top of page

Supplying the British Army in the Second World War

...from Pen & Sword

Title: Supplying the British Army in The Second World War
Author: Janet Macdonald
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52672-533-9

There is a huge volume of material available on the subject of WW2 but not so much of that focuses on the story of Supply, which was the enabler for units to actually do their work. It isn't only the vast quantities of material required but also the challenges of getting those materials to the right places around the world.
In a 223-page hardcover book, the challenges and how they were tackled are split across 14 chapters plus 4 appendices with some extra supporting detail. When faced by a sudden influx of troops when war broke out the supply chain was faced with a host of challenges. The level of detailed information is quite eye opening when you read some of the numbers. The good thing though is that it is still presented in a very readable style which is much more than simple numbers. The variety of topics that are covered include Movement & Transportation; The Work of the Royal Ordnance Corps; Armaments; Petrol, Oil & Lubricants; Weapons; Signals Equipment; Food; Medical Services; Clothing; Accommodation and more. If that were just in the UK this would be a significant challenge, but it involved bringing in raw materials from abroad and then getting everything to Europe, North Africa and the Far East. It may sound simple to sum things up as getting the right things to the right place at the right time, especially when some of you well laid plans can be significantly disrupted by enemy action then nothing is really simple. If all that wasn't enough, the final chapter considers the work involved with organising the invasion of NW Europe in 1944, Operation Overlord.
Reading this will show just how important the role of the logistician was/is when you have a fully motorised army (something the German army didn't achieve) and an influx of an extra million plus American servicemen who all had to be accommodated. Eye-watering numbers in many cases and the fact everything worked in the end is a lasting testament to all those involved from one end of the supply chain to the other. A vital role for so many servicemen, including my own father as a driver in the RASC throughout the war. Well worth reading.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.


bottom of page