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The Red Ball Express

  • 75th Commemoration of the Red Ball Express
     

  • Famed convoy that supplied the Allied advancement in WWII
     

  • 1oz Solid Silver Coin with 24 carat gold privy mark
     

  • Strictly limited exclusive of 199 coin worldwide

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Following the success of the Allied invasion at Normandy in June 1944, which saw D-Day to this date being the largest combined military, air, land and amphibious operation ever undertaken, was ultimately just the start to Operation Overlord. The Allies were well aware that overall victory could only be achieved by getting supplies to the front line, especially as the allied troops had become so very short of critical supplies. An army without food to feed the solders, medical supplies to mend the injured, nor guns without bullets would soon have brought the best trained and determined Army to its knees. As such to ensure that the allied troops were well supplied with everything that they needed to continue their advance against the enemy the Red Ball Express was created.
 

The permanent bombing of Normandy, and in particular of the French railway network had handicapped the Germans during the first phase of Operation Overlord, and consequently it was also no longer possible to strengthen the allied supplies by train thereafter.
 

The Red Ball Express was a famed large convoy of trucks with one mission only, and that was to expedite supplies to the Allied forces that were moving quickly through Europe. Trucks emblazoned with red balls followed a similarly marked route that was closed to civilian traffic. These trucks also had priority on regular roads.
 

The convoy system began its operations on 25th August, 1944. At its peak it operated 5,958 vehicles travelling simultaneously along a logistic axis which extended to the end of the war for nearly 450 kilometres between Saint-Lô and Soissons – with about 12,500 tons of supplies of material and goods being transported daily on the Red Ball express. It ran for a total of 83 days until 16th November, after which the port facilities at Antwerp, Belgium were opened, and enough of the French rail lines had been repaired, and portable gasoline pipelines had been deployed.
 

The most overlooked topic in relation to the Red Ball express was the fact that 75% of the soldiers involved were African Americans due to it being a time when the U.S. Army segregated black troops. Most often being relegated to service units such as driving trucks, mechanical work and served as “humpers” (loading and unloading ammunition and supplies). It was these admirable troops that ultimately kept the express line rolling.
 

Colonel John S.D. Eisenhower, a veteran of the war wrote: "The spectacular nature of the advance [through France] was due in as great a measure to the men who drove the Red Ball trucks as to those who drove the tanks." Colonel Eisenhower concluded, "Without it [the Red Ball] the advance across France could not have been made." As the saying of the day went, "Red Ball trucks broke, but didn’t break."

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