TRADING POST35The U.S. Army Transportation Corps(TC) has the task of moving personnel,equipment and supplies. Members of thecorps perform the task by a variety of means. Utilizing rail service is one of themeans, and during and after WW II, was alittle publicized but very successful aspectof the war and during occupation duties.Some of the wartime success was dueto the foresight and planning of the WarDepartment. In 1942, railroad units weretransferred to the TC from the Corps of Engineers; railway units had operated inthe Quartermaster Corps during WW I. InWW II, the Military Railway Service wasborn. It consisted of units numbered asMilitary Railway Service (1st, 2nd and3rd); commanded by a Brigadier General,the units’ chief responsibility was in di-recting the activities of Railway GrandDivisions (RGDs).In turn, RGDs directed the activitiesof four or five Railway Operating Battal-ions (ROBs) and one Railway Shop Bat-talion (RSB). The ROBs operated divi-sions, or lines of track, up to 150 mileslong. The RSBs were committed to ma- jor repairs, overhauls, and manufacture of rolling stock. Both types of battalionswere commanded by LTCs. The contribu-tions of the MRS during WW II have beenwell-documented on these pages and inmany other sources.
Numbered MRS units had a WW II TOof 22 officers and 186 EM
. Post-WWII, the numbered MRS units were redesig-nated Transportation MRS, and in 1953 theTO was 60 officers, 7 warrant officers, and139 EM.
Specific duties included be-ing responsible for technical developmentfor military purposes of railways in a giventheater of operations; recommendationsfor the extent of the incorporation of lo-cal railroads and personnel; the disposalof railway troops and their complete unitmovements; responsibility for the devel-opment and movement of railway facili-ties; and the well-being and discipline of MRS personnel.
After the war, the Allies were facedwith quickly rebuilding and then operat-ing formerly civilian railroads to providefood, clothe and supply civilian popula-tions. It was subsequently determined that
Unauthorized SSI for the 3rd TMRS. Green andred embroidered silk and bullion. Those are twolocomotives at the 1100 and 1300 positions; “3DTMRS” is barely legible in the base.
the occupying armies would be directingand controlling the civilian railroads, andnot operating them. Additionally, both oc-cupation areas had geographical concernsthat differed greatly. Germany is contigu-ous, flat in some regions, and with lowmountains in others. Japan is composedof many islands, divided into three maingroups – Hokkaido, in the north; Honshu,in the center, and Kyushu, in the south; andis exceptionally mountainous. The Japa-nese railway system, government ownedand operated, had been partially destroyedin WW II, far less than Germany’s hadbeen; some 9,000 freight cars and 900locomotives were gone, as were 966 milesof track. These were out of pre-war totalsof 84,000 freight cars, 5,000 locomo-tives, and 1,229 miles of track.
The Japanese National Railroad (JNR)had some features that were unique to theworld. One stretch is a cog operation, dueto the severe mountain grades; the ferrysystem between islands consisted of en-tire passenger or freight trains, coupledtogether (minus the locomotives), beingpushed onto a ship, and then pulled off atthe other end. There were even underwa-ter tunnels.Prior to the Japanese surrender on 2Sept 45, the MRS sent the following unitsinto Japan – the 737th and 770th RailwayOperating Bns and the 793rd Base DepotCompany. The 737th had three detach-ments sent to different locations to aid inthe repair and operations. The 770th maderepairs and operated in the north. The793rd took up its stores duties.
Bothbattalions were inactivated in Japan in1946; the 737th on 10 Apr 46 and the770th on 8 Nov.In WW II, the 3rd MRS had been acti-vated 10 April 44 in Iran. It was an integralelement of Persian Gulf Command, whichhad the chief logistical function of mov-ing supplies up from Iran into Russia. The3rd MRS was inactivated in Iran in earlyAugust 1945. It was reconstituted, reacti-vated and redesignated 3rd TransportationMilitary Railway Service (TMRS) in thePhilippines in late August 45. On 25 Oct45, the HQ of the 3rd TMRS arrived inJapan from its previous location in thePhilippines, led by BG Frank Besson.
HQ was set up in the NYK Building (NYKLine was an exquisite passenger ship lineoperated prior to WW II by the Japanese)in downtown Yokohama. Initially, the pri-mary purpose of the 3rd TMRS was in ac-quiring and controlling trains, in order tobring in the first occupation divisions (1stCavalry and 11th Airborne.) The 3rdTMRS worked closely with the 2nd Ma- jor Port, which operated under a separatecommand. Both units coordinated ship’sarrivals and departures.One of the first things the 3rd TMRSdid was to survey the Japanese rail equip-ment, particularly the passenger cars.Some of the better cars were requisitionedand rehabilitated by the US shop units. Theothers were in terrible condition. Therewere broken windows, plumbing was in-operable (and different from Americanstandards), brakes didn’t work, and equip-ment was generally filthy. Many were stillin use, at great risk to Japanese civilianpassengers, who hung off the sides, out of the windows, or rode on the roofs. Theoccupation forces also took over Japa-nese railroad shops. The cars were prettywell stripped down and completely re-painted, windows were replaced, and theplumbing was upgraded. In anticipation of the brutal Japanese winters, the heatingsystems were restored.As 3rd TMRS HQ was in the NYKBuilding, some of NYK staff was still inthe building. Happenstance was that theseformer employees were part of a staff of
3rd TMRS in Japan, 1946-50