In order to feed and equip all these men who had gone off to fight, transportation of weapons and munitions, as well as rations, water and fuel, fell to the Supply Corps. It was necessary for this service to adapt itself daily to supply the troops, whose position frequently changed. The Supply Corps’ services relied on numerous methods of locomotive transport, although use of animals for transport, such as horses and mules, was still significant. The famous “field kitchens”, the mobile kitchens which refueled the troops, for the most part took the form of horse-drawn wagons. But without a doubt the quickest modes of transport were the railway and motor vehicles.

The fact that the war was a war of position allowed the allied forces to build railways between the frontline and the area behind it to ferry men, arms, ammunition and food to the front. Afterwards the trains were also used to evacuate the wounded and bring men back behind the lines so they could rest before leaving again to the front for the umpteenth time. Soon the supply needs were such that the existing networks had to be completed with lines that were specifically built for war purposes. At the same time a road-based supply truck system was also put in place.

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  • Descamps Henri-Maurice (1878-1965), Supplying the British Army, 1914-16, glass plate, Fonds photographique patrimonial Descamps – Ville de Cassel

  • The supply convoy, first quarter of the 20th century, photo, © Cassel, musée départemental de Flandre

    In spite of the innovation thanks to the widespread use of motorized vehicles (trucks, arms) in a military context, the armies continued to use traditional means of transport during the Great War.

  • The field kitchen, first half of the 20th century, photo, coll. Departmental Archives of the Nord Lille France – mark 15 Fi 1788

    The field kitchen allowed the armies to serve meals in close proximity to the front lines.

supplying the British Armythe supply convoythe field kitchen