Once off the beaches, all vehicles, wheeled and tracked, faced a number of options. There were three basic classes of route available:
- Existing macadam roads, 13 - 15 ft wide. Many of these had been damaged by mines or shellfire; most had poor drainage and their verges churned up badly if traffic left the carriageway for any reason.
- Gravel roads, 10 - 15 ft wide. These were normally used for local traffic only; they were dusty in dry weather and muddy when wet.
- Earth tracks. These were formed by traffic across the fields, after mine clearance had been completed. They were also dusty in dry weather and liable to deteriorate very quickly during rain. A motor grader was essential to repair damage and to regrade badly rutted sections
It was also clear that existing roads would break down under the volume of traffic and a number of new roads were constructed. Rubble from damaged walls and buildings was plentiful, and in some areas there were good stocks of broken stone in local quarries. 75 tons of tar were discovered in Bayeux and, with the help of some quarrying and macadam plant brought in by the Sappers, facilities for laying metalled surfaces were soon available.
In addition, various forms of temporary tracking were used. These were delivered either in roll or sectional form, and once the ground had been levelled and stabilised where necessary, they could be laid quickly. Constant maintenance was required, but the tracking could be lifted and then re-laid, either in the same place after remedial work to the sub-base, or in a different location as a particular section of track became redundant for any reason.
Road signs were of great importance, firstly to identify each village, and then to indicate the traffic routes for tracked and wheeled vehicles of different units. In the absence of such signs, everything tended to keep to the same line in order to reduce the risk of straying into a mined area, but this led to rapid surface deterioration when tracked vehicles had to slew at corners. Separate routes for tracked and wheeled vehicles were used whenever possible.
Constant maintenance of these roads and tracks, particularly at the approaches to bridges, was essential. Where possible, bridge approaches were surfaced with macadam. Traffic volume grew to a point where some roads were carrying 5,000 vehicles per day in each direction. In one instance, there were peak figures of 13,000 in one direction and 5,200 in the other.
The demand for stone steadily increased. Several quarries were quickly opened up, initially drawing on existing stocks of quarried material and crushing it down to the sizes required for road construction. French civilians assisted in these quarries, each of which was initially capable of producing up to 300 tons of crushed and graded stone per day.
Later, as the road construction and maintenance programme expanded, more quarry plant was brought in, giving capacities of up to 600 tons per day, plus the ability to produce coated tarmacadam for use on metalled roads and bridge approaches.
The road construction, repair and maintenance programme continued unabated throughout the whole of the campaign in Northwest Europe.
Main supply routes were given a code-word with the addition 'up' going towards the front and 'down' going to the rear, thus MAPLE LEAF UP. Units were allotted a route and a time slot in which to traverse it.
Each formation and unit had a tactical number and road side signs displaying such numbers led straight to the harbour area of the formation or unit.
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