The logistical complexity behind the front line is visualised in this Third Army road traffic map of 1918.
Bold lines highlight the main roads for the use of motor vehicles and animals, whilst dotted lines denote single track roads, arrows giving the direction of travel. Exceptions are provided for officers and messengers, and animals are prohibited from being exercised on any roads.
Supply lines had failed during the Somme offensive of 1916, and a civilian, Sir Eric Geddes, was drafted in to improve British Expeditionary Force transport arrangements. By 1918 an efficient system of moving supplies, men and ammunition as quickly as possible to the front, and casualties and information away from it, had developed.
At the time of this map, the German Spring Offensive struck at the front in the bottom right corner of the map. In such circumstances the speed of logistics could be the difference between success and failure.
- Article by:
- David Stevenson
- The war machine
With focus on shipping, rail, road and manpower, Professor David Stevenson explores the logistics behind the management and supply of army resources in World War One and considers what impact this had on the war’s outcome.
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A fascinating and unique insight into the planning and organisation of military campaigns, featuring over a hundred maps and charts.
Combining cutting edge scholarship with vivid and unfamiliar eyewitness accounts, from kings and generals, and ordinary soldiers, this is a pioneering and comprehensive account of the First World War.