U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

AMEDD BIOGRAPHIES

AMEDD CORPS HISTORY

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

HISTORICAL ART WORK & IMAGES

MEDICAL MEMOIRS

AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORIES

THE SURGEONS GENERAL

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SURGEON GENERAL

AMEDD UNIT PATCHES AND LINEAGE

THE AMEDD HISTORIAN NEWSLETTER

Chapter XLVIII

Books and Documents > Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War, Volume III, Finance & Supply

CHAPTER XLVIII
ACTIVITIES OF INTERMEDIATE MEDICAL SUPPLY DEPOT NO. 2, GIEVRES, FRANCE a

The activities of this depot began on October 10, 1917, when, as a part of the general storage activities of the American Expeditionary Forces, a small section of the intermediate supply depot at Gievres was assigned to the Medical Department. In its subsequent growth, the depot operated under trying conditions and without facilities ordinarily considered essential to effective results. For many months the warehouses had no sides, and paulins, strung from the eaves, afforded the only means of protection. The floors were of sand, thereby preventing the use of hand trucks. There were no overhead cranes, no loading platforms, no mechanical box stackers. An inadequate supply of gravity rollers, a few express carts, and wheelbarrows actually represented the only labor-saving devices that ever were available to this depot. Brute strength was the primary factor in the handling of the supplies through every process of unloading, transferring, stowing, and loading; nevertheless, despite vicissitudes, not the least of which was inexperienced help, an organization and an esprit de corps were developed by means of which effective results were accomplished.

ADMINISTRATION

Personnel of the administration section comprised the officer in charge, the executive officer, and several stenographers.

The general management, direction, and control of the depot were vested in the administrative section. The directing head was the officer in charge. In matters of internal administration the officer in charge was the sole arbiter, and upon him devolved the responsibility of formulating the guiding policies of the management of the depot, the making of decisions affecting such policies, and the exercise of broad supervisory powers over the several departments. He was the coordinating factor between the office and warehouse, and in this capacity he exercised an important function. Inasmuch as a large proportion of the administrative duties were handled by the executive officer, whose function is described below, the officer in charge was left comparatively free to keep in close touch with the operations division, and consequently was afforded an opportunity to obtain the point of view of both the office and warehouse. This was extremely desirable in an organization of this size, for although each division had its own individual problems, the three were closely connected, and such problems had to be solved in relation to the needs and demands of the other divisions. This close association between the divisions which constituted

_____________________________________________________________________________

a The following statements of fact are based on “Organization, Scope and Methods of Procedure of Intermediate Medical Supply Depot No. 2, A. E. F.,” undated,by Maj. Samuel Smelsey, San. Corps. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.


826

separate entities, and the consequent need for coordination, are discussed in the following pages.

Another important function exercised by the officer in charge was the amendment or alteration of requisitions and the cancelling or due listing of items which the depot was unable to furnish. This subject is taken up at length below under the head of “Requisition department.”

FIG. 46.-Intermediate Medical Supply Depot, No. 2, Gievres; main office

The executive officer acted as assistant to the officer in charge and disposed, without reference to him, of administrative problems not requiring a change in policy or procedure. He kept the personnel informed upon matters pertaining to changes in administrative practice and in the relationship between the depot and the chief surgeon’s office. He also handled the more important nonroutine correspondence and such as was not referred to the general departments within the office. In general he was in direct charge of matters pertaining to administration, as opposed to operations, at the same time exercising for the officer in charge a supervisory relationship over the operations division and the detachment.

PROPERTY ACCOUNTING DIVISION

SCOPE, ACTIVITIES, AND JURISDICTION

The property accounting division embraced all the activities and functions pertaining to property accountability or responsibility. Briefly, the work of this division involved the auditing and control of requisitions, invoices, stock records, returns, and warehouse receipts and issue slips for medical, quarter-


827

master, ordnance, and engineer property for which this depot was accountable or responsible. The property officer was in charge of this division and he had as his assistants such noncommissioned officers or privates as were necessary to maintain an effective supervision.

REQUISITIONS DEPARTMENT

At first, all requisitions for medical supplies were submitted by units of the American Expeditionary Forces direct to the office of the chief surgeon, Line of Communications. From there, if approved, they were sent, usually in modified form, to the medical supply depots for issue. Subsequently, under a policy of decentralization, promulgated by the chief surgeon’s office, units were directed to submit their requisitions to the surgeons of the base, intermediate or advance sections, according to their location. In emergencies, units could send their requisitions direct to the depots, in which instances, however, the chief surgeon’s office was immediately notified.

Usually requisitions for medical supplies were received at this depot in triplicate.b They were submitted first to the officer in charge who subjected them to careful scrutiny. He had authority from the chief surgeon’s office to substitute items of equivalent value or character, to “cut” the amounts requested if the stock on hand did not warrant such issue, due listing the balance.

The requisitions were then entered in a record known as the “Requisition book.” This book had the following headings under which appropriate entries were made: Requisition number; date of requisition; date requisition was received; name and address of consignee; items (abbreviated list); authority for requisition; initials of entry clerk; date completed and initials of clerk making entry; date filed and initials of clerk making entry; voucher number of invoice.

Entries were made according to the requisition numbers, which ran consecutively.

Reference was made to the requisition file by means of a card index which was classified according to units, arranged alphabetically, a separate card being used for each unit. Under the name and address of a unit, appeared the date the requisition was received, date invoiced and date filed. If the requisition as submitted was not legible or properly arranged, copies were made in sextuplicate. Four of these copies including the original were sent to the operations division, one to the medical property department and the sixth copy was retained. The regulating officer designated on the margin, the warehouses from which he desired the supplies to be loaded. These were then returned to the office were they were extracted and prepared on a form known as the “Warehouse issue order.” A tentative due list of items not in stock was prepared at the same time, and these were not included in the issue orders. The issue orders were prepared in quintuplicate, one copy of which was retained in the requisitions department, one was sent to the medical property department and three forwarded to the regulating officer. The regulating officer sent these to the officer in charge of the tracks concerned in order of

____________________________________________________________________________

b Such requisitions occasionally included items of quartermaster property. A detailed description of the method of handling them may be found under the caption, "Quartermaster, Engineer, and Ordnance property department.”


828

priority or as the exigency of the situation demanded. When the warehouse officer completed the shipment or filled such items as he was able, the orders were returned to the relating officer. If there were any items which could not be filled, the issue order was returned to the office with a notation to that effect. c Such items are compared with the tentative due list indicated above, and either canceled or due listed at the discretion of the officer in charge, his action depending largely on the possibility of receipt of such supplies in the near future.

On such requisitions as were designated by the chief surgeon’s office, that office was notified immediately of any items which this depot was unable to fill. The chief surgeon in turn notified this office to due list or cancel the items or else extract the same to other depots. When not required to notify the chief surgeon of such items and where there was but slight possibility of obtaining the same within the near future, the consignee was notified by letter that those items were canceled and was requested to make requisition for the same at some future time.

When it was decided to due list certain items a list was prepared in duplicate, and one copy was sent to the regulating officer and the other retained. As new stock arrived it was applied against these due lists which were filled as far as possible. The due list was then sent to the office, showing just what had been shipped thereon. If not completed, a second due list was made from the balance, or else canceled as the officer in charge might determine. This procedure could be followed two or three times, depending upon the number of items due listed, which in some cases, was considerable, and the probability of completing the shipment within a reasonable time.

These steps were recorded on a form known as a “Requisition status card” which showed the progress of the requisition and the action taken thereon. This form, when filled out, showed the following data: Requisition number; consignee, unit and location; date warehouse and issue order returned; first due list (date); second due list, etc. (date); items canceled (date); extracted to chief surgeon’s office (date); requisition completed (date); filed (date); remarks.

The requisitions department also kept a bound record known as the “Open requisition book.” Requisitions were arranged according to the location of the unit, and appropriate entries were made under the captions, name of unit, requisition number, date received, date completed or closed.

The track assembly book was a record which showed by tracks the numbers and destinations of cars loaded for shipment. The information contained therein was based on the reports sent in by each track during the course of the day, and was used as a basis for all reports, telegrams and other information compiled daily. Detailed shipping reports and advices of shipments were forwarded to the post regulating officer, the regulating officers of the advance section (should the shipments be routed via a regulating office), the chief surgeon, and the consignee. The reports to the post regulating officer were prepared on special forms; the reports to all others concerned were telegraphic.

______________________

cA detailed discussion of the action of the regulating department with respect to items not shipped is given below under “Operations division.”


829

Less than carload shipments were handled in the same manner as described above except that shipments were made through the local railroad transportation officer who receipted for the shipment as it was delivered at the L. C. L. warehouse. This receipt was filed with the requisition.

All papers, such as warehouse issue slips, invoices, issue orders, telegraphic advices of shipment, tracers, and any other records or correspondence affecting the requisition in any way, were filed by requisition in a separate filing cabinet under the requisition number. Such data represented the course of the requisition from the time it was received in the office to its final disposition and showed every action taken thereon. Consequently, when any question concerning the requisition arose after the file had been closed, the necessary information could be obtained at a moment’s notice by reference to the requisition file.

Requisitions for blank forms were submitted on a separate requisition form, and upon receipt were given a number of an entirely different series from that pertaining to requisitions for medical supplies. The procedure in filling such requisitions, however, was practically the same, except the original requisition was used in lieu of a warehouse issue order, since the blank forms were kept in one warehouse. Blank forms were not invoiced, because they were expendable property.

MEDICAL PROPERTY DEPARTMENT

Broadly speaking, the medical property department was the recording and auditing branch of the property accounting division. Primarily, its functions consisted in the auditing and posting of items of medical property to stock records and returns, the accomplishment of invoices, the adjustment of stock, and the preparation of reports on supplies and storage. The work of this department was divided into three sections, known as the stock record section, the return section, and the voucher section.

STOCK RECORD SECTION

The principal activity of the stock record section was to record the receipt and issue of every item of stock, the date of such receipt or issue and the number of the check sheet from which the postings were made. Two forms of check sheets were used to record such receipts and issues. One was known as the warehouse receipt slip and the other as the warehouse issue slip, of which mention was made above. These were prepared by the checkers, as the supplies were loaded from or into the cars, separate slips being used for each car. The warehouse receipt slips, made out in duplicate as the cars were unloaded, were submitted by the track officer to the receiving officer, who scrutinized them for possible errors. If the receiving officer approved them, he initialed and forwarded them to the regulating officer, who in turn forwarded them to the property officer. They were then given to a clerk who checked them against the car record and numbered each. The slips were again subjected to a very careful examination, and any entries which were incorrect or inadequate either were corrected or questioned. The originals were given to the


830

return clerks and the duplicate copies to the stock record clerks for posting. All questioned entries were ignored, the object being the return of such slips to the receiving officer for correction and explanation. After the necessary corrections had been made, and the items posted, the duplicate check sheet was filed numerically. The original was forwarded to the finance and accounting division of the chief surgeon’s office.

The warehouse issue slips were prepared by the checkers in triplicate separate slips being used for each car loaded. Each slip bore the requisition number which the checker obtained from the issue order. The triplicate copy was placed in the car, and the two remaining copies were forwarded to the regulating officer who checked them against the requisition or issue orders, and passed them on to the office. The duplicate copy was turned over to the requisition department, the original to the invoice department. After the check had been made in the requisition department in the manner just described, the original and duplicate slips were forwarded to the stock record section where again they were checked against the warehouse issue order for possible errors of accuracy of nomenclature. Then they were distributed to the stock clerks who made the proper postings.

In order to record in systematic fashion receipts, issues, and balance of every item of stock on hand, a stock record was devised. A separate case was used for every item, appropriate entries being made under the following captions: Supply item, unit, receipts, date, warehouse receipt number, quantity, issues, date, requisition number, total (balance), warehouse, and track.

Receipts were posted to the stock card from the warehouse receipt slips and issues from the warehouse issue slips. The cards were arranged in accordance with the supply table, and were divided into post and field supplies and subdivided under each according to the class of items, such as medicines, stationery, miscellaneous, additional articles, dental, laboratory, X ray, veterinary, surgical instruments, and Red Cross supplies. The extent to which these classes further were broken up was dependent u pon the volume of receipts and issues. Each stock clerk posted to a given number of items, whether it was in the post or field, and postings were made only to those items for which he was responsible. As he made his entries, the items on the slips were checked and these slips were then passed to the next stock clerk who made the necessary postings, and so on until every item on the check sheet had been posted. Thus, if a warehouse receipt or issue slip, as the case might be, contained a variety of items belonging to the several classes enumerated above, such slip passed through the hands of a number of stock clerks. These clerks handled only the duplicate copy of the check slip, which, after all postings had been made, were filed consecutively by the number given it upon the arrival at the office. The original was handled by the return clerks whose functions are described in the succeeding pages.

Property pertaining to base hospitals, field hospitals, ambulance companies, and other field units, held for storage, was checked in by packages instead of by items. This was done because the bulk of such property was received in in mixed boxes, unmarked, and none of it was available for general issue. A separate card, however, was used for each unit.


831

RETURN SECTION

A depot return was maintained for each item. This return was prepared in duplicate and, in effect, was a duplication of the stock records, in that it showed receipts, issues, and balance of every item carried in the depot; however, it did not show the dates of receipt or issue or location of stock. This duplication had its advantages in that it afforded an additional check as to the accuracy of the entries made. In other words the balance on the return had to agree with the balance on the stock record. If not, the discrepancy was at once investigated and subsequently adjusted. Postings to the return were entered under the following captions: Supply item, receipts (debit), warehouse receipt slip number, quantity, unit, issues (credit), requisition number, quantity, balance. The return clerks used the original copy of the warehouse receipt slip and posted simultaneously with the stock record clerks. The duplicate copy of the issue slip was turned over to them after postings had been made by the stock record clerks. The work of the return section was laid out in practically the same way as that of the stock record section, and the return was carried in accordance with the supply table. Each clerk was given a definite class of items to post.

The original copy of the return was forwarded every three months to the Surgeon General of the Army; the duplicate was retained in the files of the office.

VOUCHER SECTION

The voucher section was responsible for the accomplishment of invoices and bills for medical property received, the adjustment of the property return, the preparation of reports of stock on hand and correspondence relative to the foregoing. The accomplishment of invoices involved a careful examination of the warehouse receipt slip in order to a void duplicating the receipt of the same item or items. Frequently invoices failed to show the number of the car in which the supplies were shipped or the number of the ordre de transport covering such shipment. This information was essential, owing to the fact that many invoices were received for the same class of items, and ordinarily there were no other means of identifying a particular shipment. As a result, invoices frequently were returned for this information. If the invoice checked with the supplies received, the date and voucher number of the invoice, the name of the invoicing officer, shipping point, the warehouse receipt slip number (actually, the voucher number) and date of accomplishment all were entered on the warehouse receipt slip covering the items invoiced. This effectually prevented receipting twice for the same supplies.

Invoices for quartermaster property taken up as medical property were handled under the provisions of Army Regulations and existing orders.

Invoices from the purchasing officer of the Medical Department were handled in the same fashion except that only three copies were received. Only one was returned to him and the other two were disposed of in the manner indicated above. The same procedure governed the accomplishment of bills from vendors in France or England except that one copy was retained and the


832

balance were returned direct to the vendor. The supplies covered by these bills later were invoiced by the officer making the purchase.

Ordinarily an expenditure voucher was prepared quarterly and submitted to the finance and accounting division of the chief surgeon’s office. Such vouchers covered expendable items of medical property, such as office supplies, which were used in the operation of the depot. A. warehouse issue slip was made out for every item so expended. This slip bore the initials of the executive officer indicating approval of such expenditure. The duplicate copy was used by the stock and return clerks for the necessary postings, and the originals were tentatively filed. At the end of the period one voucher covering the total number of items and amounts was prepared on the basis of these slips and forwarded as indicated.

Nonexpendable medical supplies used by the depot, such as office furniture and typewriters, were carried on what was known as the depot return. Such property was dropped from the stock records and from the regular return on certificate and taken up on depot return. This return was made to the Surgeon General in exactly the same way as that kept for the depot stock.

Frequently an error in checking was discovered after warehouse receipt slips had been posted. This could have been due to a variety of causes but usually to improper markings on the container.d In such instances an adjustment voucher was prepared in duplicate stating the cause of the error, how the property was taken up and how adjusted. The original copy was forwarded to the finance and accounting division of the chief surgeon’s office and the duplicate was filed with the return. The necessary corrections were then made on both the stock records and on the return.

A report of the medical, Red Cross, and quartermaster supplies on hand was prepared and submitted to the chief surgeon’s office every two weeks. This report was arranged according to the supply table, and each item was set forth alphabetically by class. The figures for this report were obtained from the stock records which were balanced with the return each week.e In addition, the report contained a list of items and amounts representing European purchases received during the period.

This report also included certain statistics with respect to storage, showing the amount of storage space authorized, available and occupied, together with any changes which occurred during the preceding two weeks. Such figures were based upon the cars received and shipped, allowance being made for the difference between the size of the American and French cars. A car movement report showing the total number of cars received, dispatched and transshipped was also embraced by this report.

Each week a report was sent to the chief surgeon’s office showing those items of which the stock either was very limited or exhausted. With such information the supplies division of the chief surgeon’s office was enabled to replenish such items as it deemed necessary by shipment from base ports or base storage stations.

________________________

d A typical illustration is the following: A box marked “ Oatmeal soap” was unloaded. It was removed to the issue room and upon being opened was found to contain surgical instruments.

e Over 3,000 separate and distinct items were handled by this depot. As stated, a separate stock card and return sheet were kept for each of these items; therefore it was necessary to strike a balance on each in order to compile a stock report.


833

QUARTERMASTER, ENGINEER, AND ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT

This depot handled for issue a number of items of quartermaster property. This necessitated the maintenance of separate stock records, returns and the invoicing of and receipting for quartermaster property as a separate function. It proved desirable to consolidate such functions in a distinct department, together with those relating to the handling of ordnance and engineer property, inasmuch as the volume of work required was not large compared with that of the medical property department, and the segregation proved effective.

Upon the receipt of a requisition, items of quartermaster property, if there were such, were extracted and a separate warehouse issue order was prepared. This issue order bore a special requisition number with a cross reference to the requisition for medical property. These items were invoiced separately, and the two receipted copies of these invoices were filed consecutively by voucher number. Card indexes to the quartermaster requisitions were maintained. These showed the name and location of the unit, the quartermaster requisition number, voucher number and the me ical requisition number, thus affording ready reference to the requisition or papers relating thereto. These cards were filed alphabetically by units.

The same form of stock record used for recording receipts and issues of medical property was employed for items of quartermaster property, and the same procedure governed their use.

The return of quartermaster property was handled in the same manner as that prescribed for medical property, except that the original copy of the return, together with one copy of the receipt for supplies received and one copy of the receipt for the supplies invoiced, were filed with the Quartermaster General every six months. These receipts were vouchers to the property return.

Invoices for quartermaster property received were checked against the warehouse receipt slips. If the two agreed the invoice was accomplished in the manner described above and the property return and stock record correspondingly debited. If, however, there was a wide discrepancy, authority was requested of the invoicing officer to amend the invoice accordingly. If such authority was not granted, he was requested to furnish the necessary certificates and affidavits setting forth the amounts shipped and the circumstances surrounding the same. Action was taken as contemplated by Army Regulations and existing orders. All the correspondence and papers pertaining to the property in question were filed with the retained copies of the receipts.

Since there was no accountability for engineer property, therefor no return was rendered; however, the officer in charge was responsible for the care and proper usage of any engineer supplies on hand. Hardware and trackage were practically the only engineer property handled, and this was used solely in the several operations of the depot.

Ordnance property was handled somewhat similarly. Supplies received from the Ordnance Department were invoiced and receipted for, but across the face of the invoice, two copies of which were returned to the invoicing officer,


834

was written “Final return rendered. No accountability under G. O. No. 44 c. s., G. H. Q., A. E. F.” The commanding officer was responsible for the property receipted for.

Quartermaster, engineer and ordnance supplies used by the depot or the detachment also came under the jurisdiction of this department. It was responsible for the procurement, use and custody of such property.

INVOICE DEPARTMENT

To insure greater accuracy, not only in invoicing but also in shipping, the invoices for medical property were prepared in a separate department acting independently of the voucher section just described. As previously mentioned, the original copy of the warehouse issue slip was turned over to the invoice department where it was carefully checked against the original requisition and the issue order. By this means, an additional check was obtained with respect to the items shipped and any discrepancies were quickly brought to light. Upon agreement between the warehouse issue slip and the issue order, the invoice was prepared in triplicate. This invoice showed the requisition number, voucher number, date shipped, the car numbers, and O. D. T. numbers covering shipment, and the authority under which same was made. It was supplemented by a notation as to whether or not the invoice was only a part of, or completed, the requisition. In case the invoice covered but a portion of the requisition, the same requisition number was used on succeeding invoices, but different voucher numbers were given to each. It occasionally happened that one invoice covered shipments applying to two or more requisitions, but ordinarily, this occurred only in those instances where a number of due lists were filled for the same unit.

The original copy of the invoice was forwarded to the finance and accounting division of the chief surgeon’s office, the duplicate to the consignee, and the triplicate copy was filed with the requisition. The supplies were invoiced the day following the shipment, whether the requisition was completed or not. Thus the consignee had his copy of the invoice to use as a check against the supplies before the latter were received. Accomplishment was effected by acknowledging receipt across the face of the invoice which was then forwarded to the finance and accounting division of the chief surgeon’s office. In case the items received did not check with the invoice, the consignee could request authority of the depot to amend his invoice accordingly. Such authority was was granted where investigation disclosed that the discrepancy was due to error in checking or computing. Under such conditions authority was granted in form of a letter, the original of which was forwarded to the finance and accounting division of the chief surgeon’s office and the duplicate to the consignee. The former was accompanied by an adjustment voucher bearing the following information: Requisition number, voucher number, consignee (name and location of unit), item, amount invoiced, to read (showing proper items and correct amount).

The retained copy of this letter and a copy of the adjustment voucher were given to the medical property department where appropriate debit and credit


835

entries were made on the stock records and the property return. These papers were then filed with the return together with any correspondence on the subject.

If, on the other hand, in the opinion of the officer in charge the discrepancy occurred through no error or negligence of this depot, authority to change the invoice was not granted the consignee. The latter’s recourse, in such a case, was defined by Army Regulations and existing orders.

CAR RECORD DEPARTMENT

Broadly speaking, the work of the car record department involved the maintenance and check of records of all incoming and outgoing cars, the accomplishment of ordre de transport and the tracing of cars. The depot was notified of incoming cars by telegraphic advices. These were followed by the yellow portion of the O. D. T. forwarded by the consignor and the red portion of the O. D. T. turned in by the local rail transport officer. The telegraphic advices, which were sent the day the car was dispatched, obviously preceded the arrival of the cars. This enabled the depot to determine at any time the number of cars en route and to plan its work accordingly.

The telegraphic advices always included the number of the O. D. T. covering the shipment. This information was placed in a permanent record known as the ordre de transport book and entries were made under the following captions: Date shipped, serial number (yellow portion), serial number (red portion), car initials, car number, contents, shipping point, date car received, remarks.

The date that the car was received was obtained from the receiving book, described below. If after reasonable time the cars had not arrived, a list of such cars was prepared and the necessary tracers were sent.

For each car received and unloaded a separate warehouse receipt slip was prepared in duplicate by the checker. The detailed procedure in this connection has already been described. When this slip was turned in at the office, it was passed first to the desk of the receiving clerk, who gave it a number f and then entered the information in the record known as the receiving book. Appropriate entries were made under the following headings: Date received, car initials, car numbers, shipping point, contents, checker, warehouse receipt slip number, warehouse.

These receipt slips were also checked against an informal record of cars received, prepared by the receiving clerk who made the rounds of the tracks twice daily. Such a record was important in that it constituted an independent check of incoming cars and enabled the receiving clerk to determine whether or not all the warehouse receipt slips for the cars received had been turned in at the office.

The ordre de transport was accomplished by acknowledgement thereon of receipt of the cars covered. The red portion was returned to the local R. T. O., who forwarded it to the French railway officials, and the yellow portion was sent direct to the office of the chief quartermaster, A. E. F.

__________________________

fThis number followed each item contained in that particular car, through every process and record. It was entered on the stock records, medical return, quartermaster return and stock cards (if quartermaster property), on invoices covering the shipment. Obviously this was of much assistance in tracing or identifying shipments.


836

Cars overdue were traced by means of a form letter sent to the local car tracing office and to the car record office at headquarters, Services of Supply.

  A record of outbound cars was kept in a record known as the shipping book. The information was recorded under the following headings: Date shipped, requisition number, car number, consignee, destination, contents, authority for shipment, O. D. T. number, warehouse issue-slip number, warehouse.

This information was compiled from the warehouse issue slip whose function has been explained above. The O. D. T. number was supplied by the local ordre de transport office where was prepared the ordre de transport, from information submitted by the office on a special daily report of shipments.

To facilitate reference to cars received or shipped, a record known as the car record book was devised. The last two numbers of the cars received and shipped were used as the basis of the index. The numbers were entered consecutively, together with the date received or shipped. On the left-hand side of the sheet appeared the numbers of the cars received and on the right-hand side, the numbers of the cars shipped. The book was so indexed and arranged that it was extremely simple to locate the number of the car. Once determined, by means of this book, that a car had been received or shipped, additional information could quickly be obtained by reference to the receiving book or shipping book, or to the warehouse slip itself.

FILING AND RECORD DEPARTMENT

Upon this department devolved the responsibility of handling all correspondence, records and papers not pertaining directly to requisitions and personnel. As indicated above, all papers relating to a requisition were filed with the requisition; papers pertaining to personnel were filed in the detachment office. Correspondence was filed under the Dewey decimal system in accordance with the arrangement devised by the War Department. A suitable cross reference system was maintained by means of appropriate card indexes.

OPERATIONS DIVISION

LAYOUT OF WAREHOUSES

The warehouses of this depot were located on a series of parallel tracks reserved for the exclusive service of the Medical Department. On each track were èonstructed three warehouses, placed end to end, with sufficient spaces between to act as firebreaks. The tracks were of such a distance apart as to afford a storage field approximately 100 feet wide in front of each warehouse. The standard warehouse was of brick or steel construction, and measured 500 feet in length by 50 feet in depth, the height at the eaves being 14 feet. Floors were of sand, and there were no unloading platforms. Communication between the various warehouses was maintained over a system of dirt roads, supplemented by a narrow-gauge track which carried small push cars.g

____________________

gThere were in operation eight complete warehouse groups, together with issue rooms, an L.C. L. warehouse, and a group of segregated storage sheds for alcohol and other highly inflammable articles. This afforded a total warehouse floor space of 400,000 square feet and an available warehouse capacity of approximately 3,250,000 cubic feet.


837

This layout naturally divided the depot into a series of warehouse groups of three buildings, and upon this condition as a basis a group system of warehousing was developed. Each track was known as a warehouse group, and was apportioned certain classes of supplies which it handled exclusively. Each warehouse group had its own executive organization, and operated as an independent unit in all matters which did not affect other groups; in the latter instance, however, operations were directed by a central regulating department, the work of which is described below.

FIG. 47.- Intermediate Medical Supply Depot, No. 2, showing railroad tracks

GENERAL PLAN OF ORGANIZATION

The officer in charge of warehouses who supervised the operations division, was directly responsible to the officer in charge of the depot in all matters pertaining to the physical operations of the plant. The officer in charge of warehouses had to arrange the depot stock with regard to facility in handling as well as protection against fire, utilize to the best advantage the labor and facilities afforded him, and, above all, see that requisitions were filled and shipped without delay or mistakes. His primnary duty was to coordinate the various departments of his organization. In matters requiring special technical knowledge, the officer of warehouses was instructed by a member of the advisory group.


838

Although, as noted a.bove, the group system of warehousing was employed, general operations were governed by functional divisions. To accomplish such control there were maintained three departments, the receiving department, the warehousing department, and the regulating department, each of which functioned for the entire depot, and which were coordinated by the officer in charge of warehouses. Each of these departments had a clearly defined jurisdiction, and the various jurisdictions could not overlap.

Actual warehousing operations were in charge of five operating sections known as the warehouse group section, the sorting section, the field unit section, the issue section, and the L.C. L. section.

Fig. 48. - Intermediate Medical Supply Depot, No. 2, showing Decauville track and turntable, as used in all warehouses

RECEIVING DEPARTMENT

The receiving department was concerned solely with the proper checking of all incoming supplies, and was under the charge of the receiving officer.

The receiving officer was notified of all telegraphic and letter advices of shipments en route to the depot. He kept a file of all cars requiring special attention upon receipt, and issued necessary instructions when such cars arrived. He examined the work of the checkers, and had general supervision of all rechecks and adjustments in receipts.


839

CHECKING AND CHECKING PROBLEMS

As cars were unloaded, their contents were recorded by checkers on the standard warehouse receipt slip. Each warehouse receipt slip bore, in addition to the items checked, the car number, consignor, and any information which could aid in accomplishing invoices. Supplies from the United States usually bore the case numbers of the depot or origin, which numbers were recorded. However, a large proportion of goods received from English and European sources had practically no marks of identity. In such instances checkers were instructed to record purchase order numbers, date of shipment, ports of embarkation and debarkation, and, where available, the manufacturer’s name. The receiving officer was responsible for the information as entered on these warehouse receipt slips, and he examined them carefully before they became a part of the depot records.

Very often boxes showed no identifying mark, making it impossible for the checker to record their contents at the time of unloading. In such an event, the box was checked “contents unknown,” placed to one side, and marked with a large circle and car number noted, signifying that it had not been checked. These boxes were collected under the supervision, of the receiving officer, sent to issue room, opened, their contents checked and marked on the boxes, and a cross made in the circle, denoting that the box had been checked. This system aided the checker greatly, and proved to be a simple solution of an aggravating problem.

In addition to the regular stock there always was arriving a large amount of property belonging to the base hospitals, field hospitals, ambulance companies, evacuation hospitals, or similar units. Such property being packed for the most part in mixed or unmarked boxes, it could be checked by unit and box number only. If a packer’s list was available, such a check was sufficient; if not, much work was entailed in opening the various cases and checking the unit item by item. The receiving officer kept informed as to whether such property was to be sent to a particular unit, held in stock as a complete unit, or unpacked and taken into the depot stock item by item. He also supervised the actual checking of this class of property.

THE WAREHOUSING DEPARTMENT

The warehousing department, directed by the warehouse supervisor, was concerned with those problems that were related to the actual storage of supplies and the employment of labor.

The warehouse supervisor kept the officer in charge of warehouses carefully informed as to available and occupied storage space, the location of supplies, and the condition of the various warehouses from a point of view of storage efficiency. He directed the manner of loading and unloading cars, determined the methods of stowing the various classes of supplies, and advised the warehousemen as to their layout. He also supervised the manner in which labor was employed, conferring with the regulating officer in regard to labor requisitions and the movement of labor details as the day’s work progressed.


840

SECTION OF FIRE PREVENTION

The section of fire prevention was under the control of the warehousing department. This section was responsible for all matters pertaining to the prevention of fire and the checking of conflagrations. Inspectors made daily tours of the depot, notifying all concerned of any infringements of fire regulations, supervising corrective measures where found necessary, inspecting all fire fighting apparatus, and keeping the depot organization informed regarding all matters pertaining to this section. These inspectors worked in conjunction with the inspectors of the post fire department. For fire fighting, a permanent

FIG. 49 - Intermediate Medical Supply Depot, No. 2, showing interior of a warehouse

organization was maintained, headed by the assistant fire marshal, who was one of the depot officers. Each motor engine was manned by a company of selected men commanded by a noncommissioned officer. Fire wells to supply the engines were located at strategic points and a system of bell alarms extended over the entire depot. A force of orderlies was immediately available in case of fire, and necessary telephonic communication was automatically established as soon as an alarm was given. The officer in charge of warehouses directed any salvage work that became necessary in the emergency. Fire drills were held frequently to familiarize every man with his duties.


841

Repair and carpentry work was handled by a squad of machinists and carpenters under the direction of a noncommissioned officer.

The depot guard was furnished by line troops and property could not be removed from warehouses without proper written authority.

THE DEPOT TRANSPORTATION SECTION

The depot transportation section, in charge of a noncommissioned officer, was responsible for the care and use of all motor trucks or horse-drawn vehicles assigned to the depot. Warehouse groups desiring transportation facilities made requisition upon this transportation section for such trucks and teams as were necessary, stating the approximate length of time these were to be used. A standard transportation requisition was employed. Each truck or or team was checked out and in at the transportation department on the truck register. This department also handled forage and bedding for the horses as well as gas and oil for the motors, and was responsible for the police of stables and garages, care of the horses, and the upkeep and repair of trucks and wagons. The light delivery truck proved a marked success in interwarehouse transportation, and the army escort wagon was almost indespensable. The light soil and abundant rains of central France limited the use of heavy trucks to such hauls as could be made over rock roads. Light delivery facilities were permanently assigned to the depot, while heavier trucks were requisitioned as as needed on the post transportation pool which was handled by the Motor Transport Corps.

REGULATING DEPARTMENT

The regulating department, headed by the regulating officer, was the control board for the whole operations division, and its functions were executive rather than advisory. Briefly, the regulating department planned and brought to accomplishment each day’s work.

To facilitate such control, the regulating office was located centrally among the warehouses, and was connected with all parts of the depot by telephone and a system of orderlies. It was imperative that this communicating system be thorough and efficient; moreover, the whole operations division had to keep this department fully informed regarding depot conditions.

The regulating officer was responsible for the prompt and accurate filling of all requisitions and for a coordination of facilities that make possible a smooth-running and efficient organization. To attain this end, the regulating officer had to know exactly what was going on in every section of the depot. He had to know the status of each requisition and due list. And finally he constantly had to keep himself and his department in such a position as to be able to change the layout of work at a moment’s notice and without causing confusion or delay.

There were two sections of the regulating department, the requisition section, which handled all requisitions, issue orders, files, and stock records, and the labor and railway transportation section which handled all matters pertaining to labor distribution, empty car orders, requests for switching, reports from the warehouse groups, together with all reports, records, and files


842

pertaining to car movements. Each section was under the close supervision of the regulating officer, who personally directed much of the detail of the departmental work.

The detail of the regulating department can best be presented by tracing a requisition through the various steps to its completion. The original requisition came from the main office directly to the hands of the regulating officer. Under his direction each item was marked with respect to the warehouse group or issue room from which it was to be shipped. By reference to these marks the office clerks extracted the requisition, making out an issue order for each warehouse group and issue room from which items were to be shipped. These issue orders then went to the regulating officer in triplicate.

Having a number of requisitions before him in the form of issue orders, the regulating officer first decided upon their priorities, both from the point of view of the urgency of the requisitions and of those local considerations which had a bearing upon the process of filling them. He made his decisions and laid out the next day’s work each afternoon. He then turned to the labor and transportation section and informed the noncommissioned officer in charge regarding the labor details and cars required to accomplish the day’s work as he had planned it. As the personnel of the depot was sufficient to supply men for directive and specialized positions only, the labor details were elastic, and were furnished day by day by the executive organization of the post. Thus the amount of work to be done determined the size of the labor details which were ordered each evening by telephone.

Empty cars for loading were distributed by the post regulating officer, who was in close touch with the needs of the units at the front and transportation conditions. Empty cars were requisitioned in duplicate upon a standard form, one copy going to the post regulating officer and the other to the local railroad yardmaster. On the basis of these car orders the post regulating officer distributed the empty cars available, and the local yardmasters placed them where ordered. In case a shortage of empty cars existed, requisitions were filled in the order of their priority, this being determined by a consideration of supply and transportation conditions throughout the theater of operations. The requisition for empty cars showed the exact position in which the cars were to be spotted, the proposed destinations, the nature of supplies to be loaded, and the priority as determined by the depot regulating officer.

At this point it will be well to describe the method of handling inbound shipments. Solid trains of materials arrived at Gievres and were turned over to the local railroad transportation officer for classification. For this purpose huge classification yards had been constructed. Here all the medical loads were placed on a certain series of tracks. At all hours of the day and night car spotters, carefully instructed by the depot regulating officer, examined the cars containing medical property and classified them as to contents and the proper location for spotting. This classification was recorded on the spotter’s car sheet which showed the car initial and number, its contents, and the warehouse at which it was to be spotted. This form was made in duplicate, one copy going to the regulating officer and the other to the local yardmaster. Each car was chalked on both sides with the number of the warehouse at


843

which it was to be spotted, this being done for the information of the train crew. The spotter usually could learn the contents of the car from the car paster, but often he had to open the door and make a rapid survey of the contents for himself. Trains were spotted from this classification yard once during the night and usually twice during the day. The spotter’s car list preceded the cars to the depot, however, and the regulating officer thus was able to plan for the unloading an hour or two in advance. The receiving officer also examined these car sheets and noted the arrival of any cars requiring his special attention.

Early each morning the regulating officer was informed of inbound loads arriving during the night, in order that he could distribute labor details to the best advantage. At the opening of the day’s work, each warehouse group sent to the labor and railroad transportation section of the regulating department a track report showing the empty cars, inbound loads, and misplaced loads at each warehouse. These morning track reports were consolidated, and the morning report for the entire depot was obtained. From this information the regulating officer could determine whether or not it would be necessary to change the layout of work as planned the night before. The depot morning report was submitted as soon as possible to the post regulating officer for his information. The accurate preparation and prompt submission of these morning track reports was essential for the regulating department to adjust the machinery of the depot to take care of the requirements of the various warehouse groups and any error in stating these requirements was likely to affect the whole depot.

Knowing how many cars were available or were to be available for loading during the day, the regulating officer was in a position to send out issue orders in a quantity sufficient to utilize every car. No issue order was sent to a warehouse group for loading until the regulating officer was certain that sufficient cars were available to handle it. This prevented an accumulation of issue orders in the warehouses and enabled the regulating department to know exactly what requisitions were to be filled or partly filled during the progress of the day’s work.

The original issue order was stamped with authority to issue and went to the officer in charge of the proper warehouse group or issue room. Any special instructions regarding the loading of the requisition were attached to the issue order in the form of a memorandum from the regulating officer, and the various warehouse groups and issue rooms began at once the work of issuing supplies and loading them for shipment. When supplies were issued from the warehouse group or issue room a checker prepared a standard warehouse issue slip. This issue slip showed the requisition number, consignee, destination, car number and the approximate weight of the load, and was a list of the number of boxes and total quantity loaded of each item.

There were three methods of shipping requisitions. The first method was employed when each warehouse group concerned with a requisition issued a sufficient quantity of supplies to fill one or more cars. This was the simplest case, and presented no special problem. As soon as the car was ready for shipment the warehouse issue slip was examined by the officer in charge of the issuing group and was sent to the regulating department.


844

The second method was employed when several warehouse groups issued supplies in quantities that individually were insufficient to fill a car, hut which in total amounted to one or more carloads. In such a situation there were two alternatives: A car could be switched from track to t.rack for piecemeal loading, or the load could be collected by the depot transportation department and assembled at a designated track for loading. The regulating officer determined which method was to he used, basing his judgment on the considerations of labor and transportation involved. Often, for example, a track was so congested that a switching of cars would upset the work of the entire warehouse group, thus making the assembly system preferable.

If a car was to be partially loaded and switched to another track for completion, the regulating officer attached to the various issue orders a memorandum stating the order of switching to be followed. Each warehouse group notified the railroad transportation section as soon as the car was ready for switching and sent to the warehouse group which was to finish the loading a warehouse issue slip showing the supplies already loaded. The issue sup thus served as an advance notice of the car number. Items loaded after a switch had been made were entered on this same warehouse issue slip, thus avoiding the resultant confusion if each warehouse group had sent to the regulating officer separate issue slips.

If, on the other hand, a requisition was to be assembled at a certain warehouse group, each issue order was marked “Assemble at __________track, warehouse __________" while the issue order to a warehouse group at which the assembly was to be made showed from which warehouse groups and issue rooms supplies were to be received for loading. The warehouse issue slips were sent to the warehouse group at which the loading was to take place and there served as a check when supplies were actually loaded. The checker who loaded the car pinned these various issume slips together and sent them to the regulating department in the usual manner. This procedure kept all the issue slips for the car together, but gave the regulating department a check on the work of each warehouse group concerned with the requisition. The car number, and the approximate weight of the load was to be entered on each issue slip by the checker who loaded the car.

The third method of shipment was employed when a requisition was of such a size as to demand less than the shipping space afforded by one car. Such shipments were known as L.C. L. h shipments. These shipments were handled by a specialized department, one warehouse being designated the L. C. L. warehouse. Issue orders for these small requisitions bore the letters “L.C.L.” in bold type, and were handled by warehouse groups exactly as were the requisitions which were assembled for loading at a particular warehouse group, except that each package, before delivery to the L.C.L. department was to be stenciled with the consignee’s name and address and the requisition number. Every shipment of two or more cars and many single-cam shipments leaving the depot were convoyed to destination. This practice grew out of unnecessary delays to which cars ordinarily were subjected. Experience proved that under

________________

h Less-than-carload lots - Ed


845

convoy the chances of getting to final destination the entire shipment of cars within a reasonable time were infinitely greater than when left entirely to railroad officials. One convoy usually was placed in charge of not more than six cars. If a larger number was shipped to a single point, additional convoys were furnished. Cars destined to the advance section usually were made up in solid trains bound for adjacent points and were routed via a regulating station. Such trains were handled by the post regulating officer who furnished the necessary convoyers.

Each convoy was furnished with a list of the cars showing car numbers and contents. The consignee acknowledged on this list receipt of such cars as were delivered. Upon his return the convoy gave this list to the property officer and it was filed with the requisition. Should any cars fail to reach their destination tracers were at once instituted and every effort was made to expedite delivery.

When an issue order was sent out from the regulating office the duplicate went to the requisition section, where it was placed in a current file, and the triplicate went to the warehouse stock balance clerk, who deducted each item from the warehouse stock balance. The labor and railway transportation section kept in close touch with car movements and the entire regulating department directed all its energies toward keeping the day’s work up to the schedule as planned by the regulating officer.

As soon as the car was loaded or unloaded, or a less than carload lot shipment was ready, the warehouse receipt or issue slips were sent to the regulating office. Here they were received by the car movements clerk, who entered them in a register and recorded any changes of status on the track board. This board showed for each warehouse the following information: Inbound loads due (entered from the spotter’s car sheet); loaded cars spotted (entered from the track reports); outbound loads ready (entered from the warehouse issue slips); empty cars (entered from track reports and warehouse issue and receipt slips); assigned labor details (entered from verbal report of the noncommissioned officer in charge of labor distribution). There was then in the regulating office a graphic representation of the exact transportation conditions at each warehouse in the depot.

As soon as the warehouse receipt slips had been registered and transportation changes recorded on the track board they were sent to the receiving officer, who examined, corrected, and initialed them. They were then turned over to the warehouse stock balance clerk for entry, after which they were sent to the main office. Warehouse issue slips passed from the car movements clerk to the requisition section, where they were checked against duplicate copies of the issue orders, item by item, thus keeping the file of issue orders always accurate. Any mistakes in filling requisitions were brought to the attention of the regulating officer and proper adjustments were made. The warehouse issue slips then went to the main office. The requisition section thus knew the exact status of every item on a requisition and could check up discrepancies before a shipment had left the depot. This prompt check on requisitions was one of the most valuable phases of the work of the regulating department and required the attention of an alert and accurate clerica1 force.


846

As the items on a requisition were filled the various warehouse groups checked them on the issue orders. As soon as a particular issue order was completed it was sent to the requisition section of the regulating department, where it was checked against the retained copy of the issue order and then sent to the main office. This afforded within the operations division a double check on every requisition.

As the regulating department marked an original requisition for extraction there were noted certain items which could be furnished from the stock of the depot. These items were marked by drawing a circle around the amount requisitioned and were extracted as the proposed due list. After examination by the regulating officer this list was turned over to the balance due clerk. The warehouse stock balance showed the amount of each item available for issue and from it the regulating officer and the balance due clerk kept themselves informed as to depot shortages. During the progress of a requisition the balance due clerk watched the proposed due list and deducted from it any items which arrived at the depot before the requisition was completed. Such items had to be included on the issue orders of the various warehouse groups. To facilitate this part of the work of the regulating department the warehouse stock balance clerk kept a stock shortage board which consisted of a list of all stock items pasted on a wall board. Opposite each item not in stock was placed a peg. A glance at this board showed all depot shortages and a constant reference to the warehouse stock balance was avoided. When a requisition had been completed the proposed due list automatically became the requisition shortage list and went to the main office where a formal due list was prepared. After approval by the officer in charge this formal due list was returned to the balance due clerk who filed it by the organization making requisition and cross indexed it by item on the items due record. Due lists were filled on the order of the regulating officer who was kept informed regarding the due-list file by the balance due clerk.

The foregoing survey gives an idea of the complexity of the duties of the regulating department. However, this routine was a relatively unimportant part of the work of the regulating officer, for his principal function was to make adjustments, straighten out tangles, and keep the whole operating machine in harmony. For this the regulating officer was responsible to the officer in charge of warehouses. Each evening he submitted to the officer in charge of warehouses a progressive report of car movements, hour by hour, during the day. This report showed briefly and clearly the work accomplished by the depot and after examination by the officer in charge of warehouses it was sent to the post regulating officer.

THE WAREHOUSE GROUP SECTION

Each warehouse group was in charge of a commissioned officer who was entirely responsible for the management of that group. His assistant was a noncommissioned officer with general supervision, and there was a noncommissioned officer in charge of each warehouse. In addition there was a track clerk, who handled all the clerical work of the group. Each warehouse had a permanent force of warehousemen and special laborers. Each group had


847

a squad of experienced checkers. The administration of the warehouse group was in the hands of the warehouse officer and he was responsible to the receiving department, the warehousing department, and the regulating department for those activities with which they were respectively concerned. He inspected inbound cars, directed the order, place, and method of unloading, and inspected the warehouse receipt slips before they left the warehouse group. He directed the stacking of all supplies received and took necessary measures for their protection. Since a large amount of supplies were stored in the open, or covered with paulins only, the warehouse officer decided, with the aid of the supervisor of warehouses, just what articles could safely be stowed in this manner. As there were no floors in the warehouses, he had to see that sufficient dunnage, in the form of logs or slabs, was placed on the ground to preserve property from mold and dampness. He had to take all possible steps to minimize fire hazards. He had to utilize to the best advantage the labor assigned him. He was responsible for the prompt transfer to their proper location of supplies not carried in his stock. He supervised the filling of requisitions and examined all warehouse issue slips prepared by his checkers. The noncommissioned officer assisting the warehouse officer was responsible to him for the performance of whatever duties he was assigned. The noncommissioned officer in charge of each warehouse was responsible to the warehouse officer for all matters pertaining to the operation of his warehouse as a unit. On him rested the final responsibility for the proper storage, protection and handling of supplies, the filling of requisitions, and the efficiency of labor.

The checkers were assigned to cars by the warehouse officer through his assistant and were responsible to him directly. Being assigned to a certain car the checker’s sole responsibility was to prepare through the use of the warehouse receipt and issue slips an accurate list of the items loaded or unloaded, record all shipping information concerning the car, and turn these warehouse issue and receipt slips over to the track clerk promptly upon the completion of loading or unloading.

The track clerk compared all reports submitted by the warehouse group; received, recorded, and sent to the regulating office all warehouse receipt and issue slips; acted as telephone orderly at the office of the warehouse group; prepared car pasters for each car loaded on his track; aided the warehouse officer in the issuing of orders and instructions and the obtaining of information. All papers, orders, and instructions coming to the warehouse group were received by the track clerk, and distributed in accordance with the orders of the warehouse officer.

The procedure within the warehouse group can best be shown by outlining a day’s work there. At the beginning of the day the assistant to the warehouse officer inspected all cars on his track. The information which he obtained was entered on the morning track report by the track clerk, and this report, having been signed by the warehouse officer, was sent to the regulating department. Labor details were distributed as ordered by the warehouse officer, checkers were assigned to cars to be unloaded, and unloading instructions issued to the various warehouses. The work of unloading began at once. Soon, issue orders


848

for the day’s work arrived and were distributed by the warehouse officer, labor details redistributed if necessary, and checkers assigned to empty cars to be loaded. The work of loading then began. As a car was loaded, the checker prepared a warehouse issue slip in triplicate. As soon as the loading was finished the checker placed the triplicate copy in the car, closed the door, and sent the original and duplicate of the issue slip to the track clerk. The track clerk recorded the car number, consignee, contents, and approximate weight in the track register, and after obtaining the signature of the warehouse officer, sent the issue slip to the regulating department. He then prepared two car pasters which were turned over to the car sealer, who pasted one on each side of the car. This car sealer then securely fastened and sealed all car doors and windows, removed all old markings and pasters, and chalked on each side of the car the destination. The warehouse officer then inspected the car and pronounced it ready for shipment. Loaded cars were “pulled” from the tracks during the night only, unless congestion demanded a clearing of the tracks during the day.

Each item of supply was given a definite warehouse group location, and each warehouse group had a list of items which it was authorized to store. Inbound loads were spotted with reference to this distribution list, but it frequently occurred that a certain car contained items belonging to two or more warehouse groups. Badly mixed cars were handled by the sorting section, but it frequently had to he decided whether a car should be switched from warehouse group to warehouse group, unloading supplies at the proper location only, or, on the other hand, the entire car be unloaded where it was spotted and the foreign items distributed to their proper locations by other means. This decision was made by the warehouse officer but it was subject to the revision of the regulating officer. In case such car was to be switched, the warehouse receipt slip for those items already unloaded, was sent to the warehouse group at which the unloading was to be continued. Here it acted as an advice of shipment and was used for the checking of the remainder of the car. This procedure prevented any misunderstanding on the part of the regulating department as no receipt slips arrived at the regulating office until the car was entirely unloaded. Supplies which, for the sake of saving in time of transportation, had been unloaded in the wrong warehouse, were distributed to their proper locations by truck, wagon or by the interwarehouse track system. The prompt clearance of such items was a mark of good warehousing, and was of the utmost importance to all concerned.

The warehouse group had to keep the regulating department accurately informed as to all car movements occurring during the day. To this end the track clerk sent. to the railroad transportation section immediate telephonic advice of all cars arriving at or leaving the warehouse group, and in addition made a written track report four times each day. The morning track report has already been described. As much as possible of the switching of cars was done during the noon hour, hence a track report was made at 11 a. m. and another at 2 p. m. The 11 o’clock report included all requests for switching, and the 2 o’clock report showed how many of these switches had been made. The fourth track report was submitted at 5 p. m. and showed the proposed


849

condition of the track at the close of the day’s work. It was made direct to the officer in charge of warehouses, who determined what shipments required convoys and notified the main office to make necessary arrangements for the procurement and instruction of the convoys. The report of cars loaded then was sent to the main office for the information of the car record department.

Before 4:30 p.m. each day, each warehouse group submitted a daily report of cars loaded. This report showed the car numbers, consignee, and destinations of all cars loaded during the day or to be loaded before the close of work.

In addition to these formal reports, the warehouse officer kept the receiving, warehousing, and regulating departments constantly informed concerning those matters which fell under their respective jurisdictions.

THE SORTING SECTION

The sorting section, in charge of a commissioned officer, handled all badly mixed, inbound cars. The sorting warehouse was centrally located and was connected with all warehouse groups by wagon roads and narrow-guage track. Here cars were unloaded, and checked in the usual manner. A section of the warehouse was assigned as an assembly point for supplies belonging to each warehouse group, sorting thus being carried on according to distribution of items through the depot. The efficiency of the sorting section depended upon the rapidity with which these segregated piles of supplies were transferred to their proper locations. The officer in charge of the sorting section was responsible to the three functional departments in the same manner as were the officers in charge of the various warehouse groups; however, his work was checked carefully by the supervisor of warehouses. Due to the large number of mixed cars that arrived from the bases, the sorting section performed a very necessary function in the operation of the depot.

THE FIELD UNIT SECTION

The field unit section, in charge of a commissioned officer, handled all matters pertaining to field hospitals, evacuation hospitals, ambulance companies, regimental infirmaries, camp infirmaries, camp infirmary reserves, combat equipments and related units. Under the supervision of the receiving officer the officer in charge checked these units as they arrived, and either completed them or broke them up for depot stock. Field units were stored and handled under the direction of supervisor of warehouses and issued in accordance with instructions of the regulating department. Several complete units were kept constantly in stock for issue on emergency requisitions.

THE ISSUE SECTION

On practically all requisitions there were many items which had to be shipped in less than case lots. To meet this situation effectively, a series of issue rooms was established where a stock of each supply item was kept in such a manner as to facilitate issue in small lots. One issue room handled the reg-


850

ular medical and surgical stock; a second, X-ray property; a third, laboratory equipment and supplies; a fourth, veterinary articles; a fifth, dental supplies; a sixth, kitchen and dining room equipment; and a seventh, blank forms and medical books. This specialization of issue rooms, made possible a large daily output and secured efficiency of issuing and packing from a technical point of view.

The medical and surgical issue room occupied a building 400 by 50 feet. At one end of the room, and occupying approximately one-half the floor space, a maximum and minimum stock of each item in the medical and surgical group of supplies was maintained. This stock was arranged alphabetically according to the supply table. This portion of the issue room was in charge of a noncommissioned officer, who was responsible for keeping up the required stock at all times, provided the supplies were in the depot. To do this, he made requisitions on the various groups and arranged for depot transportation to transfer such supplies to his issue room.

At the other end of the issue room were the shelves, arranged in rows which extended across the building. Between these shelves and one of the side walls was a trucking aisle, and on the opposite side was a narrow aisle serving the layout tables, which extended in a single row down the room at right angles to the shelves. Between the layout tables and the front wall was a wide space used as a packing floor and trucking aisle. This packing floor was provided with all necessary packing materials, emnpty boxes being stacked just outside the warehouse.

The shelves were 30 inches deep and were placed 12 inches apart, being built in rows. Each row was divided into six 4-foot sections, and each section consisted of six superimposed shelves. Items were arranged in accordance with the supply table except for bulky articles which were placed on the top shelves or in bins under the layout table. The bottom shelves were reserved for surplus stocks and usually were unoccupied.

The shelves were kept full by a squad of stock clerks who drew upon the feeder supply at the other end of the room. The shelf stock had to be kept complete, and to facilitate their work the stock clerks were permitted to take supplies from the feeder stock without written requisition. The shelves were stocked from each alternate aisle, and the rear trucking aisle was reserved for the exclusive use of the stock clerks. This arrangement prohibited any interference between the issue clerks and the stock clerks, as the issue clerks filled their orders from those aisles not used by the stock clerks. Thus the stocking of the entire issue room was automatic, and a.ny delays or failures to maintain stocks were evidences of inefficient operation.

Issue orders came from the regulating department to the officer in charge of the issue room, who examined them and planned the work of the day. He then turned them over, together with his instructions, to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the issue clerks. The issue clerks began filling the requisitions as instructed, taking the various items from the shelves and placing them on the layout table, where each article was checked and rechecked. Each issue clerk handled the items on certain sections of shelves only and was assigned a certain portion of the layout table. Hence in filling


851

requisitions the issue clerks could not interfere with one another, as each filled only those items which were handled in his sections of shelves. For example, to one issue clerk was given the portion of an issue order which included post medicines; to another, that portion dealing with instrunients and appliances. Requisitions were extracted with this arrangement in mind, and issime orders were prepared accordingly. As soon as an issue clerk had filled his portion of the requisition or had used all the layout space assigned to him, he notified the chief packer, giving him a requisition number and the address of the consignee. The chief packer then assigned to one of his squad the work of packing the supplies. In the event that several small requisitions were laid

FIG. 50.- Medical Supply Depot. No. 2, showing issue room

out on the same table, they were blocked off from one another by movable partitions which projected 6 or 8 inches above the surface of the table. In filling large requisitions the issue clerk usually made arrangements with the chief packer whereby the supplies on one-half of his section of the layout table were being packed at the same time that he was filling the other half of the table, thus causing no delay. The chief packer gave to each box an issue room number, and marked it “Mixed box, medicines,” or in some similar manner, and stenciled it with the requisition number and address of consignee.

Procedure from this point was exactly the same as that followed by the warehouse group in shipping requisitions.


852

Because of the large number of items on the average issue ord.er, the issue room recorded on its warehouse issue slip only the number of mixed boxes that it shipped on the particular requisition. The issue order, properly checked, was used by both the regulating department and the main office as a record of items shipped from the issue room. This practice, while apparently irregular, affected such a saving of time and proved to be so accurate that it was considered an unqualified success.

The officer in charge of the issue room had the same responsibility as the officer in charge of a warehouse group, with certain additional details incident to the handling of unpacked supplies. For example, he kept for his own protection a record of all narcotics received and issued, making frequent inventories of the stock on hand. The issue rooms were the first points in the depot to feel a strain, and any inefficiency of operation caused congestion that was fatal to the smooth filling of requisitions.

LESS-THAN-CARLOAD-LOT SECTION

The L. C. L. section handled all shipments which were so small as to make the use of an entire car inadvisable.

The noncommissioned officer in charge of the L. C. L. section received from the regulating department a shipping a.dvice for each L. C. L., to be shipped, showing the warehouse groups from which packages were to be received. A section of the L. C. L. warehouse was assigned to each of these requisitions, and as the various packages came in they were checked against the warehouse issue slip and stacked in their assigned places. When all warehouse groups had delivered their portions of the shipment, the total number of packages was determined and each package was given a shipping number; for example, in a shipment of 25 cases, the fifth box to be given a number would be designated box No. 25-5. As soon as the shipment was ready, the warehouse issue slips were sent to the regulating department. From the L. C. L. warehouse these shipments were sent to the post L. C. L. warehouse by truck or car and here, after recheck of the box numbers they were shipped by the railway transport officer under the direction of the post regulating officer. This pooling of all less-than-carload lots in the post enabled practically all supplies to be delivered to the French transportation companies in solid carloads, thus solving one of the most difficult of the shipping problems faced by the American Expeditionary Forces.