVATE and DE-REGULATED. There are safety standards, but freight rates are de-regulated, and railroads can invest or no invest as much or as little as they want.
If something like WWII happened again, I GUARANTEE the U.S. freight railroad system would go BELLY-UP in a month. There is no excess capacity on the American railroad system, not in freight cars, not in locomotives, and not even in staff. That’s how CAPITALISM works (or doesn’t). The American railroad system is good at two basic things: Move containers east from Los Angeles, and move coal east from Wyoming. The rest of the system is largely single-track. If the USA had to suddenly supply an army or two from its Atlantic ports, heaven help us! LIKE MY POST if you agree!
During the Suez incident, a story is that filled sand bags were sent out in the ships sent ?
True or False?
And if the driver is paid only if he delivers, who pays more, Company A , OX and Bucks, or the Paris Black Market?
As a soldier in the army I can confirm. Soldiers will always find a way to fuck something up and will always do the bare minimum of work haha
Stepdad’s unit, Fort Garry Horse (armored rgt.) landed at Liverpool. Once embarked on trains, it took fifty-six hours to get to Aldershot, 232 miles away. Their 1700 mile trip from
Ontario to Nova Scotia had taken sixty-six hours.
Not a logistic thing exactly, more an accounts error.
During one of the gulf war deployments a Saudi or Kuwait travel agent supplied some tickets 🎟
And told to submit the invoice
Foreign Payments are dealt with in special system.
In that currency the decimal point is followed by THREE numerals. The payment clerk made a mistake
Um, TIK. Your identification of the supply problem(s) is, (as usual), well thought out. But, when taken to the limit, it makes me somewhat concerned:
The only thing that could possibly make war even worse is to make it directly profitable. Your analysis and solution(s), takes the worst two parts of "humanity", and pastes them together (war and profiteering). The next "natural" step after that is to pay the soldiers "by the nose". This is the problem with hiring corporations to provide armies for war(s). Both the US and Russia have been doing exactly that. It would seem to be a *very* problematic decision to make war directly profitable. The US military industrial complex is bad enough, but they do not get paid *directly* to fight the wars they make possible.
That said, I understand, the ideas to solve the supply problems, and the cause of those problems. But, making war a profit driven enterprise, is just short of getting to the point of having robot factories making robot soldiers. We are plenty good at killing each other already.
On that tack, and just a little further away, I also question the whole idea of technology improving the efficiency of killing each other. Is firebombing a "crime against humanity"? How about nuclear bombs? (etc). If one decides that using these technologies (and others) is a crime, then how far does society push that? Is it also a crime against humanity to design, and/or build those weapons? How about machine guns, tanks, or military aircraft? All these things make it more efficient to kill large numbers of people. Were *any* of the people that built the implementation of the "Final Solution" charged with crimes against humanity, (and, if not, should they have been?). Long ago, the Chinese decided that weapons that used gunpowder were too efficient, and outlawed using them in battle(s) (IIRC).
Not directly a historical question, though history is replete with improved technologies making warfare more deadly. It seems to me that a study of history has to illuminate the moral consequences of adding technology to warfare, not that it would be possible to stop that from happening. Firebombing cities used to be ok. Nuking cities was once ok. Catapulting plague ridden corpses into cities was once ok. Chemical warfare used to be ok. Where does history indicate that a limit of "too much" will be set, if any? Adding a direct profit to war, seems like an even worse idea.
Also most every prime mover in my uncle’s artillery unit had a couple of MG-42s and copious supplies of 8mm ammo.
to be fair I imagine it would be a lot easier to do approximate calculations of everything needed nowadays with a computer. Back then you’d have to use legions of calculator girls to do it which would be just too slow.
Also sending spotter planes to find fuel depots you can nick from is just hilarious too me had me howling.
Also also; I get the sense that you have a minor case of PTSD having to deal with a few jobs-worths in your past lmao. My dad worked as a manager for P&G in the 90’s and early 00’s. He once found a bloke asleep on his shift in warehouse. Not hidden in some corner or behind a rack(which a few of them had fashioned into a make-shift sleeping quarters) but right in the middle of the floor. Just laid down and went to the land of nod next to the packing machine!
This sort of behavior wasn’t limited to floor staff. The engineers responsible for repairing and maintaining the machines had spent their time instead constructing a sex machine and even convinced one of the office ladies to try it out. A window was installed so you could see into their workshop after that.
I can see why they decided to split the plant and move to Ireland and Belgium.
The black diagonal line at the bottom of the thumbnail terrified me, as I was viewing it from a list of videos on my phone, and it was at the very bottom of my screen. It made it look like my phone was broken and I got quite distressed for a moment, but great video as always TIK, I am trying to watch most of your videos in recent months.
Exit delivery area only through fueling/water/oil/tire-check point.
Ok I get your point about prices! However you don’t say anywhere how to achieve this system in a total war. Yes it would be more efficient – but it only works in a free market. How are you going to achieve a free market in a total war? You simply can’t – so you have to have a centrally controlled system, there is no alternative. Just one example – When you have forced conscription, that is not a free market so you can’t accurately price labour.
I like how these training pamphlets seem to assume that allied troops (especially Americans) had never operated a motor vehicle before their military service.
These economics lessons are something I learned, oddly, in Stellaris. The game makes you centrally plan a very simplified economy. Anytime you run into shortages it’s terrible, because fixing them almost always creates another shortage. Made me think about it more than I had before.
37:20 f: _The British Ministry Of Plenty…_
Awesome! I hope enough people know "1984" to a high enough degree to understand your allusion. 😂
One problem I can foresee with giving soldiers a financial incentive to reclaim battlefield supplies is that the people at the front will be at a financial disadvantage as what the Americans used to call REMFs would make lots of money, possibly even selling to the highest bidder. Any of you Americans like to buy a Luger? Iron Cross anyone? On a personal level, an ancestor of mine commanded a Regiment of Foot in India. He was asked to go to Calcutta to sort out a little local difficulty. He replied that instead he was taking his men elsewhere as, effectively, the money was better. Instead, a lesser ranking officer, some chap by the name of Clive, went instead and went down in history. My ancestor went down in anonymity.
I don’t see how your idea could be implemented. If I understand correctly, you are suggesting that the Military Supply truck drivers should be independent contractors. How would this work?
all these problems sound just like coreslab structures where i once worked its how the hole company ran
A VARIETY of historians – including Cornelius Ryan – author of the definitive work "The longest day" and more recently – Pulitzer prize winner Rick Atkinson – author of "The guns at last light" have ALL MADE NOTE of the fact that the VAST EXPANSION of the military, the economy and the supply system in support of the war effort put a lot of very green and poorly trained people into CRITICAL POSITIONS with inevitable results!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Such failings are the INEVITABLE RESULT of allowing LIE-berals to BLOCK any upgrades to the military for SEVERAL DECADES AS THEY DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Any person trying to see evil in this not always perfect war effort may easily be DISMISSED as an anti white and anti democratic Moscow or Beijing propaganda meister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Apologies on necro-ing this.
My favorite fact about OVERLORD and the subsequent drive across Europe is that the planners calculated that Paris would be liberated on D+365.
The Allies liberated it before D+90.
Also, I’m surprised that you didn’t reference any of the Green Books directly. I’m sure all of your sources pulled from them, and I used them extensively for my thesis, so I was surprised by their lack of appearance.
And they still got christmas cakes to troops
23:37 is that the queen changing the tire? Polish truck?
These orders you read out are so damn funny tbh. I was born in Soviet Union and there were rather similar instructions about many, MANY things in society. Would anyone care rat’s arse about these instructions? NO!