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Quartermasters hit the beach (Quartermaster Review Sept-Oct 1944)

“No one seems ever to think a soldier in QM ever gets to smell any gunpowder, dig any foxholes, get into any fighting, go without food, mail and the like. Our QM outfit hit the beach on D-day right when the heat was on, and more outfits are hitting the beaches every day–to unload and load rations, ammunition, and all other equipment and supplies. Opening and running dumps under combat conditions is a tough job. We sleep in foxholes, wash and shave in helmets, dig slit trenches, eat in the open as do other Army outfits. We also have bazooka men, machine-gun men and operate twenty-four hours a day–about fifty percent of that time in the rain and mud.”

Private First Class, James P. Hatchell,
(in a letter to the Stars and Stripes Newspaper, August 10, 1944)

Quartermaster units and personnel were in the English Channel and on the beaches, Omaha and Utah, when the Allies landed on June 6. QM railhead, service, and truck companies saw continuous operation in the assault at Normandy, in the breakout at St. Lo, and the rapid pursuit across France in the summer of ’44. They had some unforgettable experiences.

Almost everything a soldier wore, carried or ate on D-Day was provided by the Quartermaster Corps

The 407th Airborne QM Company, for instance, went into Normandy on D-Day in two echelons, the first in gliders and the rest by ship. The glider-borne contingent landed at 2115 hours on June 6th and set up a temporary bivouac on the outskirts of Blosville, a short distance from Ste. Mere Eglise.

Tech 4 Fred Gilbert’s unit, the 3891st QM Truck Company, landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and immediately began hauling rations, ammo, and Infantrymen. “In other words,” he wrote, they considered themselves “a part of the mobile infantry.”

Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Andrew T. McNamara, Chief Quartermaster for the First Army, told a similar account of the 476th QM Group. Its four truck companies arrived on Utah Beach “when confusion still dominated the battle area, and front lines, as such, were non-existent.”
“[They] . . . performed every type of truck support for the fighting troops of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions. Supplies were taken up into front lines and unloaded directly to user units, with the bulk of the missions being completed under shellfire and strafing. The trucks were sent out with Infantrymen aboard on spearhead thrusts, and when resistance was encountered, the truck drivers found themselves taking part in the fighting. Men of these companies performed guard with the line troops, in emergencies manned machine-guns and outposts, carried barbed wire and mines into positions forward of existing front lines, and shared the same rigors and dangers as did the divisional troops.”
Private John G. Bianchi of the 97th Quartermaster Railhead Company, another service unit that came in on D-Day, wrote that he “used to wonder laying back there in a foxhole what they meant about rear-echelon Quartermaster boys. There were times when I would have given anything to be an Infantryman, back with the reserves, safe from fire.”
Extracted from “Fighting QMs”, Quartermaster Professional Bulletin, Autumn/Winter 1994

Quartermaster Units in the Assault Force
6-7 June 1944

1st Quartermaster Company
1st Infantry Division

407th Airborne Quartermaster Company
82nd Airborne Division

97th Quartermaster Company

HHD, 306th Quartermaster Battalion

HHD, 533d Quartermaster Battalion

562d Quartermaster Railhead Company

606th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company

3168th Quartermaster Service Company

3604th Quartermaster Truck Company

3820th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company

3939th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company

4142d Quartermaster Service Company

4th Quartermaster Company
4th Infantry Division

90th Quartermaster Company
90th Infantry Division

HHD, 131st Quartermaster Battalion

363d Quartermaster Service Company

556th Quartermaster Railhead Company

HHD, 577th Quartermaster Battalion

2nd Platoon & 3rd Platoon, 607th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company

3207th Quartermaster Service Company

3712th Quartermaster Truck Company

3891st Quartermaster Truck Company

4042d Quartermaster Truck Company

4143d Quartermaster Service Company

29th Quartermaster Company
29th Infantry Division

426th Airborne Quartermaster Company
101st Airborne Division

Company A, 203d Quartermaster Gas Supply Battalion

503d Quartermaster Car Company

559th Quartermaster Railhead Company

603d Quartermaster Graves Registration Company

HHD, 619th Quartermaster Battalion

3275th Quartermaster Service Company

3807th Quartermaster Truck Company

3892d Quartermaster Truck Company

4141st Quartermaster Service Company

4144th Quartermaster Service Company

Note: This list is based upon War Department & Department of the Army General Orders that awarded assault landing credit for the Normandy invasion.

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