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Railways in War

 
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Tandorini



Geregistreerd op: 11-6-2007
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Dec 2010 22:02    Onderwerp: Railways in War Reageer met quote

Railways in World War One
1914-1918


Germany's Western Front


The following comes from Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August - a classic historical account of the opening days of the Great War ...

"Build no more fortresses, build railways," ordered the elder Moltke who had laid out his strategy on a railway map and bequeathed the dogma that railways are the key to war. In Germany the railway system was under military control with a staff officer assigned to every line; no track could be laid or changed without permission of the General Staff. Annual mobilization war games kept railway officials in constant practice and tested their ability to improvise and divert traffic by telegrams reporting lines cut and bridges destroyed. The best brains produced by the War College, it was said, went into the railway section and ended up in lunatic asylums.

Verder lezen (beetje naar beneden scrollen):
http://members.kos.net/sdgagnon/mil.html

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Tandorini



Geregistreerd op: 11-6-2007
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Mrt 2011 9:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

On the outbreak of the Great War the strategical railways which Germany had constructed towards, along, and, jointly with the Belgian Government (owing to the pressure she bad brought to bear upon them), even across the Belgian frontier, enabled her at once to concentrate and to throw into that country great masses of troops for an invasion of France. But although these railways afforded her material aid in rushing troops on to Belgian territory, Germany had not anticipated so vigorous an opposition, at Liege, by the brave-hearted Belgians, who thus thwarted her design first to make a sudden descent on France by rail, and then to rush the main body of her troops, also by rail, back through Germany for the attack on Russia.


From the railway point of view the action taken by Belgium was of exceptional value to the Allies, since it meant that, although Germany crossed the frontiers of Belgium and Luxemburg on August 3rd, it was not until the 24th that she was in a position to attack the French Army, which by that time had not only completed both its mobilisation and its concentration, but had been joined by the first arrivals of the British Expeditionary Force.


When once the Belgian opposition had been effectively crushed, the close network of railways in that country became a powerful auxiliary to Germany's further operations against France. While, however, she had attached so much importance both to the perfection of her own railway system (from helped her Allies a strategical point of view) and to the control of the Belgian and Luxemburg systems, she had made the mistake of not allowing sufficiently for what the French and British railways could also do - especially with the practical advantage which, though at so terrible a cost to herself, Belgium had secured for them by her own heroic struggle with so powerful and merciless a foe.


It certainly was the case that, in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, military transport in France speedily assumed chaotic conditions, and that these were, in fact, among the direct causes of the disaster by which the country was so speedily overtaken. It cannot be said, however, that the disorder leading to those conditions was due to any lack of zeal or efficiency on the part of the French railway companies, who made the most strenuous efforts to deal with the traffic, and themselves accomplished marvels in this direction. The faults that arose were attributable, rather, to the absence in France of any organisation co-ordinating the military and the civil elements by the creation of authorities through whom all orders and instructions for rail transport would pass, the military element further adopting such methods of control and regulation as would avoid congestion and delay at the stations, while leaving the railway element free to attend to the working of the lines without the risk of having to deal with impracticable and conflicting demands by individual military officers acting on their own responsibility without regard for the physical limitations of the railways or for the needs of the situation as a whole.


In the interval which had elapsed. since 1870-71 an organisation for the conduct of military rail transport in time of war, on the lines here indicated, had been planned and worked out in France in a way so comprehensive and so exhaustive that it provided in advance as far as the combined wisdom of military and railway authorities could foresee or suggest for every contingency that was likely to arise.


At the same time, also, France had greatly improved her railway system, from a strategical point of view, and more especially in regard to better connections with the Franco-German frontier and the linking up of cross-country lines in such a way as to facilitate speedy mobilisation and concentration in case of need.


So it was that Germany's proclamation on July 31st, 1914, Of "the state of danger of war" found the French railways prepared to take instant action.


The transport of "troupes de couverture" otherwise, the troops despatched to the frontier to meet the first attack of the enemy began at nine o'clock the same evening, and was completed by noon on August 3rd (before there had been any suspension of the ordinary railway traffic), although this initial operation itself involved the running, on the Eastern system alone, of nearly six hundred trains.


The general mobilisation began on August 2nd, and the despatch of troops, etc., from the depots to, the points of concentration at the front, in accordance with the time-tables prepared in time of peace, was started at midday on the 5th and completed on the 19th. Between the two last-mentioned dates, the number of military trains run was nearly 4,500 (exclusive of 250 trains carrying siege supplies to the fortresses), and of this total more than 4,000 had destinations on the Eastern system.


At the end of this period the French Government issued a notice expressing to the railway officers and railway workers of all ranks the warmest acknowledgment of the patriotic zeal and the admirable devotion with which they had toiled day and night; while the "Journal des Transports," of January 30th, 1915 in announcing this fact, declared on its own behalf: "One can justly say that the first victory in this great conflict has been won by the railwaymen."


These earliest movements were, however, to be followed by a succession of others, which imposed a further abnormal strain on the railway organisation to an extent far greater than had been anticipated and already provided for.


No sooner was the concentration of France's seven armies six along the front and one in Paris accomplished than the railways had to ensure, between August 12th and August 20th, the conveyance to Mons of the officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force who had by that time arrived at Boulogne, Nantes, and St. Nazaire. This alone involved the running of 420 transport trains. Provision had likewise to be made for the transport across France, from Marseilles, of 60,000 French troops from Africa, and, also, of the troops arriving there from India. The masterly retreat of the allied centre and right to the south of the Marne, which followed the fall of Charleroi, on August 26th, called for an especially prodigious effort on the part of the French railways; and this effort crowned with complete success had to be made concurrently with the need for facilitating the flight of many thousands of refugees from the invaded or threatened districts of Belgium and Northern France. Thanks to the results attained, there was secured for the defence of Paris so speedy and so strong a reconcentration of the allied forces that not only was the advance of the invaders checked, but the enemy was himself thrown back in some disorder successively to the Petit Morin, the Marne, and the Aisne. Thus the first great object of the German offensive failed, and Paris was saved.

http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_Role_of_Railways_in_the_War
http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/railwaycontrolact.htm
http://www.wdlr.org.uk/wdlr/blog/ (nieuwe blog)
http://www.wdlr.org.uk/wdlr/ (oude site)

Railroads and World War I

Railroads and World War I, presented in the Museumís Research Center Gallery, exhibited original, vintage photographs, railway tickets, maps, and documents. All came from the collections of the National World War I Museum. The exhibition coincided with ďArt in the Age of Steam,Ē the major international exhibition at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and ran from September 13, 2008 through January 17, 2009.

Railroads were the backbone of the war efforts of the major belligerents. Early in the war Russia mobilized her army so quickly because of the great networks of railroads that spanned the huge country. Railroads moved men and equipment. They brought food to the fighting fronts. Armored railway cars protected the vital rail lines. Other cars served as platforms for huge guns capable of hurling explosive shells for many miles. Ambulance trains transported the wounded away from the front.

When the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, the countryís railroads and rolling stock production were seen as the most important aspect of war preparedness. Massive requirements were needed for the home front, as well as for the demands of overseas operations for the American forces and the Allies.

French officials asked General John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, on July 1917, for 300 locomotives and 2,000 kilometers of track. Nine days later the first order for 150 engines was placed with the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The huge locomotivesóby European standardsóneeded to be transported by ship to France.

When American soldiers arrived in France, they were transported to training and billeting camps and later to combat on French railroads. This generally meant they were crammed into boxcars known as ď40 & 8s.Ē Technically they were meant for forty men or eight horses. The Americans always complained that the eight horses had been there prior to them and the cars not cleaned out.

http://www.theworldwar.org/s/110/new/index.aspx?sid=110&gid=1&pgid=1062
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