Red Ball Express Patch
The Red Ball Express was a truck convoy system that was used during World War II to transport supplies quickly though Europe after the D-Day landings in Normandy, France to the front-line troops. Trucks marked with red balls followed a marked route that was closed to normal traffic. The phrase “Red Ball Express” was adopted from an earlier usage of the phrase by the Santa Fe Railway, which used it for their express shipping service of priority freight and perishable items.
To support the divisions fighting near the front, two routes were designated between Cherbourg and a forward logistics base located at Chartres. One route was used for delivering supplies, and the second route used by empty returning trucks. Convoys of up to five trucks were sent at a time, escorted by jeeps both in front and behind. At the peak of the operation, the Red Ball Express operated 5,958 vehicles, and transported up to 12,500 tons of supplies each day.
The Red Ball Express was staffed primarily with African-American soldiers as drivers. While there was concern of aerial attack of the convoys by the German Luftwaffe, the major problem the Express faced was maintenance of vehicles, finding enough drivers, and allowing downtime for the overworked drivers to get some sleep.
The item in my collection is an original shoulder patch which was worn by the soldier drivers during the delivering of supplies to the front.