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UMC Co., was turning out 6,000,000 rounds daily, double the
quantity of the largest order they had ever received prior to the
War. This plant's first year's output of 1,000,000,000 rounds
equalled 35 years of peace-time manufacture. The material con-
sumed daily at this plant for its cartridge production included 179
tons of brass, more than 19 tons of powder, 42*/2 tons of lead and
21 tons of cupro-nickel !

A total of 2,586,000,000 rounds of the Service M-1906 ammuni-
tion was produced up to the signing of the Armistice.

Then there was the special ammunition. Armor-piercing car-
tridges, whose function it was to penetrate armored trucks, tanks
and planes, against which service ammunition was ineffectual, were
developed and produced to the extent of nearly 5,000,000 rounds.

Incendiary cartridges to inflame the gases or oil escaping from
the holes thus made were sent after the armor-piercing bullets
from aircraft machine guns shooting at the rate of from 500 to
1,200 rounds per minute. More than 14,000,000 of these were pro-
duced.

About 25,000,000 tracer cartridges were manufactured. These
blaze a fire trail to show the trajectory or path of flight of the other
cartridges and thus serve as a guide to the aim.



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We Story" gf Ordnance in the World War



More than 323.000,000 pistol ball cartridges, caliber .45, were
made. In short, nearly 3% billion rounds of ammunition were
made by American manufacturers between April, 1917, and
November, 1918!

NITRATES

As S. Nauchoff has pointed out, the saying of Liebig, "No
phosphorous, no mind" might well be parodied with "No nitrogen,
no war." Practically all military explosives, whether used as pro-
pellants or bursting charges, are wholly dependent upon it and in
this war more than in any other, explosives have played the lead-
ing role. Approximately two pounds of sodium nitrate are required
for each pound of explosive.

Prior to our entry into the war, our chief source of supply lay
in the saltpeter beds of Chile, the yearly import amounting to
about 600,000 tons, of which fifty per cent was used in the manu-
facture of explosives and an additional twenty-five per cent in the
making of nitric acid. With the multifold requirements for ex-
plosives in 1917, the supply was inadequate, even without tak-
ing into consideration the shortage in world tonnage and the sub-
marine menace. Import from Chile was not to be relied upon.

As far back as 1915, the seriousness of the situation was evident
and the Chief of Ordnance said in his annual report of that year:
"I do not know of any article of this class which at the present time
should cause more concern with reference to the war-time supply
than nitric acid." Germany had prepared for it some years before
her declaration of war with cold-blooded calculation and had de-
veloped the Haber process to such an extent as to be wholly inde-
pendent of the Chilean sources when England closed the seas.

In 1916, an appropriation of $20,000,000 was made for experi-
ments and investigation as to the best and most economical pro-
cesses and for the construction of an experimental plant.

At the time of our entry into the War, no definite program had
yet been approved, but activities became enormously increased.
Ordinarily, this industry is one requiring years for development



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^e Story" gf Ordnance in the World War



and the problem facing the Ordnance Department was a serious
one.

Five processes aside from the coke-oven method were in ex-
istence ; the Arc ; the Nitride ; the Cyanide ; the Synthetic Ammonia,
an improvement on the German Haber system, and the Cyanamid.
The first two were impracticable and were never employed. A
plant at Saltville, Va., to produce ten tons daily by the sodium
Cyanide process was constructed in the fall of 1917 and was
practically completed at the time of the armistice.

Of the large government plants, Plant No. 1 used the Synthetic
Ammonia process. It was situated at Sheffield, a small town in
the northwestern part of Alabama on the Tennessee River. Its
capacity was 60,000 pounds of ammonia daily.

In order to supplement the capacity available at Plant No. 1,
and to insure the production of nitrates in proportion to the ever
increasing demand, Plant No. 2, with a capacity of 110,000 tons per
year, was started in December, 1918, near the famous Mussel Shoals
of the river. On January 1, 1918, there existed a few preliminary
free-hand sketches of the design of the plant; none of the equip-
ment of the powerhouse had yet been purchased. On November
25th, less than eleven months later, a vast plant was manu-
facturing ammonium nitrate in a town with housing facilities,
lighting, sewers, paved streets, water supply, sanitation, hospitals,
dispensaries, a corps of physicians, dentists and nurses, stores,
churches, schools and recreation centers for more than 20,000 em-
ployes. And this is but one of many similar projects entailing an
incomprehensible amount of work before even the first step in the
actual work in hand can be started.

The construction of two more Army plants, in addition to the
Navy Plant at Indian Head, Md., was necessitated by the alarming
submarine interference and the low quantity of Chilean nitrates on
hand during the winter of 1917-1918. One of these was situated at
Toledo, Ohio, and the other at Ancor, Ohio, near Cincinnati. Their
production was to be equal to that of Plant No. 2. Both of these
were well under way at the time of the signing of the Armistice.



[141]



Ordnance "Over There



99



The Story of Ordnance With the A. E. F. as Published

in the Stars and Stripes, Official Organ

of the A. E. F.

Out of the babel of tongues heard on the battlefields of the late
war there was a language known and respecte'd of all men, a lan-
guage that needed no interpreter, a language in which friend and
enemy alike held parley day and night across No Man's Land — the
language of the guns.

History will record that it was in this language that America
gave her answer to the Imperial German Government — gave it
in the form of 175,000 tons of hot steel and high explosives and one
billion rounds of small arms amunition.

And there was never such a talking machine as the American
Army. "We shot away stuff so fast that our Allies thought we
were crazy," says a report of last month's campaign. "The fight-
ing energy of our troops at the front," says another military leader,
"upset every calculation."

It fell to the Ordnance Department of the A. E. F. to keep this
machine going. This meant the procurement, storage, distribu-
tion, maintenance and repair of 32,000 different classes of articles
ranging all the way from the great lumbering caterpillar tank to
the well-known mess-kit, and including all offensive and defensive
arms and ammunition, from the great guns and howitzers, hurling
shells of nearly a ton in weight, down to the small but deadly trench
or knuckle knife.

It called for not only machine guns, automatic rifles and small
arms, but tanks, tractors, trailers and mobile repair shops. New



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Tgie Story gf Ordnance in the World War



conditions of warfare added a considerable list of unfamiliar
Ordnance devices, such as drop bombs, incendiary darts, grenades
and pyrotechnics.

To sum up best the achievements of the Ordnance Department
is to say that it has met the demands thus made upon it, though
they were multiplied by hugely increased schedules of troops sail-
ing to France, by greatly accelerated programs of military of-
fensives, and by expenditures of ammunition by the American
forces enormously exceeding the estimates based upon French and
British experience.

From the beginning the policy of the Department was based on
large and liberal lines. "There are troops in France and we must
give them what they want. If they ask for elephants, give them
elephants," was the dictum passed along, and it was faithfully
adhered to.

On November 11th, 1918, the Ordnance Department had
actually placed on the American lines 3,500 cannon of all calibres,
which, during periods of great artillery activity, were actually
handing Jerry 6,000 tons of hot steel every 24 hours. These guns
took 7,000,000 shots at the enemy.

There were also on that day 2,000 trench mortars helping to
make things miserable for the retreating enemy and 2,000,000 hand
grenades ready to throw. And more than 100,000 machine guns
and automatic rifles re-enforced the fire of the million service rifles,
the doughboys were peppering the Boche with on that eventful
day.

Nor was this all. There was more and a plenty where this came
from. Cleverly tucked away and camouflaged from front lines
back to base ports there were waiting more than 4,500,000 rounds
of shrapnel and high explosive shells and 640,000,000 rounds of
small arms and machine gun ammunition.

And perhaps the German high command thought it impossible
for the Americans to bring up artillery, keeping pace with the
rapidly advancing doughboys. The Ordnance Department pro-



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We Story* gf Ordnance in the World War



vided means to overcome all such obstacles as shell-torn roads and
crater-filled fields by hooking tractors to the guns and hauling
them to places where horses could not have gone except perhaps
by long, tedious days and nights of effort. Seven thousand Ord-
nance tractors and artillery repair and supply trucks were put into
action and rendered invaluable service.

By motorizing the wicked 75's and the 155-mm. howitzers, our
artillery was able to give effective assistance to the driving In-
fantry at all times. The 14-inch naval guns, railroaded into posi-
tions of great strategic value, especially during the St. Mihiel and
Argonne drives, threw the enemy's lines into confusion and con-
sternation for miles behind his retreating columns. Although the
doughboys wittily complained that "all these guns did was to stir
up trouble and then run away," with all the facts now in hand it is
clear that all these guns played a tremendous part in hastening the
enemy retreat, disordering his communications and destroying his
morale.

The armored tank was perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of
the war, and our Ordnance Department put 300 of these in the big
offensives.

Ordnance experts regard as the outstanding accomplishments
of this department of the A. E. F. the motorization of our artillery,
the system of mobile repair shops maintained with the armies, and
the arming of all airplanes for American squadrons.

The importance of keeping the guns at the front in first-class
fighting trim can readily be realized. The motorized shops for
that purpose that kept in the wake of the armies and rendered first
aid to all artillery and arms were a distinctive American contribu-
tion to the war. There were at the time of the armistice a number
of these heavy mobile repair shop organizations and 25 mobile ord-
nance repair shops operating with the armies. They could doctor
up any kind of a gun and get it back in commission unless it needed
major repairs.

The 2nd Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop on the Soissons front



[144]



To send this gun back to the firing line was a
part of the job of Ordnance with the A. E. F.
To make repairs to guns and Ordnance equipment
at organization and training centers or instruc-
tion camps, more than twenty-five repair shops
were equipped and maintained in the S. O. S.
The greatest of these, at Mehun, was itself de-
signed to handle repairs to all artillery and Ord-
nance equipment for an Army of 2,000,000 men.
It covered 50 acres of ground, was manned by
6,000 technically trained soldiers, and could re-
make anything from a tank or a piece of heavy
artillery to a mess-kit. It was designed for a
capacity of relining 1,245 guns, repairing 2,000
Ordnance gun vehicles and 3,000 Ordnance motor
vehicles and overhauling 150,000 rifles, 5,000 pis-
tols and 20,000 machine guns a month.



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*®e Story* gf Ordnance in the World War



put into action against the retreating Germans 28 pieces of their
own artillery, ranging from 77-mm. to 210-mm. guns. The Mobile
Ordnance Repair Shop attached to the 35th Division established the
record of having no piece of artillery out of action over five minutes
during the Argonne drive.

These repair shops took care of all Ordnance materiel, and many
other things besides, such as water carts, rolling kitchens, bicycles,
typewriters, shower baths, watches, meat grinders, steam rollers,
stone crushers, trench pumps, captured German baths and delous-
ing plants. They also assisted in the salvage of Ordnance equip-
ment.

It is said that some chronicler of Ordnance activities, seeking
local color, was invited to visit one of these mobile repair shops
at work. As he arrived a hugh motor truck, which had been
brought in helpless, was snorting away, restored to full vigor. A
Y. M. C. A. secretary was waiting with a Victrola to be fixed. In
a few minutes it went away singing. Then a heavy tractor lum-
bered in, towing a great 155-mm. G. P. F. gun which had been put
out of action. It was repaired and returned to the lines.

As it went away a general's car drove up and the general him-
self got out. "Captain," he said, "I have lost a little screw out of
my eyeglass and I am helpless without them. Is there any way you
can fix them?" There was. "That will do," said the historian, clos-
ing his note book, "I have local color enough for one day."

Some of the notable work of the Ordnance Department was
done in arming planes for the American front. The aircraft arma-
ment shops were at Orly and Romarantin, the two airplane as-
sembly plants of the A. E. F. The adaptation of American arma-
ment to European planes was a knotty problem consummately
handled. The Vickers, Lewis, and Marlin machine guns with which
our planes were armed proved highly satisfactory in combat.

The supply of aircraft armament, ammunition and drop bombs
at all times met the demand, and, to quote the verdict of experts,
was of "proven efficiency against the enemy."



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*®e Story" gf Ordnance in the World War



Not only had our Ordnance Department at the time of the
armistice matched the armored seat provided by Germany for the
protection of her aviators, but steps had been taken to put on the
front an invincible armada of all-armored planes. None of these
ironclads of the air had actually taken the field, but the project had
long passed the experimental stage. The Ordnance Department,
indeed, before the war ended, had equipped the forces at the front
with veritable flying fortresses, fitted with eight guns instead of two
or four. Four of these guns projected through the floor of the
plane, two fore and two aft.

Another contribution of our Ordnance to airplane warfare was
a parachute dropping device, with a 14-foot spread, for dropping
food, supplies and ammunition to troops in the trenches. This de-
vice was completely successful and was actually employed on a
large scale.

The Ordnance Department had well in hand the production of
a standard American parachute for the use of aviators in jumping
from their planes, but none was ever used by us at the front. The
Germans actually used the parachutes successfully during the last
few weeks of the war.

There should also be mentioned the American bomb dropper,
furnished our planes, by which our aviators could take any kind of
an Allied bomb on their bombing expeditions. The American
Wimpers and the Franco- American Michelim bomb site proved 100
per cent efficient in guiding bombs to their objective.

In addition to its achievements in the field another great prob-
lem that confronted the Ordnance Department of the A. E. F. was
storage and heavy repair in the S. O. S.

The base section of the A. E. F. was the great reservoir of Ord-
nance materiel and facilities into which the initial Ordnance sup-
plies were poured. The intermediate section was the regulating
mechanism taking up fluctuations of supply and demand. The ad-
vance section was the sensitive system in direct touch with the
Army and responsive to its needs from day to day. For the pur-



[149]



W? Story" if Ordnance in the World War



pose of maintenance and reserves, it was planned to keep 45 days'
supply in the base section, 30 days' in the intermediate and 15 days'
supply in the advance section. This idea was never fully realized,
but it was well approached in the summer of 1918.

To effect the distribution of Ordnance materiel, it was necessary
to stretch multiple chains of general and ammunition storage
depots across France from the base ports to the front lines. Thus,
for example, at the coast were the great general storage depots of
St. Sulpice and Montoir ; in the intermediate area, Gievres with its
acres of buildings; in the advance zone, Is-sur-Tille, which long
bore the brunt of the supply service — all of them handling hun-
dreds of cars a day.

The ammunition storage projects alone of the A. E. F. covered
enough of France to make a good sized county in New England.

The depot at St. Loubes was two miles long and nearly two miles
wide. The ammunition storage project at Donges extended along
two sides of a triangle for nearly four miles. Foecy deserves a
place on the map of the A. E. F. ; here thousands of tons of French,
British and American ammunition were received and stored, re-
classified and sent to the front.

As many as 1,500 ten-ton cars of guns and ammunition were
sent out from this center in a day, the storage project employing
1,000 men. Jonchory, with its spider-web system of tracks and its
warehouses cleverly hidden and naturally camouflaged by the trees,
housed tens of thousands of tons of shells, grenades and bombs,
and during active offensives handled 300 cars a day in and out.

To make repairs to guns and Ordnance equipment at organiza-
tion and training centers or instruction camps, more than 25 repair
shops were equipped and maintained in the S. O. S. The greatest
of these, at Mehun, was itself so designed as to handle repairs to
all artillery and Ordnance equipment for an army of 2,000,000 men.
It covered 50 acres of ground, was manned by 6,000 technically
trained soldiers, and could remake anything from a tank or a piece
of heavy artillery to a mess-kit. It was designed for a capacity of



[150]



We Story if Ordnance in the World War



relining 1,245 guns, repairing 2,000 Ordnance gun vehicles and
3,000 Ordnance motor vehicles and overhauling 150,000 rifles, 5,000
pistols and 20,000 machine guns per month.

Whether in depot, shop or ammunition dump, the work of the
Ordnance Department required individual fitness and special train-
ing. To supply the latter, the department organized and operated
six great schools — St. Aignan, lor office work and care of Ordnance
equipment; Foecy, Jouchery and Bourges, for ammunition; Is-sur
Tille, for artillery, small arms and Ordnance supply and shop work,
and St. Jean de Monts, for the aerial armament training which con-
tributed to the brilliant results already spoken of. The alumni of
these schools numbered some 5,000 to which the graduates of many
smaller centers of instruction added a considerable number.

The work of the Ordnance Department in the A. E. F. was
neither a small nor an easy job. Some idea of its extent can be
estimated from the fact that it handled more than 500,000 tons of
materiel and spent more than $50,000,000 and made every ton and
every dollar count.

To their credit it should be said, in conclusion, that this pro-
gram was carried through by a little band of 1,803 officers and
12,205 enlisted men, whose work was as hard as any in the Army
and as hazardous, even if in the S. O. S. According to the schedules
of requirements the Ordnance force of the A. E. F. should have
been 2,145 officers and 35,330 enlisted men, while the program for
July 1, 1919 called for 3,454 officers and 70,550 enlisted men.

The history of our Ordnance is the history of success in a race
between handicap and American brains and energy, and therefore
one in which we can all take pride.



[151]



Roster of the Commissioned Personnel

Ordnance Department — United States Army

As Compiled by the Office of the Chief of Ordnance as of November n, 1918.



Major General
Williams, Clarence C. (RA), Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.

Brigadier Generals
Burr, George W. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Dickson, Tracy C. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Homey, Odus C, Post Office Bldg., Nashville, Tenn.
Jamieson, Charles C. (RA), 40 Wall St., New York, N. Y.
McRoberts, Samuel, 55 Wall St., New York, N. Y.
Peirce, William S. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Rice, John H. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Ruggles, Colden L'H. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Thompson, John T. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Tripp, Guy E., Room 2233, 165 Broadway, New York, N. Y.
Wheeler, Charles B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,
D. C.

Colonels
Ames, Thales M. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Baker, Frank (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Barba, William P., 3107 Coulter St., Germantown, Phila., Pa.
Benet, J. Walker (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Black, Charles N., 115 Broadway, New York, N. Y.
Brett, Morgan L. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Bricker, Edwin D. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Burns, James H. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Casad, Adam F. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Coles, Thomas L. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Crabbs, Joseph T. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Crews, Ralph, 55 Wall St., New York, N. Y.

Dillard, James B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Fuller, Lawson M. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Gatewood, Charles B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Gibson, William W. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Harris, Charles T., Jr. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Hockman, James C, 196 Soldier's Place, Buffalo, N. Y.
Hillman, Leroy, T. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Hof, Samuel (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Hoffer, Jay E. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Hughes, Everett S. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Hunt, Harry B. 32 W. 40th St., New York, N. Y.
Jenks, Glen F. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Jordan, Harry B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Toyes, John W. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
King, David M. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Lamont, Robert P., 1722 Judson Ave., Evanston, 111.
Little, Bascom, 771 1 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 0.
McFarland, Earl (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
McKay, Douglas I., 364 Lexington Ave., New York, N. Y.
Maish, Alexander W. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Mettler, Charles G. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Mitcham, Orin B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Montgomery, George (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Moody, Lucian B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Morton, Kenneth (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Munroe, John E. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Nicholls, Jesse C. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Nix, Raphael R. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
O'Hern, Edward P. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Pelot, Joseph H. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Phillips, Albert E. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Phillips, William A. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Ramsey, Norman F. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Rose, John B. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Rutherford, Harry K. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.



Schull, Herman W. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance. Wash.,

D. C.
Seagrave, David C, 317 1st St., National Bank Bldg., San

Francisco, Cal.
Simpson, John R., 278 Waverly Ave., Newton, Mass.
Shinkle, Edward M. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Smith, Thomas J. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash., D. C.
Somers, Richard H. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Spruance, William C, 2507 W. 17th St., Wilmington, Del.
Stewart, Gilbert H. (RA), Office of Chief of Ordnance, Wash.,

D. C.
Tenney, Charles H., 674 Longmeadow Rd., Springfield, Mass.


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Online LibrarySevellon BrownThe story of ordnance in the World War → online text (page 9 of 22)