Seven brine-stained Liberty ships steamed eastward across the Pacific toward the U.S. They were carrying home the same Army cargoes they had been taking to the Philippines; the Army decided it had enough there already. Last week, in mid-Pacific, the wireless sang out another order: turn west again and set a course for Shanghai.

The Army had decided that the cargoes were surplus. In a matter of hours the Office of the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner, which handles foreign surpluses, had sold the cargoes of wheat, construction materials and medical supplies to the United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration for $3...

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