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732d Railway Operating Battalion 1944

732d Railway Operating Battalion 1944

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Published by: Nancy on Nov 10, 2009
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Fron sunny California, Linda, the daughter of anAmerican World War Two Engineer has sent thiscollection of nearly 100 World War Two OriginalsPictures for the EUCMH Fundation. This is agreat donation and I am gonna work on all theseold photos with Photoshop to get the maximum of them.As usual, when the job is done, the OriginalsPhotos will become a official donation the theAmerican Heritage at Carlisle Barrack.The pictures are about one ROB Battaillon :732nd Railway Operating Battalion, one of theseseveral Railtacks Enginners Battalion used duringWorld War Two all over Europe.For our friends in France, as well as for Historians, you will see some never published before photos from Argentan, Thionville, Parisand Bad Kreuznach. This could be intresting for an illustration purpose in a website or in a book.Sure these units where soundless during the war  but you should never forget that these unitsallowed the Armored, the Airborne or the Infantryto go ahead on the battlefields, as someone saidonce : even the best Infantry unit can’t go faster asthe Engineers.
SUMMARY ACTIVITY REPORT FEB 1945 – APRIL 19Ever since the 732nd Railway Operating Battalion (ROB) which was sponsored by theGreat Northern Railway, arrived on the continent 8 months ago, it has rehabilitated,operated and maintained the railway all the way up to the front lines and was one of twospearhead Railway Operating Battalions supplying Gen Patton’s 3rd Army.Since actual conditions which may confront a Railway Operating Battalion vary widely,cooperation is most essential between members of the Battalion and the military servicein general.The Battalion Commander, Major Thomas J. Brennan, former Great NorthernTrainmaster at Havre, Montana, USA has instilled this spirit of cooperation in thisBattalion and so organized the French Railroader & that their cooperation in the alreadyincreased capacity of the railway was a leading factor in efficient operation.With the Engineering Units reconstructing miles of track and bridges of various
descriptions close behind the fast advancing armies, the 732nd followed on the heels of the Engineers’ assisting them in their every target dated reconstruction program.Rehabilitation and operation was pretty much routine in the average day’s work of the732nd.In being assisted assigned additional railways in the early part of Feb 1945, in theforward area and parallel to the battle line, the 732nd operations had become a distinctstrategic valve for the rapid movement of troops and supplies from one part of the front toanother.This railway, being in territory very recently abandoned by the enemy, bridges, water facilities and track had been destroyed by the fast retreating enemy and was rapidly beingreconstructed by Engineering Units. The 732nd couldn’t wait for complete facilities of arailroad system communications, sidings, fuel and water points, bridges to be restored before beginning operations, and the lack of these essential brought plenty of headaches.Hurrying to open forward lines for operation a reconnaissance was made by Bridge andBuilding Platoon Commander Lt Raymond Anderson, of Alexandria, Minnesota Great Northern Assistant Master Carpenter at Missabi, Minnesota, of bridges reconstructed byUS Army Engineers. These bridges were by necessity hastily constructed andconsiderable ‘touching up’ work was found necessary for safe operation of trains. The 3 bridge sections were immediately moved to these bridges to reline approaches, adjustspacers, tighten bolts, and do other necessary work.Air compressors being vital to bridge and building work, Platoon Leader Lt. RaymondAnderson improvised a mobile unit out of a dump truck by placing an air compressor onthe truck and placing boom on front end of truck which if used in conjunction with power winch.The water section finding water facilities completely destroyed by the Germans and notrehabilitated by Engineer Units immediately set to work repairing strafed and shelled
water tanks. Using British and French fire and centrifugal pumps they zapped rivers,small streams, springs and wells to furnish water for trains.Having cut plates, patched electric welded bullet and shell holes in water tanks, andmailing necessary pipe connections, water facilities were made available once again.Facilities for watering hospital trains were also installed.Practically all personnel under Commander Lt Edward Billingsley of Pateros,Washington, Great Northern Track Inspector at Wenatchee, Washington, were utilized inassisting adjoining Engineering Units in reconstruction and rehabilitation of a secondtrack which was removed by the Germans. Six bulldozers, 2 air compressors and 3/4 yardcrane were utilized in this work. This equipment forms an invaluable part of the vastamount of equipment necessary for the operation of a Railway Operating Battalion.One of the outstanding platoons of the Battalion is the Signal Platoon, under thecommand of Lt Delbert W. McGuiness of Blackfoot, Montana, Great Northern SignalMaintainer at Whitefish, Montana.They have worked day and night since Jan 8 1945 installing a communications systemthat has been woven into a powerful telephone network to insure expeditious movementof trains. At this time cold weather and enemy activity bad caused many breaks in linethus necessitating signal men to be on the alert 24 hours per day. At times lineman wereassigned to train crews to tap lines to call for help when trains found themselves indifficulty in running over new lines.Operating in a non stabilized sector in advance of Headquarters, the train movementsection has been capable of operating many miles of track under all possible conditions.The length of the railway having been rapidly increased, additional specialist such astelegraph operators, clerks, etc., were needed by Hqs Co. These men were drawn fromC/732d ROB personnel.With communications being constantly bombed and sabotaged, operators at times had touse couriers in motor cars for communications between dispatch points. If suchcommunications were not used trains would have been tied up for hours awaiting order tomove.Putting continental railways back into operation was as much a problem of engines androlling stock as of tracks and marshaling yards.During the early days in Normandy, the Battalion depended largely on captured enemyequipment. ln Argentan, France, Capt George Zipperian, CO of C/732nd ROB,maintenance of equipment, of Great Falls, Montana, Great Northern Master Mechanic atGreat Falls, Montana, went out on a forward reconnaissance to find equipment. He foundmany locomotives which had been abandoned by the Germans. Enemy locomotives wereof every make and age. There were Austrian small switch 0-6-0′ s, vintage 1865, andothers which had rolled off the German assembly line in 1944.Although the 732nd started operating railroad with a few GI locos, as they movedforward more and more French locos and cars were liberated and more and more Germanrolling stock captured. This was immediately repaired and utilized to supplement GIequipment.

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