"Railroaders Always" Sheet Music

Railroaders Always

Words by Capt. Robert B. Rivers, U.S. Army
Music and arrangement by Sgt. Joe Tomaselli (Joe Elly), U.S. Army

Once we ran the Santa Fe and good old B&O
But now we're laying tracks to Rome, Berlin and Tokio
Along that Army route we'll knock the Axis out
And when we roll up to the front you'll know us by our shout

We're railroaders always
We've got the stuff it takes to do the trick
Railroaders always
We've got a job to do and do it quick
Along the rail we blaze a trail with steam and steel and sweat
We tote your food and feed your guns but buddy don't forget
We're railroading soldiers, ready to "ball the jack" or FIGHT!
From Maine to California and from every whistle stop
From engine and the doghouse and from shanty and the shop
We've come to see it through beneath our colors true
We're soldiers of the U.S.A. who'll fight and work with you

We're railroaders always
We've got the stuff it takes to do the trick
Railroaders always
We've got a job to do and do it quick
Along the rail we blaze a trail with steam and steel and sweat
We tote your food and feed your guns but buddy don't forget
We're railroading soldiers, ready to "ball the jack" or FIGHT!

Ready to serve the nation

Music dedicated to the Military Railway Service

Published: November 12, 2001

Here's a variation on a familiar World War II theme, the diverse geographical backgrounds of men serving together in the armed forces. It comes to us in the form of some faded sheet music dedicated to the Military Railway Service. The rousing anthem "Railroaders Always" is of interest in its own right, but the cover of this particular copy is something special.

It belonged to John R. Crosby, a fireman on PRR's Fort Wayne Division before (and after) he was a member of the 717th Railway Operating Battalion, stationed in Ashchurch, England. Crosby had some two dozen of his fellow soldier-railroaders sign his copy; in doing so, the men also put down their hometowns, plus the railroads they had worked for. READ ON

Troop Train Video 1943


Troop Train was a 1943 short propaganda film produced by the Office of War Information. While the film's assumed purpose would be to educate the American public about the role of railroad transportation of military divisions, Troop Train takes a more stylistic approach, with absolutely no narration and little dialogue. The director uses images to tell the story. Footage of rows of war material, troops marching and locomotives are cleverly edited to create a montage propaganda film, something of a rarity in the United States. The film is also notable for its depiction of service men's life on the long trips across the country to unknown ports, and to unknown fronts in the war.

Happy Veteran's Day

712th TROB by Dave Kaufman

712th TROB

Veteran's History Project, a Project of the Library of Congress

We celebrate Veteran's Day on November 11 each year – in commemoration of all veteran service, but especially for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the armistice or peace was declared at the end of World War I.

And in recognition of this, in the year 2000, Congress passed Public Law 106-308, creating the Veteran's History Project (VHP), part of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress (LOC). The project
“collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”

So this Veteran's Day, become involved with the VHP. Help by filming a first-hand account of a war memory. And if you are the beneficiary of a deceased veteran's diary, letters, photographs or home movies, think about donating items or transcriptions to the project.
Memorabilia from any of the following conflicts are accepted:
• World War I (1914-1920)
• World War II (1939-1946)
• Korean War (1950-1955)
• Vietnam War (1961-1975)
• Persian Gulf War (1990-1995)
• Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present)
All interviews are conducted by volunteers, such as ourselves. And once submitted they are archived by LOC.
To view the catalog of completed projects, follow the “SEARCH THE VETERANS COLLECTIONS” link. Many have been digitized and added to the website. Enter any number of criteria, from the veteran's name to the conflict or era.

The “HOW TO PARTICIPATE” section defines five easy steps:
1. Register online
2. Print the Project Field Kit
3. Prepare for the interview
4. Conduct the interview
5. Send the collection to the Library of Congress, keeping a copy for yourself

The Field Kit contains required forms and a printable brochure.
• Biographical Data Form
• Veterans Release Form
• Interviewer's Release Form
• Media and Formats Standards
• Audio and Video Recording Log
• Photograph Log
• Manuscript Data Sheet
The Frequently Asked Questions contain tips applicable to any oral history project. (Keep these tips in mind as you prepare to see family over the next coming months.) Some excerpts include:
• It is important to prepare for an interview.
• Prepare written questions ahead of time, and conduct a pre-interview, if possible.
• Use the highest-quality video or audio recorder available. Digital and Hi-8 video recordings are preferred. (Extended time speeds and microcassettes are not accepted).
• Be familiar with and test recording equipment before beginning.
• Mount cameras on tripods and position a few feet from the interviewee. Focus on the face, upper body and hands, and avoid the zoom feature.
• For audio interviews, use an external microphone positioned 9-inches from the interviewee.
• Use a microphone stand, and be sure the tape has started recording before you start speaking.
• Interview in a quiet, well-lit room and avoid fluorescent lights and extraneous noises, such as clocks, heating / cooling systems, phones, televisions and conversations.
• Be sure all questions and answers are recorded.
• At the beginning, state the date and place of the interview.
• State the name of the person being interviewed, his/her birth date and names of persons assisting.
• Identify the war, branch of service, rank and where the veteran served. For civilians, record what type of work was performed.
For example: Today is Friday, June 7, 2003 and we are interviewing John Smith at his home. Mr. Smith is 78 years old, having been born on November 23, 1923. My name is Jane Doe and I'll be the interviewer. John Smith is my uncle. He is my mother's brother. Uncle John, could you state for the recording what war and branch of service you served in? [pause for answer] What was your rank? [pause for answer] Where did you serve? [pause for answer]
• Keep questions short, and avoid complicated, multipart questions.
• Ask “how, when and why” questions, rather than ones answered by a simple “yes or no”.
• Don't begin with questions about painful or controversial topics.
• Be patient and give the veteran time to reflect before going to a new question.
• Consider asking to see photographs, commendations and personal letters as a way to enhance the interview. Such documents encourage memories and provoke interesting stories.
• Use follow-up questions to elicit more details. Examples include: When did that happen? Did that happen to you? What did you think about that? What are the steps in doing that?
• Keep the tape recorder or video camera running throughout the interview, unless you are asked to turn it off. And never record secretly.
Finally, remember this is the veteran's story, and not your own. Make it all about him or her, and avoid interjecting your own experiences.
For more information on Veteran's Day located at RootsWeb, please see Julie's Genealogy – Veteran's Day.

From Using RootsWeb By Mary Harrell-Sesniak

“Genealogy is not just a pastime; it's a passion.”
Genealogy Tip byBy Joan Young
Military Databases on RootsWeb and Beyond
For family history researchers, November 11th, whether it’s titled Veteran's Day, Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, offers an incentive to learn and to share information about family members with military service.
Worldwide: http://www.cyndislist.com/milres.htm
USA: http://www.cyndislist.com/military.htm

Did you know that volunteers have submitted military data to RootsWeb's User-Contributed Databases? You can find a list of the military databases and the submitters here.
The military databases found in RootsWeb's User-Contributed Databases include complete or partial listings of battalion units, bombardiers, ship crews, Army nurses, draft and enlistment records, radar training groups, radio operators and much more. The list of records submitted by volunteers is extensive.
Often the databases are the result of personal research. Once the information is gathered, generous volunteers have decided to share what they have found. Many genealogists send away for records in the course of their research and create a database from the information they have received. Researchers may have undertaken a project to gather information about the crew who served on a specific ship in wartime, or the members of a battalion. Either way, the end result can provide a goldmine of information when submitted for free access and searching at RootsWeb.
You can search all of the military databases in RootsWeb's User-Contributed Databases here.
Or perhaps you have collected military information you would like to share. If you have more than a single document or record listing either partial or complete military data, consider submitting it to the RootsWeb User-Contributed Databases here.
As an alternative, if you have a single document for a family member, you may wish to post it on an appropriate RootsWeb message board selecting the Military classification when posting.
You may consider posting military data on a surname board, or use an appropriate board found among the Military Topic boards.
Sharing military data is a fitting tribute and remembrance for those who have so selflessly served their country.

720th Railway Operating Battalion Co C, Klemp, Robert W."Bub

Klemp, Robert W."Bub"03-23-192305-22-20051, 112, 5--WW II, 720th Railway Operating Battalion Co C, s/o Julius & Myrna Groth Klemp

Oakgrove Cemetery Portage, Wisconsin

Cty Rd O off State road 16 on the West side of Portage Tombstone transcription 2001

720th Railway Operating Battalion John Redmond Kingman Jr


9/25/08 11:14 pm

SMYRNA - John Redmond Kingman Jr., 86, died Sept. 11, 2006, in Caribou. He was born April 20, 1920, in East Bridgewater, Mass., the son of John Redmond and Ina Mae (Severance) Kingman Sr. John was a veteran of World War II, serving in the 720th Railway Operating Battalion in Normandy and northern France. He was discharged Nov. 6, 1945. He is survived by his son, Dennis Bruce Kingman Sr. of Burlington; two daughters, Leona Lee Pasquini of Holyoke, Mass., and Jean Francis Donahue of Hingham, Mass.; 10 grandchildren, 30 great-grand-children, one great-great-grandchild; one sister, Katherine F. Taylor of Seminole, Fla.; several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; first wife, Barbara Bennett Burgess; second wife, Mary Dewey; one son, James Redmond Kingman; grandchildren, Mary Anne and Karen Donahue; brother, William L. Kingman; and sisters, Mary K. Johnson, Ina Mae Leleux and Phyllis Hartman. A graveside service will be held at St. James Cemetery, Whitman, Mass. Arrangements by Bowers Funeral Home, Houlton.

720th 744th Railway Operating Battalions-World War II: the Homefront

Archive 17 1 Ww2 by Nancy

728th Joseph W. O'Connor

These wonderful photo montages are from the website of Emmanuel Delaville, a serious researcher of WWII veterans and the history of their service. His work is excellent and can be viewed at:

712th Woodrow Boice

These wonderful photo montages are from the website of Emmanuel Delaville, a serious researcher of WWII veterans and the history of their service. His work is excellent and can be viewed at:

Army Rail car photo

720th Railway Operating Battalion photo

Emmanuel Delaville from Normandy, France emailed me about this photo if you have any information on this unit or this photo please email !

May you could help me:

I have attached one picture about men of the 720th Railway Operating Battalion who was taken on August 5, 1944 in the railway station of Lison in Normandy.
I have found this legend with the picture but it seems there is some errors ( Soldiers Ranks, number of soldiers ).
May you have in your archives an other legend?

Date: 5 août 1944.

Dispatchers office du 720th Railroad Operating Battalion..

L to R : .

Cpl Arthur Swisher, Corning, O.; .

M/Sgt John Verneiren, Springfield, Mans.;.

T/Sgt Archie Kidd, Nighgrove, Cal.;.

Sepper Buck, Ely Cambs, England; . ??

Sgt Melvin R. Holmberg, Minneapolis, Minn.; .

Sgt Warren E. Roberts, Minneapolis, Minn.; .

Lt George H. Shavel, Chicago, Ill.;.

T/Sgt John H. Toler, Pesch Orchard, Ark.;.

S/Sgt Ronald P. Stockman, Speener, Wisconsin. .

757th Railway Shop Battalion Unit photo

Thanks so much to Bruce Brill for this great photo!!!
You can click to enlarge and print

703rd Railway Headquarters photos

Frank F. Couch Obit

Frank Fcouch Obit

712th Pressey

Joppa Man With

744th Railway Operating Battalion Unit History

744th History

3rd TMRS James Terry

3rd Terry by Nancy

Railroading is People : Pennsylvania Railroad ad

1944 PRR Railroad Train WWII USO Army Lounge

761st Railway Transportation Company



Military Railway Service MP Units


765th Letter

765thletter by Nancy

sent by daughter Val Green

750th Railway Operating Battalion Historical Documents

750_PartI by Nancy

750_PartII by Nancy

733rd Railway Operating Battalion Historical Documents


720th Railway Operating Battalion Historical Documents


718th Railway Operating Battalion Historical Documents

718THROBCOMPLETE1-20rs by Nancy

718THROBCOMPLETE21-40rs by Nancy

718THROBCOMPLETE41-60rs by Nancy

718THROBCOMPLETE61-85rs by Nancy

Thanks Bob Hill

717th Railway Operating Battalion

Thanks to Bob Hill

717THROBCOMPLTEPG1-25rs by Nancy

717THROBCOMPLTE26-43rs by Nancy

713th Railway Operating Battalion- Battalion History


712th Railway Operating Battalion: Historical reports and records from War Department files

The first of some amazing new documents on various ROB ( Railway Operating Battalions) sent to me by Bill Hill from the 723rd Association. Thanks so much , Bill!


Locomotive WWI and WWII France

Type I. Wire photo. Measures 8x10. Has a stamp on the back. American boys in France have found an engine which was brought over to France in 1917 and is still in use, they have made minor repairs and are using the engine again. France, July 13 1944. This is part of a collection from a former employee of the UPI in Tribune Towers

744th Railway Operating Battalion, memories from World War II

The 744th Railway Operating Battalion, memories from World War II

Author: Louise Greenfield

Publisher: Livonia, Mich. : [s.n.], ©1985.

Edition/Format: Book : EnglishDocument Type: Book

All Authors / Contributors: Louise Greenfield

Find more information about:

OCLC Number: 13102383

Description: 91 p., [5] leaves of plates : ill., maps ; 29 cm.

Other Titles: Memories from World War II., Seven Forty-fourth Railway Operating Battalion.

Responsibility: Louise Greenfield.

1. US Army Ft Eustis Post Library
FT EUSTIS, VA 23604 United States

2. US Army, Mil Hist Institute

US Army Heritage & Education Center

CARLISLE, PA 17013 United States

714th Railway Operating Battalion.

714th Railway Operating Battalion.

Document Type: Book

All Authors / Contributors: United States. Army. 714th Railway Operating Battalion.

OCLC Number: 35265615

Notes: Written at Fort Eustis where the battalion was located.--cf. 4th leaf. Includes roster.

Description: 1 v. illus. 28 cm.

Author: United States. Army. 714th Railway Operating Battalion.

Publisher: [San Angelo, 1945?]* World War, 1939-1945 -- Regimental histories -- United States -- 714th Railway Operating Battalion.

* World War, 1939-1945 -- Transportation -- Alaska.

1. New York Public Library
NEW YORK, NY 10018 United States

2. Bangor Public Library
BANGOR, ME 04401 United States

746th Railway Operating Battalion, 1944-1946.

746th Railway Operating Battalion, 1944-1946.

Publisher: [S.l. : s.n., 1984?]

Edition/Format: Book : EnglishDocument Type: Book

OCLC Number: 13907623

Notes: Cover title. "Roster of enlisted men moving overseas with the battalion": leaves 39-50. "Roster of original officers and home addresses": leaves 51-53.

Description: 53, [1] leaves : ill., maps, ports.
US Army, Field Artillery School
FT SILL, OK 73503 United States
2. US Army Ft Eustis Post Library
FT EUSTIS, VA 23604 United States
3. US Army, Mil Hist Institute
US Army Heritage & Education Center
CARLISLE, PA 17013 United States

740th Railway Operating Battalion

740th Railway Operating Battalion

Author: John Livingstone

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Carlton Press, ©1981.

Edition/Format: Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Material Type: Biography

Document Type: Book

All Authors / Contributors: John Livingstone

Find more information about:

OCLC Number: 8333189

Notes: "A Hearthstone Book."

Description: 271 p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 22 cm.

Responsibility: John Livingstone.
Many holdings here

729th The Soxos : 729th Railway Operating Battalion : two and one half years in Europe, 1943-1945

The Soxos : 729th Railway Operating Battalion : two and one half years in Europe, 1943-1945

Author: J A Vargas; United States. Army. Railroad Operating Battalion, 729th.

Publisher: [S.l. : s.n., 2008?]

Edition/Format: Book : National government publication : English : Double anniversary ed
Document Type: Book

All Authors / Contributors: J A Vargas; United States. Army. Railroad Operating Battalion, 729th.

Find more information about:

OCLC Number: 317716908

Notes: Cover title. Reprint. Originally published: Maastricht, Holland : 729th Railway Operating Battalion, Public Relations Section, 1945. Includes unit rosters. Prepared under the auspices of the 729th Railroad Operating Battalion?

Description: 51 p ; 28 cm.

Contents: Overseas chronological history, 2 years overseas --

Message from commanding officer, Lt. Col. W. C. Smith --

Headquarters Company report --

Headquarters Company roster --

Company A report --

Company A roster --

Company B report --

Company B roster --

Company C report --

Company C roster --

The Medical Detachment --

The chaplain's activities --

729th rolling photo lab --

Special service --

Club Soxo --

Athletic program --

Officers' report --

Soxo service --

Championship golf --

Medals and decorations --

Buzz bombs and rockets in Antwerp --

Battle stars --

OCS news --

Brig. Gen Carl E. Gay's letter [regarding] this report --

Col. L. R. Sexton's letter of commendation.

Other Titles: Seven Hundred Twenty-Ninth Railway Operating Battalion : 2-1/2 years in Europe, 1943-1945

Responsibility: [J. A. Vargas ... et. al].
US Army, Mil Hist Institute

US Army Heritage & Education Center

CARLISLE, PA 17013 United States

759th Railway Operating Battalion Veterans. book

Document Type: Book

All Authors / Contributors: 759th Railway Operating Battalion Veterans.

OCLC Number: 22968061

Notes: Cover title. May be attributed to the 759th Railway Operating Battalion Veterans?

Description: 20, 10 p., [49] p. of plates : ill. ; 28 cm.
copy held
US Army, Mil Hist Institute

US Army Heritage & Education Center
CARLISLE, PA 17013 United States

727th Fort Eustis honors little-known WWII service

The infantry grabbed headlines in World War II. So did tank crews, pilots and sailors. But it took more than that to win the war.
Last week at Fort Eustis, the Army paid homage to two units that didn’t get a lot of attention, but whose members risked their lives to help win the war.
Meet the 727th Railway Operating Battalion and the Small Ships Section, both honored during the U.S. Army Transportation Conference held at Fort Eustis.
Representing the 727th at the conference was Allen Metzger, a native of Altoona, Pa. and an apprentice for the Pennsylvania Railroad when war broke out. He served throughout North Africa and Europe as one of 43,500 soldier railroaders.
Metzger was a machinist who inspected incoming locomotives, made out work orders on what needed fixing, got people to fix it and inspected the work afterwards. Sounds routine.
But railroaders didn’t have it easy in WWII. Germans were always looking to knock out supply lines, and he had to dodge strafing from an enemy fighter, potshots from a sniper and had one particularly nasty encounter with a bomb.
During a German bombing run, he was working in a pit underneath a locomotive when he felt the shock wave of a blast.
“It picked me up and threw me to the end of the pit, and hit me up against the wall,” he recalled. “In a pit, there’s a lot of water and grease and dirt. I was a mess.”
What happened then? He got cleaned up and went back to work.
“A bombing doesn’t last very long,” he joked.

The Small Ships Section was another little-known transportation service. It made its mark early in the Pacific Theater, when the Japanese were.
It started by conducting amphibious landings and supporting resupply and operational maneuvers during the New Guinea Campaign.
But here’s the thing: These “ships” were whatever was at hand. Motorboats. Tugboats. Sailboats.
Ernest Flint, a native of Australia, enlisted in the ship service when he was 17 years old. Today, he’s president of the U.S. Small Ships Association.
His first boat was a 40-foot wooden tug.
“I always had visions of walking up a gangway. I didn’t,” he said. “I climbed down a ladder.”
The ships ferried supplies to Allied troops and took out the wounded and the dead. During the day, they hid from Japanese aircraft, resting in small inlets and covering their boats with branches or other camouflage.
The inception of the Ship Service was traced to two brothers who had been part of two famous South Seas exploration expeditions in 1934 and 1940. It convinced them that small watercraft were needed for the war in the Pacific.
In December 1941, they recruited members from their own old crew for the duty. One member still survives: Philip Farley, a yachtsman from New York, who attended last week’s conference.
“For a year and a half, we were up and down the coast of New Guinea,” he said.
The civilian ships were armed with 50-caliber machine guns, but that was it. And if you served with Farley, you knew how to stay loose.
“I also was the one who made the best booze for everybody,” he joked.


WK&S Railroad decided to operate thier rare 70-ton Witcombe switcher #602.

On Memorial Day Weekend, the WK&S Railroad decided to operate thier rare 70-ton Witcombe switcher #602.

It was built as part of an order for 99 similar locomotives for the US Army Transportation Corps in 1944. These locomotives were numbered in the 8400-8498 series, bearing Whitcomb serial numbers 60406-60504. They were classified by Whitcomb as 65-DE-19a, the 65 standing for the gross weight in tons, the DE standing for diesel electric drive, and the 19a believed to bear a relationship concerning the production run number from the first run of that particular model. The Army specifications called for a locomotive to be able to run on any european main line, have a top speed of at least 45 mph, and must be capable of operating in multiple unit with similar locomotives.

It was constructed with serial number 60473and bore the number USATC #8467. While no definite information has surfaced, it is believed that #602 was shipped to France or Belgium for use during the war. These locomotives were shipped overseas in three large crates, one each for each assembled truck and one large crate containing the locomotive frame and carbody, totally assembled. From information in a Whitcomb locomotive manual, apparently the locomotives were equipped with standard AAR couplers for shipment to the Port of Embarkation, removed prior to shipment and european couplers applied upon delivery in Europe.

The locomotives served the military well during World War II. Whitcomb received an Army-Navy E Award in January, 1944, for outstanding production of these military locomotives. These locomotives were used to pull the first train into the city of Rome after it was taken from the Germans. They pulled the first train across the Rhine River after the Corp of Engineers rebuilt a bombed out bridge. Whitcomb 65 tonners pulled the first train into Paris after it was liberated by the Allies and pulled the first supply trains and hospital trains into Belgium after that country was taken back by the Allies. While they were cantankerous and somewhat a maintenance headache, particularly the Buda diesel engines, they ran and often ran well.

After VE day in 1945, the USATC decided that many of these Whitcombs were worth rehabilitating and being shipped to the Far East to fight in the war against Japan. 118 of these locomotives were shipped back to the US. By the time the locomotives arrived in the US, the hostilities ended in Japan. They arrived at Hawkins Point, near Baltimore, MD, and were stored pending disposition. With the war over, the US government disposed of these locomotives beginning in 1947. Most of the locomotives were sold through brokers to industrial operations or shortlines. The only modification that occurred to these locomotives was the removal of the european couplers and the installation of bolt-on AAR coupler pockets and couplers. Whitcomb, however, repurchased some of the locomotives. These locomotives were rebuilt and reclassified to 70-DE-26. These rebuilt locomotives now weighed 70 tons and were equipped with wider cabs, side walkway extensions, side handrails, a larger oil reservoir, and spring-equipped draft gear couplers. Most of the rebuilds also had their MU gear removed.

Upon return to the US, #602 was repurchased by Whitcomb and rebuilt to a 70 ton configuration. Gulf Oil Corp. purchased two of these locomotives around 1950 for use at its Port Arthur, Texas refinery. They were numbered 7 and 8. Sometime around 1960, #7 was shipped to Philadelphia, PA to replace a smaller locomotive. It was used to move salt and catalyst cars along Pennypacker Avenue and the package departments black oil rack. In 1979, #8 was shipped to Philadelphia. This was done because parts were becoming scarce, and hence expensive, for Whitcomb locomotives. #8 would be used as a parts engine and never operated in Philadelphia. In 1983, #7 was out of service for an extended period of time and Gulf rented another locomotive. Finally, in 1984, Gulf purchased a Trackmobile and retired #7 permanently. Both locomotives were subsequently donated to the Cornell Railway Historical Society of Cornell, NY, for preservation. Unfortunately, the cost of moving both engines was well beyond the means of the Society and they were offered to the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society, due to the L&NE/Whitcomb connection. In 1987, the WK&S was approached about the possibility of leasing #7. #8 would be scrapped in place as it was partially disassembled. Any salvageable parts from #8 could be removed before scrapping. It was agreed to paint the locomotive in an L&NE paint scheme and renumber the locomotive 602. It was moved to Kempton in the fall of 1988 and rehabilitated for operation in 1989.

Alco MRS-1 Locomotive B-2044 Prior To Destruction

Requesting US Army WWII Operations Reports

Brozyna has a great article on doing research.

Requesting US Army WWII Operations Reports

Are you researching your you father's (or grandfather's) WWII service? Well, if you're lucky he served in a famous unit like the 101st Airborne, Patton's 3rd Army, or the 90th Infantry Division. There are many trade books published on these front-line troops, so all you need to do is go to the bookstore to learn more. Some have an official unit history published by the Army. You can search for these at the US Army Military History Institute website.

If you are studying a lesser-known unit, then you'll need to do make a bit more effort. The US National Archives is a great resource. This institution holds historical data / operations reports for Army units in WWII (see my post on WWII Air Force unit records). These reports were internal documents written to educate war planners. After the war ended many were declassified, and are now made available to the public. You can visit the College Park, MD archives in person, or submit a request for photocopies.

The records for my grandfather's 519th Port Bn. included an 8 page history of the unit written in paragraph form, a 2 page time line listing where & when they were, a few issues of a unit newsletter, and about 50 pages of monthly reports from their time in Antwerp. This is all valuable primary information written at the time, or shortly after. Recently, I made another request for 1st Engineer Special Brigade documents. You can use this as an example to follow if you would like to order documents for your own research.

Step 1: Determine the unit

I was fortunate in that my grandfather told me the name of his unit, and he gave me a copy of his discharge papers. If you not sure what unit your dad served in, then you too will want to find his discharge papers. A family member might have them somewhere, sometimes veterans filed copies with the local Veterans Affairs office. You can also request copies from the National Archives website here. An Army unit will appear with the soldier's name. Sometimes a GI was transferred to a different unit other than the one he served with for most of the war. Only the most recent unit was listed on the discharge papers, so it's a good idea to try to find another document or personal account to confirm the. If a soldier died, the next of kin was sent a Individual Personal Death file, which also listed the unit.

Step 2: Email request

Email the National Archives your request for the historical data report or operations report for your chosen unit: You may also mail a written request to: National Archives and Records Administration, Textual Archives Services Division, 8601 Adelphi Rd, College Park, MD 20740-6001 USA.

Provide as much information on the unit hierarchy as possible. So, if you want info on your dad's company, also provide the parent battalion, regiment, division, etc. The Archives prefers to communicate through the US mail, so make sure to include your mailing address. Here is my email I sent on January 11, 2010:

National Archives,

I would like photocopies of the historical reports for two different Army units from WWII:

1. The 1st Engineer Special Brigade, part of the US Army Transportation Corp.

I need only their records from June to November 1944 at Utah Beach, Normandy, France.

2. The 13th Major Port Group, part of US Army Transportation Corp.

October 1944 to January 1946 at the port of Antwerp, Belgium.

Thank You,


Mailing Address

Step 3: Response letter

The Archives will send you a response letter in the mail. In my case, there were numerous possible files, so they wanted me to refine my request. On February 22, 2010 they mailed me a letter which included a list of 40 different file categories corresponding to the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. There were operations plans, orders, monthly reports, histories, even a telephone directory. I was only interested in the unit's time in Normandy, so I requested that single file. The 13th Major Port had only one file. I hand-wrote these two file names/numbers on a piece of paper and mailed back a request for those photocopies on February 26th.

Step 4: Order form

On March 6, 2010 I received a second letter from the Archives. There was a reproduction order form filled out for the 1st ESB records. It explained that there were 75 pages available, it cost $0.75 per page, coming to a total of $56.25. I filled in my credit card info, and faxed it the same day.

As for the other unit the Archives wrote, "The 13th Major Port has several boxes of records. Each box contains approximately 1,000 pages of documents." Obviously, I wasn't going to pay to have them copy 1,000s and 1,000s of pages. If I lived nearby I would visit and go through these boxes myself, but I had to give up on this unit. There wasn't anything specific I needed to find out, I was just curious what the 13th papers might say about their work in Antwerp.

Step 5: Receive records

Last Friday, March 27, 2010 I received a package from UPS. It contained the stack of papers seen in the above photo. There is a list of units that served under the 1st ESB, discussions of the work on the beach, equipment used, challenges, recommendations for future amphibious landings, records of ships unloaded, maps detailing Utah Beach supply dumps, and more. I haven't read through it all yet, but I have already found lots of useful info for my book.

As you can see, this can be a months' long process. The reproduction fee is more than one would pay for a new history book, but the details found in these reports are really worth the price. There was no book about my grandfather's battalion (that will change soon) or the 1st ESB, so I really appreciated the information made available through the National Archives.

Military Service Records and Unit histories: A Guide to Locating Sources

Military Service Records and Unit histories: A Guide to Locating Sources

752nd Railway Operating DeMarsh photos

752nd Special Orders of American - German Relations

Thanks to Ken DeMarsh


Army Railway Unit Information needed !

This blog is a good as we make it and I sure thinik the guys deserve to be remembered !

If you have an Army Railroader in your life ( husband, father, grandfather) and you have any momentos, documents or photos from his service you'd be willing to share -please email me:  Nancy cunningb@flash.net

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent such great stuff! Keep it comin'

Railway Grand Divisions

Railway Grand Divisions

Railroads WWII ETO

Railroads WWII ETO

743rd First Reunion

743rd First Reunion by cunningb

US ARMY RS4TC # 1258

712th TROB patch

3rd Unit Boosts

765th Rugged Railroaders

765th Rugged Railroaders by cunningb


Alfred Eugene `Ole Man Rags' Ragland of Collierville


752d Menu 26 March 1945 Co. B Sgt. John Lewis DeMarsh

Thanks To John's son for sharing this with us.
Ken writes......My father was Sgt. John Lewis DeMarsh and he served in the 752 as a boilermaker. He came home on a hospital ship with 2 broken legs and a crushed knee cap. He was sent to Nichols Army Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. It was close to the family home and actually saw my older brother from his ambulance window and they wouldn't stop for him


Subject: 727th ROB's Induction Into the TC Hall of Fame


Originally established by the War Department as the 594th Engineer Battalion (Railway Operating) on January 29, 1923, the 727th Railway Operating Battalion (ROB) was affiliated with the Southern Railway System.  Based on the National Defense Act of 1916, individual railroads were encouraged to sponsor Organized Reserve Units as a means of providing a cadre of trained rail management and operating personnel to meet military requirements.  Typically the sponsoring railroad not only provided personnel, but also served as the unit training area.  On February 21, 1941, the 594th was redesignated as the 727th Engineer Battalion (Railway Operating).  With the United States' entry into WWII, the 727th became the first Reserve ROB to be activated on March 15, 1942.  The designation as the 727th Railway Operating Battalion, Transportation Corps, became effective on November 16, 1942, with a total authorized strength of 31 officers and 759 enlisted Soldiers.

The 727th ROB's mobilization station was Camp Shelby, MS.  Company "B" conducted their rail technical training at the Southern Railway System's roundhouse and car shops in Meridian, MS.  After staging at Fort Dix, the unit departed for the New York POE (Brooklyn) on December 11. 1942, to board vessels bound for North Africa.  Arriving at Mers El Kebir (Oran), Algeria, on December 26, 1942, they established their headquarters at Tebessa, Algeria, where the battalion assumed responsibility for operating 350 miles of meter-gauge lines in eastern Algeria and Tunisia.

The 727th ROB's operations in North Africa were conducted using motive power, rolling stock, and maintenance equipment found in place.  Most of the equipment was in poor condition and required repairs to keep it in operating condition.  On June 21, 1943, the battalion retired to Tabarka to prepare for operations being planned in Sicily.  In Sicily, the 727th ROB operated within earshot of artillery firing ammunition they had just brought forward.  The unit's bravery and accomplishments in Sicily were recognized by General George Patton and the Seventh Army in a commendation ceremony on September 12, 1943.

The 727th ROB arrived in Naples, Italy, on October 13, 1943.  The unit's first Italian operating mission was to provide support to the U.S. Fifth Army and part of the British Eighth Army with over 300 plus miles of rail line from the Salerno Beaches and the Naples Port.  Turning the Naples area of operations over to Italian civilians, in June 1944, the 727th moved north to Rome, where by the end of the month they were operating lines from the vicinity of Anzio through Rome, 150 miles north, to Grosseto.  On September 27, 1944, the 727th departed for Marseille, France.  By October 2, 1944, the 727th began operating rail lines from Valence, in the south, to Epinal, in the north, in support of the Seventh Army.  At its peak responsibility, they operated or supervised over 600 miles of rail line  On April 18, 1945, the 727th headed for its new headquarters across the Rhine River from Mannheim to Ludwigshafen, GE, where they were ultimatrly responsible for 225 miles of railroad ranging from Frankfurt, on the north, through Stuttgart, to Esslingen, on the south.  The 727th was deactivated under orders on October 6, 1945.

In the nearly three years in WWII, the 727th ROB operated or was responsible for over 2,400 miles of railroad in five theaters.  Members of the 727th took their civilian rail skills and adapted them to support military operations.  This was not only an individual and Army effort, but also included the involvement of a major industry.  The 727th ROB's contribution to military operations was tabulated in tons moved, and they were recognized and commended by the commands they supported.

3rd TMRS "See it Now "

3rd see it now by Nancy

3rd TMRS Erkes

3rd erkes by Nancy

US Army Baldwin 4022

725th Railway Operating Battalion Christmas Card and pin

757th Railway Shop Battalion - Henry Brill

Fantastic photos and discharge papers from Henry Brill 757th Railway Shop Battalion sent to us by his son, Bruce.

From Bruce : A word about my dad (that's not in the attached docs)... His both parents were immigrants from Europe (father from Germany and mother from Hungary). A combination of Yiddish and German was spoken at their home and I believe that his knowledge of spoken German came in handy during WWII, especially when the RSB (Railway Shop Battalion) set up operations in Kassel, Germany in 1945. According to Dave Kaufman, they had over 4000 German employees working at their plant while under the RSB.
My dad had two sets of dogtags: one with an "H" indicating Jewish; a second set with a "P," Protestant, while in conflict with the Germans in case he'd fall into their hands.

Thanks -Bruce !

757th Railway Service Battalion Brill by Nancy on Scribd

763rd Railway Shop Battalion 1943-1946- Jack Randazzo

Fantastic photos of Pfc Jack Randazzo of the 763rd Railway Shop Battalion 1943-1946 sent to us by his son, Robert-Thanks

*Also discharge and separation papers scans

Fantastic photos of Pfc Jack Randazzo of the 763rd Railway Shop Battalion 1943-1946 sent to us by his son, Robert-Thanks
*Also discharge and separation papers scans

749th World War II Vets Meet One Last Time

749th World War II Vets Meet One Last Time

Friday, July 24, 2009 1:57 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — They met as boys, endured as men and are now saying their goodbyes as a generation.
The 749th Railway Operating Battalion is preparing to meet one last time this weekend, 10TV's Anietra Hamper reported.
"We're just like a band of brothers," said George Scott, a World War II veteran.
The battalion was 900 men strong during World War II. After the war, they continued their camaraderie with annual reunions, but time has taken its toll.
The veterans are dying at a rate of about 1,000 a day.
"We're going to miss each other," said Dick Likens, a member of the battalion. "Let's face it. We're not going to be around much longer."
"When you're (overseas) and you can hear (enemies) shooting and stuff like that, you get to be real close with a friend," said Forrest Jenkins, a member of the battalion.
Bob Kern, a World War II veteran said that in 2006 and 2007, only 15 veterans have shown up to their reunion.
"Last year we had 10," Kern said. "I told them if we have another reunion, there will only be five and I don't want to be the last (survivor)."
There are only eight members of the battalion scheduled to attend this year's reunion. With an average age of 90, most of the veterans have died or are too sick to travel, so they decided to make this year their final farewell, Hamper reported.
"It's a sad thing to think that it's all over with, almost," Scott said. "I know it is for me. My age is against me. I'm getting too old to go."
No photos, uniforms or even medals will be on display at the reunion. The men carry their mementos in their memories. The only signature of the 749th is an old banner that will be put away one last time.
"We didn't want to make this a wake," said Don Gothard, a member of the battalion. "We wanted people to have a good time and enjoy themselves and not have this thought in their mind."
With their families by their sides, the 749th Veterans Railway Club, with dues still at $6 a year, will spend the rest of their money this weekend and head home with great memories.
All the men said that they have mixed emotions about the reunion. Several of them had tears in their eyes as they talked about the bittersweet moment.
The families of the veterans said that they planned to discuss the possibility of their children and grandchildren carrying on the tradition since many of them have become family after all the years.

727th Railway Operating Battalion induction into the Transportation Corps Hall of Fame

To Veterans and Friends of the MRS:

The nomination of the Southern Railway sponsored 727th Railway Operating Battalion for induction into the Transportation Corps Hall of Fame has been confirmed by the Army Chief of Transportation BG Brian R. Layer.  The induction ceremony will be a luncheon at the Fort Eustis Club on Friday  July 9th as part of TC Conference 2010.  Luncheon choices are Colonial Chicken Breast or Braised Sirloin Tips each at $14.00.  The registration form for both the luncheon and other scheduled  events can be found at www.eustis.army.mil under TC Conference 2010.

Plans for movement of RS-1, 8011 from Strasburg, PA, to Fort Eustis, VA, continue firm.  The linehaul movement, to include railcars, via the Strasburg RR. Norfolk Southern, and CSX have been confirmed.  It will be a two car movement with the locomotive carbody on one car and the two trucks on the second.  The bid packages for loading at Strasburg and unloading at Fort Eustis are expected to be released in the near future.

In addition to the Hall of Fame Luncheon, on post TC Conference activities open to the public include the TC Regimental Association Update, the TC Regimental Association Social, the Warrior Recognition Ceremony, the Regimental Picnic, and the Regimental Golf Classic.  The Transportation Museum will be open with new and upgraded exhibits.  Off post the Peninsula area attractions will be in full bloom.  Come join the Military Railway Service Veterans, family members, and friends to honor the 727th Railway Operating Battalion and all WWII Military Railway Service Veterans whose service and sacrifices justifies the title "The Greatest Generation."

Mark L. Metz
LTC-TC (Ret.)
(717) 597-2636 

Memorial Day 2010

IC RAILROADERS form the 715th Engineer Railway Operating Battalion 1942

WATERLOO, IA Daily Courier 1942

IC RAILROADERS form the 715th Engineer Railway Operating Battalion

Announcement was made Monday of the call to service of the 715th Engineer Railway Operating battalion, a part of the Engineer corps of the United States army, to be officered by employees' of the Illinois Central Railroad company. This battalion is to be under the command of Lt. Col. T. P. Crymes, Illinois Central trainmaster at Memphis, Tenn., and will have units staff of officer’s four employees of the Iowa division of the railroad, two of them from Waterloo. '

Ranking as captain will be John R. Wartchow, 1607 West Fourth street, who for the past five years has been track supervisor at Waterloo.His duties in the army will be equivalent to those of a division engineer un a peace-time railroad, having supervision over maintenance of track on an operating division. Mechanical Engineer.Ranking as first lieutenant will be Rollin J. Chinn, 339 Saxon street, who has been erecting shop foreman in the Waterloo shops for the past year. His duties in the railway battalion will be those of mechanical engineer, concerned with the upkeep-of the motive power of the division. 

Other Iowa division men who will receive officers' commissions in the new organization are V. D.Raessler, formerly of Waterloo but now bridge and building foreman for the railroad at Cherokee, who will rank as first lieutenant and have duties similar to those of a peace-time supervisor of the bridges and buildings along the right-of way of the division, and Charles E. Weiler, former member of the Iowa division civil engineering staff at Waterloo but now assistant track supervisor at Freeport. 111., who will be a second lieutenant, with duties equivalent to those of an assistant engineer, having charge of civil engineering work. Also Other Roads. 

The rest of the 20 officers of the new battalion have been appointed from the other divisions of the Illinois Central system. Similar organizations are being sponsored by several. of the larger railroads of the country and are now in training. The 715th Engineer Railway Operating battalion is similar to battalions sponsored by the Illinois Central during and after World War 1, and provides a complete force for the operation and maintenance of a 50 to 100 mile division of military railroad. It will be made up of battalion headquarters, maintenance of way company, maintenance of equipment company, headquarters and service company and transportation company, and when fully recruited will number in the neighborhood of 800 men. 

Qualified men under 45 years of age with previous railroad experience may enlist at the office of the battalion, room 300, Dowve building, Michigan avenue at Twelfth street, Chicago, between the hours of 10 a. m. and 9 p. m. All types of railroad men except clerks.