Red Ball Express

The Road to Victory

After their successful June 6th landing, Allied forces broken out of the Normandy region in early August 1944. American forces were rapidly advancing, burning through 800,000 gallons of fuel each day. Supplying the front-line troops quickly became a serious logistical issue. Army leadership established the Red Ball Express to ensure the advancing U.S. Army, including the 1st Infantry Division, had enough supplies to press forward. The Red Ball Express consisted of 6,000 vehicles that moved 12,500 tons of supplies per day.

A Segregated Army

Most of the Red Ball’s truck drivers were African American. The U.S. Army was segregated and did not believe black soldiers were capable of fighting in combat, so they were largely relegated to support positions. However, the drivers continually delivered the much-needed supplies despite their poor treatment.

“We often refuel and rearm even while fighting. That takes guts. Our Negro outfits delivered gas under constant fire. Damned if I’d want their job. They have what it takes.

Stars and Stripes newspaper August 31, 1944