The true story of a bunch of tough-as-nails drivers who, during three pivotal months of World War II, operated the "Red Ball Express", is told through firsthand accounts.
Almost all African Americans, these truckers rushed fuel and supplies to the rapidly advancing American armies desperately needed after D-Day to crush the German Panzers.
After the Normandy invasion, the Red Ball Express -- a U.S. Army trucking operation that lasted 81 days -- transported critical ammunition, rations, gasoline and other supplies to American troops as they pushed on toward Germany. Three-fourths of the Red Ball drivers were African-Americans who faced continual prejudice and hostility from white soldiers. In this stirring chronicle -- an important contribution to WWII history -- former Baltimore Evening Sun reporter Colley tells the full story of the Red Ball Express for the first time. Drawing from interviews, army documents and oral histories, Colley leaves no doubt that the heroic efforts of the Red Ball drivers, who braved strafing by Luftwaffe planes, German artillery and friendly fire, contributed significantly to the defeat of the Nazis in France--and he shatters the myth that the Germans were the masters of mechanized warfare. (While the German Army was supplied by horse and wagon, the American army's secret weapon in the ground war -- simple, rugged trucks nicknamed "Jimmies" -- made it the world's most flexible and mechanized force.) Colley transforms what might have been a dry tale of military logistics into a rousing, perceptive reappraisal of the Allied invasion of northern Europe. Although the Red Ball's exploits -- the subject of a 1952 movie starring Sidney Poitier -- are legendary, former Platoon Sergeant John Houston (father of singer/actress Whitney Houston) sums it up: "We never got enough credit for what we did... The Army would never have won without us."