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3rd TMRS

3rd TMRS

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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.
(1)
Numbered MRS units had a WW II TOof 22 officers and 186 EM
(2)
. Post-WWII, the numbered MRS units were redesig-nated Transportation MRS, and in 1953 theTO was 60 officers, 7 warrant officers, and139 EM.
(3)
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.
(4)
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.
(5)
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.
(6)
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.
(7)
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
Dave Kaufman
 
36JANUARY-MARCH 2007caterers, cooks and waiters. They wereimmediately employed to staff dining carsthat attached to US trains. They were pro-vided with US food stocks and providedtheir own meals.The 3rd MRS completely controlledand coordinated the day to day operationof Japanese trains and rail yard facilities,except in local Army depots and at someof the Army stations. There were numbersof MRS personnel with railroad experi-ence. Their primary job was in operatingand maintaining the diesel engines subse-quently brought over to do the switchingin the depots. GIs were placed on all ci-vilian trains, but the trains themselves wereoperated by the Japanese. The 3rd MRScoordinated the rail traffic between ArmyMRS trains and Japanese civilian trains; thegoal was for minimum disruption betweenthe two. Army MRS trains included regu-larly scheduled passenger trains. Some of the regular Army passenger trains weregiven American names: the Yankee Lim-ited between Yokohama and Sapporo, andthe Dixie Limited between Hokkaido andTokyo.
(8)
The 3rd MRS utilized four divisionsin routing trains: the Tokyo Division; theSendai Division; the Osaka Division; andthe Fukuoka Division. Tokyo Divisionlogically included operations in the To-kyo-Yokohama area west to Niigata. TheSendai Division operated over the north-ern region of Honshu Island and HokkaidoIsland. Osaka Division handled operationsfor central and south central Honshu Is-land and the island of Shikoku. FukuokaDivision was responsible for southernHonshu Island and the island of Kyushu.When operations were completely re-stored, Tokyo Central Station had approxi-mately 1,370 trains operating daily;Yokohama Station had 1,270.
(9)
GeneralMacArthur had made it clear, as had didMG Besson, that the Japanese had lost thewar, occupation was going to be peacefuland the US Army expected absolute coop-eration. MG Besson told the Japanese gov-ernment and the Japanese railroads, thatthe 3rd TMRS was an arm of the Occupa-tion Forces and was in charge of that phaseof the occupation. Every member of theMRS was in charge of a particular area of occupation and whatever he ordered ordirected would be followed.Of course, there was some undam-aged first class equipment. Early on, theEmperor’s train was located. Having beenwell cared for, the cars were in almostmint condition. These were requisitionedfor General MacArthur and his staff. Asmore and more occupation forces camein and began to settle, traffic increasedbetween Tokyo and outlying areas. Mosteveryone is familiar with an old saying “Allroads lead to Rome”. In Japan, they leadto Tokyo.The US Army, Japan, wanted to estab-lish a sea link with South Korea. The 3rdTMRS requisitioned and had rehabilitateda couple of ferries that operated betweenthe Island of Kyushu and Korea; the unitthen operated the ferries and the train toserve the ferries.Within each Railroad Division wereRail Transportation Officers (RTO), and
Sgt “Jake” Jacoby (?) w/ HQ Coguidon, NYK Bldg, Yokohama(courtesy A. Rankin)1947 Thanksgiving menu, 3rd TMRS. Note the 8th Army SSI at top and it is thought that thesmall insignia above “Honshu” may be another unauthorized SSI. (courtesy A. Rankin)
 
TRADING POST37assistant Rail Transportation Officers.Wherever there was a military element of the Occupational Forces, there was a RTO.He had his own office in the local railroadstation, which usually was a piece of spacecarved out in the Station Master’s office.In some cases, the Japanese were requiredto build a separate office for our RTOs.The RTO worked with his counterpart, theStation Master of the local station. For themost part, RTOs were lower grade offic-ers, but there were NCOs in the position.They were all identified with a greenarmband marked with “R.T.O.”.Sgt Art Rankin, HQ Co, 3rd TMRS,was assigned as a conductor. He said, “Icompleted my Basic Training at Ft. Eustis,VA, and was sent to Ft. Warren (now War-ren AFB) at Cheyenne, WY, for SignalMaintenance Training. I returned to Ft.Eustis and was transferred to Manila, PI,to work on an Army railroad unit. Therewas no unit there at the time; they had al-ready been transferred to Japan, so I wassent there.“I was assigned to the 3rd MRS inYokohama. My first assignment with themwas as a Baggage/Express agent. I loadedand unloaded baggage on a 36-hour oneway trip to Sapporo. The bags were ar-ranged to be off-loaded in coordinationwith the passengers at each stop. The trainsleft out of Yokohama at 2100 hours, withseveral stops. I can recall a few - Tokyo,Sendai, a USAF base, and the final one atthe port of Amori, on the tip of Honshu. Aferry backed up to the rail terminus andthen we drove the train up onto the ferry.We lashed several cars down with chainsfor the six hour trip to the entry port atHakodate, on the island of Hokkaido.From there, our last stop was at Sapporo,scheduled for 0800. The military traincrew was then off for three to five days; Idid a lot of sightseeing. We stayed at verynice Japanese hotels, which where allowned by the railroad, with the Army pick-ing up the tab while we were off.“I did this for two months and thentransferred to system conductor. This wasan apprentice position until I was a fullconductor. There were two conductorsper train, and while one rested, the othercollected tickets, ensured passengers ex-ited the trains at the proper stops, coordi-nated with the baggage agents, and gener-ally acted to keep the peace on the trains.There were no MPs on these trains; wewere armed with .45s. We wore our RTObrassards. On one occasion, there was anOrd Maj who was causing problems forsome Red Cross girls on one of the trains.Of course, alcohol was involved. I had toorder him off the train, and he was left at astop not used by the Army trains. He com-plained about my actions, and it went upmy chain of command. I provided an ex-planation, and the Maj was sent home.“We had a nice system for assign-ments. The Assistant Chief Conductorwrote our names and our assignments ona board. Since Yokohama was the secondtrain largest train terminal, trains left ei-ther north or south. We were given ourpreference as to which direction wewanted to go. I preferred northboundtrains, but occasionally took southboundtrains so I could sightsee.“The Army trains were marked with adistinctive white stripe on each car. Onlymilitary personnel, their dependents, andAmerican civilians could ride on thesetrains; no Japanese were allowed on thesetrains. We could ride theirs. Our Armytrains were operated by Japanese locomo-tive engineers, firemen and brakemen, andwe always had a Japanese interpreter withus. We had a total of six GIs on each train.There was a baggage/express agent, twoconductors, one mess Sergeant, and twosoldiers from an APU in the mail car. Thetwo GIs in the mail car were not allowedoff the train; they could walk through it,but not exit.“I recall that the trains were all nar-row gauge, too. The JNR maintained allthe tracks, all the locomotives and rollingstock, and did all the repairs. It was reallysomething to see them repair a storm-dam-aged bridge using ropes, as they had nobolts, no nails, no screws. Trains used therepaired bridges right away. I was amazedat their ability to meet any adversity. Up
Former Sgt A. Rankin’s “R.T.O.” brassard ( printed red on green silk; numbers are printed inyellow courtesy A. Rankin)US trains marked with white stripe (courtesy A.Rankin)Sgt. A. Rankin (courtesy A. Rankin)

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