May 26, 2022

D Day Landings

This coming Monday is Memorial Day, a time to honor and consider those that have given their life in defense of our country or to make the world a better place. There have been many!  

Here are the fatalities.

  • Civil War (1861-1865) - 620,000
  • World War 2 (1939-1945) - 405,399
  • World war 1 (1917-1918) - 116,516
  • Vietnam (1965-1973) - 58,209
  • Korean War (1950-1953) - 36,516
  • American Revolution (1775-1781) -25,000
  • War of 1812 (1812-1815) - 20,000
  • Mexican-American War (1846-1848) - 13,283
  • War of Terror (2001-Present) -7,075
  • Spanish American War (1898) - 2446
  • Gulf War (1990-1991) - 258

That list is just the deaths, the wounded and missing numbers are staggering. 

Operation Overlord.

Coincidentally and somewhat fitting, one week after Memorial Day is June 6. The 78th anniversary of the D Day Landings in France, the largest invasion in history. 

Even today, with the advancements in supply chain and logistics, the numbers involved in supplying  “The Arsenal of Democracy” are staggering. In order to make it happen, the Services of Supply (SOS) was formed under the command of Major General John C. H. Lee in May 1942. 

The amphibious assault alone included 195,700 navy personnel and 156,115 British, Canadian, and American troops using:

  • 6,939 Ships and including 4000 landing vessels
  • 11,590 Aircraft
  • 867 Gliders

That is just the major equipment and might have been the easiest part.  It is all the smaller and ancillary supplies and equipment that can snarl the works. During World War 2,  U.S. armories produced a staggering amount of arms and ammunition. 

Just among infantry weapons American industry turned out:

  • 11.6 million rifles and carbines,
  •  2.8 million pistols and revolvers, 2.3 million submachine guns, 1.5 million crew-served machine guns, and 
  • 188,000 automatic rifles—nearly nineteen million small arms—plus 
  • forty-seven billion rounds of small-arms ammunition. 

Many of these weapons were in the hands of soldiers who exited the landing craft on the beaches of Normandy.  In addition to personal weapons, the soldiers carried their  individual supplies, estimated to be over 70 lbs, .

  • Grenades
  • Additional ammunition
  • Helmet
  • K Rations
  • The “Cricket” device
  • Gas mask
  • Socks
  • Lifebelt (vest)
  • Gloves
  • Canteen
  • Canned water
  • First aid kit

Other major weapons involved in D-Day

  • 1700 jeeps (a one week supply based on the expected life span of a Jeep)
  • 3 Types of heavy transport vehicles
  • 2 Types of light tanks
  • 4 Types of motorcycles
  • 2 Types of reconnaissance vehicles
  • 5 Types of main battle tanks
  • 8 Types of specialty purpose (Hobart’s Funnies) tanks
  • 4 Types of tank destroyers
  • 6 Different types of field artillery
  • 2 Types of anti tank artillery
  • 4 Types of self-propelled guns
  • 5 Types of infantry mortars

The supply list keeps on going:

  • 15,000 parachutes
  • Hospital units and medical supplies
  • 400,00 liters of blood plasma
  • Ambulances
  • Ammunition 
  • Clothing
  • Radios
  • Food rations 
  • Mobile bakeries

We are in the midst of a gas shortage, consider this.

The D-DAY plan estimated that the initial daily demand for fuel would be 5,000 tons per day, rising to 10,500 tons per day 90 days after the landing, with 60% of the consumption in the forward areas. That is 1.7 gallons per day increasing to 3.5 million gallons per day!  The largest fuel tank truck in common use for the army held just 1200 gallons meaning it could take over 1400 truck loads of fuel for a light day of battle. To help meet the massive fuel requirements, the allies created a new innovation, namely the Pluto oil pipeline that ran along the bottom of the English Channel from England to France.

After the landings, the supply struggle continued

The Allies  struggled to get sufficient supplies onto land: in the first three days, only 6,614 tons of the planned 24,850 tons were delivered, while an average American division needed approximately 500 tons of supplies per day.

Five days after the D-Day invasion, troops immediately began installing two massive temporary Mulberry Harbors that had taken six months to construct back in England and had to be floated across the channel.  Each harbor required 600,000 tons of concrete. One was up and running daily quickly, the other tok a few months.

On 15 June the Allies began transporting goods directly from the US to Normandy, thus shortening the supply chain. The Allies finally broke out of Normandy on August 1st.  General Patton managed to cross almost 60 miles of enemy territory in two weeks. His army gained so much ground that on 31 August near the city of Metz, he literally ran out of fuel. Patton complained about it to Supreme Commander Eisenhower: “My men can eat their belts but my tanks need fuel.” 

At the end of August, 90 to 95 per cent of all supplies were still in the depots on the Normandy beaches, almost 280 miles from the troops on the frontline. In order to get these goods to the front, the Army Transportation Corps established a system of truck convoys called the Red Ball Express. Military police along fixed routes were able to identify the trucks by the red ball emblems that were painted on their front bumpers. The drivers followed white signs, showing red balls and arrows, that had been put up at every junction along the route. The Red Ball Express operated for a total of 81 days from August 25 until November 16, 1944. More than 6,000 trucks and 23,000 drivers transported 412,193 tons of goods to the advancing American armies.

A little known fact is that only one in ten soldiers fought on the frontlines, while the rest took care of supporting and providing supplies to the combat troops. According to General Omar Bradley, commander of the US 1st Army, “Logistics was a lifeline for the Allied armies in France. Without supplies, we couldn't move, shoot or eat.”

All told, the Allies unloaded approximately 2,500,000 men, 500,000 vehicles and 4,000,000 tons of supplies at the temporary harbors over the remaining course of the war.

Members of the military play a critical role in protecting our country. In the construction industry, we are in the midst of a significant labor shortage. 

According to  only 5.9% of the construction labor force was made up of veterans in 2020.

Veterans have transferable skills that can benefit the construction industry

  • Strong leadership skills
  • They are team players
  • They are trained to adapt
  • They are reliable
  • They are trained to be highly organized
  • They are Task orientated
  • Many are training to operate heavy machinery

With increasing demand, construction businesses will need to hire 430,000 more workers in the near future. Employers should consider attracting, hiring,  and developing veterans, since they already offer so many of the needed skills.

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