Army Quartermaster Museum -
Fort Lee, Virginia
SINCE First Army’s 600th QM Laundry Company landed on Utah Beach, its
mission has been that of servicing VII Corps divisions and corps troops. From
the Cherbourg Peninsula through France and Belgium into Germany, this company
has followed a corps which, in every campaign, has moved quickly and
aggressively. It has been
necessary, therefore, that it execute its movements promptly and with a minimum
of production time lost. It was
essential, too, that, in reconnaissance, operating sites be selected which were
within reasonable proximity to the troops, yet beyond the range of enemy
Decreases in laundry output occurred not only as the result of company
movements but, more markedly, because of the changing tactical situation, which
often has prevented combat elements from sending in laundry. Conversely, laundry
production has soared when the tactical situation became static, as during rest
and regrouping periods. In the following sketch of this laundry’s operations
since arrival on the Continent, an attempt is made to convey this striking
correlation between production and the tactical situation as it existed during
each of the various campaigns.
From Disembarkation to the Assault on St. L0 (16 July-24 July):
When the 600th QM Laundry Company landed on Utah Beach on D plus 40, Cherbourg
had been taken and the fighting had extended to the base of the peninsula.
The first week of laundry operations began five days before the
breakthrough at St. Lo. Among the seven divisions which the company serviced
were the famed 1st, 4th, and 9th Divisions.
Breakthrough at St. Lo (25 July-1 August):
During this period VII Corps broke out of the Peninsula and the 600th promptly
followed, moving a distance of forty miles. Some pockets of resistance had to be
eliminated, and a German counterattack at Mortain kept most of the combat
elements engaged in a very fluid situation. There were six divisions in Corps at
this time and all of them, for the most part, were on the line. Consequently
there was a lull in laundry operations.
Pursuit through France and Belgium (16 August-18 September):
During this period the 600th accomplished six moves, covering a total distance
of 560 miles, and reached the German border.
The length and frequency of these moves, with the added handicap of a
gasoline shortage and the steady engagement of the 1st, 9th, and 3rd Armored
Divisions, brought about a decline in total laundry production.
The greater part, by far, of the output occurred during the last ten days
of the period.
The Assault on the Siegfried Line (18 September-23 December):
The pace of the Allied armies was slowed in order to regroup and strengthen for
a knockout blow against the West Wall. The assembly of supplies, material, and
reinforcements had to be built up with provision for adequate reserve power.
This static period offered the laundry its first great opportunity to perform
its mission on a large scale. It operated on a twenty-four-hour basis and
brought its facilities closer to the troops to be served. Mud greatly delayed
the process of evacuation, as tractors and trailers had to be pulled out of
laundry areas by Ordnance wreckers. Yet,
in spite of these delays, production totalled 2,462,864 pounds, with the
following divisions receiving service at various times: the 1st, 4th, 8th, 9th, 83rd, 99th, and 104th Infantry Divisions,
and the 3rd and 5th Armored Divisions.
The German Counterattack and the Battle of the Bulge (24 December-7
February): The company went fifty miles back into Belgium and set up to operate for
any unit requesting service. Corps troops and divisions were too busy reducing
the bulge to avail themselves of laundry facilities, and the first two or three
weeks of this period were, as a result, marked by a decline in laundry
operations. Yet it was necessary, in order to prevent the freezing up of
equipment, to keep the laundry engine generators running constantly, even though
work was not always on hand. The company moved south again in order to keep up
with the rapid corps advances. Then As the situation became more stable, laundry
began to flow in at an increasing rate. Again a peak of activity was reached as
the company operated two twelve-hour shifts to service the 83rd and 84th
Infantry Divisions, the 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions, and the usual corps
troops and officers.
The Rhine Offensive (9 February-9 March): In
the early part of this period, during which First Army made ready for the
assault against the Rhineland, the 600th found its services once more utilized
to the fullest extent. Many troops, in the line over an extended period of time
during the Battle of the Bulge, welcomed the opportunity to change into clean
clothing. Since the tactical situation was quite static during the early part of
this period, transportation and time were available in which to carry laundry to
the 600th. As a result the unit experienced one of its peaks of activity-this in
spite of time lost when the trailers had to be pulled by means of a bulldozer
and wreckers from a flooded area in Belgium.
Six days elapsed before every trailer was again in operation at the new
site in Germany.
The Trans-Rhine Campaign (10 March-29 March): This period found the 600th accomplishing two moves of forty-two
and forty-seven miles respectively, the latter carrying it to the west bank of
the Rhine. Prior to establishment of the first bridgehead on the east bank, the
combat troops had ready access to the laundry. This was another high point in
the history of its production services, with each of its sixteen trailers
operating seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.
After March 30th the laundry was situated some distance from the troops
serviced, as a result of the dynamic offensive again taken by the Allied armies,
and a decided lull in laundry operations was already in evidence.
However, as the ferocity of organized resistance continued to lessen,
some elements were withdrawn from the line for more frequent utilization of the
Whatever the tactical situation, this laundry continues to "put
out" day and night for those who are really putting out.
since 27 May 2001