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

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Chapter II

Section II.
Railway construction in relation to the campaign as a whole

3. - Consolidation and development.

On 8th October, A.F.H.Q., announced that D.G.M.R.S. was to take over responsibility for the reconstruction and operation of the whole Italian Railway system. Reconstruction priorities were issued as follows:

Third priorityNAPLES-PESCARA by inland route

The second priority line was little damaged and was opened by the I.S.R. without military assistance by 5th November. The third priority (Naples-Pescara) was abandoned. The fourth priority (Reggio-Metaponto) had in fact already been opened to traffic by 160 Railway construction Coy., R.E.

The problem therefore resolved itself into a decision on which of the alternative routes between Naples and Rome and between Naples and Foggia should be repaired. Work on the East Coast line North of Foggia was already in hand. Reconnaissance was in hand on the priority lines, and as more labour became organized, and units became available, repairs were being extended out of Naples towards Caserta, from which point the lines to Rome and Foggia divided. The line provided also access to maintenance areas which were rapidly being developed.

At the end of October, Advanced A.F.H.Q. was established at Naples, and the control of all railway construction in Italy was taken over by the M.R.S., and Tn., Staff. Plans were then formulated as follows:
i) The Naples-Cassino-Rome line (Line 90) to be repaired and to be an American responsibility.
ii) The direct Caserta-Foggia (Line 91) to be repaired and to be a British responsibility.
iii) Repairs to the East Coast line (line 86) North of Foggia to continue as a British responsibility.
iv) Repairs to the section Candela to Rapollo to be put in hand as a British responsibility, to connect Foggia to Potenza. This provided an alternative link between Naples and Foggia and Taranto and Foggia (via Potenza).

«A» Companies, 713 and 727 Railway Operating Battalions, (U.S.A.) at once moved to the line 90 section, working out of Caserta through Capua forward.

150 Railway Construction Coy., R.E., landed at Naples on 7 November and moved to Benevento at once to start on repairs to the Caserta-Foggia line, whilst 161 Company continued with repairs between Cancello and Caserta, working East along Line 91 to join 150 Company. In addition, 161 Company were carrying out depot construction in the Naples area.

1 Railway Bridging Section, R.E. landed at Naples on 15 October and after assisting 161 Company on bridge construction in the Naples area, moved to Telese on Line 91, and commenced work on bridge structures between there and Benevento.

Early in December, the South African Railway Construction Group arrived, with 38, 39 and 40 Railway Construction Companies. They were allotted responsibility for the reconstruction of Line 86 from Termoli northwards, and 160 Railway construction Company were attached to the Group to assist. On Completion of works to Termoli, 10th Railway Construction Company returned to the Hell area to assist 159 Railway Construction Company in the very extensive base development works in hand at Bari and Brindisi, under R.C.E 1212.

Work proceeded on these lines until the end of the year, by which time railheads had reached Vasto on Line 86 and Sparanise on Line 90. The Naples-Foggia link (Line 91) and the Potenza-Foggia link (Line 302) were also completed. Then followed a comparatively static period, which ended in the Allied offensive in May, 1944. During this period, railheads were pushed behind the Armies as far forward as men could work, reaching St. Vito (Line 86) and Mignano (Line 90).

At the same tine there was much activity in base development in the Heel and Naples areas, and in repairs to minor lines and permanent repairs to bridges on routes already open.

In March, 1944, it was decided to repair the Naples-Rome Coast line (Line 89) in addition to the inland line (Line 90). This arose from the tactical plan then being evolved to concentrate the Allied forces on the drive to Rome, with the 8th Army attacking up the Liri Valley and the 5th Army along the Coast. It was therefore decided to provide a rail L of C for each Army, from the main base at Naples. At the time of the decision, Nº. 1 Railway Construction & Maintenance Group, R.E., had units available for work, and they therefore were employed on the sections Naples-Villa Literno, Aversa-Villa Literno and Villa Literno North via Line 89 to Mt. Massico tunnel, where the U.S. construction units were to take over. The British units were to take over the repair to Line 90 from Mignano to the North. Thus, when the offensive began, each group of Construction units followed up its own Army. The plan worked well, Line 89 was opened to the Garigliano River just as the offensive began, and the Construction companies were all ready, with material supply lined up behind them, an all railway construction works in the rear areas completed, when the offensive began.

Figure 4. - The heavy black lines in the Allied occupied part of Italy indicate the railway lines in operation and railheads in use at 11 May 1944. The heavy broken line shows the front line position.

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

Alessandro Tuzza