Of The 347th Ordnance Depot Company
Chapter 5: France
Fast moving was right! The company had no sooner closed in at Saint-Jean-d'Assť near Le Mans than it was off again, this time to the Fontainebleau Forest, just outside the city itself. The depot was set up there August 26th. It was an excellent area with its high overhead cover. The people in the vicinity were very friendly. They were well dressed and had nice well-kept homes, and many of the men were invited out to dinner. Also several got to see Paris just after it was taken from the Germans and before it was recaptured by the MPs.
The 26th Ordnance Battalion was the base supply Battalion of Third Army. The mission of the 347th was the supply of all the maintenance companies in the 70th Ordnance Group. This figure shifted between twenty-five and thirty-seven companies and these companies maintained all army troops, plus all overflow from forward units, plus servicing all replacement of major items issued to Third Army. This was a full load for the company but in addition, many of the new companies had come into France without a base load of spare parts and several were incomplete in their T/E equipment.
The rat race was still going strong, so on September 10th the depot moved to Harville, 15 miles short of Metz. Then the offensive bogged down and so did the company for the rainy season had set in and the mud was so bad that vehicles had to be winched in and out of the area. It was apparent that Metz was going to hold out for awhile longer and also that the depot could not continue to operate in the field and so on the 6th of October they moved into a large Caserne in Commercy. There was an excellent barracks to live in and an open area of hard standing for depot operation. All in all it was an ideal area.
It seems though that a General Hospital was out of our area and so on October 31st, the company moved into the Adolf Hitler Caserne, posted "Under New Management" in Toul, France. With the confusion of rapid movements at an end and the maintenance companies well equipped with tools and parts, the supply situation had settled to normal routine.
On the 8th of December the company moved into a Caserne in Metz with artillery still firing at Fort-Jean-d'Arc from the depot area. This was the best we had so far in France and so we set ourselves up for a long stay. There was a large open area of hard standing for depot operations and two buildings for quarters. One of these had an excellent mess hall with a bar at one end, and with a brewery near at hand, this was soon in action. A huge Christmas party was planned, but the Germans had other ideas and staged their Ardennes offensive.
The company was given thirty-six hours to close somewhere near Longwy and so on December 22, the depot was operating in an abandoned French Post at Morfontaine. The men lived in small homes that had previously housed the families of French officers manning the Maginot line. Artillery and small arms fire had not treated the buildings lightly but after a lot of fixing they became quite comfortable. The vans were parked in the circular roads around the houses. The mission was the direct support of the Third Corps plus all other combat and service troops in the vicinity in addition to our regular units. During one week 618 tons of needed ordnance parts were received and issued. A verbal commendation was received from Major Doyle, Ordnance Supply officer of Third Corps, and a written commendation from Lt. Col. S. J. Newton, Ordnance Officer of the 4th Infantry Division for the service rendered during this period. On the 8th of March, M/Sgt. J. L. Hinkley, the depot chief clerk, received the Bronze Star for his diligent work. Soon other depots moved into the area and took away the load of the combat units and supply again reverted to normal channels. Then a system of lateral supply was instituted by the depot which allowed the stocks of all the maintenance companies in 70th Group to be reviewed to meet all deadline and urgent demands.
The company was in this area over three months, passing through the worst of the winter weather. We would have been snow-bound several times if it had not been for the snow plows of the 925th Engineering Regiment located on the same post.
Finally, the weather broke and the armies were again on the move, and the company again drew a special mission--direct support of the racing armored divisions of the Third Army. On March 24, 1945 the vehicles of the 347th Ordnance Depot Company rolled past a sign reading, "You are now entering Germany through the courtesy of the 95th Division", on their way to a bivouac site at Morsfeld, near Alsey Germany.