The Transportation Corps was established in July 1942 through consolidation of several functions and units previously distributed between the Quartermaster and Engineer Corps. The new entity was responsible for the movement of soldiers and supplies by air, land and sea. By war’s end it had transported more than 7 million men and women and 126 million tons of supplies across tens of thousands of miles, thus playing an essential role in Allied victory. Its best known accomplishment came in the latter half of 1944, when it rebuilt the ravaged French rail network and ran the famed “Red Ball Express” to keep front line forces supplied after the breakout from the Normandy beaches.
The poster consists of four central text panels, describing successive phases of the Transporation Corps’ activities in Europe between D-Day and V-E Day. Each phase is illustrated by one of the four surrounding pictorial maps, which are carefully oriented and edited to emphasize the Corps’ activities in support of front-line forces. The overall impression is of a vast and well-ordered operation, and indeed the numbers are staggering: Between June 6 and August 25, 1944, the Corps unloaded 1,173,864 tons of freight; 219,262 vehicles; and 1,176,602 men on the D-Day beaches alone.
Illustrator Staff Sergeant Brenner employs a wide range of “persuasive mapping” techniques, including but not limited to: elimination of all detail not relevant to the acctivities of the Transportation Corps; the use of pictorial elements wildly out of scale with the surrounding geography; the forbidding gray coloring of German-controlled areas; and the repeated imagery of German lines being peeled away like so many wood shavings.
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