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

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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

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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.

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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