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OCCUPATION FORCES IN EUROPE SERIES 1945 - Military Railway Services


On Feb 6 1945, the two existing Military Railway Services (1st and 2nd), which had operated
independently, were consolidated and a provisional headquarters was established in PARIS
(GO#16, ComZ). A director general was appointed to control of all railway operating units. These
functions were further defined and somewhat modified, insofar as the command responsibilities
were concerned, on April 3 1945 (SOP#32, ETOUSA, subj: "Continental Railways"). The Dir Gen,
MRS, was then made responsible for the maintenance of way and equipment and for the
operation of railroads on the Continent.

The Military Railway Service became an exempted command, responsible to Chief of

Transportation, except that the sections of the ComZ had admin authority over the MRS general
courts martial, financial transactions, and the issue of ordinary supplies. All MRS units, together
with some MP units to act as security guards, were assigned to GHQ, MRS, which in turn
reassigned them to the 1st and 2nd Military Railway Service for operations.

One of the first acts of the new hqs was to divide the operating territory between the two rail
organizations. Boundaries were established on April 6, but the fast pace of the last weeks of the
campaign necessitated changes. The areas in effect on V-E Day were roughly north and east of
PARIS for the 2nd MRS, and south and west of PARIS for the 1st MRS.

Shortly before the end of the campaign, the 2nd MRS Hqs at BRUSSELS established an
advance echelon at BRAUNSCHWEIG.

Operating Units
The operating unit of the MRS was a Railway Grand Division, usually placed so that its
jurisdiction coincided with that of a base section. Instead of having a fixed Table of Organization,
these divisions were allocated troops on the basis of the track mileage they operated. With the
usual assignment of
three Railway Operating Battalions (ROB)
one Railway Shop Battalion (RSB)
one Base Depot Co

A Grand Division was normally able to perform Phase I operations over 250 to 400 miles.

MRS after V-E Day

On May 19 1945, MRS was established as a separate service command under the CG, ComZ.
Technical control remained with the Chief of Trans, ComZ, operation and admin control
passed, with certain exceptions, to GHQ, MRS, ComZ (Prov), which had been previously
organized. ( Cir 70, ComZ, 19 May 45)

Adv Sec, GHQ, MRS was established in FRANKFURT on June 4, 1945 ( GO#26, MRS (Prov), 4
Jun 45). The duties of the rear echelon were passed from the 1st MRS to the Paris Prov RGD,
organized on June 1 1945 ( GO#24, MRS (Prov), 31 May 45).

When HQ ComZ was redes HQ TSFET on Aug 1, MRS, was renamed as U.S. Theater MRS,
and was established as a tech comd under the CG, TSFET ( GO#179, HQ USFET, 2 Aug 45).

Hqs of 2nd MRS in BRUSSELS closed on Aug 11 and opened the next day in FRANKFURT.
Effective Aug 15, a new territorial division was made between the 1st and 2nd MRS (1):
1st MRS AOR: France, Luxembourg
Paris Prov MRS Paris, France
2nd MRS (2) AOR: Germany, Austria, Italy
707th RGD Nürnberg, Bavaria
708th RGD Bremerhaven, Bremen Enclave
Belgian District AOR: Belgium, the Netherlands
706th RGD

(1) Listing of RGD units might be incomplete. Still doing some research on this.

With the reorganization on Aug 15, 1945, the railway operating battalions in Germany under the
2nd MRS were supposed to be:
2nd MRS (2) Frankfurt, Germany
707th RGD Nürnberg, Germany
712th ROB (3) Mannheim, Germany inact Dec 9, 1945
750th ROB Nuernberg, Germany inact Feb 10, 1946
746th ROB Munich, Germany inact Feb 10, 1946
708th RGD
741st ROB Hannover, Germany inact Feb 10, 1946
734th ROB Bebra, Germany inact Feb 10, 1946
766th RSB Frankfurt, Germany

(2) Currently doing some research to find out if the "planned" organization was actually
implemented. In previous research I have found quite a few additional ROB and RSB units that
served in the ETO until the end of 1945 or early 1946. However, many of those were probably
located in France and involved with the Redeployment efforts around several ports of France (Le
Havre and Marseille).
(3) Based on a poor quality photo copy of the organization chart of the Office of the Chief of
Transportation, COMZ (Jul-Sep 1945). Could not make out if the battalion listed was the 712th or
722nd ROB)
Also on Aug 15, the Belgian District of MRS was
established, which included Belgium and the Netherlands.
The district was placed under the jurisdiction of the
Commanding Officer, 706th RGD, who reported directly to the
Dir Gen, MRS.

In an agreement with the British opening the rail line of

communications from BREMERHAVEN, US traffic was
allocated by the joint Traffic Allocation Committee with the first
priority to movement of American personnel and supplies. The
line was operated by Germans under American supervision
and control. General operating policy was fixed by the British
Regional Railway Control Team, which included American
Main US Rail Lines in
Germany and Austria It was not until Oct that some admin responsibilities were
turned over to the German Reichsbahn authorities. On Oct 24
45, GHQ, MRS was officially closed ( GO#59, HQ TSFET, 24
Oct 45). Shortly thereafter, 1st MRS was assigned
supervisory responsibility for all US military railway matters
and interests in the liberated areas. and 2nd MRS assumed
supervisory control of German railway ops in the zone of
occupation. Both services were closed when responsibility for
railway supervision passed to the Trans Div of the US Military
Gov't on Jan 1 1946.

Rail operations in Austria

Rail ops in Austria were in Phase III (rail operations turned
over to Austrians) by Sep 1945. Control of Austrian transport
was vested in the Trans Div, US Allied Commission for
(Source: Military Railway Service, The General Board Study No. 123)

The basic operating unit in the ETO was the Railway Operating Battalion consisting of
four companies:
HHC in charge of administration, train dispatching, supply, communications, and signals;
Co A responsible for maintenance of way and strcutures;
Co B operated the engine house and made running repairs of motive power and rolling
Co C was the actual operating unit, with 50 train and engine crews.

This basic operating unit was capable of operating 90 to 150 miles of track with not more than
one terminal with classification yard facilities. The Bn consisted of 29 officers and 790 EMs.

The Railway Shop Battalion was responsible for maintaining and repairing rolling stock,
and was equipped to serve from three to four ROBs.