About the Exhibit

The McNamara Supply Gallery is named in honor of Lieutenant General Andrew T. McNamara, a distinguished Quartermaster officer who served as the Quartermaster of 1st Army in World War II, the 36th Quartermaster General and the first commander of the Defense Logistics Agency.

The gallery portrays the importance of logistics through a video presentation of Quartermasters in current operations, and dioramas depicting two historical events where logistics played an important role; the siege of 7th Cavalry troopers during the Battle of the Little Big Horn and logistics of D-Day.

Water Carrier Ravine - Little Big Horn, Montana 25 June 1876

On 25 June 1876, the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, engaged the combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern Montana. The 7th was part of a combined Army campaign to bring the Sioux to the reservations. Approaching the Indian village, Custer divided his command into three battalions; one under Captain Frederick Benteen, who took three companies and the Regimental pack trains and maneuvered to the south; one under Major Marcus Reno, who launched a frontal attack against the village from the south. Then the remaining five companies went with Custer, to attack the village from the north. Every man in Custer’s command died. Reno’s attack was repulsed and he, along with Benteen, were besieged for two days on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn, besieged by an estimated 3000 warriors.

Reno’s command attacked the village as ordered located on the plains in the background. Repulsed, Reno led his men up a ravine, losing a third of his men along the way. Joined by Benteen, neither man knew of Custer’s fate but knowing that their own situation was desperate, ordered their men to dig in. By the second day, the men were suffering from a lack of water, especially the wounded. Survivors later described the situation: "…the sun beat down on us and we became so thirsty that it was almost impossible to swallow."

Quartermaster Medal of Honor Recipients

Benteen called for volunteers to make an attempt to get to the river. Seventeen volunteered. Four men were selected to provide covering fire including Blacksmith Henry Mechlin and Saddler Sergeant Otto Voit, both Quartermasters. The attempt was successful. Nineteen Medal of Honors were later awarded for heroism at the Little Bighorn. Two of those went to Mechlin and Voit. Mechlin and Voit, along with two other sharpshooters, positioned themselves on the bluffs on either side of the ravine to provide covering fire. During this engagement only one trooper was seriously wounded.

DUKW unloading rations D-Day +3 Normandy, France June 1944

Quartermaster Soldiers Unloading - D-Day Diorama.

Historical Background

The World War II Allied Invasion at Normandy on 6 June 1944 remains the largest amphibious assault in history. Over 170,000 American, British, and Canadian soldiers were involved in the initial assault supported by over 5,000 ships and 10,000 aircraft of all types. The logistical challenge was to supply an Army in the face of enemy resistance, bring the supplies in by sea onto hostile shores without port facilities, and in enough quantities to sustain the fight so that a foothold could be achieved. The Allied victory at Normandy was due in no small part to the logistical victory won by the Quartermaster Corps.

Quartermasters Unloading Rations

The day is June 9, 1944 - - - D-Day plus 3. Soldiers of an Amphibious Truck

Company have just arrived on Omaha beach in Normandy with a load of rations to resupply soldiers of the assault divisions who have just won a foothold on the Continent of Europe. The Normandy Invasion is the largest amphibious assault in history and ranks as one of the most important victories achieved by American arms. DUKWs prove to be critical to the even flow of supplies from ship to shore. Standing by to offload the DUKW are soldiers of a Quartermaster Service Company, men whose job it is is to insure that critical supplies are quickly offloaded and given to the soldiers who need them.

By D-Day plus 3, over 750,000 rations of all types have been brought ashore and by the end of the Normandy campaign, close to 10.5 million rations had been provided to the soldiers fighting in France. Hundreds of thousands of tons of supplies of all types, clothing, fuel, equipment, ammunition, are needed to sustain the combat soldiers. D-Day proves to be not only a success for American arms but for American logistics as well. Under the leadership of Major General Robert Littlejohn, Chief Quartermaster European Theater of Operations and Colonel Andrew T. McNamara, Quartermaster for First Army, the Normandy Invasion is a triumph of American supply and logistics. This support to the Army will continue throughout the remainder of the war.

What's a DUKW?

The DUKW was the result of the Army’s need for a vehicle that could travel on both land and sea. Based upon the Army’s General Motors Corporation 2 1/2 ton truck, the first prototype DUKW was delivered in June 1942. It was immediately adopted. The DUKW saw action in all theaters of World War II and Korea as a ship-to-shore transporter of soldiers and supplies.

Quartermaster Soldiers Unloading - D-Day Diorama.

The DUKW takes its name from an abbreviation of the Army’s method of identifying vehicles by year and type. The DUKW takes its name from the following:

  • D = 1942
  • U = Amphibious
  • K = Front Wheel Drive
  • W = Rear Wheel Drive

Though coincidental, the abbreviation DUKW (called by the GI’s,"Duck") was an excellent description of the vehicle.