The Massive War Effort Known As The Red Ball Express

 June 8, 2021

U.S. forces would have thought the hard part of the war was behind them once they reached Normandy's shores and fought through the French Countryside. However, they ran up against a huge problem, a lack of supplies.

At A Standstill

In July of 1944, the Allied forces were stuck. French railway repairs were three months out and portable pipelines were not installed yet. Getting supplies to the Allies was a huge undertaking.

Strategists planned a large-scale truck supply system to get supplies where they needed to go. It was dubbed the "Red Ball Express." There was need for supplies to be taken consistently.

The forces needed fuel, ammunition, ordnance, and of course, food. It all needed to go up to the front lines. To make this happen, the allies had to repair vital infrastructure.


There were 750 tons of supplies sitting at the port of Antwerp that needed to go to the front lines daily. For example, an armored division needed 350 tons of gasoline.

A length brainstorming session followed. Thirty-six hours later, they had an answer. They would take thousands of trucks and run them continuously to and from the front.

Each truck would be in a grouping of at least five trucks that would travel together at a time. They had to drive at 35 miles an hour to avoid any unnecessary delays, but the order was often ignored, and drivers usually did their route at twice the speed.

Trucks were grabbed from units that did not need them, and non-combat personnel was used to man them. Often the men driving were Black soldiers.

Vital Work

According to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Red Ball Express was critical to the army and regarded it as important as the combat soldiers themselves. Traffic was an issue in the beginning. However, the military circumvented the issue by creating roads just for themselves.

Thus the Red Ball Line was created. Little red spots marked the route, so truck drivers knew where they were going. These routes were for the trucks only, and civilians were not to use them.

The Red Ball Express moved 6,000 trucks a day with 12,500 tons of supplies all to the front lines. The Express ran for 80 days straight, delivering over 400,000 tons of supplies.

Without the relentless work of these drivers and all those who supported them, the war could have very well gone on for a year or two more. However, everyone put their heads together to work out a viable solution to the problem.

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11 comments on “The Massive War Effort Known As The Red Ball Express”

    1. Please thank him for his service, on my behalf! All too often the Rear Echelon guys are forgotten, due to the drama and romance of the Front Line Fighting men! That's a real shame, as, just as the song says, "Some Gave All, But All Gave Some!"

  1. Everyone should watch “Band of Brothers” and “The Longest Day”!

  2. Well, I hope the black drivers were Americans since there weren't too many black people in Europe that you could just grab off the streets to drive loads of trucks to wherever. I mean, there were German Nazis infiltrators that helped Nazis conquer France and bomb so insidiously Britain. And the Nazis were in North Africa with money enough to buy whatever they needed including people's loyalts.

    1. It’s obvious that you’ve never studied anything about Patton and the 3rd Army. They started out in North Africa, then to Sicily and then on to Anzio in Italy. P

      1. Neither have you, bubi. Patton commanded II Corps in North Africa. In Sicily his command was 7th Army. It was only in NW Europe almost two months after D-Day that Patton was given command of the newly activated 3d Army. The rest, as they say, was history.

  3. I don't know where the comments went, but my answer is to the person who said her/his Father was on one of those trucks. My Father was one of those receiving what was on the trucks. I am surprised that this article got on the Internet since history books don't exactly mention the Red Ball Express. Not enough drama I guess but to those involved it was a necessity not about enough drama for the history books.

  4. Need a Red Ball Express Memorial someplace in EU & US for effort alone.
    Or part of Natl WW2 Museum complex
    Must recognize valor here

  5. I every time used to study paragraph in news papers but now as I
    am a user of web thus from now I am using net for posts, thanks to web.

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