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Lieutenant-General LeRoy Lutes: The Man Behind the Plan
By Manuela Richter 

History retells the battles of World War II, glorifying the fighting soldiers and their commanding generals. But meanwhile, another, often overlooked side of the struggle presents itself in Washington: the military supply officers, “the men who polish chairs to win a war” (Time Magazine). In charge of this essential planning was Lieutenant General LeRoy Lutes, who was under overall boss General Brehon Somervell of the Army Service Forces and would eventually overtake his position.

Lt. Gen. LeRoy Lutes

Lutes Under Somervell
Lutes began his military career in army supply services in 1942 under commanding general Brehon Somervell of the Army Service Forces (Generals.dk). Due to his excellent work ethic, he managed to move up to the position of Chief of Staff, becoming Somervell's close associate and being described by him "as the 'perfect' staff officer" (Center of Military History). A notable event under Somervell, Lutes acted as his deputy to persuade Admiral Nimitz to establish a united Army-Navy staff (Center of Military History). Thus, his actions ensured cooperation in the transfer of supplies between the two military branches.
In addition, Lutes was responsible for planning the South Atlantic supply route, planning the Army's supply route across the Pacific, and traveling to the Cairo conference, North Africa, India, China, and England to make checkups for further supply plans (Time Magazine). Lutes also played a critical role in the preparation for D-Day. He coordinated the loading and "tagging" of private boats in the D-Day invasion fleet, making sure that they were kept ready to sail and were assigned to specific landing areas (Time Magazine). The arrangement of supplies in these boats was crucial to the beginning of the invasion at Normandy, where certain supplies needed to be available sooner than others. Once these plans were completed, Eisenhower requested that Somervell send Lutes back to London for a final evaluation, which spurred Eisenhower to "take the leap" and commence the D-Day invasion (Time Magazine).

Lt. Gen. LeRoy Lutes

Lutes and the Attack on Cherbourg
The attack on Cherbourg was a vital precursor to D-Day and required precise supply coordination. Lutes, of course, was in charge of planning the supply routes, which he began organizing in August 1943 (Time Magazine). He and his staff "listed cement, steel, tools, machinery needed to rebuild the port of Cherbourg" which was then "loaded onto a small fleet of ships, some of which were complete machine shops, and held in readiness in U.S. ports" (Time Magazine). Consequently, Lutes was directly responsible for the provisions given to soldiers at Cherbourg, the significance of which is emphasized in one soldier's memoir:
"Our situation might have been even more critical had we not beached an emergency reserve in a dozen giant sea-going barges. Several months before the invasion, I had recommended to Ike that he take this precaution and tow a barge-loaded reserve of ammunition across the Channel. Because there were no 1000-ton barges in England, he wire to Washington for them. General Brehon B. Somervell, Chief of the Services of Supply, sped them to us and we put 12000 tons on the beaches" (Bradley 104).
Though it was General Somervell who received the request for supplies, it was ultimately Lutes who coordinated the transfer of materials to the soldiers. 

Lutes as Commander in Chief of the Army Service Forces
By 1946, Lutes had replaced Somervell as the head of the Army Service Forces, although he had been unofficially in command since October 15, 1945 (Center of Military History). However, when the War Department was reorganized in May 1946, combining the Army Service Forces with the Logistics Group of Operations Division, Lutes remained in charge of the new division under the title Director of Service, Supply, & Procurement Division (Center of Military History). 
In response to the ammunition shortages in Europe in 1944, Lutes and his office urged increased production, a greater ammunition request by the overseas theaters, and the shipping of completely full cargo (Center of Military History). Such circumstances demonstrated the importance of supply planning during World War II to ensure troops were properly equipped. 
LeRoy Lutes also went on to become the Director of Staff of the Munitions Board and then the Commanding General of the Fourth Army (Generals.dk).  After his retirement from the Army in  1952, he became an advisor for the Office of Defense Mobilization (Center of Military History).

(courtesy of Generals.dk)

Assistant Chief of Staff 3rd Army 
Commanding Officer 37th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade
Director of Operations Services of Supply
Director of Plans & Opeartions, Army Service Forces
Chief of Staff Army Service Forces
Commander in Chief Army Service Forces
Director of Service, Supply, & Procurement Division, War Department
Director of Service, Supply, & Procurement Division, Department of the Army
Commanding General 4th Army

Weekly ASF Meeting

Personal Profile

LeRoy Lutes was born on October 4, 1890 (Arlington National Cemetery). He graduated from the Wentworth Military Academy and was in the Illinois National Guard prior to joining the Army (Time Magazine). As shown on his gravestone, he had a grand total of three wives, each getting progressively younger (Arlington National Cemetery). He had one son name LeRoy Lutes Jr., who graduated from West Point and became a lieutenant colonel (Time Magazine). Lutes Jr.'s mother is unspecified, but he was born in 1914, when Lutes' second and third wives were still 11 and 2 respectively, so his first wife, Martha M. Mulvihill, was most likely Lutes Jr.'s mother. Lutes Jr. then went on to marry Louise Wolfinger Lutes, and they may have had a child named Stephen Roy Lutes (Arlington National Cemetery). After his fruitful military career, Lutes Sr. died on January 30, 1980 at age 89 (Arlington National Cemetery). 

Time Magazine describes LeRoy Lutes as "a pale little staff officer in Washington who speaks with a soft voice and is a demon for getting things done." He is depicted as an extremely fast and efficient worker, and he worked long hours as a supply officer "to assemble the combat staffs' meticulous descriptions of all objectives to be attacked, translate them into orders for the correct types of pontoons, structural metal, fabricated units, ammunition, [and] thousands of other items of supply" (Time Magazine). He was so busy in fact, that he gave up one of his favorite sports- horseback riding- and took up tumbling to stay in shape (Time Magazine). All in all, he was a diligent and persistent worker that never failed to coordinate his supply operations smoothly. 

LeRoy Lutes' Gravestone

Works Cited

"Biography of Lieutenant-General LeRoy Lutes." Generals of World War II. 2009. Web. 28 May 2010. <http://www.generals.dk/general/Lutes/Leroy/USA.html>. 

Bradley, Omar N. A Soldier's Story. Modern Library, 1999. 104.

"LeRoy Lutes, Lieutenant General, United States Army." Arlington National Cemetery. 14 May 2008. 28 May 2010. <http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/llutes.htm>. 

"Little Man in a Big Room." Time 3 July 1944. 28 May 2010. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,852065,00.html>. 

U.S. Army Center of Military History. 25 May 2010. 28 May 2010. <http://www.history.army.mil/>.

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