Skip to content


Back to History Medal of Honor Publications Staff Rides Studies Unit Histories Chief of Transporation

Civil War

Indian Wars

Spanish American War



Korean War

Vietnam War

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm



Operation Iraqi Freedom



From Normandy to the Rhine

WWI Troop Movements

Feeding Mars


US Army Use of Rail in Theaters of Operation | 1861-Present


The Army routinely uses rail to transport the majority of its equipment from home station or mobilization station to training areas or ports of embarkation. Consequently, most units have personnel experienced at uploading and securing military equipment on rail cars. This experience translates very well using rail in the United States and Germany, but in other theaters of operation, the rail system is not always as modern, compatible, or efficient as that in the afore mentioned countries.

From the American Civil War through World War II, the US Army had to deploy railroad units with their own locomotives and rail cars into the theater of operations because the shortage of rail either because of increased demand or sabotage of the existing rail system by a retreating enemy. At the beginning of the Korean War, the US Army deployed active duty railroad battalions from Fort Eustis to Korea. This was the transition in the use of rail units, because the railroad units worked with the existing Korean Railroad. Only later did the Army Transportation Corps deploy locomotives to the theater with trained Soldiers to operate them. From the Korean War onward, the US Army has utilized the host nation rail network if one existed. Only twice since World War II (Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom), did the Army deploy railroad detachments into the theater of operation but failed to use them other than to coordinate railroad traffic with the host nation. Consequently, the vast majority of rail moves in theater have been coordinated and supervised by Transportation Corps officers or Unit Movement Officers. While the expertise of the Army railroad Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) would have been useful, it was not used.

Based upon the history of the military use of rail in theaters of operation since the Korean War, the Army has not deployed a railway battalion. Many of the TC officers coordinating rail, have said they could have used the help of a railroad expertise such as a railway detachment to help them with coordinating and supervising rail moves. If the US Army wants to justify the existence of the railroad MOS, then it needs to deploy railroad detachments to contingencies for rail movements. Because of the planning and coordination required with host nation rail, there is time available to deploy a railway detachment for the short term operation. For prolonged use of rail, the detachments can train up the units using the rail. If the rail MOS is done away with then more training is needed for TC officers and Unit Movement Officers, since the responsibility of coordinating rail falls upon them.

While rail can be easily interdicted by a guerrilla threat, this threat can be easily mitigated or countered.

Purpose of Study

A study of the use of rail during military operations from the Civil War through the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan provides insight into trends and what military assets are needed to utilize this means of transportation in the theater of operation.

Civil War

MG Joseph E. Johnston’s use of the rail to reinforce quickly MG P. G. T. Beauregard during the Battle of First Bull Run in 1861, introduced the American military to the advantages of rail on military operations. BG Jackson timely arrival on the battlefield was able to beat back the Union Army that had been victorious up to that point.

Because the animals consumed part of their load, the radius of resupply for animal-drawn wagon averaged about 150 miles at the speed of a walking man, three mph. Rail increased speed of transportation to about 10-15 mph and distance to the length of available track. Railroads could transport larger numbers of troops and supplies faster so Congress authorized President Abraham Lincoln to take over the operations of all railroads on 31 January 1862. This resulted in the organization of the United States Military Railroad (USMRR). The railroad came into prominence as a means of military transportation so much so that the vast majority of battles and campaigns were fought along or for control of railroad lines.

Lincoln appointed D. C. McCallum, General Superintendent of the Erie Railroad, as the Military Director and Superintendent of Railroads with the rank of brigadier-general. This organization ensured the movement of military troops and supplies had the highest priority but the President left the operations of the railroads within the United States to the railroad companies themselves. Instead, the USMRR limited itself to the operation and repair of railroads seized in the Confederate states. This organization’s significant contribution to the war was its centralized control of the railroad and priority for military operations.

To ensure successful rail operations, McCallum set up schedules for the movement of supplies forward. He urged the Secretary of War to issue on 11 November 1862, Special Order No. 337, which stated that military officers would give the expeditious unloading of rail cars their highest priority and the consequence of delaying rail operations would result in dismissal from the Army. The purpose of the railroad was to deliver men and supplies to the Army rear. From there, wagons would deliver the cargo to the Corps.

On 22 April 1862, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton appointed Hermann Haupt, Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad, colonel as the Chief of Construction and Transportation of the Department of Rappahannak. He was given the authority to seize, maintain and operate all railroads and utilize all equipment needed to facilitate military transportation. The management of rail in the East fell entirely under his direction and no other military officer had the right of interfere. This arduous task required the reconstruction of all railroads and bridges destroyed by Confederate forces. Since both sides recognized early the importance of the railroad’s contribution to the war, they made every effort to destroy all railroads in the hands of the enemy. Consequently, the Army assumed responsibility for the construction and repair of all railroads and bridges. For this reason, railroad operations would fall under the Engineer Department until the creation of the Transportation Corps during World War II.

Haupt organized the USMRR Construction Corps for rail and bridge construction, and was just as effective at destroying the enemy’s rail. Haupt originated the idea of using prefabricated bridge trusses in order to expedite the repair of destroyed bridges. McCallum applied his techniques of reconstruction to other theaters of the war. By war’s end, Haupt’s Construction Corps had laid 650 miles of track and built over twenty-six miles of bridges. The 400 feet long bridge over the Potomac was one of its greatest achievements.

Haupt’s two great accomplishments included the evacuation of a great number of wounded from the Union defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run that prevented further disaster. For this he was promoted to brigadier-general. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Haupt organized the rail support that provided for the evacuation of two to four thousand wounded men along with the steady flow of 1,500 tons of supplies a day. On 14 September 1863, Secretary Stanton removed Haupt, who still worked his private business, after he refused to sign an appointment to work for the military without official rank and pay.

In September 1863, LTG Longstreet moved his corps of 12,000 men 800 miles in 12 days to reinforce Braxton Braggs Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Chickamauga. Two weeks later, Union Army moved XI and XII Corps of 25,000 men 1,200 miles in 12 days. GEN Sherman estimated that his 473-mile rail line during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign did the work of 36,800 wagons and 220,800 mules.

By the end of the war, the USMRR maintained sixteen railroad lines in the Eastern Theater and nineteen in the West. It had an inventory of 419 locomotives and 6,330 rail cars. The Union’s use of the railroad and telegraph in the movement and coordination of operations between theaters contributed greatly to winning the war. By Executive Order of 8 August 1865, the USMRR ceased its control of railroads. The Union success in its use of the railroad came from its centralized control while the South fighting for the right of each state to determine its own destiny left the management of the rail system to the commercial businesses.

Indian Wars

Landing Craft.

In 1869, the first railroad finally connected the East and West Coast of the United States. The expansion of railroad allowed the Army to extend its forts further inland away from the rivers. The railheads served as supply depots for further transportation of supplies into the area of operations.

By the time of the 1885-86 Geronimo Campaign, railroads pretty well crisscrossed the country and could deliver supplies to most military forts. General Nelson Miles tied in heliographs and telegraph with the railroad network of New Mexico and Arizona to rapidly shift forces to the reported sightings of Geronimo and his Chirocahua Apaches. Miles also established his headquarters in a rail car so he could more closely monitor operations. While this method did not result in the capture of Geronimo, it drove him out of the United States as his band of warriors found no resting place.

Spanish American War

From the invasion of Cuba in June 1898, all US wars would be fought overseas requiring force projection. Rail was used to transport troops to the various training camps throughout the country and to the ports of embarkation.

World War I

As soon as Congress declared war, the American Railway Association formed the Railway War Board composed of railway executives and representatives from the six territorial military departments. It, however, was unable to handle the flow of traffic, deal with antitrust laws and labor problems. In December 1917, the President invoked the 1862 law, took control of the railroads and established the United States Railroad Administration under Director General of Railroads William McAdoo. It succeeded where the other organizations had failed.

According to the Quartermaster Manual of 1917, in time of war the Corps of Engineers had responsibility for the construction, maintenance, and repair of all roads, ferries, bridges and railroads under military control to include the construction and operation of armored trains. The Rail Transportation Division of the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division supervised rail traffic. In the Zone of Interior (theater of operations), rail was used to haul men and material from the Base Section at the port to the Intermediate Section where trucks would pick them up and haul them as far as possible into the Advanced Section.

The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) wanted their own rolling stock because most French boxcars carried 10 tons versus 30 tons for American boxcars. Smaller French locomotives could pull trains of no more than 50 cars. An American train required a crew of seven, another reason to get as much out of a load behind one locomotive as necessary. The ever increasing size of American commitment and the demands of supplying the AEF made it difficult to figure out what they needed as far as transportation. Initial recommendation on heavier cars was made on 24 July 1917 after members of commission viewed rail and port operations in British sector. Larger capacity train loads could clear ports faster than smaller capacity train loads of French equipment. 1

General John J. Pershing approved the Americans running their own trains to their own terminals, but the AEF did not begin operating their own lines until the summer of 1918. Supervisory talent from civil life had to be recruited and trained for duties not only in the military, but also in foreign railroad methods. There were delays in arrival of railway personnel, locomotives, cars, and other equipment; long drawn out completion of new construction; continued reorganization of AEF TC Corps (8 times in 16 months); and the Americans had to adapt to the French railway practices. Plans had to be approved, and rules and regulations formulated for men who had never worked together. The lack of adequate peacetime preparation intensified the difficulty of creating an organization that would operate a railway network equal in size and volume of traffic to many of the largest in the United States.2

The 11th through 19th Engineer Regiments arrived in France to conduct railroad operations; however, all but one was sent to assist in the operation of French and British lines. The AEF then combed the combat divisions for Soldiers with civilian railroad experience to organize five new battalions of rail troops in early 1918. The US Army learned during the Great War that European rail cars and locomotives were smaller than those in America and during the next war; the US should deploy its own railway capability to move more men and material.


1 William J. Wilgus, Transporting the A.E.F in Western Europe 1917-1919, Columbia University Press: 1931.

2 Wilgus, Transporting the A.E.F.

World War II

When the war broke out, the Chief of Engineers still had responsibility for the building and maintaining of railroads and the training of railroad units. The Quartermaster General had responsibility for the utility of the railroads, for rail and water movement of troops and supplies including the ocean going transports. The War Department General Staff had direct supervision of the Ports of Embarkation. In 1942, the Transportation Corps took the operations, maintenance and utility of the railroads from the Engineer and Quartermaster Departments to form them under the Military Railroad Service.

As had been done in the previous war, the President enacted the 1862 law and federalized the railroad. The Transportation Corps managed all aspects of transportation of troops and material from their point of origin at the post or plant to their arrival at any of the three ports of embarkation at San Francisco, New York and Hampton Roads.

Learning the need to deploy with larger and more powerful American rolling stock, the newly formed Transportation Corps needed railroad units to operate the railroads in theater. Prior to the war, the War Department had entered into an agreement with the railroad companies that in the event of war, the companies would each sponsor a railroad operating battalion or railroad shop battalion. They would provide key personnel and training for recruits. The battalions were organized into Railway Divisions. To manage the railroad operations in the North Africa and Mediterranean Theater of Operations, the railroad units fell under the 1st Military Railway Service (MRS). The 2nd MRS assumed responsibility for all railroad operations in Northern France. The 3rd MRS was created in post-war Japan.

In concept, once a base of supply was established in the theater of operations, the railroad pushed supplies as far as possible then truck companies distributed it to the divisions. This line of communication remained simple and short around the Mediterranean Coast, but once on French soil, the North Africa Theater of Operations Service of Supply would attempt to establish a Communication Zone with a Base Sector, Intermediate Sector and Advance Sector. Railroad pushed supplies as far as possible, and then truck companies would transfer supplies around blown railroad bridges to the next railhead where the rail dropped off supplies in the Seventh Army rear. As the German Army retreated from North Africa up the boot of Italy, they improved their skill at sabotaging rail and port, but the Army railroad personnel were even more adept at salvaging and repairing what remained and combining it with what they brought to have the rail line operating in a matter of days.

The Army advanced too fast for each sector to build up the required days of sustainment so the logisticians developed the “skip echelon logistics.” They did not build up the supply base in the intermediate sector but had the trucks push supplies from the Seventh Army rear directly to the division rear. To avoid confusion with the logistics operations in Northern France, which preceded it, the base sector became known as Delta Base and the Continental Advance Sector became known as CONAD.

The Germans did little damage to the railroad in Northern France since the US Air Force and French underground had done it for them, in order to prevent the German Army from reinforcing the beaches with armor. Consequently, no functioning rail existed between Normandy and Paris. The fighting in the hedgerows allowed the over-the-beach operations to sustain the slow pace of the war. However, with the breakout of the hedgerows with the taking of St Lo, in August 1944, the race was on. The Germans retreated faster than the American Army could pursue. Until the railroad battalions could reestablish a functioning rail system, the European Theater of Operations would need lots and lots of trucks.

Advance Sector (ADSEC) of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) had consolidated all the truck companies into the Motor Transport Brigade (MTB) to reduce waste of resources by centralizing management of wheeled vehicles for beach clearance. Communication Zone (COMZ) formed the Motor Transport Service under Colonel Loren A. Ayers with the trucks organized into Motor Transport Divisions. The transportation planners confiscated as many trucks and drivers as possible from arriving divisions and designed a system of one way traffic to the front and back by another route, known as the Red Ball Express, the first of many Expresses. In concept the trucks would leave from their base and drive the round trip then rest on day and repeat the process. In spite of the Herculean effort of the truck drivers, trucks could not provide the needed sustainment, the advance of the First and Third Armies came to a halt in September and would not start up again until November. Bottom line, the truck could not sustain the two US Armies and the advance came to a halt for several months.

European Theater of Operations (ETO) Service of Supply similarly used the skip echelon logistics with the Normandy Base and ADSEC. The railroads, once repaired, pushed cargo as far as feasible then trucks picked up cargo at the railroad depot. Trucks moved their motor pool with the advancing railhead. From there the trucks pushed cargo to the Corps depot then returned. Convoys then returned to their base. Division and Corps trucks then drove cargo on to the user. In emergency cases, trucks delivered ammunition right up to the user.

There were two routes to supply Russian, one by sea through the port of Leningrad and the other overland through Iran, the Persian Corridor. The Americans were selected to build a highway and railroad through Iran because the British had a reputation of colonizing countries and the Americans did not. The 3rd Military Railway Service ran a railroad in Iran that started from Bandar Shahpour on the Persian Gulf Bandar Shah to the Caspian Sea, a distance of 866 miles.

Korean War

With the invasion of South Korea by the North Korean Army on 24 June 1950, the US Army Transportation Corps had two railroad battalions and a grand railroad division at Fort Eustis as part of the General Reserve; but due to budget cuts during the Truman administration, the battalions were wholly understrength and untrained in rail operations. Fortunately, Korea had a developed rail infrastructure.

On 1 July, the 8059th Army Unit (AU), Transportation Railway Service (Provisional), was organized in Japan and arrived at Pusan on 9 July to assume supervision over the employees of the Korean National Railroad (KNR) and was placed under the Transportation Section of the Pusan Logistic Command. It supervised the railroad operation and maintenance, but the KNR provided the crews for the locomotives.3

On 18 July, the 709th Transportation Railway Grand Division arrived in Korea to control operations and movements of KNR by establishing communication offices at various locations along the railroads, but control was limited primarily to expedite troop and supply movement through management of critical rolling stock since the tactical situation and lack of storage areas prevented efficient rail control.

On 26 August, the 8059th AU and 709th Transportation Railway Grand Division were inactivated and their assets were transferred to Transportation Section Rail Division to create the 3rd Transportation Military Railway Service (TMRS) at Pusan. That same month, the 714th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion (TROB), 764th and 765th Transportation Railway Shop Battalions (TRSB) were three active duty railway units sent to Korea, but were wholly understrength and only about 20 percent of their personnel had any railroad experience. The KNR had 153 functioning steam-powered locomotives, 344 passenger cars and 3,655 freight cars. Since the railroad men of the 712th TROB had little training in operating rail and the Koreans had a functioning rail infrastructure, the American railroad men rode the trains to ensure the Koreans adhered to schedules. The 764th TRSB from Japan ran heavy shops for major repair. The 765th TRSB supervised the KNR back shops and operated the engine houses and side tracks at Pusan, Kyongju, Taegu, Taejon, and Yongdungpo (YDP), and supervised repair of locomotives, passenger and freight rolling stock and put new equipment into service, and operated all hospital cars in Korea and converted buses to run on rails.4

On 15 September, the X Corps landed at Inchon threatening the North Korean line of communication, forcing them into a retreat and the US Army followed them up the Korean Peninsula. In their retreat the North Koreans demolished rail and bridges. On 16 September, the 3rd TMRS moved to Taegu and organized two rail reconnaissance groups for Advance Service. The 3rd TMRS and KNR repaired the track and bridges behind the advance of the Eighth Army. On 7 October, Eighth Army crossed the 38th Parallel and the 3rd TMSR moved to Seoul on 18 October. The 714th TROB established rail transportation offices from Pusan to Taegu and on 12 October it assumed operational control of all Korean rail activities from Taegu south to the coast. It moved Sindong and began operating as a rail traffic regulating organization rather than as a railway operating unit. Eighth Army units occupied P’yongyang, the North Korean capital on 19 October. The X Corps landed at Wonsan on the east side of the peninsula on 25 October. With the expansion of rail operations, the 3rd TMRS would turn over the back shops at Yongdungpo (YDP) to the Koreans on 11 November. By then it had 233 operational locomotives. The problem was the shortage of rail cars. The 3rd TMRS estimated it needed about 8,700 but the KNR had about 7,000 and 500 were in bad shape. This caused delays in turn-around time and did not allow time to take cars off circulation for routine maintenance.5

On 1 November, however, the Chinese poured across the border driving the Eighth Army back to the 38th Parallel. The Chinese threat to Seoul force the 3rd TMSR to relocate its headquarters back to Taegu on 18 December. The railroad was used to expedite as much material as possible south. On 1 January 1951, the 714th TROB moved back to Pusan to run rail operations of Taegu.

The 712th TROB was a US Army Reserve unit sponsored by Reading Railroad Company. The 712th was alerted in late July or early August 1950 and called into active duty on 5 September 1950. At the time, the 712th was made up of 16 officers and 60 enlisted men, most from the Reading Railroad, a few from the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and a few with no railroad affiliation other than interest in railroads. At Ft Eustis, while the cadre was training, fillers started to arrive to bring the battalion up to its authorized strength of 880. Many of these people had some railroad background and were quickly slotted into berths. Others were given “Block-Operators” training or for those who went to “C” Company; into T&E service, workouts on the Ft. Eustis railroad. Upon completion of the training the 712th TROB left Fort Eustis in early December bound for Korea by way of Japan. The 712th TROB arrived on 5 January 1951 and moved to Sindong, then Yongchon, and Taegu, where it ran railroad operations from Taegu north to YDP and across Han River into Seoul.6

On 20 February 1951, the 764th TRSB returned to Japan, less its personnel and equipment which were consolidated into 765th TRSB. In June and July 1951, the war settled into a stalemate roughly along the 38th Parallel and the 3rd TMRS turned over a substantial part of the Korean rail back to the Koreans. On 2 August 1951, the 714th TROB turned its functions over to the 724th TROB, which had arrived on 25 June 1951, and returned to Fort Eustis. The 724th TROB, a US Army Reserve unit sponsored by the Pennsylvania Railroad operated rail yards in and around Pusan and trains north to Taegu then handed responsibility of rail operations over to the 712th TROB. In late 1951, diesel-electric locomotives began to arrive in Korea with trained military crews to operate them.

At Fort Eustis, the 714th Transportation Battalion, along with the 729th TROB and 756th TRSB were attached to the 702nd Transportation Railway Grand Division. The 764th TRSB was inactivated in Japan on 21 November 1951 and the 712th TROB was inactivated in Korea on 20 January 1955. The 765th TRSB was also inactivated in Korea on 1 December 1955.

The Korean War represented the last war where the Transportation Corps deployed railroad battalions and supervised the railroad in a theater of operation. Since the Korea had a functioning rail infrastructure, the Transportation Corps initially used it railroad men to ride on the locomotives to ensure the KNR adhered to military schedules. As modern diesel-electric locomotives became available with trained operators, the TROBs began to run their own rail.

At Fort Eustis, the 763rd Transportation Battalion (Railway Shop), activated to replace the 765th and the 774th Transportation Group (Railway) similarly activated to replace the 709th Division, were inactivated on 3 June 1965. This left just the 714th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operations) (Steam and Diesel Electric) (TBROS&DE) as the only active railway unit remaining in the United States Army.


3 Carl R. Gray, Jr., Railroading in Eighteen Countries, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955.

4 Gray, Railroading in Eighteen Countries

5 714th Transportation Battalion History in the Historical Files of the US Army Transportation Center and School.

6 712th Transportation Battalion History in the Historical Files of the US Army Transportation Center and School.

Vietnam War

The US Army assumed a greater role in the ground war in South Vietnam during the summer of 1965. There were two more increments of troop build-ups over the next two years. South Vietnam had well engineered railroad that ran the length of the coastline from Saigon to Hue, 59 serviceable locomotives and over 500 serviceable freight cars, but had suffered from years of interdiction by the Viet Cong. Beginning in June 1966, the Saigon Government and US agencies combined to restore the railroad and rolling stock. The US Army was interested in the railroad for its potential of moving bulk cargo at low rates. The operation of the railroad was left in the hands of the Vietnamese, but the US Army assigned technical advisors to the railroad to keep it up to date. The 714th TBROS&DE trained up 11 rail detachments at Fort Eustis for the war. Only two deployed to Vietnam.7

2LT Forrest Becht and Bob Stiltenpol were assigned as commanders of the 525th and 526th Rail Detachments of the 714th TBROS&DE respectively right out of Transportation Officers Basic Course in the fall of 1966. On 27 December, they deployed with their 12- man detachments by air with their M16s to Oakland where they boarded a troop ship bound for Vietnam. They arrived at Vung Tau on 20 January 1967 and were bused to Saigon. They fell under the Traffic Management Agency (TMA) and Becht’s 525th Rail Detachment was assigned to the rail yard at Saigon and Stiltenpol’s 526th Rail Detachment was assigned to the Port of Qui Nhon. Since the Vietnamese ran the railroad, the US Army rail detachments just processed Transportation Movement Dispatches (TMD) and conducted port clearance. The 525th pushed cargo primarily to the logistic base at Long Binh and the 526th pushed cargo to the Phu Cat Air Base. This work did not require the full 12 personnel so half of them were turned over to the TMA for reassignment. By September, the new commander of the 3rd Region, TMA felt that the work load did not require even an officer and five Soldiers so he reduced the detachment in Saigon to just two enlisted men who worked with two Vietnamese. This was the extent of rail operations during the Vietnam War.8

The normal line of communication to the front was deep draft vessel to the port then rail as far as feasible then truck to the front. Part of the reason the US Army did not maximize the use of rail was because it only ran the coast line and was too easily interdicted. Army and Navy watercraft could safely more deliver straight to a series of military ports or beach ramps along coast and then military tractors and trailers could haul cargo inland to the forward camps.

The 714th TBROS&DE back at Fort Eustis had served primarily as a railroad training unit and saw no deployments since the Korean War. Its inactivation on 22 June 1972 brought an end to the last railroad unit on active duty. From then on the use of rail would primarily fall on the training of TC officers and the Army Reserves.

In 1976, the 729th Transportation Battalion (Railway), (USAR) in Middletown, Connecticut, was inactivated and divided into three detachments, each with a distinct mission (train operations, right of way maintenance, etc.). In the early 1980's, the detachments were reorganized into a single table of distribution allowances (TDA) unit, the 1205th Transportation Railway Services Unit (TRSU) and given the mobilization mission of supporting Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU), North Carolina. The 757th Transportation Battalion (USAR), a railway battalion with World War II service, was inactivated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 16 December 1980 and then reactivated at Milwaukee on 16 May 1985, and then the headquarters moved to West Allis, Wisconsin on 1 July 1987.9 These were the only two remaining railway battalions in existence.


7 LTG Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., Logistic Support, Vietnam Series, Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1991; and History of the 714th TBROS∓DE in the Historical Files of the Transportation Center and School.

8 Forrest Bach email to Richard Killblane, November 7, 2007 – January 6, 2008.

9 Statement of Service: Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 757th Transportation Battalion, Center of Military History

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm

During the summer of 1990, Iraq invaded the neighboring country of Kuwait and fearing further invasion into Saudi Arabia, the United States deployed to the latter. Downsizing of the commercial rail industry during the previous two decades left it with sufficient manpower and equipment to meet military requirements for deployment. At that time, the Army Reserves only had two remaining Railway Operating Battalions. The 757th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion in West Allis, Wisconsin and 1205th Transportation Railway Services Unit (TRSU) in Middletown, Connecticut with a detachment in Sunny Point, North Carolina.

12 men of the 1205th Transportation Railway Services Unit (TRSU) were called to active duty for 30 days during the first phase of Operation Desert Storm to support railroad operations at military installations and depots. These volunteers were called to active duty based upon their skills and were again activated in November for 60 more days until all units in the Persian Gulf were redeployed to their home stations. After Desert Storm, many installations and depots expressed concern about the effectiveness of rail support of any future conflicts.10

On the afternoon of 12 January 1991 the entire 1205th was activated in support of Operation Desert Shield for 180 days. The 1205th TRSU provided support to the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point (MOTSU) in the rail movement of cargo as well as maintaining over 97 miles of track on the Terminal, the access line and the Leland interchange. Military crews provided augmentation to Civil Service crews that normally perform the rail mission throughout the year. Since no active Army railroad units existed in the Army inventory, the 1205th performed a critical mission as evidenced by the main body activation of 237 plus days. Due to around the clock operation, some crews were short handed when individuals were absent due to sick call, leave and medical appointments. Since this caused a slowdown in the operations several members of the 757th Transportation Battalion were recruited to augment the 1205th. These additional soldiers allowed the port to continually serve four to six ships at a time. On Sunday 8 September 1991, the 1205th returned home to Middletown, Connecticut. There was a private ceremony of about 450 people to include US Senator Christopher Dodd and many others. 46 members of the 1205th continued on at MOTSU to help with the retrograde mission until 26 July 1992. 11

A handful of members of the 1205th TRSU remained at Sunny Point some as temporary base employees. For several years, their status was vague, since no detachment had been officially activated and they were still counted against slots at the 1205th's home station in Middletown. There was no system for inducting new members since the detachment was not "officially" there.12 In 1994 the 1205th TRSU was redesignated as the 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion (TROB) under the 94th Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) but remained a TDA organization.13

Finally, in 1995 the unit's status was made official as Detachment 1. Since then, local area recruiters have been able to help the detachment grow. Originally authorized 22 personnel with slots from the main element in Middletown, Det 1's authorized strength climbed to 40 in late 1996. Then came news that it would be redesignated as a company in about a year. By the end of 1996, we received word that the entire 1205th would be moved from Middletown to MOTSU, where it could better support the base.14


10 Major John A. Watkins, USAR, “Rail Support of Military Operations,” Army Logistician, Jan-Feb 1997; 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Bn, Global,

11 1205th TROB

12 Tim Moriarty, “Recent Army Rail History,” Army Logistician, July 1997.

13 1205th TROB

14 Tim Moriarty, “Recent Army Rail History,” Army Logistician, July 1997.


In October 1995, MG James M. Wright, who had recently assumed command of the 21st Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM), received the charter from US Army Europe (USAREUR) to plan the deployment and support of the 1st Armored Division into Bosnia. Wright immediately assembled his commanders and staff of the USAREUR, 21st TAACOM, V Corps, 3rd Corps Support Command (COSCOM), and 1st Armored Division at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany to develop the plan for deploying and sustaining a Bosnia operation over the next 43 days.15

The 21st TAACOM options for deploying the 1st Armored Division to Bosnia were either by rail or ship. The water deployment option consisted of moving by barge down the Danube River or out of Bremerhaven, Germany down to the Croatian seaport. To travel by rail, NATO needed the permission of Hungary and Croatia to travel through their countries. Deutsche Bundesbahn provided the rail carrier for the move from Germany to Hungary. Commercial rail provided the primary mode of transportation and the companies needed a minimum notice of 57 days to accommodate any changes. The 1st Transportation Movement Control Agency (TMCA) did its best to lock in unit rail movements seven days before their scheduled departure dates, but a myriad of circumstances, such as rail sabotage, transit restrictions in five different countries, restrictions on outsized cargo, and late delegation of contracting authority, required last minute changes made to the movement schedule, often on an hourly basis, during the period 11 to 29 December. The French rail union went on strike in November and tied up 500 outsized cargo railcars until the strike was called off on 15 December. Military rail move was not allowed to interfere with commercial rail traffic, so it only moved at night.16

The movement plan had the 1st Armored Division dropped off by rail at the Intermediate Staging Base (ISB) then move by road the rest of the way. The Joint Movement Control Center (JMCC) conducted a last minute route reconnaissance of the roads in Croatia and BG Pat O’Neal, Deputy Division Commander, wanted to use the rail all the way to the crossing of the Sava River at Zupanja, Croatia. The Joint Movement Control Center (JMCC) had chosen to cross the Sava River at Zapunja, because both banks belonged to Croatia. Unfortunately, four years of war had destroyed all the bridges over the Sava and the Army Engineers would have to erect a temporary bridge across the river. COL John Race, Director of the JMCC, tried to explain to O’Neal that the rail line would not support the heavy Abrams tanks, but the General said he had talked with a local in Croatia in December who said the rail line could. Race had received his information from the Croatian National Rail Authority and convinced the General of his plan. Neither was there any area large enough for a staging area at Slavonski Brad, so the Intermediate Staging Base in Hungary was used as the railhead. Equipment would travel by rail and the personnel would arrive by bus to the Intermediate Staging Base. From there the heavy equipment of the 1st Armored Division would be loaded on HETs for transport overland through Croatia into Bosnia.17

The 1st Armored Division deployed by rail from Germany to the Intermediate Staging Base at Taszar, Hungary in December 1995. Every annual rotation from then on was done by rail from Germany until the 2000 when the units from continental United States (CONUS) started arriving for the rotation.

In 2000, 49th Armored Division (AD) of the Texas Army National Guard would replace the Regular Army and conduct the Stabilization Force (SFOR) mission. The 49th Aviation Brigade (TX NG), commanded by COL John M. Braun, provided the headquarters element for the aviation slice, which consisted primarily of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Carson, Colorado. The 49th Aviation Brigade sailed aboard the Saudi Abha from Corpus Christi, Texas to the Port of Rijeka, Croatia in March 2000. The ship carried 259 pieces of cargo including 53 helicopters from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The 839th Terminal Battalion and a Movement Control Team from the 14th Movement Control Battalion offloaded the ship and prepared it for onward movement by rail.18

The passengers landed at Eagle Base in Bosnia, then CW4 John Lane, the Unit Movement Officer, rode down to the port with two crews, air and ground. They inspected the equipment, the flight crew and mechanics got the helicopters ready to fly, while other crews got the milvans and rolling stock ready move to the railhead. The helicopters were cocooned in plastic, so the crews had to unwrap and get them ready to fly. Then air crews flew the ground crews back by OH58Ds, UH60s, AH64s, and some CH47s. The aviation package moved to Comanche Base.19

On 7 March 2000, the 49th Armored Division (AD) assumed control of Multinational Division-North during a Transfer of Authority ceremony held at Eagle Base. The unit redeployed the same way it had arrived, by rail to Rijeka, and then by boat to CONUS in October 2001.20


15 LTC John W. Collins, Jr., and COL J. Stephen Koons, “Deploying for Joint Endeavor,” Army Logistician, May 1997; Keith Morrow email to Richard Killblane, 9 September 2008; and Morrow telephone interview by Richard Killblane, 9 September 2008.

16 Collins and Koons, “Joint Endeavor;” Morrow email; and CSM Dwayne Perry interview by Richard Killblane, 8 September 2008.

17 Morrow email and interview; and Race interview, 31 May 2001

18 1LT Sean Linehan, “Teamwork starting point for 49th Aviation brigade,” SFOR Informer Online, March 29, 2000,

19 CW4 John Lane interview by Richard Killblane, 25 September 2008.

20 History of SFOR.


For the second deployment to Kosovo, MG Grange, Commander of 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), did not want to deploy by boat and tasked 1st TMCA to deploy his Kosovo force (KFOR) from Germany through the “Eastern Swing Route” rail lines down to Thessaloniki, Greece (Thess for short) and back up to Skopje. A hypersensitivity to the perceived threat by at the port of Thess motivated the desire to move by rail. MG Richard A. Hack, Commander of the 21st Theater Support Command (TSC), became convinced that the “17 November,” a Greek terrorist group responsible for rocket attacks, bombings, and primarily assassinations, presented a real and present danger to seaport of debarkation (SPOD) operations during rotations. MAJ Earl F. Kennedy, Plans Officer for 1st Theater Movement Control Agency (TMCA), spent a lot of time trying to convince senior officers that “17 November” was no longer a credible threat especially to large military operations.21

Aside from the perceived threat, movement by rail was more efficient. To upload by rail, go to Bremerhaven, load on a ship, sail to Thess, unload, then upload to rail and move north to Skopje required too many changes in modes of transportation which made for a more inefficient operation. But the justification for the rail move was less about efficiency and more about defeating some undefined and unconfirmed threat.22

When asked if an overland route was feasible to avoid exposure in Thess to the terrorists, Kennedy with the help of two key German civilians, Heinz Schneider and Michael Riedl, to study the proposal. Because of the experience with moving units into and out of Bosnia, they knew in theory possible the rail move was in theory feasible. MAJ Kennedy spent the next few weeks flying with a small committee including Germans and often a representative from the Deutsches Bahn to every country along the proposed route to work with each country on the route to determine how a train might pass all the way to Kosovo. The Deutches Bahn was typically German in their efficiency with the upload and movement, and they helped a lot in the conversations with the railroads along the route.23

Kennedy emplaced liaison offices (LNO) with several of the key countries, most notably Bulgaria and Romania, to smooth out the bureaucracy. 1st Theater Movement Control Agency, which provided the LNOs, had started the LNO system back in Stabilization Force (SFOR) for Hungary, Croatia and expanded it to include Romania and Bulgaria. Kennedy’s group rented an apartment approved by the embassy, sent the LNOs down for six months at a time in civilian clothes and put them next to the host nation movement control office to iron out paperwork issues.24

The two biggest challenges were in Radomir, Bulgaria, where Kennedy’s team would need secure lodging and offload railhead, in a part of the country that was stuck in 1965. Every detail had to be worked out, how to feed, sleep, move, work, etc. In Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kennedy’s team had to deal with bridges and railheads but at least the force could bunk down at Camp Able Sentry (CAS) in Skopje, Macedonia. Coincidently, the rail lines on the eventual route went to within a few miles of the port of Thess before turning north to Skopje.25

The second issue was track restrictions (mostly tunnel with and height) along the route in southern Bulgaria and northern Greece for heavy loads, including M1s. With a little ingenuity, they developed a controversial but workable plan. They planned to take the heavy tanks to Sofia and then divert to Radomir, the closest station to the FYROM eastern border. The rail line east from Skopia had been abandoned in the early 1990s after the USSR collapsed. The rail beds were there and many of the spans but the rest was still on the drawing board. Kennedy’s planners decided to haul the tanks as far as possible by rail, download them in Radomir, then put them on HETs and drive them west to Skopje, but another problem arose. The loads were too heavy for some of the old Soviet era bridges. Kennedy took a team of Army Corps of Engineers experts and drove the route, examining each bridge. They determined that there were only a few that could not take the load. So, Plan C was to drive the HET to those bridges, download the tanks, and drive each one separately over the bridge, reload then repeat at each of the four bridges.26

Kennedy deployed with V Corps to sit in Camp Able Sentry where he could coordinate the move from the front. The “Heavy” train carried Abrams tanks from their home stations in Germany to Radimir. Kennedy used Peg Devereux in Radomir to cover the offload. The tanks then traveled by HETs with MPs and movement control troops onward movement to Camp Able Sentry. The downloading at the bridges worked like a dream. The 27th MCB took the rail from CAS to Kosovo. The DCG of V Corps was the lead in CAS, but when the test went well, pretty soon the duty fell to much lower ranking people for later rotations. The entire trip took about three days, and worked brilliantly with everyone and everything arriving safely at Skopje.27

A short 70 km resupply leg from Skopje to Grlicka, just south of Bondsteel, proved essential during winter months when the pass was shut down. The redeployment rail used to transport equipment from Kosovo to Bremerhaven.28


21 LTC (R) Earl Kennedy email to Richard Killblane, 8-23 September 2008.

22 Kennedy email.

23 Kennedy email.

24 Kennedy email.

25 Kennedy email.

26 Kennedy email.

27 Kennedy email.

28 George Atkinson email to Richard Killblane, September 5, 2008.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Detachment 1, 757th Transportation Battalion

On 2 January 2003, Detachment 1, 757th Transportation Battalion was mobilized and arrived at Fort McCoy on 5 January. The eight-man detachment, led by CPT Josef W. Sujet, arrived in Arifjan, Kuwait on 10 February as the advance party of their battalion, and then moved to the Kuwaiti Naval Base (KNB) where planning for the occupation of Umm Qasr was underway. That same day the rest of the battalion was called to active duty, but the deployment order would be cancelled.29 The detachment would establish rail operations at the port of Umm Qasr under the control of the 24th Transportation Battalion, which conduct port operations. The rail detachment was tentatively scheduled to begin movement to the port sometime after the first week of the war. On 8 March, however, twelve days before the start of the war, the port mission was lost to the British forces who had expressed renewed interest in controlling the mission. The 17th Port and Maritime Regiment (UK) would then replace the role of the 24th Battalion. MAJ Sujet was able to convince the British commander, LTC John Ash, of the necessity to utilize Detachment 1, 757th TC and it was attached to them. Det 1 worked directly with the 52nd Port and Maritime Squadron led by Major Neil Llewellyn. On 10 March, the eight railroad Soldiers at KNB moved to the port of Shuyabah in order to link up with the 17th Port and Maritime Regiment. The war began on 20 March and the detachment received orders to begin moving on 24 March. On 23 March, the other two members of the Detachment arrived in Shuyabah and movement of the advance party to Umm Qasr commenced on the 24th . The advance party consisted of members from the 17th Port and Maritime, CPT Joe Sujet and SSG Keith Styles from Detachment 1, and a contingency from the United States Naval Warfare Group. The main body followed on 25 March.30

Although the port of Umm Qasr had been secured prior to the arrival of their, the city had not. Fighting had continued in Umm Qasr through the first week of April. The detachment conducted a visual inspection of the track contained within both the new port and the old port. On 25 March, they received word the first humanitarian aid ship, HMS Galahad, would arrive on 27 March. Detachment 1 had the mission to have a locomotive with four flat-cars at the old port ready to receive the first load from the HMS Galahad at 1500 hours on 28 March. It first had to overcome several obstacles. First, they had to inspect four kilometers of track between the ports. This area was still unsecure, as fighting for Umm Qasr was still continuing. Second, there were two in-operational shunting locomotives available for the mission. A shunting locomotive was an undersized locomotive used for yard operations. Third, a 100-meter section of track was partially buried at the entrance to the old port and its condition was unknown. The last obstacle was a 10-meter beam bridge located between the ports whose condition had to be properly evaluated.31

The Detachment organized several teams to overcome these obstacles. CPT Joe Sujet and CPT Mark Blanek, the operations officer for Detachment 1, led the track reconnaissance. The condition of the track between the ports had proven to be in fair condition to include the bridge. They would restrict speed on this section of track to five mph as a result. 10 minutes after the reconnaissance was completed fighting broke out in Umm Qasr with small arms fire. The buried track was dug up and also proved to be in fair condition. The shunting locomotives needed batteries and had some wiring problems. The railroad men acquired batteries and parts to repair the wiring and within hours had the locomotives running. The flat-cars were attached to the shunter and arrived at the old port at 1515 hours on the 28th. The British offloaded the first shipment of humanitarian aid in Iraq directly to the flat-cars and the train hauled it to the new port for temporary storage. Unfortunately, the main line north of the new port leading to Basrah had not yet been inspected and Basrah had not been secured yet either. Basrah was taken shortly after but the main line still needed to be reconnoitered. The roadways were open sooner than the rail and the humanitarian aid was hauled by truck as a result.32

Over the next couple of weeks, efforts focused on completing the assessment and minor maintenance of the 22 miles of track at both ports. Due to a lack of equipment, the men could only perform minor track maintenance. The original mission of Detachment 1 was to serve as the advance party of the 757th Transportation Battalion which would be released from active duty on 4 June.33 Consequently, the Detachment was not equipped to perform any significant repairs to either track, locomotives or rolling stock. This problem continued throughout the deployment. The overall condition of the track was fair as it had not been targeted during the air campaign. During this period, representatives from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1st MEF), United Nations, and Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) came to Umm Qasr to discuss the feasibility of redeploying forces, hauling humanitarian aid, and standing up the IRR respectively. The USMC was adamant about redeploying their tracked vehicles by rail but the Iraqi rolling stock capabilities could not handle such a mission effectively. This was not evident at this time, however, because a complete assessment of the rolling stock was not completed yet. The UN was looking at all courses of action for hauling aid to the people of Iraq but the need was immediate and there was quite a bit of work to be done to open the line to Baghdad at that time. The UN decided that trucking would be their best course of action at that time and the need for aid was not as great as initially perceived. CFLCC tasked LTC Bob Pelletier to work with the Iraqi Railroad (IRR) to get them operational again.34

The British secured Basrah during the second week of April and then Detachment 1 conducted a rail reconnaissance to Basrah on 12 April. That same day, Gunnery Sergeant Myers of 1st MEF, a rail inspector in the civilian life, conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the line between Basrah and Baghdad, since CPT Sujet did not have enough personnel to accompany the aerial reconnaissance, as his Soldiers were needed for force protection during the Basrah mission. The reconnaissance found the Basrah train station with five operational locomotives. This was critical because at this point the only locomotives they had found were the two shunters incapable of hauling trains over long distances. The reconnaissance also found locomotive operators. A liaison was established with the IRR management of Basrah which helped speed things along. Three sections of track were damaged just outside of the station so they could not run a test train back to Umm Qasr that day. The Iraqis, however, were eager to send back to work and had the track repaired the next day. On 14 April, they ran a test train from Basrah to Umm Qasr with no problems. On 19 April, a ceremony was held in Umm Qasr officially opening the line to Basrah.35

The 1st MEF reconnaissance went well also. The line from Basrah to Baghdad seemed to be intact with the exception of one section of track near As Samawah. A major facility was located in the same area with locomotives and rolling stock. The 1st MEF reconnaissance was unable to land for a closer inspection due to time constraints, so CPT Sujef scheduled another reconnaissance for mid-April, which found no track defects, but located 25 locomotives and hundreds of pieces of rolling stock. On 21 April, the Iraqi Railroad began operating the line from Baghdad to Basrah.36

Not many military planners were aware of rail capabilities or its potential, which became evident because the railroad still did not have any customers or cargo. The priorities, as established by the British, were: food for oil, humanitarian aid, passenger service, commercial, and finally, military supplies, which was in disagreement with Detachment 1’s intentions but was out of their control. LTC Pelletier was already scheduling passenger service between Baghdad and Basrah which would begin shortly. The food for oil and humanitarian aid missions never materialized. It would be a long while before rail would be used for commercial goods which allowed Detachment 1 the opportunity to utilize rail for logistical support to the forward areas.37

After the fall of Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), LTC Jeff Helmick’s 6th Transportation Battalion received the order to establish a railhead at Gharma. On 1 May, BG Jack Stultz, Commander 143rd Transportation Command (Forward); COL Jim Veditz, Commander 7th Transportation Group; LTC Chris Craft, Deputy Commander 7th Transportation Group; LTC Jeff Helmick and CSM Dwayne Perry drove up to Gharma to reconnoiter the site. In concept, cargo would be loaded aboard the train at Umm Qasr and pushed up to the railhead at Gharma. The 6th Transportation Battalion needed cargo handlers and trucks to push out from there. LTC Andy Bowes’ 87th Corps Support Battalion would establish a 3- million gallon fuel bag farm there. Helmick ordered 2LT Olson to move his cargo handlers to Gharma. The next day, 2LT Tyler Olson’s 2nd Platoon, 551st Cargo Transfer Company (CTC) moved to Gharma where they operated the first ever rail operation with American Soldiers in Iraq. They had to scramble to locate or purchase the rail kits with the help from the 6th Battalion S4.38

On 2 May, CSM Perry led the 6th Battalion command and control element of 12 Soldiers to Gharma. Helmick had full confidence in Perry’s ability. Perry selected his camp in a remote location from the main camp. He located a compound enclosed by with 20-foot high adobe wall that would make a good secure motor park for his trucks. He brought up a mobile kitchen trailer (MKT) and some guard towers they had previously constructed. The battalion also sent two medium truck companies, 15 HETs, part of the HHD and a signal slice up there to clear cargo out of the railhead. The rest the battalion was going to close Cedar and move up to Gharma in a month. Likewise the 7th Transportation Group (Forward) turned the command and control of the Tallil operation over to the 171st Area Support Group then relocated to Gharma and named it, Forward Logistics Base (FLB) Resolute.39

The initial plan was to transport 20 Connexes per day and establish a schedule that would allow for three trains to run in each direction daily. Detachment 1’s efforts to establish a liaison with the Iraqi Railroad management in the southern region proved beneficial for both parties and had a great effect on its ability to accomplish the mission, but CPT Sujet could not accomplish the rail mission with just ten Soldiers since the Iraqi rail workers were not yet reintegrated. LTC Pelletier spearheaded the effort to stand-up the Iraqi Railroad to include its workforce. Detachment 1 worked with the management in Basra and Umm Qasr to establish standards and expectations for their workforce. The Soldiers of Detachment 1 would primarily supervise the 75 or so Iraqi workers in the Umm Qasr area. The different work ethic proved the most challenging part of the mission. The Soldiers had to set goals, and ensure the Iraqis completed them in a timely manner.40

Detachment 1 appropriated $10,000 worth of tools through a British Quick Impact Program (QIP) for the Iraqi workers. Since looting was prevalent throughout Iraq, tools were otherwise not available. Other issues included appropriation of repair parts, security forces organic to the Iraqi Railroad, communication systems (VHF, fiber-optics), discretionary funds, and worker attendance which were problematic. The purpose was not only to get the rail infrastructure up and running in the short term but also to provide a basis for planning the long term re-construction of the system. On 29 April, the Iraqi Railroad was officially reconstituted, just in time for the first shipment of cargo to arrive in Umm Qasr on 4 May.41

On 7 May, the first and only train to leave under British control pushed north to Gharma carrying 12 containers of Class I. The 52nd Port and Maritime Squadron called an End of Mission and redeployed within a week and they officially handed the rail mission over to Detachment 1, 757th TC on 8 May. Cargo began to trickle in. Mostly Class I, but also Class II, Class IV, Class IX, unit equipment and AAFES supplies. The first week, a total of six trains pushed north, which was difficult because Detachment 1 did not have heavy equipment or movement control support like 7th Group. Detachment 1 utilized port assets for loading cargo and provided its own movement control and cargo documentation. Eventually, it received support for both issues.42

BG Jack Fletcher wanted the Corps’ rear boundary pushed back to the Kuwaiti border. COL Veditz also surmised that the center of gravity of theater transportation was shifting back to Kuwait with the arrival of the 32nd Transportation Group and KBR getting ready to assume the line haul mission. Not only that, but because of the isolation of Gharma railhead made it vulnerable to constant attacks. On 11 May, COL Veditz turned Gharma over to his deputy, LTC John J. Lambusta. On 1 June, Lambusta had his 7th Group Tactical Operations Center tear down their camp and CSM Perry returned with his 6th Battalion element to Camp Cedar on 3 June.43

With only 25 operational locomotives in Iraq at that time, a number of these would be used for passenger service between Baghdad and Basrah, and eventually some would be used to haul cargo between Baghdad and five other nodes that were set up after Gharma to include Diwaniyah, Taji, Baghdadi, Bayji, and Mosul. There were not enough operational locomotives to sustain three trains daily from Umm Qasr. This would become increasingly worse as the locomotives began to break down along with rolling stock. Detachment 1 repaired as much possible in Umm Qasr by cannibalizing parts from other rail cars. An organized effort to repair locomotives and rolling stock began in October with parts from Baghdad. Trains were cancelled just as often for a lack of locomotives as they were for a lack of cargo. Another key event which happened during the May time period was the coordination with Bechtel, one of the contractors helping rebuild Iraq. One of their missions was to build a second rail line from Umm Qasr to Shuaiba, Iraq near the vicinity of Basrah. The primary source for their decision to build the track was the assessment performed by Detachment 1.44

Eventually, the 18th Corps Support Battalion, commanded by LTC Bruce Ferry, arrived to take command and control of the mission on 9 July and Detachment 1 began to receive more cargo. On 6 October, rail was designated as the primary mode of transporting goods in Iraq. The main reason for this was the ability to haul vast amounts of cargo with a drastic reduction in friendly casualties. The arrival of the 18th CSB alleviated many of our problems and allowed Detachment 1 to focus on its technical mission. With the presence of the 18th Corps Support Battalion and the gradual increase in the Iraqi Railroad’s capabilities, Detachment 1 called an End of Mission on 1 October.45

Under the command of Detachment 1, 757th Transportation Battalion, 135 trains were pushed north with a total of 3,798 containers weighing 22,788 short tons. During this period, 162,000 convoy miles were saved using rail assets. This was all accomplished with the technical skill of only 10 Soldiers. A much higher level of success would have been achieved with the presence of the 757th Transportation Battalion and at least one of its line companies. The lack of personnel and equipment restrained the detachment’s ability to accomplish its mission more effectively. It is also critical to note that without the participation of Detachment 1 rail may not have been utilized at all after the British left. The British called an End of Mission after the first train pushed when the Iraqi Railroad was not in place yet. It is likely that the rail mission would have ended there or at least be substantially delayed. The importance of utilizing rail assets in future conflicts cannot be overlooked. At the end of the day it can be said that the men of Detachment 1, 757th Transportation Battalion were instrumental in the outstanding success of the rail mission in Iraq.46 The Detachment returned to Reserve status on 1 November 2003.47

By January 2004, the Iraqi Railroad was being used to haul mostly Class IX parts from Umm Qsar to Taji and then to retrograde broken parts (not broken vehicles) back. Initially the rail pushed water. The Iraqis would cut the rail in order to derail the train then climb aboard and steal the cargo. Even though it was parts to vehicles they did not have, the Iraqis stole anything.48

During the Uprising of Al Sadr’s Madhi Militia in April 2004, the Iraqi railroad was attacked and the last time the Americans used that rail line for many years was when the rail cars rolled into Taji on fire.

101st Airborne Division: Baghdad to Mosul, 2003

When V Corps directed the 101st Airborne Division to move to Mosul during OIF1, the 101st was south of Baghdad and coincidently, they had to give up the HET platoon they had borrowed from the 7th Transportation Group because the 4th ID had arrived in theater and the HETs were needed to move them. The 101st Airborne Division would conduct the longest air assault operation in history, but since they had to give up the HETs, LTC Matthew Redding, Division Transportation Officer of the 101st Airborne Division, had to find another way to move his non-rotable equipment north. The division sent an Advon party to Mosul and discovered a rail line there. Someone talked to the rail manager and learned that the railroad had been operational but had mostly run passengers. That person called MAJ Redding and told him about the functioning rail system. Redding then drove to Baghdad and found the rail manager. The manager was a Baathist but also a businessman. He was excited to support the rail movement. MAJ Redding wrote out the request and showed the rail manager where to submit the claim for fuel and costs based upon the Iraqi rail tariff for cargo.49

During the looting, MAJ Redding and 14 rail managers had locked up the locomotives and as many cars as they could, while looters stripped off wooden planks off of the rail cars. It took a week of preparation to repair the rail cars. 40 percent of the decks were missing and they had to improvise spanners. They managed to have four passenger cars and 35 flat bed cars available to haul the equipment. CPT Jansen DeLoach, his warrant officer and NCO from the 613th Movement Control Team arrived on 4 May to help load the cars. DeLoach drove a 40-ton crane on a flat car without any wooden planks by rolling the tires on the I-beams. It took four convoys with the HETs over four days and three nights to move all the non-routable equipment to the rail yard in Baghdad. Loading was an adventure because of the 130 degree heat. Because of the threat of looting, they had to provide perimeter security of 25 soldiers from different units for their equipment. Their only concern came from local Iraqi children who gathered out of curiosity and the “Ali Babbas” (local Iraqi term for thieves) who tried to steal tea and sugar from the warehouse or the manufactured home materials. After the rail load was completed, MAJ Redding released the HETs to return to their parent unit.50

The original locomotive that was planned for the move had maintenance issues so the rail manager gave them a smaller one. This was not an issue traveling across the flat desert, but when the reached an uphill climb past Bayji, the small engine could not pull the load. The train had no radio so they passed on their trip tickets the old fashion way to someone running along the rail station as the train rolled by, like the Old West. Since the locomotive did not have enough power, they sent a request via an automobile to Mosul for another engine. The engine arrived and helped pull the train up the four-mile slope. They completed the movement in 36 hours without any air conditioning. The temperature was recorded as 120 degrees outside and 150 inside the cars, so after four hours into the mission the passengers rode on the flat cars. The Iraqis at Mosul had a big party waiting for the train. It took six to seven hours to download the equipment.51

Once in Mosul, the 101st Airborne Division continued to use rail and in July 2003, MAJ Redding received a donation of $10,000 from National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) in supplies to overhaul the Mosul rail station. The entire time the 101st Airborne Division used the railroad, it was not attacked.52

In August-September 2003, the railhead was open and the 101st sent empty containers to Basra as Mosul became an airfield. Preparing for the retrograde, the division sent back tents, containerized equipment and some vehicles. Insurgents did interdict so they used the rail mostly to ship Class I. The 101st Airborne Division redeployed in February and March 2004.53

Mosul Rail, March 2004

The 497th Movement Control Team (MCT), commanded by CPT Richard Hellig arrived at Mosul in January 2004. It replaced two movement control teams and an US Air Force TALC. In March, CPT Brian Patnode, also of the 497th MCT at Mosul, received a call from Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNCI) rail ops in Baghdad. Around 400 living containers came down from Turkey and became stranded at FOB Marez with the ultimate destination to the Marines out west. They could not get the 200 trucks needed to move them, so Patnode suggested to BG Carter Hamm, commander of Multi-national DivisionNorth, indirectly by email that they could move them by rail. Most officers had little confidence they could move it by rail, but Patnode knew the 101st Airborne Division hadmoved equipment by rail the year before. BG Hamm gave the green light.54

They could not move a rough terrain cargo handler (RTCH) or any other material handling equipment (MHE) down to the rail yard in Mosul and in addition, the security required for the rail yard would have been extensive, so Patnode spoke with his commander, who gave permission to meet with the Iraqi manager downtown. Luckily the main rail line traversed directly between Marez and Diamondback. Patnode needed to convince the local rail manager to bring the trains to Marez and block rail traffic for a few hours while they loaded. The manager who spoke English was very supportive. To load the containers, the Army had to actually build a rail head. Patnode had to beg and borrow to get units to level the ground. Army Engineers stationed at Marez then flatten out a 200-meter wide ground between Diamondback and Marez, adjacent to the main rail line. They could then divide the train and load the living containers in two different areas. Patnode contracted KBR to build the other ramp, which they charged around $2K. KBR handled one side while Soldiers from the 44th Corps Support Battalion, out of Fort Lewis, loaded at the other side. Working in close proximity to the FOB gave a sense of security. Ultimately they were able to ship all of the containers, minus the ones on the two trains that were attacked in route.55

1st Sustainment Brigade at Taji, 2008

The last time that rail had been used at Taji was when the train rolled in on fire during the al Sadr Uprising in April 2004. In middle January 2008, MAJ Michael McGee, 719th Movement Control Battalion at Anaconda, warned the 1st Sustainment Brigade (SB) at Taji they were planning to use the rail line. To reduce the number of military convoys on the road and energize the Iraqi economy, COL Kevin G. O’Connell, Commander of the 1st Sustainment Brigade, wanted to use Iraqi rail. In early February, LTC Gumelot, the plans officer of 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, came down to meet with MAJ Ira Baldwin, Support Plans Officer-Transprotation 1st Sustainment Brigade; 2LT Jesse Estrada Jr., Commander of the 528th MCT; representatives of the 2-25th Infantry Division; KBR; and the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC). Their mission was to execute a proof of principle or feasibility study to see if a locomotive rail and flat cars could make it all the way to Taji. MAJ McGee came down for a series of meetings and brought her rail section. MAJ Baldwin became the 1st Sustainment Brigade coordinator for the rail operation.56

Taji had a rail line that fed right into the camp and to reopen the rail yard, the 1st Sustainment Brigade had to remove the derelict rolling stock in the rail yard damaged in April 2004. Because of the insurgent threat, this operation involved entire base defense. Force Protection had to bring the back scatter van to X-ray the locomotive when it came in. They would also have to block traffic inside and outside the gate to allow the locomotive to enter Taji. The date for the operation was originally set for 9 February but was pushed back to 10 March because of the lack of resources. The Iraqis were very excited about working with the Americans and would take the rolling stock to Baghdad and repair it.57

On 20 March, the Iraqi railroad workers came in to clear the Taji rail yard of all derelict rolling stock. CPT Justin Cuff, A Battery, 2-11 Field Artillery from Hawaii, had his battery provide security inside the perimeter while C Battery, commanded by CPT Nick Cherry, provided security on the perimeter and in the immediate area outside. Cherry’s Soldiers were in full battle rattle waiting to block traffic inside the wall. His men had also conducted the x-ray scan and search of the locomotive with sniffing dogs. The RMFS crane lifted the concrete barriers behind the metal gate blocking the rail line and the locomotive entered. 2LT Estrada’s MCT inherited the job of escorting Third County Nationals (TCN) inside the perimeter.58

Once all the flat cars were connected the train was ready for inspection. The artillerymen again searched the train while it waited at the perimeter road, and upon completion the inspection, the crane lifted the two concrete barriers, other Soldiers in battle rattle opened the gate. They had to wear individual body armor (IBA) this close to the wall for fear of truck bombs. Strykers blocked local Iraqi traffic outside the wall and HMMWV gun trucks blocked traffic inside the wall. The locomotive pulled and around 1430, the train cleared the gate and rolled for Baghdad with 52 flat cars having left two behind.

The next step was to pick up empty containers to haul to Basra on 25 March, but the mission was postponed due to echelons above 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) interest. Someone from the 316th ESC called asking the 1st Sustainment Brigade to delay their rail move so certain VIPs could observe it. Since there were so many pieces involved in the coordination, it would take months to reschedule the next rail move.


29 Statement of Service: 757th Trans Battalion.

30 Josef W. Sujet, Memorandum for United States Army Reserve Command, Historian, Subject: Detachment 1, 757th TC Deployment Narrative, 5 November 2003.

31 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative

32 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

33 Statement of Service: 757th Trans Battalion.

34 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

35 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

36 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

37 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

38 LTC Jeffrey Helmick, “Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom Executive Summary;” and “6th Transportation Battalion Historical Report.”

39 Perry interview, “6th Transportation Battalion Historical Report.”

40 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

41 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

42 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

43 Veditz interview; Lambusta interview, “6th Transportation Battalion Historical Report.”

44 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative

45 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

46 Sujet, 757th TC Deployment Narrative.

47 Statement of Service: 757th Trans Battalion.

48 CPT James Word interview by Richard Killblane, 22 September 2008.

49 LTC Matthew Redding interview by Richard Killblane, 20 March 2008.

50 Redding interview; CPT Jansen DeLoach email to Richard Killblane, October 1, 2008.

51 Redding interview.

52 Redding interview and DeLoach email.

53 Redding interview.

54 Brian Patnode email to Richard Killblane, June 30, 2006.

55 Patnode email, June 30, 2006.

56 2LT Jesse Estrada, Jr., and MAJ Ira Baldwin interviews with Richard Killblane, 20 March 2008.

57 Estrada and Baldwin interviews.

58 Richard Killblane’s observations of the operation.


Steel track can be destroyed with just a few pounds of explosive, thus making rail very easy to interdict by a guerrilla threat. However, simplicity of rail makes it just as easy to repair. In fact, Sherman’s army during its advance to Atlanta was so successful at repairing track and bridges, the Confederates found it took them more time to destroy the track and bridges than it did Sherman’s engineers to replace them. The futility of the effort became a deterrent to rail interdiction.

During the Vietnam War, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam built an armed and armored locomotive that resembled a tank which patrolled the rail ahead of trains looking for mines and explosives.

During World War I, the Czechoslovakian Legion trapped fighting in Siberia after the Bolshevik Revolution armored their trains and controlled significant amount of the Trans-Siberian Railway. They were able to successfully evacuate through Vladivostok in Eastern Russia.

While rail is vulnerable to interdiction, this threat can be mitigated by hardening trains and increasing the speed of repair.


Where available, rail has played a significant role in moving equipment into the theater of operations and still remains a viable means of transportation. Up through the Korean War, railroad was king of land transportation, but larger trucks and improved highways have provided significant competition with rail, especially for containerized cargo. However, the limited number of HETs makes rail a viable option for moving heavy equipment to this day. The days of deploying with locomotives and rolling stock ended with the Korean War and the Army has relied upon Transportation Corps officers and Unit Movement Officers for coordinating rail movements with foreign countries. In all cases there have been delays and difficulties due to cultural, language and equipment differences. Soldiers with railroad expertise may have been able to expedite these movements.

Based upon the history of rail use over the last 50 years, there has not been a need for any railway unit larger than a detachment. The railway units have managed rail rather than operate it. For rail movements with short notice, a few of these railway detachments need to be active duty, while forecasted use of rail can pull units from the Reserves. One of the most successful experiences in the past has been borrowing railroad expertise from commercial railroad companies and using them to form railway organizations. With recent reductions to manpower, the last remaining railway battalion, 757th, is on the chopping block. In the effort to preserve this valuable capability, the Chief of Transportation is looking at restructuring the capability into railway detachments with a management focus rather than a battalion with a operator mission.

From Normandy to the Rhine: Memoirs of an advance lineman, A First Person Account

By Joseph W. Weeks, 718th Rail Operating Battalion Reserve, Transportation Corps

Negro History Bullietin Vol. 51/57 No. 1/12, African Amerians and WWII: 50th Anniversary of World War II Commenorative Issue 1941-1945 · 1991-1995 (December 1993), pp. 57-61

About you the plane learn three to flying in live the low. with morning, Seconds in the Bill Army. later, Moore's I reached all hell snoring broke down woke loose. to nudge me again. him Some when I things heard you learn to live with in the Army. I reached down to nudge him when I heard the plane flying low. Seconds later, all hell broke loose.
Loud explosions shook the small string of railroad cars, the living quarters for our advanced unit of the 71 8th Railway Operating Battalion. The sharp chatter of machine guns merged with the sound of bullets ripping through the wooden cars.
We scrambled to the shelter of the few remaining walls of a railroad station and returned fire. Tracer bullets from our M1 rifles crisscrossed the night in fiery streams. On my left, I heard the chatter of Ervin Simpson's machine gun.
"We hit him! We hit him!" yelled Bill Moore.
"Naw, we didn't," another shouted. "He's flying away."
"Bet we scared the hell out of him," Simpson added.
Our casualties were few but devastating. Pfc. Thomas Dearing was badly wounded and Sgt. Howard Allen was killed. It was December 26, 1944. We were here in France to run railroads, but this was total war, and everyone and everything were fair game.

Some members the 718th signal platoon somewhere in France. Seated, from left to right, are Ervin Simpson, Sgt. George Adams, and Bill Moore. Note: All photos in this article, except where noted, come from History of the 718th ROB Transportation Corps.

Some members the 718th signal platoon somewhere in France. Seated, from left to right, are Ervin Simpson, Sgt. George Adams, and Bill Moore. Note: All photos in this article, except where noted, come from History of the 718th ROB Transportation Corps.

More draft civilian than notice. life, a year I'd In earlier, the received turbulent in U.S. my civilian life, I'd received my draft notice. In the turbulent days after Pearl Harbor, I'd wanted to join the Army Air Corps, but I had to consider my family's situation. My father was an alcoholic whose life had been shattered by his inability to support us during the Depression. My two sisters were still in school. We were receiving some government assistance, and my mother, a living saint, strived to hold the family together. Our hometown of Oswego, N.Y., had not yet recovered from the Depression. To help my family financially as long as I could, I decided to wait for the draft, went to Rochester, and found a job.

Once drafted, I had a week to wrap up my affairs. On September 30, 1943, 1 reported to Sgt. Decker at New York Central's Rochester station. About a dozen recruits were in our group. After he checked us in, he said, "Welcome to the U.S. Army. We're going to take a train trip, but I can't tell you where." Eventually we got to Camp Upton, a windy barren spot far out on Long Island. We took tests, attended classes, got inoculations, and between the tests did calisthenics and close-order drill. Just when my patriotic fervor was drooping, my name was called out. Next thing I knew, I was on another train, headed for Camp Plauche, New Orleans. In civilian life I had been making optical range finders for warships, but in January 1944 I found out that I had been assigned to the newly activated 7 1 8th Railway Operating Battalion.

U.S. military 2-8-0 locomotive are being prepared for service at the Newport Shops in South Whales, Great Britain, prior to being shipped accross the English Channel. The engines were first road-tested on Britain's Great Western Tailway by ROB and GWR locomotive crews.

U.S. military 2-8-0 locomotive are being prepared for service at the Newport Shops in South Whales, Great Britain, prior to being shipped accross the English Channel. The engines were first road-tested on Britain's Great Western Tailway by ROB and GWR locomotive crews.

The Big Four/New York Central was the sponsor of the 718th. The battalion, originally the 53rd Engineer Railway Operating Battalion Reserve, was made up of engineers, firemen, conductors, yard clerks, and dispatchers in civilian life, but I knew nothing about railroads or the tasks we would face. On February 23, 1944, we arrived at Camp Claiborne, 190 miles northwest of New Orleans. The camp was home to an Army-operated railroad named the Claiborne-Polk Military Railroad. Civilians didn't ride on that railroad. It was 50 miles of jolting tracks through unstable swampland, a fit place for training railway battalions and not much else.

A cadre of demolition experts, whom we called "the wrecking crew," was stationed on the C-P just to cause trouble. They used their skill often, ripping or blowing up track and switches, overturning boxcars, and cutting communications. A group of explosives experts from England added to the mischief. During our training, we handled 50 derailments and wrecks, all the while keeping a sharp eye out for the unlovable creatures from the swamp.

"A" Company installed and maintained the phones and the copper wires strung from pole to pole. I was a floater without a permanent job in "B" Company. One day I was watching a lineman climbing a pole. When he came down, I asked him what it was like up there.

"It's great," he said. "I'm looking down on the whole world, and if the wind is right, the wires sing with music, kind of like a harp."

His name was Ken Rockwell, but everyone called him Rocky. Slim like most linemen, Rocky had sharp eyes that could spot trouble a country mile away. His short reddish hair tried to stand straight up when his hat was off. He smiled easily, and later I would find out that he was a habitual joker. I told my friend from B Company, Max Belgrade, "I'd like to be a lineman."

"Not me," Max replied. "I don't like heights. Hey, why don't you talk to Sgt. Adams, I hear he's an all-right guy."

The sergeant said it was okay for me to transfer to A Company, but the move would have to wait until we arrived overseas - something about the "TO," or the Table of Organization so prized by Army brass, being frozen. That was the first time I heard anyone in authority say we were going overseas. Of course, we'd assumed that we weren't being trained to run railroads in the U.S.

After landing at Utah Beach, the 718th was dispatched to the tiny junction town of Folligny, where it repaired damaged track and rolling stock and established
	train service to help supply troops moving eastward toward Paris.

After landing at Utah Beach, the 718th was dispatched to the tiny junction town of Folligny, where it repaired damaged track and rolling stock and established train service to help supply troops moving eastward toward Paris.

On zigzagging Camp July Claiborne 15, 1944, around the in the two 718th South trains, left on Camp Claiborne in two trains, zigzagging around the South on different routes (supposedly to confuse any spies), but arriving at the same terminal, Camp Miles Standish, Mass. By July 23, 1 had joined the long line of GIs moving up the swaying gangplank of the USS Mount Vernon. The ship loomed so large that it blocked our view of Boston Harbor, where American patriots dumped English tea in 1 777, and I wondered when I would touch American soil again.

The Mount Vernon was fast. On August 1, 1944, in just five days, we docked in the Firth of Clyde at Greenoch, Scotland. We were hustled aboard a waiting train and headed south. Our journey brought us to the village of St. Mêlions, on the English-Welsh border, where we waited for a number of days until being moved to Southampton, where a ship would take us across the English Channel. At dawn on August 15, we waded ashore on Utah Beach in Normandy, scene of the massive and bloody Allied D-Day invasion of Nazi-held France two months earlier.

We were taken south by truck, and by the end of the next day we had set up quarters at Folligny, a small town in Normandy with a large yard that connected the Atlantic port of Cherbourg with the rest of the French system. The 7 18th' s mission was to take control of the territory from Folligny south to Rennes. This included responsibility for maintaining the single track from Pontabault to Mayenne and from Ponterson to Fougeres, and double track from Folligny to Dol. There were French railroaders around the stations and yards, but we couldn't depend on them to run our trains, especially those going into combat zones. Once things settled down, we did pull the French railroadmen back in, but they always worked under U.S. supervision, and none of them ever worked for the signal platoon.

Before the arrival of the railway battalions, hundreds of motor trucks, known collectively as the "Red Ball Express," were driving day and night, transporting supplies to forward dispensing points called dumps. These convoys of trucks caught the fancy of the press, which gave them a great amount of enthusiastic coverage. This became a source of irritation with us, because the railway battalions got so little recognition. One boxcar held as much freight as 10 trucks did, and soon we were carrying the bulk of the supplies. And we had another advantage: the steam locomotives we used burned coal, not the precious gasoline needed for military vehicles.*

* In its 81 days of operation, the Red Ball Express hauled an average of 5,086 tons per day; by November 1944, ROB trains in France were hauling 50,000 tons per day. Spearhead of Logistics. A History of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps (Washington, D.C., 1994), pp. 238, 247.

Sgt. Adams had followed through on his promise to transfer me into the signal platoon of A Company. My training would be strictly on-the-job, but the sergeant did give me one piece of advice: "Always keep your knees away from the pole, so that your spikes don't rip out, because if they do, you're gonna burn that pole." In lineman's lingo, "burning" meant free-falling down the pole.

From the tech supply man, I received my lineman's gear: climbing irons, safety belt, long gloves, and pliers. The irons, or spikes, carried your entire weight as you jabbed them into the pole and used them like the rungs of a ladder. Because a lineman had to keep his knees and hips away from the pole, his arms were fully extended and his hands were around the pole. At the top, the lineman snapped his belt around the pole, freeing his hands to work. The spikes, of course, had to stay firmly driven in the wood if the lineman was to avoid being burned.

As with U.S. railroads, the French had trackside telephones. They used a positive block system, which meant that a train did not leave a station until the train ahead of it had passed the next station, as confirmed by a dispatcher. We linemen repaired copper wires damaged by bombs, artillery, and sabotage. We installed GI field phones connected to the copper lines by lead-in wires for our dispatchers. Our battery-operated field phones were encased in brown leather with a carrying strap. (The German phones were black.) We often carried phones aloft to check out the copper wires. Our phones had to be highly reliable; we didn't trust the French ones. As Rocky put it, "Those Frog phones only work for Frogs," using an uncomplimentary GI term for a Frenchman.

The condition of the yards at Folligny and Mayenne was bad, with demolished cars and torn-up track and poles that had to be repaired. On August 25, Paris was liberated, and on September 15, we leapfrogged eastward past Paris to our new headquarters at Bar-le-Duc, about 70 miles from the German border. We were responsible for handling trains between Sommesous and Commercy and from Revigny to the city of Verdun, famous from World War I days. From that time on, our battalion was on the cutting edge, always close to the German line. Too close for comfort, some said, but comfort was not part of our mission.

The rushed ing American liberated north southern to 7th link Army, up France, with after Gen. having liberated southern France, had rushed north to link up with Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army on the same day that we arrived in Bar-le-Duc. But then the American, British, Canadian, and Free French armies ran smack against the north-south Siegfried Line that stretched along the German border from near Basel, Switzerland, to Kleve, in northern Germany. Hitler had fortified the Line with 20,000 bunkers, trenches, and tank dugouts, making it a hard nut to crack.

During this lull, the 7 1 8th reverted to a semblance of regular Army life. Our cooks set up an outdoor chow line, serving food that was edible, if you were very hungry—and we were. Since there were no showers or wash sinks, we used the old GI substitute, our steel helmets. But there were benefits. We no longer did calisthenics or close-order drills. Saluting became rare and "chicken-shit" officers even less evident.

The route of the 718th signal platoon as it made its way to the Rhine River. The linemen worked in small groups, repairing telephone wires that had been destroyed in
	battle, and lived mostly on a train that moved behind the Allied advance.

The route of the 718th signal platoon as it made its way to the Rhine River. The linemen worked in small groups, repairing telephone wires that had been destroyed in battle, and lived mostly on a train that moved behind the Allied advance.

Our headquarters company was kicked out of the building it had occupied near the railroad station to make way for a military hospital. From then on, the 718th took to the rails. We converted French and German baggage cars and coaches into living quarters. When it was time to move, our cars were coupled to a locomotive and pulled to a new location. Sgt. Adams had already begun to implement a practice of spreading his linemen throughout the 718th's territory in units of two to four men. For me and Carroll Jensen, a big blond from Minnesota, that meant moving closer to the German lines.

We got to Conflans-Jarny and found "C" Company dispatchers working out of a shack near the bombed-out train station. We asked them why there were only a few civilians on the street. "It's those big guns at Metz 12 miles away," one dispatcher explained. "The Germans could shell the ass out of this place any time they want."

Jensen and I needed a place to sleep (my partner didn't like being called Carroll because it sounded like a girl's name). To the rescue came Lt. Jones of the 3rd Army, who was the marshal responsible for finding housing for transient GIs. He found us a third-floor room that had windows, with an eagle-eye view of the city. About 0300 hours, I woke to the sound of explosions, so many that they rolled together into one continuous rumble. Through the window I saw bright flashes that seemed a couple blocks away, and I felt a rush of excitement. For about half an hour, I continued to watch the show of explosions, which never came close to our building. Jensen never woke up, and when the barrage ended, I went back to bed.

Five C Company men received commendations related to that attack. I never heard what they had done besides avoided getting killed. Jensen and I were very busy for several days, repairing communications disrupted by the attack. The guns of Metz were still active, though sporadically, and at any time a shell might come toward us, screaming overhead. If the sound slowly diminished, we knew it had passed us by. If the scream died suddenly in the sky above us, the shell was coming down, and we ducked for cover.

The route of the 718th Railways locations and Depots.

The route of the 718th Railways locations and Depots.

It rolled of wasn't 10 cars. into long Conflans- But I before was Jarny soon our in off battalion our as train Sgt. rolled into Conflans-Jarny in our train of 10 cars. But I was soon off as Sgt. Adams detailed six of us linemen to join an advanced detachment to depart for Benestroff in the Alsace-Lorraine region. The Sarge conceded, "The situation's a bit shaky there. One report said Hitler is considering a counterattack through that area. Stay on the alert and keep in touch."

Our train was distinguished from a regular train by the presence of two flat cars, each with a little shack on one end. James Lindsey, the head lineman, and Harlon Singleton occupied one shack. The other, called Uncle Tom's Cabin for a reason I never knew, was the home to four privates, Bill Moore, Homer Edington, Ervin Simpson, and me. From the breezy deck of our flat car, we had a good view of the passing countryside of green farmlands, hills, and trees. It would be a nice place to live in peacetime. Now, however, it was an empty land, exhausted by war and holding its breath for the next onslaught.

A Gl looks at the remains of a demolished diesel locomotive following the wreck at Messancy where an ammunition train lost its brakes and smashed into a ration 		train despite the best efforts of Engineer Joe Cushman to outrun it.

A Gl looks at the remains of a demolished diesel locomotive following the wreck at Messancy where an ammunition train lost its brakes and smashed into a ration train despite the best efforts of Engineer Joe Cushman to outrun it.

With its roofless walls and mounds of rubble, the Benestroff railroad station was desolate. Our train was parked on a siding nearby. On the ground were German rifles, American Mis, and enough ammunition strewn around for a small war. Casualties had recently happened here, because soldiers do not willingly give up their guns. Many of us picked up the M 1 s and carried them through the rest of the war.

After Thanksgiving 1944, we began to hear about a fierce battle being fought to the north. Having retreated eastward toward Germany after the D-Day invasion, the German Army suddenly turned west, counterattacking the Allies. The attack came at a time when Allied generals were confident that the war had been won. We were concerned that some men of our battalion might be transferred, but lucki none of us was. The railroads were appaently too vital to the progress of the war. Many GIs who were sent to that action what became known as the Battle of the Bulge—died in the heavy snow and freezing cold.

But the war came to us the morning after Christmas when a German plane, flying low on a strafing run, shattered our sleep in the railroad cars, killing Sgt. Allen and badly wounding Pfc. Dearing. Both were from C Company. As 1945 dawned, our train rolled north, leaving the dead of Benestroff behind, for Luxembourg City and then Arlon in Belgium. We hadn't quite finished our meal at Arlon on January 10 when Sgt. Adams came running. I had never seen him run before so I figured something important was going on.

"Rockwell, Weeks, get your gear and report immediately to Capt. Reider on that diesel."

"What's up, Sarge," I asked.

"A wreck at Messancy."

The rived I had diesel from seen locomotive, the in Europe. States, was recently After the what first arrived from the States, was the first I had seen in Europe. After what seemed like a long time, we came upon an awesome scene. Fires were burning in a long line of boxcars, and explosions were hurling debris high into the air. Choking smoke enveloped us.

The diesel backed away until we could breathe more easily. We started to walk closer, but changed our minds after looking into some square holes in the snow and finding cases of unexploded ammunition that had been catapulted from the wreck. Rocky and I dropped a line from the nearest pole and hooked up a field phone. Then we joined a group gathering around Capt. Reider. The crew told us what had happened.

Engineer Sgt. Joe Cushman of the 718th had started the ration train, nicknamed the "Three Star Special," up the four-mile-long, 3 percent grade near Messancy. He knew that an ammo train was up ahead, but it should have been miles away. So he and his crew were surprised when they heard in the distance emergency blasts from a train whistle. Joe sounded his own horn in reply and proceeded cautiously. When they heard the whistle again, and closer, he braked the ration train to a stop.

Suddenly they saw it. The ammo train had lost its brakes and was racing downgrade toward them on the same track. Joe threw the diesel unit into reverse, backing the ration train down the hill, but the gap was closing.

Cushman shouted to his firemen, "Signal the crew and jump."

They did, but Cushman stayed at the throttle, hoping to use his train as a brake to save both trains. It was the courage of one man pitted against a runaway bomb. Joe Cushman lost.

(left) The author and his steel helmet that doubled as a washbasin and shower. Courtesy of Joe Weeks (right) Patch worn by the men of the 718th.

(left) The author and his steel helmet that doubled as a washbasin and shower. Courtesy of Joe Weeks (right) Patch worn by the men of the 718th.

After we had listened to the story, Capt. Reider said, "I'm sorry Joe didn't make it. He was a real hero."

In an attempt to save as much of the rations as possible, our diesel had been assigned to retrieve those cars. The ammo train was a complete loss. The two trains were locked together by the force of the crash. Someone had to uncouple the undamaged ration cars from the burning, exploding ammo-filled ones.

As the crew coupled our diesel to the end of the ration train, Capt. Reider told them, "I'll make the cut. Watch for my signals." That amazed me because Reider was responsible for repairing trains, not running them. But he was in charge and evidently was not willing to order one of the crew to do it.

Reider took off, running along the long line of boxcars toward the burning ammo train. He disappeared in a burst of smoke. When the smoke cleared, he signaled the diesel engineer to ease the tension on the coupler chains, a dangerous move because even a slight movement of the cars could trigger more explosions. Fortunately it didn't, and Reider dove under the pancake-shaped European car buffers to lift off the chains. Just then there was a big explosion. Minutes seemed to drag by until he reappeared, running, and signaled the diesel to pull the train away. Many of the rations were saved and the 718th had two heroes.

Joseph Cushman (posthumously) and Anton J. Reider received the Bronze Star for bravery beyond duty. I was proud of them and of my battalion. What we were doing was as critical to the war as fighting on the front lines. What's more, I was becoming something I never expected to be, a railroad man.

By Adams Germans the middle didn't had of retreated, leave January the 1945, and linemen Sgt. the Germans had retreated, and Sgt. Adams didn't leave the linemen hanging around. He sent Rocky, Simpson, Homer Edington, and me to Neuf Chateau, Belgium. Our task was to maintain or repair about 30 miles of telephone wires. Headquarters sent us a gas-motor car from the States. We soon found out that this particular motor car should have been left back in the repair shop. Its top speed was about 20 mph instead of the 40 for which it was designed.

A couple of days into our assignment, Rocky and Homer were up on a pole. "Let's leave the car on the rails," Homer said. "We'll only be a couple minutes." Soon afterward, we heard the whistle of an approaching train. Simp and I tried but couldn't lift the motor car off the tracks. By the time Homer and Rocky ran up to us, the train was in sight.

"Let's outrun it," Simp shouted.

We piled on, and Rocky gave the bum little car full throttle. Looking back, I saw the approaching steam locomotive loom bigger and blacker, its pilot like a huge mouth reaching out to devour us. A shiver of fear swept through me, but just as quickly faded under the pressure for immediate action. Our battalion had starting using some Belgian and French train crews, and the Belgian engineer was frantically trying to stop his train, but that would take an eighth of a mile. When the locomotive was 25 yards away, we knew it was hopeless. Someone hollered, "Bail out," and we jumped as if our lives depended on it. We hit the ground tumbling and suffered only minor scratches and bruises.

Seconds later the train overtook our vehicle, pushing it about 250 yards, but, amazingly, the motor car's wheels never left the tracks. Using crowbars, we pried it away from the pilot. The car ran as well as before, which was terrible. The four of us agreed not to tell Sgt. Adams about the episode. He would have berated us with one of his favorite expressions: "Don't you screw-ups know there's a war on?"

Our next mission at Gouvy was to re-open a rail line that had been damaged extensively, so that we could run trains into Germany. Bombs had twisted rails into pretzels and snapped poles like toothpicks. Hasty repairs had left some sections of track unsafe at normal speeds. Slow orders had been issued for those areas.

On March 3, 1945, our detachment moved the first Allied train across the border to Bleialf, Germany, removing mines and bombs scattered along the right of way. At the end of that month, Capt. Ralph Bean, our detachment commander, announced that the 718th would be moving deeper into Germany. On April 1, I left Gouvy with an advance party in a convoy of 10 trucks. All of the railroad bridges had been destroyed across the Rhine River, a major natural barrier to the Allied advance into the heart of Germany. Our battalion had drawn the assignment of moving sup plies east of the river for the 1st, 3rd 15th Armies. For two weeks, we trucked food, gas, and ammo across the Rhine on a pontoon bridge constructed of mnay interlinked floating sections. The strong current had pushed the bridge into the shape of a bow. Crossing it produced a swaying, jolting ride that was even worse than riding the Claiborne-Polk back in Louisiana.

As the 718th 	approached the Belgian-German border, rails were twisted into pretzels and the right of way mined, posing a constant hazard to linemen and operating crews.

As the 718th approached the Belgian-German border, rails were twisted into pretzels and the right of way mined, posing a constant hazard to linemen and operating crews.

Relief Regiment 347th came Engineer erected on April General a new 14 when Support railroad the 347th Engineer General Support Regiment erected a new railroad bridge over the Rhine at Mainz, about 35 miles west of Frankfurt. The main span of 2,221 feet was completed in less than 10 days. As the first train was poised to cross over it, Gen. Patton led the dedication ceremony, naming the structure Roosevelt Bridge. We all wore our steel helmets out of respect for, or fear of, "Old Blood and Guts."

As soon as the bridge was opened, Sgt. Byrd gathered a crew of eight linemen.

"We're gonna run a cable over the Rhine," he said.

Bill Moore, Rocky, Simp, and I were part of the crew. Always outspoken, Rocky asked, "How we gonna do that, Sarge? Tie it to balloons?"

A pair of 65-ton Whitcomb diesels pulls the first supply train across the Rhine River at Mainz at 1505 hours on April 14, 1945. The main span was built in less than 10 days.

A pair of 65-ton Whitcomb diesels pulls the first supply train across the Rhine River at Mainz at 1505 hours on April 14, 1945. The main span was built in less than 10 days.

There was a little laughter.

"No, wise guy. We're using the bridge."

"How big a cable, Sarge?" Bill asked.

"About 50 pair [of wires]. Let's get going."

On the west end of the bridge, we mounted a huge reel of cable on a stand, from which the cable could be unrolled.

"It's too heavy for us to pull across," Moore said.

"Yeah, I know," Byrd said. "We're going to use Lt. Ragsdale's idea."

"Now I know we're in trouble," said Simp.

The bridge structure in total was 4,500 feet long. It would require several rolls of cable, spliced together. Lt. John Ragsdale's suggestion was to attach the cable to one of the trains crossing the bridge.

"That's stupid," Rocky said as we set up the first reel.

We attached the cable to the last car and as it began to roll off the reel, it looked as if the idea was going to work. But then the cable snagged on some track spikes and was ripped to shreds. We dropped it into the Rhine.

The view shows the railroad bridge that had been destroyed by the Germans.

The view shows the railroad bridge that had been destroyed by the Germans.

Our next attempt was to use a rail motor car. We had thought that it wasn't strong enough, but it pulled the cable easily, and we were able to control it to avoid snagging. After splicing the sections together, we stapled the cable to the ties, and we had railroad communications over the Rhine.

By April 1945, the 718th was handling a minimum of 1 5,000 tons of freight daily. To move this volume, we started using German train crews supervised by GIs. Our battalion' s territory had become a critical trunk line for the Military Railway Service, running supplies not only to the three armies, but delivering traffic to four forward battalions.

On April 25, my birthday sped by with no celebration except a box of cookies and a letter from my mother. However, April 28 and 30 were really days on which to rejoice, first for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's execution and then for German Chancellor Adolf Hitler's suicide. On May 7, Gen. Alfred Jodl signed Germany's formal surrender at Reims, France.

The war had come to a close. But our battalion could not rest yet. Millions of Allied troops still needed rations and transportation. On August 15, 1945, the battalion ceased operations in Germany, turning over its territory east of the Rhine to the 752nd ROB and west of the Rhine to the French railway. On September 1, 1945, we left Mainz, riding high-style in actual railroad coaches. Our destination was Dijon, home of the famous mustard. Henceforth, the individual members of our platoon would move homeward across the Atlantic "by the numbers." Under the Adjusted Service Rating, or the Point System, soldiers, airmen, and Marines were awarded points toward discharge based on overall length of service, length of overseas service, marital status, number of dependent children, and battle credits accumulated. I had four stars for serving in four battle zones.

All of the men of the 718th were awarded a Meritorious Service Unit Plaque by headquarters for "noteworthy devotion to duty in the operation of military railways in a combat zone under dangerous conditions." Two men had paid the supreme price for their devotion, and others had been wounded. That was not many among the more than 1 million casualties suffered by the American forces, but it still hurt when it was close to home. Those wounds took time to heal, for me and I'm sure for the other men, after we returned to the States and began to pick up the pieces of our former lives.

Troop Movements on the American Railroads During the Great War

By Ross H. McLean

The American Historical Review, Vol. 26, No. 3(April 1921)

Image of US Soldiers on a Train durring WWI. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

Image of US Soldiers on a Train durring WWI. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

THE Spanish-American War demonstrated the necessity for reform in the War Department's methods of dealing with the important problem of military transportation. During that emergency there seems to have been very little real co-operation between the railroads of the country and the government. It was not until July 18, 1898, more than three months after war was declared, that the Transportation Division of the Quartermaster's Department was created and charged with the supervision and control of all rail and water transportation.1

A few years after the Spanish-American War, the Quartermaster General's Office and the transportation companies began to coordinate their efforts and to work together more cordially and more effectively than in I898. In 1905, and again in 1912, arrangements were made regarding the-handling of troops and supplies. Throughout 1914 and 1915 it seemed probable that the United States would find it necessary to intervene in Mexico, and during the latter year, in order to avoid the possibility of a recurrence of the conditions of 1898, the officer in charge of the Transportation Division of the Quartermaster General's Office appeared before several transportation associations and outlined the plan of mutual co-operation which was practically the one later put into effect. On October 26, 1915, upon the recommendation of the Quartermaster General's Office, the Secretary of War suggested that the American Railway Association establish a "committee on military transportation to whom the department could look for any information that might be desired as to the railroads of the United States and with a further view to co-ordination between the railroads and the WVar Department in the transportation of troops and supplies of the United States."2 Shortly afterwards a " Special Committee on Co-operation with the Military Authorities " was appointed by the American Railway Association, and Fairfax Harrison, president of the Southern Railway, was named chairman of the committee. During the winter of 1915-1916 the committee was in frequent session with the officers of the Transportation Division of the Quartermaster General's Office and a general plan of co-operation was agreed upon.3

The trouble with Mexico became more and more acute and on June 18, 1916, the Secretary of War, through the governors of the various states, called into the federal service the greater part of the organized militia and of the National Guard.4 The special committee of the American Railway Association met at once in the office of the Quartermaster General, in Washington, with Lieutenant Colonel Chauncey B. Baker, who represented the Quartermaster General, and the plans formulated during the previous winter were immediately placed in effect. Competent railway officials were placed at the headquarters of the four territorial departments of the army, at each mobilization camp of the National Guard, and in the office of the Quartermaster General in Washington. These officials, or general agents, as they came to be called, acted as advisers to the officers of the Quartermaster Corps on all questions affecting the railroads. Upon notification that an organization was about to leave camp for the border, the camp quartermaster consulted with the general agent at the camp, telling him the strength of the organization, the approximate date of departure, the number and kind of cars required, etc. The general agent then set about assembling all railroad equipment other than tourist sleeping-cars, in time for the movement. The assignment of tourist cars for troop movements was handled from Washington—by the Transportation Division of the Quartermaster General's Office, assisted by a representative of the Pullman Company at the capital. By the adoption of these methods the War Department and railroads alike hoped to prevent a repetition during the operations in Mexico of the congestion which occurred during the war with Spain. That they succeeded is generally agreed. Both the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of War commended the special committee for its splendid co-operation with the government, and the President warmly congratulated the American Railway Association on its patriotic efforts.5

From the beginning of the Great War in 1914 many persons in the United States realized that this nation might at any moment become involved in the struggle. Common prudence dictated the necessity of preparation. It was this motive which led to the creachairman of a Committee on Transportation and Communication. Its function was the organization of the transportation facilities of the country for the rapid transportation of the large bodies of troops and the enormous quantities of supplies which would be needed if the United States should enter the war.6

February 16, 1917, at the request of Mr. Willard, the executive committee of the American Railway Association met in New York City and decided to enlarge the Special Committee on Co-operation with the Military Authorities and to designate it as a Special Committee on National Defense. Though not officially a part of the Council of National Defense nor of its Advisory Commission, it was closely associated with the latter and was sometimes regarded as a subcommittee of the Advisory Commission. Its function was the organization of the railroads for mutual co-operation and co-ordination in case of emergency. Fairfax Harrison, who had been chairman of the Special Committee on Co-operation with the Military Authorities in I9I6, was named chairman of the new committee. Four district committees, eastern, central, southern, and western, were established, corresponding to the four military departments of the United States, with whose commanding generals they were to co-operate in connection with the work of the Council of National Defense. The chairmen of these district committees, with Mr. Harrison as general chairman, constituted a special executive committee.

The new Special Committee on National Defense met in Washington March 1, 1917, in conference with the Secretary of War and representatives of the General Staff and the Quartermaster General's Office. At this meeting Colonel Baker, representing the Quartermaster General, presented a definite plan for co-operation between the government and the railways. The railway committee on March 2 decided that the district committees should get in touch with the military commanders of their respective departments as soon as possible. It was also decided that in case of any large troop movements the transportation should be handled under the same plan as in 1916. The central office of the executive committee in Washington was put under the charge of George Hodges, a man of wide railroad experience, who had been in immediate charge of the transportation of troops in 1916. By the first of April the organization was practically complete. The railroads were the first great industry of the United States to perfect an organization to co-operate with the military authorities and to offer its services to the Secretary of War.7

The emergency for which the railroads had been preparing came on April 6, 1917, when the United States declared that a state of war existed with the imperial German government. The following day the Council of National Defense directed the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Communication to call upon the railroads to organize for the utmost despatch in the movement of freight.8 In answer to the chairman's summons, nearly fifty railway presidents, representing the transportation interests of the entire nation, assembled in Washington April 11, 1917, and resolved to "co-ordinate their operations in a continental railway system, merging . . . all their merely individual and competitive activities in the effort to produce a maximum of national transportation efficiency ".9 To accomplish this object the railway executives empowered the American Railway Association's Special Committee on National Defense to formulate and direct the carrying-out of a policy of operation for all the railroads. The four district subcommittees composing the Special Committee were increased to six to agree with the territorial departments of the army, which had on April 2 been likewise increased.10> Fairfax Harrison remained general chairman of the committee.

An executive committee of five members was chosen from the general committee and Mr. Harrison was appointed chairman with authority to select the four other members. Daniel Willard, representing the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense, and Edgar E. Clark, of the Interstate Commerce Commission, were ex officio members. This committee, which came to be known as the Railroads' War Board, directed the operation of virtually all the railroads of the United States; no less than 693 railroads, controlling over 260,000 miles of track and employing almost 1,750,000 persons, agreed to carry out its orders. During the summer and autumn of I9I7 the War Board attempted to secure higher efficiency and better utilization of the available transportation facilities by co-ordinating their efforts and sinking, so far as the existing laws permitted, their competitive individual interests."11

The creation of the Railroads' War Board in the spring of 1917 was "probably the most important and revolutionary step" taken in the history of American railways to that time. By placing the operation of all their facilities under the direction of a single committee of five for the period of the war, it constituted them, with certain limitations, a single continental system. " At the same time, it placed the services of this great railway system unreservedly at the disposal of the government. . . . Perhaps the most significant feature of the matter was that this act on the part of the railways was purely voluntary. No law required it. Another of its very significant features was that the step was taken without any prospect of especial consideration or compensation having been held out by the government."12 This was in decided contrast with the situation in Etfgland, where the government at the very beginning of the war assumed control of the railroads by law. While the English railroads transported troops and munitions free of charge, their earnings were guaranteed by the government.

Subordinate to the Special Committee on National Defense and acting under the direction of its executive committee were several subcommittees. The more important of these were the Commission on Car Service and the subcommittees on Military Transportation Accounting, on Military Passenger Tariffs, and on Military Freight Tariffs. This organization, thus established with permanent headquarters at Washington, with its staff of experts and employees, with subcommittees both in Washington and in many cities throughout the country, was maintained wholly at the expense of the railroads.13

The organization described above was designed to control the operation of the entire continental system of railways, and it was as much concerned with the private shipper and traveller as with the government. To handle the problem of troop transportation there was built up at Washington in the office of Fairfax Harrison, general chairman of the Railroads' War Board, a small but very efficient organization known as the Troop Movement Force, which was placed under the immediate direction of George Hodges, assistant to the.general chairman. Mr. Hodges had been in charge of the troop transportation for the railroads in i9i6, and the system used then was expanded and adapted to the greater emergency. The functions of the central bureau of the Troop Movement Force were briefly these: to gather all necessary information regarding equipment needed and available; to arrange for the transfer of equipment from one road or section of the country to another; to expedite the return of empty cars; to keep informed as to threatened conditions of congestion, and to make provisions for avoiding it; and, generally, to assist in every way practicable in the smooth operation of troop trains.1' In time, this central bureau in Washington came to be divided into three sections: a routing section, which arranged routes subject to the approval of the Quartermaster General; a transportation section, which controlled the arrangements for the actual movement of troops over the railroads involved, and kept in touch with all that concerned troop transportation by means of daily reports from the transportation general agents, and a Pullman section, which apportioned the available tourist cars to the various troop movements under authorization for their use from the Quartermaster General. Liaison between the central bureau and the War Department was maintained through an officer of the Quartermaster Corps and a railway representative. Representatives or general agents of the American Railway Association, designated by the Special Committee on National Defense, were stationed at each of the six departmental headquarters of the army, in the office of the governor or adjutant general of each state, at the headquarters of the Construction Quartermaster, and at each mobilization and concentration camp, cantonment, and port of embarkation. At each place were two general agents, one reporting to the Troop Movement Force and the other to the Military Transportation Accounting Subcommittee. The latter assisted the departmental and camp quartermasters in making out transportation requests, bills of lading, and the like. The former was assigned as a transportation expert, and it was his duty to keep in touch with the quartermaster at his post, to see that all trains and cars were provided when needed, that loading was properly done, and in general to translate into terms of action the transportation necessities of the army.15 The railroad companies throughout the country were each directed by the central bureau to designate a "troop reporting official", who should be responsible for the carrying out by his company of orders from Washington or from the general agents. These "troop reporting officials" were entrusted with the cipher code used by the Troop Movement Force in reporting the movements of trooptrains.16

December 28, I9I7, the government assumed control of the railroads and on the thirty-first the members of the Railroads' War Board resigned. Their subcommittees were either taken over by the United States Railroad Administration, or dissolved, and their functions were assigned to other parts of that organization.17 The Troop Movement Force, however, did not at once become a part of the new administration, and for some months its members continued their work as before and were still spoken of as American Railway Association representatives. The government's assumption of control over the railroads occasioned no alteration in the functioning of their organization. May 24, I9I8, the Troop Movement Force became the troop Movement Section of the Division of Transportation of the United States Railroad Administration. George Hodges, who had been in charge of the work since its initiation, was appointed manager, and the functions of the section were defined as the arrangement for, and supervision of, the details of the movement of troops, with their impedimenta, routing, provision of equipment, etc.18

The authority to order the movement of troops was vested in the Secretary of War, who exercised his power through the General Staff, the co-ordinating agency of the War Department. Orders, once approved by the Chief of Staff, were issued by the Adjutant General of the army. During 1917 and the early part of 1918 all matters relating to troop movements were handled by the Operations Committee of the War College Division of the General Staff. In the reorganization of the General Staff, February 9, 1918, this committee was consolidated with the Equipment Committee of the same division under the name of Operations Division. It was charged with the cognizance and control of army operations and was placed under an officer designated as the Director of Operations, who was an assistant to the Chief of Staff. Among the duties of the division were the movement and distribution of troops and the determination of all "overseas priority ". Brigadier General Henry Jervey was appointed Director of Operations, and the great troop movement of I9I8 was carried out under his supervision.

After orders for the movement of troops and their equipment had been issued, the duty of providing the means of transportation devolved upon the Quartermaster Corps.19 The Transportation Division of the Quartermaster General's Office handled all matters pertaining to transportation, whether on land or sea, and through its Land Transportation Branch it supervised all movements of troops and quartermaster supplies by land.20 During the early months of the war the Land Transportation Branch, when advised of a projected troop movement, at once notified the department and camp quartermasters concerned as to the route to be used; it also informed the Troop Movement Force of the American Railway Association. The latter organization then issued instructions regarding the date of the movement, the assembling of railway equipment, etc., to its department and camp general agents directly concerned, who co-operated with the local quartermasters in arranging the details of the movement. The routing and movement of parties of fifty or less might be ordered by any officer in charge at the point of origin; the movement of larger parties within a department was controlled by the department quartermaster, while all interdepartment movements of more than fifty men were authorized at first through the Quartermaster General's Office at Washington, and, after the organization of the Inland Traffic Service in January, 1918, by the Troop Movement Section of that agency. After October 10, 1917, routings were issued by the Troop Movement Force of the railroads, subject to the approval of the Quartermaster General.21 August 4, 1917, the Embarkation Service was created in the office of the Chief of Staff and charged with the co-ordination of all shipments of munitions and supplies of every kind and of all troop movements whose ultimate destination was Europe.22 Department and division commanders were ordered not to send any organization to a port of embarkation until the details connected with the movement had been arranged directly with the commanding general of the port or with his subordinates.23

The very serious congestion on the railroads in the autumn of 1917 led to the taking over of the railroads by the government on December 28, as noted above. On the same day the Storage and Traffic Division of the General Staff was created and placed under Major-General George W. Goethals. January 10, 1918, in an effort to centralize and co-ordinate all army transportation, General Goethals appointed Mr. H. M. Adams, an experienced railroad man, director of inland transportation,24 and instructed him to organize a Division of Inland Transportation (called after May 1, 1918, the Inland Traffic Service), which should have jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the routing and transportation, inland, by whatever means of transport, of all troops and property.25 The new organization had to do primarily with the transportation of supplies, and its activities in connection therewith cannot be dicussed here. In this article we are concerned only with its relation to the movement of troops and their "unit equipment ". Generally speaking it assumed the place formerly held by the Land Transportation Branch of the Quartermaster General's Office. The officer who had been in charge of that branch since December 1, 1917, became assistant to Mr. Adams on January 18, 1918, and exercised direct supervision over the handling of troops.26 A Troop Movement Section was established in the Division of Inland Transportation, and after February 26 it was placed under an officer who had formerly been located in the office of the Quartermaster General as civilian representative of the American Railway Association. The principal function of the Troop Movement Section was to act as achannel of communication between 'the Operations 'Division of the General Staff, the Embarkation Service, and the Troop Movement Section of the railroads. After movements had been ordered by the Operations Division through the Adjutant General, the department or camp quartermasters requested the Troop Movement Section of the Inland Traffic Service to supply routings, dates of movements, equipment, etc.; this information it secured from the railroad organization, and if it approved the routings proposed it informed the military authorities interested as to the routes to be followed, the availability of Pullman and coach equipment, and the scheduled dates for the movements. The Troop Movement Section of the railroads issued the same instructions to the railroads interested and to their department general agents, who informed the camp general agents.27 The responsibility for carrying out instructions rested entirely upon the railroads and the local military authorities were not permitted to change a plan once decided upon nor to interfere with the operation of a train.

During 1918, when an ever increasing number of troops was During 1918, when an ever increasing number of troops was being shipped overseas, a monthly conference was held at which the Operations Divisionthe Embarkation Service, the Troop Move ment Section of the Inland Traffic Service, and the Troop Movement Section of the railroads were all represented. At this conference a tentative schedule for the next month was arranged. The Operations Division stated what organization it desired to move overseas; the Embarkation Service stated the probable amount of tonnage available; and the railroad officials indicated the amount of equipment they had on hand and to what extent they would be able to co-operate. The date at which an organization was desired at the port of embarkation or at the embarkation camp was fixed by the commanding general of the port. The Land Transportation Branch of the Quartermaster General's Office continued to handle all transportation matters not determined by the Inland Traffic Service, but its work was taken over more and more by the latter and on June 15, 1918, it was abolished.28

The movement of troops with their impedimenta, of selective service men, and recruits may be divided into five phases: first, the movement of the Regular Army from the border to various camps; second, the movement of the National Guard to its training camps; third, the movement of the men of the National Army from their homes to the cantonments; fourth, intercamp movements to meet the needs of the service; and lastly, the movement of organizations from the camps to ports of embarkation.29 This arrangement is not only a convenient one, but it is in the large sense strictly chronological.

The active military forces of the United States, at the outbreak of war, numbered 200,157.30 These men were distributed at various army posts throughout the country, in outlying possessions of the nation, and in China; approximately 50,000 were on or near the Mexican border.31 In May it was decided to concentrate the border troops at a comparatively small number of camps, principally in the North and East, where the various regiments might be utilized as nuclei for larger organizations, recruits from depots be added, and training for overseas service begun. The first movements recorded by the Troop Movement Section of the railroads began on May 18, 1917, when various regiments on the Mexican border began to entrain for other points. By June 4 this movement, involving the transportation of approximately 25,531 officers and men, was completed. Owing to the relatively small nuahber of men involved and their experience in travel the task of moving them was performed with great ease by the railroads. The longest journey during this period was that of the 1913 men of the 23d U. S. Infantry, who travelled 2624 miles from El Paso, Texas, to Syracuse, New York; the shortest was that of the 1306 men of the 13th Cavalry, from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Fort Riley, Kansas, a distance of 943 miles. These organizations took with them all their baggage, organization property, and animals. Where conditions warranted it, the troop property and animals were loaded on a special train with only a few soldiers; in other cases the troop-train was composed not only of tourist sleepers for the men and baggage— and box-cars for their impedimenta, but also of flat-cars for vehicles and stock-cars for the animals.

It was at this time that the troops for the first convoy were concentrated at Hoboken for transportation to France. Not one of the eight organizations comprising this first combatant force to cross the Atlantic travelled less than 2000 miles to the port of embarkation. One regiment of infantry travelled 2679 miles from Douglas, Arizona; the others came f rom various points in Texas. The 11,234 men concerned travelled an average distance of 2392 miles to their destination. The first units to leave the border were the supply companies of the four infantry regiments, which entrained on May 31; the infantry regiments and the other units entrained June 2-3, and by June I0 the last train had arrived at Hoboken. The Troop Movement Force of the railroads made all the arrangements for this movement, which has been characterized as the longest long-distance movement of troops that had ever been made at one time in the United States to that date.32 It was a record often surpassed during the next seventeen months.

July 3, 1917, the President issued a proclamation calling into the service of the United States the National Guard of thirty states. The same proclamation provided that on August 5 the entire National Guard of the nation should be drafted into the military service of the government.33 At this time the National Guard consisted of sixteen tactical divisions. Orders were issued for their concentration, for organization and training, at as many camps, all of them located in the southern half of the country. The movement of the state troops to camp involved the transportation by rail of about 343,223 men, and extended over a period of eleven weeks, from August 4 to November 23. The entire movement was made by the railroads upon the schedule outlined by the War Department; at the suggestion of the Troop Movement Force it was twice suspended for brief periods during the movement of increments of the National Army to their cantonments.34 The greater part of this movement of the National Guard was completed before the middle of October, 1917; in November the New England regiments still in camp in the North were ordered to Camp Greene, North Carolina. In general, when a unit of the National Guard moved from its home state to camp it carried with it all its organization property, vehicles, and animals. Heavy -tentage in most cases was shipped direct from depots to the training camps and not carried by the separate units. Statistics are not at hand for the complete movement of the Guard, but up to October 11, 1917, there had been transported to camp 294,752 officers and men.35 The average distance travelled was 770 miles; in the South, as a rule, the NationalGuard went but a short distance to camp, while the men from the Northern states often travelled great distances—the Montana National Guard, for example, journeyed 2645 miles to Camp Greene, North Carolina.

In August, 1917, the War -Department authorized the formation of a seventeenth National Guard division, the Forty-second, from units selected from twenty-seven states. This division was concentrated at Camp Mills, Long Island, in the latter part of August, 1917. Those units possessing vehicles, engineer, signal corps, and other heavy equipment, transported it to Camp Mills and shipped their animals to Newport News. Other units of this division, being newly organized, had no animals, technical or other equipment beyond quartermaster supplies, to carry with them.36

The movement of the National Guard was still in progress when the first detachments of the new National Army left their homes for the cantonments on September 5, 1917. The process of mobilization, under the Selective Service Administration, may be divided into three stages: the requisition, the call, and the entrainment. During 1917 all requisitions and all calls were made for "the run of the draft ", i.e., for men, either white or colored, who were physically qualified for general military service. Practically all of these men were sent to one or another of the sixteen National Army cantonments provided for the purpose. But during 1918 new conditions arose and men with certain physical, occupational, or educational qualifications were requisitioned. Moreover the number of stations to which men could be sent was increased to include every post in the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Porto Rico, as well as hundreds of schools and colleges. After the calls to be issued under a particular requisition had been allocated to the states which were to contribute to the levy, induction telegrams were issued from Washington, calling on the respective states for the entrainment of their quotas. The railroads were then consulted, the camp commanders notified, and the proper supply bureaus informed. Upon receipt of a call, each state headquarters proceeded to allocate the call for that state among its local boards.

"The time set for entrainment was generally made by the local boards an occasion of formality and ceremony, and in most communities it took on the marks of a public festivity." There were public addresses, parades, and demonstrations at the railroad stations. It was this public celebration on the day of entrainment which had much to do with popularizing the draft; for " the general sentiment of military patriotism came thus to be associated in an open and emphatic manner with the processes of the draft ".37 Prior to July 31, 1918, drunkenness among drafted men en route to camp had occasionally led to disorders resulting in damage to railroad equipment and other property. On that date certain changes were made in the Selective Service Regulations which provided for the wearing of a brassard in lieu of a uniform by all draftees, thereby making it illegal to sell liquor to them; for the appointment of leaders for each contingent; and for the distribution of regulations governing drafted men en route to camp. These changes resulted in the practical elimination of all further trouble.38

The 4531 entraining points and (in 1918) the hundreds of stations to which the selectives were sent complicated the entrainment problem tremendously. Before a call could be issued the Railroad Administration required fourteen days' notice to enable it to compile and print the train schedules for the movement (which was usually distributed over a five-day period), and to make the necessary arrangements with the railroads. In 1917 the entrainment schedules were all compiled and published by the several passenger associations of the country, and a representative of the American Railway Association was placed in the office of the governor or adjutant general of each state to adjust any difficulties that might arise.39 During 1918 the United States Railroad Administration supervised the preparation of the schedules and replaced the " A. R. A." man by a " military representative " of its Traffic Division. These schedules, which were most elaborate, were prepared for each call in every state. Each gave the number of the call, the dates set for the movement, the camp to which the men were to go, the county, county-seat, and entraining station, the number of men from each county, the route to be followed, the time of departure, and the arrangements made for providing meals.40 Copies of each schedule were placed in the possession of the railroads concerned and of every one of the local boards at points of origin. As a result of this careful attention to detail, the mobilization proceeded so smoothly that few persons in the community at large realized the enormous task which was being performed.

The Provost Marshal General in his reports on the operation of the Selective Service System41 expresses the utmost admiration of the work of the railroads throughout the war. "No more difficult transportation problem ", he says, " could be conceived "; their work " was so satisfactorily performed that less than a dozen complaints were received during the whole year" of 1918. At times they were called upon to handle as many as 50,000 selected men in one day, and to transport within a single month over 400,000 men for the selective service system alone. Their performance on November II, I9I8, was especially noteworthy. Calls had been issued and all arrangements completed for the entrainment of some 250,000 men during the five-day period beginning on that day. At 10.25 A.M. on Monday, November 11, the United States Railroad Administration was advised by telephone that the Secretary of War had cancelled these calls. "In 35 minutes they had notified all the railroads of the country; had stopped further entrainment; had reversed such contingents as were en route; and were restoring the men to the original points of entrainment. This achievement ", continues the Provost Marshal General, " stands out as a marvel of efficiency and is but an indication of the co-operation which they constantly rendered."

The total number of men called under the selective service system was 2,801,358. According to the records of the Provost Marshal General's Office 2,755,476 of these men were transported to camp by railroads controlled by the United States Railroad Administration.42 The average number of miles travelled by each man was 388; the entire mobilization therefore involved the equivalent of 1,069,124,688 miles of travel by one passenger. It is estimated that the movements required for the mobilization under the selective draft represented about one-fourth of the entire troop movement for the War Department.

By the middle of October, 1917, the greater part of the National Guard troops had reached their training camps in the South, and nearly 450,000 selected men of the first draft had been transported to the sixteen National Army cantonments. The movements of the Regular Army already described involved about 36,765 men. Beginning about the first of August, 1917, large intercamp movements of the Regular Army began, in the course of which organizations were ordered from their stations to more convenient camps and concentration points, and recruits were transported from various depots throughout the country to the camps. One small group of recruits, for example, was ordered from Vancouver Barracks to Waco, Texas, a distance of 4078 miles. In September and October training cadres of 961 men each were ordered transferred from the Regular Army to each of the sixteen National Army divisions.43 During the autumn of 1917 some 50,000 men of the Regular Army were transferred from their stations in the North to more comfortable winter quarters in southern camps. As time went on the intercamp movements of the regulars increased in frequency and by January 1, 1918, approximately 308,000 had been thus moved about the country. It was the general policy of the Operations Committee always to move troops from the West towards the ports of embarkation, but it was not always possible or practicable to do so.

About the middle of October, I9I7, the Operations Committee began to transfer from each National Army cantonment sufficient drafted men to bring the corresponding National Guard division to full strength. In this connection an interesting situation developed in the South. In September it began to appear that if the three southern National Guard divisions-the 30th, 31st, and 39th—were to be brought to full strength by men drawn from Camps Jackson, Gordon, and Pike, the corresponding National Army cantonments, these latter camps would each be left with more colored than white troops, which was deemed highly undesirable. To concentrate all the white men from these three cantonments at one would leave the other two with no white men and all their negroes. The problem was finally solved by distributing the entire colored draft throughout the country in such a way that the ratio of whites to colored was everywhere preponderant; by filling up all the National Guard divisions with National Army men from the corresponding cantonments; by concentrating at Camp Jackson all the remaining white men in Camps Jackson, Gordon, and Pike, and forming of them an "All-Southern " National Army division (the 81st); and by forming at Camps Gordon and Pike two composite National Army divisions (the 82d and 87th) of men drawn from all the remaining National Army cantonments except Camp Lewis. To accomplish all this necessitated the transportation of between 105,000 and 1 10,000 more men than had been anticipated by the Operations Committee.44 Beginning about December 15 many National Army troops were transferred to camps where Regular Army organizations were being recruited to full strength. In the last ten weeks of 1917 approximately 175,000 drafted men were moved from one camp to another.45

During 1918, as the army continued to grow in size, these intercamp movements increased in volume. The practice of drawing on the drafted men to fill the National Guard and Regular Army divisions continued. In March the Operations Division began to draw on the depot brigades of the National Army for men for various special and technical services-for corps and army troops, for engineer regiments, field signal battalions, replacement organizations of various kinds, medical and veterinary units, the Quartermaster Corps and Ordnance Department, and for the United States Guards. Then men of the Medical Department, either as individuals or as organizations, were constantly moving to and from the medical training camps at Fort Riley, Fort Benjamin Harrison, and Camp Greenleaf; aero squadrons were leaving the aviation mobilization camp at Waco, Texas, for various flying fields, and during the summer and autumn of i9i8 there was a steady stream of men to and from the National Army training detachments at various educational institutions throughout the country.46 These intercamp movements involved about 42 per cent. of the total number of men transported by rail between January 1 and November 11, 1918.

No accurate statistics are available regarding the number of men who travelled on furlough during the war, but that extremely heavy demands were made upon the railroads by the furloughs granted at divisional camps for week-ends and holidays is obvious. At Thanksgiving and at Christmas, 19I7, the number of men on leave was well above 100,000 in each case. As for the number of men regularly on leave, the general agent at Camp Meade, for example, estimated that about 11,500 men (about 30 per cent. of the total strength of the camp) were granted passes or furloughs durinig the week of February I0.47 At Camp Sherman 30 per cent. of the 32,900 men in the camp were granted leaves of absence for Christmas, 1917, and it was the custom at that camp to grant week-end passes to 25 per cent. of the men in each unit.48

The movement of troops to the ports of embarkation for transportation overseas was necessarily conditioned by the War Department's plans regarding the composition and strength of the expeditionary forces, and a brief discussion of these plans is requisite for a complete understanding of the problem. At the outbreak of the war and for some time thereafter the War Department had no definite plan of operation.49 At the request of both the British and French governments, however, it was decided to despatch as soon as possible base hospitals, ambulance units, railway engineers, and other auxiliary troops, who could be utilized at once by the allied armies, and throughout the remainder of I917 noncombatant troops formed a large proportion of those sent overseas. But in June, 1917, at the urgent insistence of the French, a small division of combatant troops was sent abroad, and by January 1, 1918, two complete divisions and parts of three others were in France. July 10, 1917, General Pershing transmitted to Washington his " general organization project " for the A. E. F., which called for a force of twenty combat divisions and ten replacement divisions, organized in five corps of six divisions each, with the proper proportions of corps, army, and service-of-the-rear troops.50 This force, about 1,328,448 men, was to be in France "in time for an offensive in 1918"51

September 11, 1917, the War College Division in a memorandum for the Chief of Staff discussed the problem of raising sufficient men by September 1, 1918, to meet General Pershing's request. Instead of five corps, they planned to create seven corps of six divisions each with the necessary corps and army troops. The last corps would have but four divisions. Apparently their idea was that it would be possible to transport overseas four corps by April 1, 1918, the fifth corps by June 1, the sixth by July 1, and the seventh by August 1. Such an army would have numbered 1,675,000 men. On October 7, 1917, General Pershing sent to the War Department a "Priority of Shipments Schedules" in which was shown the order in which he desired the troops for the expeditionary forces despatched to France. The schedule did not apply to the special and technical troops furnished the French and British, nor did it cover the replacement drafts, aviation troops, and headquarters personnel. Its purpose was to provide a proper balance between all the various elements of the expeditionary forces. The existing situation, he said, was difficult because the service-of-the-rear troops in France did not bear an adequate proportion to the combat troops already there or expected in the near future. The schedule outlined a plan of shipment by "phases ", of which there were six in all. Each phase, except the last, consisted of one corps of combat troops and the proper proportion of service-of-the-rear, corps, and army troops. He desired 50 per cent. of the service-of-the-rear troops to precede the combat troops in each phase and the remaining 50 per cent. to be shipped with the first half of the combat troops of that phase. The six phases called for 275,200, 267,490, 246,248, 231,743, 21O,100, and 16,618 men respectively and the total number was 1,247,399. Without specifying any particular date, General Pershing indicated his desire to have the first four phases-about 1,020,000 men—in France in time for the 1918 offensive. This date was usually set at June 1, 1918.

Throughout the winter of I9I7-I9I8 an effort was made by the Operations Division to have the shipment of troops conform as closely as possible to the "Priority of Shipments Schedule", but various things conspired to make this difficult. In March, 1918, Pershing cabled that altogether too many combat troops were reaching France in proportion to service-of-the-rear (service of supply, "S. 0. S."), corps, and army troops.52 But the chief difficulty was the shortage of ocean tonnage, especially cargo tonnage, for obviously it was inadvisable to ship troops to France unless we were prepared to maintain them there. The limited production of certain necessary supplies and the limited facilities for embarkation and especially debarkation still further complicated matters. In February, 1918, the situation looked so black that the Director of Operations believed it would be virtually impossible to transport the first three phases-819,000 men-to France by August 1, 1918; it might be practicable, he thought, to send over about 300,000 men in addition to the 275,000 men of the first phase which he anticipated would be in France by March 1. But as a basis for requirements and estimates on the part of the supply bureaus he suggested a "tentative strength table" calling for the presence in France of 837,000 men by June 1, I,051,000 by August 1, and 1,372,000 by December 1. In other words, the hope of fulfilling General Pershing's plan for an army of five corps in France in time for an offensive in 1918 was postponed until 1919. On February 25, 1918, the plans and recommendations of the Director of Operations were approved by the Secretary of War.53 This is really the first " official plan'" for the raising and transportation of the army.

The success of the German offensive which began March 21 was so great that the War Department was led to attempt what five weeks earlier had been considered impossible. Ships were procured, men and supplies were provided, and the greatest troop movement in history began. The complete story of that achievement cannot be told here, for its success was dependent rather upon shipping than upon the railroads. But it must not be forgotten that every man shipped abroad had to be transported by rail to the port of embarkation before he could go aboard ship and that frequently detachments travelled farther by rail to reach the port of embarkation than they did by army transport to reach the port of debarkation in France or England. Between the first of May, 1917, and the eleventh of November, 1918, the Troop Movement Section of the railroads supervised the transportation to the various ports of embarkation of 2,174,455 men. Of these 1,758,033 or 81 per cent. of the total, were transported to Hoboken and the embarkation camps serving that port, 250,404 men, or about 12 per cent., to Newport News, and the rest to other ports.54 Of the total number carried to the ports of embarkation during the nineteen months of the war 76 per cent. (1,653,470 men) were embarked for overseas in the seven months from April to November, 1918. The shipment of troops continued to follow the " Priority of Shipments Schedule"' of October, 1917, but with the emphasis upon combat troops and at no time during the war did the number of auxiliary troops or " S. 0. S." troops attain the proportions desired by General Pershing. So far as divisions were concerned the first three phases had been completed by the middle of June; by August 12 the combat troops, at least, of five phases were overseas, and the Operations Division was planning to send the sixth and seventh phases of combat troops. By November 11 these seven phases had been completed. July 18, 1918, it was decided to increase the American Expeditionary Forces abroad to at least eighty divisions (about 3,360,ooo men) by June 30, 1919, and the succeeding drafts were all calculated upon that basis.55 But the signing of the armistice November 11 halted the fulfillment of these ambitious plans. At that time there were approximately 3,757,624 men in the United States Army; of these some 2,086,000 had been transported overseas and 1,671,000 remained in the United States.56

The limitations of space forbid any detailed discussion of the movement of troops to the ports of embarkation. It must suffice to describe the method by which troops were despatched from camp to seaboard. In the first place the Operations Division of the General Staff drew up from time to time "priority lists " designating certain units for service overseas and giving the contemplated dates of their movement from mobilization camps to ports. These programmes, made after conference between the embarkation officials, the Inland Traffic Service, the Troop Movement Section of the railroads, and the Operations Division, General Staff, usually covered shipments from camps to ports for a period of one month in advance. They directed the various departments to prepare the troops thus designated for overseas service, and when they were ready, to notify the Director of Embarkation at Washington. A copy of the list, subject to change, was forwarded to the port of embarkation, where it was turned over to the " dispatch office ". That office then sent to each organization listed a letter of instructions and the embarkation and debarkation regulations. When a reply was received stating that the organization was fully equipped, or equipped except for certain shortages that could not be supplied, the Director of Embarkation was notified. He in turn informed the Adjutant General, who telegraphed the department or camp commander to forward the troops when their presence was desired at the port. As soon as space was available at the embarkation camps, or on transports, and provided the organization stood in the proper place on the priority schedule, it was ordered to port on the authority of the commanding general of the port of embarkation. The general agent of the Railroad Administration notified the Troop Movement Section at Washington of the movement and the latter then arranged the routing and train schedule to conform as closely as possible to the desires of the dispatch office. " The movements of the troops to the ports were so timed as to fit in with all other rail movements throughout the United States so as to avoid congestion and an excessive demand for equipment during a limited period."57 The various authorities of the port who were interested in the movement were also informed and were thus enabled to make the necessary preparations for the reception of the organization upon its arrival. The general agent and the local quartermaster at the starting point were responsible for the assembling of equipment and the arranging of all the details of departure.58

Such was the process followed in the case of troops not in divisions. With divisions the procedure was somewhat different. When a division on the priority list was reported nearly ready to entrain for the port, the dispatch office telegraphed for the division liaison officer and at the same time ordered into the embarkation camp the advance debarkation and billeting detachments and the advance school detachments, which usually preceded the division abroad.59 Before the great troop movement began in April, 1918, an attempt was made to have the various elements of a division entrain in the order General Pershing desired them to arrive in France.60 The first units to depart for the seaboard were generally the engineer regiment and field train, field signal battalion, and sanitary squadrons; then came the division headquarters, followed at a little interval by the headquarters train and military police, the remaining divisional trains, half the medical complement of field hospitals and ambulance companies, the bakery and butchery company, and base hospital. These were followed by the two infantry brigades, the machine-gun battalion and artillery brigade in the order named, and the remaining auxiliary units brought up the rear. The 32d Division, for example, observed this arrangement quite closely in its movement from Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas, to Camp Merritt, New Jersey. The movement began January 10, 1918, and was not completed until February 13. To transport the 24,874 men in the division required fifty-eight trains, each averaging fifteen cars and carrying 428 men. The distance travelled averaged 1969 miles per train and was covered in five days and eight hours, at an average rate of 15.3 miles per hour.61

As general agents, camp quartermasters, entraining officers, and railroad officials became more experienced in the handling of trooptrains they constantly bettered their previous records. One or two examples of what they accomplished will not be out of place here. On June 19, 1918, the gIst Division began its movement from Camp Lewis, Washington, to Camp Merritt. Between that date and June 30, sixty-four trains were despatched eastward carrying the 27,085 men of the division. The last train arrived at its destination at 9:00 P.M., July 6. These sixty-four trains were sent over thirteen different routes, the average distance travelled by each train being 3205 miles. Running at about twenty miles per hour each train required an average time of six and a half days to make the journey across the continent. The average number of cars per train was thirteen; of men 423.62 Perhaps the best performance of the war in the field of transportation was the movement of the 18,819 men of the 8th Division (less its artillery brigade) from Camp Fremont, California, to Camp Mills, Long Island, in October, 1918. The first train left camp at 9:00 A.M., October 18; the other hour and a half intervals from 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., at the rate of six trains per day; the last train left at 4:30 P.M., October 24. These forty-two trains averaging 448 men and 13.8 cars to the traversed the 3444 miles to their destination at an average rate of speed of 20.2 miles per hour. The average time per train was seven days and three hours. The efficient co-operation of all concerned in the movement made possible the despatch of all the trains on the minute scheduled, with the exception of two, which were respectively four and five minutes late. As a result of a competition in loading inaugurated among the train commanders, few trains after the second day required more than five minutes from the time of arrival of the troops in the entraining area to the last man entrained. Fifteen trains were loaded in less than three and a half minutes each.63 The utmost secrecy was maintained in the despatch of troop-trains to ports of embarkation and all telegraphic reports regarding their movements were transmitted in cipher. While railroad officials had been authorized as early as September 13, 1917, to notify accredited Red Cross representatives at points where troop-trains were scheduled to stop, on December 11 they were instructed not to impart this information in the case of trains moving toward a seaport.64 This restriction remained in force until October 12, 1918, when it was removed by order of the Director of Operations.65

As regards equipment it was at first the policy of the War Department to send troops to the ports of embarkation completely equipped with both personal equipment and organization property. This was not always practicable, however; the artillery units almost without exception took no guns with them, and horses or mules, when taken, were usually sent to Newport News for shipment to France. In November, 1917, General Pershing was insistent that all divisions and other units sent to France should be completely equipped with the authorized transportation, at least, before leaving the United States.66 The instructions to the ports of embarkation directed that all equipment so far as practicable be shipped on the same vessel with the organization to which it pertained,67 but the heavy troop movements in the summer of 1918 made this procedure difficult if not impossible. July 5, 1918, Pershing cabled that confusion existed due to the fact that organizations were still arriving without their equipment. He recommended that the organizations should be embarked with their equipment on the same transport; if that were impossible, organizations should be stripped of their organization property in the United States, the property turned into depots and subsequently shipped in bulk without reference to any particular organization: it would thus become available for general issue.68 The second alternative was adopted August 10, 1918; thoops were ordered to take with them overseas only individual equipment and clothing, field ranges and organization records.69 Until July 11, 1918, each enlisted man was entitled to carry with him a barrack bag with extra equipment, the weight being limited to seventy-five pounds; after that date his clothing and equipment were reduced to that carried on the person. Officers' baggage also was reduced, company officers being allowed to take only 150 pounds instead of the 250 pounds previously authorized.70

From May, 19I7, when the Troop Movement Section began its work, until November 11, 1918, the railroads of the country transported 8,714,582 men, an average of 502,764 per month. The maximum was reached in July, 1918, when no less than 1,47,013 men were moved. Retween September 5, I9I7, and the armistice 2,287,926 drafted men were entrained at 4531 separate points in larger or smaller units and moved on schedule to their stations, in many cases upward of a day's journey, and in all cases were fed in transit.71 It would be difficult to overestimate the amount of detail involved in routing, scheduling, moving, and feeding these men. It required II,959 special troop-trains, each averaging 875.4 miles, to transport 5,046,092 men, in addition to the drafted men referred to above and the 1,380,564 men carried on regular trains. This is undoubtedly the greatest long-distance troop movement by land in history. The railroads carried 2,174,455 men into the crowded port terminals for embarkation overseas without interfering with the heavy traffic already being handled through those ports and in the adjacent territory. During one period of thirty days more than twenty troop-trains each day were brought into the port of New York. During the entire period of the war there were but sixteen train accidents involving death or injury; but thirty-nine men were killed and 335 injured. Of the total number of men moved during the war about 26.2 per cent. were draftpd men on their way to camp; 24.9 per cent. were troops moving toward the ports and the remaining 48.9 per cent. represents the mobilization of the Regular Army and National Guard, and the intercamp movements.

To accomplish so vast an achievement required the use of aproximately 70,413 sleeping-cars, 135,756 coaches, 16,285 baggage—and express-cars, and 23,075 freight-cars. The average number of men carried in each special troop-train was 421; the number of cars per train was 12.6 and an average rate of 19.8 miles per hour was maintained. Besides the 11,959 special troop-trains mentioned above it is estimated that 4576 special trains were required for drafted men. It was not found necessary, as in Europe, to utilize freight-cars for the transportation of troops; and in fact it was customary to furnish sleeping-cars in all journeys which extended over twenty-four hours. It was not always possible to do this, of course, but 2,671,074 men, about 30.6 per cent. of all troops moved, were handled in Pullman cars.72

The work of the railroads of the United States in transporting the soldiers of the American army to the camps, from camp to camp, and finally to the ports of embarkation for service overseas, was not spectacular, nor did it receive as much attention as it deserved from the people of the country, for much of it was necessarily veiled in secrecy and the newspapers said very little about it. But it was splendidly done, nevertheless, and it was by no means the least factor in the ultimate success of the United States in the war. That the War Department so regarded it is shown by the fact that in March 1919, it conferred the Distinguished Service Medal upon Mr. George Hodges, manager of the Troop Movement Section, for meritorious services in connection with the movement of troops in the United States.


1 General Orders, no. 122, War Dept., Aug. 18, 1898.

2 Report of the Quartermaster General, 1916.

3 Ibid.

4 Telegram, Secretary of War to state governors, June 18, 1916.

5 Reports of the Q. M. G., 1916, 19I7; Report of the Secretary of War, 1916; Report of the Chief of Staff, 1916.

6 First Annual Report of the Council of National Defense (Washington, 1917).

7 Rept. of the Q. M. G., 1917.

8 First Ann. Rept. of Council for Natl. Defense (Washington, 1917).

9 Special Committee on National Defense, Am. Ry. Assn. Bulletin, no. 9, Apr. 16, 1917.

10 General Orders, no. 38, War Dept., Apr. 2, 1917.

11 Edgar E. Clark, Interstate Commerce Commission, Government Control and Operation of Railroads, Hearing before the Committee on Interstate Commerce, U. S. Senate, 65 Cong., 2 sess., pursuant to S. Res. 171 (Washington, 1918), p. 120.

12 R. H. Aishton, president of the Chicago and N. W. R. R. and chairman of Central Department Subcommittee of the Railroads War Board, address,. Sept. 14, 1917, before the St. Louis Railway Club, quoted in Railway Age Gazette, Sept. 28, 1917, pp. 547 ff.

13 Special Committee on National Defense, Bulletin, no. 9, Apr. 16, 1917.

14 Id., Bulletin, no. 8, Mar. 27, 1917; also Special Regulations, no. 63, War Dept., Apr. 20, 1917.

15 George Hodges, Memorandum on Troop Movement Force, Dec. 31, 19I7.

16 Interview with H. Y. Turner, Troop Movement Section, Mar. 10, 1919.

17 For a full account of the work of the Railroads' War Board and of the U. S. R. R. Administration one must seek elsewhere. Here we are concerned only with the Troop Movement Section.

18 Circular, no. 3, U. S. R. R. Adminis., Div. of Trans., May 24, 1918.

19 Army Regulations, 1913, par. 1000; Field Service Regulations, 1914, par. 388.

20 Rules and Regulations of the Quartermaster General (1915), pp. 209 ff. This paper does not concern itself with the problem of the transportation of supplies, but only with the story of troop movements.

21 Bulletin, no. 37, Oct. 10, 1917, of executive committee of Special Com mittee on National Defense, Am. Railway Assn.

22 General Orders, no. 102, War Dept., Aug. 4, 1917.

23 Adjutant General to commanding generals of all departments and divisions, Dec. 29, 1917.

24 Office Order (not numbered), Director of Traffic, Jan. 10, 1918.

25 Id., no. 151, Director of Traffic, Jan. 15, 1918.

26 Memorandum of Lt. Col. H. S. Ray, for executive officer, Purchase, Storage and Traffic Division, Dec. 5, 1918.

27 Capt. J. D. Cutter to the same, Dec. 12, 1918.

28 Office Order, no. 464, office of Q. M. G., June 15, 1918.

29 Memorandum of George Hodges, Dec. 31, 1917.

30 Mobilization Table, no. 3, Mobilization Section, Historical Branch, War Plans Division of the General Staff.

31 Report of the Adjutant General of the Army (19I7), table opposite p. 19.

32 F. E. Williamson, general agent, New York, to Maj. D. A. Watt, adjutant, port of embarkation, Hoboken, N. J., July 17, 1918.

33 General Orders, no. 90, War Dept., July 12, 1917.

34 Memorandum of George Hodges, Dec. 31, 1917.

35 Records of the Troop Movement Section, U. S. R. R. Adminis.

36 Report of the Acting Chief of the Militia Bureau (1918), pp. 8-10, 139.

37 Second Report of the Provost Marshal General to the Secretary of War (Dec. 20, 1918), pp. 232 ff.

38 Changes, no. 7, Selective Service Regulations, July 31, 1918.

39 Memorandum of George Hodges, Dec. 31, 1917.

40 " Specimen Entrainment Schedule ", Second Report of the Provost Marshal General, pp. 325 ff.

41 Rept. of the Provost Marshal Gen. (Dec. 20, 1917), p. 26; id., Second Report (Dec. 20, 1918), pp. 239 ff. AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XXVI.—31.

42 Second Rept. of the Provost Marshal Gen., pp. 240 ff.

43 Army War College Records.

44 Memorandum of Capt. T. W. Hammond, General Staff, for Chief of Staff, Sept. 27, 1917, approved Oct. 4, 1917. Army War College Records Army War College Records.

45 Records of Troop Movement Section, U. S. R. R. Adminis.

46 Bulletins, nos. 1 ff., Misc. Div., Adjutant General's office.

47 Report of general agent at Camp Meade to George Hodges, Feb. 18, 1918.

48 Reports of general agent at Camp Sherman to George Hodges, Dec. 10, 1917, and Feb. 27, 1918.

49 Memorandum from the office of the Chief of Staff for the Adjutant General, Apr. 6, 1917; comment by General Bliss, acting chief of staff, on memorandum from General Kuhn, May 28, 1917.

50 " A. E. F." proj ect of Sept. 18, 1917.

51 In his memorandum of July 10, 1917, Pershing places his total forces desired at I,Ioo,ooo; Sept. I8, I9I7, he increases this figure to 1,328,448. In his Schedule of Priority of Shipments, Oct. 7, 1917, he names 1,247,399 as his grand total, excluding aviation and replacement troops.

52 Memorandum of Gen. Henry Jervey, director of operations, to the Adjutant General, Mar. 27, 1918.

53 Memorandum of Gen. Henry Jervey to the Chief of Staff, Feb. 18, 1918.

54 Annual Report of the Director General of Railroads (1918), " Operations ",P. 47.

55 Report of the Chief of Staff, U. S. A., to the Sec. of War (1918), pp. 10 ff.

56 Annual Report of the Secretary of War (1919), pp. 3 ff.

57 Rept. of the Chief of Staff, U. S. A., to the Sec. of War (19I9), p. 40.

58 Report of Maj. S. J. Chamberlin, dispatch officer, to the commanding general at the port of embarkation, Hoboken, N. J., Aug. 29, 1918.

59 Ibid.

60 Memorandum of Lt. Col. J. R. McAndrews, General Staff Corps, for the Chief of Staff, Dec. 7, 1917.

61 Records of the Troop Movement Section, U. S. R. R. Adminis.

62 Ibid.

63 Report of Capt. C. D. Gorton, entraining officer, 8th Div., to commanding general, 8th Div., Oct. 26, 1918.

64 Bulletins, nos. 30, 30A, Sept. 13, Dec. 11, 1917, of ex. com. of Special Committee on Natl. Defense, Am. Railway Assn.

65 Memorandum, Gen. Henry Jervey for the Adjutant General, Oct. 12, 1918.

66 Pershing, cable no. 279, par. 5, Nov. 10, 1917.

67 Director of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic to the Adjutant General, Apr. 19, 1918.

68 Pershing, cable no. 1419, July 5, 1918.

69 Circular, War Dept., Aug. 10, 1918.

70 Id., July 11, 1918.

71 The figures given here are those of the Troop Movement Section. Second Rept. of the Provost Marshal General (1918), p. 241, says that 2,755,476 drafted men were transported to camp by rail. It is quite possible that many men transported in regular trains were not reported to the Troop Movement Section, which concerned itself primarily with the movement of special trains.

72 Annual Report of the Director General of Railroads (1918), " Operations", pp. 46 ff.

Feeding Mars: The Role of Logistics in the German Defeat in Normandy, 1944

By Russell A. Hart

War in History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (November 1996)

Historians have long recognized that logistical difficulties contributedto German defeat in the 1944 Normandy campaign. The Allied aerial interdiction campaign initiated in March seriously hampered German resupply operations across the Loire and Seine rivers into Normandy. The consequent supply shortages not only prevented the Germans from seriously threatening the Allied bridgehead but also undermined German efforts to mount an effective defence. Beyond this general picture, however, historians know littie about precisely how and to what extent logistic deficiencies compromised the German defence of Normandy. This study describes German logistics in the 1944 Normandy campaign and demonstrates that logistic deficiencies were central to German defeat, and that they played a major role in the successful American breakout during Operation 'Cobra' in late July.1

In 1943 the German army in the west, the Westheer, remained a back water of the German war effort. Under-strength, poorly equipped, and largely immobile, the Westheer possessed only a limited defensive capability. Nor did it possess the logistic infrastructure—fuel, munitions, and transport assets—necessary to sustain major action, let alone to repel an invasion. It was only on 3 November 1943 that Hitler issued his Directive 51 for the strengthening of the Westheer to defeat the inevitable 1944 Allied invasion. Between November 1943 and June 1944, the influx of fresh troops and Germany's latest weapons dramatically enhanced the Westheer's combat power. Directive 51, however, failed to assign logistic priority to the west. Thus there was no concomitant expansion of the Westheer's logistic resources. On the contrary, the German buildup emphasized 'teeth' over 'tail' to the detriment of the Westheer's ability to sustain a protracted defence. Inadequate supply, transport, and service units were combed out to strengthen combat formations. In part, the Westheer's inability to expand its logistic base before D-Day reflected the sustained decline of resources as Germany approached its sixth year of war. To a greater degree, however, it illustrated a traditional German military disdain for logistics.2

The most pernicious deficiency of the German army in its fifth year of war was its progressive demotorization. In 1939 Germany was among the least motorized societies in western Europe. Outside the elite, armoured forces, most of the German army remained a predominantly horse-drawn infantry force. After June 1941, attrition on the Eastern Front inexorably shrank the German motor transport pool and with it the mobility that was instrumental to both Germany's offensive and defensive victories. Up to 1943, confiscation of vehicles from the occupied territories offset Germany's battlefield losses: in 1942 alone, Germany rounded up over 600 000 vehicles. After Kursk, though, attrition progressively demotorized the German army. Between February and April 1944 alone, the German army's deficit of trucks and prime movers increased by 127% and 46% respectively.3

The German motor vehicle shortage was most pronounced in the west, where the largely immobile occupation forces depended on the excellent French rail network for transportation. Few trucks were available in the west to form a strategic transport reserve, and lack of spare parts entailed low serviceability rates. This immobility hindered the combat preparation of the Westheer prior to D-Day. By 6 June 1944 most German formations remained seriously deficient in motor vehicles, and consequently their mobility was limited. This poor mobility made the Westheer dependent on rail transport to redeploy its forces to an invasion site and for resupply operations. At war games in January 1944, the Germans estimated that without the French railroads they would require 40 000 tons of trucking capacity to defeat an invasion, or more than eight times the then available strategic transport reserve. The excess capacity of the French rail system and the existence of canal supply routes, however, convinced the Germans that they could resupply their forces by rail despite anticipated Allied interdiction efforts. Consequently, the Quartermaster General West, Major Otto Eckstein, was not unduly perturbed when in March 1944 the Allies unleashed an aerial interdiction campaign.4

However, the Germans seriously underestimated the effectiveness of the Allied interdiction campaign. Between March and D-Day, Allied air power isolated Normandy from the east by destroying all the bridges across the Seine below Paris, while attacks on railroad stations, marshalling yards, engine sheds, coaling stations, rail junctions, repair shops, and rolling stock all but ended train movement into Normandy. From mid-April the air attacks impinged on German troop and supply movements. Consequently an increasing backlog of trains developed throughout the west which delayed the arrival of large quantities of new weapons, construction materials, and supplies. On the eve of D-Day, over 1700 military trains were still struggling toward their destinations. The air offensive's greatest impact, though, was on the flow of fuel to the west. At the beginning of June, trains carrying 3.233 million gallons of fuel, the equivalent of 15% of the entire German stock in the west, were back logged across France.5

The Germans took three sets of countermeasures to minimize the impact of the air offensive on their resupply capability prior to D-Day Anti-aircraft batteries moved to protect bridges, communications hubs and rail lines. German rail engineer and bridge-building units were strengthened and redeployed to the Seine in an effort to restore communication links with Normandy. Finally, the Quartermaster General West attempted to expand his strategic truck transport reserve via vigoous confiscation drives among both the military and civilian sectors.6

These counter-measures met with little success. Greater anti-aircraft protection could only slow the inexorable destruction of German communications; but it also increased munitions expenditures and hence exacerbated German supply difficulties. Despite steady reinforcement, the German railroad engineer and bridge-building forces in the west were simply swamped by the scale of destruction. Moreover, their efforts to restore communications were poorly coordinated. Three factors compromised the German effort to expand their strategic trucking capacity: the Wehrmacht's overall shortage of motor vehicles, the need to improve the mobility of combat formations, and Hitler's insistence on overexpanding the Westheer. Inadequate production meant that only a limited number of new trucks could be sent to the west during the spring of 1944. These trucks were assigned both to new divisions that Hitler insisted be raised in the west and to existing divisions to enhance their mobility. Since new production was insufficient, the strategic truck reserve had to surrender about 10% of its capacity in May to complete the equipping of these new divisions. Therefore, because of Hitler's insistence on overexpansion, the Westheer was unable to expand its strategic truck transport reserve (see Table l).7

Table 1 Expansion of the German strategic transport reserve and decline in serviceability, 1944 (in metric tons)

Date Capacity Operational Serviceable (%)
1 January 1944 9137 7073 71.5
1 February 1944 8856 7225 80.5
1 March 1944 9309 8005 86
1 April 1944 10185 8379 82
1 June 1944 9000 5850 65
1 July 1944 12500 6900 55

Sources: 'Transportraum in der Hand der OB West', Ob. West Qu.1 Br.B.Nr. 01800/44g.Kdos, v. 8.4.1944, Ob. West Qu.1 Br.B.Nr. 02250/44 G.Kdos, v. 8.5.1944, NARA T-314, 11, 7014858 and 7015007.

The Allied air offensive also eroded the German logistic position in the west prior to D-Day. The brake applied by the air campaign to the flow of supplies effectively reduced German stockpiles. The air offensive forced German supply operations off the rails and onto the roads, thereby increasing fuel consumption. To preserve dwindling stocks, the Westheer introduced stringent rationing on 3 June which halted 30% of its motor vehicles and slashed fuel allotted for training. The strategic transport reserve was forced to deliver supplies by road; its serviceability rates declined after April, eradicating the steady improvement initiated in November 1943 (see Table 1). Thus, before the invasion, the air campaign had eroded the Westheer's ability both to redeploy its reserves to an invasion site and to resupply such forces. Clearly, if the Germans proved unable to defeat the Allies on the beaches, they could only fight a protracted defence in the west if unprecedented levels of supplies could delivered from the Reich to the invasion sector.8

Thus on 6 June 1944 the German logistic position in France remained inadequate for a prolonged defence. Munitions stockpiles were limited: the Westheer had amassed about three weeks' stocks for its coastal defence divisions, four weeks' stocks for the port fortresses, but only two weeks' stocks for its mobile reserves. The German fuel situation was even more precarious. The Westheer had only seven to ten days' fuel stockpiled for its strategic reserves. While supplies with the front-line troops were adequate for the initial stages of an invasion, if the assault was not quickly repulsed a successful defence demanded the rapid shipment of the reserve stockpiles to the invasion site. Given the attack on the French rail system, completing this mission presented serious problems.9

From war diaries it is possible to reconstruct the German logistic sitation in north-western France on the eve of D-Day (see Tables 2 and 3) The defending German 7th Army possessed 18 748 tons of stockpiled munitions, sufficient for about three weeks' combat. Of this total, however, only 38% (7172 tons) was stockpiled in Normandy; the rest was stored in distant Breton depots (see Figure 1). The 7th Army's petrol situation was more perilous. On 1 June it possessed 1.035 million gallons of reserve fuel stocks, sufficient for only two weeks' mobile operations.

Table 2 Seventh Army munitions stockpiled at mainland depots, 1 June 1944 (in metric tons)

Normandy Brittany Total
Depot Stocks Depot Stocks
Michel 2109 Martin 1925
Martha 2008 Manfred 2516
Max 1417 Mathilde 2135
Moritz 2340
TOTAL 7172 11576 18738

Source: 'Versorgungslage A.O.K 7 Stand: 1 Juni 1944', NARA T-312, 1571, 000607.

Table 3 German army fuel stockpiles in mainland Normandy, 1 June 1944 (in thousands of gallons)

Seventh Army depots Strategic reserve depots
Location Stocks Location Codename Stocks
St Bertharix 17 Chateaubriant Bruno 258
Le Mans 38 Domfront Brigitte 132
Rennes 40 Pontivy Brigitte 132
Lamballe 11
Landemeau 78
Quimper 8
Pluvigner 34
Flain 67
Herineville 23
St Sauveur 18
Noyers 6
Domfront 5
TOTAL 335 645

Source: 'Versorgungslage AOK 7 Stand: 1 Juni 1944', NARA T-312, 1571, 000607.

The 7th Army's gravest problem, though, remained distribution. On the eve of D-Day its quartermaster had at his disposal only 248 trucks with a lift capacity of 994 metric tons. This was utterly inadequate to meet even minimal resupply needs. Given the effects of the air campaign, the 7th Army was dependent on the delivery of supplies from the strategic reserve depots located around Paris. In the first days of the invasion, however, Allied air attacks closed all the major rail lines into Normandy from the south across the Loire, thus completing the isolation of Normandy.10

Figure 1 German supply depots and rail resupply routes, western France, June-August 1944.

Figure 1 German supply depots and rail resupply routes, western France, June-August 1944.

On 6-7 June the 7th Army began to redeploy its operational mobile reserves to Normandy. To accomplish this task alone, however, required 20 times its available lift capacity. Thus as early as 7 June planned German troop redeployments to Normandy grossly exceeded the available trucking capacity, and the 7th Army's ability to resupply these formations once committed to combat. In these circumstances, the Germans established a fixed policy in an effort to forestall the Allied establishment of an impregnable lodgement. Priority was accorded to getting the troops to Normandy. Once there, the Westheer would worry about resupplying its forces. Given the effective interdiction of rail communications and the inadequacy of the strategic truck reserve, this resupply mission would present the Germans with insurmountable difficulties.11

The priority accorded to troop redeployments exacerbated German resupply difficulties. In consequence, persistent logistical deficiencies plagued the German defence of Normandy. Because of the paralysis of the French rail network, the shortage of road lift capacity, and the priority given to troop movements, the Quartermaster General West could not dispatch sufficient supplies to cover front line consumption. Allied operations (air attack, sabotage, etc.) also inflicted a heavy toll on German resupply operations. During June enemy action destroyed 20% of German supplies en route to the front. Moreover, the aerial threat seriously delayed the delivery of supplies to the combat zone. Resupply operations had to be confined largely to night time. Round-trip resupply operations from Paris to Normandy thus averaged four to five days. Consequently, only a fraction of the supplies consumed at the front could be replaced. Up to 15 June, average daily deliveries of munitions covered less than 15% of daily expenditures. By 28 June only 37% of the munitions dispatched to the 7th Army had arrived. German supplies were even more vulnerable to Allied air attack once in the theatre of operations. Several major German munitions depots were destroyed by air attack in June. Consequently, the 7th Army's stocks rapidly diminish Thus German units throughout the campaign lacked sufficient ammnition for offensive operations.12

The German petrol situation became even more critical. Between 9 and 13 June the Quartermaster General West dispatched his entire pet reserve to Normandy. Fuel delivery was made more problematic by the dearth of fuel tankers in France and their vulnerability to air attack Moreover, German fuel depots were primary targets for Allied air strikes. The depot code-named 'Berta' located near Domfront was destroyed air attack on 13 June. A more serious blow was the destruction of the largest German fuel depot in the west, located at Gennevilliers outsside Paris, on 22 June with the loss of 607 000 gallons of fuel. Thus available fuel stocks plummeted. By 14 June the 7th Army had no stockpiled fuel left in Normandy and only 63000 gallons in Brittany, less than one days's supply. Even front-line units were down to a mere two or three days' stocks (sufficient to travel 100-150 km). Thus by the second week of the invasion the 7th Army had become dependent on daily fuel deliveries by rail and road from outside Normandy. Thereafter, only stringent rationing and repeated depredation of other field commands and Werhmacht branches could sustain German mobility in Normandy.13

In the first week of the invasion, Allied ground forces reaped considable benefits from the air offensive: the Germans were unable to run a single supply train into Normandy across the Seine and Loire. By 14 June the German supply situation was officially described as 'catastrophic'. During that week the Germans realized that a protracted defence was only possible if rail communications were restored to Normandy. There after, the Germans abandoned their uncoordinated and dispersed rail repair operations and focused on opening—and keeping open—two major rail arteries into Normandy: the Paris-Versailles-Dreux-Surdon line from the east and the Tours—Le Mans—Alençon—Sees—Surdon line from the south (see Figure 1). These two lines served the 7th Army's major depots in the Le Mans—Alençon area. Frantic work reopened thesetwo lines during the second week of the invasion. On the night of 18-19 June rail travel resumed from Paris to Dreux and Verneuil and across the Loire at Tours as far as Le Mans. The Tours St Cyr bridge remainedso badly damaged, however, that it could not hold the weight of fully loaded trains. Locomotives had to be detached on the approach to the bridge, the wagons hauled across and then recoupled. On 25 June the badly damaged Tours Cinq Mars bridge also reopened under similar operating restrictions. The precarious condition of the two Tours bridges, plus the damage inflicted on the rail infrastructure in that area, meant that the southern artery remained only partially accessible. Most trains thus continued to unload south of the Loire until the end of July.14

While the Germans endeavoured to reopen rail lines into Normandy, they were dependent on the delivery of supplies by road. Despite his best efforts, which included rigorous round-ups, constant attrition prevented the Quartermaster General West from significandy expanding his road transport capacity after D-Day (see Table 1). In fact, during the Normandy campaign the demotorization of the German forces accelerated as automobile losses exceeded deliveries. Allied tactical air forces inflicted a heavy toll on German transport assets moving supplies up from the rail heads and depots to the front. Furthermore, the relegation of resupply operations largely to night-time increased accident rates. In the first ten days of the invasion alone, 20% of the German strategic transport reserve was disabled by air attacks, breakdowns, and accidents. By late June the Germans were losing an average of 30 supply trucks daily. Incomplete figures for June indicate that over 2225 tons of truck transport capacity was lost on resupply missions. These were in addition to losses at the front: in June alone Army Group B lost 4200 vehicles, including 1866 trucks. Despite all their efforts, the Germans were unable significandy to expand their strategic transport reserve during the campaign.15

The German dependence on road resupply increased fuel consumption, thus aggravating the German fuel shortage. During June the strategic transport reserve alone consumed 800 000 gallons. Allied action also interdicted a significant proportion of German fuel dispatched to the west. Of the 9.9 million gallons sent in June, 1.95 million gallons were destroyed en route to Normandy, a million gallons were destroyed at depots, and more than 172000 gallons were lost in the combat zone. Thus only about 60% of the fuel dispatched in June made it to the front Army Group B made the pessimistic assessment that without a marked improvement in its logistic situation it would run out of fuel between 20 and 25 July.16

In late June, however, the German logistic situation in Normandy finally began to improve. This was the result of four developments: the reopening of rail movement into Normandy described above; the initiation of ferrying operations on both flanks of the Normandy front increased 'self-reliance' as front-line divisions sent their own truck columns to collect supplies from rear depots; and the division of German supply responsibilities on the invasion front.17

With the restoration of limited rail communications to Normandy, the Germans were finally able to run a limited number of supply trains into the combat zone. In the latter half of June the Germans ran, on average two supply trains a night to the advanced rail-heads. The restoration of rail communications increased the flow of supplies to the front in late June by about one-quarter. During the week 8-14 July, 17% and 35% of total German deliveries of munitions and fuel arrived by rail.18

Beginning in mid-June, the Germans also expanded ferrying operations across the Seine. In spring 1944, 17 ferries were operating on the Seine with a cargo capacity of 420 tons. During the first weeks of the invasion the Germans transported additional ferries to the Seine and constructed new ones on site. German naval personnel worked feverishly to establish new dock facilities at Elbeuf for barges carrying supplies down the Seine from Paris. On 18 June the first barges left Paris, unloading at Elbeuf three days later. Thereafter the Seine ferrying operation expanded rapidly, and by July it was delivering about one-fifth of the supplies reaching Normandy.19

Parallel ferrying activities were also initiated from the Atlantic ports of Bordeaux and Royan to the ports of Brest, St Nazaire, St Malo, and Cherbourg. But due to lack of shipping capacity, Allied air attacks, the distances involved, and supply shortages in western France, the Atlantic ferrying operation never made as significant a contribution to the German resupply effort as did the Seine ferrying. At its height, during the week 8-14 July, Atlantic ferrying accounted for 16% of total munitions delivered.20

With the reopening of rail communications and the instigation of ferrying, the flow of supplies to central Normandy significandy increased. By mid-July half of total German supply deliveries arrived by rail and water. But the major German difficulty remained the transshipment of these supplies from the rear depots, ports, and rail-heads to the front. This difficulty could only be alleviated by combat units collecting their own supplies. From mid-June the use of divisional transport columns on supply-collection missions to army depots and rail-heads became commonplace. The losses suffered by the truck columns employed on these missions exacerbated the increasing immobility of front-line units (see Table 4).21

In early July, the Westheer divided logistic responsibility for the Normandy front. Hitherto, the 7th Army had been solely responsible for all resupply operations. Hereafter, Panzer Group West assumed the supply mission on the right (or eastern) flank where it opposed the Anglo-Canadians at Caen. The 7th Army's responsibility was limited to the western flank opposite the American forces advancing on St Lô. This separation eased the administrative strain that the 7th Army's quartermaster had been under.

Table 4 Decline in serviceability rates of trucks and prime movers among selected German mechanized divisions in Normandy, June-August 1944 (%)

Formation 1 June 1 July 1 August
21st Pz. Div. 93 185 67 134 65 133
12th SS Pz. Div. 65 33 54 24
Pz. Lehr. Div. 77 73 77 80 59 55
2nd Pz. Div. 81 73 35 23
1st SS Pz. Div. 84 69 70 26
average monthly decline % 25 25 15 31

Source: 'Zustandberichte, Panzer Divisionen, Stand 1.6-1.8.1944', General Inspektor der Panzertruppen, NARA T-78, rolls 616, 623-4, 718-19.

During July the German logistical situation on the eastern flank continued to improve, albeit slowly. The Germans managed to run several supply trains through to Dreux and Verneuil nightly, as well as to unload several barges at Elbeuf. By concentrating its resources on only a couple of lines, the German railroad engineers were able to keep the Versailles-Dreux line open despite repeated air attacks. Allied air power also proved unable to neutralize the Seine ferries: they were much harder to hit than bridges or rail installations, and ferrying mainly took place at night. Panzer Group West was thus able to resupply its forces sufficiently to halt all Anglo-Canadian efforts to push south-east and capture Falaise.

On the German western flank, where the 7th Army opposed the Ameicans at St Lo, however, there was no parallel improvement in July. On the contrary, the German logistic situation deteriorated further. Ferrying was less extensive, resupply distances greater, and lateral communications lines less developed. Moreover, the Germans simply proved unable to run as many supply trains into Normandy across the Loire as they could across the Seine. Consequently, in the face of major American offensive action between 3 and 21 July that culminated in the fall of St. Lô, the 7th Army's supply stockpiles dwindled. But it was the German inability to sustain rail deliveries across the Loire that contributed directly to the collapse of the German front at St Lô in late July. The catalyst for an ultimately fatal decline in the 7th Army's supply situation on the American sector of the Normandy front was the renewed destruction of the St Cyr railway bridge and the marshalling yards at the communications hub of Tours on 15 July. Since its reopening in mid-June Tours had become the supply lifeline for the 7th Army. Between 9 June and 7 July, 10 440 tons of supplies passed through Tours by rail, an average of 360 tons a day. This route accounted for about one-third of the total supplies reaching western Normandy, and more than 40% of the 7th Army's fuel. The importance of the Tours supply line can be gauged by the immediate and frantic German effort to repair the bridge by erecting a temporary span.22

As the Tours supply artery was reclosed, the Quartermaster General West's ability to resupply the 7th Army by road continued to decline as his trucking pool diminished. Due to the few lateral lines of communication in western Normandy, and the greater distances involved, resupplying the 7th Army was more difficult than supplying Panzer Group West on the eastern flank. Moreover, a smaller proportion of the supplies dispatched to the 7th Army made it to the front. Even before the destruction of Tours, the 7th Army had become increasingly dependent on its own truck columns to bring up supplies.23

The destruction of the Tours supply artery accelerated the decline in the 7th Army's logistical position. The Quartermaster General West could not compensate for the cessation of rail delivery of fuel by increased road delivery. Consequently, in the week after the destruction of Tours, petrol dispatched to the 7th Army fell by 22%. Moreover, the destruction of the 7th Army fuel depot 'Bruno' near Chateaubriant by Allied air attack on 16 July compounded German fuel difficulties. An examination of fuel returns for the LXXXIV Corps on the St Lô front demonstrates a sustained depletion of petrol stocks at the very moment when US forces were preparing to launch Operation 'Cobra', their break out effort (see Table 5).24

Table 5 Comparison of fuel availability, St Lô and Caen sectors, June-July 1944 (in ration allotments)

6 June 14 June 18 June 3 July 7 July 8 July 10 July 24 July
Caen 3.0 1.5 1.6 1.3 1.3 1.8 1.3 ?
St Lô 3.0 1.0 1.3 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.7

Sources: Versorgungslage u. Tagesmeldungen, I SS Pz. Korps, LXXXIV Korps, Pz.Gr. West, 7th Army, Army Group B, OB West, O.Qu. West, NARA T-311, rolls 1-5, 27-8; T 312, 1569-70; T-313, 420-2, T-314, 1568.

The Germans reopened the Tours rail bridge on 23 July. But this was too late to replenish the 7th Army's supplies before the onset of Cobra on 25 July. In the meantime the Anglo-Canadians launched Operation 'Goodwood' (18-20 July) to hold German reserves on the eastern flank. Controversy still surrounds the contribution that Goodwood made to the success of Cobra. But what historians have missed in assessing Good wood's contribution was its impact on German logistics. It was in this realm that its contribution was decisive. The Quartermaster General West was only able to dispatch petrol by road to the 7th Army on one day in the week between Goodwood and Cobra, as his tanker columns were fully committed to resupply operations on the Anglo-Canadian sector after the heavy Goodwood expenditures. The 7th Army only maintained its petrol receipts at 73% of pre-Goodwood levels by employing most of its own trucks to collect fuel from the Le Mans, Alençon, and Dreux rail-heads. Even then, on the eve of Cobra, the German LXXXIV Corps defending the St Lô front only had sufficient fuel to travel 74 km, enough for about two days' heavy combat. In fact, as the Americans unleashed Cobra on 25 July, the first fuel train arrived at Le Mans via Tours, too late to reach the German front-line troops during the decisive first 48 hours in which the German front was broken.25

Evidence suggests that the closure of the Tours rail route had a less detrimental impact on the flow of munitions than on the flow of fuel to the 7th Army. Nonetheless, it did have an important impact on the munitions situation at the front. To increase turnaround time after the destruction of Tours, the Quartermaster General West curtailed the distance that his transport columns were allowed to travel. Thus on 17 July the Germans abandoned deliveries to the 7th Army's largest and most forward munitions depot, 'Michel' at St Sever, 40 km east of Granville. Likewise, 'Mina' and the fuel depot 'Brehmse' were ordered to close on 21 July. Instead, deliveries were diverted to depots further back such as 'Martha', east of Domfront. This quadrupled the distance that divisional transport columns on the St Lô front had to travel to collect munitions, and further strained the German petrol situation. Consequently, German munitions holdings on the St Lô sector steadily declined during July. Between late June and 24 July, Kampfgruppe Kentner's munitions stocks for machine guns and mortars declined by 64% and 75%, respectively. A rare extant munitions return for Kampfgruppe Kuske of the 17th SS Panzer-grenadier Division 'Gotz von Berlichingen' on the St Lô sector on the eve of Cobra also illustrates the extent of the German munitions shortages. The battle group possessed only 1 000 rounds per machine gun, and 30 rounds per rifle—about sufficient for one day of heavy combat.26

Assessments of the success of Cobra have focused almost exclusively on the rapid and effective American execution of the operation in combination with the badly weakened state of the German defence. But close analysis of the density of the German defence on the St LLô and Caen sectors on the eve of Cobra illustrates that there was litde disparity in German strength on the two sectors (see Table 6). Moreover, during August the Germans would successfully stall three Anglo-Canadian offensives where the Germans were far more heavily outnumbered than at Cobra.27

The missing link in the explanation of the success of Cobra are German logistical deficiencies. During Cobra, for the first time in the campaign, such difficulties prevented the Germans from offering an effective defence. It was these problems, as much as combat exhaustion, that made it impossible for the Germans to cordon off the Cobra break-in on 25—6 July as they had all previous Allied offensives. By the first evening of Cobra, the defending German LXXXIV Corps had expended all the ammunition for the 88 mm anti-aircraft guns which formed the back bone of its anti-tank defence. Supply shortages explain why the 7th Army's reserve, the elite and still powerful 2nd SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich', utterly failed to make its presence felt on the Cobra batdefield. On 26 July, the 7th Army reported that the counter-measures by the defending LXXXIV Corps had been 'significandy prohibited' by petrol shortages: that very day Das Reich had to abandon two companies of Panther tanks for want of fuel. By 28 July, LXXXIV Corps's munitions stocks were 'critically low'. When combined with the German numerical weakness, German fuel and munitions shortages prevented the Germans from halting the Cobra breakout.28

Once the Americans had secured a breakthrough, mounting logistical problems and dwindling mobility unravelled the German defence in Normandy. The crisis at the front forced the Germans to resume daylight resupply missions in late July, which caused German motor vehicle losses to snowball. During the first week of August the forward German supply depots were overrun, and thereafter the Germans had no prospect of shoring up the front: German defeat in Normandy became inevitable. The 5th Panzer Army (the renamed Panzer Group West) then had to resupply all the German forces in Normandy from distant depots located near the Seine. The retreating German forces thus rapidly began to run out of fuel across the entire front. From 15 August fuel shortages increasingly stranded 7th Army formations, and for the first time the Germans began to abandon stranded armour en masse. In the last two weeks of August the fleeing German forces abandoned motor vehicles by the thousand. The Germans managed to extricate across the Seine about one third of the troops, one-quarter of the vehicles, and 10% of the heavy weapons that they had committed to Normandy.29

Table 6 Density of German defences of the St Lô and Caen sectors, 25 July 1944 (per kilometre)

Command (sector) Infantry battalions Artillery batteries Armour
1 SS Pz. Corps (Caen) 2 2 19
LXXXIV Corps (St Lô) 2 3 16

Sources: Tagesmeldungen, Kriegsgliederurigen, u. Zustaridberichte I SS Pz. Korps, LXXXIV Korps, Pz.Gr. West, u. Seventh Army, NARA T-312, 1568-70; T-313, 420-2; T 314, 1568.

Clearly, logistical difficulties were a major factor in the collapse of the German defence of Normandy. They prevented the Germans from making a serious threat against the Allied lodgement and undermined the German defence. In the absence of rail communications, insufficient supplies were delivered by road to the front and existing stockpiles were thus rapidly depleted just to maintain German forces at defensive supply levels. Only by reopening one major rail artery into Normandy across both the Seine and Loire and by expanding ferrying activities did a gradual improvement in the German logistic situation in Normandy materialize in late June. During July this improvement continued in eastern Normandy, where Panzer Group West opposed the Anglo-Canadians. The key to this was the Seine ferrying operations and the rail deliverie from Paris to Dreux and Verneuil. From these rail-heads the distance to the front by road was relatively short, and thus a higher proportion of supplies dispatched actually reached the front. In western Normandy, where the German 7th Army faced the Americans, there was no improvement in the supply situation during July. The Germans proved unable to run as many supply trains along the Tours-Alenfon-Le Mans line as they could on the eastern flank. Ferrying along the Atlantic coast was less significant, and the distances involved much greater. Finally, the distance by road from Alen^on to Le Mans and the Breton ports to the front was considerably further too. Hence a smaller proportion of supplies made it to the 7th Army and delivery time was greater. Conse quently, the German supply situation on the western flank continued to decline in July. With the renewed destruction of Tours on 15 July, the German resupply effort for the 7th Army suffered a crippling blow. German efforts to increase deliveries by road to the 7th Army from the rail heads in eastern Normandy were hindered by the greater distances involved and by the launching of the Anglo-Canadian Goodwood offensive on 18 July. The Germans did manage to reopen the Tours line on 23 July, but this proved too late to replenish the 7th Army's supplies before the start of Operation 'Cobra' two days later. Critically short of fuel and munitions, the 7th Army proved unable to halt the American breakout at the end of July, thereby condemning the Germans to defeat in Normandy. In retrospect, the fortuitous destruction of Tours ten days before the initiation of Cobra proved optimal timing for the success of the American breakout bid. If Tours had been destroyed any earlier the Germans could have repaired the bridge in time to bring up fresh sup plies; any later and German supply levels might not have been sufficiently eroded to ensure a decisive breakout.


1The author thanks Jason Coy, Allison Gough, and Mark Grimsley for commenting on earlier drafts of this article. The only study of German logistics is the US Army Historical Division, European Theater of Operations, Foreign Military Studies Manuscript B-827, Maj. Otto Eckstein, 'Activities of the Oberquartiermeister West During the Time of Preparation for Warding Off an Invasion and During the Initial Combats', Germany, 1947, published in Donald Detweiler, ed., WWII German Military Studies (New York, Garland, 1979), XII.

2 For an extensive evaluation of the Westheer's weaknesses in late summer 1943, see National Archives Record Administration, Captured German Documents (hereafter NARA) microfilm series T-311, roll 27, frame 7032324ff. Concerning Normandy specifically, see 'Personelle Zusammensetzung', Beilage zu Anlage zu Gen. Kdo. LXXXIV A. K. Ia. Nr. 1808/43 g.Kdos., v. 4/10/1943, NARA T-314, 1604, 001032; and 'Hebung der Kampfkraft der Infanterie', 709 Inf. Div. Abt. Ia Nr. 745/43 g.Kdos., d. 12/7/1943, NARA T-314, 1604, 000731.

3 On the lack of motorization in the German army, see Richard DiNardo, Mechanized Juggernaut (New York, Greenwood Press, 1991) and W. Victor Madej (ed.) German War Economy: The Motorization Myth (Allentown, PA, Game Publishing, 1984). Truck and prime-mover shortages increased from 36093 and 5772 on 1 Feb. 1944 to 82096 and 8423 on 1 May 1944. Werner Stang, 'Zahlenmaterial zur Materiellen Lage der faschistischen Wehrmacht im Zweiten Weltkrieg', Militärgesckichte IV (Apr. 1973), pp. 61-80. See also 'Waffe: Stand 1 Juni 1944', OKH O. Qu., NARA T-78, 168, 000401-403.

4 On 1 June 1944 the German mechanized divisions in the West possessed only 39% and 22%, respectively, of their authorized trucks and prime movers. 'Zustandberichte Panzer-Divisionen Stand: 1 Juni 1944', General Inspektor der Panzertruppen, NARA T-78, 623-4. On that date the Westheer was short of 11 447 trucks and 1760 prime movers; see 'Kraftfahrzeuge (ungepanzert) Heer: Western'. OKH Gen. Qu., d. 5/8/1944, NARA T-78, 726, 6076170. For discussion of the spring 1944 war games, see Eckstein, 'Activities', p. 24.

5 On the importance of the aerial interdiction campaign to Allied victory in Normandy, see Public Record Office, Kew (hereafter PRO, Kew) AIR 40/1669, RAF Bombing Analysis Unit, 'The Effect of the OVERLORD Air Plan to Disrupt Enemy Rail Communications'; PRO W[ar] 0[ffice] 205/172, 'Pre-invasion Bombing Campaign'; Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II III: Europe: Argument to V-E Day, January 1944 to May 1945 (Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1951); Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany, 1939—1945 III: Victory pt.5 (London, HMSO, 1961); Walt W. Rostow, Pre-invasion Bombing Strategy: General Eisenhower's Decision of 25 March, 1944 (Austin, Univ. of Texas Press, 1981); and Maj. O. Jaggi, 'Normandie 1944: Auswirkung der allierten Luftüberlegenheit auf die deutsche Abwehr', Allegemeine schweizerische Militärzeitschrift, CXXIV (H5) (1958), pp. 333-61. In spring 1944 the Germans had only one regiment of railroad engineers, the 6th, deployed in the West. On the backlog of trains, see 'Vortragnotiz', Anl. zum Ktb. Ob. Kdo. Hg. B Vers. Abt. Ib, d. 3/6/1944, NARA T-311, 1, 7000664. Capacities given are in US gallons.

6 In Apr. 1944 the Germans had in the West 3 heavy (60-ton) and 6 light (8-ton) bridging columns; by 17 May the number had increased to 4 and 11 respectively. War in History 1996 3 (4) The number of ersonnel employed on railroad repair activities increased from 1300 on 11 Mar. to 12200 on 3 June. PRO, Kew, W0233/30, 'Report by SHAEF on the Effects of the OVERLORD Nov. 1944, p. 33.

7 Between Apr. and Aug. 1944 the Westheer received 11 254 trucks. Despite this influx, Hitler's insistence on overexpanding the Westheer saw its truck shortage increase from 7281 on 1 Aug. 1943 to 11 447 on 1 June 1944. 'Kraftfahrzeuge (ungepanzert) Heer: (Western)', 15 Aug. 1943 and 5 Sept. 1943, OKH Gen. Qu„ NARA T-78, 614, 000552, 000601; 'Kraftfahrzeuge (ungepanzert) Heer: Western', 5 Aug. 1944 and 5 Oct. 1944, OKH Gen. Qu„ NARA T-78, 726, 6076089, 6076170. Between 1 Apr. and 31 July 1944 the 6th Rail Engineer Regiment rebuilt 136 bridges, totalling 16824 metres, a rate of one bridge every day. Tkb. Juni 1944 Ia/Stopi Hg. B, NARA T-311, 28, 7034030; Pz.Gr.Kdo. West Ia/Stopi Meldung la Nr. 2809/44 geh., NARA T-311, 28, 7034003. Of the 10 rail bridges over the lower Seine, one was reopened in June but demolished again in early July, another reopened in early July but was destroyed again before the end of the month, and a further two reopened in late July.

8 During early May German fuel consumption increased to 450 000 litres per day. An 581 zu Ktb. Ob. West la Nr. 3898/44 geh. Kdos., v. 16/5/44, NARA T-311, 24, 7028565-7. The economy measures introduced on 3 June grounded all passenger cars with 2-litre engines or larger and cut fuel for training by 15%. 'Betreibstoff Einschränkung', Ob. West Ia/O.Qu. West/Qu. 1 Nr. 027921/44 g.Kdos., v. 3/6/1944, NARA T-311, 29, 7183272. German fuel stocks in the West increased fractionally, from 74.157 million litres on 1 Jan. 1944 to 81.1 million litres on 1 May 1944. Anlage 6 zu Ob. West/O.Qu. West/Qu. 1 Nr. 0700/44 g.Kdos., v. 12/2/44, NARA T 311, 14, 7014621-4; Anlage 6 zu Ob. West/O.Qu. West/Qu. 1/Betr. StofFNr. 02290/44 g.Kdos. v. 8/4/44, NARA T-311, 014, 7015022-3.

9 On the German logistic situation on the eve of D-Day, see Eckstein, 'Activities', pp. 14-20, and 'Mun. Bevorratung im Westen', GenStdH/Gen. U./Gr. Mun. I Az. 2359 Nr. 1/011 901/44 geh. Kdos., vom 25/5/44, NARA T-311, 24, 7028940. German mobile reserves on the eve of D-Day possessed between 3.5 and 5 fuel allotments (Verbrauchsatz, abbreviated VS). One VS provided fuel to travel 100 km and was reckoned sufficient for 2 days' combat.

10 Seventh Army supply return, 1 June 1944, NARA T-312, 1571, 000607. On 1 Jan. 1944 the 7th Army possessed 7450 000 litres of gasoline. This total had dropped to 4 663 000 litres by 18 June. 'Auszüge aus Versorgungs-Tagesmeldungen', Hg. B lb Nr. 0355/44 geh. d. 18/6/44, NARAT-311, 1, 7000704-5. Direct comparison of lift capacities of Allied and German trucks are complicated by two factors. First, the imperial ton is 1.6% larger than the metric ton. Second, unlike the Allies, who rated trucks according to their payload capacity, German classification was based on the weight of a loaded vehicle. Since a vehicle can carry roughly its own weight, the German rating system actually doubles the true lift capacity. Hence an Allied 1.5-ton truck had about the same lift capacity as a German 3-ton truck. Thus the true lift capacity of the 7th Army on D-Day was about 500 tons. 'Starke des Transportraumes für Verlastungszwecke', AOK 7 la Nr. 2702/44 g.Kdos., NARA T-311, 1, 7000677-8. The Allies did not seriously attack the Loire bridges prior to D-Day because the total isolation of Normandy would have identified it as the invasion site.

11 'Stärke des Transportraumes für Verlastungszwecke', AOK 7 la Nr. 2708/44 g.Kdos., NARA 311, 1, 1000677-8. The priority accorded to troop movements is evident by the discrepancy between supply and troop trains arriving in June. While only 41 supply trains arrived, no fewer than 157 troop trains arrived.

12 Up to 15 June, the 7th Army expended 5 000 tons of munitions but received only 3000 tons; see 'AuszUp to 15 June, the 7th Army expended 5 000 tons of munitions but received only 3000 tons; see 'Auszüge aus Versorgungs Tagesmeldungen', Hg. B lb Nr. 0355/44 geh., d. 18/6/1944, NARA T-311, 1, 7000704-5. On the destruction of depots, see O. Qu. West, 'Besonders der Ereignisse', 30 June 1944, NARA T-311, 14, 7014553. Incomplete returns for the 7th Army indicate that it lost 654000 litres of fuel, 2 308 tons of munitions, and 2225 tons of trucking capacity during June. Ausfall meldungen', O. Qu. AOK 7 Nr. 9654/44 geh., d. 30/6/44, NARA T-312, 1571, 000841. On the effectiveness of Allied interdiction efforts, see Ktb. O. Qu. West, d. 28/6/1944, NARA T-311, 14, 000550. ge aus Versorgungs Tagesmeldungen', Hg. B lb Nr. 0355/44 geh., d. 18/6/1944, NARA T-311, 1, 7000704-5. On the destruction of depots, see O. Qu. West, 'Besonders der Ereignisse', 30 June 1944, NARA T-311, 14, 7014553. Incomplete returns for the 7th Army indicate that it lost 654000 litres of fuel, 2 308 tons of munitions, and 2225 tons of trucking capacity during June. Ausfall meldungen', O. Qu. AOK 7 Nr. 9654/44 geh., d. 30/6/44, NARA T-312, 1571, 000841. On the effectiveness of Allied interdiction efforts, see Ktb. O. Qu. West, d. 28/6/1944, NARA T-311, 14, 000550.

13 O. Qu. West released 924000 gallons of fuel between 9 and 10 June. By 13 June his reserve stocks were down to a mere 7150 gallons. Tkb. Ib Hg. B, v. 10/6/1944, NARA T-311, 1, 000710, NARA T-311, 14, 7014537, and Ultra Intercept, KV8122, 15/6/1944, PRO, Kew, DEFE 3/172. Seventh Army supply statistics are recorded in NARA T-311, 15, 7015185. The Quartermaster General West only had 2 specialized fuel tanker columns at his disposal. For attacks on fuel depots, see NARA T-311, 14, 7014539, and Ob. West la Nr. 5676/44 geh., v. 23/6/44, NARA T-311, 14, 7029783. War in History 1996 3 (4)

14 On 25 and 27 June the Saumur and Chalonnes (La Possonnière) bridges were also reopened. The following lateral lines were also temporarily reopened in late June: Le Mans—Sable—Sègre—Redon—Quimper and Nantes—Rennes—Dol (23 June); Saumur—Chateau du Loir—Le Mans and Nantes—Angers—Le Mans (28 June). Two-thirds of the troop trains routed to Normandy across the Loire in June were forced to disembark south of the river. 'Seit Beginn der Invasion wurde folgende Wehrmacht—Transporte in Frankreich—Belgien—Holland gefahren', General des Transportwesens West Abt. Ib, n.d., 'Zusammenstellung der Ausladungen der Reichs— u. Basis—züge im Juni 1944', n.d., 'Ausladungen der Einzelnachschubsendungen innerhalb der besetzten West—gebiete', n.d., NARA T-78, 611, 000088, 000089, and 000092; Chef Trspw./vorgesch. Staffel, untided bridge report, 23/6/1944, General des Eisenbahntruppen, NARA T 78, 613, 000340-1; 'Zusammenstellung der in der Zeit vom 1/4-30/6/44 im Armeebereich durchgeführten bewegungen', AOK 7 BVTO, NARA T-312, 1571, 000983; 'Eisenbahn-nachschubtransporte', O. Qu. West/Qu.l/NTBr.B.Nr. 03039/44, g.Kdos., v. 22/6, 23/6., 27/6/1944, NARA T-312, 1571, 000766, 000787, 000834.

15 'Auszüge aus Versorgungs-Tagesmeldungen', Ib Hg. B Nr. 0355/44 geh., NARA T 311, 1, 7000704. Heeresgruppe B reported its total losses for June as 1 866 trucks, 33 omnibuses, 103 prime movers, and 2 198 other motor vehicles, a daily average of 75 trucks lost. 'Zusammenstellung der Totalausfälle an Kfz. in der Zeit vom 6/6 30/6/44', Obkdo. d. Heeresgr. B, Anlage 1 zu Tgb. Nr. 11287/44 geh., d. 29/7/1944, NARA T-311, 1, 7000828.

16 For fuel destruction statistics, see Tagesmeldung O. Qu. West v. 1/7/1944, NARA T 311,15,7015271.

17 The 7th Army first reported a 'slight improvement' ('Geringe verbesserung') in its logistic situation on 18 June due to the reopening of the two rail lines, KTB O. Qu. West, 18/6/1944, NARA T-311, 14, 000543.

18Allied estimates were that each German supply train had the equivalent load capacity of 180 trucks. PRO, Kew, CAB44/243, Lt-Col. A.E. Warhurst, 'OVERLORD: D-Day, 6 June 1944', p. 26. The first German supply train entered Normandy on 14 June and the Germans averaged 2.4 trains a day for the rest of June and 2.7 a day in July. General des Transportwesens West lb, 'seit Beginn der Invasion wurde folgende Wehrmacht—Transporte in Frankreich—Belgien—Holland gefahren', n.d., NARA T-78, 611,000088.

19 The 846th and 850th heavy bridging columns moved to the Seine to construct and operate ferries, and were joined after 13 June by the ferry company of the 86th Amphibious Engineer Battalion. By 23 July the number of ferries operating had increased to 26, with a lift capacity of 603 tons. Between 1 and 10 July an average of 433 tons were delivered daily. In the week 8—14 July, Seine ferrying accounted for 16% and 19% respectively of total munitions and fuel delivered to Normandy. By 1 Aug. Allied aerial reconnaissance had identified 104 vessels operating on the lower Seine. 'Fähren u. übersetzmittel Lagekarte', A.Pi.Füh. 15 Br.B.Nr. 16/44 geh., v. 28/2/44, NARA T-312, 519, 8118913; Ktb. des Ia/Stopi, Ob. West, Mai-Juni 1944, NARA T-311, 28, 7033993 ff.; -Flüßübergange u. d. Seine: Stand 23/7/1944', Anl. zu A.Pi.Füh. 15 Br.B.Nr. 2950/44 g. vom 24/7/1944, NARA T-313, 421, 8714680; 'Seine schifffahrt Stand: 10/7/44', Tkb. d. Ktb. Qu. Abt. Ib, Anl. zu KTB O.Qu.West, Juli 44, NARA T-311, 15.

20 In June 1445900 gallons of fuel were delivered to the West by canal; see 'Wehr machttransporte auf Binnenwasserstrassen', Tätigkeitsbericht des General des Transportwesens West, T-78, 611, 000092.

21 In the week of 8-14 July, 26% of total deliveries of fuel and munitions arrived by rail, 28% by water, and 46% by road. Ob. West, 'Versorgungsberichten Stand: 10/6 27/7/1944', AOK 7 O. Qu., NARA T-311, 15, 7015166-472. This near-complete set of daily supply reports compiled for the Quartermaster General West list all the supply convoys and most of the supply trains dispatched to Normandy along with departure points, destinations, and anticipated dates of arrival. They thus provide an accurate picture of the German resupply effort.

22 The Saumur and Tours Cinq Mars rail bridges were destroyed anew some time in early July and a similar fate befell the Nantes rail bridge on 20 July, by which date Chalonnes was again down. Thus on the eve of Cobra only the single-track Port Boulet rail bridge remained open over the Loire. The Allies never attacked this bridge because it was a tertiary route of limited capacity. PRO, Kew, DEFE 3/62, Ultra Intercept XL 3649, 27/7/1944. On the destruction of Tours and its logistical importance see Hg. B lb Br.B.Nr. 0908/44 geh., d. 15/7/1944, NARA T-311. 1, 0000804. The renewed destruction of the Loire rail bridges, especially the Tours St Cyr bridge, was fortuitous in the sense that it was part of the ongoing interdiction campaign and unconnected to the then embryonic Cobra plan.

23 Between 8 and 14 July 48% and 43%, respectively, of the 7th Army's munitions and fuel arrived by rail and water. After the destruction of Tours, all of its supplies arrived by road. The proportion of total fuel deliveries by road that the 7th Army was forced to collect itself increased from 51% between 17 and 21 July to 86% between 16 and 22 July. Ob. West, 'Versorgungsberichten Stand: 10/6-27/7/1944', AOK 7 O. Qu., NARA T-311, 15, 7015166-472.

24 Ob. West, 'Versorgungsberichten Stand: 10/6-27/7/1944', AOK 7 O. Qu., NARA T 311, 15, 7015166-472.

25 Between 17 and 21 July a daily average of 85 250 gallons was dispatched to the 7th Army; between 22 and 26 July this figure dropped to 62 500 gallons. Ob. West, 'Versorgungsberichten Stand: 10/6-27/7/1944', AOK 7 O. Qu., NARA T-311, 15, 7015166-472.

26On the closure of Mina and Brehmse, see PRO, Kew, DEFE 3/62, Ultra Intercept XL 3573, 26/7/1944. Kampfgruppe Kentner, munitions return, G2 Periodic Reports, First U.S. Army, No. 51, 31/7/1944, Annex 1, Washington National Record Center, Suitland, MD, (hereafter WRNC), Record Group 401, 101-20. 88 mm antitank rounds declined from 146 to 54 per gun between 10 and 25 July; see LXXXIV Army Corps Weapons Returns, 10/7, 25/7/1944, PRO, Kew, DEFE 3/55, Ultra Intercept XL 1897, 13.7.1944, and DEFE 3/62, Ultra Intercept XL 3709, 27/7/1944. Kampfgruppe Kuske, 'Tagesmeldung', 23/3/1944, NARA T-354, 156, 3800792. The batde group's holdings amounted to about 30% of a standard German munitions allotment, which was consumed on average in 5-6 days in Normandy. 'Grosse Munitions Ausstatung (Heer)', Anl. 2 zu Ob. West/O.Qu. West/Qu.l Nr. 0700/44 G.Kdos., v. 12/2/1944, NARA T-311, 14, 70104599.

27 At Cobra the Americans outnumbered the Germans by only 2 to 1. During Bluecoat (30 July), Totalize (8 Aug.), and Tractable (14 Aug.), the Anglo-Canadian numerical superiority exceeded 3 to 1.

28 German depletion of their Flak 88 munitions is identified in PRO, Kew, DEFE 3/62, Ultra Intercept, XL 3568, 26/7/1944. The munitions situation is discussed in USAHD FMS A-968, Genltnt. Otto Elfeldt, 'LXXXIV Corps, 28 July-20 August, 1944' (Germany, 1946), p. 11.

29 The XXX British Corps identified German resumption of daylight resupply missions on 29 July; see PRO WO 171/310, XII Corps, G. Branch (Ops.), 'Intel. Notes, 29/7/1944', War Diary, July 1944, Appendix H. For the 5th Panzer Army's assumption of all supply operations for German forces in Normandy, see Tätigkeitsbericht, Qu. LVIII Pz. Korps, 13/8/44, NARA T-311, 497, 000271. From 15 Aug. lack of fuel stranded many German units. Abend-meldung', Abt. Ila Ob. West, v. 15/8/1944, NARA T-311, 29, 7035569.