Monday, December 13, 2010

History of the 13th Major Port, part 3

This is the last part of the 13th Port history as presented in the 1946 publication, The 13th Port: 1943-1946. Click to read Part 1 or Part 2.


To be selected to open and operate a great port such as Antwerp, was a high honor. To do this when upon this port depended the supplies for most of the American troops facing the Germans, was a great responsibility.

The two maps following give a fair idea of the importance of the Port with reference to the fighting front. The Canadian First Army and the British Second Army were supplied through the British section of the Port of Antwerp through General Montgomery's 21st Army Group. The American 12th Army Group, comprising of the Ninth, First, and Third Armies were supplied by the American Section of the Port. The American Seventh Army which had come through Marseilles was supplied through that port.

On September 23, 1944, General Eisenhower wrote to General Marshall, Chief of Staff, as follows: "Right now our prospects are tied up closely with our success in capturing the approaches to Antwerp. ...if we can only get to using Antwerp it will have the effect of a blood transfusion."

In his Biennial Report to the Secretary of War, General Marshall says of Antwerp: "By 27 November the Port of Antwerp was in operation but was under heavy fire of the vicious German V-weapons, which fell at one time at the rate of on every 12.5 minutes causing thousands of Allied civilian and military casualties, and cast grave doubt for a time upon the advisability of continuing the operation of the Port."

And later in the same report, General Marshall goes on to say: "With the promise of a large increase of supplies through the Port of Antwerp in late November, General Eisenhower in mid-November launched a changing offensive to penetrate the Siegfried Line."

We who were there know what it took to get ships unloaded and cargoes started for the front. But many of us were too busy to see it clearly as others did.

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