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GI Joes Receive Rations From Sullivan's Grocery

The Stars and Stripes (Mediterranean),
5 December 1944

WITH THE 5TH ARMY, Dec. 4 - Gasoline and ammunition account for more than two-thirds of an army's supply tonnage. The other commodity of the "big three", which have priority over all other supplies, is food. Up on the line, everyone gets his chow from "Sullivan's Grocery".

This amazing chain store has more than 1,000 Quartermaster troops who do nothing but handle several thousands of tons of food every day. It is managed by 5th Army Quartermaster, Brig. Gen. Joseph P. Sullivan of San Francisco and operated by his right hand counterman, Lt. Col. Francis A. Troy of Columbia SC. It is Colonel Troy's job to get three meals a day - with coffee and sugar - to an army of hungry men the size of Kansas City.

Troops of various nationalities and languages fighting in the 5th have created many new problems, and in due time have given "Sullivan's Grocery" its share of headaches. When an entire corps of Free French joined the Army, menus were prepared for them with more fats and oils, and vegetables from North Africa. The French also had to have their own staff of life - a ration of wine and brandy - which was furnished by them from Africa, then distributed through our supply channels. Separate rations also had to be worked out for Italian soldiers and civilian laborers, and for thousands of troops who could not be issued pork.

Moslems Eat Mutton

But the topper occurred last summer when 20,000 Moslems turned up with a religious holiday in July which required that they eat fresh mutton. "Sullivan's Grocery" arranged for 1,200 live sheep to be shipped from Africa to Naples, where they were trucked from the docks to a railroad, shipped by train to a truckhead near the front, and distributed to the Moslem field kitchens right on the hour.

Every lesson learned here has been reported in detail to the War Department where they have been incorporated in new supply procedures for Americans everywhere. A notable instance has been that of the new field ration, which now includes new type C and K rations. and soon soldiers will eat their last can of tasteless hash (when the old supply runs out) and begin enjoying canned chicken, meat balls and spaghetti, and genuine pork and beans. These new menus are based almost entirely on recommendations made by the 5th Army Quartermaster and mess officers after six months of Italy.

And "Sullivan's Grocery" handles more than the three squares a day - just like any other chain store. Included in the dump "counters" are numerous accessories, such as candy, tobacco, gum, and soap, an, in season, fly swatters and insecticides.

Napoleon's army may have traveled on its stomach, but nowadays it's more fashionable to ride a tank. Out of the Italian much and rock, the 5th Army had to roll. The problem in one commodity alone - gasoline - gives some idea of the job. An armored division uses 20,000 gallons of gas a day at rest; and the QM adds 30,000 more gallons a day to that for the tankers in combat. When the 5th moved through Rome on June 5, its trucks and tanks were burning up 400 gallons of gas every minute! Rome fell to the side that got there not only with the most men, but the most two-and-a-half-ton trucks and the most wire and C rations.

An Innovation

An extensive gas supply system used by the 5th Army marked the first time in military history that pipelines were used in close tactical support of front-line troops, as distinguished from previous lines to airports and storage depots. A few weeks after the capture of Rome, the six-inch line up Highway 2 was pumping an average of 10,000 barrels a day from Naples to the capital. The gang along Highway 1 had to remove 600 German mines in one mile of roadside before Minturno.

Food, gas, and ammo are the "Big Three" of G-4. Between the Garigliano and Arno rivers, 3,000 men manned the 5th Army's ammunition dumps, handling over half a million tons of shells and bullets. When the 5th was driving 15 and 20 miles a day last June, Ordnance men had to devise new methods. In one corps a "rolling reserve" was set up, literally an ammunition dump on wheels. One hundred trucks, each loaded with for tons of ammunition of all types, moved with the front-line troops. Every few miles it stopped and radioed its location to forward supply men, who drove back on schedule to draw their precious ammo by "tailgate loading" directly from the trucks.


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