Paul van Heesvelde

“What do we talk about when we talk about logistics?”

Logistics, transport and the problems of the last mile in the Belgian army 1870–1918

Ferrum 88/2016

The new transport modes of the 19th century changed the logistic concepts of the armies dramatically. The main effects although were not perceived in the early years: armies used rail transport in the same way as they moved by road or waterway. It took years before planning and organizing of rail transport was internalized. The Franco-Prussian war formed a turning point for the Belgian army. All in a sudden was discovered that troops and freight moved at different speed. The general staff was confronted with the problems of the last mile to bring supplies from the rear with the troops. The logistic concept, rooted in the Napoleonic tradition was adapted in the ongoing years, but the organization of the services of the rear started only in 1904.


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