Thursday, January 7, 2010
ABC Express Line in WWII
Someone recently emailed me a question about the ABC Express Line. I tried Googling the term, and found nothing, so I thought I'd fill the void with a post here.
The starting point for the ABC Express Line began was Antwerp, Belgium. This was the longest express trucking line used by the Allies in WWII. Supplies arrived in the port of Antwerp by ship. Civilian dock workers unloaded the cargo and moved it to the marshaling area just outside the port. This was done under the supervision of Army Port Companies, such as my grandfather's 519th Port Battalion. From this point fourteen different Quartermaster trucking companies hauled the supplies east to depots near the front lines at the Belgium cities of Liege, Mons, and Charleroi. This route was also called the "Antwerp-Brussels-Charleroi" line.
While the predominant vehicle trafficking the Red Ball Express route leading from Normandy had been the 2-ton GMC Jimmy truck (the famous "deuce and a half"), the ABC Express Line saw heavy use of 10-ton tractor trailers. I am not sure if the British and Canadians employed their own trucking companies, or if all the Allies relied on American trucks. I suspect the latter is true. This route began on November 30, 1944 and was in use until March 26, 1945.
Extract from TIME magazine published 26, March 1945, pp 5-6:
"Tractors haul the loaded trailers to “surge pools” (assembly points) where they are ticketed for caravans. Over the ABC route, which is even more efficient than the old, famed Red Ball, trucks haul ten-ton trailers to the front; 1,200 are in operation between Antwerp, Louvain, Liege, and other strategic points."
1. Bykofsky, Joseph and Larson, Harold. United States in World War II, The Technical Services, The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas. Center of Military History. Washington, DC 2003.
2. Colley, David. Road to Victory: The Untold story of World War II’s Red Ball Express. Washington, D.C. : Brassey’s 2000.
3. Lockett, Edward. "City of Sudden Death" in TIME magazine published 26, March 1945, pp. 5-6.