An Evaluation of Allied Intelligence in the Tactical Bombing of German Supply Depots during the Normandy Campaign, 1944
by David Capps-Tunwell, David Passmore, and Stephan Harrison
Abstract: To date evaluations on tactical air supremacy during the Normandy campaign of 1944 have tended to analyse the erosion of German fighting ability due to the destruction to the transportation system, especially bridges and railways, by Allied air and the Resistance. Attacks on depots have been considered but not in the context of assessing the effectiveness of Allied intelligence gathering on depots. This study presents that analysis. Using archival sources in combination with geoarchaeological records, we hypothesise how a crisis in German logistics could have produced an earlier collapse of German capability, had Allied intelligence been more accurate in reporting German supply activities.
The main content of this article appears in the July 2020 issue of JMH. Due to space considerations, the supporting data is presented below, rather than in the pages of the Journal.
Figure 1: Petrol, Oil, and Lubricants (POL) and ammunition depots in and surrounding the Normandy battlefield area, June 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure1.jpg
Figure 2: SHAEF top priority (A), POL and ammunition targets, June 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure2.jpg
Figure 3: Tactical Target Dossier (TTD): POL and ammunition depot targets in the battle area, identified by May 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure3.jpg
Figure 4: OB West allocated petrol and ammunition for supply to AOK 7 during June 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure4.jpg
Note: Figures 4–8 have been produced using captured German documentation first cited in Russell A. Hart, “Feeding Mars: The Role of Logistics in the German Defeat in Normandy, 1944,” War in History 3, no. 4 (1996): 418–35. This consists of OB West supply allotments from 10 June to 27 July, T311, R15, 7015166-462, RG 242, NARA.
Figure 5: OB West allocated petrol and ammunition for supply to AOK 7 and Panzer Group West, 1–7 July 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure5.jpg
Figure 6: OB West allocated petrol and ammunition for supply to AOK 7 and Panzer Group West, 8–14 July, 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure6.jpg
Figure 7: OB West allocated petrol and ammunition for supply to AOK 7 and Panzer Group West, 15–21 July 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure7.jpg
Figure 8: OB West allocated petrol and ammunition for supply to AOK 7 and Panzer Group West, 22–31 July 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure8.jpg
Figure 9: Germans retreat eastwards, 20–25 August 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Figure9.jpg
Table 1: Armeeoberkommando (AOK) 7 ammunition depot holdings, October 1943 to 1 June 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Table1.pdf
Table 2: Ammunition depot holdings in tons in northern France for Oberbefehlshaber (OB) West, April 1944; and AOK 15, May 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Table2.pdf
OB West’s own depots were designated Heeres Munition Lagers (HML). Each AOK also had its own depots called Armee Munition Lagers (AML). The asterisks refer to the depots mentioned in the text: “In support of the region, a further 20,187 tons were held in reserve at two OB West–controlled depots on the margins of the AOK 7 area at Moltke and Gneisenau.”
Table 3: Holdings of petrol (and diesel) between October 1943 and June 1944.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Table3.pdf
Note: all quantities in cubic meters (cbm).
Table 4: AOK 7 O.Qu (Senior Quartermaster), War Diary 4.5.1944: Fuel Allocation for training in cbm, May 1944
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Table4.pdf
T312, R1571, 000297–0002298, RG 242, National Archives and Records Administration.
Table 5: Allied understanding of German ammunition depot status and code names.
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Table5.pdf
Table 6: OB West Allocations of Ammunition and Petrol, 22–31 July 1944
Direct Link: https://www.smh-hq.org/docs//Normandy1944/Table6.pdf
T311 R15, RG 242, NARA.