The American Engines USA 756th Railway Shop Battalion by Andrew Hemmings


This article follows the story written by Mike Robinson in the September 2020 edition of 'TheRailway Observer'. 

Thanks so much top Andrew Hemmings for sharing this !

The 756th RSB was based at the Great Western Railway's Ebbw Junction Engine Shed at Newport , Monmouthshire (now South Wales). The shed was on the north side of the South Wales Main Line about one mile west of Newport Station.The 756th RSB was vital to the war effort between 1943 and 1945. During this time , between 700 and 800 S160 American engines were shipped into Newport from the USA. 

They were then “re-assembled , re-steamed and sent all over Britain and France to replace locomotives either damaged or destroyed in the conflict”. The first batch of 43 locomtives were transferred to the LNER Doncaster Works for completion and running in over the East Coast Main Line. This began a pattern by which the Big Four railway companies in Britain eventually deployed nearly 400 S160's under the guise of “ running in ”. In fact they replaced worn out engines and increased the capability of the British railway system. The reported allocations were 174 to Great Western Railway; 168 to London and North Eastern Railway;50 to London Midland and Scottish Railway ; 6 to Southern Railway. 

The second batch of around 400 S160's were prepared for storage by USATC personnel at Ebbw Junction in the months before D Day , 6th June 1944.After the invasion the locomotives at work across Britain began to be collected and refurbished at Newport in preparation for shipment to Europe. It is clear that the stratgic reason for bringing S160's to Newport was to support the invas ion of France , contribute to the reconstruction of European railways and aid victory over the Axis powers. In the short term their arrival and use may have brought some brif respite to hard pressed rail freight services in Britain.At the same time there were condiderable logistical challenges in finding secure storage. 

Thanks to Nancy Cunningham and the website US Army Railway Units of the Past we have permission to use 2 photographs from their collection of ' 756th Railway Operating Battalion' material. These are captioned 756th Railway Operating Battalion Crows Nest Junction England 1944 In fact these official photographs were taken in Wales at Penrhos Junction , Caerphilly and at Ebbw Junction itself . E. R. Mountford's book ' The USA 756th RSB Railway Shop Battalion At Newport ( Ebbw Junction) features the Ebbw Junction shot on the cover. Inside the caption reads “An Army Officer looks down at a rail yard in the 756th Railway Shop Branch (sic) Ebbw Junction Supply Depot, where railroad locomotives are being put into storage to await use for the invasion of the European continent (15th March 1944) Courtesy US Army Washington” 

It portrays at least 2 GWR pannier tanks and private wagons from local collieries , Llanbradach,Rose Heyworth and Bedwas. The same definitive volume depicts 119 locomotives on the Barry Railway line at Treforest in 1944 and lists 3 more storage sites at Tonteg , Cadoxton and Penrhos. The last of these contains engine number 2837 in the forefront of the long line of stored S 160's. For those keen to follow the story in greater detail 

I can recommend the archives at and “When Coal was King- Lost Railways, Penrhos Junction, Caerphilly” by John Wake on youtube. 

 Andrew Hemmings 

Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS) in Great Britain 

Link to all article on 756th on this blog HERE


743rd Railway Operating Battalion: 1940-1945: de bezetting van Antwerpen in 1000 foto's by Jean Dillen

1940-1945: de bezetting van Antwerpen in 1000 foto's by Jean Dillen (Author), Joris Wuyts (Author), AndrĂ© Vandenwynckel (Author) 

Guy shared his friend's book on the occupation of Antwerp and this is the page about the 743rd Railway Operating Battalion. Thanks Guy