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712th TROB

712th TROB

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Published by: Nancy on Nov 10, 2010
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07/27/2011

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TRADING POST4
The U.S. Army Transportation Corpshas the task of moving personnel, equip-ment, and supplies. Members of the Corpsperform the task by a variety of means.During World War II, utilizing rail servicewas one of the means, and was a little-pub-licized successful aspect of the war.With the outbreak of WW II, the WarDepartment was faced with the serious prob-lem of moving vast amounts of personnel,supplies, equipment and vehicles overgreat distances in the shortest time pos-sible. The solution was to utilize the Ameri-can railroad system. The flexibility and his-toric readiness to expand railroad opera-tions provided a substantial benefit to theU.S. economy emerging from the Depres-sion. That was the fact that American manu-facturers went into overdrive producing lit-erally thousands of anticipated locomo-tives and freight cars. U.S. forces were ex-pected to run recaptured railroads, supplyU.S. combat forces, and improve Allied railcapabilities. The strength of America’s rail-roads lay in its management, corporate di-rection, personnel, and equipment. The USArmy Military Railway Service (MRS) wasformed, from a nucleus of several reserverailway units. While some 25,000 railroadpersonnel ended up in the MRS, more than351,000 railroad personnel served in allbranches of the armed forces during thewar. (
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)Railroads “sponsored” MRS units,putting their railroad personnel into thesame MRS unit. In many instances, indi-vidual railroads had employees drafted (orenlisted) together and who served together.Former railway employees in civilian lifebecame military engineers, military brake-men, military yardmen, and military officeworkers.During WW II, the mission of the MRSincluded taking over and rehabilitating(when necessary) railroad facilities, track-age, etc., turning them over to operationalcontrol of their previous civilian bosses,and then coordinating military freight trainsand civilian passenger trains.This was also to be true in Korea. Priorto the Korean War, the vast majority of theKorean National Railroad (KNR) had beenbuilt, maintained, and operated by the Japa-nese from 1905-1945 (including in whatwould become North Korea). There werevery few jobs Korean nationals could evenhold on the KNR. Once the 3rd Transpor-tation Military Railway Service (TMRS) hadset up command following the start of thewar, its mission was exactly the same as inWW II. With the especially fluid situationon the Korean peninsula playing out in1950, it was a tremendous challenge for theTransportation Corps. As United Nationsforces units began moving towards the 38thparallel, the greatest challenge for 3rdTMRS, KNR, and Army of Corps of Engi-neers was repairing track, tunnels, railwayfacilities and especially bridges north of Pyongtaek - Ansong - Wonju – Samchok line. The 3rd TMRS had to restore rail op-erations to forward area as quickly as pos-sible.(
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)1 There was great destruction;scarcely little exception, every bridge whichhad to be rebuild was destroyed by friendlyforces. Until mid-1951, the movement of troops and especially ammunition were toppriorities of the 3rd TMRS.The 712th Railway Operating Battal-ion, as it was designated during WWII, wasactivated 25 October, 1943 at CampHarahan, LA. Its duties overseas were inthe ETO, and the battalion received creditfor several campaigns. It was inactivated11 January 1946, at Camp Kilmer, NJ.After WW II, events were occurringwhich would have an affect upon the civil-ian and military railroad relationship. Inearly 1946 there was a strike of civilian RRworkers, and in May 1946, President HarryS. Truman ill-advisedly decided to draft therailroad workers into the Army. Truman’sproposal in support of this occupation-spe-cific draft was supported initially in Con-gress, but was subsequently rejected bythe U.S. Senate.The Korean War story of the 712thTROB started as a reserve unit sponsored jointly by the Reading Company (RDG) andthe Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ).Similar units, such as the 724th, were inplace on the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)and other railroads, which sponsored otherMRS units. Following in the footsteps of earlier predecessors, a number of railroad-ers who had served in World War II joinedthe Organized Reserve Corps and returnedto their railroad jobs. In 1948, the Readingopted to sponsor a railway operating bat-talion, and a sufficient number of men vol-unteered to cause the 712th to be reacti-vated, now designated as the 712th Trans-portation Railway Operating Battalion.The first reserve training occurred inSeptember 1949, and from that smallnucleus, the numbers of the battalion whoattended summer training the followingMay increased. The sponsoring railroadsmade up the difference between railwaycompany and Army pay. The notice of acall-up went out in late July and August,with the actual report date of 5 September1950 at Fort Eustis. At the time, the 712thwas made up of 16 officers and 60 enlistedmen. Most were from the Reading Railroad,a few from the Central Railroad of New Jer-sey, and a few with no railroad skills. Othermilitary railway units activated and de-ployed to Fort Eustis, the home of the ArmyTransportation School, were the 724thTROB, 729th TROB, 756th TRSB (Trans-portation Railway Shop Battalion), all un-der the direction of the 702nd TRGD (Trans-
712th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion 
Dave Kaufman
Personal souvenir patch of 712th TROBVariant of 712th TROB SSI
 
44APRIL-JUNE 201
portation Railway Grand Division). The712th TROB and 724th TROB were the onlyunits scheduled to be deployed in full toKorea - and both ended up there. The 756thTRSB and 729th TROB were retained astraining units at Fort Eustis and as a sourceof replacements to meet requirements over-seas. The sixty officers and men of 756thTRSB served mainly as instructors for themilitary inductees who had no railway shopexperience.At Fort Eustis, while the cadre of the712th was training, fillers, mainly WW IIvets on inactive reserve status, started toarrive to bring the battalion up to its T/O of 880. Many of these people had some rail-road background and were quickly slottedinto berths. The 712th TROB was com-manded by Major Arthur C. Palmer, whowas the assistant division engineer for theReading Railroad.The battalion’s three companies fol-lowed the WW II TO; HQ Co (dispatchers,telegraphers, track platoons, bridging pla-toons); B Co. (minor repairs), and C Co.(train crews). Those without any railroadexperience were assigned to C Co.While the track length at Fort Eustispost railway was not large, it had severalmiles of running track, a wye, grade cross-ings and other features. Those unskilled orwho had eroded skills were taught block operations, operating rules, coupling anduncoupling cars and boarding, riding andexiting equipment. For inexperienced per-sonnel in the 712th TROB, railway trainingwas fairly perfunctory at Fort Eustis andcontinued on the way to Korea and later,on-the-job. The 712th TROB used theirunassigned steam locomotive engineersand gave other unit members on-the-jobtraining to serve as conductors. Some per-sonnel received training from the US Navyin the use of quad .50 caliber AAA guns,defensive weapons MRS units never usedin Korea.Mid-November 1950 saw the 712thstarting to pack, and sloughing off the per-sonnel who would not be going overseas.Automotive equipment was loaded on flatcars and a train departed for the west coastwith a number of C Company personnel.On 7 December 1950 the personnel of the 712th TROB departed Fort Eustis on atroop train for the West Coast, where Com-pany C was airlifted in advance to Korea,arriving there on 23 December 1950. The
This map is the northern portion of the 3rd Transportation Military Railway Service (TMRS) operating map used during the KoreanWar. The 3rd TMRS controlled all military rail movements of troops and war materials during the war. Headquartered in Yongsan inthe old Yongsan Middle School complex, it was composed of the 712th and 724th Transportation Railway Operating Battalions(TROB) and the 765th Transportation Railway Shop Battalion (TRSB). The 712th TROB, headquartered at Yongdungpo, handled allrail traffic north of Taejon. The 724th, headquartered at Pusan, handled all rail traffic from Pusan to Taejon. The 765th washeadquartered at Pusan.In its northern sector, the 712th operated three main rail lines: the Munsan Line northwest of Seoul, the Chunchon Line to thenortheast, and the Sintanni Line north of Seoul. In its northernmost extent, the Sintanni Line ran through the Ch’at-an-ch’onValley where it supplied the war effort in the central sector of the Main Line of Resistance.Taekwangni was the last rail station north and located in an old, beat-up box car. Sintanni, two to three miles north of Taekwangni,was the last railhead north, and was primarily an ammo dump. (Courtesy Mr. Dewey Maclean)
 
TRADING POST4
rest of the battalion embarked on theUSMSTS General M.M. Patrick for the voy-age to Korea. The USMSTS General M.M.Patrick was usually used to transport mili-tary dependents overseas, which was for-tunate as it had a large day room the 712thturned into a battalion headquarters andused as a classroom to continue trainingthe non-railroaders in the battalion. Clearlythe training at Fort Eustis was literally ba-sic, if training had to continue en route toKorea and a considerable number of unitmembers were an unknown quantity as faras professional experience and work abili-ties went. The battalion (less Co C) arrivedin Pusan on 3 January 1951 and establishedbattalion headquarters at Sindong. On 28February 1951 the 3rd TMRS assigned the712th TROB to operate all lines north of Taegu. The battalion learned later thanwhen Co. C arrived in Japan, some uni-formed GI made a serious mistake when heattempted to assign these railroaders to aninfantry depot. He had not reckoned withthe company commander.“C” Company moved through Japanto Korea and settled in the school groundsat Sindong, and the remainder of the bat-talion started assigning block operators atseveral locations.While this was happening, unassignedC Company personnel were set to work un-loading box cars that had been placed on asiding at Chichon. These were cars thathad been loaded by Army soldiers and/orMarines following the breakout at Chosinwhen the Chinese entered the war. Thisunloading operation was the introductionto the war. Orders were to unload, break down and classify items according to Quar-termaster guidelines for inclusion or dis-persal to interested entities as necessary.Boxcars contained foodstuffs, arms, ammu-nition of all sizes, truck parts, rations, a littleclothing, small unit records, and on twooccasions, a body, protected with card-board, surrounded by a ring of frozen can-teens, some empty, some not, some partiallyconsumed C Rations.In the meantime, to keep things mov-ing, troops from C Company had been ridingas observers on trains operated by Koreancrews, as it was difficult for a train to makemuch progress toward the fighting. TheseGI observers argued their trains’ waythrough block stations, helped stuff GIsoap and pack wet grass in journal boxes,and stopped the locomotive firemen fromwasting time by stopping for water everyten miles, among other duties. In earlySpring 1951, one of the first trains run byCompany C was across the Han River. Allthe bridges had been blown in various ac-tions over the preceeding months. Whatmade this trip so precarious, taking sup-plies north, was that it was over a pontonbridge built by U.S. Army engineers.On 30 March 1951 the battalion basemoved to Yongdongpo and occupied themanagers’ apartments of a large silk mill, a
This sign was at Battalion Hq in Yongdongpo and was designed by a Lt who attendedPrinceton, which just happens to have a tiger mascot.Company C, which provided the train crews, had this sign.

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