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Quartermaster Duty

May 8, 2012

Each post on this blog builds chronologically on the ones before. Journal entries are written in bold and comments are written in italics. I gratefully acknowledge the sources I used to follow Al’s journal and have listed them on the page, “Where to Learn More“.

July 1.
Moved to Baudour, Belgium near Mons to relieve “colored” unit at Quartermaster dump.  Our mission: to wipe out immense black market racket that was flourishing.  Pull guard duty practically every day – 4 on and 8 off.

Once the shooting stopped, the U.S. Army troops became occupation troops, charged with maintaining law and order.  Before Al’s leave, he and his unit had been charged with acting as a military government, taking control of the town of Miesterhorst. When Al returned from Paris, he quickly found himself on a new assignment with the 548 Quartermaster Battalion.  With the German surrender, there was much more need for staff in the  Quartermaster bn than in Anti-Aircraft Artillery.  If, like me, you don’t know what the Quartermaster did, here’s a short description.

The Quartermaster plans and directs the activities of an Army unit.  This includes:

  • The acquisition, receipt, storage, preservation and issue of equipment, repair parts, construction materiels, petroleum products, water and other general supplies
  • Food services
  • Parachute packing and preparation of cargo for air delivery
  • Laundry and showers
  • Mortuary affairs
  • The army Exchange (PX)
  • Supplies and Logistics

The Quartermaster units were charged with supplying the military but quickly found it had to supply at least basic support for war prisoners and destitute civilians.

There was another issue as well which Al referenced above – the Black Market.  After the years of war, European banks and financial services were in a bad way.  The U.S. military had a currency as did civilians. Cigarettes were, however, the most valued commodity in Europe, used for trading or paying for items.  Many items were in short supply and alot of the Army items were sold on the Black Market.  Popular items included candy, cigarettes and gasoline (great civilian demand and short supply) and SPAM! Protecting the military goods from this thriving Black Market was an important part of his work.

This concludes Al’s journal entries.  Why he stopped at this point, I don’t know, since he didn’t separate from the Army until November 25, 1945. Posts after this will address going home and post-war adjustment.  I will also feature some of the better photographs that didn’t quite fit any particular journal entry.  Thank you for coming along on  Al’s Journey Through World War II.  

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5 Comments
  1. I cannot wait to see what my father was doing in July 1945. One other thing the Quartermaster (At least the US) did is drive trucks transporting troops, ammunition, and supplies to the front lines or wherever it needs to go. That is what my father did, he was a truck diver, with the 110th Regiment 35th Division Quartermaster. His truck held a Machine Gun over the drivers side of the roof of the truck. He rode “shotgun” for a while. But I am getting ahead of myself. I am trying to stay in the year. He went into the National Guards in Feb of 1940 and was mustered into the Army Dec 1940. I am to 1943 in blogging his letters and he is still in the US Training. For how much longer, I wonder. It is hard sometimes to read his letter, knowing the outcome.

    • The letters you have are such treasures,like hearing him speak. I’ll update QM duties to include driving. Than,s.

  2. If you don’t mind I would like to put a link to your blog on mine. I think it is great to have both to compare once my story gets there.
    God Bless

  3. Barbara Backer-Gray permalink

    That’s an amazing project! What a great way to honor Al. ‘m Dutch, and right now I’m posting a lot about the Netherlands in WWII. One of my next posts will be about Dutch men doing forced labor in Germany.

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