[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

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Chapter I

Section II.
Regimental Organisation

1. - Construction Groups.

Two British Railway Construction and Maintenance Groups R.E. served throughout the whole campaign. These were Nº. 1 which came from North Africa at the time of the Salerno landing in September 1943 and Nº. 1212 which was formed in Mideast and landed at Taranto about the same time. With these groups as subordinate units were:

10Railway Construction Company R.E.
150Railway Construction Company R.E.
159Railway Construction Company R.E.
160Railway Construction Company R.E.
161Railway Construction Company R.E.
45Mechanical Equipment (Tn) Platoon R.E.
46Mechanical Equipment (Tn) Platoon R.E.
89Mechanical Equipment (Tn) Platoon R.E. (Formed in Italy August 1944)
29Railway Survey Company R.E.
167Railway Bridging Company R.E. - Two sections only.
(Later known as Nos. 1 and 2 Railway Bridging Sections R.E.)

These units were in general treated as a pool and were distributed between the two Groups in the manner which appeared to be most expedient from time to time. No particular unit was ever permanently assigned to any particular Group and although some units did serve through the whole campaign in the same group, the majority of units saw service with both Groups.

In November 1943, the Railway Construction Group of the South African Engineer Corps arrived in Italy. As this is the only group of its kind in the Union Defence Force its full designation was «Railway construction Engineers, S.A.E.C.». It was composed of a group Headquarters with subordinate units 38, 39 and 40 Railway Construction Companies. The Mining Engineers Brigade Tunnelling Group. S.A.E.C. comprising a Tunelling Detachment Headquarters with 61 and 62 Tunelling Companies, S.A.E.C. arrived in Italy in March 1944 and were absorbed into the Railway Construction Group. The South African Railway Construction Groups with constituent units was designed to function much more as an integral unit than any British group. Due to this factor and also due to administrative reasons, the South African Group was never subdivided, although certain British units were attached to it at various times for duty.

In September 1944, N.º 4 Indian Railway Construction and Maintenance Group I.E. with 136 Indian Railway Maintenance Company I.E. under command arrived in Italy. They were joined by 120 Indian Railway Construction Company I.E. and 122 Indian Railway Maintenance Company I.E. in February and May 1945 respectively. For administrative reasons this group was never divided, although British units were attached to it at various times for duty.

American military railway organisation differs considerably from the British. The major field organisation is a Railway Grand Division. This is a full Colonel's command and is equipped to administer all railway activities (i. e. operating, construction, workshop, stores, signal and telegraph) within a given area. This is a purely administrative organisation and has no working troops on its establishments. To enable the Grand Division to exercise its functions, working bodies in the form of Railway Operating Battalions were placed under its command in numbers commensurate with the commitments of the Division. The Railway Operating Battalion is an integral unit and contains component bodies of troops for operating, workshops, constructions, and signal and telegraph duties. There are in addition other types of battalions in the field, but as they do not have any relation to Construction, no further reference will be made to them. During the early part of the Italian campaign when M.R.S. was under American command 701, 702 and 704 Railway Grand Divisions with subordinate units 713, 715, 719, 727 and 759 Railway Operating Battalions took part in operations. With the inception of the American operation on the South of France in September 1944 this force was gradually reduced. A new Grand Division - the 774th - arrived and was absorbed into M.R.S. Headquarters in place of the staff officers transferred to France and the units in the field were reduced to 701 Railway Grand Division with 715 and 719 Railway Operating Battalions under command. This organisation continued until the Autumn of 1945 when 701 Railway Grand Division with subordinate units returned to the States.

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[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

Alessandro Tuzza