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The Military Railway Service was created in the 1920s as a reserve force for the Quartermaster Division of the United States Army. It previously was around twice; first it was set up by President Lincoln during the American Civil War, and then a second time during the Great War or World War One. In the original documentation for the service, all Class I railroad companies were to create a battalion for the war effort. In doing so, a total of 11 Grand Divisions were formed and a total of 46 operating battalions were assigned; however, five were never activated.

Military Railway service SSI

History[edit | edit source]

Each railway operating battalion was established with four companies. The HQ company was the headquarters and was used for signaling, dispatching, and supplying their section of the railway. The A company was set up to handle the maintenance of tracks themselves, the B company handled the maintenance of the rolling stock through the stations, and the C company was set up with roughly 50 men to operate the trains in their area. As for the Grand Division it was established with multiple operating battalions and then a shop battalion and a base depot company. The shop battalion was only to work on the engines themselves. During the war, there were two types of shop battalions. The main type at the start was the steam engine battalion; however there was a few diesel shop battalions.[1]

In the European Theater of Operations (ETO), the 1st and 2nd Military Railway Service (MRS) was used to control supply by rail in this theater. The 1st was assigned to the Mediterranean with Italy, North Africa, and Southern France as its main areas of operations. The 2nd was assigned Northern France to Germany. By 1942, the first units started to be shipped out. Besides units for the Persian Gulf Command and North Africa, the 761st Operating for England and for Alaska 770th Operating was shipped out. Another MRS was established to handle the supplies sent to Russia through Iran (Persia). The 3rd MRS was set up using the 702nd with the 711th Operating, 730th Operating, 754th Shop, and 762nd Diesel Shop battalions as its core units. Initial Command was under the 702nd Grand Division which by the April of 1944 it was replaced by the 3rd MRS. The 702nd and initial 3rd MRS commander was Col Paul Yount when in May 1944 he was sent east to assist the China Burma India thearte and Col. Frank S. Besson, Jr., was tasked to take over the 3rd MRS.[2]

The 1st MRS was led by Brig General Carl R. Gray, Jr., an executive from the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad, who was the son of Carl R. Gray, Sr., the former president of multiple railways in the United States, including the Union Pacific. The battalions under his command included the 701st, 703rd, 704th, 713th, 715th, 719th, 727th, 753rd, 759th, and the 760th.

List of Railway Grand Divisions and their sponsors[edit | edit source]

Unit Sponsor Date of Activation
701st New York Central Railroad 01/11/1943
702nd Union Pacific Railroad 10/15/1942
703rd Atlantic Coast Line Railroad 08/01/1943
704th Great Northern Railway 11/30/1942
705th Southern Pacific Lines 05/19/1943
706th Pennsylvania Railroad 08/06/1943
707th Southern Railway 06/10/1943
708th Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 04/06/1943
709th Association of American Railroads 03/15/1944
710th Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 12/14/1943
774th None (Organized in Italy) 1944

List of Railway Operating Battalions[edit | edit source]

Unit Sponsor Date of Activation
711th None (Training Battalion) 05/01/1941
712th Reading Railroad 10/25/1942
713th Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 04/15/1942
714th Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway 10/31/1942
715th Illinois Central Railroad 10/31/1942
716th Southern Pacific Lines 12/21/1943
717th Pennsylvania Railroad 12/01/1943
718th Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway 12/14/1943
719th Texas and New Orleans Railroad 09/01/1943
720th Chicago and North Western Railway 08/26/1943
721st New York Central Railroad 04/14/1943
722nd Seaboard Air Line Railroad 12/14/1943
723rd Union Pacific Railroad 12/28/1943
724th Pennsylvania Railroad 12/28/1943
725th Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad 02/17/1943
726th Wabash Railroad 06/26/1943
727th Southern Railway 03/15/1942
728th Louisville and Nashville Railroad 01/11/1943
729th New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad 01/11/1943
730th Pennsylvania Railroad 05/15/1942
731st Union Pacific Railroad Did not Activate
732nd Great Northern Railway 01/12/1944
733rd Central of Georgia Railway 11/23/1943
734th Texas and New Orleans Railroad 02/23/1944
735th ARR/Erie Railroad 02/10/1944
736th New York Central Did not Activate
737th New York Central 09/30/1944
738th Chicago Great Western Railway Did not Activate
739th Lehigh Valley Railroad Did not Activate
740th Chesapeake and Ohio Railway 12/14/1943
741st Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad 01/12/1944
742nd Pennsylvania Railroad Did not Activate
743rd Illinois Central Railroad 01/12/1944
744th Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad 12/21/1943
745th Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad 05/19/1943
746th Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad 05/04/1944
747th Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Did not Activate
748th Texas and Pacific Railway 05/12/1943
749th New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad 02/23/1943
750th St. Louis – San Francisco Railway 03/21/1944
751st Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Did not Activate
752nd Boston and Maine Railroad 05/04/1944
759th Missouri Pacific Railroad 09/01/1942
761st Railway Transportation Company 07/22/1942
770th None 08/09/1942
790th None 07/08/1943
791st No sponsorship (activated at Andimeshk, Iran) 07/01/1943

List of Railway Shop Battalions[edit | edit source]

Unit Sponsor Date of Activation
753d Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway 04/15/1942
754th Southern Pacific Lines 10/25/1942
755th Norfolk & Western Railway 11/30/1942
756th Pennsylvania Railroad 01/11/1943
757th Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad 06/10/1943
758th Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway 04/06/1943
760th No sponsorship 06/16/1942
762d No sponsorship 10/15/1942
763d Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad; Lehigh Valley Railroad 07/27/1943
764th Boston & Maine Railroad 10/25/1943
765th Erie Railroad 05/01/1944
766th Association of American Railroads 07/17/1944

Note: The 760th and 762d were RSB (Diesel); all others were RSB (Steam).

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Headquarters, Southern Lines of Communication, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (February 1945). "American "Rails" in Eight Countries". http://www.milhist.net/history/mrs-soloc.pdf. 
  2. Ragsdale, Herbert Bernard. "A Railroader Goes To War". http://www.ww2diary.com/. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Railway Grand Divisions". http://www.scribd.com/doc/34941642/Railway-Grand-Divisions. Retrieved February 10, 2012. 

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