6 June 1944 - 25 July 1944


The main task which devolved on the Transportation Service was to discharge and clear in conjunction with S & T the planned tonnage of 900,796 tons of stores in addition to hundreds of vehicles over the beaches or through ports, during the months of June and July.

As stated elsewhere, due to bad weather and difficulties in establishing the Ferry Craft Control, this figure was not quite reached. As it was, over 750,000 tons were brought ashore without the aid of a proper port.

Unlike other Services, Transportation normally controls all Tn troops on the ground direct from HQ 21 Army Group. This course was not possible at the beginning of operation OVERLORD. During this first phase, therefore, all Tn activities were controlled by an advanced HQ of Tn 21 Army Group which was placed first under command of HQ 11 L of C Area and then under command of HQ L of C until the arrival of HQ 21 Army Group in the theatre.

It may be said that from a Tn point of view, this operation was largely successful, but the complexities of the problems and all the technical planning and execution by the Tn Service, in conjunction with the Movements Staff of HQ 21 Army Group are too great to enable a complete picture to be given in the brief space available.

During the first few days the responsibility for discharging ships was that of the beach group commanders who were assisted by their port operating staffs. In addition the craft ferry service run by the Navy and the DUKW ferries organised by the RASC were controlled through the same channels.

Initial difficulties was experienced in evolving a proper ferry organisation and cases of serious delays to ships occurred. As the weeks passed the anchorages became more centralised, control became easier and a definite split in functions was made so that MT was passed over GOLD beaches and stores were centred on JUNO.

As the operation proceeded, the Port Operating Groups took over complete responsibility for the discharge of ships and for controlling the unloading of craft when beached. An improved turn round of ferry craft was already being obtained in the first week of July by centralising control of ferry services. The phasing in of Port Operating Companies kept pace with the tasks that they were set.

Port Construction and Repair units were landed at the same time as port operating units to repair the small ports of PORT-EN-BESSIN, COURSEULLES and OUISTREHAM. A special port construction task force was also landed at the same time to carry out the construction of MULBERRY B. An account of this will be found at this image”.

appendix G

Small coasters were unloaded in PORT-EN-BESSIN and preloaded barges discharged there and at COURSEULLES. OUISTREHAM and CAEN could not be developed until cleared of the enemy and out of range of gunfire.

For some time after the capture of CAEN, the coastal defences at CABOURG continued to dominate the approaches to OUISTREHAM. The port of CAEN is reached by the OUISTREHAM-CAEN canal. The domination of OUISTREHAM therefore delayed the opening of CAEN.

The IWT organisation which did yeoman service with its tugs, PBRs and Rhinos loaded with MT, was faced with great difficulties during the stormy weather which prevailed during most of the first three weeks of the operation. IWT workshops were quickly set up and repairs put in hand, but the fact is that during bad weather the Rhinos were not really suitable for their task, being under-powered. They functioned more satisfactorily during the better weather later, but generally proved a continuous source of trouble.

The railway personnel were phased in after the ports and IWT personnel, but apart from reconstructing minor lines, repairing wagons and developing one or two rail served depots, it was impossible to do much during this phase. The railway signals branch of Tn began to function during this period, but their work can better be discussed later.

By the end of this phase, 16,000 tons of Tn stores had been landed and two Transportation Stores Depots set up.

In addition a number of small stores dumps were established at important centres of Tn activity. Without going into details of all the various types of equipment used in this operation by Tn, it can be stated that generally the equipment provided was found to be adequate in spite of the difficulties of weather which were encountered. It should be borne in mind, however, that every combined operation must be regarded as an individual problem and treated as such, and no hard and fast conclusion as to the suitability of equipment for all combined operations can be drawn from the experience gained in OVERLORD.



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