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By T-4 Irwin Ross Technical Informgtign, Sectlen, Gel of rons ‘steal MBS" aii New York hy’ nH train crew was supposed to com= plete its run im the usual sixteen hours, get relieved, and then bit the sack, "But schedules went awry. The felief wesn’t on hand, and the original trew had to run the train from Normandy Straight up to the front. ‘The men were fon ihe go for four days and four nights ‘They. detoured around bombed-out bridges, crawled up precipitous grades on fourth ‘rate, single track lines that the Germans hadn't bothered to destroy, they ‘were bombed and strafed and sniped at. ‘The men ate out of C-ration eans, worked ‘with one band on the controls and the ther fingering s carbine, slept with their helmets on. But they’ delivered their haul. 6:10 on the morning of Dee. 21, 194, a V-1 bomb fell out of the sky over the Guillemine railroad “station in Liege, Belgium, It blew up six froight ears, set aie or damaged another dozen. The Gl failrcaders dashed out of their shelters to retsieve mail sacks from the burning cars. On Dee. 24 a lone German plane bombed the joint billet of the 740th and TAlst Railway Operating Battalions, six blocks from the Guillemins yard. Nine soldiers were killed, several injured. ‘Three days Inter, a V-1 exploded in the Kinkempois yard. in Liogs, ‘The 740th Tost eight” men this time, had twenty Injured. Sepetie. Ura ea) ‘These buzz bomb “incidents” occurred at the helght of the Battle of the Bulge, ‘when the Germans made thelt last des Derate attempt to throw back the Allied Suggernaut. Liege, with its burgeoning ‘supply dumps and close Knit rail net ‘ork, was 2. prime object of the Nazi bffensive, The G1. rallroaders—the men ‘who highbell the supplies to the front Tines—faced a continual bail of fire from Vols, V-2s and plain, old-fashioned live aireraft, If the Germans had been able to knock out the military railroads, they ould have immobilized the supply center that fed the whole Northern front. Liege received more V-bombs per acre than London, F "But the town wasn’t knocked out, and the railroads kept running. The soldiers there didn’t have to be persuaded of the fruism that rear echelon men moving One of your comrades would like to read this magazine, so please don't throw ie away. Guy siupplies to the doughfaet were as impor= tan¢ as any other Gl. cogs in the military machine. ‘The enemy convinced them of het. The men told their families they were “non-combat” but you were asking Jor a serep if you called them that to their faces. "The railroad soldiers have béen sim- flarly pugnacious ever since the first military train ran on the continent—from Cherbourg. to Carentan—last July 1. Now that V-E day has cloared away the fog of censorship, itis possible to tell tho sory of the Gi hogheads. Whatever happened, they pushed the trains through Bind they hauled a total of 18500000 tons of supplies, up to V-E doy. Last August the trains were carrying a mere 3000 tons a day. ‘The daily figure jumped {to 10,000 tons in. September; 40.000 In December; over 100,000 in Apri ‘To achieve these resulis, the Trans- portation Corps’ Military Railway Service Red to overcome a maze of ‘problems. Before any trains could run, tracks, rail yards, bridges had to be repaired; before a3 2 smoothly functioning rail system could bbe developed, communication lines had to bbe restored, fuel and water points re- paired. Meantime—in order to get the fine to run over the newly” repaired ‘racke—eaptured enemy equipment had to be put in operating shape, and more ‘equipment ferried across the channel In Stool it eae & complicated, many sided jeb—and ‘combat conditions’ inevitably Added new strains, upset the most care fully-planned schedules, made improvi- sation the Key to succes ‘We had a plan with which to cope with covery problem. Engineer General Serv- fce Regiments were primed to rebuild fevery piece of railroad track as soon as ft fell into our hands, In the eleven months between D-day and V-E day, the Engineers repaired 14367 miles of track, Dullt of repaired 433 allroad bridges, 34 restored dotens of marshalling yards and Station buildings ‘The Military “Reilway Service itself hhandled repairs to damaged equipment Rolling stock from every country in Eu ope was captured in the wake of the German retreat across France. Not only French and Belgium cars, but German, Grech, Polish, Duteh, Hungarian as ell The oldest locomotive found was an Aus {tian small-switch 0-6-0 manufactured ia 1865; the newest model was stamped 1944 In Cherbourg, "we recovered fifteen engines which hed originally arrived in France with the AEF. in the Sret World War. In all, well over, 30000 peces of captured equipment were put into opera tion, ‘Salvaged enemy cars, however, were hardly sufficient to handle the tonnages demanded of the millary railways. The This 1s what the roitead yord ft Sausons. France, locked hike ater © Gar ‘an plone dropped several bombs on one of fur ammunition taint which was standing In the yards Sigool Compe Photo, Bottom picture: Hospitel rant operated in Germony right up sore behing the invading shortage of engines and rolling stock was foreseen two years before the invasion, and plans went forward to make up the ddelict. “The resule was the famed "Ferry= fing. Program,” fathered’ by the ETO ‘Transportation Chief, Major General Frank S. Ross, Over 20,000 freight cars ‘were prefabricated in the States, shipped 1 England, knocked together by’ the Gs of the Railway Operating Battalions, and then, once the invasion had begun, were ferried to France om barges, converted LSTs and on "sea-trains"—vessels spe~ dially designed to move railway stock. A Similar program involved over 1300 laco= motives, Never in the history of wall- roading, civilian or military, had there been # transooeanle movement of rallway ‘equipment on this scale. "The magnitude of the operation was matched only by the courage and inge= fully of the GL railreaders. “The first ‘rains following each offensive, talled the Engineer genge repairing tho. tradks ‘These early trains were of crucial impor- tance, for they carried top priority cargo 4o the advancing armies." In their haste to get to forward dumps, the crews cnly needed a piece of track to move on. They couldn't wait for a complete railway eys- fem—fuel and water points, sidings, tele- phone linas—to be installed. “Lacking these facilities meant endless dificulties. ‘When the crews came to watering points that had "been destroyed, they ‘Scooped water out of shell eraters, begged and borrowed civilian fire engines, per~ Euaded farmers to form bucket bei- gades, If they ran out of coal, they cut ‘down timber, salvaged broken cross-ties, chopped up the remains of Blasted station Duildings. At night, lacking lanterns, they signalled in the yards with dgareie lighters or glowing cigar butts. When the telephone lines were out, they sent Gispatch orders by jeep couriers. If she jeep driver was hit by a sniper’ bullet, {he waiting train might be delayed mary. hours "At times the dispatchers had no ides hhow far ahead the line was open. They ‘would toss a box of field rations into the fngine cab, tell the crew to keep traveling till they were halted. One erew rolled forward for five days into western Ger~ many ntl something finally stopped it Te eould hardly go any’ farther, for it came toa viver—and the bridge was out! Food Sresn't much of « problem here, however, Tor in newly liberated terzitory the farm= fers brought them eggs and fresh vege= tables ‘The Gs both lived and worked on the V.FW. Bulletin Anove: This. demolished railway Bisdge, graphically illustrates. what the men of our Mary Rallway Sorvige edt contond wih in keep iy up with the vopialy advancing ule nos —U. S. Remy Phote. Rights Wik the el . Bhs U. & J24th Reilway Batalion © feoct gdouble. tock Seine River OS Army Photo. trains. The headquarters train of am ‘operating battalion included living quar- ters, shower, latrine and mess ears, a5 ‘well as repair shops and offices. Being fompletsiy mobile saved much tme—the battalion didn't have to set up a head- guarer every time It moved down the "Th most operating battalions, the five- rman cresrs lived in cabooses on the trains they operated, returning to the head~ quarters train after they completed theit fun. They cooked their meals, ate and slept in the eabooses, carried their bar racks bags with them in ease they were four longer than expected. When he faboosea lacked 2 stove, the men fried meals on the coal shovel, steaming it on the injector. They drew drinking warer fom the engine tank—a few pills purified it "On occasion they jumped into the tank for a bath, ‘good many of the 25,000 men in the Military Railway Service hold the same jobs on railway lines back home. The Various Operating and Shop Battalions ‘wore usually sponsored by eivillan rail= September, 1945 roads, each of which provided alficers for 2 specific outfit. The mon got a quick fourse of basle training, then were taught hhow to operate on a military railroad. ‘Most of them continued their training in England before coming to the continent. Despite thelr slzable experience, "com= bat railroading” constantly confronted the GE. engineers, brakemen and conductors ‘with unexpected problems. Many times Quick action hos narrowly averted disas- ters. A dI-car gasoline train, pulled by fan engine in front and another in back, fan into the rear of another train hich hhad been hit by artillery fre. The engi- reer of the forward locomotive was killed Instantly. The other crew members jumped from the train, receiving only a Fow'burns and bruises) They dashed to the rear and uncoupled the train into two, then signalled the other locomotive to x0 Into reverse. That done, the me un- coupled as_many of the front cis a5 edn begun. to burn Working. tran Heally against a weird background of Shooting flames, they managed to suve 2 ff the A cars ‘These are the men who Kept the trains running in endless procession from Ger= any to the western tp of France. 35