Charles Gates Dawes.

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achieved through the issuance of direct orders, the indirect
inter-army coordination resulting from the operations and
existence of the Board demands consideration. Notwith-


standing the regulations for Allied motor transport in the
rear of the armies and the pooling of French and American
ammunition which resulted from specific orders of the Board,
related as they were to direct military effectiveness, it is not
too much to say that the indirect coordinating influence of the
Military Board of Allied Supply was its chief service to the
Allied cause. As was stated before, coordination of the in-
dependent military and civil authorities of the Allied Gov-
ernments and armies was possible to obtain because of the
fine spirit of cooperation which existed in connection with
the common purpose, provided the act of coordination did
not involve submission to a superimposed central authority,
but was arrived at by joint consideration of, and mutual
agreement upon, a common situation. There was no opposi-
tion of consequence to the securing of information by the
Board as to a common situation from the three armies. There
was also no difficulty experienced by it in bringing promptly
together the independent heads of the separate services of the
Allied armies for a mutual consideration of, and agreement
upon, measures of coordination. The Board was enabled in
this way, through meetings of the chiefs of the separate serv-
ices of the armies, to have considered the common situation,
and the intelligent heads of the services coordinated their
activities in many instances as a matter of plain common
sense and patriotic duty. The pitiful inadequacy of the
measures for securing a bird's-eye view of the Allied military
situation of the rear in transport, supplies, warehousing, etc.,
may be realized from the fact that it was the Military Board
of Allied Supply, after nearly four years of warfare, which
prepared the first map showing the complete installations in
the rear of the Allied armies in France. What could have been
accomplished in the way of a saving of duplication in build-
ing, transportation, and construction efforts of all kinds by
the establishment of a body like the Military Board of Allied
Supply at the beginning of the war, which, even if it had no
extended military authority, could at least order the chiefs of


the independent services into contact and outline a common
situation which would have resulted in more general coordi-
nation of activities as a matter of common sense, cannot be

It was impossible for the intelligent heads of the different
services of the three armies or their representatives to meet
under the auspices of the Military Board of Allied Supply and
compare notes without having the picture created by the col-
lection of the information of the needs of a common situation
profoundly influence toward better coordination the separate
activities of the armies. From the beginning of the war there
was, of course, interchange of information from time to time
between the respective chiefs of the services of the different
armies, but often it was haphazard and sometimes accidental.
The Military Board of Allied Supply, having a bird's-eye view
of Allied necessities in the rear of the armies, would from time
to time consider taking up certain matters requiring coordina-
tion and encounter a barrier in the shape of a French civilian
agency of government having a particular matter under its
jurisdiction, and which therefore would not allow its con-
sideration by the Military Board of Allied Supply whose
authority covered only the French Zone of the Advance.

It is to be noted, however, that in no case did the Military
Board of Allied Supply propose to take up any important
question where its jurisdiction was protested by some in-
dependent agency whose acquiescence was essential to com-
plete coordination, without a stimulus having been given to
more efficient and prompter consideration of the matter under
the authority of the independent agency.

An examination of the voluminous reports of the sub-
committees of the Military Board of Allied Supply, which
committees were composed of representatives of the different
Allied army services called together by the authority of the
Board and instructed to make recommendations, will indicate
the great value of information collected under emergency by
the enforced juxtaposition of the chiefs of the services of the


different armies dealing with the same matter. A written
record of all these conferences was not made. These reports
were the only method by which a coming emergency could be
forecast and each army impressed with the necessity of making
provision therefor. To such an extent was this the case in the
matter of the forage report that it resulted in the reduction
of both the British and American forage rations. The most
strenuous opposition was encountered in this connection
from our own Remount Service, and it was only overwhelm-
ing reasons based on emergency, which the Board alone was
enabled to present, which led to the action. It must be re-
membered that the viewpoint of the chief of a unit cannot of
certainty be the proper viewpoint in allied warfare. The
chief of the independent service lacks perspective which his
situation generally makes impossible. An incident reflecting
this occurred long before the formation of the Military Board
of Allied Supply when, through me as the General Purchasing
Agent of the A.E.F., the French made an appeal for oats for
French horses which were perishing at the front. The answer
of the chief of the American service to the General Purchasing
Agent was that oats could not be spared since the A.E.F. had
on hand only a few days' supply. The fact that the loss of a
French horse at the battle-front was then immensely more
detrimental to the Allied cause than the loss of an American
horse not yet in service at the front did not strongly impress
the chief of the American service. At that time the American
troops had not been in action sufficiently to have brought the
chief of the service into contact with the emergencies which
afterwards confronted him. When the matter was appealed
by me to you as Commander-in-Chief, it resulted in the
immediate cession to the French of several thousand tons of
oats. In your position you had a better perspective and view-
point of the relative necessities of the entire military situation
than was possible to the chief of the service. The time came in
the A.E.F. when with hay it was a question of nine days'
surplus on hand and less. With the French army it at times


came down to two days' surplus and less. The terms of
emergency were so immeasurably different from any pre-
conceived idea of men who had not been face to face with it
that naturally our own chiefs of the services were at times
distrustful of the wisdom of any decision of superior authority
in which they had no part, in taking action based upon the
experience of our allies and a knowledge of their situation.

This is said with no idea of creating an impression that the
machinery created did not improve conditions and that in-
creasing knowledge and experience did not bring the chiefs of
the different services of the Allied armies into a closer mutual
coordination. It was the experience of the American member
of the Military Board of Allied Supply, whenever the inde-
pendent chiefs could be brought together and an Allied situa-
tion outlined, that in almost all cases an improvement in
policy looking toward coordination resulted. These reports of
the subcommittees of the Military Board of Allied Supply also
showed that only a body with military authority acting in
time of emergency can best determine those priorities of ship-
ments and in distribution of supplies which are absolutely
essential to the highest military effectiveness. The changes in
relative necessities at the front, especially in time of battle,
were immediate and imperative. The conclusions of the sub-
committees of the Military Board of Allied Supply, in which
the chiefs of the different services of the Allied armies were
represented, resulted in various beneficial changes of policy in
the administration of the rear of the armies which were never
reflected in an order or even in a formal conclusion upon the
minutes of the Military Board of Allied Supply.

Like the invaluable school of instruction at Rozoy, created
by the Military Board of Allied Supply for the enforced coor-
dination of motor transport and the education of officers of
the three armies in connection therewith, every subcommittee
meeting of the Military Board of Allied Supply resulted in a
better thinking along inter-Allied lines as distinguished from
thinking along the lines of a single army by itself. War is a


condition, not a theory. The experience which comes from
contact with conditions is an invaluable teacher. The study
of the reports of the subcommittees of the Military Board of
Allied Supply also afford conclusive evidence of the disad-
vantages which the Allied armies constantly suffered through-
out the war prior to its formation from the lack of the con-
tinued existence of a central body acting over all agencies both
military and civil, even though it had only the military power
to call together the chiefs of the independent services and
Governments for consultation and the preparation of infor-
mation alone regarding common situations.

The occasions upon which the chiefs of the services of dif-
ferent armies met after the first programmes had been de-
termined were often simply the result of a pressing emergency
where joint action was absolutely essential to any possible
solution. The eyes of the chiefs of the services of necessity
were so closely trained upon their own work that only
emergency would lead them of their own volition to seek to
unite for common discussion. Questions of transportation
generally were an exception. These imperatively required
agreement and coordinated action at the very inception of
effort and thereafter. It may be stated as a general proposi-
tion that many emergencies and crises developed in supply
situations which could have been avoided had there been in
continuous existence a military board of the armies charged
with the responsibility of general coordination which would
have foreseen them and suggested means for meeting them.

The attitude of the officers of both the French and British
armies toward the American army was that of unqualified
friendliness and desire to cooperate. As one who attended in-
numerable conferences between American officers and officers
of the other Allied armies and Governments, the American
member will state here that the attitude of the American
officers was almost without exception the proper one of hum-
bleness of opinion where they lacked experience and an honest
desire to receive all possible information from those who had


been longer in contact with the problems and situations of the
war. Very much of the achievement of the A.E.F. resulted
from this anxiety to receive and profit by the information
received from our allies which was freely and generously given
whenever asked. As your representative not only upon the
Military Board of Allied Supply, but in the many negotia-
tions involving supply procurement and coordination between
the A.E.F. and our allies, the American member can properly
testify to the splendid spirit of cooperation which prevailed
while at the same time he calls attention to the still greater
results which could have been obtained because of it, if your
original plan for a central military control of the rear through
one individual could have been adopted.

The greater amount of activity in securing coordination was
necessary between the French and American armies. The
English army was operating within a short distance from its
own base of supplies and for that reason was much less de-
pendent upon French cooperation for its satisfactory func-
tioning than was the American army. The latter army,
three thousand miles from its base, confronted not only with
the necessity of transporting its supplies shipped from
America over a long line of communications in France, but
also with the necessity of securing the bulk of its material and
supplies in France itself, was in a position where close coordi-
nation and cooperation with the French were essential to
existence itself.

Coordination of G~4, G.H.Q., American E.F., and the

Fourth Bureau, French G.H.Q.

The closeness of cooperation and complete understanding
between General Charles Payot, Directeur G6nral des Com-
munications et des Ravitaillements aux Arm6es, and Briga-
dier-General George V. H. Moseley, Assistant Chief of Staff,
G~4, G.H.Q. , American E.F., resulted in an enormous amount
of coordinating work being done directly between the French
and American armies through their offices. The fact that


General Payot was President of the Military Board of Allied
Supply, as well as the complete understanding at all times be-
tween General Moseley and the American member of the
Military Board of Allied Supply, both operated to secure
unity of action between the French and American armies in
the joint situation.

Pooling of Ammunition

On the 20 th of July, 1918, General Payot (then Colonel),
President of the Board, addressed the American member as
follows :

Secret July 20, 1918

From: Col. Ch. Payot, President.

To : Col. Charles G. Dawes, representing American Army.
The General Commanding-in-Chief the Armies of the North
and Northeast has received the following information which
he has transmitted to the General Commanding-in-Chief
the Allied armies:

Ammunition delivered up to this date to the American serv-
ices by the French services of the Interior would amount to

3,162,000 cartouches of 75
430,000 shots of 155 Court Schneider

24,000 shots of 155 G.P.F. (Grande Puissance Fillaux)
Of these quantities

1,206,000 cartouches of 75 ) more or
and 89,000 shots of 155 court ) less

would be actually at the disposal of the American army in
the French general reserve warehouses, in addition to the
ammunition destined for the Armies of the North and

The remaining part has in effect been delivered to the
American services.

No new delivery on these stocks has been made to the
American divisions, whose supply is secured in the same
conditions as the one of the French divisions, by drawing
from ammunition at the disposal of the General Commanding-
in-Chief the French armies.

The actual situation of the French stocks necessitates the
putting in common of the ammunition supplies.


There is, therefore, an immediate interest that the mu-
nitions belonging to the American army, mentioned above,
which remains in the general reserve warehouses, remain in
the common reserve as well as those that could exist actually
in the American depots, and it would be necessary for you
to have all the necessary information on the importance and
location of these depots so that we could treat the question.


General Payot and the American member being in agree-
ment, at its meeting of July 22, 1918, the Military Board of
Allied Supply took the following decision in execution of the
powers conferred upon it by the Convention of May 22, 1918,
between the Allied Governments :

1. The supplies of similar munitions of French manu-
facture, in the French and American armies, are placed
in common.

2. Tests will be made by French artillerymen on the use
of munitions of American manufacture.

If these tests are favorable, these munitions will also
be placed in common.

3. The French and American munition dep6ts will serve
indiscriminately the French and American armies.
Requisitions upon French depdts will always be made
by the French Direction of the Rear; those upon
American depots by the 4th Bureau of the American
G.H.Q., to whatever army they may be destined.

4. The French and American armies will communicate
with each other periodically the situation of the above-
mentioned munitions existing in their respective depots
as well as the anticipated output for the manufacture
of these munitions.

Unquestionably this order, with the consent of the English
Representative on the Board, would have been extended to
the English army had not the different calibers of the English
guns prevented. Much American ammunition manufactured
in France had been delivered to the French ammunition d-
pots in boxes marked for the A.E.F. As the amount of am-
munition used by the American army of its own was small
compared with the total amount of French ammunition fired


by American guns, this arrangement operated to the salvation
of our military effort.

As a matter of fact, except in so far as the granting of some
ammunition storage space benefited the French, this pooling
worked all to our advantage. From the time we entered the
line as a unit to the day the armistice was signed, we fired over
6,128,635 rounds of French 75 mm. In weight, this amounts
to over 135 million pounds, of which ammunition 1,158,940
rounds were fired on September 27, October 4, 9, 14, and
November i , our five heaviest days.

At the time that the pooling of ammunition went into effect,
July 22, 1918, the French had delivered, or assigned to our
credit, 3,162,000 rounds of 75 mm., of which amount 1,206,000
rounds were still in French reserve dep6ts, as shown by Gen-
eral Payot's letter to me.

From the French were also received and fired more than
1,200,000 rounds of 155 mm., of which amount about 317,000
rounds had been received prior to the 2Oth of July, 1918, when
pooling was started.

The ease with which this pool was effected and the entire
lack of opposition to its creation, notwithstanding its immense
and overshadowing military importance, indicates again the
overwhelming influence of emergency upon an inter-allied
disposition toward coordination and pooling. Had the war
continued and had the general supply emergency along the
front become such that the indiscriminate rationing from
d6p6ts of adjacent troops, whatever the army to which they
belonged, was essential to keep them fighting in the line, the
pooling orders for other supplies would have been agreed upon
with as little hesitation as were the orders for pooling ammu-
nition. As an existing machinery, ready at any time to func-
tion in case an acute military supply crisis overrode the
natural disposition of each army to proceed on "its own," the
Military Board of Allied Supply, in view of the tremendous
man programme of the United States, would probably soon
have inaugurated more extensive pooling operations along


the front similar to the ammunition pool and the potential
camion reserve, had not the armistice intervened.

Inter-Allied Automobile Reserve

The transportation factors involved in the field operations
of a modern army are more complicated than in any of the
armies of the past. The enormous amount of metal thrown
by the guns, the immense number of troops to be maintained
upon the line, and the fact that a long period of stationary
warfare may pass suddenly into a war of movement, all make
central control and complete coordination of transportation
one of the most important elements in any military operation.
There are to be considered, first, the problems relating to the
transportation of men, artillery, ammunition, and supplies
from the bases and reserve dep6ts to the front. When a nor-
mal gauge railhead is reached another set of problems in-
tervene. The question of transport by camions and animals
of artillery, ammunition, and supplies from the railheads to
the line, including the operations of 60 c.m. railway distrib-
uting systems from normal gauge railheads, the proportion
of animal and motor transportation in artillery movement,
the substitution of secondary means of transport where the
primary and best means are absent, and the changes in trans-
portation methods and facilities required when troops are
advancing as compared with troops at rest in the line, all in-
volve in their proper treatment the highest order of military

In the Zone of the Advance the control of transportation by
central military authority in each army was, of course, abso-
lute, but the division of the French rear into a Zone of the
Advance under military authority and a Zone of the Rear
under civil authority operating along military lines, elimi-
nated from the authoritative jurisdiction of the Military Board
of Allied Supply transportation in the French rear as far as
the French Zone of the Advance. The successful treatment of
this great question of motor transportation in the rear of the


Allied armies by the Military Board of Allied Supply, in the
field where it had complete authority, well illustrates the
accomplishments which the Board could have achieved in
other lines if it had been given additional jurisdiction. As the
war seemed rapidly resolving itself into one of movement, for
the purpose of creating an invaluable instrument for offense in
Marshal Foch's hands, the Board almost immediately com-
menced the formation of an inter-Allied automobile reserve
which among other purposes would be ready at any time for
quick use in the transportation of troops, including their ar-
tillery and supplies, as a flying column in attack or for pur-
suit. The purpose of the Board was to build up an eventual
potential reserve of 24,000 automobiles for this purpose and
it had succeeded at the time the armistice was declared in
building up a reserve of 11,000.

At its meeting of August 2, 1918, the Military Board of
Allied Supply made the following decision, the terms of
which were drawn by General Payot:

Decisions made by the Board at the Meeting of
August 2, 1918

First. The Board considers it to be of prime importance
to place at the disposition of the General Commander-in-
Chief of the Allied Armies, an Inter-Allied Automobile Re-
serve for the purpose hereafter indicated. This reserve will
enable the supply of subsistence and munition stores for
forty divisions to be assured at a distance of over fifty kilo-
meters from railways. It should be able, at the same time,
to assure the transport of ten complete divisions with their

It must be foreseen that the Germans will evacuate part
of the French territory at the moment when the Allied armies
will take the offensive. This evacuation will be advantageous
to them in permitting them to shorten their front and to
husband their supplementary reserves. Furthermore, in the
zone thus voluntarily evacuated they can carry out a system-
atic destruction of structures and create ahead of their new
front a veritable desert. This is the maneuver which they
have already effected at the beginning of 1917.


In this devastated zone our armies will be able to draw
the resources, which will be necessary to enable them to live
and fight, only from the rear, and these resources can only
be brought to the vicinity by automobile, the destruction of
the structures rendering difficult and slow of execution the
reestablishment of railways.

By this evacuation, prepared in advance, the Germans
may hope that we shall be unable for a long time to take
up again offensive operations against their new front on
account of the difficulties in establishing our communica-
tions. The only means of outplaying these calculations is to
be able to assure by automobile the transport of all that is
necessary to be able to attack immediately this new front,
and with this in view the formation of an Inter-Allied Auto-
mobile Reserve appears more indispensable than ever.

In order to achieve the result indicated, it is necessary that
this reserve amount to at least 300 groups, divided as fol-
lows: 1 60 groups that is, 4 groups per division to assure
the supply of 200 tons per day per division at more than
50 kilometers from the railways; 140 groups to transport
10 divisions complete with their artillery.

The automobile group which serves as the basis of the
division above is taken to include 80 trucks. The Inter-
Allied Reserve should, therefore, consist of 24,000 trucks.

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 30)