For the first four weeks the force was maintained from special packs of stores known as “Landing Reserves” each one comprising approximately 8,000 cases calculated to maintain a brigade group or equivalent formation in ordnance stores for thirty days.
For planning purposes and to allow for losses, delays in off-loading and to ensure adequate reserves to meet possible heavy demands, it was assumed that one of these sets would maintain a brigade for fifteen days only.
The quantity and nature of the stores in each set was based upon experience gained during previous operations and included special sets to maintain such equipment as AVsRE and flails.
From D+26 the force was maintained from Beach Maintenance Packs, similar to LRs, but containing a more comprehensive range of stores sufficient to maintain a division or equivalent formation for thirty days, plus some special packs for the maintenance of particular equipments. One BMP for a division weighed approximately 500 tons and contained some 12,000 cases.
From approximately D+100 onwards, maintenance was to be carried out in the form of Standard Maintenance Packs which included spare parts for heavy artillery, signal and wireless stores, clothing and general stores, sufficient to cover the needs of the force apart from fourth line repairs of vehicles and equipments which were not in any case carried out in the theatre.
The residue of stores from one period of maintenance was used in succeeding periods.
In addition to the stores held by OBDs, all formations ashore were supported by the Ordnance Field Parks who landed complete with spare parts and complete equipments such as guns, small arms, Wireless sets etc. and vehicles for issue to units of their formation. The OFPs were mobile and sited well forward in order that their stocks would be readily accessible to units. Replenishment of stocks of the OFPs was made from the BMA and RMA depots.
Maintenance of the force in ordnance stores was based on the fact that UK would remain the base and that only advanced depots holding a limited range of stores would be located in the theatre of operations. It was realised therefore that not all of the stores required by units would be available from theatre reserves, either because stocks were temporarily depleted or because they did not come within the range of LRs, BMRs or other phased programmes.
To meet such demands a special arrangements was made with UK depots whereby the indents were sent by fast boat or air to an Indent Clearing Centre in UK, whence they were sent to the depots in UK holding the type of stores concerned.
Priority was given by these depots to the despatch of such stores, which were sent to a transit depot in UK for coordination and shipment to this theatre in a small coaster known as the “Ord Ship”. Such stores were handled by a Stores Transit Sub Depot in the AOD who assembled all stores for a formation and arranged direct delivery. In the case of operationally urgent stores fast coaster or aircraft were used to bring the stores over.
The first ordnance units to land on D-day were six OBDs capable of handling all types of ordnance stores, two Independent Ammunition Companies to assist the ammunition sections of the OBDs, two Port Ammunition Detachments and one Port Ordnance Detachment for supervising the unloading of ammunition and stores from the ships.
These units had the task of maintaining the assault troops with stores from the LRs. In the first place however, dumps were established just off the beaches on D-day and D+1, comprised mainly of ammunition, survivors’ kits, blankets and stretchers.
By D+1 reconnaissances were being made of the sites for BMA dumps to be established a few miles inland to hold the LRs and ammunition.
Throughout the campaign all units in the theatre had left in the UK some of their unit equipment not immediately required, thus ensuring full mobility on landing. This remaining equipment was shipped separately as “unaccompanied G1098” which was assembled in ordnance depots on arrival in the theatre and issued to the units concerned.
On D+2 and D+3 detachments of 17 BAD, 17 Vehicle Company of 17 AOD and two Ordnance Maintenance Companies landed to recce sites for permanent depots in what was to become the RMA. Unfortunately the recce party of 17 AOD was torpedoed and almost completely lost but another was organised and landed with the advance party on D+7. The three Stores Companies of 16 AOD also landed with 17 AOD and were merged and operated with the latter.
The site chosen for 17 AOD near VAUX-SUR-AURE proved satisfactory but initial difficulties were experienced because that area was occupied at the same time by two divisions and a tank transporter column. It opened however, for issues on D+26 from BMPs and LRs, the latter having been diverted from OBDs from D+7 onwards. The stormy weather at this period seriously delayed the build-up of ordnance reserves to the extent that by D+23 only 19,139 tons out of the planned 39,240 tons of stores had been landed. Arrangements were made to open OBD stocks in the BMA to OFP and for Ordnance Sub Parks to commence demanding on the AOD.
Final disbandment of the OBDs was carried out at a much later date and the personnel then became available for other duties such as tank kitting sections for corps, staffing Officers’ Shops etc. On the closing down of the OBDs all stocks of their controlled stores were transferred to No. 1 Ordnance Maintenance Company to form an initial army reserve of two days wastage of stores for Second Army. The other ord maint coy (No. 1 Canadian Ord Maint Coy) subsequently became the army roadhead depot for First Canadian Army.
17 Veh Coy brought in their first reserve vehicles on D+7 and set up a vehicle park in the vicinity of 17 AOD. Another vehicle company landed on D+18 with the first of the phased programme vehicles, the drivers then returning to UK to bring over more vehicles.
The first Mobile Laundry and Bath Units landed on D+12. The bath sections of these units operated with forward units, often under shell and mortar ﬁre, providing a change of clothing and baths for the troops. The laundry sections in the early stages of the campaign concentrated on providing clean linen and clothing for hospitals until relieved by base hospital laundries. One MLBU is capable of providing clean underclothing and a bath for every man in a division once per week.
An Army Industrial Gas Unit landed on D+ 18 to produce oxygen and acetylene for workshops, RE Services and medical Units, which helped the shipping problem by reducing the back-loading of empty cylinders to UK for refilling.
On D+22 the recce party of 14 AOD which was to be the main ordnance depot in the RMA landed; it was planned to open the depot in the CAEN area but as this was still in enemy hands and it was necessary to press ahead with the preparation of the depot, it was sited at AUDRIEUX. An immense amount of work was necessary to transform the open countryside into a semi-permanent depot. It was necessary to drain the whole area and then erect 200 steel framed canvas huts. Roads were made and railway spurs run into the depot from the adjacent main line.
During the time 14 AOD was building up its depot and preparing to issue stores from standard maintenance packs, 17 AOD continued to maintain the force from BMPS and the residue of LRS.
Ammunition requirements for the force were phased in at special assault rates to replace estimated expenditure until D+3, with reserves calculated at 21 Army Group rates of wastage. Then, both replacement of expenditure and reserves were phased in at 21 Army Group rates until after D+31 when FFC intense rates were used. Initially ammunition was received by the ammunition sections of the OBDs assisted by the ammunition companies under the direction of corps acting through the beach sub areas.
HQ 17 BAD landed on D+5 to co-ordinate the activities of all ammunition depots ashore under the direction of HQ Second Army who assumed administrative responsibility for all stores depots and ammunition depots in the theatre on that day. On D+12, 15 BAD took over the ammunition dump in 104 Beach Sub Area, thus forming the ammunition dump for No. 2 L of C Terminal (No. 2 Army roadhead) leaving 17 BAD free to take over the two ammunition dumps in 101 and 102 Beach Sub Areas, thereby forming the ammunition dump for No. 1 L of C Terminal (No. 1 Army roadhead). 12 BAD landed on D+18 and was sited adjacent to 15 BAD but did not open for issues until D+32 owing to the fact that operational troops were located within the BAD area.
All ammunition dumps in the bridgehead were laid out in accordance with the “User Type Principle” which was found to be most satisfactory, and speeded up the handover of ammunition to formations and units when collecting ammunition. Briefliy this principle involved dividing dumps into areas each capable of holding ten to twenty thousand tons. These areas were then subdivided into the following groups :-
Group 1 - AA ammunition
Group 2 - Fd arty ammunition
Group 3 - Tk and A.TK ammunition
Group 4 - Med and hy arty ammunition
Group 5 - Inf ammunition
Group 6 - Demolitions and associated RE stores.
Very little ammunition was lost due to enemy action except for a total of about 400 tons in the 101 Sub Area dump hit by shell ﬁre during June.
Very heavy tonnages were handled by all ammunition units in the bridgehead. On D-day alone, 6,500 tons were landed and during the first ten days over 80,000 tons were landed to say nothing of heavy issues being handled at the same time. The average daily tonnage handled by the two BADs during the first two months of the campaign was 8,230, the peak day being 16,600, in comparison with the ﬁgure of 2,000 tons per day normally expected to be handled by a BAD. The maximum tonnage held at any one time during this period was 125,765 tons. Extensive use was made of pioneer companies in handling this enormous tonnage.