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Chapter VIII

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



Under the advisory commission of the Council of National Defense there was formed, February 28, 1917, a munitions standards board, which merged a month later into the General Munitions Board,1charged with the duty of coordinating the buying of munitions by the War and Navy Departments and with assisting those departments in acquiring raw materials and manufacturing plants to meet their requirements. The General Munitions Board was composed of technically competent persons selected from civil life by the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense and representatives from the several supply bureaus of the War and Navy Departments. It was the function of this board to supervise the distribution of Government orders and to prevent competition among the several purchasing agencies of the two departments.1
The Secretary of War in orders of April 12, 1917, directed: 2

Where time will permit, information will be given to the Munitions Board constituted by the Council of National Defense, through the supply bureaus' representative, of orders to be made for supplies, with the view of assistance from the board in placing the orders and in order that the supplies of the War Department may be coordinated with those of the Navy and other executive departments and secured at prices not in excess of those paid by other departments.
The functions of the General Munitions Board were largely advisory. It received statements of immediate requirements only as they were brought to it and joined in the effort to supply them. It considered whether the proposed order involved a conflict with other necessary orders and whether emergency action were required to provide material or determine prices. It then attempted to discover the best available sources of supply.3 The earlier orders were placed with little or no reference to this board, except for certain articles on which a shortage was feared. For such articles, clearance was required. A list of articles was promulgated which required clearance, and Government agencies were requested to place no order for articles on that list without first having such orders cleared by the committee. This was to prevent orders from being placed in congested areas and where they were liable to interfere with other orders of equal or greater importance, to adjust the relative importance of deliveries, and to prevent abnormal rise in prices. The buying department read its proposed orders before the committee in full. If no objection were made by another department because of conflict with its program or by an agency of the board because of curtailment, or substitution, or because another plan of conservation was being hindered, clearance was delayed until the matter could be adjusted.4


Clearance showed very few results in the control of prices, and new agencies for that purpose were created in the priorities and price-fixing committees.4

The development of the priorities system of control had its beginning in the priority committee of the General Munitions Board created May 3, 1917, with the following provisions:5

Exercise full power in the determination of priority of delivery of materials and finished products whenever there is a conflict in delivery in accordance with the general policy of the Government. It is further understood that at present the priority committee of the General Munitions Board has no power in regard to the determination of priority in regard to civilian needs in which the Army and Navy requirements are not involved. It is further understood that as between the needs of our allies and our civilian population, the priority committee of the General Munitions Board for the present has no authority to act. In this connection, however, the priority committee should keep full information as to such cases or instances as come to its attention, in order that plans may further be developed for properly handling the matter.

The Munitions Standards Board and the General Munitions Board were officially disbanded July 28, 1917, and a new body, under the title of War Industries Board, created in their place.6 The functions of the War Industries Board as defined by the Council of National Defense in the order creating it were in general terms as follows:6

The board will act as a clearing house for the war industry needs of the Government, determine the most effective ways of meeting them and the best means and methods of increasing production, including the creation or extension of industries demanded by the emergency, the sequence and relative urgency of the needs of the different Government services, and consider price factors, and in the first instance the industrial and labor aspects of the problems involved and the general questions affecting the purchase of commodities.

With the establishment of the War Industries Board there was created the office of priorities commissioner.7 Under him was the priorities committee, transferred bodily from the old munitions board. This committee had a chairman and representatives from industry and the Army and Navy. It rapidly developed and became the priorities division of the War Industries Board. The functions of the priorities division were to formulate general plans for the coordination of the military program as presented by the military authorities and the industrial program in so far as such programs required priorities. It determined policies and designated agencies to carry them out. It defined the activities that were to be accorded preferential treatment because of their war or civilian importance and certified its classifications to the Fuel Administration, Railroad Administration, Employment Service, and industrial advisers of the district draft boards for their respective use in distributing fuel, furnishing transportation and labor, and in passing on cases of industrial and occupational deferment.8 The priorities division exercised its control through a system of priorities and of preferential treatment of essential industries. By means of this system it indicated the sequence in which materials should be manufactured and orders filled. This sequence was determined in accordance with its best judgment and conceptions of the importance of the various parts of the military program. The priorities division promulgated its rules and regulations through 


a series of priority circulars, clearance lists, and preferential treatment lists, of which the circulars were the most important. There were 60 such circulars issued beginning with September 21, 1917, and ending December 20, 1918, with the recision of all circulars.9 Circulars Nos.1 and 2 were issued September 21, 1917. No.1 prescribed the classes of priority, defined their order of precedence, specified the materials classified, classified existing and future orders, and fixed the form of priority certificate. This circular was modified and amplified by Circulars No.3 of January 1, 1918, and No.4 of July 1, 1918. Circular No.1 applied particularly to iron and steel and their manufactured products. Circular No.3 extended the application to chemicals, cotton duck, woolen cloth, and such raw materials and manufactured products as might be deemed necessary from time to time by the priorities committee. Circular No.4 extended the application to all commodities except food, feeds, and fuels, and to all manufacturers except those concerned with these products. Circular No.1 provided for three classes of priority, A, B, C. Circular No.3 added a fourth, known as class AA. Circular No.4 added a fifth, designated class D, and provided for automatic classifications. Prior to July, 1918, all priorities had been granted upon applications made to the priorities division. After that date applications were received for classifications higher than those included in the automatic ratings.

In its application of the provision of Circular No.4 to industry the priorities division of the War Industries Board placed medicines, medical and surgical supplies in class C priority, and accorded to the manufacturers of those supplies preference in accordance with that priority.9Instructions to those manufacturers on the subject were issued by the medical industry section of the War Industries Board on August 9, 1918, in the following letter from the chief of that section:


From:  Lieut. Col. F. F. Simpson, M. C., N. A.
To:  Manufacturers of drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical supplies.
Subject: Preferential rating.
1. You will find inclosed copy of a letter from Judge E. B. Parker, priorities commissioner, stating that drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical supplies have been certified by the priorities board as embraced within the schedule of purposes entitled to preferential treatment, and will, therefore, receive a class C priority classification, in accord with the bulletin of July 3.
2. The foregoing language is general, and includes such commodities for civil as well as military use. It also includes supplies for dental medicine and surgery.
3. In placing your orders for steel and other restricted commodities, file a copy of Judge Parker' s letter with your order and also a copy of your preferential rating for coal and coke.
4. These communications will be prima facie evidence that the Government recognizes your plant as at present entitled to preferential treatment in the matter of materials, etc., for the making of medical and surgical supplies. The manufacturers will, in most instances, be able to honor your orders without the need for priority certificates.
5. In the event that a priority certificate is demanded by the manufacturer from whom you secure your machinery or raw materials, fill out a priorities blank and make application for a priority certificate for the specific order in the regular way.


6. If you desire, you may advise me that you have made such application, and I will assist the priorities division in obtaining such information as it may need for passing on the application.
7. It would be desirable for you to have on hand constantly a few blank priority application forms for emergency use.
Chief of Section of Medical Industry.


To simplify procedure and to provide a clearly defined basis for action, all industry was divided by the War Industries Board into two general groups. The one represented industries which were regarded as of prime importance in winning the war and classed as essential industries. The other represented industries which, while useful in time of peace, contributed very little if at all to the success of the war, and were classed as nonessential industries. The essential industries were of different degrees of importance. Since the more important, essential industries were entitled to and should receive preferential treatment in all matters relating to production, a general classification of the activities demanding preferential treatment was promulgated in March, 1918, by the War Industries Board. Seven well-defined classes were described in this classification. It was followed on April 6 by preference list No. 1, which increased the number of classes to 45. Preference list No. 2 was issued September 3, 1918, and still more widely extended the principle of preferential treatment to industry. The purpose of this list appeared to be to make the operation thereof as nearly automatic as possible. The object and method of operation of the preferment system was fully outlined in the foreword to this preference list.

In this classification plants engaged principally in the manufacture of medicines and medical and surgical supplies were placed in Class IV. Many of them, however, secured their materials and semifinished products from classes having higher ratings. The maintenance and operation of public buildings used as hospitals were placed in Class I.

Preference list No.2 was soon followed by supplement No.1 to preference list No.2, in which were listed the names and addresses of the manufacturers to whom preference treatment had been accorded. Among those so listed were many makers of medical and surgical supplies.


The Director of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic informed the Surgeon General on June 10, 1918, that the War Department was not securing the maximum benefit from the system of priorities of the War Industries Board because of lack of sufficient information on the subject and from lack of a proper organization within that department.10 Since the avowed purpose of the priority system was to assist contract deliveries to the purchasing bureaus by providing the contractors with raw materials, fuel, transportation, and power in time to insure such deliveries, new and higher priorities were obtainable whenever an urgent war necessity made such changes necessary. It was considered essential by the director of purchase, storage, and traffic that dates of deliveries be


analyzed and priority requests synchronized with the required dates of delivery. To accomplish this result and to assist in presenting the needs of the War Department to the War Industries Board with demonstrable proof on each request, the following directions were given by him: 10

To the end that the War Department organization may be consistent within itself and with the organization of the War Industries Board and for the purpose of a more effectual control of War Department priorities, it is directed that each bureau of the War Department charged with the procurement of supplies shall organize a priority section within itself, which shall consist of an officer designated by the chief of bureau, who shall preside and who must be familiar with the production program and material needs of his bureau. In addition at least one purchasing and one production officer shall be members of the priority section of each bureau, with such additional officers and such clerical force as the chief of the supply bureau shall direct.

In compliance with the above-quoted instructions a priority section, consisting of three officers, was established in the Surgeon General' s Office for the Medical Department.11 The various depots were informed on June 21, 1918, of the appointment of this section and instructed to mail all requests for priority to the Surgeon General' s Office.12 They were directed to notify contractors to discontinue the practice of sending such applications direct to the War Industries Board.

The following rules governing the activities and procedures of priority sections of the supply bureaus were promulgated by the director of purchase, storage, and traffic July 17, 1918, and remained in force until the end of the war:13
      *                   *                    *                    *                    *                    *                *

6. The purchasing organization of each bureau shall inquire of prospective contractors -
        (a)  A definite date or dates of delivery.
        (b)  Adequacy of present plant facilities for the manufacture and delivery within the time stated.
        (c)  Whether he will require aid to secure new equipment.
        (d)  Whether a higher rating than A-5 is necessary.
        (e)  If answer to question (d) is yes, what rating is necessary to satisfy delivery dates given in (a)?
        (f)   If answer to question (d) is yes, if that is due to other priority certificates held by him.
    (g)  State numbers and rating of such priority certificates (set forth in (f)), with the name of the department or bureaus to which articles are to be delivered.
7. (a) All applications for priority on behalf of a bureau or of a contractor or subcontractor of such bureau shall first be considered by the bureau' s priority committee, in accordance with the rules laid down by the priorities committee of the War Industries Board in Circular No. 4, and determine the classification and rating that should be requested. It shall then be forwarded with the committee' s recommendation to the priority office of the purchase and supply branch, division of purchase, storage, and traffic, Council of National Defense Building, Eighteenth and D Streets.
   (b) All priority applications on behalf of a bureau, contractor, or subcontractor of such bureau shall be made out in duplicate on the forms prescribed by the priorities committee of the War Industries Board (making sure that all questions asked therein are fully and clearly answered) and shall be submitted to the bureau' s priorities committee.
        (c) Where procurement has been consolidated, the procuring bureau will handle the application after ascertaining from the issuing bureau the desired date of delivery.
        (d) The bureau' s priority committee will retain the duplicate application.


8. (a) The priorities officer will ascertain whether the application interferes with the work of any other bureau, adjust the conflict, if any, and present the application to the priorities committee of the War Industries Board.    
        (b) The priorities committee of the War Industries Board will not issue a certificate covering an order placed in the restricted area unless the War Industries Board has granted permission for the placing of said orders in such restricted area.
9.  (a) After final action by the priorities committee of the War Industries Board the original certificates issued by such committee will be forwarded by that committee direct to the applicant.
        (b) A duplicate will be returned, through the office of the Director of Purchase and Supply, to the originating bureau for filing with the duplicate application, thus advising the bureau of the issuing of the original certificate.
10. (a) To change a priority rating, made necessary by changes in the military program or situation, the bureau priority committee should prepare and forward to the priority officer of the purchase and supply branch a supplemental emergency memorandum, setting forth the conditions and a recommendation for rerating.
        (b) The application will then be handled by the priority officer of the purchase and supply branch in the same manner as an original application.
         (c) Rerating should not be requested except in emergency cases.
       *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *


The clearance activities of the munitions board were continued under the War Industries Board as an indispensable adjunct of its priority system. Clearance lists were published to the supply bureaus from time to time and extended as additional shortages threatened. The first list of articles on which clearance was required was issued under date of August 7, 1917, and included the following commodities: The metals group, iron, steel, and their products; lead and tin; textiles, chemicals; motor trucks; optical glass; rubber and rubber goods; lumber; explosives; and gasoline and motor oils. The board requested that these items be brought to its attention before orders for them were placed.14

On December 31, 1916, a revised and greatly amplified clearance list was published and the requirements relative to clearance were defined with greater precision. By that time the clearance committee of the War Industries Board was well organized and fully established. It was the channel of communication between the purchasing bureaus and the War Industries Board, and as such directed communications to their proper destination.15

The function of the clearance committee was to assist the War Industries Board, to consider the placing of orders or contracts by the various departments desiring to purchase material on the clearance list, to consider price and sources of supply, to adjust any obvious conflict with the supply of the same material for any other department, and to approve the placing of minor orders when satisfied of the propriety of the action desired. The clearance committee informed the interested division whenever shortage occurred or was imminent that action might be taken toward arranging for a satisfactory substitute.15

The following instructions appeared on the clearance list of December 31, 1917:16


There is presented herewith a list of items which should not be ordered without first consulting with the clearance committee of the War Industries Board and having clearance granted thereon (with a few exceptions).
Clearance is necessary either because of a shortage which exists or is probable on certain items, or because prices have been arranged on others, and the allocation of the various items is necessary through a central agency to obtain adequate production, or to receive the benefit of such prices as have been arranged or fixed.
In the letting of general contracts where subcontractors are required to furnish any of the items, the subcontractors' requirements should also he brought to the committee' s attention by the department interested, in the same manner as the department' s requirements.
The above action does not apply to contracts already awarded.
The above action relates only to orders in quantity, which point, when the question arises, should be determined by the department representative on the committee.    
The list of items will be modified as occasion arises.

A new clearance list appeared on February 25, 1918. The clearance committee was reorganized following the reorganization of the War Industries Board in March, 1918. The organization and functions of that committee as projected in May, 1918, by the board were as follows:17
The clearance committee shall consist of a chairman and secretary, a representative from each of the supply departments of the Government, and representatives from the principal commodity sections of the War Industries Board. This clearance committee is to concern itself with schedules of prospective purchases and not with orders actually negotiated.    

There will be published a clearance list of articles for which there is a shortage or for which the price is fixed, etc. This will not be a shortage list since certain articles will be on the clearance list, although there may be no shortage involved. An order will be issued to the effect that no orders shall be negotiated for articles on the clearance list before such schedule of prospective purchases have been cleared.

The schedules of prospective purchases will be presented and will be cleared forthwith by the committee wherever possible.

In other cases, the schedules will be referred to the commodity sections for consideration and results reported back to the secretary of the committee for transmission to the supply department.

With the promulgation of this definition of its function the clearance committee called for a statement from all the supply bureaus of the orders in immediate contemplation, showing: (1) Specifications of the article to be purchased, (2) quantity to be purchased, (3) delivery required.

The requirements of the clearance committee were transmitted to the various purchasing officers of the Medical Department under date of May 10, 1918, by the Surgeon General, and a strict observance of these requirements was enjoined. Prior to that date it had been the custom to request clearance at any time before the contract was actually signed or the purchase order issued. Beginning that date it was required that clearance be obtained before negotiations for the purchase of any article on the clearance list had begun. An officer in the Surgeon General' s Office was designated to receive and transmit through the prescribed agency to the clearance committee all requests for clearance.

A new clearance list promulgated June 24, 1918, prescribed the following requirements for the purchase of supplies:18


Before negotiations are instituted clearance must be obtained on proposed purchases of articles or commodities in the four following general classifications:
1. All schedules of prospective purchases involving articles or commodities on the list given below, entitled Clearance schedule.
2. All schedules of prospective purchases involving orders for any articles or commodities, to be placed in the congested district, which orders call for or involve the creation or use of additional fuel, power, or transportation facilities. The boundaries of the congested district will be defined from time to time by the Railroad Administration, Fuel Administration, and War Industries Board and will be published by the latter. This congested district now is included between the Atlantic Ocean and a line drawn through Chespeake Bay to Baltimore, north to Harrisburg, west to Altoona, northeast through Williamsport, Binghamton, and Schenectady to the Hudson River, and thence north to the northeastern boundary of the State of New York. The districts served by the electrical power companies of Canton, Baltimore, Massilon, Alliance, Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, Connellsville, Wheeling, Youngstown, and Akron are also prohibited centers due to lack of power.
3. All schedules of prospective purchases involving the creation of new or additional facilities wherever placed and however created; that is, either direct or indirect Government business.
4. The orders for production in Government plants do not require clearance so far as the actual order itself is concerned, though the materials required for filling the order will require clearance if on the clearance list. At the same time requirements are presented, statement must be made as to whether the Government department at interest is in. position to handle all or any part of the order within its own plants.

The clearance schedule which accompanied these instructions included 44 groups of articles, materials, and commodities. Of these groups the Medical Department was interested more or less vitally in 27. The articles and commodities with which the Medical Department was concerned are quoted below:

Ambulance bodies.
Ambulance chassis.
Boxes, containers, crates, etc.
Brass and copper rods, tubing and sheets.
Cordage, hemps and fibers: Rope, coco mats, linoleum, oakum, burlap.
Cotton linters (for matresses).
Cotton goods: Gauze, muslins, and bleached print goods, duck and webbing.
Cylinders and container (pressure) for oxygen, nitrous oxide, and chlorine gas.
Electric equipment: Generators, transformers, motors, and electrical supplies.
Electric wire and cable for X-ray machines and other medical electric equipment.
Fire extinguishers, hand.
Iron and steel: Boiler tubes, boiler plates, steel rods (instrument steel), seamless tubing (sterilizers, etc.), sheets (enamel ware, etc.), tin plate (cans for ether and other medicines).
Leather and leather goods.
Linen and linen thread.
Lumber (for crating, etc.).
Mica (for X-ray apparatus).
Nonferrous metals: Aluminum (cooking utensils), copper (shells for sterilizers), Mercury.
Oils: Castor oil, linseed oil (green soap).
Optical glass and optical instruments.
Paper, sulphatre, Kraft (wrapping paper).
Rubber goods.
Small tools.
Tool chests.
Woolen goods: Blankets, material for convalescent suits.

While the reorganization of the War Industries Board and its various cornmittees and the extension of their regulatory functions were in progress, a new regulatory body was developing in the War Department in the purchase and supply branch of the purchase, storage, and traffic division of the General Staff.19 This body required that all requests for clearance for articles on the clearance list which had not been consolidated with a single supply bureau for


purchase should be forwarded to it for consideration by the interested commodity section of the War Department to determine whether the purchase would conflict with the program of another supply bureau, before such clearances went to the War Industries Board for final action.20 This routing became effective near the end of May, 1918. These instructions were amplified the middle of July,21 when clearance was required on (a) articles enumerated in the clearance list issued by the War Industries Board, (b) orders placed within the congested district, and (c) the creation of new facilities and the conversion of existing facilities wherever located. Clearance was to be handled by the War Industries Board in one of the six ways:

 1. Clear forthwith without comment.
  2. Clear, subject to restrictions as to congested area.
  3. Clear, subject to restrictions as to placing orders in centers short of power.
  4. Clear, subject to restrictions as to congested plants.
  5. Clear, subject to restrictions as to new plant facilities, or with suggestions as to existing plant capacity available for that class of work.
  6. Return the papers with clearance disapproved.

Clearance granted remained effective for 60 days after date of clearance. If not used within that time new clearance had to be requested. The officer requesting clearance was free to begin his negotiations for the article immediately after he received the clearance but not before. Requests for clearance received a preliminary consideration by the Army clearance committee, after which they went to the War Industries Board.22 The following routine method of handling clearances was prescribed July 17, 1918.23

Schedules of immediate prospective purchases shall be submitted through the liaison officers to the purchase and supply branch for clearance, and in no case direct to the War Industries Board.

In cases where consolidations of procurement have been effected, the designated procuring bureau shall submit the requests for clearance, and not the issuing bureau.

Requests for clearance will be submitted on standard forms, the initial supply of which will be furnished by the War Industries Board; thereafter the purchase and Supply branch will furnish the forms. Five copies, the original and four carbons (in different colors) will be submitted to the purchase and supply branch.

Requests for clearance may be dispatched at any time throughout the day and up to 10 p. m. to the office of the purchase and supply branch by special messenger, through the liaison office. To be considered at the Army clearance committee meeting (described below) on any day it generally will be necessary that the papers be delivered at the office of the purchase and supply branch not later than 11 a. m. on that day.

Each day at noon, except Sundays, the accumulated requests for clearance will be presented by the clearance officer of the Purchase and Supply Branch to the Army clearance committee. If conflicts, not in the purview of the Army commodity committee or bureau priority committee, are brought out between any of the bureaus the items in question will be investigated by the clearance officer, who will refer the matter to the bureau from which it emanates for further consideration or will clear it. Where no such conflict develops the matter will be immediately cleared by the Army clearance committee.

The clearance officer of the purchase and supply branch will submit promptly to the clearance secretary of the War Industries Board all clearance papers which have been passed upon and cleared by the Army clearance committee. A record will be kept by the clearance secretary of the War Industries Board of the action taken in each case presented. This record will be returned to tile Purchase and Supply Branch, and the interested bureau informed by telephone wherever possible. In addition to telephonic reports of clearance,


the paper indicating the action of recommendation of the War Industries Board will be submitted to the purchase and supply branch in duplicate. The original of this clearance will be forwarded immediately to the bureau of the War Department which requested the clearance.
If clearance by the War Industries Board is delayed beyond 48 hours after submission to the War Industries Board of the request for clearance, the purchase and supply branch will notify the bureau either to proceed on the assumption that the matter has been cleared, or that the matter has been held up and additional time granted to the War Industries Board. The 48-hour period shall be taken to include two full days following the day on which the request is submitted to the War Industries Board, and the report to the bureaus will be made on the morning of the third day following. For instance, a report will be made Thursday morning on all matters submitted to the War Industries Board on the preceding Monday. This rule will not cover the obtaining of allocations, since it is impossible, generally speaking, to accomplish allocations in so short a time. The bureaus shall not proceed at the end of the 48-hour period on the assumption that clearance on any request has been obtained unless specific authority to so proceed has been given by this office.

By the end of July the purchase and supply branch of the purchase and storage division of the General Staff had duplicated practically all the organizations and activities of the War Industries Board, as is evidenced by the following extract from Supply Bulletin No. 4, of that branch, dated July 23, 1918:

Matters to be taken up with the War Industries Board must in every case be referred up to the purchase and supply branch, and more specifically marked for the attention of the divisions, sections, and committees of that branch charged with specific duties and subjects, as follows:
   I. Matters of general policy to be taken up with the War Industries Board proper, to the director of  purchases and supplies.
   II. Matters of priority to the chief of the Army priorities section.
  III. Matters of requirement to the chief of the Army requirements division.
  IV. Matters of clearance to the chief of the Army clearance section.
   V. Matters of price fixing to the chief of the Army price-fixing section.
  VI. Business with any commodity committee of the War Industries Board to the chief of the corresponding Army commodity committee.

The chiefs of the various divisions, sections, and committees specified above shall handle matters between the divisions, sections, and committees of the War Industries Board and the offices of the War Department from which the business arose, * * * keeping copies and files of all correspondence and referring to the director of purchases and supplies, for information or action, all matters of importance and well-established policy, and to other sections of the purchase and supply branch all matters arising in the course of business which affect such other sections.


The President, in his letter of March 4, 1918, to the chairman of the War Industries Board, increased the scope of the board.24 Among other things the letter required of the chairman of the board that he should be constantly and systematically informed of all contracts, purchases, and deliveries, in order that he might have always before him a schematized analysis of progress of business in the several supply divisions of the Government in all departments, and anticipate the prospective needs of the several supply departments of the Government and their feasible adjustment to the industry of the country


as far in advance as possible in order that as definite an outlook and Opportunity for planning as possible may be afforded the business men of the country.

To carry out the broader mission imposed upon it by this letter the War Industries Board was reorganized in the spring of 1918.25 To enable it to anticipate the prospective needs of the several supply departments of the Government and their feasible adjustment to the industries of the country, a requirements division was organized in June, 1918. This division consisted of a chairman, representatives of the Government purchasing agencies (Army and Navy), the priorities commissioner, the commissioner of finished products, chiefs of divisions, chiefs of sections, manager of the Allied Purchasing Commission, representatives of the Food, Fuel, amid Railroad Administrations, the Capital Issues Committee, the Department of Commerce, the Red Cross, the Shipping Board, and other departments and bureaus.

For the use of this division the Secretary of War directed that each of the supply bureaus of the War Department take the necessary steps to accomplish the following:26

The determining of all important requirements, projected into the future as far as practicable, these requirements to be accompanied by a translation of same into raw materials.
The establishment of a continuous system of reports of impending important contracts and purchases, which will give articles, quantities ordered, and dealers from whom ordered.

The director of purchases and supplies, purchase, storage, and traffic division of the General Staff, ordered, April 2, 1918, that he be furnished with those requirements and reports in triplicate at the earliest practicable date and that no purchases of articles or materials on the clearance list established by the War Industries Board be made until they had received the consideration and approval of that board.26 The statements of requirements of the various supply bureaus after they had received general consideration by the requirements division went to the appropriate commodity sections of the War Industries Board where detailed studies were made and reports sent back to the sources from which the statements came concerning the possibility and means for meeting the requirements.26

In compliance with the instruction of April 2, from the director of purchases and supplies, a condensed statement of the requirements of the Medical Department were submitted as soon as they could be compiled, but the exact date has not been ascertained. This statement covered both requirements and the raw materials required for the fabrication of the articles enumerated. It was prepared in the following form and covered 11 general headings fabrics and textiles, surgical dressings, veterinary surgical dressings, automobile ambulances, instruments and appliances, and medicines. Under medicines were included ammonia products, mercurials, opium, morphine, cocaine, and castor oil. For brevity, only textiles and surgical dressings are given under requirements, but the entire list of raw materials is included under that head, except for the materials in the motor ambulances, for which no information was available at the time.26


Important requirement of the Medical Department; estimated purchases to December 31, 1918




Aprons, cook




Bandages Gauze: Compressed  1 gross in
Roller, 72 in                    



Bath robes




Cotton absorbent, 1 pound in







Cotton, absorbent, 1 ounce in



Caps for cooking




Cotton bats



Gowns, operating







Muslin, unbleached




First-aid packets







First-aid packets, instruction



Pillow cases, cotton




First -aid packets for shell wounds



Sheets, cotton




Gauze plain


10,000, 000



5-yard rolls







1-yard to







Gauze, sublimated 1 yard to




Individual dressing packets



The following raw materials will be required to manufacture the several articles to be purchased during the calendar year of 1918, which is a part of this report:

Fabrics, textiles, surgical dressings:



     Cotton, pounds



Mercuric chloride-pounds


     Wool, do



Mercourous chloride, do


Instruments and appliances


Red iodide of mercury, pounds


     Brass, pounds



Metallic mercury-pounds


     Steel, do



Anhydrous ammonia, pounds


     Platinum, ounces



Gum opium, do



Cocaine hydrochloridum, ounces



Castor Beans, pounds



Quinine, ounces



Alcohol, gallons


Beginning with June 1, 1918, monthly reports were required as of the first of the month of requirements and supply, contract, schedules, and actual deliveries of all important articles.27


(1) American Industry in the War. A Report of the War Industries Board. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1921, 21.

(2) G. O. No. 49, War Department, April 24, 1917.

(3) American Industry in the War, 32.

(4) Ibid., 24.

(5) Ibid., 48.

(6) Ibid., 23.

(7) Ibid., 22.


a To produce the above 3,065 ounces of cocaine hydrochioridum, it will require 38,313 pounds Erythroxylum coca leaves. Cocaine hydrochloridum is not, as a rule, made from the leaves in this country, but imported as crude alkaloid and refined here.


(8)   Final Report of Priorities Division, War Industries Board. Manuscript copy, Office Assistant Secretary of War, Munitions Building, Par. 4.

(9)  Letter from the Priorities Commission to the chief of the section of Medical Industry, War Industries Board, Washington, July 17, 1918. Subject: Drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical supplies preference list. Copy on file, Historical Division, S.G.O.

(10) Letter from the Director of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic to Major General W. C. Gorgas, the Surgeon General of the Army, June 10, 1918. Subject: Handling of priorities. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 750-198 D. of P./64.

(11) Memorandum from the Surgeon General to the Director of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic, June 13, 1918. Subject: Priority section. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 750-198 D. of P./64.

(12)  Letter from the Surgeon General to officer in charge, Medical Supply Depot, New York, N.Y., June 21, 1918. Subject: Priorities. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N.Y. D./775.
(13) Supply Circular No. 50, Purchase and Storage Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, War Department, July 17, 1918.

(14) Memorandum from H. P. Bingham, Secretary, War Industries Board, August 7, 1917. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 533 Misc./1.                                              
(15) War Industries Board, Clearance Committee, Clearance List, December 31, 1917. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1918, p. 4.

(16) Ibid., 1.

(17) Letter from the Surgeon General to officer in charge, Medical Supply Depot, New York, May 10, 1918. Subject: Clearance. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713 Misc./43.

(18) War Industries Board, Clearance Committee, Clearance List, June 24, 1918.  Mimeograph Copy. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713 Misc./43.

(19) General Orders, No. 14, W. D., February 9, 1918, and No. 36, April 16, 1918.

(20) Supply Circular No. 15, Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, War Department, May 25, 1918.

(21) Supply Circular No. 48, Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, War Department, July 17, 1918, par. 1-2.

(22) Ibid., par. 3.

(23) Ibid., par. 6 (a) to (g).

(24) American Industry in the War, 25-26.

(25) Ibid., 35.

(26) Memorandum from the Director, Purchases and Supplies, for the Surgeon General of time Army, April 2, 1918, relative to requirement. Also: Memorandum from the Surgeon General attached thereto. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,
  750-714 S. G. O./818.
(27) Memorandum from Automotive Products Section, War Industries Board, to the Surgeon General' s Office, Supply Section (attention Maj. W. T. Fishleigh), May 23,1918. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713 Misc./50-B.