JOHN P. JONES
Technician 4th Grade | Ordnance Corps
Patton’s fast-moving armored units storming eastward created innumerable problems for the ordnance service with supply lines stretching to fifty miles by the first of August 1944 and more than 400 miles within one month. This astronomical gap necessitated a new plan to guarantee adequate support to line units and the ordnance maintenance companies were further tapped when their vehicles were commandeered to transport ammunition to the front. When Ninth Army became operational on September 5th, they absorbed all forces of the Third Army fighting on the Brittany Peninsula, including John Paul Jones’ 3445th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company.
Over the course of the next two weeks, 40,000 tons of ammunition moved from the Normandy beachhead to the VIII Corps depot – up to 1,500 tons per day during the Brest operation. Two to three round trips of almost 1,200 miles were then required to transport the remaining ammunition and supplies when the operation concluded, all with the necessary help of the Red Ball Express. The abuse on trucks because of the institution of the provisional truck companies was intense and unit maintenance facilities were unable to keep up, so the five M.A.M. companies took on repair and maintenance full time of truck companies, servicing 600 vehicles in three days. Engineer dump truck companies and transportation corps truck companies required twice the attention normally required by vehicles of that weight classification in other units, and for Jones and the other members of the maintenance companies it was a punishing first month in combat.
The daily jobs never ceased as Ninth Army Headquarters approached Arlon, Belgium on September 29th. From there they fought to the Roer River and the Rhine, crossing on March 20, 1945 and quickly struck north of the Ruhr and ceased their advance when they met the Russians. Extended supply lines once again placed heavy load on ordnance corps and the end of the war did not mean an end to constant vehicle maintenance. Continuous truck runs of several hundred miles at top maximum or excessive speed without time for preventative maintenance increased need for shops, but sufficient maintenance companies were not available over the vast distance. One ordnance group was assigned to line troops and the others set up platoons that acted as service stations along the supply route on the Autobahn and other main roads, not unlike American highways, and Jones was among ratchets, wrenches and machinery until the end of July 1945 when he sailed home.
Conquer the Story of the Ninth Army, 1944-1945. Washington Infantry Journal Press, 1947.
Ordnance Section, ETO Monographs, Planning and Organization, May 1941-May 1945, 1945, pp. 168–174.