Skip to main content

Hunker down for a good read

If you have time on your hands during the corona virus lockdown, this book is certainly worth a good read says Maj Gen David Shouesmith

By James Garvey
Farm Publications 2019

This is a story that is long overdue the telling –  of the logistics effort that supported the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, immediately after the conclusion of the Allies’ North African campaign.  The author contrasts the attention that the invasion of NW Europe (Operation Overlord) and its accompanying logistic effort has received, but Husky was in fact a larger and more complex undertaking, especially logistically.  It comprised 176,000 troops, landing across a hundred mile beachfront, compared to Overlord’s 156,000 troops and a beachfront half the breadth.  It was mounted at much shorter notice (barely five months, compared to Overlord’s sixteen) and amidst considerable operational and strategic uncertainty.   Husky was able to draw on invaluable lessons from the Operation Torch landings in North Africa barely six months previously and Husky provided further lessons without which it is questionable whether Overlord could have succeeded logistically.

There are some themes which the book highlights, which will be familiar to logisticians and which endure to this day.  Firstly, logistic decisions often need to be made in the absence of clear operational plans – and sometimes these are big decisions.  Secondly, logisticians need to have the immutable trust of and credibility with their commander.  In Husky’s case Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Sir Humfrey Gale was Eisenhower’s trusted chief administrative officer and Eisenhower trusted him to drive the logistic planning around which the operational plan eventually coalesced.  Third, capable logisticians on the ground, empowered to make decisions as events unfold, are critical.  Some things cannot be determined back in HQ, however good the data feed.  Fourth, understanding the logistic and operational plans and having the situational awareness to adjust logistics on the hoof remains a cornerstone of military logistics and Husky is replete with examples of how this was done – from the switching of beach landing sites to the rapid in-country acquisition of alternative transportation means.  And the book makes the reader ponder what skills may have been lost by operating at such (relatively) small scale in recent decades; the ability to plan and execute the movement of huge numbers of people and materiel, the importance of transportation and supply as separate disciplines – discuss!

The book provides plenty of statistics and planning detail, extracted from original sources.  While it is more academic thesis than classic military history, and therefore lacks the prose and penetrating insights of a Max Hastings or Andrew  Roberts, its central thesis – that the success of Husky was due to clear logistic foresight and flexibility based around a robust logistic plan – is difficult to argue with. 

The Royal Logistic Corps

Congratulations and well done to Major Jacquie Barlow, an OC within ITC Catterick, who has successfully completed her attempt to run 61 half marathons back-to-back over 61 days. Major Barlow took on this gruelling challenge with the aim of raising £5,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support after both she and her family received help from the charity when she had a tumour in 2011. She also raised money for a local school. Macmillan Cancer Support provides vital physical, financial and emotional support to cancer patients and their families at a time where the NHS is stretched. Please help to support Major Barlow and Macmillan by donating to her Just Giving page here: #WeAreTheRLC ... See MoreSee Less
‘STRIKE’ is a new concept in the British Army and with it, 1 Regiment RLC has faced a new challenge - how to remain agile and mobile, yet maintain C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) with a reduced logistical footprint. 1 Regiment RLC has met this test turning to innovation with the aim of being constantly mobile yet able to maintain several lines of communication over vast distances. One possible solution is the MECC from Weatherhaven - a custom off the shelf (COTS) capability that will enhance the ‘just in time’ logistics on the modern battlefield. For more information about this potential capability, please contact Captain Alan Mcallister, RSO 1 Regiment RLC: ... See MoreSee Less
RHQ The RLC is delighted to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has graciously appointed Major (Retd) Harry Lomas MBE BEM FIH as the Honorary Colonel of 167 Catering Support Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps, with effect 1st March 2021. Throughout his career, Colonel Harry has worked as venue manager at the 2012 Olympics, Executive Head Chef at the Grove Hotel and also as Head of Culinary with Delaware North at Wembley Stadium. Welcoming the Honorary Colonel to the Regiment via a video call, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jo Young said: “With his background, experience and passion for catering, Colonel Harry will be a superb ambassador and role model for both the new recruits coming in, as well as the more senior members of the Regiment. He has a depth of military and civilian catering knowledge and a remarkable network within the culinary industry which he plans to mobilise to the benefit of the Army Reserve Chef. We are looking forward to working with Colonel Harry to reinforce the unique position of the British Army’s only Regiment of Chefs”.#BritishArmyLogistics #WeSustain #WeAreTheRLC 167 Catering Support Regiment RLC ... See MoreSee Less